Salt Lake City, UT – 1996
When I was sixteen I found out that my girlfriend had been raped. She had been at a gathering with friends and strangers. She left unaccompanied to walk home and was followed by a guy from the party. He caught up with her, bullied her into the bushes at the park and raped her.
This girl was simple and sweet, extremely introverted and passive. She and I had been together for almost a year, and would stay together for four. She had been raised in a home without any instruction or moral support. She knew that she didn’t like what had happened, but she lacked the moral and emotional vocabulary to describe the effect the incident had on her. Her family had not taught her that rape is an atrocity; in fact she had learned that it’s part of life. She had recounted other stories of sexual abuse to me involving her mother’s ex boyfriend. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t feel the outrage that a person would feel who had been brought up on feelings of self worth. I, on the other hand, was the voice of that outrage.
When I found out what had happened I was beside myself. I couldn’t sleep for several nights; all I could do was picture the crime. I remember being awake, livid, completely consumed by rage and knowing for sure that this is what hell is, to be angry and powerless beyond words. It was truly wretched.
I was not going to stand for it. I was a person of action and something was going to be done. I immediately set out to find this person.
It took about a month of asking around to find out who he was, but I found out. But by the time I found him he had temporarily relocated to the hospital and then jail. He had apparently been burned by an explosion in a meth lab that he had been participating in. I would not see or hear of this person for two more years – but I did not forget.
Two years later word spread that he was out on the street. Now I was bigger, stronger, angrier and meaner. He was spotted at the nightclub that was a hub of our local scene. I knew if he’d been there once he’d be there again, and soon. I started making plans immediately.
The plan worked like this: my girlfriend would go to the club with her friends. She would call me on a pay phone if he was there and I would come down. Once I arrived she would go inside and get him; she would tell him she wanted to smoke weed with him outside around the corner, where I would be waiting.
The plan worked flawlessly. She arrived at the club with her friends and saw him immediately. She called me and I recruited my best friend as an accomplice. We drove straight down to the club. We arrived shortly and sent word for my girlfriend to come out. She came and and I instructed her to bring out our man and meet me in the adjacent parking lot.
Next to the club was a giant Catholic church, complete with beautiful spires and stained glass windows. In the day it was beautiful; at night it looked ghastly, like something from an Exorcist movie. My friend and I parked in the lot of the church, got out of the car and waited.
Within minutes my girlfriend showed up toting along the perpetrator himself. I was nervous but determined. I stood by myself between my car and the wall; my friend hid in the nearby bushes. I had no plan at this point; I was just going to wing it.
In my earlier teens I had been jumped in a drug deal gone wrong. The leader of the group had asked me for a cigarette. I happily offered him one and reached in my pocket for my pack. While I was looking down with my hand wrist-deep in my pocket he sucker punched me in the face. Since this was the only set up I had learned, and since I had experienced its effectiveness, I decided it was the perfect segue into tonight’s violence. Funny that I’d victimize another in the same fashion I had been victimized – it’s the circle of life I suppose.
The two girls and the guy approached me and I greeted them with all the relaxed casualness I could muster. I can only imagine how I must have looked. I introduced myself to the guy and the two girls walked directly to my car and got it. My enemy and I shook hands and I asked him for a cigarette. Like a charm he looked down and stuck his hand in his pocket. I knew it was now or never and let fly the hardest hay maker I could summon to the side of his cheek.
He reeled from the blow and dropped all his belongings. His eyes were wide and wild, reminiscent of a spooked horse, and he staggered for a moment trying to figure out what was happening. By this point I was on him, punching, kicking and hammerfisting my guts out with my best friend now darting from the bushes in our direction.
As my friend arrived to join the action, our target broke free of me and into a full sprint across the parking lot. It was winter in Salt Lake City; snow accumulated in places the sun didn’t shine and patches of black ice spotted the road. My friend and I pursued on foot but we couldn’t catch up. He was only ten yards from the main road – if he got there the jig was up. We couldn’t risk the exposure on the street.
With less than ten yards to the main street, our man skidded on a patch of black ice and went tumbling to the pavement. Fatal mistake. My friend was on his back in an instant delivering blows to his head while I stood over him kicking and stomping any skin I could see, wearing my fourteen eye steel-toed Grinder boots. I remember screaming things like “You raped my girlfriend. Now I’m going to kill you.” I screamed myself hoarse. The guy was terrified out of his wits.
The crescendo came when our man tried to get back to his feet from the ground. He rolled over and piked up on all fours; my friend pounced on his back to hold him down. I reared back and kicked him with all my might directly in his upturned face with the toe of my boot. His head snapped back and there was an audible, skull-splitting crack. Blood hit the ground like a shotgun blast and poured in torrents from his face down his arms to the concrete.
What struck me most about this moment was that his voice and temper changed completely as soon as I kicked him. Before this blow during the rest of the beating he was panicked and hysterical. With this kick he said, “Oh fuck.” with a soft, flat, resigned tone, almost as though to himself. In hindsight I’m sure the injury of the kick snapped him out of his panic. I attempted to kick him in the face several more times but he protected himself with his arms, which were now completely wet with blood. I continued to kick his arms as hard as I could.
Suddenly red and blue lights flashed ten yards from us. My friend and I looked up in horror as a cop pulled over a motorist for a traffic stop directly across the street from where we were beating a man to pieces. We left our mark and sprinted to my car, hearts racing with adrenaline, physical exertion, and now fear.
I peeled out of the parking lot and weaved through the neighborhood at sixty miles per hour in a Toyota Tercel loaded with four passengers. We had been on the road for twenty minutes before I realized I was still gulping air trying to catch my breath. In our planning we had not thought past the fight to the rest of our evening. We agreed the best thing to do now was to drop everyone off, head home and lie low.
We made our way across town and back to my friend’s house. Our hearts froze as we pulled into the parking lot. Three police cars sat parked in front of his door with their lights beaming in all directions. Two police officers stood in the doorway of his apartment talking to the silhouette of his girlfriend. As inconspicuously as we could we circled through the parking lot and out to the nearest pay phone. We held our breath as he called home to find out the situation.
To our relief and surprise we learned that two burglars had been prowling his apartment complex checking doors. His girlfriend had been home alone and heard someone tampering with the front door. I do not remember if she or a neighbor called the police, but they had come to question residents about the incident. It was all a frightening coincidence. His girlfriend didn’t even know where we had been or what had transpired.
All was quiet for several days before the rumors started to circulate. I heard from others that I had kicked the rapist where the nose meets the eye. I had broken his nose, split his eyebrow and knocked out two front teeth. He vowed revenge and told people to tell me so. I told them to tell him anytime. Nothing more ever materialized.
I did however encounter this fellow on two more occasions. About a year later I was at Village Inn with my girlfriend and her friends. As I stood outside smoking, a lowrider with six people in it pulled into the parking lot. I immediately recognized the driver. He and his posse headed into restaurant past where I was standing. I knew I was outmatched but I was too proud to run; my only option was to double down. I stared the whole group in the eye as they approached and prepared to fight for my life. The man himself looked me in the eye as he passed. They walked in, decided they were unhappy with the wait, used a pay phone, walked back to the car and drove away. The only thing I could figure is that he did not recognize me, but I have trouble believing that my countenance didn’t betray me to him immediately. To this day the incident mystifies me.
About three years later I ran into him at a Henry Rollins’ Band concert. Some friends and I were tailgating in the parking lot before the show. He and a friend approached us and asked if they could bum a beer. Hard drugs had done a number on his face, and it looked as though he had never corrected the rearrangements I made. I told him to fuck off and my friends laughed. One of them remarked on his hammered face and I quickly informed them how it got to be that way. They admired my handy work and agreed he had gotten his just deserts. During the show he allegedly groped one of my friend’s girlfriends. She was too drunk to positively ID the person, but described him perfectly when asked. I was ready to give him the business again, but he eluded us after the show.