Why we gotta fight?
Outnumbered by the band members, Ricky did what he always does – he ripped off his shirt. In most bars on Crescent Street, that would get you kicked out, but this one caters to the dregs of downtown – schizophrenic alcoholics, drug dealers and the university crowd. And Ricky, who falls into categories one and two, owns it.
Set to the right soundtrack, I'd argue the scene was wildly homoerotic. Five sweaty, dishevelled men surrounding one other, half-naked and panting. Anyone could mistake this potential brawl for a more invasive sort of gang bang. I'd never mention that to Ricky of course, so as to avoid having my pinky fingers mailed to my parents.
Anyone who knows Ricky, knew what was to come next. Some knew word for slurred word. Ricky, who is almost always in the wrong, has a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, which is ironic because he's spent a lot of time there. To play it, he strips down and gestures toward his mangled torso.
"I've been shot three times and stabbed five!" he announces. "Why we gotta fight?"
The look on his face says, "We're all just people, so let's just chill out and be friends."
This particular night, after holding the band's drum kit hostage, he was playing that card again. The show was over, the dance floor was empty, and these guys were drunk and exhausted. Letting Ricky freestyle on their equipment until he drank himself unconscious or sober wasn't anyone's priority but his own.
While his words and face were friendly, Ricky's scars shouted, "You should've seen the other guys!" The band backed down thinking maybe no one ever saw those other guys again. They grabbed their gear and left.
I waited for my friend to finish up behind the bar, so we could get out of there, too. She poured Ricky a pint for his nerves, and I witnessed a road map of veins smooth into the contour of his massive head. I stole a few sideways glances at his eight uneven scars, and marvelled that he is still alive.
Shot three times? Stabbed five? At what point do you ask yourself, "What am I doing wrong?"
(I'd include a picture of Ricky at his bar, but I'd rather keep my pinkies. You'll have to settle for one taken in an Irish pub. The monsters there were smaller.)