Some time ago, in New Orleans. I was living above a strip club in the 300 block of Bourbon St. Flashing neon signs and all, I was that cliche! It was a company apt. My job title was bartender, that covered a multitude of sins. My neighbor across the hall was Albert “Shorty” Venable. My good friend and boon companion. Our head of maintenance and most important guy in the company. He fixed the AC and ice machines!
Down the hall at the front of the building, we were on the second floor, lived Erin and Roger. Really awesome couple! Roger is the ONLY actual rocket scientist I know! Works at NASA Michoud facility in New Orleans East. Really nice guy. His wife Erin was a French Quarter legend and the most professional bartender I’ve ever known. I’d met her back in ’97 when she worked at the Old Stage Door Lounge. Always a sweetheart! Like most French Quarter apts back then, it was overpriced, sub-standard and rat-infested! At least the ones my boss owned were? Lately we’d been poisoning, clubbing and I’d even recently shot one in my apartment!
Writer’s note: I was using ratshot. It’s a pistol round with a plastic head full of tiny pellets. Won’t penetrate deep on a large target — humans — but will ruin a rat’s day! You don’t want to be on the wrong side of it-though!
It took three founds and a coupe de grace from my baton to finish the bastard off!! It was a foot long, not counting the tail! We posed it on a dust pan with the murder weapon, my .38 Airweight and sent pics to our boss! He was less than amused but gave tacit approval!
I’m off one night and it’s raining fuckin’ crowbars! Street is dead, I’m hanging with Shorty, we’ve got our doors open, crankin’ tunes, Waylon and Johnny and Hank! And Shorty had made beef stew and cornbread; there were some bong rips and shots involved, I believe. We hit some ‘shine too? Shorty ALWAYS had some. Johnny was singing about Hwy. 61 when we hear a clatter in the kitchen? We look and it’s a big goddamn Norway rat on the kitchen table! Trying to get a plastic lid off a pic plate? The nerve of that bastard?!
“Goddammit!!” Shorty yelled as he jumped up, grabs a work boot and fires it at him! Scores a direct hit and knocks it off the table! It scrambled into the hallway awkwardly, it might have broken a leg? I run into my apt. and grab my Airweight and baton off the dresser, I knew I had two rat shot rounds left in the cylinder, I level it at the wildly scrambling rat in the caverous hallway.
“Shorty, watch your ears! It’s gonna get loud!” BOOM!! BOOM!! I squeezed the trigger twice! Rat mortally wounded! I flick out the baton, my ears ringing and hallway reeking of burnt cordite. I strike one sharp blow putting the little bastard out of his misery!
Just then, Erin and Roger’s door bursts open! Now Erin Churchill was always a beautiful woman, thick dark hair, lovely porcelain skin and gorgeous eyes, but now, hair standing up and hell in her eyes and me standing there with litterally a smoking gun in hand?! I’d rather been anywhere else?!
“Goddammit Jay, Shorty?!?! What the fuck?!?! You psychos shooting fucking guns in the building?!?! Are you outta your goddam fuckin’ minds?!”
I sheepishly try to explain we were killing a rat? It’s not flying. Shorty’s not sayin’ a word. The rat, a gory mess, twitched feebly. Erin storms back into her apt. Roger shrugs at us like WTF dude?! He follows Erin. We disposed of the rat after taking pics and wisely retired for the evening. I hated that Roger and Erin were mad at me? I thought the world of them and they’d always been very nice to me. I know I can be a bit much at times! I think that in 27 years of knowing Erin, that was the only time I’d heard her raise her voice? I was expecting some fallout over this? Gunfire in the building?
The next night I’m workin’ the Alley Bar at Temptations, I’m elbow deep in draft beer and Hurricanes, Shorty doing his usual lean-on-ice-well behind me, providing running commentary, the customers thinned out and Erin and Roger appear at the bar! Ahh shit! Erin scowling, then smiles and laughs, coming around the bar and gives me a hug! Roger shakes my hand. I start to say something.
“Jay I can’t EVEN!” Erin says, and laughs. They head down the street. “You got off light,” Shorty remarked. “You were in on it too!” I retorted. Some time later, I’m busy as fuck, 20 people in line, ringing and slinging, Shorty has pitched in and helping me make Fishbowl drinks. Our boss and owner walks in, the man with the plan, the cappa de tutti, in his trademark black blazer, customers looking at him with interest, he’s obviously someone important? “Jay did you pay your rent?”
“Yes sir, I saw Miss Denise this morning.” Miss Denise was the paytime operations manager and building supervisor. Customers are curious, sipping drinks and listening in.
The boss inquires: “Jay I’ve gotten reports of screaming and gunfire coming from your apartment?” Shorty, that fucker has disappeared back into the dark alley, but probably listening in? Customers wide-eyed! Screaming and gunfire!?
“Well…boss….it’s an epic saga…”
Dedicated to the memory of Erin Churchill — Gone But Never Forgotten! — Jay Slusher
I’ve been in a rough business for a long time, working in bars, nightclubs and strip clubs as a security (I don’t like to use the term bouncer) barback and bartender. I’ve done most of my adult life as a full time job or side gig, in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas and mainly South Louisiana, New Orleans 20 plus years. Probably been in 5000 altercations, mano el mano fights, group scuffles, standoffs and out and out brawls/riots. Shit went down! I’m still in it at 56 years old. I often get the question: What’s the WORST fight I’ve ever been in?
Got to be the following, that Didn’t Involve, knives, cudgels and fowling pieces, where no one was killed or seriously maimed?
The following is my personal eyewitness and participant account. The name of the club has been omitted, and some names redacted so no one is butthurt.
It was New Years Eve on Bourbon Street. Streets were packed with people, Carnival season about to officially kick off, Sugar Bowl was the next day, LSU and Illinois playing and there had just been NFL game at The Superdome. Heavy Police and security presence, tension was high. 9/11 had ocurred several months before and New Orleans is about to host Mardi Gras and the Superbowl.
I was posted in a key position at the center door, myself and another security protecting manager taking cover behind the horseshoe stage, alpha and beta doors were exit only.
KxxNxxxxd, a large man at 6’8 and 375 pounds, was controlling access to the center door, it’s a rough job, people giving you attitude about cover, trying to bum rush the club etc. We had 20 guys working at the time, smallest guy 6’ft 200 lbs. I was 6’4 and 270 at the time. Several guys bigger than me. All of us tough, hard bitten street soldiers.
This was the notorious red shirt era, security wore black pants, red polos with club logo. If you’re familiar with old Star Trek, (“Red shirt”) was expendable security guard. They rarely survived an episode. Cue ominous foreboding.
Temp was in the low 30s at time, I was wearing regulation uniform, long sleeve black t shirt under polo, elbow pads under that, black bather gloves, skater kneepads under baggy black BDU pants, steel toed Doc Martins, I often had to hit the floor wrestling some unruly knuckleheads and breaking up fights. It was basically gladiator school in those days. These days? People scared to throw hands or take a punch?! They pull guns, spray and run! We had a copule of incidents in days leading up to New Years Eve, some idiot arrested, bottles and beads thrown etc.
I’d clocked in at 6 p.m., we started doing cover at 8 p.m., it was up to $20 a head and people were paying it!? It’d been strangely calm, no incidents or harsh words with exception of a 30 yr old jackass with a bullhorn, superfan of New York team, kept wanting climb on the furniture with a bullhorn and rile up the crowd, really obnoxious and annoying AF!! We’d had to chill him out twice and you could hear the bullhorn over our powerful sound system and street club noise. Very chaotic atmosphere. Radios basically silent all night, no one getting escorted out of the alley, zero pushing shoving incidents at the door, everyting going smoothly. Until…
The ball dropped at midnight, much yelling, cheering and excitement and the DeeJay started playing Auld Lang Syne… About 20 seconds into the song everyone’s radios at cover started blowing up?! (“Security to patio! Security to beta bar!”) Deejay over the PA, (“Blue crew to dance floor!” – club code for shits going down) and more ominously (“security, garbled screaming and mic cuts off”!?) not good. From my position I could see a half dozen fights and scuffles breaking out! On the dance floor, beta and alpha bars both! Our emcee MxE on the stage behind us fighting with some fratboy wearing 20 lbs of beads and a stupid hat, trying to snatch the mic from him?! Me and my partner DxxxK, a large jacked up dude, grabbed the kid from back of stage and shoved him out door, he started ripping beads off his neck and firing them into the club. A common douchebag tactic. Beware the jackass, usually white dude by himself, drunk AF and wearing 20 lbs of beads! Sunlasses at night and stupid Mardi Gras hat! I deal with several of these every year!
Or they’re passed out in street, pissed themselves! I’m hit three times in the face with beads at ten foot range! It hurts! I pick up a garbage can full of beer bottles etc, probably 80 lbs? I fire it at him! Crowd parts around him and I nailed him perfect!
Our GM Exxl, who was taking cover tells Kxxxxxd, who is on cover door to lock it down, tells me and 3 other security to get it under control now! We roll over back of stage into one of the worst melees I’ve been involved in my long bloody career!? Radio still blowing up in my ear, seemed like every employee there was fighting someone?! Security, barbacks, shotgirls, bartenders, everyone was-fighting!
Saw a bartender jump on the bar and kick someone in the face, saw a shotgirl smash a tray of shots into a bitch’s head, saw two managers, both small wiry guys, riding a huge dude to the floor! It was like something out of Roadhouse?! A real Brannigan! Patrick Swayze and John Wayne would have been proud!! I was punched, kicked, slapped, scratched, had drinks thrown in my face etc.
I personally dragged, full-nelsoned, arm bar, etc. at least 30 idiots out myself! We were launching them out all 3 doors, and dragging them through the 30 ft. alley knee deep in ripped open trash bags!
The head of security Cxxy and myself gave this treatment to the jackass with the bullhorn! Facedown through garbage and promptly gassed and cuffed by the NOPD the at gate! He deserved it! There was a stack of dazed, bleeding and cursing jackasses on sidewalk, some in cuffs, reeking of pepper spray! A squad of NOPD had joined in, joined by a phalanx of a dozen state troopers, shoving through crowd! It went on continuously for a good 40 minutes! That’s a long time for a bar fight!? It was more of a small riot! Not my first rodeo by any means but halfway through it I had a burning stitch up both sides of my chest, sweats and breathing hard?
After police got there, batons, tasers, pepper spray deployed. We got it under control! Order to the Chaos! Cops shut down the whole block for an hour, skirmishing breaking out perimeter. Aside from bumps, bruises, scratches and a nose, black eye or 3 our crew was OK. Same for all the random Kyles and Karens, fratboys and football fans we were fighting. They were fighting each other as much as us. You NEVER lose control of the club! But it was close… At least 35+ people were arrested, 25 taking ambulance rides.
I spent the next 2 hours doing paperwork. My GF at the time worked down street. She came up around 3:30 with a couple of friends and the first thing she says: “I Heard y’all had a fight?” I’m like, “Yeah, it escalated quickly…” This story is dedicated to men and women of the service industry: Kyle Quin, Clay Montz, Johny Robards, Eric Johnson, James Baird, Derek Anderson, Victor Pastor, Sidney Martinez, Amy Constanza, Para Manzi, Tina Bencke, if I left anyone out I apologize! Traumatic brain injury! Lol. Love all y’all. Sincerely, Jay.
Roland Turner, a gentleman and gangsta, THE REALEST! REST IN POWER! Fly high! We’re all gonna miss you my friend! See you on the other side! -Jay Slusher Dec. 28, 2022
“Jose? What do your people say? Your folklore say about them?”
I’m an open-minded guy and in my 39 years on the third rock from the sun, I’ve seen some strange and unexplainable things. I’d heard the stories, seen some video footage about how a couple of supposed chupacabra had turned up dead or shot by landowners, turned out to be coyotes with sarcoptic mange, skin rot. East Texas wasn’t that far away.
Lil Jose sighed and leaned forward, his beard stubble silver white in the flickering firelight.
“Some say they were experiment, by US Army, in the 70s-80s, biowarfare, created in secret lab by white coated bastards, secret labs, south of the border, where not too many questions asked, I’ve heard they killed the scientist and guards and escaped into jungle?” he said.
“Others say it was deliberate? Turned loose on the rebels by El Presidente?” I was getting shivers, Lil Jose had style, I hit the joint again.
“I’ve also herd that they were…how do you say? Genetic mutants, caused by toxic waste dumps?” He continued. “The old ones say they are demons? Set loose by El Diablo himself, to punish the Wicked.”
Fire was dying down, getting late, the women began to gather up items and move them into the house, taking the lanterns with them. It grew darker. A log popped and crackled, flaring up briefly. Temperature had dropped from mid 50s to high 40s in the couple hours I’d been there, eating tacos and drinking beers, blazing a couple of joints. I was tired and dirty and pleasantly buzzed. A bit of a drive home to the Garden District apartment I shared with my girlfriend. I needed to head that way soon. Zero cell phone signals here, towers still down after Katrina. Might as well be on the moon.
The Jose’s walked me around to my truck, we briefly discussed their sweet little minivan; when I went to start the Bastard, there was no sudden rumble, just solenoid click of the starter. My dumbass had left the auxiliary on?! I popped the rusty hood on the Bastard and fished my jumpers out of the toolbox. The Jose’s jumped me off with the van and the Bastard’s engine rumbled to life. Some good ole boys had tuned and basic overhauled it for me in Tennessee before I left. That truck was a beast!
We were discussing how I should get back to the I-Ten when the night was pierced by a sharp high-pitched trilling sound! VERY close by! In the darkness to my left! The Jose’s exchanged looks and said, “see you mañana Amigo!” and quickly departed to the warmth, light and safety of their home. I dropped the Bastard into gear, feeling vaguely like Mad Max about to navigate the ruined badlands back to the Ten. I had a bit of a buzz but chilly damp air coming through cleared my head.
Defrost and high beams on, I drove along slowly for awhile, dodging downed utility poles and trees, couldn’t see lights of hear traffic from the Ten, couldn’t be but a couple miles West? Felt like The Last Man on Earth.
I’d changed Johnny out for Dwight and he was wailing about that fabled last ride in that Long White Cadillac and I turned onto a really dark, desolate street that still had some trees standing. Making it even darker, the Bastard’s headlights barely keeping the gloom at bay. Rolling at 5 mph, motor idling heavy and burbling. Dwight had segued into I Sang Dixie. I was feeling copacetic when off to the right, on the edge of the street, something stood up! Startled by the highbeams, its fucking eyes!? Reflecting back red?!?! Demonic red!?
It threw something down in the tall weeds, screeching that horrible trilling and it ran in front of me, leaped onto a pole, swiftly scaled it, jumped onto a power line, did a hand-to-hand back across the street and jumped into a tall pine!
Branches creaking and snapping, I heard a loud thump and it screeched again, fading away into the dark. It was leaping from roof to roof, thumps fading, out distant.
I threw the Bastard into park, 45 in my lap; I don’t remember drawing it. I’d only actually seen it maybe 15 seconds?! It was squat, three-to-four feet high, muscled, wiry, matted grey fur over green scaly looking skin and several tube-like appendages hung from its upper back; fucking red demon eyes!! No visible tail.
They say curiosity killed the cat? But the cat died…quite satisfied. I stepped out of the truck, 45 in hand. Thinking better of it, I holster the pistol and drag the 590 Mossberg from its sheath on the bench seat. Thirty-six inches of cold steel and sex appeal! I thumb off the safety and its hot, nine fat buckshot rounds, with eight .32-caliber pellets per shell. When you absolutely, positively gotta kill bloodsuckin’ demonic fucks!
I grab my four-cell Maglight from the seat, beat to shit like everything else I owned but with fresh Duracells inside. Flick it on and a reassuring cone of light. With the 590 on my hip pointed skyward, I walk into my high-beams, Bastard’s engine the only sound, what had the slimy looking fuck thrown down?
In the harsh glare of the mag light laid the desiccated, mummified carcass of a cat! Looked like it had been dead for a long minute? But the fresh wound on its throat glistened red and wet, like it had all the good juices sucked out of it?! Steam was coming off it it in the damp, chilly air.
All the hair on the back of my neck stood up and cold chills ran up my spine, suddenly that goddamned trilling call erupted! From all around! Lil Jose’s words came back to me, like a Latino Obi Wan Kenobi: “They can take down a man in numbers.”
Fuck that!! I touched off a round skyward, it was deafening! “Goddamn ya!! Goat-sucking, cat-killing ain’t getting me!! I’ve got the boomstick!!” I said.
Walking around the hood to the drivers side door I fast pump four rounds into the dark, muzzle flashes lighting up the street, buckshot clattering hard off empty houses and cars, spent shells clinking on the pavement, I laid the 590 and Maglight on the seat, jump, 45 in lap and gun the Bastard hard, doing a fast K-turn. Think I hit a couple of flooded-out cars doing this but I didn’t give a fuck!! I’m getting out of this fucking hellhole!!
I rammed a burned-out dumpster on wheels, out of my way. The Bastard finally getting to cut loose after idling and weaving all over hell and half the lower 9th Ward! My buzz long gone, I was riding a wave of adrenaline dump. I thought of going back and burning out their nest if I could find it?
I had a full five-gallon gas can in my truck, plenty of ammo and some road flares. The more I thought about it, I decided not to, not at night and no backup.
I probably hit a hundred mph all the way back to our Lower Garden District apartment. As soon as I walked in she started in on me.
“It’s midnight! You should have been home at 8?!” she said. “Are you drunk?! You smell like weed and gunpowder?! What the fuck, Jay?! Have you been fucking that slutty blonde bartender at Igor’s?! I’ve seen her making eyes at you!! Fucking kill that bitch!!”
“You wouldn’t believe me if…” and it went on for a goddamned hour. I went toe-to-toe with el chupacabra, in no man’s land and survived. Was kind of wishing they had killed me at this point, I KNOW what I saw!! She’s probably still convinced I was cheating?!
We split up a year later. I never did bang that slutty bartender at Igor’s. Had another run-in with el chupacabra but that’s another story.
(All art by Eric T. Styles) Author’s note: the incident in this story took place in 2009. I DON’T do pain pills or cocaine anymore. If I tried to roll like that now I’d be dead or hospitalized!
Publisher’s note: Some references to local establishments were omitted.
Warning: graphic violence, strong language and drug use.
A true story by Jay Slusher… Some time ago, in New Orleans, it was mid winter, leading up to the Saints’ victory in the Super Bowl. The vibe in the city, especially in the French Quarter, was awesome. Steady business and great people for the most part. I was slinging booze out of the alley bar and making stupid money and doing stupid shit too. I’m probably at the high or low of my drug abuse and alcoholism. I was going through a couple of eight balls each weekend and popping Vicodin like Tic Tacs. I HAD help with the former though: a crew of friends and hangers-on. I was 43 and at top of my game.
I’d gotten off work early that busy Saturday night, at 4 a.m. and I headed up to a certain bar on Toulouse Street. My plugs had all shown up that night, and I foolishly DID NOT go to my apartment behind Stiletto’s and and put most of my stash up. I wasn’t thinking straight at the time, but was far from wasted. I had one-quarter ounce of Columbian bambam, 20 Percocets, six grams of fire weed, a collapsible baton and the felony slam dunk–a loaded Smith & Wesson hammerless .38. The pistol was registered in my name and I had valid concealed carry permit, but with the weight in narcotics I had and $700 cash, it would have been armed trafficking had I got busted. I WAS NOT dealing! It was for personal use, but it wouldn’t have looked good.
I was supposed to meet up with some of my guys at the bar. I knew most everyone who worked and hung out. It was not virgin territory for me. The Tropical Isle Club had burned out a couple weeks before and I could still smell the smoke despite the fact that it was shuttered and had a temporary chain link fence surrounding it. Trash littered the street and I stepped over some fresh puke on the sidewalk, looked like crawfish etouffee? Probably smelled better when they first ate it.
I exchanged greetings with Jordan, the doorman at The Dungeon, walked into the bar and ordered a drink–my standard, Jim Beam and Coke. The new bartender was vertically challenged, but incredibly cute. She was an Irish girl from Boston named Maeve. We introduce ourselves and made chit-chat. It was her first night working there and on graveyard, the silly shift.
About that time a guy comes in wearing Pat O’Brien’s gear, including white pants and shirt and green jacket. He’s Black, late 30s and fucked up! Looking like a Johnny Cash song. He immediately orders a shot of Bacardi 151 and cup of black coffee. Maeve evidently knew him because she refused to serve him alcohol and caffeine, given that he was already intoxicated, diabetic and epileptic. He argued his case for a minute and suddenly he turned paler than he already was, his eyes rolled back and he collapsed to the floor, looking like a zombie Richard Pryor!. Me and the barback–the always awesome Billy from Philly, RIP–helped him and cushioned his head. He was seizing and foaming at the mouth.
Maeve called 911 and they showed up surprisingly fast. We explain to the EMTs what happened and they bundled him out on a stretcher. That pretty much cleared out what little customers she had, too. It was pretty late and the crowd had dwindled due to cold and intermittent rain.
I slipped into the bathroom to do a maintenance bump off my keys–a lil dab will do ya! One up each nostril. It hit my brain like a sledge hammer. One second of burn and then an instant drain down the back of the throat. Goddamn!! I said GODDAMN!?!? Instantly, I’m cool and articulate again, at least for a minute.
I returned to the bar and ordered another drink, and discussed what just happened. Suddenly there was a commotion at the front door. People were getting kicked out of The Dungeon by Walter and Jordan, the security. It’s James, my friend I was supposed to meet up with. James was a really intelligent and articulate guy, very talented tattoo artist and had just done a cover piece on my right hand a month prior. However, he had ZERO filter! Combine that with a 6 feet 2 inch and 250-pound frame with extensive training in Muy Thai, and you’ve got your hands full! He also had an Odinist symbol on his face that caused him to be a shit magnet at times.
His girlfriend Sam, bartender and manager at The Dungeon, was off duty at the time and comes in to tell me that I need to go outside. As one of the few people who could handle James, talk him down, etc., I walked out to the front of bar. Walter and Jordan were posted up at The Dungeon’s door.
I immediately recognized the couple James was arguing with: both were White, early 30s, albino-pale with bleached-out hair, meth sores and dilated eyes. Both were dressed in black looking like inbred brother and sister. I’d heard the rundown on them; they were staying at a skid row motel on Tulane Avenue and the dude’s claim to fame was he’d worked at The Dungeon–five years ago for a couple of months. He was about 5 foot 6 inches and a buck fifty at most, twitchy and wearing Himmler-style glasses. She was 5 foot 8 inches and about a buck eighty. Both were pale and flabby and looked like they hadn’t slept or eaten in weeks.
She’s went on about James being a tourist and a Nazi and being a local. I’d been living here and hanging out and sometimes working at these three bars for a decade-plus and I’d never seen them until recently. She’s running her cock holster and the dude is silent, and creepy looking. What the fuck? “James!” I said. “Fuck this shit! C’mon in and I’ll buy you a drink.”
The bitch was still mouthing off. The word I heard on her is that she had been trying, with little success, to hustle guys for drinks and money. They were trick-rolling and playing Murphy games. It’s very common down here: a dude from out of town, probably married, meets woman in bar, then she lures him somewhere and the boyfriend shows up and robs him. Seen it a million times. She’s pretty skanky though, even in the dim light of a dive bar.
I’ve got my arm around James and we’re about to walk into bar when she screamed, “Yeah you pussy motherfuckers better walk off! My husband will cut your fuckin heads off!”
Next thing I saw was the little troll coming at us with, for fucks sake, a straight razor in his hand! Where the FUCK did you get that?! The cliche mine? James whirled around as the dude slashed at his face and I hear a click, or the sound of James’ four-inch combat knife extending from his hand just before he stabbed into the dude’s skull, ripping a good 5-inch gash into his scalp as he took a couple slashes to his face.
I reached for my 24-inch collapsible baton located in the holster at small of my back, underneath my black Dickies jacket. I tried to get in and break up the fight, I really didn’t need this bullshit, especially with felony weight narcotics and a handgun on me.
The bitch jumped on my back screeching about tourists and Nazis, and tried to jam a lit cigarette into my eye, while clawing for the other one with her nasty thumbnail. I flung her to the sidewalk and extended my baton. It’s my weapon of choice for close combat; effective and intimidating, not as messy as a knife or a gun. I used them many times before. A straight razor, though? On paper or in movies it’s scary, but not so much in a brawl. The blade won’t lock back and unless you hit an artery, the cuts are fine but not deep. I thought he’d gotten James in the eye!
Both of them moved in a scuffle down the sidewalk towards Bourbon Street. James basically kicked at the dude, who’s down and blindly slashed at James’ legs. With James wearing knee-high Doc Martens straight out of Romper Stomper under his camouflage battle dress uniform pants, the slashes had no effect and James continued kicking the little shit in the face.
I tried to break it up, but the skank jumps on my back at least three more times. In the three or so minutes that have elapsed since the altercation began, I saw two NOPD cruisers pass by on Bourbon Street. James has kicked the little shit within 40 feet of Bourbon Street. The dude still hasn’t said shit and just grunted from the impacts of James boots.
The skank continued to scream at us, calling us Nazis and while they claimed to be locals. I flung her to sidewalk several more times. They had to be tweaked out of their minds taking hits like that from me and James. I’m 6 feet 4 inches and was 230 and a veteran nightclub bouncer at the time. Not my first or 500th street brawl. I showed restraint, all things considered, but worried about cops rolling up with the narcotics and pistol in my possession. This escalated quickly.
The dude and James were both covered in blood, including the whole right side of James’ head. The scuffle moved across the street and James kicked the dude into the fence surrounding the burned out shell of Tropical Isle Club, located in the 600 block of Bourbon Street. The air reeked of scorched wood, puke and blood. I finally got between them before I pushed James back and extended baton in my left. James staggered into street wiping blood from his eyes.
I stood over the dude, who’s laying on his back in the street, a bloody mess and head swelling up like the goddamned Elephant Man. Where’s the girl? I stomp on his right forearm, he’s clutching the razor and still not talking. I told him to drop the razor and he grunts. I rapped him sharply across his nose and heard it crunch. He let go of the razor and I switched hands, baton in my left, and I dumped the knife and razor into the storm drain. I stood up just as the bitch came back and swung a U-shaped bike lock on a chain into my back, hard. Goddamn it! The fuckin’ tweaker cunt was still screeching about tourists and Nazis.
The dude rolled in the mud, blood and beer and holding his face, crying. Sam tried to pull James back across the street. The bitch hit me again but this time I hook my baton into the chain and ripped it from her possession, flinging the chain and lock combination across Bourbon Street. A small crowd gathered to watch the fight. I grabbed her by her funky peroxide hair.
“You like to play rough bitch?” I said, slamming her face first into the post of the chain-link fence. She stopped screaming and fell to the ground, twitching. Goddamnit! I expected to go to jail any fuckin’ second. I heard several people in the crowd gasp and comment, but I didn’t give a fuck in that moment.
At this point I’ve had enough. I pulled the .38 out of my Dickies jacket and popped open the cylinder to show her it’s loaded. “If y’all come at us again, I’m gonna waste both of y’all,” I said.
I shoved James and Sam into the bar and Maeve yells last call. As Billy from Philly closed the bar, the bitch came around yelling about calling the cops! Fuck me. The bar is closed but you can’t see inside. The tweakers staggered around the Tropical Isle and the female goth-tweaker continued to run her mouth. The damage to James’ face was minimal, only superficial cuts, although it looked worse than it was. The slashes missed his eye. I immediately chopped out a dozen lines to compose ourselves and I hand off my whole stash–pills, blow and weed, about $500 worth–to Billy from Philly, bless his heart, who put it all in an envelope and hid it under a full trashbag lining a can.
I told Maeve to get a bar towel and handed her my pistol. She didn’t bat an eye, wrapping the pistol with the towel and hid it under bar. I tossed the baton, my knife and little flashlight under the pool table and onto the dirty saloon floor. At that moment, we heard a quick blast from a police siren, followed by a rap at the shuttered door. It’s showtime!
As I’m the only one not drenched in fuckin’ blood, I told everyone to stay in the bar and let me talk to the cops. It’s kind of my superpower and know what to say (my dad is a retired police officer and military pilot). I stepped outside and expected a SWAT team to greet me, given there was bloody brutal fight with multiple people, multiple witnesses and weapons were involved. At least no one got stabbed with a trident.
It’s one cop and a rookie by the looks of him. He was very casual and actually had his hands in his pockets. “What’s going on?” he said.
Nancy-fuckin-Spungen across the streets starts yelling, wait for it, wait for it–about us being tourists and Nazis and wasn’t making a bit of sense. She and her trollboy are a bloody goddamned mess, like they’d been dragged across concrete by a bear. Trollboy can barely walk and his head’s covered in blood and swelling. She was still yelling, but now they’re walking away. Was meth the only reason why they weren’t dead? We had beaten the cowboy-tweaker-shit outta them.
“Why don’t y’all go one way and you sir go back in the bar?” the cop said, still cool and casual as fuck. What the fuck? I haven’t said a word at that point.
“Yes sir! Have a good night!” I said and walked back into the bar, locking the door behind me. The Gods of Alcohol have smiled upon me once again! We poured more drinks and chopped out more lines.
Two weeks later, our lives went back to normal, as normal as it gets for the life in the French Quarter, slinging booze and talking trash. The cuts on James’ face were basically scratches from forehead to chin and they healed quickly. Fucker had narrowly missed his eye, though.
When I got home that morning, Melissa, my girlfriend at the time, had heard about the incident and she pulled my hoodie and jacket off. My back was pretty stiff despite the cocaine, pain pills and alcohol I’d ingested. A big horseshoe-shaped bruise across my shoulder blades from the bike lock faded quickly. Maeve’s and Billy from Philly’s bosses, a really awesome husband and wife team, had heard the watered-down version of the fight from me. I left out the pistol and narcotics parts, though. They were cool about it because it went down outside and no police report was filed. Again, the Gods of Alcohol stepped in.
Roughly two more weekends went by and I heard from several sources in my network of spies and informers that the bitch and her trollboy reappeared at the bar and The Dungeon. They were with a posse consisting of several tweaked-out emo kids and a big fat kid in a Babylon 5 shirt. They asked who I was and threatened to kill me.
I paid Dani, my co-worker, to takeover my shift. I called my crew, who were working out in the Quarter that night. Frankie, Nick, Dustin, Avery and, of course, James. All hard-bitten Dog Soldiers who didn’t give a fuck and down for anything. “Meet me in front of The Dungeon, boys.”
Me and my crew of baggage-smashers arrived at the Dungeon. Jordan already knew what was about to go down and met us at the door. “Jay they left and headed to lower Decatur,” he said.
We proceeded to hit every bar on Decatur Street and beyond, from Molly’s at the Market to The John on Burgundy Street, in the Marigny. No trollboy and no fat kid in a Babylon 5 shirt. I was hitting the Columbian bambam pretty hard at the time and could be a ruthless motherfucker. After a hour or two of this, we walked back to The Dungeon and Jordan and Hoss met us at the door.
“Look Jay, the dude talked to some people and him and the girl got in a argument,” Jordan said. “He took his friends and left. He’s scared shitless and still stitched up and in a neck brace.”
James busted up laughing. James was 86’ed for life, anyway. Hoss tells me no trouble and Rachel, the owners wife and a bartender, is about to kick the broke bitch out cuz she’s still trying to hustle dudes. She’s still got multiple stiches and a taped up nose so no one is giving her any play. I tell ’em I’m cool and just wanna talk but I refused to check my pistol. James and Dustin waited outside while Frankie, a lifetime regular, Nick and I go inside. Avery takes a seat in courtyard.
I immediately spotted her sitting at the bar. She’s hard to miss: two fading black eyes and tape across the nose and a few sutures on the forehead. I smiled at her and sit-down, with Frankie and Nick flanking me.
“Hey boo how’re you doing?” I said, oozing charm.
“A lot better now that you’re here,” she said. I bought her a drink and she warmed up. She put her hand on my arm. I buy a round of shots for us and she’s practically in my lap, dry humping my leg. I’m gonna have to burn these pants, I thought. She’s not as tweaked-out but still looking like 90 miles of bad Bakersfield oil patch road. Leaning towards her, I asked if she remembered me.
“Why no, I’d remember a big good looking guy like you,” she said. I told her I’m the guy that did the damage to her and she immediately becomes defensive. Her story was that her ex-husband put her up to it and none of it was her fault. She was sorry and that he’s all spun-out on meth, etc. I told her she’s full of shit and lucky they’re not dead. She said her husband had a broken nose, jaw, collarbone and 60 stitches in his head, etc. I hold up my hand to stop her. I told her my full government name, where I worked and if her and her husband/ pimp ever wanted to find me, that I’m not hard to find. None of us ever saw them again. If I have gained anything from this, it’s don’t take a straight razor to a street brawl.
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.
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