Friday, June 14, 2013

wrong place, right time

It's 11:05PM as I start typing this entry. About 20 minutes ago, I broke up a fight in front of a grocery store in town. That was exciting.

I was coming back from the local Walmart when I realized I'd forgotten to buy blueberries for a parfait I wanted to make for my (and possibly Dr. Steve's) Saturday meal. On the way home was another 24-hour grocery: Martin's. I decided to stop there to get the berries. The main entrance was closed, but an Asian woman, on her way out, called to me: "It's open other side!" I thanked her, went in, bought two boxes of blueberries for five bucks (buy one, get one free), got assistance from a clerk on how to use the damn self-checkout, then lumbered out.

As if on cue, right as I was walking out, two skinny guys—one white, one black—sprinted out of the semidarkness of the parking lot and under the lights of the grocery store's entrance. At first, I thought these were just friends messing with each other, but a second glance showed me their wide eyes and corded necks, and I suddenly knew this was serious. The two guys adopted wide, exaggerated stances and swung wildly at each other, demonstrating total ignorance of any fighting technique, and for a weird moment I was transported back to my days at Bishop O'Connell High School where, because I was one of the larger male teachers, it was often incumbent on me to break up fights, of which I broke up perhaps three or four in my two years there. The most hilarious donnybrook didn't even have a chance to happen: two tiny freshmen, trying to look menacing, were circling each other on the grass in front of the school when I interposed myself, and I had to strain to keep myself from laughing at what might have been. The most serious altercation, by contrast, involved two large seniors at the top of a stairwell; I knew, and liked, one of the seniors. Both guys were sturdy football players; I almost thought twice before stepping into the flurry of punches. Luckily, neither of them hit me, and they both calmed down right away. "Come with me," I said sternly, and led them to the Dean of Discipline's office.

Back to this moment. With my high school days in mind, I barked, "Gentlemen!" The fighters ignored me, of course. Once more, as I stalked toward them: "Gentlemen!" Neither listened. Both guys continued flailing at each other. When I was about three steps away, the black guy wrapped his arms around the waist of the white guy, picked him up, and slammed him hard into the concrete. He leaned over the white guy, ready to keep punching him, and I rushed forward those final steps, looped my arm around the black guy's waist and lifted him bodily, with one arm, away from his downed adversary. "Enough!" I shouted.

Once peeled away from his opponent, the black guy bolted. The white guy—who, upon closer inspection, looked either drunk or high—levered himself into an upright seated position, all gangly knees and elbows. "Fuckin' asshole," he said. He dragged himself up and shouted after the black guy, who got into a white SUV with some of his fellows: "I'll fuckin' kill you next time, motherfucker!" I rolled my eyes and walked away. This was obviously an empty threat, since both guys had fought like candy-ass pussies. My breathing was, surprisingly, steady. I had expected to get the shakes, but my nerves proved solid.

A cautious, paranoid instinct told me that the guys in the SUV might follow me home if I let them, so I drove over to Skyline Drive, then turned around and look a circuitous route home. No idea whether they saw me again.

Well... at least I had my blueberries.



Sperwer said...

Good on ya!

John said...

Exciting. Glad you didn't take a knife in the gut for your efforts.