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“Zeets, don’t bother.”
“I’m not going to sit here and watch this.”
Zeets and I had been enjoying an evening of camaraderie drinking beers on the trunk of his car in the parking lot. According to Fodor’s, this particular parking lot was a popular destination for camaraderie and drinking; well, it was for us, until that evening.
A man and woman were arguing vociferously about a hundred feet off. They looked exasperated with each other. Lots of aggressive hand motions punctuated their heated row. His voice quickly got angrier and he grabbed her forearm with great flourish while berating her.
fuck you, cunt! you’re a fuckin worthless whore! you just follow your pussy! maybe you should suck that guy’s dick.
Then the slap. Right across her cheek, bullseye. I used to think that face slaps in the movies were way too loud; that the soundman was having fun exaggerating the effect for the audience’s shock and awe. But this real life slap echoed throughout the empty parking lot like a crack of lightning. I put my hand to my face in ghost sympathy.
Zeets is normally a guy who takes amusement in the foolishness of humanity. His philosophy (well, one of his quite frequently contradictory philosophies) is “I don’t care what people do to each other as long as I can sit back and ridicule them for it.”
He wasn’t laughing this time. This got me worried. He stood and put down his beer bottle.
“Dude, do NOT get involved with this. Trust me, it’s pointless.”
“Get my back in case there’s trouble.”
Oh boy. No time to talk him out of it. He was dead set on white knighting.
I watched as he marched purposefully toward the fighting couple. A few words were exchanged.
what’s your deal, motherfucker?
“Leave the girl alone. Cowards hit girls.”
why don’t you mind your own business and go fuck yourself.
Zeets got in his face. “You’re a fucking loser taking it out on a girl. I’m not leaving.”
The girl was crying and stamping her feet. The loser took a step back from Zeets and shoved a hand into his back pocket. A split second later a metal object glinted from the lamppost light as it slashed a downward arc through the air. Zeets’ hand went reflexively up to his face.
I ran to them, my veins pumping with delirium. The girl screamed and the guy jumped in his car and peeled off. Blood seeped between the fingers Zeets had pressed against his left cheek.
“Jesus, man, are you OK?!”
“I’m fine.” He looked at the girl. “Are you OK?”
She had hysteria in her eyes. “Why did you do that?”
“You shouldn’t have come over! This wasn’t your business!”
I spit at her “That’s the thanks my buddy gets? Go fuck off! Your loser boyfriend is going to jail.”
At the periphery of the parking lot I saw Knife-Guy’s car idling. He had driven around and stopped there. She turned and ran toward it and got in. They drove away.
Zeets stared blankly at the nothingness in front of him.
“Hey, man, I’m taking you to the hospital.”
We drove in stony silence. Bleeding face wound or not, Zeets finds it hard to keep his yap shut for more than five minutes, so this was extraordinary. A little too extraordinary for comfort.
“I guess you were right.”
“Hey, look, you did the right thing. She was fucked in the head. Don’t let it get to you.”
I wanted to believe my own words, but I couldn’t.
Many police report filings and stitches later, we mused about that night.
“I’m disappointed.” Zeets did not look disappointed.
“The cut was not deep enough for me to impress the ladies with a cool scar.”
I sympathized. “Perhaps you can impress them with the story instead.”
“I’m done impressing.”
He was wrong. The cut was deep enough.