"You can't have her," I told him. I was 16 and she was crying on a dock in Kenora. He was drunk and big and older, way older, a man, maybe 25. "I'll kill you and then fuck her."
"I guess so, " I said, holding my camp bowie knife looking at this big bearded hulk in front of me.
I didn't know the girl. She was my age, though. We'd just been talking when this brute staggered out of the boats and made a grab for her. We'd backed together to end of the dock. I'd stood my ground terrified. She'd collapsed at the end of dock, huddled, crying. I stood there as he swayed back and forth with his knife. I figured I was dead. The girl certainly had no faith in me. I was a camp cookie at the YMCA camp on leave. I don't know who he was but he talked low and dirty and threatened and said over and over he was going to kill me and fuck her, gut me and fuck her, gut me and gut her and fuck her. And I just said, "I guess so." Holding my knife watching him. I didn't watch the knife. He was a few feet back.
"Fuck it." he said and turned and walked away. It was a dark and lonely night.
"We're going to kill you," the gang told me and my two friends. My friend hung out with the Rugger gang. We'd met doing martial arts. "Fuck you." Knives out we stood in the northern town. There were a dozen or more of them. Chains, tire irons, knives. I felt safe with my friend. He did the talking. I figured maybe I'd get one. I was sure my friend would get more. The other guy peed himself. We found that out later. But he stood his ground. We'd been walking home from the dance when the gang came on us.
That sort of thing happened alot n your teens and twenties. We didn't turn our backs. We didn't back down. We stood our ground. Sometimes we ran if we thought we could get away. But sometimes we were cornered. If you stood your ground you stood a chance. Bullies look for weaklings. Gangs are a couple of bullies and a lot of wanna bes. The wanna bes were more dangerous in the end. Rats. Gnawing after the kill. They wanted the fight. The bullies only wanted a win. You stood your ground. Sometimes a chain went by your head. Sometimes a person threw a knife. Later guns came out. It was just the way these things went down. I've got a brass knuckle scar under and eye, a knife scar on a rib. I was defending somebody at the time. Defence. Same as in hockey. Some one threw a punch, you ducked back, blocked a kick, threw a kick. Big guys were always saying, "I"m going to kill you."
We weren't easy pickings. But the bullies always threatened to kill you.
I remember as a boy being afraid alot. I was 20 and the guard had a police baton. I stopped him from stealing money in the park from some little guys. "Hey, you can't do that." I said. He was using his job to extort money. I didn't know about extortion much then. I rarely thought of the big picture. I got involved in things I didn't need to. He smiled and said, that's okay to the campers. Later that week he accosted me coming home. Pulled up beside me in his truck and forced me off the rode on my bike. Jumped out of the truck and stood over me, slamming that hard baton into his hand saying, "I"m going to kill you." I was standing up waiting for the blow. He was a real Deliverance kind of case and it didn't look good for me. Not good at all. But I looked him in the eye and braced for the blow and it didn't come. He jumped back in the truck. I'd been warned.
I've been 'warned' by guns, tire irons, and baseball bats. Don't mess with criminals and their money. I'd be 'warned' a lot worse when I got older and the money got a whole lot more. Alot of people talk big and alot of people claim to have changed the world but the people who like the world just the way it is don't thank you politely. Alot of people lie too.
When I stopped him from raping her and she was pulling pulling her bra down , covering herself with her ripped shirt, straightening her skirt, he pushed me towards the tracks with his buddy. I'd not seen the other guys with him. I thought it was just him and her. But they hunt in packs. In Hollywood the one guy beats up the gang. In real life the odds favour the pack. "We're going to kill you, now. You interfere with our bit of fun and see what happens to you, eh. What's the matter. Are you gay. Don't like to see a piece get what she's wanting. "
It was London. A tube station. Rush hour. Hundreds packed wall to wall. The busiest station. Only one guard phoning for help. The rapes occurred. Nobody's business. It was a regular thing. A bit of action.
I'll never forget the feeling of my heels over the track and seeing the driver of the braking train, eyes wide and this punk poking me in the chest. No one interfered. Everyone's face was horror. I thought I was dead. Then as quickly as they came they dispersed. It was a long time before my heart stopped. The girl thanked me. Everyone else looked away. The guard looked down. I caught the next train.
The xrays showed every long bone with fractures. The child was three.
"I'll kill you if you say anything about this." the man and women say to me when I ask them about all the old fractures.
The child is bleeding everywhere. She's burned him and torn her face with her nails. I've gone in to see her with the community nurse. The police have been informed. "We have to take you to the hospital," I say. "I'll kill you," she says.
"I have to report you for having sex with your children."
"I'll kill you if you do."
"You can't beat your wife in this country. "
"I'll kill you."
"Your problem isn't 'nerves', it's alcoholism."
"I'll kill you if you say that."
"I'll kill you if you say that."
"I' m an addict. If you don't get me the drugs I need, I"ll kill you."
"I can kill myself if I want to. It's my right. I'll kill you too if you stand in my way."
"You can't committ me for killing myself. God tells me to kill myself. I have to kill my children too. You can't stop me. I'll kill you."
There's a dozens more times someone said they'd kill me. Probably not more. Drunks and addicts say a lot of things. A lot happens in emergencies and jails. It's what's said in rooms with no escape that's really frightening. It's worst when the bad guy has a suit or uniform. Even worse when you don't understand the language, Except the word 'morte' and the guy has a gun and you don't know why this place is so important but you back away slowly.
I remember when I was Mr. Popularity in school and I thought I should please everyone. I wanted to be on the student council so I could get more dances. Everyone liked me when I got more dances. But I found that being liked by everyone meant I couldn't be liked by the people who were important to me. They told me I was changing. I valued their opinion. I don't know how politicians do it. I know they're afraid. The good ones. There's always someone telling somebody who does the right thing they're going to kill them.
I must be getting old though. I don't like hearing it anymore. I'm tired of it. Especially since there's no back up any more. But maybe there never was any. Just people looking down, looking away, lying or making promises.