"...because she (and I) always knew it was going to be like that, and it was...."
It's Thursday after work, I go home, pay some bills, watch a little TV, planning on staying home and reading, listening to classical music.
But then I drank the last of the Jameson, and felt better, and then my mind clicked, just like Brick (Paul Newman) says in his speech in the bedroom. That little lever flicks in my mind, and I'm urged to go out, against all better judgement.
I walk to My Place (#272) No one in there, really, just Uncle John and some Mexicans playing pool. But that's okay because they have ESPN on and I watch them talk about sports; highlights are fun to watch and Uncle John is sweet and talks to me, always says I'm a nice/good guy. He buys me a shot of Jack Daniels, then another of Jameson, apologizing for the Jack "I forget, you like the Jameson." I smile and say, "it's cool, thank you Uncle John, I really shouldn't even be out tonight." The Mexicans leave, but one. Danny stays behind to drink a Heineken and we chat about baseball and the Lamp Post. Then he leaves, and I say good night to Uncle John.
Touhy is quiet, but the alcoholics in my head are whispering for more, so I find myself sitting in the Lamp Post (#255), sipping a Heineken and looking at the big chested Blond bartender. The crowd is just Big Jim and some sport/jock yahooos, so there is no reason to stay.
I cut down Lunt to Clark Street. The houses are big and beautiful, even in streetlight/darken moonlight under the trees with their grass lots and eaves and lattice work. I feel buzzed and envious and alone. And poor.
Gallagher's (#271) is slow. Only a few of the bar girls, but Tanya and Bianney are working, so I pass the beers chatting and teasing them, acting the fool for a laugh. The manager, Raul, stops by my bar stool and says hello, shaking my hand. The regular bouncer, Dave, isn't working tonight, in fact quit this week. Rasta Drunk Don is working tonight as Security, but I wonder if the bar is actually paying him, since really all he does is walk around and bum cigarettes and beer off of me. But we talk and he's always hugging my shoulders and telling me about his construction work. He wants to give me another shirt, this time a Boy Scout dress shirt, but I tell him, "no, that's cool, but thanks." I end up talking to some Mexican guy named Cesar. He just moved to the area, and is trying to make friends to go out with. I sort of feel for the guy since I only go out alone nowadays. I give him my number, knowing he'll probably never call, and knowing I'll probably not call him back if he does, but why not, eh? We're all looking for some kind of connection. He dances with one of the bar girls, then finishes his drink, says good night to me, and leaves.
It is nearing closing, and I have to work tomorrow (later today?), so I get up to leave. Wave to Tanya and Bienney, and step outside.
The air is cool, a nip of coolness fall in the air. I breathe deep and turn to Clark Street. Maybe I'll get a couple of tacos on the way home. I shove my hands in my pockets to brace myself for the walk and against the chill in the air, and take a few steps away from the door.
A black girl in a pink T-shirt passes me, a half-block behind her is a guy in white jumper with blue stripes. He is yelling at her, something, I can't remember, but it sounds like they are arguing. I look back. She keeps walking away, almost to the metra tracks.
I turn back, and the guy stops and says, "hey, you want her to give you a blow job?"
"No, no thanks."
"Yeah, she's going to give you a blow job here in the alley."
"No, that's cool."
He grabs my by the front of my sweatshirt, twisting it in his hand, pushes me in the alley. I'm thrown against the wall.
"Let me go, let go!" I shout at him.
I'm thrown against the wall again, and my hand is being twisted around, "calm down, man!" I feel pain shoot threw my left ring finger, it's bending all over the place. "you want me to break it?"
I trip, or he pushes me onto the alley floor, I squirm and yell, "get off me, let me go!"
"Shut up!" and there is a calloused hand over my mouth, the woman in pink is there, grabbing for my wallet; I clamp my hand on it, shove it further into my back pocket while he twists my neck around, pushing my head into the concrete.
Suddenly, there are three other women, all hands in all my pockets, my glasses are gone, one hand on my chest, another on my face, as I yell four or five times:
"Raul! Help! Raaauuuuul!"
It's the only name I can think of to shout. I am embarrassed, only two store doors away from the bar's door. I am being overtaken by women, beat up, one of them is standing on my crotch--grinding my middle pelvic bone with her shoe. Fuck, it's like I'm a little kid again, always the victim of stronger bullies. She holds up my ID, "We got your ID fucker!"
I lose my grip on the wallet; it's gone, as well as my cigarettes.
He slams me against the ground again, and then they are gone, running toward Clark Street.
I lay in the alley for a moment. Helpless, bruised and in pain. My glasses! I crawl around the alley, searching for them in the dim light. Two Mexican guys walk by, "I just got jumped, can you help me find my glasses?"
They keep walking. They probably don't know English.
I find my glasses and put them on, steadying myself, and a cop pulls up, "are you okay?" she asks.
Someone had called 911-- four Black people are beating up a white guy.
I blurt out fast what happened and the best description I can. They tell me to get in the back of the car. I'm strangely calm as I give my report and information.
They shoot the car forward fast to the end of the block. "You recognize either of those two?"
Standing by another cop car parked diagonal in the street is a guy in a white tank top with a tiny Mohawk and a black girl in a pink T-shirt. I don't recognize his face, I say. The cops tell me he cruises the area, usually dressed as a woman. I can't make a positive ID, so they let him go. He walks away from the cop car and yells something, and something in the way he moves, I recognize him as maybe being one of the whores I've walked by denied business on Clark Street a few weeks ago. I don't know his/her name.
The police take me home where I call The Bank, leave a message: "I can't come into work on Friday."
I cancel all the cards ("did you use your Discover Card at an ATM in the last hour?" "No" Man, they moved fast.) and try to remember what else I'm missing. The phone rings.
I am being picked up by the cops again. They caught the guy, the Mohawk dude, they found all my cards on him. They take me to the station.
I sit in the break room, talking to some Rasta guy (his friend is asleep on the table, snoring loud). They are there to report a drive-by shooting in The Jungle. No one got hit, but four cars now have bullet holes. We talk about how bad the neighborhood's gotten, and his love for pot (rasta, mon!). We agree: people need to leave people the fuck alone.
I see the female cop through the window coming toward us, holding a white and blue jumper. I start pointing and nodding my head, "yes, that's the jacket."
They give me my Court Date, sign for the cards they recovered ("he claims to have 'found' them on the street"), no wallet/ID/etc. I sign some other forms, a police report of the incident. To much time took place between event and capture, so he is up for a misdemeanor of battery instead of a felony charge...I think Strong Arm Battery--no weapon.
They drive me home. I call work again, to let them know I got The Bank's business card back, so it may be alright. I pick up Lilly, and head to bed, fully clothed. My whole right side hurts, throbs with some inner bruise. My neck feels twisted. I have a headache. The next day, I see I have a shiner, a reminder: if you think you should go home earlier in the night, go home.