The Drunk and The Restless

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I stood there pretending to mind my own business, but I knew that Kenny was mad.  I could tell by the way his eyes glazed over and his neck began the slow, speckled, evolution of red dots that would eventually evolve into his tale-tale mask of rage; it was almost like a scene straight out of the pages of National Geographic:

“When under attack, Dyscophus Antongilii (commonly known as the Madagascar tomato frog) secretes a mucous-like substance that gums up the predator’s eyes and mouth, causing it to release the frog, thereby creating an avenue for escape.”

Kenny let out a string of four-letter epithets and drew back his left arm hard and swift, his open hand clenching into a fist and his body turning sideways simultaneously, sending his right foot out front and his left foot behind in the proper stance required to knock someone’s block off.  It’s as if he had calculated the exact force, trajectory and angle needed to land an effective, efficient blow.

Despite the rapid and almost instantaneous nature of his motions, the only way that I remember it was as if it were happening one single frame at a time, like stop motion: Kenny’s fist moved forward through time and space, his arm unfolding from it’s cocked position and making contact with Mark’s right cheek, splitting skin against bone and forcing Mark’s head back with such violence that I could hear his neck snapping one cervical vertebrae at a time (sort of like a bowl of Rice Krispies, but resonating from a deeper, darker, more serious place).

Stumbling back into the wood-paneled wall (and barely missing the payphone with his shoulder), Mark reached up and touched his face, feeling the warm, sticky blood that was beginning to ooze from the fresh wound; his eyes narrowed to tiny, furious slits and the veins running up his neck began to pound as he looked at me standing silently behind the bar, wiping out a glass with a stained dish cloth.

“Jo, you better stand back girl,” he said in a low, almost inaudible growl, “I sure would hate to see you get hurt.” Then he picked up his half-filled bottle of Old Milwaukee and charged at Kenny, his arm raised high above his head like some drunk, stumbling, redneck-crusader intent on beating this one last heretic into submission.

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