Friday, October 17, 2014

Some Gunplay and Some Fisticuffs! Night of the Mad "Pay-tre-ons"

Some Gunplay and Some Fisticuffs!  Night of the Mad "Pay-tre-ons"

     Country and Disco, Rednecks and Hippies. Back then when I first patrolled the streets in the 1970s, be it in the Army or out, I … profiled … or rather nicknamed the guys I would see roaming the bars and restaurants at night. When the dancing parlors shut down each night, waves of “Country and Disco” folks would gravitate into the 24-hour diners. Some gravitated into our jails. It didn't take long to realize you were more likely to have trouble with a guy dressed in black with a felt cowboy hat than one "duded" up like a hair-sprayed member of the BeeGees. Profiles in wardrobes.

     Some of the bouncers of the country and western clubs were rough and rowdy people, and I have written some of their stories before. Like them or not, we got to, had to work with them, and they were indeed the first line of eyes and ears for a lot of stuff. They tipped us off, they pulled us out of scrapes, and they watched our backs. We watched theirs. When working as a detective later on, they helped cleared some cases, even murders, for me.

     One night at the Duster's Club, two bouncers I'll just call Ralph and Randy were whistled over by a barkeep pointing to a loud patron who was starting trouble. As they approached the disturbance, the patron turned, yelled, and held them at bay with an open palm.

     “You stay outta this!” the man screamed.

     Ralph thought the man was drugged more than he was drunk.  

     “Say padnah," Randy said, “come on, we just need you to leave, hear?”

     “Fuck you, skunk!” the man declared. “I ain't cha padnah!”

     With this, the man pulled a big revolver at them from under his jacket and shoved it straight out at arm's length. Randy and Ralph ducked and backed away, and the customers nearby shrieked and ran. But overall, this place is noisy and big, and the shock wave didn't rumble through the whole crowd. The rest of the place just two-stepped right on by. Kind of like life, really, when you think about it.

     The man charged the bouncers swearing he would kill them. The barkeep called the police. And that would be me. I was about two miles away.

     “Pay-tre-on at the Duster with a pistol,” the dispatcher told me on the car radio. This dispatcher - not a mental giant - always mispronounced the word "patron," calling them “pay-tre-ons," like they were some kind of an alien race. Our running joke for the night shift when this dispatcher was on duty was, “wonder if we'll be invaded by the Pay-tre-ons tonight?”

     “Ten-four,” I said; and, of course, there was no backup available. Everyone was busy with their own Saturday-night alien invasions.

     As I pulled up into the Duster parking lot, to my surprise, I saw Randy and Ralph kneeling beside some parked cars in the parking lot and peeking over the trunks and hoods to the north, to a cheap motel beside the nightclub. They ran to a wall and motioned me over.

     “He's in there!” Randy told me as I walked up to them. He pointed to the motel.  I stared, ducking down, too, because … I can take a hint.

     “Who?” I asked. “The guy with the gun? I thought he was in the Duster.”

     "He ran out the door and across the lot. Ralph and I follered behind him. Come here,” Randy said and brought me to the corner of the motel. “He is in that room.”  

     "He's madder 'en hell. He is on drugs,” Ralph said. “I swear he was gonna kill us. He's got a big-assed revolver. He pointed it at us and at half a dozen people at the bar.”

     He singled out the room window for me, and I could see a light was on inside and there was a lot of movement inside. The curtain was partially open. I worked my way around the corner while staring at the room window for any action, then slipped down the motel's south wall, up the west wall, until I was right beside this window.

     This was an old-fashioned, cinder-block constructed motel. Each room had a horizontal window with a sliding-glass windowpane and a curtain. The window was partially open. No screen on the window. I peered inside.

     An angry man was pacing the small room from the bathroom door to the front door. He was quietly cursing to himself, clenching his fists, and waving his arms. On the corner of the dresser by the front door was this “big-assed revolver.” I pulled out my .357 Python, my own big-assed gun, in case he decided to continue his angry walk out the door holding that damn thing.

     I stepped back and saw Randy and Ralph looking at me from across the parking lot. The loud and busy interstate highway ran behind them. I made a big circling motion with my hand and then pointed to a spot on the far side of the door, a signal for them to go up the service road and down the far side of the motel. I was all alone here and needed their help. (This was back in the day before God made SWAT. Nowadays you know this type of simple thing could become a full-fledged police parade today; but in those days, we had to handle stuff like this.) If my quick plan would work, I needed Randy and Ralph, and they were itching to help.

     I watched the man pace. When Randy and Ralph got into position on the far side of the door, I got into mine. At a moment when the man was near the bathroom door and far from his gun, I reached into the partially open window, hooked the curtain, and pointed my Python at him.

     “Police! Freeze!” I barked. Which he did. His eyes cut for his pistol.

     “No! Don't even think about it.”  

     Outside, Ralph tried to open the door, but it was locked.

     “You will walk over to the door with your hands up. You will unlock the door,” I told him in the most menacing voice I could muster. "If you touch that pistol, I will cut you in half.”

     He understood that and marched over to the door. As he got close to his gun, I inched my pistol in just a bit more for accent. Yes, I would have cut him in half. He unlocked the door.

     As soon as the knob jiggled, Ralph and Randy barged in, with quite a double tackle of this guy right onto the bed. I thought the bed would collapse, but it didn’t. They immediately proceeded to pummel and beat the tar out of him. I stepped around the wall into the room and stuck his pistol into my belt line. I took a quick peek into the bathroom for anyone else. Accomplices. Beaten-up girlfriend. Dead guys. Yeah, no telling. But it was empty this time. Meanwhile, the beating on the bed continued.

     “OK, OK, OK,” I said, trying to tone these guys down just enough to get a space to handcuff this guy. The suspect was busted up a bit by now, but way back when, which I still affectionately refer to as “the good old days,” the jailers accepted and booked-in near-dead prisoners and never so much as offered an aspirin to them. Today they get new teeth, a manicure, and a scholarship.

     Off to jail. Detectives on Monday morning would work the rest of this. Get statements. The guy, a Texican but an out-of-towner, had no prior criminal history. I charged him with possession of a firearm in a bar, which was a felony then, and for the assault of pointing that pistola at Randy and Ralph. Why’d he do it? Hell if I know. I just did my part of the job. As usual, I never saw nor heard from this suspect again. He must have plea-bargained himself a deal.   

     Yup, I never saw him again. Just a whole lot of folks like him. The world is full of these damn “Pay-tre-ons.” It's an invasion, I tell ya. The truth is out there.

Don't Even Think About It! The book.

     "This short story is an excerpt from this book. I know many of you through the years have seen this cover and read the hints that the book would be released "soon." Fact is, the book has been pitched, in and out of contract, expired, promised to, stalled, and contracted again; and, well, years go by in this dirty, damn, flaky book business. Years. I cannot tell you how screwed up the book business is. It is now risen to the near-top again and should be coming out in early 2015." - Hock