Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Men Enter by Steve Ormosi

Enter the barfighters, two individuals of excessive BACs and highly diminished reasoning.  Personally, I've never been in a bar fight, so I suppose it holds an air of mystique for me.  Seemingly, it's just a base, instinctual drive to avenge that leads people into bar fights or any fights, really.  What the combatants are avenging (or sometimes defending) is often whispy and quixotic, but the ability to let go of reason/decency/propriety and flip the fuck out is appealing to me (mainly because I can't figure out how to do it).  Yes, you'll never be looked upon as an upright citizen for being in a fight, but you also get to find out how much punishment you can take and how much you can really dish out.  Fights are raw.  Fights let us see the bare bones of the human condition with no restraints.  But fights also look really painful, which is another reason I avoid them. 

The man in the orange sweater cussed loudly as he stumbled from his stool.  He pulled up short just in front of my face and eyed me.

“The fook d’ya think yur looking at, laddie?” He asked.

“Garfield, I think.” I said, my slight buzz emboldening me a little, “The cartoon cat, not the former American president.”

Garfield turned around, found that he had no audience, thought for a moment and then decided to proclaim to his empty mug, “Funny kid ai’nee?”

The bartender, a young lady, looked at us nervously.  I wanted to assure her that it was going to be fine, but I knew it wouldn’t and I didn’t want to give her false hope just before I provoked the lunatic, so I simply smiled at her.  It did nothing to relax her visible concern.

The man turned back to me, leering, “Been lookin’ fer someone like you aaalllll night.”

Spittle hung from his lips as he spoke and he looked like he could topple over at any moment, but he eyed me intensely enough that I thought for a moment perhaps this was not what I had been hoping for after all.  I drove the thought from my mind and sharpened my own gaze.

“That’s good to hear,” I said, “Because I’ve been looking for someone like you, too.  See, I’ve always been kind of a pussy and getting into a barfi…”  He knocked me to my ass, and I hadn’t even gotten halfway through my speech.  My face immediately burned hot, but flexing my jaw, I knew he hadn’t broken it.  He stood over me laughing, his stupid orange sweater mocking me like a grinning Jack O’lantern.

“C’mon, boy, git up.  Bin werkin yer nerve up for that?  Keep flappin yer gums, ya might blow me over.”

I wiped my mouth and stood, a little shakily at first but I found my stance and put my fists up.  I threw a clumsy hand at him and he sidestepped it.  A punch to my stomach left me on my knees.  The breath flew out of me.  As I gasped impotently, he put his foot into my ribs.  I fell over and laid there, a tear rolled off my cheek as I shuddered.  He backed up again.

“All done, laddie?”

My eyes went up, and I looked around.  The few people who were in the bar stood in a circle around us, grinning madly.  The bartender was on the phone, presumably with the police.  She looked worried and I realized my time was running out.  I dove at the man, catching him off guard.  A hush fell over the crowd.  A hush, I thought, I did that.  I felt a hand in my face but it drunkenly slid off of me.  My semi-sobriety was finally beginning to pay dividends.  I reached back and slammed a fist down into his face.  It hurt like hell, but I didn’t care.  I reached back and smashed him again.  Blood started flowing from his nose as he shoved me off of him and sat up.  It dribbled down his shirt mingling with the orange and dripping onto the floor.  He coughed up a large gob of the stuff onto his pants, painting his crotch red.  He tried to stand but fell over, stunned.

I wasted no time jumping on him and raining more fists into his face until I felt a hand grab my arm and heard some faraway voice say, “He’s had enough.”

I briefly struggled, but more arms grabbed me and flung me backwards and I relented.  I sat on the ground, head propped against a barstool.  I felt the adrenaline ebb from me and I looked at the man in the orange sweater.  He wasn’t moving.  The bartender stood at the back of the crowd crying.  I wiped my hand across my mouth and saw that I was bleeding, myself.  The bar was completely quiet.  I smiled.  I did it.  It was a glorious moment.

And a moment’s all it lasted.

The first officer, a bear of a man, walked through the door and surveyed the scene.  He looked to the bartender who was crying now, shaking.  She had been the first one pulling me back, I realized.

“What happened?” he asked.

She pointed at me, “He…did…that.” And she pointed at the man in the orange sweater still not moving, bleeding onto the ground.

Another officer, smaller, but stocky, walked in as the first knelt next to the man in the orange sweater.  He pulled his shoulder radio up and called for an ambulance.  The larger cop tried to revive the man I’d recently been pummeling while the shorter one walked over to me and squatted.

“You do this, kid?   He ain’t looking too good over there.”

I nodded weakly.  My face revealed that I wasn’t the only one to land a couple of punches, at least.

“He started it,” I said.

“Well it’s not like we can ask him right now.  C’mon, get up.  We gotta take you in.”  He grabbed my arm and pulled me up.  Then he pulled my arms behind me and cuffed them together.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.  But sometimes…even the best laid plans.

I found out later that the man in the orange sweater died in the hospital from his injuries.  My first and only bar fight, and I’d killed a man.  The judge banged the gavel and I was a volunteer manslaughterer.  What a world.

As they led me from the courtroom that day, on the advice of a friend, I held my head up.  Now was not the time to show weakness.  My real test was still ahead.

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