Learn your Place

It was Valentine’s Day (sometime in the late 90’s) and since I had recently been dumped I was looking at a depressing evening at home alone.  Weighing my options I decided to go out for a couple drinks instead of staying in and consuming the ice cream consolation prize I had purchased earlier that day.

I wore the brand new, milk chocolate colored silk blouse I had bought to wear on a date that was not to be.  Screw it!  I was only going to the dive bar that was within stumbling distance of my apartment but might as well look nice.

I wasn’t there long when I noticed this big, burly guy who was just being an all-around jerk to his date.  Negative comments and general snarkiness then out of nowhere he backhands her across the face so hard that she flies into the wall.  He snarled “I said get me a beer!”  The thing is she was…she just didn’t move fast enough to suit him.

I looked around in wonder as no one, absolutely no one, made a move to do ANYthing.  I went over there without really thinking and said something really scathing (I’m sure it was, really) like “Get a life, Big Man!”  I don’t really remember what I said in all honesty but he told me I needed to learn my place and she (the woman being abused) told me to mind my own business.  Incredible.

I made my way back to my barstool and ordered a fresh drink.  The bartender asked what I had said to the guy and said well “if looks could kill” and warned me that he was “boring holes” through my back.  I said “Oh, well… maybe he will leave her alone while he glares at me.”

And…that was that.  Nothing else transpired.

A couple drinks and a couple hours later I decided to go out for some fresh air because the cigarette smoke that permeated the place was burning my eyes.  I walked outside and leaned against the brick wall and closed my eyes. That was all it took… just a couple of seconds with my guard down.  He was there.  I never heard him come out but he was right in front of me. Ripping my shirt open, clawing at my neck, spitting venom in my face, “Bitch, I’ll show you your place” as he tried to push me behind the dumpster, to the pavement littered with broken beer bottles.  It became alarmingly clear exactly what he meant to do.  Exactly how he was going to show me my place. I wouldn’t, couldn’t let that happen.  Never Again.

I struggled to break free but he was too big, he was overpowering me.  I pulled my knife.

The knife I thought I would never use.  My best friend had given me this knife and insisted I learn how to use it…made me practice opening and using it, stabbing cardboard.  I thought it was ridiculous and only went through the motions to humor him.

Now his words echoed through my head, “Only pull it if you are going to use it.”

This guy wasn’t afraid though.  He laughed when I said “Don’t make me” and sneered “Like you are going to use it.”  He lunged at me and in the seconds before his fist met my face I stepped forward to meet him and plunged the entire blade into his stomach and twisted it before pulling it back out.

I’ll never forget the look of disbelief on his face as he reached down and felt the blood gushing through his shirt.  He said “What did you do that for?”

It was then people decided to step in to break things up.  I don’t know when people had come out but suddenly someone was taking my knife from me (which was easy enough as I was just holding it loosely staring at the blood, his blood on my hand.)  People were looking and talking and Douchbag was yelling about calling the cops.

I went inside, holding my shirt closed with one hand, and walked directly behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of vodka to douse my hand.  Then I called a cab and paid my tab and slipped out the back.  The cab got there before the police…

The next few days were agonizing.  I knew I had acted in self-defense but I had left the scene.  I had no idea what had happened after I left.  I also knew that all knife and/or bullet wounds that showed up at the ER had to be reported to the police.  I kept waiting for a knock at the door.

Then one day at work I saw my bartender of all people walking down the hall towards me.  It was surreal; I had never seen him outside of the bar… not to mention in the light of day.  He told me that when I left the guy had come in to use the phone to call the police.  He had told him that it wouldn’t be a problem but needed to do one thing first.  Then he got on the loudspeaker (normally reserved for “Last Call” announcements) and said everyone who saw this guy beating up on his girlfriend and then attacking Melanie please come to this side of the bar.”  The ensuing crowd of witnesses effectively dissuaded the call to police.

So that was that.  My knife had been cleaned and was returned to me.  As far as what happened to Douchbag… he lived.   From what we heard later he got stitched up by a friend who was a doctor.

And I, gentle reader, for a short time, was seen as a bit of a bad ass… and my drinks were free.

 

Melanie Blackwell

 

***Note this was long ago and I no longer go to bars and very, very rarely have an alcoholic beverage. 

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Learn your Place

  1. Oh wow!! A year and a half back, I got fired, and this was by a company who had a crappy business in India, and I got fired after building up their business. I felt like sticking a knife into my boss’s gut, and carried this feeling with me for around with me for a long time. Then one day, I say, ‘screw you, you sonofabitch. I am now free to choose my own path in life’. Since then, I have started to build an advisory – slooowly- and my photography and writing skills. I never felt more free in my life.
    Sometimes, being dumped / fired, really hurts. Then, when you let go of the pain, you feel free

  2. A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do. He certainly felt full of himself Melanie. I’ll always think of you now as, Wordifull ‘Bad Ass’ Melanie. 🙂

  3. Best story EVER! You are so cool. A terrifying beginning with a bad ass ending. S/hero indeed. Even though you can’t see it, I’m giving you a standing ovation! Way to go Melanie:) YAY! for you. I’m going to read this again and again, just for fun. 🙂

  4. Miranda Stone

    Paul is right, Melanie–you are a hero. It’s a shame that no one offered to step up with you and confront that man in the bar, that you had to face him all alone. I try to keep some semblance of faith in humanity, and tell myself that most people wouldn’t have turned a blind eye, and you were simply in a bar full of assholes that night. Thank goodness you had a knife to defend yourself. (And as an aside, I’m glad to read that you don’t go to bars anymore. I’m certainly not one to judge, but when you’re struggling with heavy stuff, the bottle is not the place to find solace.) Thanks for sharing, Melanie. Hopefully your post will inspire others to speak up when they see such brutal behavior.

  5. nokindofmagic

    You are definitely much braver than me. Which isn’t, honestly, particularly challenging. I thought I couldn’t admire you more…

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