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The Last Time I Punched Somebody

It was October, 1982, and I was stuck at home on a Friday night.

I wanted to go do something, but there was nothing to do. I had checked the paper for listings for the local punk clubs .... Ichabod's in Fullerton had nothing ... Cuckoos Nest in Costa Mesa, also nothing. I felt too lazy to drive to LA, So I resigned to write the evening off; sit home, drink beer, and watch TV.

So there I was; kicking back in my favorite comfortable chair, watching the tube, when suddenly the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find my friend's younger brother, Vince and his girl friend Lanette, half drunk on my front porch.

I let them into the house, and Vince pulled out a flyer for a punk birthday party in nearby Huntington Beach, with musical entertainment provided by an HB punk band named "Psycho Bud". Vince and Lanette had no car, and they needed a ride to Huntington Beach.

I knew Vince's older brother fairly well, and he was basically normal and trustworthy. But younger brother Vince was another matter; a teenage alcoholic with a violent criminal mentality. I had seen him chase a hippy out of a party with a buck knife before, just because the guy had long hair.

I wasn't really crazy about the idea of spending the evening with Vince and his battered girlfriend Lanette, but being young, stupid, and bored, I figured what the hell, I've got nothing better to do.

We hopped into my `71 Toyota Corrolla, and sped off onto the freeway. About five minutes into the drive, it became apparent that all was not well with Vince and Lanette. It turned out that Vince's beloved grandad had died that morning, and Vince had been hitting the Jack Daniels pretty hard all afternoon.

So we're speeding down the freeway, and Vince is alternately bawling and cursing out Lanette, gradually working himself into a bigger and bigger frenzy. By the time we were half way to Huntington Beach, Vince was screaming at Lanette, and making threatening jabs in her general direction.

At first, he was just flailing at her, but as the ride progressed he started to throw actual punches, and connect. The rest of the way to the party, I was driving with one hand, and trying to hold Vince off Lanette with the other, while my tiny Toyota lurched and bounced each time Vince lunged and swung at Lanette.

By the time we arrived at the party, I had decided that I would ditch both Vince and Lanette. "Screw `em, let `em find another way home, I've had enough.". I would just stay long enough to hear a couple of songs, then I would split before anyone noticed I was gone.

"Psycho Bud" was getting set up next to the swimming pool at the very large, luxurious house where the birthday party was being held. The party was packed, there were about three hundred punks and other miscreants crammed into this rich kid's back yard.

There was a lengthy wait for the band to set up, but finally they started.

After Psycho Bud had played about three songs, the cops arrived; lots of cops, maybe twelve patrol cars. So I immediately slipped out the back gate, and headed for my car, thinking to myself that this was the perfect excuse for not enduring another ride with Vince and Lanette.

But as I walked up to my car, there was Vince, being pummeled by three unknown punks right next to the car. Great! So now I had to rescue Vince from a fight.

I yelled at the three punks to leave Vince alone, and for some reason they did; maybe it was because I was about a foot taller than them, and I looked like I was about ready to lose it, or maybe it was because they too had babysat a pathetic drunken friend before.

They stopped slugging Vince, but held him down, as the middle punk explained that Vince had accused them of saying something bad about his grandfather and started the fight. Vince still wanted to fight, and it was quite a struggle cramming him into the car, even with the help of the three unknown punks.

But the evening was not over. With Vince ranting and drooling in the front seat and Lanette nowhere to be found, we joined the traffic jam that formed as the punks fled the sleepy neighborhood. We were creeping along at about fifteen miles an hour, when Vince spotted Lanette walking down the sidewalk. He screamed "Lanette!!" and jumped out the door without waiting for the car to stop. He stumbled and fell in the street, then picked himself up, ran straight to Lanette and started pounding on her again.

Some would say that this would have been a good time to split, but instead, I kind of flipped. I stopped the car in the street, jumped out, walked up to Vince, nailed him square in the nose with a right jab (never saw it coming), and then Lanette and I loaded him into the car and took off. While this was going on, just down the street the cops were still busy arresting the last few unruly punks, that refused to leave the party.

On the trip home, Vince woke up again, and was feeling remorseful about his boxing match with Lanette. In fact, he felt so bad that he tried to jump out of the car while we were speeding down the Freeway at about 65 miles an hour. He almost made it too, he was half way out the window.

So we're flying down the road with Vince half way out of the car. I tried to drive with one hand and pull Vince back into the car with the other, but he was too heavy. We had to pull over on the side of the freeway, haul Vince back into the car again (back seat this time), then burn rubber back onto the freeway in order to merge with the speeding traffic.

For the rest of the drive, I was worried that Vince would flip out again. I had decided that this time I would slug him if he even looked like he was up to anything funny, but fortunately, he just sat whimpering in the back seat until we got back to Orange.

The next morning, I was cleaning out my car. Lanette had been wearing three or four pierces in each ear the night before, and I found them all in the back seat ripped out by Vince's clawing and punching, along with a couple handfuls of her hair.







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