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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just keep smiling

Everyone knew Chuck was a good guy. He was tall, handsome, smart, and friendly. He’d give the clothes off his back. There was a downside. Chuck liked attached women. Married, engaged, committed. Whatever. He was always getting them. They couldn’t resist the charming looker. Chuck was always in trouble.
I was a distant friend. We drank together. He passed a couple attached chicks my way when I needed them. We hung out once in a while, part of a crowd that tried to get women. We’d hit the dive bars for cheap drinks, then hit the clubs. Chuck was a leader and something of a hero to many drunken guys. Many tried to copy Chuck. No one succeeded.
One night we did the usual. We hit the local dives, got drunk and high, then went to a happening bar. It would be crowded and hopping. Chuck had been bragging about a blond he had a few nights back. He detailed her body, her voice, her climax. He was bothered because she cried afterward. She was engaged, and actually loved the guy she was with. Now it was over.
No one imagined Chuck could be sentimental. The whole thing bothered him, for some reason. His face reflected pain. He walked hunched over, defeated and broken. We tried to cheer him up. It was no use.
We walked into the bar. The band played and hot women ran around in next to nothing. We stood and checked out the crowd, inventing strategies to find women. Chuck had lived up, as we knew he would.
There was some yelling in the distance. Suddenly I saw a big guy coming at us. He was airborne with fists flying.
Chuck yelled, “It’s him!”
The scene unfolded in slow motion. I was too slow. The punch hit me harder than I thought possible. I flew against the wall, but somehow didn’t fall down. The sound of “Ohh” filled the bar. All eyes were on me. The puncher got up and looked at me. It was confusion.
For some reason, I was smiling. Maybe it was being able to take such a hit. Maybe it was what I had wound up.
My fist was on route. My back and legs added to the force. My fist was more than half way there when I found myself airborne. The bouncer had intervened. The door collided with my head, or vice versa. I was on the sidewalk. Blood ran everywhere. I jumped up, too pissed to see straight. I was going to kick somebody’s ass!
Two cops rushed past me. I heard the sound of brawl inside, and rethought my wanting to go back in there. A third cop stopped and yelled;
I waited for the cop to go inside, then I left. What? Was I that stupid? Would my going to jail help anything?
In the end, Chuck had been beaten pretty bad. He would never be the Chuck we knew. The fight had pounded sense into him. The bar was left in bad shape. The fight made the newspapers. The cops remembered to look for me. They never found me.
The guy who beat chuck was a brute, and known for violence. No one took him on. However, from that night on, he left as soon as I showed up. I was a legend, and my smile remembered. I will never forget the look of shear terror that man gave. He hit me with all he had, and saw me standing there smiling. I know it was just the wall holding me up, but I never had to hit him or even speak to him, and he feared me terribly.
Just goes to show the importance of being able to take a hit and keep smiling.

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