Saturday, March 22, 2014

CRAIG EDWARD KELSO, Vulgar Display of Power

Be sure, I implored him. 

Be sure, because once you do this I am not going to stop.

I’d been talking with his girlfriend, and she and I were hitting it off swimmingly. 

She knew she was his girlfriend. I didn’t know this bit of information.

He approached us holding a beer. 

His friends weren’t far behind. Guy-dude-bros. Fraternity boys complete with hats turned around and vacant stares. Stocky. Well fed. Itching, they were, for a fight. 

Imagine a cadre of the losers you see yelping and hollerin’ on the Girls Gone Wild videos. Yeah, THOSE fuckers. Ugh.

By this time I was fully a man. 

I’d outgrown the need to prove myself using fisticuffs. My adolescence was chalk full of getting down, and always at the behest of others. I never picked a fight. I never started it. And I’d only be brought to physical violence AFTER physical violence came upon me. I’d even go one step further. I’d attempt to Alpha Male my way out: puffing myself up and getting loud in order to convince the other dude to back down.

Such a move wouldn’t have worked in this situation. No dice.

What the fuck are you doing? he asked rhetorically, and I could not immediately tell who he was addressing. He was, we both quickly learned, asking me.

It was a beach setting, at night. 

We were on the sand near a bonfire. Some guys don’t have to work very hard for pussy, but I’ve mostly always had to put in time. I get them to laugh. I listen well. I notice things. I take personal interest. It’s not as calculated as I am now making it, but you get the idea. Some guys have looks to fall back on. Not me. I am a worker. Again, you get the idea.

The ironic part is I wasn’t the least bit interested in her. 

Yeah. Like, not even a little. She was nice enough looking, but I could tell she was a tart. She gave off the vibe of being far too pleased with herself, and I surmised quickly she’d be a cadaverous lay: she wouldn’t do a thing, assuming the guy was lucky to be in the room with her. 

Eh. No thanks. 

But she laughed at everything I said, as I was oddly on that night. Hair flips. Lots of teeth on display. The occasional reach to touch me as punctuation. It was cool, but I was looking for a way out. I was going to make my way down the party to other honeys.

I was planning to leave her soon.

‘Twas not to be, gentle reader.

He came upon me, invading my personal space. He pushed my drink down to the sand before I could fully process what was happening.

A friend, Chewy, was near. He is one of those guys who is always vigilant, always aware. He entered the fray before I knew there was a fray. He also happens to be several times over a martial artist. 

Fuck yes. 

He can, without running to gather steam, in a FULL standing position, leap vertically (I AM NOT EXAGGERATING) and kick a fool in the teeth. I know, I know. I wouldn’t believe me either, except for the fact I’ve seen him do it. Rad.

You okay? Chewy asked me as if he already knew the answer.

Typical frat boy banter ensued. Was Chewy my girlfriend? Was Chewy going to protect me? Yadda, yadda, yadda. I actually laughed at their comments. This felt a lot like high school.

Her boyfriend then crossed a line. 

It’s a real line.

Without a philosophical edifice, I instinctively lived by the idea of self ownership my entire life. I knew never to throw the first punch. I knew never to instigate. 

Okay. I am not a perfect person by any stretch, but I do live by a strict moral code. I just don’t violate the non-aggression axiom. I just don’t.

He shoved me, hard and violently.  

I began to negotiate. 

Would his friends jump in? Did he have a weapon? No cops? He answered all the questions in a favorable way. I even attempted to explain I didn’t know he owned the chick I was talking with (and this cunt, just as I suspected, was enthralled with two guys about to fight over her). Scoring points with his friends, I said it was his girlfriend who wanted me … and not the other way around.  

Control your hooker, fool, I prodded, poking emotionally. 

His friends laughed and ooo’d and aww’d.

Chewy took two giant steps behind me, making room. Giant.

And then I made one last effort to avoid what was inevitable. I told him in cold, clear, economical sentences once we began dancing I would not stop. I wasn’t going to give up. I got into his head by explaining how he’s probably only had fights that’ve lasted thirty seconds. I told him I’d take an attack on my person as an attempt on my life, and that being the case … I’d make sure he never forgot his choice. I told him he would remember me forever.

That’s when I noticed him flinch.

It was subtle. Very quick. A tiny amount of fear entered his consciousness, and he swallowed and blinked simultaneously.

Before I could turn around to see exactly where Chewy was in relation to me, my head snapped. The left side of my jaw was hit with a vulgar display of power. My bone structure is such that it absorbs punches nicely, and I’ve yet to have it fractured. No glass jaw, me.  

He hit like a small Vietnamese girl. 

Having calibrated his strength, confidence shot through my body. I was going to beat his ass, and I knew he would realize I was going to beat him down, … and then I would punish him at his moment of realization.

Warn. Pacify. Beat. Teach. Force submission.

It’s a formula I’ve only employed a few times, saving it for special circumstances. 

When I was 15 years old, I was the youngest member of the varsity baseball squad. I was a catcher, and I had an arm like a canon. My rate for snagging base runners was something like 60 percent, and I hit balls so hard they actually bowed. 

I was a little monster.

The opposing team was losing badly, and we were stacking runs upon runs.

Someone called a hit on me. The first pitch plunked against the backstop, obvious chin music. The umpire was so unnerved, he came around the plate and formally warned the opposing team's pitcher and its coach. 

My mom screamed my name in horror.

The next pitch hit me in the ribs. I was fucking drilled. 80 miles an hour of blunt instrument. Ouch.

I walked slowly down the first base line, holding my side. The umpire made the motion of extracting the pitcher from the game. The pitcher was done. I looked over at the scene, and the pitcher nodded in my direction and smiled. I spit blood onto the chalked line.

I stopped.

This wasn’t a game. This guy could’ve killed me. No way was I going to let him get away so easily.

While the opposing coach and my coach argued with the umpire, I methodically walked across the diamond toward the other team’s dugout and at the team's grinning pitcher.     

Hey! I shouted inside at the motherfucker who assaulted me.  

After the game, I am going to make you pay for this, and I lifted my shirt to expose a huge welt. I spit more blood outside the dugout. Our third base coach noticed me and ran over. The opposing team jeered and rattled the dugout’s fence in my direction like caged animals. I was so mad I was willing to fight every single one of them. The third base coach pulled me away.

As we walked back, I heard the pitcher worriedly exclaim I was unhinged.

I looked over my shoulder and nodded at him, giving him the international sign for bad things are headed your way, bitch.

After the game, I left my gear in a corner, and I walked down to the parking lot. 

The other team was boarding their bus. 

The Baby Jesus made it so the pitcher was next to last in line. He was tall and skinny, and so I had to jump a little.

I cleaned his clock.

I hit him so hard on the side of the head he spun around and fell to the ground. I hit him so hard I fractured my right hand's pinky. 

Dude had a hard skull.

My teammates ran down the hill toward me, and the opposing team tried to overpower their coaches who were blocking the bus’ exit. 

I stood there, waiting for the pitcher to get back up. I was going to knock him down again until he couldn’t get back up.

He stayed down, massaging his head, stunned. I spit blood onto to his under-jersey. Bitch.

My coaches and mother yelled about how the game was over, and that I shouldn’t have carried the fight into the parking lot.

Next time, I said, he’ll think twice before coming anywhere near me.

And, just as I predicted, word got around the league I was a sociopath. Batters in front of me were hit. Batters behind me in the lineup were hit. 

I wasn’t hit again the entire year. 

When we faced their team at their school, the pitcher walked over to me during warm ups and attempted to apologize. I told him to turn around and walk away before I made him handicapped for life.

Jesus, the coach said, resting his fungo-bat on his shoulder (I’ll never forget), you’re crazy! I was pulled out of class the next day, and sent to the school psychologist.

When someone wrongs you, seek an authority figure. Do not take things into your own hands, the school shrink ordered.

No, I answered. That is exactly too late, and I know you won’t do anything. I can take care of myself.

And so here I was years later in a similar situation, rubbing my newly struck mouth. 

I was minding my own business, living, and some dude decided to impose his will upon me. Fuck that.

Some would walk away. Normally I would’ve. I swear. THE DUDE ASSAULTED ME, unprovoked. Some would call the cops. Me? NEVER. Cops are not the answer. Not ever.

His friends again ooo’d and awww’d, and even they were surprised by his chickenshit move.

I tackled guy-dude-bro at the waist and drove him onto the ground, forcing his back deep into the sand. He struggled by hitting me in the ears, and I used the surrounding sand to obscure his vision after head-butting him three times as he lay. He writhed and wiggled, and somehow managed to get himself face-down, breathing and spitting sand crazily.

I wrapped his arms behind, hogtying, meeting his hands at the small of his back. I used my knee to secure them in place. And with BOTH HANDS I held his neck, forcing his head deeper into the sand.

You’re killing him! the girlfriend shrieked.

I lifted his head by way of my right hand’s holding of his hair, allowing him to taste air for a moment, and then I forced his face back down. With my left hand, I continued plying him with sand.

All the sudden he stopped resisting and his body went flat.

I disembarked, turning him over. I brushed off his face. He was breathing. 

He was simply in shock. His eyes opened after a few seconds, half-mast. I rose, dusting myself. Chewy came over, asking again if I was okay, but this time not knowing the answer. Fuck, he whispered, I was worried there for a second you were not going to allow him back up

We both looked down at guy-dude-bro.

I purposefully stood over his face, and I yelled so loudly I probably rattled the teeth of passersby. 

Remember this, fuck sauce! You were seconds away from death. I could’ve ended your shitty life tonight. To make that last sentence stick, I kicked sand onto his face.

Chewy grabbed my arm, yanking me onto the boardwalk. We entered a nearby tavern, and he bought me a beer. Dude, he laughed shaking his head, I can’t believe you head-butted him! Go wash off your face.

Guy-dude-bro was carried to the walk by his buddies, damn-near in front of us. They sat him on the wall. One of them caught sight of Chewy and I at the bar's top deck.

Out of the corner of his mouth, Chewy said, On the count of three, raise your beer in their direction.

And I mean it.  


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