If you are new to this blog, of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, please consider visiting the About Dave page to see who I am making a bid deal about…my late brother. We celebrated him with Fire and Booze and Food and Stories of his amazing life as a paralyzed man and a dear friend to many. A bit of cursing ahead so buckle up, shit happens. If you wish to read the book from the beginning please scroll down to March 13, his birthday last years was when I began posting these chapter essays. Not gonna lie, there are some rough pages, but mostly hilarious adventures and inspiration my the way my brother lived his life to the fullest. I hope you join us for the full celebration. It was…pretty good. XO M
Only in America would there be a sequel to the “Bad Boys with Guns” story in one lifetime, Dave’s lifetime. Yet, here we are. The sequel may be better than the original. I will let you decide.
We have established that Dave was game to do just about anything. Go to the movies, a game, lunch, or dinner anywhere, any kind of shopping, the beach, walk, or bike (and wheelchair) ride anywhere. Whatever the thing, he was game. I have mentioned that my son Steven and I lived with my parents and Dave from Sven’s arrival until he was five. During those years, we had many adventures with uncle Dave. He had a van so we could go just about anywhere.
On this occasion, we had gone to a simple street fair, Market Night in Redlands. A couple of streets were closed off every Thursday to cars. Various vendors sold food and wares; there was also usually live music, typical street fair type of stuff. It was something to do.
Steven was close to a year-old riding on my hip like children of that age do. We had perused the street from one end to the other. We had eaten the kettle corn and street tacos with super hot, hot sauce that Dave loved so much. We looked at plenty of crap that none of us needed and were ready to head home. We slowly made our way toward the parking lot at the west end of Market Night.
The crowd around us was unusually touchy is the best way I can describe it other than having a weird, maybe, urgency to it. The feel reminded me of the single-mindedness of a crowd exiting a concert heading to the parking lot, yet, Market Night did not have a final act and burst of people exodus quite like this.
As we felt the odd bumping of people as we went along, a kid rudely pushed his way beside me on my left, a barely high school age kid if that, a very scrawny, skin and bones built little teen squeezed past and ahead of me with what the hell brushed up against my leg roughly? I tried to make sense of what I was taking in. What IS that in his hand? A (pause) gun? My brain finally pieced together what was happening. An ENORMOUS GUN was in the tiny little hand of this tiny little, maybe high school-age child. I am talking about a ridiculous Dirty Harry type of enormous gun is what probably is going to leave a bruise on my leg. He looked like a toddler dwarfed by that stupidly huge mass of black metal gun.
I reacted with a startled shutter. I was stuck in a crowd next to a kid wielding a Dirty Harry sized gun, with my BABY on my hip. Dave was next to us on our right side. I motioned to him with my head, “That kid has a fucking gun!” We, the crowd, continued being driven forward by momentum from the river of people behind us, also oddly returning to their cars or so I thought. The kid had made his way directly in front of Dave, focusing ahead of himself, oblivious of us. We were stuck in this packed crowd with nowhere to go.
The weird energy of the crowd, we noticed a moment earlier was not our imagination; it was very real, and due to an unbeknownst to us developing fight. The crowd of foot-traffic-jam had developed because they were hoping with bloodlust to see it. As soon as people heard “fucking gun!” leave my lips, they no longer wanted to see any of this shit and made for the exits. The river shifted direction, sudden swirling eddies of currents of people were churning rapids, pushing and crashing wildly into and on each other, into us, trying to run, anywhere else fast by dispersing every opposite direction at once. There were no exits; it was a two-lane street, so they just wanted away-the-fuck-from the chaos of the here and now.
I was pushed into Dave’s tank of a wheelchair, while also trying to shield my baby. We were stuck in place against the current of this wild river of people. Besides the force of the people against me, I could not leave Dave because I was also too afraid to move, not that I would leave him anyway. I wanted to get the hell outta there too but could not.
Not Dave. He did not try to getaway. He didn’t even think of trying to getaway. As soon as his brain interpreted what we were seeing, he went into action without so much as increasing his heartbeat. He jammed his wheelchair forward fast. I didn’t understand what he was doing, what I was seeing. Why wasn’t he forcing his wheelchair backward or away from this bullshit ahead of us? He continued straight into the kid with the big fucking gun in an attempt to stop him by running him down with his 350 pounds of the combined weight of him and his tank of a wheelchair.
The kid with the B.F. gun was still doggedly focused on whomever he was pissed at somewhere ahead of him and not paying attention to the fact that he was being run over by a guy in a wheelchair next to a lady with a baby on her hip, yelling, “What the fuck are you doing?”
Thankfully, the second Dave had mowed the kid down and pinned him by essentially driving up the back of his legs; a cop had made his way through the crowd, dove on the kid’s body, pinned down his head and torso by kneeling on him and disarmed him in one motion. The kid in his blinding rage was still oblivious to all of us, the cop, or the dude with the wheelchair pinning him to the pavement, of anything happening to him; he was so intently focused on whoever was the target of his fury. All of it was surreal and unraveled in front of us in slow motion.
A nano-second after the cop neutralized the situation; before I even caught my breath, Dave was navigating off the kid’s spindly legs, his wheelchair and he lurched side-to-side several times as I am sure you can envision, going slowly over a speedbump at a weird angle and having all four tires go over the speedbump independently but in this case, twice, since, two legs.
It makes me laugh so hard NOW, picturing him basically offroading over a teenager. The thick tread of his back tires left a hell of an Indian-burn of painful-looking track marks on those boney legs as they proceeded. I shouted, “WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?” His response was thoughtful, calm, “I’m really not sure. I just knew I was not going to sit there and do nothing. Then added, It’s not like he could really hurt me or anything.” I interrupted, “Oh NO!! You do NOT get to pull the ‘what’s the worst that could happen to me? I am already paralyzed’ card! I (pause for dramatic effect) have a BA-BY (points emphatically at baby) on my hip!” I was both in a bit of shock and horrified at having stood next to someone with a gun in a crowd, horrified that in this little town, there was a kid with a gun at all, that this is how people resolve really stupid things, that I had my baby on my hip, that we were stuck there.
I was also conversely impressed that my paralyzed badass of a brother was the bravest person in the room, so to speak, his quick thinking mowed that asshole over and saved the day. All the way home and the rest of the evening, I kept returning back to my fear of that moment and laughter. Every 20 minutes or so I shouted from wherever I was in the house, “I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DID THAT!” Or “I HAD A BABY…ON MY HIP!!!) The bottom line being holy-shit, that was some other- level badass shit if I do say so myself.
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