The Humbolt Club
So my wife had been having sex with a twenty-one year old punk in our home of ten years, 2326 Canal St.
Sure, I had gained a few pounds around the waist and my hair was falling out, but I never expected her to fuck some kid.
The whole incident had me wandering the streets, going over our argument in my head. People stared at me as they drove by. Swearing and clenching my fists, I am sure I looked like one of those insane homeless guys who argues with himself. I remember her lame excuses, her tears, pleading for forgiveness, only because she couldn’t imagine living on her own without my paycheck. The kid she was screwing was literally on food stamps. Bitch should have thought of that before screwing him in every room of the house I paid for.
Men with shitty marriages don’t go to church, they go to the bottle. The Humbolt Club was as good a sanctuary as any. I walked in the dimly-lit place. There were five people there: some bikers at a small table in the corner, and one old man sitting at the bar itself. The bikers were the usual, with creaking leather chaps and long hair and beards. The woman in the group was heavy-set, wearing a black tank top that strained to hold her massive breasts in place. Their biker laughs were grating and boisterous, bouncing off the walls loudly over the Steve Miller Band on the juke box.
I sat two stools down from the old drunk, and the bartender leapt to action, “Drink sir?”
“Jameson and Coke, double.”
The effeminate bitch of a bartender slapped my drink together and dropped it in front of me without a word. I laid a twenty on the counter. “Keep em coming.”
The bartender nodded and went back to the end of the bar to play on his IPhone.
After the first drink and well into the second, I began to gaze at the wall of the bar. It was covered with old Polaroids and some larger, classically-developed photos. There were pictures of hunters with deer, truckers with trucks, fisherman with fish, bikers with bikes. I realized one of the photos was of several of the bikers that currently inhabited the bar. They were all holding up their cheap beers and grinning wide. I looked over my shoulder, but they must have stepped out for a smoke, or they were in back playing the lotto machines.
The old guy at the bar, with his short-cut gray beard and trucker’s baseball cap, looked at me. He smiled and shook his head while sucking down the rest of his Bud Lite.
Understandably, I was not in the best of moods and I asked the feeble-looking old drunk, “Something funny?”
He snickered a little, spittle littered the bar and he wiped some from his chin whiskers. “Easy, buddy. We’ve allllll been there.”
“Whaddya know about me?” I asked, raising my glass and taking a slow sip while fixing my eyes on the man. The bartender’s head popped up from his phone, and he shifted uneasily.
The old man’s words fell out in a long string of slurry sounds, “You gots the look er a man that has jess been fucked.” He grinned, showing only a few teeth clinging to white gums. His next statement was surprisingly clear: “A man driven mad with betrayal.” Did he actually say that?
Shaking my head confused, I grinned. “You got that right.”
He leaned to me and said, “Fuck them cheating bitches!”
“May the cunt bleed out slow.” I imagined my wife lying on the floor of the kitchen, dead, clutching her lifeless, mutilated boy toy. My glass clinked the old man’s bottle. The bikers’ laughs returned and the juke box began playing Tom Petty.
The old man’s fist clenched hard, almost audibly. “Sum bitch cheated on me once.” After a horrendous burp, he licked his lips. “She done got what she deserved.”
“I hear that.”
He looked at me with a creased scowl, “Oh, you do? You hear me?”
I looked down at the bar, clinking the ice cubes together in my glass. He didn’t take the hint and said with more volume, “What’d you hear, mister?”
“Easy, buddy, I was just agreeing with you.”
He quickly moved his old bulk across the two bar stools in between us and repeated his question, “What’d you hear, mister?”
I just shook my head and tried to pretend there was something interesting in my glass.
He leaned right up to my ear and I could smell his breath. “I fucking killed that bitch. Beat er to death with these bare hands.” He showed me his hands. Oddly enough both of our hands were scuffed up.
“I guess that makes you a man now.”
He laughed in my ear and it hurt. I flinched away, raising my hand up, almost swatting at my ear like a fly was buzzing in it. He grabbed my wrist and I yelled, “Dude, get the fuck off of me!”
The bartender set his phone down and stood up, staring at us intently.
“You wanna see what I did to that lil bitch?” The old man broke his bottle on the bar, but I socked him in the jaw before he could strike. The four bikers came out from around their table. For some reason, I looked back at their photo; they didn’t look as happy in the photo this time. There was a caption on the white part beneath the picture: We will never forget you!
At that moment, I noticed they had all hung their jackets on the backs of their chairs; they all read, “Hell’s Angels.” Then, to my complete horror, I realized that draped over the bar stool the old man was sitting on, was another jacket, and it also read, “Hell’s Angels.”
The bikers flung me to the ground and went to work on me with the broken bottle, stabbing my groin and stomach repeatedly. The bottle was buried into my neck and my struggling ceased. The only thing that could be heard was the bartender screaming for me to stop.
Most people have seen too many movies, and they expect death to come moments after so many mortal wounds have been struck, but I lasted a while, lying there as the bikers quickly exited and my pool of blood grew bigger and bigger.
I remember the bartender standing over me, dialing 911 on his IPhone. “Get to the Humbolt right now, some guy just fucked himself up pretty bad.”
I couldn’t understand what he meant; I guess if you screw with lions, you can expect to get mauled, but it was an honest, drunken mistake.
The town was small and, despite my great blood loss and increasing drowsiness, I survived until the police arrived. The officer didn’t even touch me; that’s how far gone I must have looked. Everything was surreal and almost dreamlike.
The officer asked the sobbing bartender, “Jesus Christ! Are you all right, Teddy?”
The bartender nodded while composing himself. He was barely able to look at my mutilated body. After talking into his shoulder mike, requesting tons of back-up and to roll medical units, the officer inquired further. “What happened here?”
The bartender recounted the incident. “I was sitting here, all alone, when this guy walks in and orders some drinks. He started talking to himself, and then he started arguing with himself. Then he reaches down the bar and grabs that beer bottle.” He pointed at the crude weapon that stuck from my neck, glistening in the bar light. “Then he busted it and started stabbing the shit out of himself.”
The cop looked at the bartender doubtfully. “No one was here?”
“No, man, you can check the cameras! There wasn’t a fucking soul in here but us.” The bartender started crying again, “Look at all this blood!? I can’t take this bartending shit!”
Teddy was hysterical, and the cop tried to put a comforting hand on his shoulder. Eyes full of tears the bartender cried, “Those bikers get gunned down last year and now this?”
The radio jumped to life. “Be advised we have two homicide victims at a residence, 2326 Canal Street, one male and one female victim.”
The cop started talking to his shoulder again.
At that moment, the door to the bar opened, but the police officer didn’t even look. I heard heavy boots thudding on the floor and then a large, bearded, leather-clad man grabbed my arm, dragging me through the pool of blood with a squeak, out the door into blackness.