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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Sports · #1623462
A 14 year old boy's introduction to frontier dentistry, violence, and pride in his father.
Once upon a time, many years ago, in an age of innocence; a better vanished time, there was a tavern in a Rocky Mountain city called Craig, located in northwestern Colorado. This was 1982, which without any context to support it- is simply a number. It may help somewhat to add that in this year the word 'internet' would bring nothing but blank, puzzled stares from anyone that you happened to mention it to. The price of gasoline had yet to even approach one dollar per gallon- and this was even if you fueled up with premium at the full service pumps. The American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was still blissfully unaware of the bomb that would take many lives a couple of years down the road. You could walk into just about any building in the USA and see folks happily puffing away on Marlboros or Camels or Kools, although you might be more likely to see the ladies smoking Virginia Slims or Benson & Hedges.

And on one fine Saturday evening in a smoke filled tavern in a small town that was filled with such establishments, but very little else in the way of commerce, there stood off in a corner, unnoticed by any of the taverns fifty or so loud, animated, beer and whiskey fueled patrons, a pinball machine and beside it a video arcade machine which was quite a bit more modern looking than the more familiar 'Space Invaders' which stood on the other side of the pinball machine. For any of you history buffs who might for whatever reason have an interest in video game trivia: the pinball machine was labeled with the name "Playboy" and was decorated liberally with very interesting looking young ladies. These artfully rendered young ladies were frequently distracting the attention of the shy, reserved adolescent youngster who stood at the as yet unidentified, modern looking video game which is now revealed as 'TEMPEST'. Standing at the elbow of the youngster (aged 14) was his younger brother(aged 12), who was enrapt, staring without distraction at the phenomenal firing and maneuvering of his older brother, who had surpassed the high score almost five minutes hence and still had two more 'men' left on this fast paced game. In fact the younger boy had all ready spent the entirety of his $1.50 worth of quarters playing Space Invaders (the pinball machine was not working) while the older boy (who would very soon be parting with .50 cents of his $1.50 to get a break from his younger brother breathing down his neck) was still playing on his first quarter. These two rather unlikely inhabitants of the tavern were the sons of a man standing at the bar who was obviously engaged in a very lively, pleasant conversation with a woman standing to his right. Upon entering this fine establishment earlier in the evening, the woman had within a moment or two beckoned for the father of the two boys to come join her at the bar. Three bucks were produced and given to the boys along with the inevitable command: "Go play pinball!"

Thus, with the stage set, we now get to the main event. Having just parted with fifty cents and about 10 minutes into his 2nd game of Tempest, the reserved adolescent youngster paused for a moment, having sensed some change in the environment of the smoky, noisy bar. It was subtle, and impossible to define, but it did not take long at all for the mystery to unravel- for within a couple of seconds, no more, several things seemed to happen almost at once:

A man had started making his way through the crowded bar, zigzagging his way through the pool tables, where paychecks were being wagered and lost. He seemed ordinary enough in appearance, and yet wherever he passed, the taverns patrons would stop and stare after him. The reason for this soon became visible to the 14 year old; it was due to the fact that the man had a tight two handed grip upon a wooden "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat. For some strange reason the young man at the tempest machine would remember thinking how unusually 'bright' the bat had looked, but further hindsight has identified this as most likely due to the bat being brand new, without any of the typical and numerous marks, faded or chipped sections, or frayed tape on the handle that every bat always seemed to have. The man seemed to be intently staring directly at the young man's father(who was still unaware of the man with the bat) as he quickly closed the distance, and in a heart beat there was no longer any doubt.

Approaching from the left side and to the rear of the boys' father [who had just started to turn to his left to see what had caused the panicked look in the eyes of his female companion at the bar], the man with the bat brought his arms back, resembling the way a golfer prepares to swing more than a baseball player, and connected with a very solid swing to the left side of the face of the boys' father, who never saw it coming. The two boys, along with every other occupant of that barroom, stood watching in stunned silence as their father dropped to his knees- the sound that was produced when the bat hit was very much like the sound you hear at the baseball field from a good solid 'line drive' double to deep left field or even a home run. You could feel the impact as much as you could hear it. Almost immediately the woman began screaming, while backing away from the man with the bat, who pursued her and began shouting to try to be heard over her screams, it seemed.

And it was this confrontation between the man with the bat (which was now in one hand, down at his side- probably to try to reassure the woman) and the shrieking woman that now drew the collective attention of the bar's Saturday night occupants , who were still seemingly mesmerized by the unexpected intrusion into their pursuit of intoxication.{NOTE: it was evident to many of the bars occupants that this woman had been seeking extramarital companionship, but this fact was at this point in time unknown by the boys or their father} Maybe 20 or 30 seconds had passed since the bat had been swung. The oldest of the boys, finally pulling himself together and furious at the rather cowardly and (the word that kept popping into his head, absurdly enough considering that this was no little league baseball game, was...) unsportsmanlike ambush of his father- began to move toward the bar.

It is at this precise moment in time that something very, very surprising and profoundly impacting on the 14 year old youngster happened. In fact, there was not a single individual in that tavern that failed to be impacted to some degree by what was happening now. The boy's father, although knocked senseless for a few moments (maybe 1 minute had now elapsed) had never lost consciousness. After spitting out a surprising volume of blood, along with just about every tooth (or significant portion of each tooth) on the left side of his mouth, the boys' father began to struggle to his feet. There was no effort made to help him because the attention of the bar was still focused on the bellowing man and his estranged spouse, who now appeared to be laughing like some kind of nutcase, at full volume. Suddenly the man ceased mid sentence in his shouting and glanced downward, probablyto see what had become of the bat that he now was no longer in possession of. Although the 14 year old could not see what had happened because the bar had obstructed the view, the events were soon made known, as there was nothing else but those events discussed for the remainder of the boys' time spent that night in the tavern. Their father had apparently crawled or shuffled hunched over (whether deliberately or because he was still dazed was never made known to the oldest boy) to where the man had stood raging at the woman... and yanked the bat from the hand of the man, who fell silent and glanced downward. The man then disappeared from sight.

Again it was later revealed to the boy who was unable to see exactly what happened, that when the man glanced down, the bat was jabbed, thick end extended, to the center of his chin. The father of the boys then dropped the bat and pulled the man to the ground and spent perhaps 4 or 5 minutes executing what U.F.C. fans would describe as the "ground and pound", while still spitting out pieces of teeth and blood. The woman he had been talking to, in yet another strange nutcase display, had midway through the '2nd round' of the fight between the two men began to attack the boys father from behind as he paid the man back for his lost teeth. Her efforts were evidently not very effective, but they did eventually inspire the boys father to break contact with the ball bat guy, who was now lying absolutely motionless and silent, apparently unconscious. He then gave the woman his undivided attention. The occupants of the bar were at this point openly cheering, every one of them on their feet, and some standing on chairs. It was a very strange sight, and one that the boy never saw again in his life, nor did he ever even hear of a case where there were women (who numbered between 15 - 20 in that tavern that night) who actually enthusiastically cheered for and shouted encouragement to a man as he was beating a woman with backhands and closed fisted jabs until she sat down on the ground sobbing and swearing with language fouler than any that is typically heard by anyone other than marines, sailors, soldiers, and convicts.

There were to be few occasions over the years where the 14 year old was to feel truly proud to be the son of the man who now sat down at a table that was crowded with admirers. Someone had washed off the shiny new bat and

BuzzNet Tags: fighting,proud moments,strange situations
presented it to the boys' father, pointing out the broken off tooth that was still embedded in it. He had to have quite a few teeth pulled or repaired, but only was asked to pay a total of $100 dollars, and this only to cover the prescription antibiotics and pain pills. To the best of the 14 year old's knowledge, his father was never asked to pay for another drink while they remained in Craig, CO over the next 6 months or so. And the 14 year old one day found himself to be 40 years old, with a desire to tell people every now and then about some of the unusual moments in the life of a wannabe writer and shameless myspace addict.
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