Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tall Pete Goes Down Again (revised)

By hughgee

(sorry, Pete, but this one's a good one. And I didn't make you out to be an idiot this time. In fact, if you hadn't got wailed in the balls, you'd probably still be kicking some serious arse in this story. Just don't mess with this waitress again, that's all...)

I went into my favorite haunt of days gone by. Myrtle’s Roadhouse. Never did get the low down on Myrtle but Sam the bartender was still there working it. The place hadn’t change—except for one thing. Big Ed. Big Fast Easy Ed was nowhere to be found. Big Fast Eddie was the bouncer, or had been. Strange, thought I, parking my butt at my same old stool as ever. The same seedy sorts were here. The place was known for fights breaking out. Well, occasionally anyway. And from the looks of this crowd, one could break out now. Bunch of riff-raff. Some things never change. But Ed, Eddie, Fast Eddie. Where was he? I looked and looked again. Nope. Not like you could miss the guy. Ed was 6’7” and had played football at Alcorn State. Did a little wrestling, did he, did ol’ Ed. Ed used to pimp the occasional betty for me, back when we called them betties, not bitches. No, something had changed. And not just that pretty, young waitress. Waitresses were always coming and going. Co-eds from Alcorn. Nothing new about that.

“Hey, Sam,” I called. He made like he was pouring me the usual, Sam Adams on tap, and I didn’t hardly stop him. But that’s not what I really wanted. Big Ed was my hero.

“Hey,” I called, “Where’s Big Ed?”

”Gone,” he replied, not looking up from the tilted, filling mug. “Didn’t need ‘im no more.”

I looked around the bar again. All these treacherous faces. Then, turning back to receive my glass of suds, I said, “Could’ve fooled me.”

“Oh, we got a bouncer, all right,” he reassured me, adjusting the terry cloth white bartender’s towel draped around his neck. Then, chuckling, sighing heavily, he continued. “Yep, we still got a bouncer.”

“Who?” I asked. “Where? I don’t see nobody.”

“There,” he pointed.

I looked and the only thing standing in that direction was the new waitress, Li'l Miss Flavor of the Month.

“Where?” I asked again.

He looked peevishly at me this time. The guy was busy. Then, motioning with a shake of his head in the same general direction “You’re looking at her.”

“What?!” I responded incredulously.

“Don’t no shit happen ‘round here no more,” Sam said in his vintage-Sam, jacked-up grammar, then went back into the kitchen, through that greasy, creaking old door with the metal plate at the bottom, leaving me there to turn around, examining this waitress, still wondering what the hell he meant.

Just then, noise. Big noise. Noise like old-style--commotion at one of the tables over in the back corner.

“Yeah--bullshit!” roared some dude.

I ain’t good with voices, but with faces I’m tight, and sure enough, I recognized the guy making the ruckus when he stood up. Tall Pete. Good ol’ Pete. I remember that guy. How could you not? The guy’s huge, been coming here since before I was old enough to buy beer, which is about when I first started coming here. I used to think it would’ve been bitchin’ to see a fight between old Easy Ed and Tall Pete. Pete was the one guy who could’ve taken him—maybe. Still wearing those old long-sleeved red flannels like a lumberjack. Still the same flat-top.

“Well you wanna make something out it—C’MON!” Tall Pete roared in his deep, intimidating baritone. Four beers, he was a pussy cat. Eight, he was a mad man. Yeah, I remember Pete. Been working out some more, quite obviously. Good ol’ Pete. Same like always. 6’4” or so, angular but ripped. Well he was a helluva lot more ripped than even I remember. I went to college, he hit the weight room. He leaned over the table at some other guy, really bearing in there. The guy was bald and big but kind of fat and no way could he have been a match for Pete. Nevertheless, being drunk, no doubt, the guy wasn’t exactly backing off, and he stood up and shoved Pete back, catching him off guard, sending Pete reeling back off to a table off to the side almost.

“Hey, man,” the dudes at that table complained. One fierce look from ol’ Pete and they shut the hell up though.

Shit. Here he comes.


Pete decked the guy, just like that. The guy went down but not out. Dude, the guy could take a punch. He was getting back up. Tall Pete was just stepping around the table to see what else the guy had, laid the guy out for good, that whole section of the room was scooting screeching chairs and circled up mini-mayhem, when—no way. In comes that waitress! She was actually trying to separate the two.

The other guy was on his feet again; rubbing his jaw, but the little lass was there now in between these two buff dudes, both of whom towered over her like Godzilla vs. Monster X over Tokyo.

She couldn’t have been more than 5’3”, she wore the same old red and white showboatin’ hillbilly gingham mini-skirt dress Sam still puts all his waitresses in, oversized doily white apron with the big red ribbon spread over, and red pumps clacking on the black linoleum muffled by Sam’s trademark sawdust he’s still spreading around this floor to hide the peanut shells and whatever other shit people throw out or throw up or whatever. Onyx black hair done up in a bun at the back, pretty and somewhat exotic face with a slightly protruding narrow jaw line and a bulbous big nose, large, dark, round eyes with long black lashes girded over by strikingly furry thick eyebrows—sans tweezers mayhaps a unibrow—she looked a little middle-easterny-looking, which is strange for these parts, and though she was a little on the short side , she was also slender and long-limbed, with large-ish hands and feet, not like some sawed-off gals who’re all torso and can still tip the scales. This gal couldn’t’ve been more than 110 pounds or so. A very incongruous sight to behold, this slight little girl trying to break up a fight between these two behemoths.

This one guy wanted no more part of Tall Pete, that was clear. The guy was turning around, still busy rubbing his jaw, and walking the opposite direction, turning back, headed in the direction of the Men’s Room. Tall Pete was really soused. I usually never saw him like this. He was a guy who usually liked keepin’ it cool, but he was going after the guy.

Just then he stopped though. Just when he was going around the waitress, shoving her aside with a big paw, ol’ Pete just stopped dead in his tracks. Not only that, it looked like…well, it looked like he started giving her a hug or something, like they were embracing. I thought, 'What the hell?' His back bent forward and his head and neck suddenly craned over like that, over the gal’s shoulder, and then his countenance was cradled right on her shoulder, rather gently and softly, too.

Did he know this girl, this little waitress? I couldn’t see what was going on too good so I stretched a little forward on my barstool.

Shit. Now I saw. No way. No shit. The little gal had him by the balls. Holy smokes. I wouldn’t have thought she could get such a good grip, what with his thick-looking Levi’s he was wearing, but then I could see she had a couple of fingernails really digging in there. His face was turned to the side and his cheek was resting on the back of her shoulder blade, his face was facing me and it looked like he might’ve been drooling. She was calm, totally, completely calm and in control about the whole thing and she was apparently whispering something in his ear. Tall Pete must’ve been listening. Don’t see how he couldn’t have been. All the fight had gone out of him.

Sonuvabitch, I thought, he looks like he just swallowed a brick or something.

Just then, after she told him whatever she told him, she starts back-stepping it towards the door. Same front door where I’d just come in from, Sam’s old-style swinging saloon front doors that creak like old football players’ knees. She’s backing it on up, backing it on up, and she’s taking Tall Pete with her, all right; she’s taking Pete by his balls. Holy shit. She’s pullin’ and he’s followin’. Boy does he look silly. Okay, he looked real silly; all hunched over like that, his pelvis leading the way. Like a retard winning the hundred yard dash, leaning half-back, half-in to break the tape. On his face was submission, shock, and awe. And maybe a bit more drool, I couldn’t tell.

She went through the doors and there goes Pete right behind and then them two were gone, and then I hear some giant, shriek of a howl out there, way out in the parking lot not three or four seconds after they’d left. She’d done something. She’d done something to him. Something bad and it came from Pete. Poor frickin’ Pete. I couldn’t believe this. I don’t what, but she did something. A few guys were looking out the window but not me. Call me a beer connoisseur but nothing gets me away from a Sam Adams. Not even an unusual sight like this.

I finished my beer and the gal came back around that time through the swinging saloon doors, entering to a few admiring cat-calls and a timid congratulation here and there. She went back to serving tables and I ordered another. Well, it wasn’t long before I finished that one, and believe me it was even less long before I ordered another, and sonuvagun if I didn’t go a finish that one too. I was on a roll.

I don’t know how long it was, I don’t know how much time had gone by. 30 minutes maybe. I don’t know. I had a nice buzz going, liquid courage in my veins making it a helluva lot easier to forget what I just saw. Anyway, the doors swung open again—and there was Tall Pete. He looked himself again. Big, tall, foreboding and pissed-off. Guess he passed that brick.

“Where is she?” he demanded. He was breathing heavily and was quite obviously in a rage.

“Oh, shit,” some dude said.

Some other guy, a little guy—think it was Danimal Johnston—yeah that little squid’s still makin’ it up this way—well he gets up and tries taking Pete by the arm, motioning back out the door, saying, “Pete—Pete, now you know you don’t wanna do this. C’mon, let’s go outside.”

Pete shook Danimal off like a horse ridding himself of a fly; he takes a few more steps towards the middle of the room.

“Where the f#ck is she?” he again bellowed.

The gal was outside the side door, serving it up at the patio. They still got a few tables outside there where they serve pub grub and chips and what all. Well anyway she had just come in and Pete spotted her and she spots him. He pointed at her, and spat shot through his teeth as he growled out some incoherent threat like you’d expect from a rabid dog, more bark and spewed fomenting saliva than words. Poor ol’ Pete was loaded. I’d never seen ‘im like this.

The waitress, still unmoved if you’re going by just pure facial expression, methodically sat her serving tray down and took a few measured paces toward him, then did one of them pre-combat, stiff-legged, air-striking karate poses where they go “HAH!” and that’s what she did, right after stepping out of her pumps and standing on the linoleum and sawdust in her bare feet.

“Oh, shit,” I heard another male voice say.

“Pete, Pete,” said another. “Pete, get outta there, man.”

“Oh, shit,” I heard again from somebody else.

Sam himself goes, “I can’t watch this” from back behind me, behind the bar there, then I hear the kitchen door swing open and shut. Sam. Always was a bit squeamish when it came to this stuff. But then again, wasn’t too keen on seeing a girl get beat down neither.

Most of the room gathered in a circle, so I couldn’t see shit again. Guess I gotta get off my duff, thought I. I wormed my way through the crowd—and just in time too.

Pete was in some kind of a southpaw, lurching, boxing pose and he took a drunken roundhouse, hairy-fisted swing at this gal which she ducked, and then she came up with—sonuvabitch—she came right back at ‘im with the scariest foot I ever saw.

I wouldn’t have thought she could have kicked a man in the balls from where he was standing and from where she was standing, Pete being smart enough even when drunk to stand to the side in front of her. But f#ck—she did it. She nailed ‘im. Holy shit, she got him all right. Pete was down and out. Oh man, he’s out of commission for who knows how long. Somebody call a doctor or something.

A hushed and cautious “Oooooh” reverberated through the crowd of all guys.

Some kind of a round house kick from the gates of hell. Dude, she kicked around the side of his hip, right out from nowhere, and her foot went out and then it went up and in and it made a frickin’ loud CRACK on his crotch as it made impact. Them Levi’s were no protection against that even less than before. Shit, you’d need some kind of tank armor. What a frickin’ kick! She just stood there over him and goes right back to her job, picking up the serving tray and setting foot in them red pumps, clickety-clack all over, there she goes. But I’m thinking, Sonuvabitch, what a frickin’ kick! I’m serious. Her leg went all like rubber and she didn’t muscle it in. F#ck, she’d whipped it in, like her foot’s a frickin’ mace or something at the end of a frickin’ chain! And her ankle bone—it was like it was some big ball bearing keeping her foot loose on end. Loose and deadly. Holy shit. It flailed all over loose, toes and bone and big oversized gal’s foot, like the shock of it took some recoil vibrations right after, and before she could set her foot back down. Wow. Wow. I felt a pang of sympathy pain just watching. And I still felt it, watching her walk past me around the bar to the kitchen. I still felt it watching poor ol’ Pete just laying there.

“Guys, get ‘im outta here,” I heard from behind me. Sam again. “Clean up this mess,” he said. His voice was sheepish, subdued. “Let’s get back to havin’ a good time, boys.”

It took two guys to drag Tall Pete out of there, both dragging him by his permanently bent elbows as he clutched away down at his nuts and stared wide and misty-eyed off into open space.

The waitress came back out with a tray of hot wings. She walked past me, going back out to the patio. She said nothing. Just doing her job, that’s all. I saw it now. She could save Sam money. She sure could. Who needs Ed? Have the waitress do his job. I had visions of ol’ big Ed, out on the unemployment line, picking up government cheese. Hey, I was loaded. But I got it. Boy did I ever.

I remember not feeling too good right then. Not feeling so strong, I mean. I mean as a dude, that is. Well, you get the picture. If you don’t, then you don’t have to carry around a sack of nuts between your legs your whole life. Holy shit.

“Sam,” I said, “Pour me another Sam Adams, and make it a double.”

“A what?”

“You heard me.”

He poured and he looked at me. He must’ve seen my sunken expression.

“I know, I know,” he says. “But hey, it’s just business.”

He gave me my beer and I drank. I drank like a sonuvabitch. And I kept my mouth shut.

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