Last Friday (when the Dodgers won Game 2 of the NLDS), I was hanging out at the Volcano, the bar where Keaton’s one of the bouncers. While I was taking about the game with a Parrots teammate and two of his buddies, a fight broke out between a latino dude and a USC boy. Keaton finished it for them: he landed a huge right in the latino dude’s gut, and told the dude and his two buddies to get the fuck out. They did. Messing with a college boy is one thing; messing with someone who can hit as hard as Keaton is another story.
“I’m not throwing y’all out,” Keaton said to the other three boys. (They couldn’t have been more than four years younger than me, but I felt a lot older. I’m over getting into drunkass bar fights.) “But, fuck, did you have to be so fuckin dumb? I could have told you that dude could kick your ass, man, even drunk as he was.”
The dude Keaton was talking to had gotten off easy with the bloody nose he was still trying to stop.
My Spanish must be getting better, since I understood it when Keaton told Miguel, the other bouncer, to get some napkins and coffee. I even caught the word imbecil lol.
The Volcano has a coffee maker behind the bar. It’s there for three reasons: (a) to sober up customers who need it; (b) to keep the bartenders awake when it gets boring, and (c) for the awesome Irish coffee they make in the winter. (I like Irish coffee. One of these years I’ve got to find a place that makes it with a scoop of ice cream.)
Once the crowd that gathered to watch the action was breaking up, and Keaton sent the three guys who’d been in the fight to a table at the back of the patio. He was benching them.
“Did y’all Uber or drive?”
“Drive,” said the one with the bloody nose.
Keaton opened his hand and said “keys”. The dude with the bloody nose reached into his pocket and handed them over.
“What’s your name, man?”
“Carter,” said the boy, whose nose had just started bleeding again. “Fuck.”
“Y’all came in just one car?”
Two of the boys nodded. The third said “yes sir”.
“You get these back when I say it’s safe.” He put the keys in his pocket. “Now sit the fuck down and try and sober up.
“One good thing about slugging a dude in the gut is that it doesn’t fuck your hand up,” he said to me as we were walking away.
“You had a clear shot at his jaw, why didn’t you take it?”
“Because if you knock a jerkoff’s lights out he becomes your problem. Knock him down like I did and he crawls away on his own.”
That made sense. I’d never thought of it that way. But Keaton has a lot more experience working security than I do. I only know the being a drunken asshole side lol. But the one time I got into big trouble with a bouncer, he did hit me on the button. And, come to think of it, I woke up inside the bar…so I reckon I did become their problem. (That was one of the two times I got KOd. I’ll tell y’all about it some other time.)
“Next time I’m the one who gets to punch out the wetback trash,” said Miguel, walking past us balancing three double paper coffee cups. “You get all the fun. All I get to do is bring coffee to some dumb white college boys.”
Keaton went back to the door and I went back to Dave and his buddies and talking about how many more games it was going to take los Doyers to win the NLDS (I was right when I said 2…Dave was wrong when he said 1…you don’t expect to sweep a series in the postseason.) I didn’t think about the benched USC boys out on the patio until Dave and his buddies headed out to the strip club and it was getting close to closing time. There’d been no more action, but the boys were still there, and Keaton hadn’t given them back their keys.
Maybe I should have told y’all that the coffee at The Volcano sucks. It’s okay with Irish whiskey and whipped cream, but you don’t want to try and drink it black. Still, there were six cups on the table the boys were sitting at, so they probably choked a lot of it down. I was hoping for their sake that it had sobered them up.
When they turned the lights on full-blast to get everyone out, Keaton walked back out onto the patio to check on them. I walked over too.
“You okay to drive, Carter?,” Keaton asked.
“Yeah, man. Sure.”
“Prove it. Walk a straight line.”
He couldn’t. Even a bloody nose, 2 cups of totally grossass black coffee and 45 minutes hadn’t sobered the dude up. The other two didn’t even try the sobriety test.
“Sorry, guys. Y’all are Ubering it home tonight. You can come pick up your keys tomorrow. You live down by USC?”
They all nodded.
“You got another car you can drive up here in?”
Both other guys nodded again.
“It won’t be so bad getting back here tomorrow. The 110’s an easy drive on Saturday.”
Carter was already on his phone sending for an Uber. And lookin like he was seriously tore up while he was doing it. It took him longer than it should to input De Lacey and Green as the pick-up spot.
“One question, man,” said the one of the boys. (I don’t know why, but I thought he looked like the smart one.)
“How come you let the guys who started the fight go off and drive even though they were as drunk as us?”
The third dude answered for Keaton.
“Trust me, man…he sobered that motherfucker up real fast. I’d rather give up my keys than take that kind of a punch.”
“There’s your answer. Besides, I can’t keep both sides of a fight here to sober up or y’all would just keep going at it again. Just like I can’t throw y’all out at the same time and have you get into it out front. Since I knew y’all didn’t start it, I figured I’d let you stick around. It just sucks that it didn’t sober y’all up enough.”
The three boys left quietly, and were told they could come get their keys any time after 5:00 tomorrow. Since they’d parked in the garage, there was no problem leaving their car overnight in Pasadena.
Keaton had a couple of those “short story” cigars he smokes after the bar closes and gave me one. (He said I should smoke it instead of having another beer. I’d actually only had two, but it wasn’t a night to get drunk on Keaton’s watch.) It made me think that I should have a cigar more often. There’s a cigar place around the corner from The Volcano. I should check it out one of these days.
Oh yeah, Miguel told me I wouldn’t be so pretty no more if I got ash on the floor he was cleaning.
“Glad you got to hit somebody?,” I asked when Keaton and I were walking to the garage.
“It made the night more interesting. I’m just surprised that wetback was dumb enough to take a swing at me in the first place.”
“Not a mistake he’s gonna make again.”
“Fuck no…although I don’t expect we’ll be seeing him and his SGV trash crew anytime soon. Fine with me. I know a lot of cool latinos, but Miguel is right, there’s no trash like wetback trash.”
I laughed. I still can’t get over what a racist Miguel is.
“You said you know they were the ones who started the fight?”
“Yeah. The one who got into it with Carter was fixin to start something for a while. I probably should have had Dani cut him off rather than make it his last drink when you were over talking to her.” He shrugged and took a long pull on his cigar.
“Were him and his buddies pickin on Carter and his buddies before?”
“Naah. They were just fixin to start something with anyone. Anyone white, I mean.” He laughed. “Carter was just the big dumbass who took the bait. The wetback asked them some jerkoff question like “which of you faggots fucks the other two up the ass?”. You gotta be real drunk and fuckin stupid to get into it with someone over that. Shows you just how smart you gotta be to get into USC.”
“They taught us better at MT,” I said, laughing. “Good thing none of the wet…latino dudes didn’t have knives or shit.”
“This is still Pasadena, bubba. We may look like a dive bar, but you know the kind of clientele we usually get. Besides, if there never was any trouble, my job would be so fuckin boring. I’ve done enough security work to be able to stand around all night and do nothing, but getting to throw a punch makes the whole night seem worth it.”
He laughed again. When he’s not at Disneyland screaming his head off, Keaton’s laugh is quiet but kinda intense. He’s like the opposite of Dani with her man laugh.
“We headed to the IHOP? Your girlfriend Alicia probably misses el guapo.”
“She probably does. I haven’t been there for weeks. Yeah, let’s head over. I’m hungry” – and country fried steak was sounding real good.
“You done with your cigar?”
“Pretty much.” I took two quick puffs. “But how come you call ‘em short stories?”
“Because that’s what they’re called: Hemingway Short Story. Get it?”
Oh. I’d been wondering about that for months.
“Let’s go. I wanna be sitting down when you start complaining about your girlfriend.”
Funny thing: I didn’t have anything to “complain” about.