On Saturday evening, Dubs the boxer and I sat at my kitchen table. Drinking cup after cup of Cherry Pepsi and Hennessy. Buzzing. Blitzed. Bored with life on another mundane harbor night. I poured another glass, half Pepsi and half Hen. Dubs carefully watched the bottle, measuring every drop with his beady eyes. He loved his alcohol more than life. We tried to wrap our loose minds around an activity.
What could two men of the bottle do on a cold, weekend night? With no money. With no juice. No Hollywood hook ups. No rich friends to get us by the hard velvet rope.
It was the two of us in the harbor city, getting drunk with no plans. We sat in my beach bungalow on 22nd Street, thinking of a master plan. Suddenly it struck me and like someone’s malicious, morning breath, it crawled into my mind and spouting from my mouth.
“Lets take all the names of our friend and place them in a hat. We pick out someone, stalk and beat them.”
Dubs paused, focusing his eyes on mine, seeking the truth from behind my pink corneas, while wondering if I was serious.
“Okay, lets do this!” He snapped.
I found a sheet of loose leaf, made the list and tore it into little pieces. We wrote the names of our friends. Only the ones we could beat. Not the ones who owned guns or extensive police records. They were purposely left off the list. I don’t know whom he wrote and still don’t to this very day, because the names were cast away after the draw.
and Dubs twice.
I excluded myself. That was the Jersey boy inside of me. Give me an inch and I will take your foot.
We gathered the slips and placed them in Dub’s black ski cap. He tossed them gently, trying his best to mix them up. He held the hat in the air, while I reached in and gently picked a small scrap, then opened it slowly. It read-Dees.
Dees our close mutual friend: a five two, muscular Latino that was very quick with his rock hard manos. He was originally from Tijuana, but came to the U.S with his mother and sisters during his pre-teen days. He sported a baldhead, like the Mexican gang members who stalked the city streets with their violent midnight intentions. Our friend was into basketball, boxing,and never gravitated to the gangster culture.
The small Latino had been Dub’s protégée since he was a fresh mouth teenager: dressing like him, walking like him, and even fighting like him. They shared little inside jokes and left me on the outside of their punch lines. They had special codes and nicknames for each other. People around the city said Dees was in reality a little Dubs.
He was one hell of a guy, good friend, and all around nice person but that Saturday was his unlucky night. On that evening, our buddy was going to get stung, beaten, and bruised. If Idol minds were the Devils workshop, then we were about to open up shop on him. We took the Hen and Pepsi to the head again, bigger shots than before.
It was war!
I could almost feel my fist digging into his ribs. It was euphoric almost orgasmic sensation. To be on the ‘giving side’ of a jump was a powerful sensation. To be on the ‘other side’, not so much. It was a nerve-wracking ordeal to mentally entertain. The only choices a person had at that moment were to fight, run or pray, and sometimes the Lord liked to witness a good one on one (IE David and the Giant) from his cloudy armchair in Heaven. I went into my room and changed into my battle clothes: baggy sweat pants and an over sized, gray hooded sweatshirt.
Oh the pain he was going to feel! Sweet Pain!
I returned to the kitchen, Dubs was already shadow boxing against an imaginary foe: maybe Dees, maybe me. We slid into his car and sped off down the street. He flicked on the high beams as we cut through the narrow, maze-like dark alleys. He turned on his stereo system, which was so loud the techno vibrations shook the interior of the car.
We were getting into beast mode, while an Italian soprano sang about his lover over techno beats and continuous loops. We stopped at a red light and the semi-sloshed driver started a strange Isometric work out routine: stiffly pumping his arms in and out. I joined him, also getting in kidnapping shape.
Green light- Go!
Dubs took Pacific Avenue on route to 3rd Street and made a left, climbing the hill and before I knew it we were behind the alley. I brought the plastic soda bottle filled with the liquor and sipped it slowly, gaining more and more confidence.
“You ready?” He said with a drunken sneer.
Hyperly I replied, “Yeah lets get him!”
He turned off his lights and we crept from the car. We ducked down and felt our way along a high, rough wall that bordered Dees yard. We leapt over a shorter fence, landing inside the back patio.
At that time Dees lived in the garage, where he had created a small living space. We came to a window and peeked inside. He was sitting on his sofa bed shirtless watching TV. Gone was the expression of happiness always gracing his brown, round face. A serious stern look replaced it. He leaned back, as if his mind was a million miles away.
Dubs accidentally kicked a rock that hit the side of the house. Dees jumped up like a fleshy spring, glancing at the window screen then quickly walked of from the dwelling. I became nervous. Upon hearing a noise outside my window, I would’ve shuttered, picked up something large and shouted for the creator of the noise to leave me alone. Dees wasn’t I to my dismay. He had the makings of an Aztec warrior: shoulders pressed back and bare chest poked out, while marching toward the rear entry.
I turned to Dub’s who suddenly put on the worry mask.
Where was his brave face? The one he put on when we where tearing paper, drinking, and shadow boxing. Was he going to back out? Leave me there to jump this Aztec all by myself?
The side screen door creaked open. Swack, an ungodly dog horse strolled into the small back yard. He was the biggest German Shepard I’d ever seen, but the beast was old and had seen better days, yet the initial shock threw me. Dees followed the dog: the old monster wolf being bigger than he. Dubs and I moved behind a pair of trashcans.
“What are we going to do?” I asked.
“When he gets far enough away from the dog, I say we jump him, as planned.” He said nodding coolly.
We crouched down further as Dees came deeper into the back yard. Swack didn’t notice us; I guessed age had dulled the poor canine senses. He was now just a big wall of fur, teeth, and ears. The real threat was the bare chest hombre behind him, who scanned the area like concerned radar. He positioned himself in the middle of the yard standing boldly in place.
That was our chance. I sprinted at Dees, checking back quickly and noticing Dubs already retreated. The driver’s eyes turned submissive and drawn as he back peddled toward the trashcans.
It was me- alone. I had to finish this. That’s how we did things where I was from. Once you started a jump, you had to finish. A reputation of a loss was better, than a reputation of a soft boy.
Dees picked me up in his eye line and jumped, throwing lighting fast punches while airborne. I was stunned. I froze in place. It was an amazing site to see: this little, warrior take flight. His small fist hitting my, face, arm, chest, neck, and head. He floated, kicking his legs, and created enough energy to keep him hovering in the night sky like some sort of demonic Tikki god. The small fighter flew around, while lashing out with powerful blows.
I received every single punch he threw. I covered up, protecting my face from the knuckles of fury. He landed softly like a midnight butterfly.
Surprised, Dees screamed my name, “D?”
I limped towards him, wounded, and battered. He smiled and gave me a strong hug.
“What the hell you guys doing?” He sang.
Dubs emerged from behind the carport, strutting coolly, and glanced side to side.
Bastard! How could be leave me hanging like that!
He suggested we get dressed, head over to Long Beach and find women roaming Pine Street. I agreed. At least we could salvage the night with a few drunken Senoritas. We jumped back into the Lexus and he turned on the headlights: illuminating the entire alley. He flipped down a small mirror, causally checking his reflection. Seemingly pleased, he took the wheel, spinning it 360 degrees. While riding down Pacific, passing the nighttime urban blight of the lonely street, I asked him, “Why didn’t you rush him with me?”
Dubs paused, staring straight ahead, contemplating if I deserved an answer.
He exhaled, “Dees looked too confident”
That’s all it took. A confidant stare to warded off our attack, on a cold, boring Saturday night. We returned thirty minutes later, picked up Dees, and then made our way over the Terminal Island Bridge to Long Beach. Later that night we paced Pine Street, like human vultures hovering over intoxicated club girls. We earned no numbers, so we returned back to the harbor city lonely-conos!