Scene 14

carny copy

Lobo is walking back to his berth. Put back all his gear and call it a night. Long, exhausting day of work. Sometimes the days just seem to go on forever. Finally, wrap the show and hit the hay. Must be getting old, the body doesn’t seem to hold up quite as good as when he was younger. Kind of creeps up on you. Just as he rounds the corner behind the main tent. his revelry is abruptly disturbed by one of Buster’s guys who cuts him off, blocking the way ahead. Lobo pauses puzzled. Lobo can’t make out who he is because he is back lit and only sees his silhouette. Suddenly, the guy is joined by another hold some sort of stick or club, smacking it with a regular motion in his opposing palm.

These guys are up to now good. Best to avoid a bad “thing”. Lobo turns to proceed in the opposite direction. Two more guys bolt out of the shadows closing off his route of escape. This time they’re in the light and Lobo can make them out plain. One’s Buster. Looks like they’re aiming for trouble to be sure. Shit, 4 ‘gainst 1. This is like prison. Too bad Mo isn’t here. That would even the odds.

At first, Lobo is tense and frightened. Then as the gang moves in (for the kill), seeing the odds are against him and there’s simply no way out of the situation, he relaxes. Take a few deep breaths and let them out slow. Control you breathing his sensei always told him. He positioned himself with his back to the tent. At least try to keep them from coming at him from behind. Also, always try to track your opponents in your peripheral vision. Past that -let your reflexes, training and fate have their way. Use the element of surprise. “Hi guys! You guys come to play?” Lobo appears charismatic and friendly.

Buster’s guys are puzzled and look to their boss for direction. Buster speaks up, “Your mouth is getting you into heaps of trouble. We don’t put up with folks that make trouble around here. We like things running smoothly. Their folly annoys Lobo more than anything. “Like ignoring all the bullshit that’s going on around you… like kids getting killed, people get hurt. That kind of trouble? Just ignore the problems and play tough guy? That your idea of smooth running?” Buster’s guys exchange glances. “Where is this dude coming from? Is he just plain stupid? Or what? They gawk in disbelief. They’re used to people being intimidated and backing down. Never had this kind of thing happen before. They get antsy.

Buster senses their disturbance and decides to take the upper hand. Fuck this upshot. “Maybe you’re from prison and you think you’re some hard ass son-of-a-bitch. We’ll see soon enough.” Busters gang jeers and laughs. “Yea, we’ll show him. Hard ass, sure enough.”

Lobo starts laughing hysterically, “Shit, kid. You’re funny. The pen’s full of punks like you. Kiss ass little pimps. Afraid to make their own decisions. Always hiding behind their Boss Man. Really, their afraid of their own shadow. Never stand up to you alone, always surrounded by ass wipes who are even weaker and stupider then themselves…” Continues to laugh. “Yea, kid, I know your kind all right.” He sobers up and becomes deadly serious. Looks directly and intently into Busters’ eyes… into his very soul and proclaims, “You’re a gutless little shit with no balls. You don’t have courage to face truth about yourself or see what’s going on around you.”

Buster is touched and wounded by Lobo’s rebuke. He hesitates and seems unsure. He looses his usual careless wit and cocky comeback. Suddenly the guy with the stick, which so happens to be the one Lobo had the altercation with the night of the party, approaches from his blind side and cold cocks him. The stick resounds with a sharp “Whack!” as it finds its intended target against Lobo’s head. Lobo reels from the initial blow staggering several steps forward… But then following the line of the blow, reverses direction and whirls around and delivers a back spinning kick with his boot against his attacker’ jaw. The power of the kick sends the guy sprawling against the tent wall and down on the ground.

The remaining three rush in and a fierce conflict ensues. Lobo is outnumbered and out sized but holds his own overall. He tries to avoid getting within the grasping range of more than one at a time by maneuvering each in turn between himself and the remaining opponents. Therefore they have to fight through each other to get at him. A tactic he learned in Akido. The other advantage Lobo had was the fact that he was comfortable and skilled in the use of many weapons; feet, knees, head, elbows… whereas Buster’s gang primarily depended on their fists. Lobo landed several sound kicks in vital places. He put one guy down for good using a head butt to the face, followed by knee to the groin and finished up by an upper cut deep into the solar plexus. He was out of commission. They got their blows in though. These guys were tough street fighters. Pretty much no defense to a multiple attackers who know their shit. Lobo was working on putting down a second guy amid the fray. If he could put one more guy down, he might just have a chance of getting out of this with his ass intact. O.K. the other guy is behind his immediate attacker. Lobo lands a powerful side kick to guys’ stomach. He doubles over. Quick reverse kick to the knee. It gives way. He goes down… Now, in for the score. Lobo coils his arm for a palm heel strike to the face. That should put him out for the duration. The other guy behind him is rushing him, but will be too late. The first guy is still down moaning in pain, holding his nuts. Where’s Buster? The question flashes into his consciousness just as Buster whips down hard on Lobo’s head from the side. A cold hard thump registers the fact that a greater force than bone and flesh had invaded him. Buster had donned a pair of brass knuckles and proceeded to wail on Lobo. Lobo did his best to deflect the blows but they came to rapidly and forcefully to repel. Within seconds Buster was joined by one, then two others beating the living shit out of him. He went down hard. Kicks to the ribs. Fists raining down on his head. Being whipped with the stick across his back, ass and legs. Best he could remember, he had tried to cover his face, curl up in a ball and just endure the best he could. After a certain point, pain becomes abstract. It just feels like a numb thud. You hear the sound and sense the force of the blow but it doesn’t hurt anymore.

He could see their boots shuffling back and forth as they were beating him. At some point, when he was barely conscious they stopped briefly. Buster stooped over, took Lobo’s bruised and bloodied face in his hands and punctuated their mission with a final warning, “Next time watch your mouth or you’ll find yourself floating down the river face down… forever. Got it?” Then Buster harshly released his hold, letting Lobo’s head fall to the ground with a thud. One of the last things, he recalled previous to going out, was the warm, salty taste of blood dripping off the side of his face and into his mouth. The hum of the street light, whose blaring light seemed to stab his eyes painfully. The angry, mocking laughter and cursing as they maintained their violent vigil. The cold, night air. Then nothing. Just silence. Like death.

Next thing he knows Wolf is licking his face. Warm, wet kisses of life. Lobo feels pain all over. He groaning. Tries to get his vision. Wonder how I got back to my bed? Listlessly he pets the dogs’ head. My God it hurts. He forgot how much it could hurt. This wasn’t the first time he’d been beat. Shit, must have been dozens of times. Never do remember it feeling this bad when he woke up before. Lobo tries to pull himself up… and doesn’t quite make it. He falls back down. Not enough strength. Too much pain. “Augh!”

Sweetie wanders in. Lobo catches sight of her out of the corner of his eye. She’s carrying a cup of tea along with some Wonder bread and Grape jelly. Jackie and Brian are with her. They crowd around his bed. Jackie speaks up, “Man, you look like you got run over by a truck or somethin’.” Brian looks nervous, retreats back to stand guard by the door. “We could get into trouble for being here… even just hanging around him.” Jackie answers him over her shoulder without looking back, “Shut up Brian. You’re such a chicken!” Lobo looks over to Sweetie and the provisions she brought. “Thanks kid.” Lobo reaches over through the pain and gently puts his hand over hers. Sweetie blushes. He tries to smile but grimaces when a shot of pain repays him for the attempt.

Jackie inches toward Lobo. She’s busting with pride and awe at Lobo. “So Buster and his boys got you good, that’s for sure… But you should see them. One guy still ain’t able to walk. The other just hobble around cussin’ all the time ‘cause of the pain. You should see ole’ Buster!” Lobo finally musters enough energy to sit himself up with the help of the bed post. He’s movin’ real slow. Takes a sip of the tea. Hmmm, not bad.

Brian interjects, “Jackie all this is none of our business. Buster is going to have our hides if he finds out!” He mutters, “Buster… good name for him actually.” He rubs his aching jaw where Buster first swiped him with the brass knuckles. Jackie happily continues her report, “He’s got two great big shiners! Looks like a stupid raccoon or somethin’.” Sweetie giggles. Brian watches pensively from the background, still keeping vigil.

Sweetie wipes Lobo’ face gently with wash cloth and tends to his wounds.

Looks at Lobo with admiration. Jackie sits by beside Lobo on his bunk. “You got guts, I’ll say that for you. Kind of dumb, but guts a plenty.” Lobo just grins slightly. “Yea, you can see where all those ‘guts’ have gotten me.” He tries not to take himself too seriously. Jackie adopts a more serious tone. “Really, Lobo I’m worried about you. Butch ain’t someone to mess with. He’s the one whos’ sent them after you. You better keep your nose out of their business. Let it go.” Lobo takes note, “Now where have I heard that before.” Jackie doesn’t understand, “Huh?” Lobo returns, “Never mind, just reminded me of something a friend always used to tell me.” Jackie stares at Lobo’s cuts and bruises. He’s a real mess. “Listen, I hate Buster too… but you best not push him too far. It could be dangerous, maybe fatal. I mean it.” She emphasizes her last statement by ducking her head down to capture his gaze. Lobo acknowledges her admonition, “Yea, I keep your advice in mind.” Lobo examines the wounds on his body and face.

Brian is temporarily drawn in by the conversation. “I can’t figure it out. Why do you keep hanging around here anyway? Why don’t you just leave?” Lobo calmly replies, “If I leave, they’ll get away with everything. If I stay, I have a voice. Leaving makes me their pawn. They can blame everything on me.” Brian shakes his head skeptically. He’s definitely not convinced. “It’s not logical. The odds are against you. They’re holding all the cards. You’ll never win!” Lobo looks away and sighs. He know the kid is right. Brian takes the next step, “So, if you know you can’t win, why are you staying to fight a loosing battle. That makes no sense at all. Sounds down right stupid to me.” Jackie intercedes, “Brian!” Lobo stops her. “Thanks Jackie, but Brian is right.” Lobo moves a bit. Staying in any one position very long hurts. Then again, moving around hurts as well. All three kids are surprised by Lobos’ response. “Maybe I can’t win. Maybe that’s not the point.” They’re confused but attentive. Lobo goes on, “Sometimes, you got to draw a line in life and fight. Win or lose. If not, they keep backing you up more and more until you have no place left to stand. Then you just up and die. Whether you’re still breathing or not.”

Brian follows but is still puzzled, “So why here? Why now?” Lobo just shrugs. “Can’t say I know for sure…” Lobo searches for the answer. “If you see a car rolling down a hill, going out of control… and it’s heading for a bunch of kids playing unawares… and don’t try to do something. Well, then I’d say it’s partly your fault for not giving it your best shot… even if it’s a long shot.  Sweetie squeaks out a question, “But what could you do?” Lobo ponders, “Warn the kids to get out of the way… Or try to jump into the car and take control of it before it runs over them.” Brian offers pessimistically, “Yea, but maybe the car runs you over instead.” Lobo agrees, “It could happen that way.”

Wolf gets up anxiously, pacing around in circles barking excitedly. Brian warns, “Hey, I think they’re coming, let’s go! Now! Hurry!” The kids head for the door. Jackie lingers behind to deliver an important and joyous message, “Oh, I just remembered… The little girl that was in critical condition, she pulled through! It was pretty close. But, she’s going to be O.K. now… Her dad, the police guy is real pissed though ‘cause nobody’s doing anything about the accident. She dashes out the door, “You take care.” Lobo fondly says out loud to himself, “Yea, I’ll try… I’ll try…

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