Saturday, September 5, 2009
The following is a story (in 7 parts) I co-wrote via e-mail a while back with a reader of Ringside, who requested anonymity. We used the pictures above as inspiration and wrote the story in tandem over a week or so.
Weekends after one, Marie’s Creole Kitchen and Roadhouse was something. Guys off the oil rigs, frat boys with chips on their shoulders, Army guys gunning for a story to write home about, and ordinary bored construction workers like Chris would congregate looking for whatever kind of shit there was to find and stir up. Weekends it was well known that Marie’s was the place for a certain kind of rough and tumble. Sure, you could depend on Marie’s for at least six flat-out brawls a weekend—occasionally with knives and nunchaku, but usually just fists and muscle—really really drunk fists and muscle.
Chris looked around. He was beginning to wonder whether the guy on Faceoff.net, who called himself “John-John,” was for real. The picture looked good—smooth brown-haired guy showing off his Under Armour label—but for all Chris knew it was a photo of a famous fitness model, because Chris knew shit about models and movie stars. He couldn’t even pick Ashton Kutcher out of a lineup. Not for a million dollars. What Chris knew was jackhammers and asphalt.
Though it wasn’t typical, Chris and this John-John guy had agreed to meet at Marie’s, trade war stories and talk trash over multiple beers, and, right when they were feeling indestructible, stagger out to the dark side of Marie’s parking lot and slug it out—just for kicks. Chris was there, as advertised, shirtless, in off-white cargo pants, and a honey-and-black velour skullcap. 6’2”, 200#, close-cropped auburn hair, jet black beady eyes, and a distinctive phoenix tattoo along his left side.
Nobody fitting John-John’s description to be seen. Just the usual crew of roughnecks and two or three skuzzy old women who barely counted as hominids anymore.
Chris took a booth and ordered a pitcher of Yuengling. About the time the girl—one of the original Marie’s daughters or nieces or whatever—delivered it, the broad-shouldered, curly-haired Adonis from the Faceoff ad walked through the door—wearing a loose-fitting yellow wifebeater and black shorts and sneakers. As advertised, this John-John (if that was really his name) looked a couple years younger than Chris, 6’2”, 200#, and skin as clear and smooth as cream cheese.
“I’m late. Been waitin long?” JJ had a forced off-handedness, like a lot of shy people do when meeting people for the first time.
(To be continued)