I remember back in High School I had to work Valentine’s Day at the Red Apple Inn (hereafter referred to as “the Apple”). Now, the Apple is one of the classier establishments on the Greers Ferry Lake, which is a small but famous (and I use that term loosely) lake here in Arkansas.
The Apple is a golf course / retirement village / restaurant / hotel / snooty rich-folk hangout that takes up all of Eden Isle located near my home town of Heber Springs. I was a busboy in the restaurant for just over a year up there. It wasn’t a bad job, considering.
I got plenty of free food, the pay was not the worst available, and I got to get all kinds of dirty looks from rich people. Another bonus was the ability to stare down the dresses of hot rich chicks while spilling coffee or tea all over their husband / date / boyfriend / business partner / whatever.
Well, anyway, I was just approaching the end of my first year of service at the Apple. Valentines day happened to fall on a Friday, and that meant I had to go to the Apple after school, as I was working Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday Nights, plus days on Saturday and sometimes Sunday night.
The crowd that night was a little bigger than usual, first because it was Friday, and then of course the Holiday too. The lights were turned down low and there were candles and flowers on every table.
It was not horribly busy like on New Year’s Eve or anything like that, but there weren’t any long stretches of sitting in the break room breathing the waitresses’ second-hand smoke, you know?
So, just about nine-thirty, I see some enormous guy walking down to a table and BAM! Whoa, its Psycho Sid Vicious!!! Ok, now don’t crucify me here, but I have to make an admission: I’m an on-again, off-again Wrestling fan.
I know, I know, shame on me right? Well fuckoff, it used to be worth watching. But anyway, Sid Vicious had a pretty good run in the WWF and the WCW; I think he even had the belt in WCW for a while. But he was one of my favorites, plus he was from West Memphis, which is technically in Arkansas, so he had plenty of fans in the state.
Well apparently he wanted to go out to eat, but he wanted to go somewhere that people wouldn’t recognize him and constantly bug him for autographs and whatnot. Well, he was right. Almost. Nobody in the whole place recognized him except me.
“Oh my Gawd!” I said to a friend of mine from High School who was working there at the time. “That’s Sid Vicious!” I was peeking through the kitchen door.
"What-the guy from the Sex Pistols?? she asked. I was more than a little perturbed by her ignorance.
"NO! The wrestler-look!? Well somehow she managed to go get his autograph before me even though she didn’t even know who he was. What a hound dog. I should never tell anyone from now on if I see someone famous.
But anyway, eventually I worked up the courage to go ask for his autograph. “Mr. Sid,” I quailed “c-could I get an autograph please, sir?”
Psycho Sid turned toward me. Good God he’s huge! His chest was as wide as the table he was sitting at. Sitting down, he was as tall as me standing up. He has hands big enough to palm my head like an apple.
I knew he would crush me. Now that I’ve matured a bit, I realize that the polite thing to do would have been to wait til he was finished with his meal and approach him on his way out, but hey, I was a kid.
“No problem.” he rumbled. “Have you got something for me to write on?” Well of course I didn’t, I was overcome by his coolness and had gone completely stupid. I fetched a paper doily and he signed it quickly then reached to shake my hand. While we were shaking hands he bent my thumb backwards, sort of a ‘trick-of-the-trade’ thing and winked at me.
It didn’t hurt, my thumb is double-jointed, but I went along with it. Then, just for fun I jabbed my free hand towards his eye. Wrestlers are always thumbing one another in the eyes and I thought it would be funny, but damn the luck, I actually DID poke him in the eye!
I could tell by the way he was crushing my hand even before I realized that I had actually struck him. Well, apparently it was 'roid-rage night, because no sooner did I hear the bones in my hand crumble and fold under his mighty grip then he grabbed me by the hair and slammed my head down onto the table.
All the dishes and silverware jumped about a foot in the air and came crashing back down. The noise was very startling, and it actually scared me more than the realization that I was getting my ass kicked. One of the plates broke on the floor, and a glass of water spilled onto my head. I slid off the table, pulling the tablecloth and half the dishes down on top of me. As I did, Sid released my hand.
Everyone was looking at us now, and I remember thinking very loudly that I hope someone was calling the police or at least an ambulance. I wanted very badly to yell these things aloud, but my jaw was apparently dislocated from the table-slamming incident.
I guess I should point something out here. In high school, I was just barely over 5 feet tall, and maybe 130 pounds. Sid Vicious was 6 feet 8 inches tall, and well over 300 pounds. And not 300 pounds of fat, like some wrestlers, but pretty much all muscle. Yeah, the bad kind of 300 pounds.
So I was laying on the floor of the Red Apple Inn with a plate of stuffed mushrooms on my new white shirt, and a very angry 300 pound wrestler about to crush my bones to make his bread or whatever, and all I could think about is “I wonder if they’re going to deduct that broken plate from my check?”
Sid picked me up by the front of my shirt. He kind of dusted me off a little and made sure I was ok. Then he lifted his knee into my gut, which boosted me about 2 feet off the floor and forcibly expelled all the air from my lungs. By the time I crashed back down onto the floor, I was already curled up fetal-style, and I kind of rolled around for a while like a roly poly bug, gripping my stomach. He had knee’d me so hard in the stomach that I could have sworn that he bruised my spine.
I could feel my guts churning and leaking. Tears streamed down my face, but I was completely unable to breathe. No gasping, no hitching intakes of breath. Just a barely audible whine as I tried to force my paralyzed diaphragm to move again. As I lay on the carpet, I could see the people in the restaurant were filing quickly out, only a few of them were still seated, but noone was saying anything or making any attempt to keep me from dying. Even the hostess was staring, one hand over her mouth, which I’m sure was hanging open.
Sid picked me up by the shoulders this time, but my body was still curled up, so he shook me until I was standing upright. As my abdominal muscles came un-cramped, I was finally able to breathe after what felt like 3 days without air. I took in one huge ‘wooosh!’ of breath and then started coughing.
Several droplets of blood sprayed out of my now-squishy lungs onto his dress shirt. “This shirt cost me a hundred and twenty bucks!” he growled, and he held me up by one hand and drew back his other hand and gave me a knifehand chop right across my throat.
I felt a wet crackly snap as my trachea crumbled under his hand. He let go of my head and I bent over, grasping my neck. It felt like I had swallowed a bucket of broken glass and I could feel blood running down my throat. My breath came in raspy wheezing gasps that sounded to me exactly like what I imagined a ‘death rattle’ must sound.
Of course my analytical mind kicked in and I knew that what I was hearing couldn’t be a death rattle, since the death rattle originates in the lungs, and what I was hearing was my breath rattling through the shards of my crushed larynx and all the blood that I would eventually drown in.
Since I was bent over anyway, I guess he decided that a powerbomb was in order. The powerbomb is Sid’s finishing move. He stepped forward until the insides of his thighs were pressing against my ears. I’ve never been in a position anything like this, at least with another man, and for just a second I felt sure that he was going to crush my head with his enormous thighs. “How embarrassing,”
I thought “this will be the subject of many a gay joke back at school.” Then he bent down and locked his arms around my waist and hoisted me up. I remember watching as blood streamed in an arc and splattered onto the wall when he swung me up, and my arms flailing like they might if he were performing the move on a dummy. Or a dead man. Now I was sitting on his shoulders, except his face was in my crotch.
Another position I’ve never experienced with a man. He took one step forward and then threw me down and forward. The back of my head cracked against the seat of a chair and I blacked out. Unfortunately, it was only for a second.
When I was eventually able to open my eyes, I was standing up, but for some reason everything was in black and white now. I wondered if I had insurance. I could see Sid standing in front of me, his hands on his knees, bent like he was tired, but of course he wasn’t.
He was bending down to see when I opened my eyes, so he could do whatever it was he had planned in order to make my eyes close again. After the powerbomb, I could tell my tailbone was broken where it smacked the hardwood floor. My neck felt loose and there was liquid fire running all up and down my spine.
I was amazed that I was even standing up. Slowly I realized that I wasn’t really standing so much as I had been propped up against one of the large plate-glass windows that give the restaurant such a grand view of the lake.
Sid grabbed me under the chin. My mouth was hanging loose and I could feel bone scraping against bone where the jaw was broken. Blood drooled out of my mouth onto his hand. “Here ya go, pal!” he said. He snapped a hundred-dollar bill in front of my face and then stuck it into my shirt pocket.
Then he took a long step backwards, and suddenly kicked me in the head. The guy wears like a size 18 shoe or something. It must be tough for him to find dress shoes. And the ones he had on were pretty nice. At least from what I could tell during the short interval when one of them was in contact with the side of my face.
My head went through the glass first. When glass breaks, it?s not like in the movies where the entire pane of glass instantly shatters into a million tiny harmless pieces just before the stuntman stumbles through it.
Real, heavy glass breaks in huge shards, long curved triangular fangs with razor sharp edges all around. My scalp was sliced open, and as I fell the twenty-plus feet to the gravel in the garden below, the left leg of my pants was cut straight down the side from the middle of my thigh to the cuffs. I still have scars on my calf. Just before jarring to the ground, my right elbow struck the edge of a stone birdbath. “SNACK!” was the sound of my arm breaking.
“Gurble-glurble” I gurbled quietly to myself as I crunched onto the ground. I hit so hard that I heard my organs ‘sloosh’ in my chest, and I felt my brain bounce around in my skull. I remember thinking that Sid must have never kicked someone through a plate glass window before, because he over-extended, and he cut up his leg a little bit. He was really pissed about that, but I didn’t care.
Because I got a $100 tip out of the deal.
Happy early Valentine’s Day Everyone!