It’s past 2 am, and everyone still at the bar is being told to leave by the guy on the microphone. A regular whose face I know but name I do not comes up to me, “Hey, they’re fighting in the restroom.” I know the guy well enough to know he’s not lying, and signal to the bartender.
“Hey, grab that flashlight and don’t let anyone through this door,” I yelled at her, pointing at the Maglite. “And if they don’t listen, hit them with the goddamn thing” Goddamn is probably my favorite word. I knew she would do it, too. Some bastard was going to rue the day he crossed my Russian.
I rushed through the crowd and discovered one person pinning another person with knee-on-belly. Both are identically dressed. One of them I know for a fact, is a good friend of mine, and employee.1 But it’s dark, the person on top is hunched over the person on the bottom, and – for the life of me – I can’t tell who is who…so I stymied my impulse to enter the melee with a flying knee to the person on top. All our bouncers do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Fighting, as a result, is not tolerated at our bar.
The mystery person on top leans forward, and I catch sight of the bar towel stuffed in the back pocket of the person on top – the bar town a kind of sign among all the industry workers downtown. I know who is who now; and it looks like we have control of this situation. “Alright man, let him up,” I said to my friend, tapping him on the shoulder. “Let’s get this fucker out of here.”
Situations like this are so chaotic. Just two weeks now past, and it’s hard to recreate the details with perfect fidelity.
I walked from the hall into the restroom, and discovered my other bouncer mounting a patron. At least there’s better lighting here than in the hallway – I can tell who was who immediately. The guy on the bottom was cussing up a storm, trying to escape mount as he swore. God knows though, if you just don’t know how to escape mount, none of the four letter words you might know are going to get you there any quicker. My bouncer is working the typical mount retention drill.
People were crowding around him though, and his mountee. So, I ushered everyone away from the situation, as the crowd was watching as close as they possibly could. God knows what happened, but now my bouncers were defending themselves against patrons. And you never quite know who is friends with whom, and whether there’s a third friend waiting for the right opportunity to deliver some mighty, waylaying sucker punch to somebody just doing their job of keeping a semblance of order in the bar. So I ushered them back, and back.
Because the restroom and the hall intersect at 90 degree angles, both skirmishes, though separated by just a few yards, were not in the direct line of sight. When I turned the corner to re-enter the hall and check up on my Barback, the next scene I clearly recollect – and I think is the actual next scene in the struggle – I found the guy who had been on the bottom of knee-on-belly in a rear-naked choke. I tapped Barback on the shoulder, and he let him go. I looked at Bad Patron #1, who was sitting on his butt, exhausted from “wrestling” for a whole thirty seconds against someone skilled (being prohibitively drunk probably did not help this man’s cause, I suspect) – then I picked him up from behind. He was short, as I discovered. When I lifted, his feet left the ground. I hit the exit door with my butt, turned around, and released him.
The goddamn alley door, though, closed before I had a chance to re-enter. I briefly looked at Bad Patron #1 and wondered whether he was going to try something funny with me, someone clearly twice his size, someone who had just lifted him up off his feet without breaking a sweat. I was not sure, but I don’t think he considered it more than once. I banged on the door a few times, “Yooo! Let me back in!”
Twenty seconds later – though it feels like an eternity when you know your friends are potentially being assaulted by drunken randoms inside, let me tell you – Barback slapped the door open. I rushed in, and immediately began yelling at the crowd to back up. Both Barback and Bouncer were trying to control and reason with Bad Patron #2, who was of average height with an average athletic frame, and had decided at some point he was going to be as large a pain in our ass as humanly possible.
A Friend of Bad Patron #2 was pulling on Barback’s arm. I threw myself in the space between them, and began yelling at this guy. “Do not touch my goddamn bouncer. I said DO NOT touch my goddamn bouncer. Are you involved in any of this?!” He replied in the negative, as a trashcan gets knocked over. Bad Patron #2 is acting like a wild man, and I was getting ready to deal with him in a second. This first though: “Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. Here. Then.” And with that, Friend merged into the crowd – never to be seen again.
“Yo, we’re bar staff! Stop resisting! You need to leave!” Bouncer had mounted the guy again. “This guy attacked me!” BP#2 said. This, of course, could not be true. “You need to leave, do you understand?” He nods. “Alright, let him up.” As soon as we let him up, he immediately goes apeshit. I don’t know if he was trying to punch me or scratch me, or what, but Bouncer clinched with him, and he couldn’t strike anymore. Well, this rotten bastard raised the white flag then regained his taste for battle. This always happens when striking isn’t involved. People “negotiate” their way out of pins, then – once the pin is gone – go back in, thinking “This time, I’m going to teach this son of a bitch a lesson.”
I took a second to assess the situation, as Bouncer and Barback threw that asshole out the back door. Had BP#1 gone around the front and given my Russian a hard time? He might’ve found himself at the receiving end of a hellacious ass-beating at the hands of a dangerous woman. Just in case, I briefly checked up on her. For a few seconds, my attention was diverted. When I looked back, I found BP#1 just inside the threshold of the backdoor.
“Bro, I just kicked you out. What do you want? LEAVE!”
“Can you help me find my glasses?”
“…What? LEAVE!” The guy clearly was going moment-to-moment. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if he had no recollection of the previous events.
Bouncer and Barback re-enter the bar, THEN BP#2 starts coming my way…::dramatic music::
[Aaand I’ll finish the rest of the story tomorrow.]
1. Barback we’ll call him.