excerpted from DAMN THE CARNATIONS: FULL SPEED AHEAD
Typical slow Mardi Gras day at Bravo’s and with the regulars and all police attending the Pass Christian Parade-–and no vehicles in the parking lot-–it was elements made for the perfect biker storm–-when into my bar Peg Leg limped. His greasiness, gimp leg, built-up boot to his knee and rebelliousness attitude was a dead giveaway that I was being paid a visit by the infamous leader of the Outlaws.
A few weeks prior, the TV news reported a rogue biker gang had torched a juke joint elsewhere in the community and a few weeks before that they rolled up an elderly couple in a carpet and beat them nearly to death for their social security check money. The townsfolk were living in fear and it seemed nothing was being done. Everyone felt they had to protect their own as no arrests had been made.
The joint was wide open for table pickings. He stood in the doorway for a minute casing the place before settling on a table where he could stare through burglar bars out the window to mind his old lady in the parking lot. I gathered the steel bars resonated some familiar feel. From across the barroom floor he shouted at me, “Hurry up and bring me a Budweiser!”
With the most piss-poor attitude I’ve encountered in a time as far back as I can remember–and not that the information would be pertinent or matter much to the gang leader–it may have behooved him to do a little homework prior to choosing a target. Growing up the overlooked and underestimated middle daughter of “Ms. Audrey” (see Moonshine and Murder: A Southern Bedtime Story) –-known from New Orleans to Mobile as the only woman ever to stop a barroom brawl single-handedly-–my four siblings and I were taught that if we planned to survive the harsh scrutiny of the public we needed to develop thick skins and wear our poker faces and clean underwear in the event of an accident. You might say I was born in a bar: grew up doing my homework in one and learned many lessons in human psychology there.
With an opportunity to practice the most basic lesson learned, I put on the poker face and treaded heavily over to Peg Leg’s table-–sending him a nonverbal message that I didn’t much like him-–with a can of beer just barely cool–-no bottle for this little bastard to later use on me as a weapon. And that’s when he warned me of his boys being in-route, that I would serve them and they would fuck up the bar, but I was not to call the cops, “‘cause we’ll be back tomorrow to pay for the damages.”
Reading between the lines I deciphered Peg Leg’s statement to mean that if I didn’t roll with the punches and take the lashing and called the cops, I would again pay for it tomorrow.
Huh! Can you imagine all these threats without even having been kissed? I should have knocked him in the head but instead I acted disinterested and slipped away into the stockroom where I placed a quiet 911 to report the imminent nasty weather. A second S.O.S. went out to my tough-as-a-lighter-stump brother-in-law, Wendy–-a personal hero of mine who’d do most anything I’d ask him to. When I caught up to Wendy he was oyster shuckin’ and jivin’ with a small posse of good ole boys out in the shed sippin’ on some of that Al Capone’ favorite Kiln Kryptonite.
Having grown up with a girl’s name (of which I can relate, having grown up with a boy’s name) made for one bad-ass from Pistache–-with something to prove. Just a real good ole boy who enjoys the simple life: cookin’, huntin’ and fishin’ and teaching an asshole a new lesson. Duck Dynasty has nothin’ on this family, Breaux–’cept a shit pot full of money.
Ready to throw down, Wendy and the boys arrived minutes before the bikers roared up on the scene. I ushered the peeps inside and hastily locked the door. As we worked on our game plan, free shots of whisky were poured for all, but not Peg Leg.
We armed ourselves with pool sticks, pool balls, and opened and unopened longneck beer bottles. Like fish that school to make themselves larger and more menacing to prey, they crowded on their bikes at the bottom of the front porch steps, revving up their engines–-each time louder and louder-–psychologically scaring the living shit out of us, taunting us with roars of death and destruction. For the time being, while waiting on police to arrive, it seemed we’d be safe, and then we heard them shouting over their own noise whether or not to set fire to the bar and burn us out. I wasn’t completely convinced they’d do something so extreme, especially since we held their leader hostage.
Wendy’s moonshine-mind snapped and in all the craziness he unlocks the door, runs and swan dives off the porch onto the top of the bikers–something I had not prepared for but now we must fight-–the bikers have the brother-in-law! Or was it the other way around? It was difficult to take in all that was happening. The scene moved rapidly, so much drama and so much fantastic imagery.
To passers-by it had to have looked like Hollywood was in town filming a movie. Scanning the bloody battlefield and overturned Harleys, I paused for a moment in disbelief, marveling at Wendy’s superhuman strength. Like Mohammed Ali, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, the brother-in-law moved untouched through the chaos. If any of the downed ones dare to even twitch, I’d whip their kidneys with the fat end of a broken pool stick. The mentality was kill or be killed. Wendy knocked ‘em down, I made sure they stayed down and the eight month pregnant sister pilfered the wallets of the KO’s-–yelling over the melee, “They’re going to pay for causing all this trouble!” The poor sons-of-bitches didn’t have a dollar between them to buy straws to eat their lunch. With no apologies for being bad company, it was beddy-bye time for the bikers and a real poor day of judgment.
The police never did show up. They claimed to have gone to another bar with the same name in a different town but, funny, there was no other bar with the same name-–this bar was my grandfather’s namesake bar. So for our trouble we each selected a biker, one close to our own size, and stripped him of his prized leather jacket. And while the fracas flushed the bad boys from the community, the biker brawl put me out of business. Although the battle was won, ultimately I lost Bravo’s Bar. Forced into closure by the owner of the property who feared biker reprisal.