A true story by Jay Slusher …
Some time ago, in New Orleans… I was walking home to my apartment in from the Central Business District, where one of my best friends had her first bar shift at a little joint off Lee Circle and I went there give her my support. I had a few cocktails in me but I had also eaten red beans and rice, and was only a little buzzed, but not ‘faced. It was about 2 a.m. and I was walking through a desolate area on the edge of the French Quarter.
I find myself in a lot of dark desolate areas on the regular and I wasn’t too worried. I had a cell phone, clip knife, flashlight and doctor’s Smith and Wesson on me–the Quarter is a high crime area! The section I was walking through has a notorious reputation in New Orleans criminal history. The 100 to 300 block of Burgundy Street, back in the day from about 1880 to 1910, had been known as Smoky Row. It was a decrepit rats nest of shotgun houses, and a maze of courtyards and old slave quarters inhabited by low-end prostitutes, pimps and hustlers, who were known for luring in tricks off the streets, then robbing and sometimes killing them.
Legend has it (I think it was around 1910, maybe?) they discovered a room full of bloody clothing and a pile of old wallets 7 feet high. In addition, several human remains were found buried in a courtyard. No one was ever charged. The Encyclopedia of American Crime has a detailed chapter on it.
As a matter of fact, my girlfriend and I were robbed at gunpoint along the same section of the Quarter back in 1999.
Back to the night in question. As I’m walking into the 200 block of Burgundy Street, I noticed a commotion about a half block away. On the opposite side of the street from me, I see a Black couple. The dude looks really wasted and the woman is on her phone with a 911 dispatcher.
“They fighting up here!” the woman said into the phone. “Buncha White boys. They about to kill that man! Y’all need to get here now!”
I see men scuffling in the street, about 150 feet away, screaming and cursing. A couple of guys are down and another one is staggering away. I see two large men dressed in black, with radios and “SECURITY” emblazoned on the back of their shirts. In one uniform and coordinated move, they both lift a tall, skinny dude by the arms and legs, and hoisted him over their heads, ran across the street holding the man above their heads as he screamed and cursed, and double body-slammed him hard, cage match-style onto the hood of an old Buick Roadmaster. I could feel the impact.
The dude went silent, limp and twitched on the hood of the car. I’m walking up cautious, revolver in my hand. I don’t know what the fuck is going on?! Then a guy staggers up to me, bleeding from the mouth and nose, and with a big gash on his forehead. His hoodie was ripped in half and he’s already bruising up where they’d kicked and stomped him. He looks like a Johnny Cash song and I KNOW him!
His street name is Ice: a skater and BMX guy. He worked occasionally on Bourbon Street as a barback and barker for daiquiri bars. I’ve known him forever. He’s a pretty cool guy, but like a lot of us, his addictions sometimes got the best of him. In addition, he’s noted for dramatic relationships with women. He wasn’t a kid anymore, probably in his early 30s at the time and looked way younger despite his lifestyle.
Ice falls against me and I’m holding him up, trying to hold him steady. He’s bloody as fuck and reeking of puke and cheap wine. I slide my revolver in the pocket of my Dickie’s jacket. I hear several sirens crank up from Bourbon Street a couple blocks away.
“Ice? Wtf bruh?!” I said to him. He looks at me, trying to focus.
“Jaybird? They, they beat the fuck outta me man!” Ice said. “The dudes would have killed me if those bouncers hadn’t shown up!”
He slumps to the ground as NOPD cruisers, with lit-up sirens blaring, turned onto both ends of the block. That’s when I noticed three other dudes laid out on the sidewalk. Two of them were unconscious, and the other was moaning and holding his crotch. They looked like typical wanna-be gangsta White boys, you know the type; $20 gram bags and gratuitous use of the N-word. Punks.
More NOPD units pull up, followed by a fire truck! This is turning into a Shit Circus quickly! Ice was slumped against me and I’m covered in his blood. The cops have gotten out of one car and a rookie–a White boy looking like he’s 15 years old, all new gear belt and shiny boots and badge–orders me against the wall and spread em! I know the drill. He’s looking at the sprawled bodies, confused. The sergeant gets out of his car, a grizzled veteran with 10 hash marks down his sleeve. I know him, too. A big, evil looking bastard. Think Yaphet Kotto crossed with Sam Jackson.
He was cool as fuck, though, and we had positive history. He deputized me during some street brawls and riots back when I was a Razzoo bouncer in the notorious red shirt era. Yeah I was one of those guys.
“Roll EMS, two units, 200 block Burgundy,” Sarge said into his shoulder mic. Also, he tells the rookie to stand down. He’s about to search me and I have a piece in my pocket.
I couldn’t remember if my concealed carry permit was still valid. And I had been drinking. And there’s five fuckin’ dudes laid out and I have blood on me! Fuck!
Just as he’s about to pat me down, the Black lady comes and points at me.
“Officer, that man was not fighting! He was trying to help that man!” she said.
“If you weren’t fighting why do you have blood all over you?” the rookie responded.
Ice, supported by two firemen, is kind of incoherent at the time. He had just taken a bad beatdown.
Two ambulances have arrived, adding to the sound and fury. This is turning into a bad episode of “Cops” with me front and center. Sarge asks me what happened and tells his men to kill the sirens. Thank God! It was really obnoxious.
I told him that I didn’t know and that I walked up at the tail end of it. I saw two guys in security gear, one Black and one White, body-slam the dude in the Scarface hoodie, then disappear up the street. That’s really all I saw. The Black lady is giving a statement to another officer and her boyfriend is drunkenly leaning against the lamp post, smoking a cigarette. I think he was a cook at Deja Vu. He’s muttering something about White boys.
Two paramedics have Ice on a stretcher and he’s coming around. Firemen and other medics are tending to the others and cops are searching them. Scarface ain’t looking good. He’d pissed himself and the medic said something about him coding? One of the other guy’s knee is broken and he’s crying when they load him on stretcher. Another one had his face smashed-in, nose broken and he’s gurgling blood. The third guy is still holding his crotch and throat, and crying.
Meanwhile, all sorts of contraband is piling up on the hood. Sure enough, a dozen gram bags of weed, several bindles of white powder, four knives, a set of brass knuckles and the federal felony grand slam–a POS 32 revolver with tape around the barrel, grip and trigger! It’s loaded with the numbers filed off. Cops are all excited and joking about it. Also, one of the medics informs Sarge that Scarface is wearing an ankle monitor from the bonding company.
Not a driver’s license among them. Sarge says they’re all in their early 20s and from Metairie, a suburban part of the New Orleans metro area located west of the city in Jefferson Parish; and Westwego, part of the West Bank located across the river and also in the same parish. They were all on probation or parole. Not exactly archcriminals we’re dealing with here.
Ice is propped up on a stretcher and drinking water, with the medic suturing his head. Ice is drunk as fuck, but alert now. The rookie asks him to make a statement. Ice looks angry for a second.
“I ain’t no fuckin’ snitch bruh!!” Ice proclaimed. Ice’s social skills aren’t the best. He refused to make a statement to the policeman himself and instead makes his statement only to Jay. (Updated 2:08 a.m., June 8, 2021)
“That’s not how we do things. The policy says…” the rookie said before Sarge cut him off.
“I’ll allow it,” Sarge said. He takes out a cigar, a Cuban by the smell of it and clips it before jamming it into the corner of his mouth and chomping down.
“Jaybird, consider yourself deputized…detective!”he added, chuckling, then looks to Ice. “Proceed young man.”
Ice perks up; the center of attention. All around us cops, firemen and medics are busy as fuck. The punks are handcuffed to the stretchers and cops are taking pictures of everything. Eighth District detectives have showed up and taking notes.
“So tell me what happened, Ice? ” I ask.
“OK Jay, I got into a fight with my girlfriend at Armstrong Park earlier and I left her there!” he said. “Bitch lost our money! I slammed a fifth of Night Train and I wanted to pass out.
“I saw a pile of cardboard and fell out, I don’t know for how long? I woke up to puke and next thing I know, these bastards are stomping me and calling me a fa- – – t?!”
“So what happened then?” I prompted. The rookie is scribbling furiously.
“Dude, these bouncers showed up outta fuckin’ nowhere man?!” Ice said. “It’s like a miracle! Saved my ass man!”
“What did they look like?” I asked again.
“Big dudes, like you and Sarge” Ice continued. “All dressed in black, radios and gloves. They tore those dudes up man! Like a goddamn movie!
“One white dude, one black dude, big tough bastards! Didn’t say shit either. Just kicked ass!”
This WAS strange. There were no nightclubs or strip clubs anywhere near this section of the Quarter. Bourbon Street was blocks away. They didn’t look familiar either and I’m a card-carrying member of the Brotherhood of Evil Bouncers.
“And then they slammed that dude and took off,” Ice continued. “I’d buy those fuckers a beer man! They came outta nowhere and didn’t even know me!?”
One of the medics was hooking him to an IV. The rookie was still writing on his pad like a madman. Sarge asked me for a light and I hook him up. He rolls it in the flame to get a nice and even ember. He smells like Bourbon and gun leather. He puffs contently.
“And what’s your opinion on this, Jay bird?” Sarge asked me.
I saw a great opportunity to paraphrase the great Michael Parks from Kill Bill, Vol. 2:
“First off, as a professional, I appreciate the precision of the carnage. Throat, knee and crotch strikes, and that sweet double body slam at the end? Nice, they are definitely pros. No squirrely-ass amateurs. Zero fucks given. I’d say they probably had to escort some dancers or bartenders to one of the parking garages here and on the way back, they saw poor Ice here getting stomped out–and they intervened. They didn’t just beat ’em down, they MAIMED them! Then, like true vigilantes, they disappeared and remain anonymous.”
Several officers and detectives have gathered around. The poor rookie is still writing on this pad. Kids are gonna be doing paperwork till noon on this. Sarge takes the cigar out of his mouth and grins, teeth like broken tombstones.
“Jaybird, I think we both know exactly who these badasses are?” Sarge asked me.
I had absolutely no idea.
“In recent weeks, we’ve had several reports of a group of young men,” Sarge said, gesturing towards the ambulances, “matching these knuckleheads’ descriptions, robbing and assaulting gay men and homeless people in this area.”
I had heard the same thing and I thought if there’s been a half dozen complaints filed, they’d probably did it a BUNCH of times and gotten away with it. Most of the homeless people in this area are their own worst enemy and while a lot of them can be assholes and annoying as fuck, the majority of them are harmless and I’ve always thought guys who went gay-bashing were weak punks trying to prove how tough and hard they were. Scarface was the oldest and by the IDs and probably the brains of the outfit. And I’m using that term loosely.
They definitely bit off more than they could chew with some real fighters and hard men. My hats off to them.
“All in all, some excellent police work by those two,” Sarge said, referring to the mysterious bouncers. “They totally regulated on their dumbasses and when those idiots get out of the emergency room, I’m going to hit them with some serious felony charges. They’re all probation and parole, and the gun we found on Scarface alone is a federal felony charge with a minimum 10 years sentence.
“They gonna find out just hard they are in Angola!”
Ice ended up taking an ambulance ride. I saw him a couple more times since I moved back to New Orleans and got back in the only life I know. Ice is not is real street name. I wish him the best. I never had to testify and I heard nothing else about the incident. I’m sure the Sarge handled it. In New Orleans, street justice can be harsh and brutal.
And the regulators, whoever they are, excellent work and good looking out. Hit me up and drinks on me.