The Great New Years Brawl In Chicago by Carl Battista

 Art by Nemo

Art by Nemo

We had sent the girls out to steal booze from the jewel-osco down on Harrison street. It was right on the cuff of the south side of Chicago and the racist employees where more concerned about crackheads stealing whatever than a few clearly underage white college kids perusing the cheap wine and such. It was the easiest way to get alcohol at the time. We were 18 and 19. The risk of using a fake and getting caught was about the same as trying to steal and getting caught. They came back with about 8 bottles of 30$ wine and a 2 liter bottle of Seagrams 7. Free and clear.

While they were doing that, we were crushing up stems, and smashing pipes to scrape the gunk out. So rich, all of us, but not a penny for food or a nug. All the while in constant conference with our expelled partners. I remember the talks, the mad dashes towards insanity. There is the cliff, now jump. Late December and orange skies. A sick perverted genital wart orange unhealthy and spewing irrevocable chills. It rained ice but not just ice, pure sorrow that could knock the wind out of you. It was like being kicked in the balls. All that just for planning to go somewhere.

So they get back and we’ve got the whole thing worked out. Logan Square, party, drunk, fucked up. God only knows what comes after that. I once had some girl with braces try to make out with me while I was sitting in a recliner covered in my own vomit. Whiskey before beer kids, and don’t smoke too much skag or you’ll get the spins. She had dinner still jammed up in those goddamned bridge cables in her mouth. It was a hideous affair. I felt as good and alive as i ever will those few nights of pure insanity. I knew it then, i know it now. Beautiful girls too! On beautiful half sober nights we enjoyed playing stink finger out on the porch, or blowing each other in the 4 square-foot bathroom. Mostly from the midwest, homegrown type. A beauty that wilts like a flower after the first kiss or beej or fuck. Worthless and beautiful and free. Loving to everyone for no reason. Decades of romance played out in a shy, millisecond of eye contact.

That night was not special in any capacity. It was cold. The type that dulls your senses. We were drunk before we took one step outside. You needed the fire in your belly to make it to the Lasalle stop, get on the blue line, walk down the steps of the el stop, and the 7 or so blocks to the place. we polished off a couple bottles of wine just on the train and walking. Chicago is like New York in that no one gives a fuck. In New York you’ll get harassed by cops or some lunatic, but Chicago is a city of commuters. At night, or especially in the winter everyone went home. That winter we made the trip to the place many times. There were a few times when we were the only ones out. Opened up in the night like gutted baby seals.

We get there and the scene is bedlam as usual. Girls making out with guys, guys making out with guys, girls making out with girls. A big huge sweaty drunken dance party in the dining room. Jackson 5 blasting and then Metallica followed by MGMT and then some esoteric garage band from 1968, they only put out this one single on a german label. Shit licking hipsters everyone of us. Factory outlet beer, taking Adderalls and Valium. The whole godamn works. Worthless and richer than any man who calls himself alive. Sad and terrified above all.

It goes on like this for hours. Sometimes days. Back then my feet didn’t stink after a long day of trotting about. Now when i get home from work i don’t even remember my feet. Its like I have no parts at all. A working melted and jellied block of moldy cheese. Doing nothing but shitting up the whole place. Not tonight. We all got unusually drunk, a happy and toasty warm evil. Nothing really happened at the place that night and it wasn’t too late, maybe 2 or 3 am?

Drunkenly the nomad saunters and dances and sings and vandalizes their way back to the the el stop. About 8 of us all together. Evened out between guys and girls. Also very unusual. A group of 12 guys all in the same building? Someones got blue balls and will hang around until the girl sprays him with mace, even if you’re with her. We were evened out that night so the songs were going and this article wrote itself.

I was thinking of my girl back home. What did it mean to her if i was sitting next to this gorgeous creature swaying back and forth on the el? So I took one of the girls by the hand and pulled her close and we kissed eloquently. Literally speaking in tongues.                    

The train was mostly empty except for us in the back portion of the middle car. There were 2 much older looking men sitting at the other end of the car. We were kids. It was New Years. They started the trouble.

“Hey fag! Yeh fag with the skinny jeans! Whats up bro?”

No response. None of us had on skinny jeans. They were actually saying shit like that. It was baffling. Acting like a bully straight out of some shit novel they give you at school when you’re 12. It warranted no response because it was like a bad joke.

    (to his dumb shit friend)

"Look at those queers acting cool. Hey babe! Why don’t you come suck on these nuts instead?! I’ll show you what a real man is like!”

Just dumb shit like that carried on for a bit. The big trouble started when we went to go sit in another car and they followed us and continued talking shit all the way down to Lasalle. Here’s the shit.   

We pile out of the train, stitched up in pairs and me and the girl are the first ones out. We were out already but i heard the sound of fist on cheek bone. I turn around and see the rest of my friends beating the almighty shit out of these two dicklickers. Two of them, 8 of us. What were they thinking?

I stood there half way up the stairs and let waves of people run past me out of the underground stop. I couldn’t take my eyes off this meat-grinding ballet.

Everyone else in the stop except for me and the three of my friends who were winning a fight like I’ve never seen a fight won. It was a massacre. After the first hit one guy was down. they went after the other prick, a third friend would come in and finish the first one. Kicked on the ground, broken noses, had their skulls slammed against a hard and ancient tile floor. The sound of bowling balls being dropped on concrete echoing throughout the underground chamber. It was a cathedral of vengeance. We played drums in the choir.

Those assholes were laid out like dead fish. Blood was coming out of their ears, there was blood smeared everywhere, drag marks. It looked like a cheap horror movie setup. I think it was all the skull bouncing that really did the job. Collectively my buddies decided they’d done enough and started walking there way to me. Not a scratch or bruise on them. The whole thing lasted about 2 mins. Then we heard the sirens.   

We fucking booked all the way back to our place on S.Plymouth. Free and fucking clear I shit you not. The girls had been circling the block not sure of how the whole thing would play out. When they circled back around, they saw the two fish being brought out on stretchers, and in neck braces. Three cop cars, people talking to the police, but not us. We were back at our place already, we called them to come over.   

They got back in a short while and we were talking like lunatics about the whole thing. Every glorious detail, even joking about washing blood off their hands and clothes. The girls told us about what they saw and were lunatics too. No one really knew what led to the first punch. We were all victorious that night. In this modern age its difficult to pull off such a feet. We all went to bed with girls that night, I didn’t throw a single punch, but laying next to some hot chick, her arm stretched over your heart, head on your chest. I might has well have won all the goddamn medals on earth. All the bombs went off that night. We were the only ones left on earth.