"Clint" is in town. Therefore, I wrote this drunk, at four in the morning, with no edits....
“Nothing good is gonna come of that,” I said, nodding down the sidewalk, pointing with my chin.
“What?” asked Freddie.
“Sam standin’ over there with all those guys. That’s gonna end badly.”
“You wanna go over there and get him?”
I put my hands in my pockets and thought about this thing for a while. “I dunno. Maybe he wants to be over there. What do you think?”
“Fuck it. Leave him alone. Maybe something funny’ll happen.”
Sam is a dirty motherfucker. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but he is. He’s not particularly big, nor is he particularly tough or mean looking, nor does he ever talk a very big game. He’s quiet and reserved, and the only public displays he makes are considerate little actions that reinforce my notion of him as a man with a well-developed sense of propriety. Sam needs things the way he needs them. I get along well with Sam, because I generally need things the same way he does.
This propriety of Sam’s extends to the way he thinks fights should go. He doesn’t believe they should happen on his watch. When they do, he wants them to end quickly. We all want this, of course, but Sam seems to want it a touch more than the rest of us.
Sam will do whatever he thinks is necessary to make you instantly stop fighting. If you turn and square off with him, he’ll punch you directly in the nuts as many times as it takes to make you settle down. When someone punches you repeatedly in the nuts, “settling down” generally entails laying down in the fetal position and vomiting. When Sam sees you on the sidewalk convulsing, he feels as though his work is done and he’ll happily help you back to your feet, provided you don’t get any of your nut-punch-induced vomit on his suit jacket.
If Sam sees one of this fellow bouncers wrestling with an overheated customer, he’ll blatantly kick at the sides of that customer’s knees until he’s on the floor. If the customer hits the floor and hasn’t stopped struggling, Sam will zero in on his nuts and apply finishing blows until convulsions set in and everyone is safe from collateral Guido damage. Nothing’s off limits in Sam’s world of stopping power: neither eyes, nor ears, nor throats nor fingers. Nothing.
I told him how I felt about all this once. “Dude,” I said. “You are my favorite fucking bouncer of all time, bar none.”
“Because you’re so fucking dirty. Sometimes I stop what I’m doing just to make sure I don’t miss someone getting chopped in the nuts.”
“Aw, come on, man. Why you gotta say shit like that?”
The best thing about Sam is that when people point out to him what a dirty motherfucker he really is, he first acts as though he has no idea what they’re talking about. He’ll pull the family man card. He’s got a wife and kids and drives a minivan. Only when pressed will he come clean and spout a little philosophy for you.
“You gotta put ‘em down, man. Why should I get hurt? A hundred-fifty a night ain’t worth me gettin’ hit.”
Rationalizations such as this aren’t exactly comforting when you’re on the sidewalk and you see Sam standing in the middle of a pack of Guidos trying to get them to go home. When you’re watching that, you know there’s a damned good chance you’ll have your arms wrapped around somebody’s neck in about thirty seconds. That’s what it means when you see Sam engaged, because Sam won’t give an inch, even verbally. Someone says the wrong thing, Sam says something back, and before you can even take a step in the direction of the problem, a customer’s on the ground holding his nuts, and his friends are swinging.
“I’m not in the mood for this tonight,” I said, and walked down the sidewalk to where Sam was standing. I put my hand on his left trapezius and gently squeezed. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “Why?”
“Dude, come back over to the door. Please.”
“Why? Who are these guys?”
“They’re nobody,” I said, turning him around and steering him toward Freddie. “I’m just not in the mood to get in a fight with them right now, Sam.”
“I’m not fighting! Nobody’s fighting! Who’s gonna get in a fight?”
I still had my hand on his back. I patted him a few times and smiled. “Come on, dude. I just wanna go home right now.”
“What?” he asked, palms up.
“No, really! What?!?”