People ask me, “Have you ever been in a fight?”
I answer them with the appropriate, “yes.” I’m silent for a moment or two after my initial response. I want and anticipate the suspense to build and the person on the other side to inquire for more details. I usually make the person sweat a little. I want them to know that they’re really talking to a bad ass, or at least, a once was tough guy. I give in to the person’s patience and start to confide my epic tale.
I wish the one true bare-knuckle brawl I was involved in was a tall tale, something that was only supposed to be a campfire story. Unfortunately it’s not. And to say that I was the victor is laughable.
I was driving a four-day cross-country road trip from coast to coast making Los Angeles my final destination. I made it a point to stop in the big cities and eat some of the locally made food that every individual place was noted for. I spent a night in Chicago, which was going to be my only place while traveling through the Midwest. I was wrong.
My car ran out of gas as I reached the bitter western end of Missouri in a town of roughly 1,000, 40-year-old Caucasians, called Jasper. Tired, hungry, and thirsty, I decided to make an extra night out of the trip and spend it at the local motel. I walked around Grand Avenue and the railroad tracks that neighbor it. I even pretended I was 5 all over again and watched one of the locomotives split a quarter in half when it rode by. I ate a slice of pepperoni from Gem Dandy’s and a slice of apple a la mode from Sharon’s.
Jasper was desolate after the clock struck 9. The only sounds were coming from crickets and the occasional shooting star in the night sky. I went back to my motel room and watched the free HBO option on the tube. It was an average B-Action movie. You know the one. The one where an aging 40-year-old wearing a wife beater storms into a small town, makes friends with the fat jolly guys, screws the hot waitress, becomes the new sheriff after killing the old and evil one, then leaves like a rock n’ roll band from the 1970’s. There’s always going to be a market for them even if they go straight to video on demand these days.
The film ended at 10:30 and I got ready for bed. I put a cough drop in my mouth to prevent any cottonmouth and plugged in my earplugs. I lubricated my lips with Car Max and stuck my retainer into my teeth to prevent them from becoming crooked again. Finally, I placed my eye mask over my eyes so I could get some good sleep in pure darkness. I didn’t even want the full moon light to obstruct my beauty sleep.
A thump! Another thump. More and more thumps. I woke up and took my sleeping accessories off. I turned on the lights to see if the commotion was happening from inside. I put my ear up to the walls and the neighboring doors to see if anyone around me was having a really, really good time in Jasper. All was quiet on the Western front.
The thumps crescendoed. My window vibrated. I put on my jeans, PF Flyers, Bad Religion t-shirt, and stepped outside. The thumping was music. I listened intently. I honestly thought the music sounded like George Thorogood. Excited, I got in my car and followed the music.
The sounds led me all the way to a dirt parking lot in front of a dilapidated, wooden, two-story barnyard building called The Double Deuce. I waited and watched the type of people going in. They were all of the same: working class, 40-year-old white men who still wanted to live in the 80s even though it was 2006. They had mullets, plaid shirts, and high jeans. They were wannabe cowboys, hicks, and trailer trash. A couple of notches above someone you’ll see on Jerry Springer but not too far.
Hey, some places in the US are way behind much bigger metropolitan cities. I spotted one woman to every 30 men. The men didn’t have to wait in a line and there wasn’t a bouncer on the outside checking ID. I wondered how many underage drinkers this place let in.
The music’s volume boosted as it more people went in. I decided to go in too. It was a crowded 300-person place. It seemed like the entire town congregated in The Double Deuce. People were dancing next to the band stage, tapping their feet as they sat on the cheap wooden tables and chairs, and bobbing their heads as some stood by the steps and rails on the side. The band did its best to do covers of the rock n’ roll blues. They played loud and proud through a chain link fence protecting them from the occasional beer bottle thrown. The fence reminded me of the scene where Jake and Elwood Blues sing “Rider’s in the Sky,” from the film, The Blues Brothers.
I had a few eyeballs on me, but not many. I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb as much as I thought. The bar only served two types of alcoholic beverages: whiskey and beer. The whiskey was your all-encompassing Jack Daniels and the beer of choice, was the king of all beers, Budweiser.
I drank my boiler maker, took in the whiff of what smelled like cheap men’s cologne and after shave, and watched the scene go down like a professional wall sitter from an 8th grader’s co-ed dance. The music allegroed. I started clapping and tapping my feet along with everyone else.
Five men busted down the door and sprinted in. They forced the crowd to part as they headed towards a 30-year-old man sitting alone at a table next to the stage. They stood him up, spiked his pint glass on the ground as if it were pigskin and started wailing on him with brass knuckles.
The music continued to play. I felt ashamed when no one was doing anything. This man, whoever he was, was going to be beaten to death while no one else seemed to care. No one called the cops. No one stopped the music. Every one watched this happen in ignorant bliss as if this was an every day occurrence.
I’ve seen fights in my life before and I can tell the difference between a fair and unfair fight. This one was definitely unfair and this man was going to die. I don’t know the reason for why these 5 men wanted to jump this man and I don’t know if this man deserved the beating or not, but there were some elements that said something was odd about this situation.
First of all, why didn’t these 5 men bring the one they wanted to beat up outside to somewhere private? Why did they need to make a big show of it? Also, why bring five men to kill one guy? These five men were bigger, stronger, and actually knew a thing or two of how to fight. This man who was receiving the fists of fury in his jaw and gut didn’t deserve a slaughter like this in this whoever he was.
No one was jumping in to help this poor fellow out so I took the reign. I sprinted in, grabbed a chair and hit two of the five brutes with it just like how Hulk Hogan did back in the day. Those two returned fire at me with left and right hooks. The man who was initially receiving the beating now only had three to worry about. Then, he only had two.
After one man cracked one of my ribs, I was able to grab his arm and bite a large piece of flesh off. I yelled, “I want to eat more!” That statement scared them a little bit. I figured, every normal person is afraid of a cannibal. That didn’t stop them from beating us up. I yelled at the man who I was helping out to start ball kicking. We grabbed their balls, twisted, and kicked them. One of these monsters had me in a headlock. He started twisting my neck. I was like a scared turtle and defecated in my pants. As my face turned purple, I had enough energy to scoop up what was inside my drawers and throw its contents in their faces. It was as if each of them received acid in their eyes because they screamed that it burned. It also reeked of a combination of rotten cheese, lettuce, and spicy cherry peppers.
I knew that this moment of brevity was our moment to floor it. If we didn’t, these enraged men were guaranteed to kill the both of us. As they drenched pitchers of cheap beer over their heads to wipe away the tar colored residue, I grabbed the man on the ground that I was helping. He was barely moving.
I spat blood as I talked through my fat lips. I slapped the man in the face and started yelling at him. I felt like I was in Vietnam and he was my fallen comrade who I was trying to wake up before the Vietcong tortured and killed us. “Do not die on me! Don’t you dare die especially after what I just went through with you!” I slapped him a few more times until he woke up. The moment his eyes opened I pulled him to his feet with what little strength I had left.
The band never stopped playing.
I told him to run. We bolted out of The Double Deuce. The five perpetrators followed us. There was enough time to get in and start my car up. We had a 30 second lead on them as they followed us through downtown Jasper. I feared for my life that they weren’t going to use any real firepower because I sure didn’t have any.
We skipped over the tracks seconds before the train came and separated us from the 5 men in their vehicle. I dropped this man off, whoever he was, at the bus station and watched him board the Greyhound to where ever it was going.
I don’t know if he had a ticket or not, but I was just relieved that he was out of there and that he was alive. He didn’t thank me. I didn’t need to be thanked. I knew that if something like what just happened to him ever happened to me, I would want someone to come in and help me out. All he did was stare out the window. I knew he really couldn’t speak, too tired and drained from the evening’s most recent events.
The bus drove off. I checked out the damage done to my body. I had two bloody eyes, a bloody nose, and a bloody mouth with one missing tooth. My ribs hurt and my stomach was black and blue. I had a couple of bumps on my head but no blood was spotted, thankfully.
I sat there for a couple of moments thinking and reflecting to myself of how on this particular night, though I lost a fight, I probably saved a man’s life. I also was extremely thankful that I paid my tab in cash, because if I used a credit card, I would have had to probably go back to The Double Deuce.
ATMOSPHERE: Chaotic and honky-tonk. One gigantic machismo fest where all of the men are on pins and needles ready to smack down at a moment’s notice for no reason at all. Probably an incredibly racist, ignorant, sexist crowd.
SERVICE: Pretty fast. You say beer me, the bartender gives you a pint in a heartbeat. There are cocktail servers, but your best bet is to go up to the bar.
SOUND LEVEL: For a blues bar with a honky-tonk vibe, its sound level at times is at a level only heard at a death metal concert.
DRINKS AND WINE: Jack Daniels and Budweiser
PRICES: $2 (Pretty darn cheap). A pitcher is $5
OPEN: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only from 9-4am.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes