It’s summer and we’re at a house party in wife beaters and t-shirts. Capone and I are in the backyard smoking with Tony and Big Man. Capone’s telling stories and the local girls are listening.
”...so then D says ‘you better give me some fucking room to move!’ So I’m laughing my ass off…”
Big Man elbows me in the arm. “I’m taking a piss,” he says to me, “keep an eye on my shit.” He sits down his beer and gets up and walks to the house. Capone keeps telling his story. I watch Big Man walk to the house.
”...So I say to this guy, ‘How about I take yours instead?’” Capone tells a punchline and the girls laugh.
Big Man steps inside the house. Through the glass patio door I see him walk down a hallway to the bathroom. As he reaches the door I see a guy walk up behind him. Big Man stops and turns.
Capone continues his story, and I’m half-listening. I lean on an elbow and take a drag off my smoke. I’m watching Big Man in the house. I can see something’s wrong.
* * *
Big Man and the guy are standing face to face now. I hear a muffled shout through the glass and then Big Man’s face changes. He reaches for his waist and pushes a pistol into the neck of the guy in the hallway. The guy takes a big step back.
“Oh fuck!” I say and stand up, scooting my chair out. I drop my smoke and head for the house. Capone stops mid-sentence and looks, and everybody turns. He and Tony get up also and head for the house.
I push open the sliding glass door and the guy from the hallway rushes out past me into the backyard. He’s fucking pissed. Tony, Capone and I step inside. Big Man is drunk, really drunk, and trying to stuff the pistol back in his pants.
“Fucking asshole” he says. “Who says I can’ t smoke in this motherfucker?” He’s got a big drunk grin on his face.
I look behind us and see the guy out back shouting at his friends. They look at the house, then at him, then back at the house.
“You fucking idiot,” says Capone, “that’s the fucking owner of the house. The fucking Mexican everybody’s here with.”
Suddenly the voices outside get louder. Fuck, here we go, I think. I take off my watch and stuff it in my pocket and screw the cap on my beer bottle. I can feel my hands tingling.
There’s a big noise off to the right, and then a rush of guys comes through the door. Tony, Capone and I step back down the hallway and Big Man reaches for his pistol. They’re on top of us as he draws.
* * *
Next thing I know I’m wrestling with some fucking kid, being pushed into the kitchen. Somebody’s trying to kick me and I’m holding the neck of his shirt and pounding his ear with the bottom of my bottle. WHAM. WHAM. WHAM. We fall and I feel a kick in my back.
Shit, there’s a lot of guys hitting me. I’ve got somebody in a headlock. There are feet kicking my arm, my head. I try to kick back and hide my nose. I’m struggling now.
I hear a loud metallic “clack” sound. Big Man’s pistol drops to the linoluim kitchen floor. Oh fuck, I think. We’re fucked now.
I’m trying to cover my face. Gotta get up. Gotta get out of here. There are guys in every direction swinging and kicking, and I’m punching back into it. I feel the hits, the push of their blows, my wrists hitting people at weird angles.
I get pushed down again and pull somebody’s shirt on my way down. I kick something. It’s getting hard to breathe, these fucking assholes. Fuck, I think, I’m going to die tonight.
I have no idea where Capone and Tony are. They must be getting beat too. We’re outnumbered 10 to one at this party. Should’ve had a knife, I’m so fucking stupid…
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. BAM BAM.
Suddenly there’s a huge clapping sound of a pistol shooting in the house, and shells pinging off the walls. The crowd of guys moves off me. I can see the kitchen ceiling light as they run.
I roll over and try to stand up. Fuck, my knee is killing me. I see blood on my pants and my face is wet. People are running everywhere.
Capone comes running in the kitchen and grabs my back. His hand is hot.
“C’mon mutherfucker let’s go!” he yells. He’s got a pistol in his hand.
We run down the hall and out the front door of the house and down the porch steps to the street. My ears are ringing and I feel weightless. I’m hurt, but can’t really tell. My teeth feel weird.
I see Tony and Big Man jump in our car down the street. I look over and see Capone is bleeding from his mouth.
We’re halfway to the car, walking in the middle of the street. I look up to see how dark it is, how the streetlights shine off the cars lining both curbs, how grey everything looks in the city at night.
I hear shouts coming from behind us, getting louder now. Capone lets go of my shoulder and turns around.
Here they come. I see a dozen guys heading toward us running.
Capone, arms hanging at his sides, steps away from me looking back at them. I see a white flash down the street. It’s the Mexican shooting back at us.
BAM BAM BAM BAM.
I drop and feel the pavement hot on my hands. Capone doesn’t duck. He’s standing strait up, walking backward. He raises his pistol back at them. “You fucking die mutherfucker!”
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.
I see the Mexican fall. Another one falls. A half-dozen others scramble for cover.
Capone runs for the car. I get up and run close behind him, running for my goddamn life. We pile in the back seat.
I think, we’re pretty much fucked now. It might be over for good this time.
* * *
Tony slams the car in gear and swerves onto the street, engine roaring. The wind is cold from the window.
My face is sort of wet and I feel my cheeks swelling, thick and numb.
“Yo, take the backroad route,” says Capone. “Pretty sure that shit woke up the neighbors.”
Tony turns off and heads toward the neighborhood. Big Man is still drunk in the front seat, leaning with his arm out the window. I look around the car. Everybody’s looking out the windows, quiet. I sit up and check my pocket for the watch. Still there, thank god. Thank god I didn’t lose that fucking watch.
I punch Capone in the arm, “Thanks bitch.”
“Fuck you,” he says, laughing. “How about you give me a smoke before I fuck up your other lip?”
We laugh at that. I feel the breeze on my face and watch the streetlights go past.
Shit, I think, everybody stayed to the end. These are good guys. I’m a lucky guy.
* * *