Ginsanity; Part 2 - May 29, 2008

(Reconditioning Batteries)

Driving back to New Hampshire from Dad's "death fiesta" later that night, I couldn't stop thinking about what I said to the meth addict that grabbed my mother. Finger painting with bodily fluids? What the fuck, Mike? What if that dude called your bluff? I checked the rear view mirror before switching lanes to take my exit for the Portsmouth Traffic Circle. After determining that the highway was empty behind me, I focused on my 23 year old image in the mirror, soaked in dim blue light from the muted car stereo. The low hum of my truck's tires calmly vibrated through me and lulled my sister to sleep in the passenger seat with her jacket draped over her knees. I thought about the overwhelmingly unstable level of emotion that blitzed my faculties a few hours prior. I remembered my heart rocketing out of my chest, everything else besides him and I kind of grayed out of existence and right at that moment when I was describing the awful things I was going to do to him, I was visualizing it...and enjoying it on an almost sexual level. The thought of him having to endure immense amount of pain because of me was exhilarating. Were you bluffing? Were you even fucking bluffing, Mike? What is wrong with you?

The following morning, I slipped into crisply pressed business casual slave garb and went to the office after a week of bereavement leave. I was looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and immersing myself into my routine; the white knuckled, ulcer inducing world of furious institutional energy trading. My secretary gave me a big hug upon entering the main foyer.

"It's good to see you, Mike. How are you holding up?"

"I'm holding up about as well I can, I guess. I'm definitely ready to distract myself with work. Is Don here today?"
"Nope. Don made sure he was going to be out of the office most of the week when he heard you were coming back. The district manager laid into him pretty hard when he tried to get permission to have you axed you for going on leave."

"I still can't believe he attempted to fire me because I went to my father's funeral."

"Mike, you're talking about the guy that threw a stapler at your head because he fucked up a trade in his personal account; the same guy that's only happy when he executes a great bull-put number two heating oil spread or when he's yelling at you for no fucking reason." Jess started sealing a stack of envelopes on her desk as she talked. "Are you really amazed by Don's latest stunt?"

"As bad as he can be, Don is my mentor. That guy yells at everybody, but sometimes I feel like the yelling and the breaking of computers the absurd cruelty is all part of the grooming." I pictured the veins leaping out of Don's head as he berated someone because he thought they were being too nice to one of his clients. "Still, I never thought he was capable of doing something this shitty. I mean, this is pretty much the worst thing that someone's ever tried to pull on me, inside or outside of the workplace."

"I've been telling you this for years now -- you are too fucking nice for this line of work, Mike." I hated that Jess was right.

I started working at the brokerage as a temporary coffee/bagel bitch through my sister, who was the branch manager at the time. Before that I was scraping by delivering pizzas in a barely functioning '86 Jetta, so I both appreciated and understood the opportunity that lay before me at the firm. After years dedicated to studying and playing the office politics game, I became the operations manager of a four man institutional energy trading desk that was headed up by Don; a short, fat, bald, insanely rich, massively eccentric twenty-five year veteran of the New York Mercantile Exchange and the biggest earner at the firm. The latter achievement coupled with the size and location of the firm gave the Danny DeVito doppelganger a virtual diplomatic immunity which he handily abused. Coming back to the office for inappropriate, slurred conversations with clients after cosmopolitan drenched lunches, trading in his personal commodities futures and options account during off-limits business hours and chastising underlings to the point of walking out of the office were all part of a day in the life of "Napoleon Don-aparte". Don was a tyrant in every conceivable way, but I put up with him because I desperately wanted him to transform me into a superstar broker and I knew he had the power to do it. I wanted to succeed at something --anything--so badly; I made him out to be my ticket out of the mediocrity I had been drowning in since I was thrown out of college a couple years before. I didn't want to become my father. I fucking hated Don, but I needed him so I kept my mouth shut and allowed him to ruin my life for twelve hours a day.

Walking onto the desk, I was immediately greeted with the condolences of my coworkers, who also filled me in about Don's scheming while I was gone. I feigned ignorance and let them dish the dirt, not wanting Jess to take any heat for being a good friend to me. When they were done, I sat down, clicked my desktop on and lost myself in the grind. It felt good, but not as good as I pictured it would. I realized then that the guilt from not making things right with my dad before he died wasn't something I had the power to ignore.

As soon as my apartment door shut behind me, I dropped my briefcase and let a frozen bottle of Skyy greet my lips. I needed to be drunk. Bringing the bottle with me, I slumped into my couch and lit up a cigarette, not even bothering to flip the lights on. My dinner time hunger pangs dwindled with every sip as I stared out the window at the tail lights passing by, waiting for my vision to slip into that familiar stagger. I thought about my dad in his hospital bed, tucked away all alone in his assisted living hovel, thinking about his son during the hours before his death. The guilt boiled in my throat and I could taste my own bile as I burped from swilling vodka too quickly. My eyes welled up and I sensed yet another breakdown preparing to consume me. I heard my roommate open the front door behind me, and I gnashed my teeth in an effort to keep tears from rolling down my face and making him feel awkward around me. I fished my wallet and keys out of my pea coat and darted out of the door before it shut. I needed to get out of there. I needed to be drunk and distracted by drunken strangers that knew nothing about my situation.

I looked up at the night sky as I walked to a local bar, blotting my eyes with the sleeves of my dress shirt. Don't make me feel this. Don't you fucking make me feel this. I was so desperate that I was having a one-sided internal conversation with a god I didn't even believe in.

I lit another cigarette and composed myself outside of the Muddy River Smokehouse before walking downstairs to the basement level where "Hip Hop Thursdays" were held. Patrons surrounded a group of townies who were blasting out K-kicks and head spins on the wooden dance floor to break beats in a smoky, cramped bar. I pushed my way through the crowd of wiggers and flagged the bartender down for a Bombay Sapphire and tonic. Gin was always my first choice when it was absolutely, positively necessary that I became blindingly drunk within a 10 minute window.

As I walked over to a table, a guy bumped shoulders with me. I turned around to excuse myself.

"Sorry about that, dude."

"Fuck you, faggot."

The kid, in his early 20's, had turned around and was facing me. He was about my size with a shaved head and a ratty Chaps polo shirt on. I recognized him as one of the young, jobless ragamuffins that spent their days playing hacky sack and begging for change in Market Square, the center of downtown Portsmouth. I didn't really know how to react to what he said. I was in a bar that I rarely visited, in a crowd of unfamiliar people all by myself. I knew that I should have gotten angry about the disrespectful quip that had just been hurled at me, but I wasn't. It wasn't that I was mature to the point of avoiding altercations; after everything I had been through over the past two weeks, I was numb. It was almost like I stepped out of my body and was watching everything go down from a nearby stool.
"I'm sorry dude. It was a total accident."

"I don't give a fuck, you fucking loser. Don't fucking touch me." He walked closer to me, almost squaring up to me with his Heineken held close to his chest. I knew immediately that he was looking to fight just about anybody, and I was the unfortunate guy that crossed his path.

"Let's not get carried away. It's a crowded bar and we bumped into each other. Let's just forget about it." I tried to be diplomatic about the situation, but my spidey sense was tingling uncontrollably. It was looking like the time for words had passed and this kid was looking to throw down no matter what I said.

His unoccupied hand shot out and shoved me into a basement support pillar. It wasn't a terribly forceful push, but it did manage to spill my drink all over my arm and send my glass to the floor. I looked at him with my hands up, hoping that I could convince him to stop acting up. I didn't want to fight, I just wanted to get drunk and forget about the swirling Hell storm of emotion that was tearing me up inside. He moved in closer and raised his free hand, telegraphing an impending punch to my face. Knowing that I had limited time to react, I rushed in, got low and pushed him as hard as I could with both hands. He lifted off of his feet and flew backwards, crashing to the ground and knocking over a cluster of three unoccupied tables full of drinks onto him.

I stood there for a second watching him flail around on the ground. The way the tables had fallen over onto him combined with how hard he hit the floor made it difficult for him to get up. It felt like time was standing still. Everybody in the bar turned to watch, and I just stood there, staring at the mess below me. Growing up poor and being the smallest out of my group of friends, I spend the bulk of my childhood fighting and I hated it. I never fought because I wanted to, only to protect myself or someone else in the off chance that I wasn't being singled out. Normally, the adrenaline would have been coursing through my chest and I would prepare a quick mental game plan regarding the smartest way to win or the quickest way to exit before being arrested. This was different. I didn't care about any of that. I just stood there, praying that he was going to get up so I could send him right back down again. For that brief moment, I forgot about the guilt and the sadness and everything else that drove me into a bottle that month. Seeing him in pain made me feel better. Not just better; great.

As the bouncer came over, I caught myself reveling in the misery of my assailant and a wave of self loathing crept over me. Instead of ejecting me from the bar, he picked the kid on the ground up by the scruff of his neck, arm barred him up the stairs and out of the front door. Two waitresses came over and repositioned the tables properly. The bouncer came back with a towel and handed it to me.

"Are you OK?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks, man."

"We saw the whole thing go down. I'm really sorry about all of this. Here, let me get you a new drink. What were you having?"

I accepted his towel and patted my arm dry. "Gin. A Bombay Sapphire and tonic, please. Thank you very much. I really don't mean to be a nuisance."

"It's no big deal, dude. Besides, you don't exactly look like a bar room brawler. I hope you don't let this ruin your night. Please stay for a few drinks on the house. The bar manager insists." I looked down and remembered that I still hadn't changed out of my work clothes.

"If this wouldn't make a great TV advertisement for Dockers' stain resistant khakis, I don't know what would. I'd love to stay." I pulled up a stool and made friends with the slender, brunette bartender, who was already dropping a fresh slice of lime into a rocks glass full of Pine-Sol and quinine.

The rest of my night couldn't have turned out better. I mingled with strangers, got a few phone numbers, ran into a few friends that knew nothing about my father's recent passing; it was exactly the vacation from reality I was looking for when I bolted out of my apartment several hours earlier. I felt human again. By the time last call came around, I had completely forgotten about the incident that lead to that picture perfect evening's development. I said some goodbyes, finished my drink and walked up the stairs to head home. Once outside, I lit a cigarette and fumbled through my pockets to find the time on my cell phone. I was hoping that I could squeeze in one more drink at my apartment before I slammed a handful of Advil back at bedtime to ease my inevitable 6 a.m. gin hangover.

"You think you're pretty fucking tough, don't you? You're a real bad ass, throwing me into those fucking tables in front of everyone."

The kid that was thrown out of the bar was waiting for me by the front door. I felt a little stupid for not thinking about the possibility of him wanting some form of white trash justice before the night's end.

"Jesus, dude. Have you been waiting for me out here the whole fucking time?"

"You better fucking believe I have, you faggot. I'm going to fuck you up, you fucking bitch!" He started coming closer to me with his fists balled up. The acne scarring on his face became very pronounced under street lamp lighting.

"Dude, go home. It's over. Let's not make tonight any more ridiculous than it already was."

A handful of people on the street were chiming in, agreeing with me and telling the drunk to let it go. I started walking down the sidewalk towards my apartment. The kid quickly sidestepped and was in front of me once again, this time too close for comfort. He was within striking distance and I could see him raise his right hand for another tell-tale haymaker to the face. I put my hands up, shuffled to my right just as his fist darted towards me and connected a right cross with his jaw. He came in again with another wide right. This time I stepped back, let the punch float in front of me and came in with a left jab and another right cross. The combination stunned him to the point that he retracted both of his hands to guard his face. I knew I had to end it then and there. That was my opening.

The next thing I knew, I was being held back by three men. I turned around and saw that they were my new friends from the bar that I met that night. I was breathing heavily and post-fight adrenaline was rocketing through my veins. The kid I was fighting was on the ground face up, blood covering his entire head and most of his shirt. Blood stains peppered the pavement around his upper body in Pollock-esque paint brush spatter marks. He was moaning and rolling from side to side, but was too out of it to get up. He couldn't even bring his hands up far enough to clean his face off. He just laid there moaning, spitting up blood every now and then. A crowd had gathered and everyone was staring at me. The guys holding me back let go and spun me around.

"It's over, Mike. It's over. Mike, look at me. You don't have to fight anymore. You won. You fucking destroyed that kid." They were talking about the guy on the ground like he wasn't even there; like he couldn't hear them.

"Yeah dude, I will never fuck with you ever in my life. " A guy who bought me a drink a few hours earlier patted me on the back.

"That move where you used your weight to force his legs to pin his own arms to the pavement was insane. That kid couldn't even bring his hands up to block his face!"

"Mikey, how many times did you punch that fucking kid in the face? I lost count at 20."

"That shit you were screaming was scaring the shit out of me. 'I AM THE FUCKING END OF YOU!!!' I'll be saying that for a week now."

"Dude, look at your fucking arms. Look at Mike's arms!" I looked down after hearing one of the bystanders yell that. My sleeves were rolled up and both of my arms were covered in his blood up to my elbows. It dripped off of my fingers and was pooling at my feet.

"I...I...I don't...I have to go. I have to go now." I knew I had to leave fast. It was guaranteed that the cops were already on their way. The details would have to be hashed out later. Just as I moved to run across the street, a feminine arm curled around mine and started leading me away. I looked to my left and down. It was Kelly, an old acquaintance of mine that one of my good friends was currently fucking. I had no idea when she arrived there or where she had just come from, but I was relieved to see a familiar face.

"Come on, Mikey. I'm going to bring you home, OK?"

We both hustled across the street and down an unlit, tree lined portion of the walk back to my apartment, leaving the carnage behind. Kelly lit a cigarette and held it for me to smoke so I wouldn't have to touch it to my lips with my sticky red fingers.

"Where did you come from? How much of that did you see?"

"I was just headed to my car after work. I was walking past the Muddy when that guy swung at you. Why did he do that?"

"I don't really know, hun. I think he was just drunk and looking to pick a fight. I still can't believe that just happened. I don't feel so good." The adrenaline had all but drained from me and my head was pounding. I remembered always getting a headache after a fight.

"This just isn't your month, Mikey."

Kelly followed me up to my apartment and into my bathroom. I sat on the toilet seat while she washed the blood off with bar soap and warm water. I told her I could clean the gore off of my own arms, but she insisted. As weird as at was allowing a passing acquaintance to do that, I was too drunk, tired and bummed out to deny how soothing it was or question why she was even doing it in the first place. When she was done, she gave me a kiss on the cheek and left. I almost wished that she would have stayed to continue distracting me from myself. I didn't want to think about what I just did.

I walked into my bedroom and started getting ready for bed. I had left my WinAmp player on from before I went out. Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-Minor echoed out of my studio monitors set on 'concert'. I crawled under the sheets, leaving the music on to fall asleep to. I watched the ceiling spin and thought about the fight. I remember hearing about people that would get so angry their brains would shut out certain parts of a rampage. Never in my life had I blacked out because of anything. I drank a handle of Captain Morgan's before and didn't black out. Why anger? Why now? I started to remember bits and pieces of the fight that I blocked out; kneeing him in the ribs, throwing elbows into his nose, head butting his face multiple times once his arms went slack and couldn't defend their owner. I remembered looking at him on the ground, almost twitching like he was having one of those half-sleep falling dreams where you wake up just before you hit the ground. I remembered...

Jesus fucking Christ. I licked his blood. I licked his blood from my hands and told him that it tasted good. I really did that.

Just as the horror of my realization set in, the front door of my apartment burst open. Timmy speed walked into my bedroom and flipped the light on.

"DUDE! What the fuck happened to you tonight?"

"Long story, Timmy. I got into a fight at the Muddy. Don't worry about it."

"Dude, you need to worry about it. That kid is running around town telling everyone he got his ass beat for defending a girl that you slapped around. There are like seven guys looking to fuck you up, dude." White hot, logic defying, blinding anger flooded my veins. "I ran over as soon as I heard," Timmy continued, "I've got your back, homey. Let's fuck this kid up. Again."

I threw my sheets off, put on a pair of jeans and followed Timmy out the door.

"You know what? Let's make this interesting."

I ran back inside, walked into the kitchen, opened a drawer, pulled out an 8" knife and tucked it into the back of my jeans.

Yeah, this'll do. This'll do nicely.

Posted by KungFu Mike at 3:01 PM

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I always wondered how you got those prison tattoos.

Posted by: Scootah at May 29, 2008 03:57 PM

I've been reading your stuff for a while now, and usually I don't like to vapidly compliment a story that twenty others have commented on already, but this one forced me out of lurk mode. It's almost in a different league from your other stories - written with a much more mature and seasoned voice. I can't put my finger on why it's so different, but I'm enjoying it immensely and can't wait for the second segment.

Posted by: Mike at May 29, 2008 04:14 PM

Holy fuck.


Posted by: Agamemnon Jones at May 29, 2008 05:09 PM

Holy Shit, I've always wondered what I would be capable of doing if someone pushed me to the edge. And right now your story makes me terrified as hell to ever come across that situation. It's a great story I can't wait for the rest.

Posted by: Mike at May 29, 2008 06:50 PM

Jesus Christ this is worse than Lost.

Posted by: Adam at May 29, 2008 08:06 PM

Well done Mike. Please keep going.

Posted by: Drew at May 30, 2008 07:03 AM

lol @ Adam's comment. And I don't even watch Lost. It's awesome, Mike. You rock bro, much love.

Posted by: Wayland at May 30, 2008 10:20 AM

"Jesus fucking Christ. I licked his blood. I licked his blood from my hands and told him that it tasted good."


Last words you would ever want to hear and or see when getting your ass kicked. Great story can't wait for you to finish it.

Posted by: m!Lk at May 30, 2008 11:37 AM

Dude this is the shit! Please get pt. 3 out, but DO NOT RUSH IT!

Posted by: Azza Dutt at May 30, 2008 01:54 PM

This was a very well written story, man we need that part 3!

Posted by: Jais at May 30, 2008 06:39 PM

good show, took you long enough, assfuck.

Posted by: tc at May 30, 2008 11:56 PM

Please, please, PLEASE FINISH THIS!

I am on the edge of my seat here.

Posted by: Lizza at May 31, 2008 08:53 AM

"I am the fucking end of you!"? Jesus, I'm gonna be saying that myself now. Hurry up with the next part, please.

Posted by: Alice at May 31, 2008 12:16 PM

C'mon Mike. Don't do this to me. I have to read what happens next!

Posted by: nick at June 2, 2008 12:58 PM

Hell yeah!!!

Posted by: :yb detsoP at June 3, 2008 05:23 PM


Posted by: Sheylala at June 4, 2008 09:59 AM


Posted by: Sheylala at June 4, 2008 09:59 AM

This story prompts me to go back and read every one of your archived entries. This was awesome, and I can't wait until the third part.

Posted by: Anonymous at June 4, 2008 02:23 PM

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