"This place corrupts everything it touches, including me. Stay away from here."
It's what I tell people in regards to where I work, known as the Towers. It is two buildings, nine floors into the sky, nearly identical and nondescript from the outside. When you enter, you feel the oppressive push of its insanity and rage, created by the hundreds of crowded people who have just plain given up, and are now only out to get what they can, who get angry when others get more, and do the best they can to keep others at their station even as they try to rise above it themselves. It is a place of madness, and I don't fault anyone for not wanting to be there for very long.
Not everyone is like this. There are a few people who genuinely do the best they can with what little they have, and it is these people that make it a little easier to come to work each night.
I lived among this element my entire life, so it's nothing new to me. It's a quiet office that has air conditioning and a fridge, where they feed me on a nightly basis and I can focus on my stories and the entire series of DragonBall Z. It's not so bad when you learn to filter out the bullshit.
Every so often, though, I get to hunt, and vent my frustrations on some genuinely deserving people.
Last night was one of those nights.
It began even as I first walked into work; with a host of the parasitic element recently evicted from the Towers, it's made room for a whole new host of parasites to move in. With these parasites come their associations. Again, I imagine they're not all bad; these're just the people I've met recently. The first incident came with some idiot on the fifth floor who felt a need to share his music with the entire city. His girlfriend (for the moment) had recently returned home from a local emergency room with a swollen eye (I wonder if he gave it to her) and I guess they were celebrating. Anyway, when I knock on the door, he's drunk to the point of barely standing with his jeans sagging and his zipper down. Sorry I interrupted.
When I ask him to turn his music down, I find he's a polite drunk. He apologizes for all the times he said the word nigger (I never heard him say it, but whatever) and that there were niggers in every race and he was just venting about all the niggers he didn't like. I've just become numb to it. I really didn't care. As long as he kept his music down, I was fine. He invited me in for a beer, and had I known what awaited that night, I might've taken him up on it. He, it turns out, was the nicest part of the evening.
Nope, about two hours later, the fun began.
There's this young couple visiting an older couple, also on the fifth floor. When I can hear their music from a floor down at two in the morning, I figure I should say something. So when I knock on their door and ask him to turn his music down, he, filled with liquid courage, turns it up. Great…
I tell him I don't want to call the cops (it wouldn't help anyway) and I'm not trying to jam him up…just turn the bloody music down, please? Slurring his words to the point of near incomprehension, he tells me that he don't have to do what I say and blah blah blah. This is the point where I have to be careful. I can't step into this house without permission and there is no surveillance here. As always, on my own. So I take my most diplomatic tone of voice and address the situation as politely as I can.
Turn the music down or turn it off.
Of course, he asks me; what I am gonna do if he doesn't?
Confrontationally, he spreads his arms. He begins to walk towards me in full stride. He's a little skinny but has muscle tone, his legs are long; sober, he might prove a challenge. Either way, I figure he's gonna close the distance between us in less than four seconds. I step my right foot forward, just barely outside the apartment, and the second he gets into striking distance, I unleash a right-handed backfist strike that catches him clean by his eye. I haven't fought in years, but my aim is still pretty good.
He drops. Just like that.
I pulled the punch. I know I didn't hit him hard enough to do permanent damage. I ask if I can step inside, and his bewildered, suddenly-sober girlfriend gives me the okay. I check his pulse; steady. His breathing is fine. I help him onto the bed and document the entire thing. At this point I'm wondering if I'll have my job the next day.
A couple more hours go by, and amidst the good-jobs I'm getting from some of the better people in the tower, I'm thinking to myself; I hit him, I pulled it, and I wasn't angry. I didn't envision my father or anything. I just hit him once and let it go. Don't think I've ever felt that before.
There's a knock at the far window…and it's Juice.
I do a double-take.
I don't talk about Juice often; he used to be my nemesis on this site. He nearly raped a woman—on my watch--and the cops didn't touch him. He was free to do pretty much what he wanted at the towers because he had turned criminal informant. Personally, he personified everything people don't like in black people. It had taken months of work to get rid of him, going through the damn "right channels" but I did it. In the process, I walked away from an opportunity to whip his ass, and that never sat right with me. Unemployment would've sat worse.
But tonight, months later, gone, and nearly forgotten, here he was. Is it my birthday?
Juice has been sentenced to three years in prison, but was given a three-day reprieve to get his affairs in order. He began his sentence today; I guess he wanted to settle up with me before disappearing.
I don't know what I have less faith in; our judicial system or the belief that he would actually turn himself in. Either way, he beckoned to me to come outside.
I walked outside slowly, not sure as to what he had on him or who might be with him. As it turned out, he was alone.
I could see it in his dark brown, now black eyes why he was there. He had made up his mind about this long before he showed up. Good.
I told him he had to leave; he was not legally allowed on the property. He accused me of stealing his girlfriend; the young girl he left permanent scars on and got arrested for possession of crack cocaine.
I told him I did no such thing. He didn't believe me. That's his problem. Leave…(I had to say it)…or I have to remove you.
Yeah, I wanted to fight him. I wanted to break him down with my bare hands.
But I can't do that now, can I…
He dared me to remove him.
When I stepped towards him, he reached for the small of his back. Make a decision quick; pin the arm or drop him? Juice is forty-four years old and riding high on a crack habit. He may be ex-military, but he blew any training in a pipe years ago. I gamble that his reflexes are shot and send a right cross into his jaw with about half of my hitting power.
He drops and instantly gets to his feet; I'm impressed, but I'm still gonna shine up that bald head of yours, man. I feel that familiar ball of energy rising in my stomach and I smile, my hands stay open. I look at him and see the man, not my father, not anyone I hate, for I hate no one. I feel no anger, no rage towards this man, for life will deal with him as it deals with all of us. This is merely a reward for patience and truly getting my anger under control. I can savage him…and not do permanent damage. This is the fight I have been waiting for. This is the test to see if I'm ready for it.
He jabs, weakly, slowly. I'm disappointed. Ex-Navy and he's nowhere near my level. I swat them away and dance around him, and it pisses him off. He begins to lose control, talking about how I stole his girl from him. I feel bad for him; in his own way, maybe he did love her. Maybe the violence was the only way he could express it. Then it hits me that I'm really not angry, and I'm not fooling myself. There is nothing I can do to this man that he hasn't already done himself.
When he tries a right hook that can be seen from two towns over, I block it and send a firm body blow into his solar plexus. I pull it. It's still enough to knock the wind from him. I finish him with a left palm to the cheek. He's down, and struggling to get up.
If you leave now, I tell him, I won't call the cops. You can blow town. Just walk away.
I don't even know if he heard me.
As he lunges towards me with bloodshot eyes, I realize that my right arm is outstretched in that ward-off fashion. He grabs it. I yank it back and use his momentum. I grab him by the shirt and roll onto my back. I thrust my foot into his solar plexus and send him flying over me. Haven't used that move in awhile. I'm hoping he'll stop before I really have to do something to him—and I don't want to. I still can't believe that.
As he smashes into the ground, I hear the impact and wince, and I hear it in his voice and a twinge of guilt goes through me. That must be Sam's influence. He tries to get up, but he can't. There is nothing left for me to do but call dispatch, who picks him up for Trespassing. Of course, I document the whole thing.
I haven't fought in a long time, but it still feels as good as it always did. For me, it's not about the violence anymore. It's about the move-to-move fluidity, and although this may not make sense, win or lose, I always win. If I win, then I know I have pushed myself hard enough to be better than my opponent. I have expanded my knowledge and skill set to have risen above the next challenge. If I lose, then I know I have that much more to learn, that something is lacking in my technique. Every experience is another opportunity to learn.
It's not even about anger or rage or punishment anymore. Just like everything else I try to do, it is about becoming a better person.
Last night was a good night.Oh, in case you're wondering; I've been in touch with my job and the client. I did everything by the book, and I still have to report for duty tonight.