Free Counter
ab scissors

Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A Peice of the Meat Market

The small town where I live, is the headquarters to an international oil company. This company is what put our town on the map. It's the foundation from which all the other money came. It's like this town has it's own gravitational pull when it comes to attracting people who are loaded.

As a result of the proliferation of wealth here, this tends to be a very conservative, very stuffy, very "old money" place.

Everywhere, but at the local "meat market." We'll just call the place "Whiskey's." For a while, I was a waiter at Whiskey's. Whiskey's has the most diverse clientle. There's the bikers (who like to get liquored up at the local biker bar, then go on the prowl at Whiskey's;) the whiggers, the wannabes (gang-bangers and cowboys), lowriders, crack whores, gold diggers, losers and virgins. And that doesn't include the college crowd or factory workers.

There's a reason for the diversity: there's no competition. It was the only meat market in town.

The family who owns Whiskey's is a "new-money" family. Around here, there's old money, and there's new money. It's amazing how all the people in the new money crowd, try to get in tight with the old money crowd; it's never the other way around.

The patriarch of the family who owns Whiskey's is different, though. Unlike his ex-wife and one son, he could care less about the old money crowd. This guy drives an old, beat up pickup truck. He wears flannel shirts, blue jeans, large belt buckles, and work boots. He's a millionaire several times over. He lives in an apartment, in an apartment complex he owns; the complex takes up half a block.

He has two sons. One takes after the old man: he's the manager of Whiskey's. He lives in an apartment across the hall from his dad. His name is Jake.

The other son, takes after the step-mom (once removed). He drives a Porshe and lives in a Tudor mansion in the swanky, "old money" part of town; just down the street from the step mom's Spanish-styled mansion. She drives a convertible, two-seater Mercedes. Very European. (She claims she went to college, but rumor has it, she just has a GED.) Very smart woman, though.

She went from a being a single-mom with a new-born daughter, working as a cocktail waitress at a hotel bar, to marrying a night club owner, to owning half the night club - in one divorce.

Her step-son, Jake, is the manager of Whiskey's because he's tough - just like the old man. He's short and thin, but very strong. He struts around the place like a bantom rooster. He likes cowboy hats. He wears flannel shirts and cowboy boots. He's been known to single-handedly throw bikers out, just for being drunk and rowdy. They go through the door - whether it's open, or not. Then, he'll ask that guy's buddies if they'd like to be next. It's all in a day's work for Jake.

Jake's a great guy. Just don't fuck with him. That's all.

One night, a group of Marines came in. There were six of them. Don't know where they came from, or why they were there. There's no military bases anywhere near here. But, they came in.

They played pool for hours. They kept to themselves, only stopping to go to the bathroom and to get more drinks from the bar. They got drunker, and drunker.

I was checking on my customers near the pool tables. I overheard the conversation that started it all. It was between two of the Marines.

"Eight-ball, corner pocket."

The cue ball drops in the side pocket, the eight ball, in the corner. There was a hundred dollar bill laying on one of the rails. The opponent grabs it, and says, "Nice game."

"Wait a minute. I sank it, just like I called it."

"Yeah, but you scratched on the eight - game over."

"I don't play like that."

"I do. What're gonna do about it?" He stuffs the hundred in his wallet.

Man, that was it! Usually, when fights break out, there's alot of posturing. You know, "Chicken" "Pussy" "Chicken" "Pussy," that type of thing. There was usually a warning. Not this time.

The guy who scratched on the eight, with skill and lightning speed, grabs the pool table, and shoves it across the floor, pinning his opponent to the wall. In the same motion he used to move the pool table, his fist flies through the air, hitting his opponent so hard in the chin, that his head bounced back and forth, from the wall to his chest, several times, in what seemed like a split second.

This would have laid an ordinary man out - cold. But this was no ordinary man. He was also a Marine. Angered, he grabs the pool table, and for a brief moment, the pool table's legs are suspended in mid air - both men trying to shove the pool table toward the other guy; the force from the tug-of-war, lifting it off the ground. The Marine who pocketed the money was stronger, and the pool table flips from the tension, in the direction of his attacker.

With the pool table on the floor, upside down, the guy who pocketed the hundred jumps on it - he has the high ground. From his perch, he throws a punch with a motion like a guy swinging a sickle. The guy who scratched on the eight, goes flying backward through the air, hitting the wall behind him. That's when I decided to get the hell out of the way.

These guys weren't fooling around. For some strange reason, the other four Marines started fighting eachother, at that same time. Don't know why - they just did.

The step-mom frantically runs out of her office, her arms waving in the air. Her tits gyrating around in her designer blouse, from the awkward posture of running in high heels: "Don't call the cops! Don't call the cops!" (Every time the cops are called, it's points against their liquor license.) This was a very undignified look for someone who's trying to get in with the old money crowd. But, she was desparate.

Pretty soon, the whole place erupts into one, gigantic brawl. In the center of it, the Marines were fighting eachother. Quite a few of the male patrons in the nightclub swarmed around the Marines, trying to force them out. The Marines didn't even notice. Nobody could match them. They were too busy doing what they do best: fighting a worthy opponent; in this case, themselves.

The male patrons formed a group of concentric circles around the Marines. There were hundreds of them. In the circle closest to the Marines, bodies fell backward, as if they were lifeless. Men were jumping over them, in a mad throng, and they fell backward as well. Pretty soon, the Marines stopped fighting eachother, and started shoving outward, making the inner circle wider, and wider. Bones broke. Pool sticks whipped through the air. Tables, chairs, cigarette machines, all schreeched across the floor.

Behind the bar, a woman's voice screams: "I don't give a fuck what you saw, you call the cops, and you're fired! No ambulances - no cops!" It was the step-mom. She handles the money, her step-son handles everything else, and the old man just sits at the same bar stool every night - laughing loudly, slapping old men on the back, telling dirty jokes. He's rich. He doesn't care.

The whole place looked like a giagantic mosh-pit. Waves of people shoved one way, toward the Marines, then, with the same rhythm, they swayed back. This went back and forth, like kelp ebbing and flowing in the tide.

Jake, the personnel director/owner's son, impatiently starts shoving people out of the way, making his way toward the Marines. He screams at the top of his lungs with all the authority he can muster: "My daddy says you guys gotta leave! Right now!"

There was this sickening sound: the combination of a slap and a thud, as one of the Marines hit Jake in the face. Jake was lying on the floor, his eyes rolled in back of his head, his body convulsing, as if in a seizure.

Behind the bar, a woman's voice screams: "Get the smelling salts, damn it, right now! Get the smelling salts. He'll be allright. Just get 'em now!" It was the step-mom.

A group of barmaids rushes over to Jake, who's still convulsing on the floor. One of them cracks open the pack, and shoves it under his nose. The others are huddled around him, holding his head off the floor, grabbing his wrists, trying to get him to stand, as his head whips around, reacting to the smell of the salts. They all showed the type of disregaurd for themselves, as a group of veteran, battle-field nurses. All hell was breaking loose around them.

The step mom runs over to the barmaids, getting on her knees in her designer skirt, her breasts against the back of Jake's head. She starts slapping Jake in the face, using quick, soft, strokes, to get him to respond. He looks up at her. He'll be allright.

The step-mom moves her hands under Jake's arms, grabbing the top of his shoulders with her hands. With her back hunched from his weight, she drags him behind the bar, with the bar maids trying to keep up, trying to keep his feet off the floor.

The old man comes up to me: "Seems like the bouncers are having a tough time of it." I felt like saying, "No shit! Ain't a single one of them concious." (All four of them were knocked out.)

"Could you help out the bouncers, please?"

I walk over to one of the Marines. He was outside the circle, knocking the shit out of anything that came his way. He stops, and points at me. I'll never forget this: He reminded me of a cobra, ready to strike. The thing that makes this so memorable is, his eyesballs were shaking, back and forth, in perfect unison; very quickly, like they had electric current running through them. The rest of his body was perfectly still, but his eyesballs were shaking. With his finger pointed at me, he said, "Touch me, and I'll fucking kill you!"

I look back at the owner. "I don't make enough money for this."

"Just grab a broom and dustpan, and start cleaning up some of the broken glass."

I didn't listen to him. I walked over to the support pillar the old man was leaning against. I leaned against the other side, taking the whole thing in. He didn't notice that I didn't listen to him. How could he? The whole thing was so unreal.

The whole mob starts moving toward the foyer. The Marines were making a break for the door. Bodies start crashing into, and through the foyer doors. They piled into the foyer, then bodies start crashing through the other set of the foyer doors. The fight was spilling outside, into the parking lot. Across the street, was a restuarant that was closed. The fight spilled out into that parking lot, as well.

You could hear the squealing of tires in the nightclub parking lot. There was yelling, and screaming.

Inside, the step-mom is leading a group of well-dressed women from the restrooms. The DJ shoved all the female patrons into the restrooms during the fracas. The step-mom is grabbing one of the women's arms, up near the armpit. The step-mom has a look of fierce determination in her eyes, while making eye contact with this group of women. To the one she's grabbing by the arm: "Look, I know it looks bad, but just walk around, and identify the ones who need help the most."

To the other women: "You get them in your cars, and drive them to the hospital, immediately, understand?"


"I'll tell my ex (husband,) that he's got to start letting your husband Mulligan some shots to even up the scores a little, OK? This would mean alot to me if you could just do this, exactly the way I told you, OK? The cops can't find out how bad this really is. Just get these people to the hospital, before the cops show up, OK?" Her face had a look of pleading, and impatience.

The women did as they were told. The nightclub employees, and some of the male patrons, helped the women carry the bad ones, into their cars. The step-mom was calmly walking around, pointing at people and things, getting stuff moved back to where it belonged. The bar maids were behind the bar with Jake. They were pouring him shots of whiskey to help take the edge off his pain.

The DJ was back in his booth. The step-mom snaps her fingers from across the room, getting his attention. She points her finger in the air, and whirls it around to indicate he should start up.

Dance music starts booming through the speakers. Frantically, the step-mom moves her finger across her throat several times, signaling "Cut it, cut it!"

The music stops. Knuckles facing outward, she rolls her hand back and forth, from her chest, toward the DJ, signaling, "Go on."

The music booms again, but this time, it's a jazzy, fifties ballad: "Mack the Knife."

She raises her hand above her head, her hand parallel with the floor. Keeping her hand paralell with the floor, she moves it downward, signaling, "Turn it down."

The DJ lowers the volume considerably. The step-mom winks, and flashes a thumbs-up. She goes back to calmly bossing people around, getting things moved back to their original locations, quickly.

Things were back to normal, except the absence of wall-shaking hip-hop, and a floor full of dancers.

The cops never came.