It was a cool night last Saturday when I went to the Volcano to meet Carter Andrews and some friends of his from business school. Keaton was stationed outside, and was wearing his leather jacket over his usual black tshirt. I didn’t say anything then, but I thought I detected a bulge under his left arm. There haven’t been any shootings in Pasadena recently, but there have been plenty enough elsewhere that I can imagine Keaton wanting to have a gun, just in case. (Only last week two cops were killed at the same sketchyass motel in El Monte where Travis hooked up with that Lola chick. At least Travis thinks it was the same motel…he was high on who knows what kind of bad shit at the time and might have gotten mixed up.)
I reckon I should also remind y’all, since it’s been a while, that Keaton has a concealed carry permit. He never told me how he got it – he was in one of his mysterious moods – but he’s not the kind of man to break a law like that…even if he liked it better when he was living in Alaska and you didn’t need a permit.
“Bubba!,” said Keaton, who wasn’t expecting me. “To what do we owe the honor?”
“Carter Andrews called and invited me out. Said he was going out with some boringass people and wanted someone to liven things up. Or something like that.”
“Probably just wants to show off his reality TV celebrity friends to impress some chick. Bad plan, though…I’m not sure a chick would be too interested in Carter with you around.”
“Fuck you, man,” I said with a laugh and walked into the bar.
It was plenty crowded inside. Maybe not pre-COVID crowded, but I think that we’re all still not standing as close to each other as we used to. Dani was at her usual place at the bar and I went up to get a beer. I knew they’ve been having trouble replacing Rob, who moved out of LA during the lockdowns, although they finally seemed to have gotten someone, who Dani introduced to me. I know I should talk, but he was the kind of super gay dude who spends too much time in the gym.
“Heartthrob,” Dani said, “this is our new bartender, Stefan.” That’s Stefan like the king in Sleeping Beauty.
“Hey,” he said, getting change for a customer on the other side of the bar. Then he got a good look at me. “Whoa! Dani wasn’t kidding when she said she knew Baseball Boy. Fuck, man, you’re even better looking in person than you are on TV.”
“Isn’t he cute when he blushes?,” Dani said, enjoying the fact that I was way more embarrassed than I usually get when a gay dude hits on me.
“Right, like he could get more cute than he already was.”
Ok, I’m sure this Stefan dude is a cool guy, but the combination of a high gayass voice, a super tight tshirt and the full court press was a little much.
That’s when I felt someone’s arm around my shoulders.
“Everything ok, bro?.” It was Carter.
“Yeah,” said Dani, “we’re just seeing how uncomfortable we can make a straight guy.’
“They’re doing it very well,” I said, still unable to look up.
“Hunter,” Carter said, not really giving me time to pull myself together, “I wanted you to meet some friends from school. They came all the way from Germany to study at USC.” (So that’s why he wanted me!: Lucas must have told him that I speak German pretty well.) There were three of them, two dudes and a chick, so this wasn’t gonna be a guys’ night out like I thought it was supposed to be. One of them looked a little nerdy, with blond hair and crisp blue eyes (I included that adjective for Joyce lol); his name was Helmut. The other dude must have been 6’6”, a little darker than Helmut, with brown hair, brown eyes and a Dodgers hat. He was introduced to me as Klaus. Finally the chick, who looked like she spent more time on the tennis court than at business school, whose name was Anny. (No, Joyce, nothing to look at there. Not my type. Even if it turned out that I was wrong about the tennis and that Klaus and Anny played beach volleyball.)
“Freut’ mich sehr,” I said super politely, as we shook hands all around.
“What can I get you guys?,” Stefan asked. He was making eyes at Klaus. That’s the thing about gay guys who hit on you…they have short attention spans lol.
We got our drinks (beers all around) and headed out to the patio. Since that first night when they reopened after COVID things had changed a lot. They’d put back all the tables and taken out almost all the plexiglass partitions. There was just one table left with those (Keaton: “for the jerkoffs who come in wearing their masks.”)
There was an empty table without partitions, so the five of us sat down there.
“Hunter here is going to make a TV star out of my little brother,” Carter told the others.
Although the one show had already aired with me and Lucas playing Kiké Hernández catch, there were plans for him to come on another three or four times, before he goes to baseball camp, so I can demonstrate a few things with a grown-up player. Watching Jacob and Matteo field ground balls is fun, but, if we’re going to be serious about teaching the folks at home a few things about baseball, it’s gonna be easier with another model, and me and Lucas on the same wavelength on a lot of things…although I fully admit I can’t take credit for all of Lucas’ success on the diamond. He had some pretty dang good teachers at baseball camp, and I fully approve of what I’ve heard his coach has been doing with Lucas and his teammates at Denison. (The team’s had plenty of success in its division, too, so it’s not just me saying that. As our toughass college coach used to say, the best judge of a team or a coach is the box score.)
Anyway, there’s talk of bringing Lucas back on the show for a few more episodes, but nothing’s set, so it’s kinda supposed to be hush-hush for the time being. I don’t blame Lucas for telling Carter – he liked being on camera and is hoping that we’ll use him again – but, well, Carter’s got a big mouth lol.
Turns out that none of the three Germans knew At Home with Maya (even if it’s internationally syndicated) so they didn’t know me…and they certainly didn’t know Lucas. They probably didn’t know the rules of baseball, either…even if one of them was wearing a Dodger hat.
“You’re on television?,” Klaus asked.
So I had to explain about the show.
“You’ll have to explain baseball to me. I look at it and have no idea what’s going on. Is showing the kids to play baseball all you do?,” Anny then asked.
“Actually, no. Me and the boys appear in a dog-training segment too. They got a dog for Christmas and we’re training him on camera.”
“How is it going?,” Klaus asked.
“Could be better,” I admitted, “but the good part is that Gechitzik – that’s the dog’s name – likes the camera. I just wonder if he’s trainable. He’s a rescue dog, and so we don’t know what he went through before we got him.”
“What did you say his name was?”
So I had to repeat it and translate it. I gotta admit that I’m getting tired of that and I wish we’d given him more of a doggie name, but he answers to Gechitzik, so it’s too late to change it.
“What kind of a dog is he?,” Klaus asked.
“Beagle shepherd,” I answered. “You may not have them in Germany. At least not yet.”
“He looks like a german shepherd that someone stuck a beagle head on,” said Carter, who I know watches the show.
“That I’ve got to see,” said Klaus.
So I pulled out my phone and showed him. He laughed, but at least Anny thought Gechitzik was cute.
“My parents have a german shepherd,” Klaus said. “He’s a trained attack dog.”
“That sounds scary,” I said. I like my dogs clumsy and friendly.
“He’s actually very sweet. Unless you order him to attack. So you don’t say attaken Sie around him, even as a joke.”
“You say ‘Sie’ to the dog?,” I asked. In German, ‘du’ is the familiar second person pronoun and ‘Sie’ is the formal one. I can’t imagine calling a dog ‘Sie’….but, then, maybe you have to be polite to an attack dog. (Sorry about the pronoun lesson after my last post lol.)
“That’s how he was trained,” Klaus said with a shrug.
Then we got into kind of an involved discussion about dogs and had a couple more rounds. No one was loaded, least of all Carter, who I was keeping an eye on. I wasn’t sure that he wanted his friends from business school to see Keaton bail him out of trouble.
Turns out that there was trouble…but it didn’t involve Carter. It happened not too far from where we were sitting. Keaton came out onto the patio, so I reckon he and Jesse changed places for a while. That gives Keaton a chance to stretch his legs and a chance to make sure that everything’s going as it should out back.
What happened was that some jerkoff decided to play challenge the bouncer. It’s a game I know, and, trust me, it’s not a smart one to play. Yeah, I did knock a bouncer’s block off once, but I also got my block knocked off pretty dang hard by another one (although I did get a girlfriend out of that one.) And it’s definitely a dumb game to play when Keaton Penner’s the bouncer you’re fuckin with.
The dude was about 6’2” and 200, so pretty much Keaton’s size (a little taller, and I think a little lighter.) He was built, and probably thought that the time he spent in the gym made him tough. So he went up to Keaton and seriously got in his face.
Anyone who’s a regular at the Volcano has probably seen Keaton in action, and seeing him doing his job should teach you not to fuck with him. But I guess this dude didn’t know what he was getting into. He definitely had a few in him already.
Y’all may remember that the management at the Volcano has one cardinal rule where the security guys are concerned: under no circumstances are they to throw the first punch. That’s ok with Keaton, who usually can be intimidating enough to keep punches from getting thrown. Keaton’s not a start a fight type anyway; he’s a finish a fight man, probably pretty dang fast.
Anyway, the dude picking the fight wasn’t backing down…and had kind of gotten himself into a situation in which he couldn’t back down without losing face. So he had to keep going.
“Go and sit down, man,” Keaton said.
Keaton laughed in the dude’s face.
“Look, man…there’s something I know that you don’t, which is how fucking hard I can hit and how bad it’s gonna hurt when I connect. If you did know, you wouldn’t be fucking with me like you are. So you can go and sit down and keep having a good time, or you can crawl out of this place with your tail between your fuckin legs. Your choice.”
The dude also didn’t know that Keaton had a gun inside his jacket, although there was no danger of him having to use it. Not with how hard he can hit.
So, anyway…the dude makes the cardinal mistake you can make with Keaton Penner. He took a swing at him.
Now one of Dad’s rules of fighting is don’t hit a drunk dude with everything you’ve got. Keaton’s dad wasn’t always as nice as my dad was…and so Keaton let the dude have it with both barrels.
A right uppercut followed by a left hook. The dude’s head practically swung around 360 degrees when the left connected, just like in a cartoon.
That’s right before he went down on his ass.
Keaton was about to recommend that the dude not get up, but it turned out he was out cold.
“Fuck,” Keaton said, trying to suppress a grin. He’s not always that pleased with himself. “Someone get me a bottle of water for this motherfucker.” He heaved a big theatrical sigh. “Knock a dude out, he becomes your fuckin problem.”
One of the dude’s friends showed up with a bottle of water. Keaton took it from him and poured it over the dude’s face. It brought him to. Kinda. I could tell he was still seeing stars.
“I told you the other way out of this place was crawling out. So get crawling, asshole.”
One of the dude’s friends came over and very politely said that he could help carry the dude out.
“Let him crawl,” Keaton said. “Give him a lesson he can fucking remember…since he’ll probably not be able to remember how he got knocked out.”
“Yessir,” said the friend as the dude started crawling to the door. Once they were through the door and inside, the friend did help the dude up. Keaton probably knew that he didn’t crawl all the way, but he made his point.
He really was grinning when he got his usual applause for, well, for being Keaton. He was still grinning when he came over to our table.
“Nice job,” I said, “only Dad told me you should never hit someone who’s had a few with all you got.”
“What makes you think that was all I had?,” he asked me. “Still, it felt good. I haven’t punched someone in the face like that in a while. You gotta tell El Tigre that the work we put in on that combination’s paid off.”
“Is this place always this rough?,” Helmut asked Carter, kind of as an aside.
“Naah,” Carter said. “It’s Saturday night, so there’s gonna be a little excitement. Keaton and Jesse usually take care of it.” I noticed that Carter didn’t mention that there were more than a few times when he was the one who started the trouble.
“Are you a boxer?,” Klaus asked Keaton, clearly impressed.
“Bubba over there, Jesse and me take boxing lessons from an ex-pro named El Tigre. But I knew how to fight long before I ever studied how to box. There are too many rules in boxing when you’re trying to persuade drunks to get the fuck out at 1:30 in the morning.”
“I see,” Klaus said. “Still…that combination was the work of a boxer, not a streetfighter.”
“I reckon I’ve learned a few things,” Keaton said, that grin still on his face. “Am I taking you home, bubba?,” he then asked.
“Por favor,” I said.
“See you at closing, then,” Keaton said. “I’m gonna go back out front, although it was good that it was me and not Jesse who that dude fucked with.”