Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Vidor + 4 drunk boys = Trouble

In high school we had a saying: Don’t fuck with Willie. We said it almost as often as we sang our alma mater on Friday nights.

Willie was a big, beef eating diesel of a boy. His skin was blacker than night and he had a death wish throughout most of our high school lives. On weekends, when my old man was working and my mom let me sweet talk her into letting me go out, Kelly, Jason, Willy and I would head out and immediately be up to no good.

The night of “the keg incident” we’d gone across the border to Hebert’s Grocery (again, for you yanks, it’s pronounced A-BEAR’S). Back in the back of the tiny store was a window with a guy on the other side making underage boys like ourselves very happy. Four mega sized Adios Motherfuckers later we peeled out and headed back to Texas. Kelly and Willie were in Kelly’s latest loaner Corvette and Jason and I were in Jason’s piece of shit pick up that could rattle the paint off a house.

Alcohol does things to a man. Mostly make him stupid. And stupid is as stupid does, that night. Willie decided he wanted to go to the Taco Bell. But not the nearest one, no, no, he wanted the one in Vidor.

Oh, hell no. “You’re fucked up, man. We ain’t going to Vidor.”

“I’m hungry!”

“For a noose?”

I remember looking at Jason and he smiled and shrugged. “The boy wants to go to Vidor, let’s go.”

Shit. It was a fucking bad idea. Vidor is where the Klan is. And I don’t just mean a group of Klansmen residing in the city, I mean the whole god forsaken city. Even the police. Fucking Montel Williams did a whole show on the racism in Vidor which only advertised to the rest of the haters out there that there was a safe haven for them right here in East Texas. Hell, the Klan posts a fucking sign at the Wal-Mart announcing meetings so nobody misses one.

We pulled up in the Taco Bell and Jason opened his glove box. “Put these on. Keep your mouth shut.” He gave me two cheap men’s rings. I put one on each hand. Jason had relatives in Vidor. He didn’t share their views, but it gave him insight on how to handle the mentality.

We were the only ones inside when we ordered, but halfway through the meal, because Willie insisted on eating in the dining room, we had visitors. Three white boys pulled into the parking lot driving a pick up with a keg in the bed. They came inside and immediately set eyes on Willie. That motherfucker I swear nibbled his taco from that point on. “Eat, bitch.”

“Man, my belly hurtin.’”

Jason balled up his paper and glanced at Willie, then me, then Kelly. He held up three fingers, then four. Outnumbering them didn’t matter one bit when the cops would arrest every damn one of us. No cop in his right mind would believe we just stopped in for something to eat. Blacks don’t just stop in Vidor. I don’t care if they’re diabetic and chancing a coma if they don’t get some fucking OJ in the next two minutes, they don’t stop in Vidor. And it’s like that to this day.

We got up to leave just as the Vidorians’ order was ready. Willie swore he didn’t move first, but it happened so fast I couldn’t tell. One minute we were almost home free, the next we were ripping one skinny white boy after another off of Willie while he tore into the biggest one who’d been eyeballing him the hardest. The wiry son of a bitch I got stuck with kept drilling me in the chest until I finally got a knee into his gut. All I can remember thinking is “Oh, Jesus, not the face, don’t hit me in the face!” I could hide the bruising on my body, but a busted lip and black eye would generate a whole new shit storm at home that would make this one pale in comparison.

The one Jason had lost his nerve and ran to the other end of the dining room which freed both him and me up to get between Willie and the fucking moose he was brawling with. The cashier told us she called the cops, which was not good news for us no matter who started it. It took all three of us to drag Willie out of there.

Once we got outside Jason, Kelly and I all ran for our rides, but Willie took a detour.

“What the fuck are you doing? Come on!”

Willie had jumped into the back of the white boys’ truck and was pushing the keg out to the end of the bed. Then he jumped down, slid the keg off onto his back and walked it one agonizingly slow step at a time to Jason’s pick up. We dropped the tailgate and he set the keg down, shoved it back and lifted the gate.

“Souvenir.”

Jason called him a name not even I would repeat, but it was the first time I’d ever heard Willie laugh. I mean laugh hard. When we got out of there and hopped back onto the highway I told Jason. “I’m fucking glad he’s on our side.”

Jason looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Can you tell my pants are wet?”