About 10 years ago I returned to the rez after a family tragedy. I was sitting in the doctor’s office and saw a familiar face, Tony, from back in the day.
“Hey, do you remember that night at the club when I was bartending?” Tony asked. "Yah" I said. My mind drifted back over the years.
I've mentioned/bragged before about the band. Our band was hot back then, our 45 vinyl was in area jukeboxes, and dreams of the Bigtime filled our heads blah blah blah heh. Most everywhere we went we packed the house. For perspective these weren’t any classy joints we were playing but regular somewhat rural clubs our agent booked for us.
One day about noon, with not much to do but wait around for the gig that night, I went to the local Native bar to people watch, play some pool and drink a coke. Yah I wasn’t often a drinker since I knew how it affected me. This is probably why I’m still alive today.
I was sitting off in the corner at a table by myself watching this jackass intimidate others. The guy was a straight-up asshole bully. He carried on with his Badass routine picking on drunks. “Time to leave,” I said to myself. I walked out not thinking too much about it.
Later that night the band and I were well into our gig situated towards the rear end of the club where the bandstand was located. The joint was hopping, the music close to deafeningly loud, and the dance floor was packed with dancers.
Suddenly women were heard shrieking. The dance floor parted like the Red sea sans Moses. A figure could be seen backing through the parted dancers. The band played on behind a thigh-level railing that separated us from the dance floor. My eyes went to the scene unfolding. The backward-moving fellow was dripping blood onto the floor from cuts on his arms. His eyes intently fixed on the person pursuing him.
"Damn!" I said to myself,"It’s the Bully I’d seen earlier that day!" Apparently Badass Bully had picked on the wrong person! Soon his attacker became visible through the tightly packed crowd. Nope, I didn’t recognize him but I could see the murderous look in his eye and the large butcher knife in his hand.
Tony, a big fellow, a rotund but powerful young man, was stuck behind the bar, and a throng of people, as they watched it unfold.
Within less than a minute, predator and prey had maneuvered near the front of the bandstand. The victim came right to the railing with the predator dramatically poised to continue his attack. The victim turned quickly, pivoting as he was stopped at the bandstand railing. The attacker swung around simultaneously still on his victim but had yet to deliver a fatal blow. The attacker's back was right in front of me. The guy raised the knife high preparing to plunge it down into his victim. Since I had training from watching a lot of Brue Lee movies, (a joke) I instinctively cocked my arm back and delivered a karate chop to the wrist holding the knife. The knife flew out of the attacker's hand and brave members of the crowd piled on the intruder subduing him until the police arrived.
It turned out the attacker was out on leave from prison to attend a funeral but had escaped from whoever was supposed to be in the custody of him.
The reason I’m telling this story is, as with so many others in my past to present life, Tony is no longer with us. He passed sometime probably over the weekend. Tony was a well-liked, no-nonsense, personable guy and he helped me out here and there if I asked him to. Nah he wasn’t a perfect guy and had been tangled up in the past in some of the “underground” activities that are common around here.
Since he worked for the health services, I know he was vaccinated so I don’t know the cause of death. He was a witness to the somewhat heroic actions of natives, (unexpectedly including me) that took place and prevented a Murder. Moreover, he was a friend.
Tony, RIP. Thanks for everything friend. I’ll miss you.