It was a couple of nights ago that this happened, but I’ve hesitated recording it for the world to consume. It was a night of violence at the Little Café Near Home. Violence between regulars no less, violating the somehow sacred bond between those who have leaned against the same bar for a long time. Domestic violence, brother against brother.
It turns out, these guys did not think of each other as brothers. Not at all, and for a long time.
fuego was here, and better able to understand the dialog between the two combatants, and he was getting worried. I, on the other hand, knew that these two had shared the same Little Café for a long time, and had never come to blows before. Whatever they were saying, I had no reason to believe the outcome would be different this time.
There was another incident here, not long ago, that I could have sworn I wrote about, but now there seems to be no record. Huh. Had I written that, and had you read it, you would have come to understand that there are a couple of people who frequent this place who are quite skilled at the use of fists and other tools for hurting people. In that episode I was glad they were around, as they peacefully disarmed a couple of drunks (non-regulars) with just enough force to show that there was a lot more where that came from. It was a fine bit of bouncing, and those drunks will not be coming back. One of those capable people we will call “Richard”. Richard and “Joe” have had a long-running verbal feud. Joe, it seems, has been saying a lot of inappropriate things for a long time.
I like both Richard and Joe. We had been having a good conversation with Joe, covering a wide range of subjects, and in fact tomorrow we have on tap what promises to be quite the spectacle. But that’s the future. Joe is also an archer, which is a hobby of fuego’s as well, so those two hit it off particularly well.
At some point politics entered the discussion, and Richard felt compelled to join the conversation. The subject of disagreement: George Bush. Proving that nothing is universal, Joe is only Czech I’ve ever met who likes the sitting US president. I was quite surprised to discover this. Richard really, really, doesn’t like Bush.
Of course, I was completely ignorant of the fact that they really weren’t arguing about politics. Eventually Richard stepped outside for some air, and my brother joined him. The cooling-off period didn’t work, and a couple of minutes later Richard was back, standing next to me. Bam, bam. Two swings and Joe (not a small man, quite a bit larger than Richard) was on the ground. Richard went back outside.
Joe stayed on the floor for quite a while. Eventually he gathered himself and went home.
Richard came in, and that’s when I learned some of the history of the conflict. Richard was quite upset with himself, in part because he had punched Joe while I was there, but mostly because he knew that answering words with fists crosses some sort of line.
But Richard could have done a lot worse. He was carrying a deadly weapon. I wonder, sitting here, if those two swings do stop Joe from spreading poison about others in the bar (particularly wives), if perhaps in the end Richard used the same measured and appropriate response as disarming the drunks. Fists hurt, but ill words can hurt more. Of course at the time Richard was simply pissed off, but what he did was swift, controlled, and one second after it was over he was out of the room. There was no piling on, no taunting.
It’s a complicated world, even a world as small as the Little Café Near Home.