The man stared Josh down with a sense of ferocity that made my heart race. Josh was too drunk to even have a clue what was going on. He continued to stare back at the guy, unaware of the man's anger. I had to help him. I had to do something.
“Look, sir, he didn't mean to. He's just drunk.” I stood to my feet, hoping to diffuse this guy's anger. He turned towards me, fixating his cold, steely eyes on mine. Sweat was dripping off his brow, his breath reeking of alcohol and tobacco. This man meant business. I just hoped I wasn't on the receiving end.
“It's not my problem if your friend can't handle his alcohol. Maybe you should take Susie home if she's feeling tipsy.”
“We don't mean any trouble sir. Please, just leave him be.”
“He broke my drink when he bumped into me.” I looked past him to see a glass of what appeared to be whiskey smashed across the ground. “I'm sorry, but we don't have any money left.”
“Well maybe you should have thought of that before he bumped into me.”
“How would I have known this was going to happen?” This guy was starting to bother me. This probably wasn't the best time for being snarky, but it was in my nature. If I was lucky, this guy had a good sense of humour.
“Are you smart-assing me, boy?” The man took a step towards me, staring into my eyes with an intense gaze. Clearly his sense of humour was non-existent.
“No sir. I was just saying that I didn't expect this to happen, so how could I have prepared for it?”
“Well, I bet you didn't expect this to happen either, did ya?”
Before I could respond, he swung his fist around and punched me in the jaw. I instantly collapsed to the ground, my cheek throbbing in pain. I tried to stand, but he threw another punch. I pressed my hand against my face, hoping that the pain would soon subside. The next blow was a kick to my stomach. I curled up in on the floor, trying to protect my chest with my legs. The man kicked me a couple more times. The next thing I knew, he was getting pulled away from me. I looked up to see the bartender standing between the two of us. He helped pull me to the feet and sat me on a stool.
“You okay man?” Davy was staring at me in awe.
“Yeah, I'll be fine.”
“I think it's safe to say that this is a birthday I'm never going to forget.” Davy forced a smile, trying to hide the fact that he was terrified.
“It's okay, Davy. It's all over now. I survived, I'll be okay before long, so there's nothing to worry about.”
The bartender passed me a rag filled with ice. I pressed the cloth against my face, hoping and praying that it wouldn't swell. My mother would kill me if she found out about this. I sat on the stool with the ice against my face for at least half an hour. When I started to feel better, Davy and I decided to make our way home. We asked Josh to come with us, but he insisted that we go on without him. He was clearly drunk, but for some reason he wanted to stay and keep drinking. We decided to continue without him rather than argue. I walked slowly, my legs unsteady from the beating I had taken. When we made it out the door, the man who beat the shit out of me was waiting.
“Well look what we have here!” he called out from across the parking lot.
We both tried to hide our faces and make it home before he decided it was time for round two.
“Hey! I'm talking to you!” I looked over to see him leaning against a beat up pickup truck. There were two other guys standing beside him, each one just as muscular and scary as he was. The three men started to make their way over to us. I feared for my life. I froze in place, afraid to make a move. I looked over to Davy, who was just as scared. Before they could get close to us, the bouncer that was guarding the door threw himself between us.
“Listen up guys,” the bouncer began. “You had your fun. How about you leave these guys alone and let them go home.”
The bouncer stared the men down. None of them were brave enough to make a move. We started walking away, but the bouncer never moved. He stayed standing between us, preventing the men from pursuing Davy and I. When I rounded the corner, I finally felt safe. Shortly after rounding the corner, Davy turned towards his house as we said our goodbyes.
“Hey man,” he began. “Sorry about what happened. I feel terrible.”
“No reason for you to feel bad. It's not like it's your fault.”
“I guess you're right. Still, I can't help but feel at least partially responsible.”
“Yeah, well, you're not. So don't beat yourself up over it.”
The two of us parted ways, and I continued on my way home. Halfway there I decided that I needed a break. I sat down against an old oak tree next to the local cemetery. The rough bark made it hard to get comfortable at first, but eventually I found a spot that wasn't too bad. I looked around at the buildings across the road. There was a small subdivision, an entire road lined with identical houses. In the distance, I could make out a small figure. It looked to be a person. They were walking right towards me.
With every step they drew closer, still walking directly towards where I was sitting. As they drew closer I could begin to make out a few details. His hair was long, falling down to his shoulders. His eyes were dark green. He seemed to be a pretty average height, but with a muscular build. Before long he was at the edge of the road. He looked both ways, then made his way across the street to me. What did he want? Was he a drug dealer? Or maybe he was from the gang of men at the bar, and he was here to finish what they started. I tried not to let my mind wander too much. When he finally stood in front of me, I looked up to meet his gaze.
“Hello, Carson.” He spoke with a soft voice. Much too soft for the body it was coming out of.
“Umm, how do you know my name?”
“Let's just say that I like to stay informed. How are you?”
“Well, as you can probably tell from all my bruises, not too well.” This guy was starting to freak me out. What did he want? Why was he here? More importantly, how did he know my name?
“I can see. Clearly you made a mistake somewhere.” He smiled slightly, causing me to think he was making a joke. If he was expecting me to laugh, he was sadly mistaken.
“If you don't mind my asking, who are you?”
“My name is Mason.”
“Alright then, Mason. Answer me another question. How do you know my name, and what the hell do you want from me.”
“I told you, I like to stay informed. And I'm here to inform you that it's time to fulfil your destiny.”