Mindless Violence on a Sunday Night

A little after 10 pm Kate and I got to Pine St. & 3rd Ave to catch a bus home. We had been out with my old friend and bandmate Amanda at a vegan pizza place in the U-District, which was pretty good but vegan “cheese” still doesn’t melt. I wouldn’t normally have Kate out that late on a school night but Amanda comes to town rarely and this was our chance to get together.

So anyway, we’re waiting for our bus and I hate this stop late at night. It’s a nexus point for drunks, wannabe gangstas, junkies, and other nocturnal denizens. There’s always some bullshit going on and it’s not a matter of if you’ll get hassled, but how. Last year some jackass pulled an assault rifle out of his trunk and killed someone who insulted him a block away from our stop. Oh yeah, good times.

Tonight we walked up on a confrontation between a drunk guy and a middle aged guy with a walker. It may have been racially motivated, as I think the guy with the walker was native American and I heard him yell at the other guy, “I’m not your people.” I don’t know what the beef was, but the drunky insisted being a bigtime antagonist. I’m not sure what was wrong with the middle-aged guy (he seemed to have on some kind of knee supports as well) but he got so pissed that he picked up his walker and started swinging it at the drunk guy like a big club. Asshole kept dodging back and taunting him. He then caught the walker and started trying to wrestle it from the other guy’s grasp. The two of them spilled into the middle of Third Avenue and continued to struggle.

This is when it got surreal. You see, normally Third Ave is a busy street. Even at this time of night, there’s a decent amount of traffic. Minutes before, I could look down the road and see like six buses. Yet when these two moved into the street the traffic disappeared. For a good three minutes no cars or buses were visible anywhere on the street. I kept expecting a bus to come barreling down or the cops to roll up, but there was nothing but this brawl.

There were a good 40 people on the block watching this drama unfold. Older folks shook their heads in disapproval, while teenagers whooped and hollered and egged the fight on. Not one person tried to stop it. Finally, I said to Kate, “I really feel like I need to do something.” Kate grabbed my arm, pulled herself close, and said, “Please don’t!” She didn’t want to see me hurt and I didn’t want to leave Kate stranded alone downtown with Nicole still away. I felt like shit, but I stood there with everyone else. The drunk finally took a couple of hits from the walker but this didn’t seem to faze him.

At this point our bus pulled up. It stopped right in front of them and started honking its horn. They did not get out of the street. I saw drunky eying the other guy’s hat, which had come off in the scuffle. I picked up the hat and put it back on its owner’s head. Then I turned to the drunk and said, “Give it a rest.” They were both so focused on each other that neither noticed. Kate and I then boarded the bus.

As we were finding seats, somehow the tide turned. Walker guy had gotten his arms around the drunk and body slammed him head first into the wall. The whole bus went, “Whoah!” Drunky ended up on all fours, with the other guy on top of him. The last thing we saw was the now walkerless guy reaching up between the drunk’s legs and cockpunching him. Can’t say he didn’t deserve it. Then the bus roared away.

I wish Kate hadn’t had to witness that scene. I wish I had stopped it from getting that far.

3 thoughts on “Mindless Violence on a Sunday Night

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. You had to think of your family first.

    As a dad of an 11-year-old and a wife out of town for a few weeks AND our nearest family an hour and a half away, I think ALL the time about what would happen if something happened to me.

    It would have been a lot worse for Kate to see if you stepped in and someone pulled a knife or gun with you in the middle.

  2. I’ve experience similar situations. Oddly, I was dating a girl named Kate when I think of the most brutal event I have witnessed.

    I live in a relatively peaceful town in New Hampshire (aside from college kids and such that love to riot over baseball games). It came as a surprise then when I was out for an evening walk with my then girlfriend that I saw a man getting knifed on main street in full view. I wanted to do something and I was about to but I got pulled away by a very distraught girlfriend. I think about it to this day, and I don’t know if that fellow was ok or not.

    Tough world sometimes, but I think if it happened again I would likely refuse to bow to my own safety since my peace of mind has been bothered since that incident and I feel like I could have done something. This is likely to have people saying “Don’t be a hero,” but existentially I feel it is better to do something positive than to do nothing at all. Standing by and watching things happen is partly why docility is an acceptable way of dealing with definitive social problems.

    Glad you’re ok though Chris. Sad story in any case.

  3. You know, I’m fairly big into self-defense, get involved, etc, except I don’t think I would have in this instance, other than call the cops. This was two adults being idiots to each other. If one was very obviously a victim, I MIGHT have stepped in, IF I wasn’t also responsible for someone else, as you were for Kate. In this case, though, I think you did the right thing.

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