The Craziest Night of My Life

It's 2001 and 19 year old me is still adjusting to my first official military assignment.  Of course, as luck would have it, Miami-bred me was assigned to Alaska.  Thanks, Uncle Sam!  I was determined to make the best of it and that I did.  Some of my best friends now are from that time.  But I digress.  Fall was coming, it was getting colder, but parties were still happening and I wasn't trying to be holed up in my dorm room.

I went to a party with an old work buddy of mine.  She and her husband were the only people I knew there, but I made the best of the situation.  I am a social butterfly after all.  After a while, my friend told me that she and her husband were leaving.  They had a baby at home with a babysitter and they were going to turn in.  She must have seen the disappointment on my face because she asked if I really wanted to stay.  I said I would and she said she'd see if some other guys that she knew would give me a ride home.  She introduced me to two young guys.  We'll call them Reggie and James.  Reggie asked me what dorm I lived in and I told him.  It turned out my building was right next to James'!  Reggie said he would look after me, so my friend and her husband went off to be adults.

Almost immediately, Reggie asked if I was down to go to a club.  19 year old me answered, "Hell YEAH!" before he even pronounced the "b" in club.  Cool.  Reggie was a couple of years older than me (I would guess 21-23) and James was my age.  Maybe even younger.  James and I were still too young to get in a "real" club, but Reggie was going to take care of us.  We were also too young to drink legally (get with the program, America!), so we were getting our drinks in us now.  James was pretty drunk already.  I had a bit of a buzz myself.  And now that I am going to go to a CLUB I had the adrenaline pumping.  I was a walking vodka Red Bull.

We left the party and went to Reggie's house.  He had a nice apartment.  I would get something like this soon when I get permission to move off base.  This was some adult bachelor pad stuff.  I was in my "cool mode" now.  Whatever he asked, I was going to pretend I didn't really care.  Yeah, that's cool.  We can do that.  We took some shots and James was now officially sloppy drunk.  Young kids, I tell ya.  Acting like he never drank before!  I saw a picture of two women lying on the table.  They were both cute.  I asked Reggie about them.  One of them was his "main chick" and the other was single.  WHAT?! He said they would be at the club tonight as well.  WHAT WHAT?!!  This was the beginning of a new and long friendship!  Wake James up and let's get to that damn club!!!

We were able to get James to the car and subsequently to the club.  I checked my breath and my shirt for lint/dirt.  I was good.  Time to tear this club up.  Reggie said his friend was going to open the back door to get us in since two of us were underage.  We started walking towards the club.  Where's James?  We look back and he's throwing up by the car.  Young kids, I tell ya.  Reggie went back to check on him.  I stayed in a kind of no-man's land between the car and the club.  I looked at the door, longing to go in there and meet that friend of Reggie's "main chick".  I saw some guy outside of the club with his shirt off.  He was flexing for some strange reason.  He was pretty small and very skinny.  How lame.  I decide to go check on my new friends and Reggie is walking back towards me.  I pointed out the corny flexing guy and he said he knew him.  The guy had been kicked out of the military and now lived here.  He was a certified loser.  Reggie had decided to let James back into the car to rest.  I could see the back door open and James' silhouette slumped in the back seat.

Reggie's "connection" at the back door was also someone else's connection.  There was a group of people standing there and this whole scheme looked pretty obvious.  We put our puppy-dog looks on and waited for Reggie's friend to let us in.  Just then something happened in the club.  The back door bursted open and I could see shadowy figures swaying back and forth as if it was a fight!  What was happening?! The entire crowd fell backwards as the bouncer cleared the doorway.  He wasn't Reggie's friend.  He also wasn't letting anyone in this door.  Some people tried to pry the door open and now it was like a riot out here.  We were too far at the back of the crowd, so there was no way we were going to work our way into the club.  Then again, how much fun would it have been when we got in there?  19 year-old me didn't care.  There was a woman in there that needed to meet me.  There was fun to be had and I was missing out!

Reggie and I headed back to the car.  I asked about the ladies in my coolest tone possible.  Reggie didn't care about seeing them.  He just wanted to be in that club.  He could have gone in, but it was nice of him to not leave me outside with drunk James.  Maybe this was the beginning of a new and long friendship!  When we get closer to the car, Reggie begins running and yells out, "Oh Shit!" I look over and see James on his hands and knees beside the car touching his mouth.  As I get closer I see blood.  Someone had jumped James!  We weren't gone for that long.  How did this happen?  James told Reggie who did it and it was the same skinny guy that was flexing in front of the club.  He had some big guy with him and they jumped James while he was throwing up.

Reggie was furious!  He said he knew where the guy lived and he was going to straighten this out now.  So... we're not going to get with those girls?  Reggie asked me if I wanted him to drop me off first.  I figured they are probably going to get into a fight.  James is still drunk and freshly beaten up.  Reggie would be basically fighting by himself.  He was my new friend, so I had to tag along.  It's just a fight, right?  I can do that.

- Nah, I'm cool.  I'll ride with you.
- Cool.  I gotta swing by my crib right quick to pick something up.

Earlier in the night, I noticed that Reggie had a non-regional dialect.  I couldn't place exactly where he was from.  From this point on, Reggie had a South Central LA West Coast gangster accent.  This was a different guy.  He was driving towards his house and I expected hydraulics to bounce us up and down the street.  I started to gather information.  I wanted to be as prepared as possible.  Of course this was over some girl.  The guy had an ex that James was now messing with.  Go figure.  The guy wasn't some super Navy Seal type.  He had some office job and got kicked out for being dumb.  He was originally from Florida (not Miami).  I could take him alone, I figured.  The big friend, however, no info on him.  I would hit him first.  I was a little bigger than Reggie.  He should take the little corny dude.  Reggie stopped to pee.  Aren't we going to your house?  No questions though.  I'm gonna pee too.  This is some gangster shit.  As we pee Reggie asks me do I want to get dropped off at home first.  I tell him I got his back.  His boy is in the back and can't help him, so I'm gonna ride it out with him.  Now I was talking like I'm a west coast gangster.  I'm not.  Reggie on the other hand...

We get to Reggie's house.  I go right to the picture on the table to remind myself why I am still going along with this.  She wasn't as pretty anymore.  What am I doing?  Before I could answer that question, Reggie walks back into the room from a closet where he has retrieved a pistol.  Yup.  That's a gun.  This wasn't going to be a fist fight, I guess.  I grew up around guns and I'm not scared of them.  But I was taught (in an embarrassing way of course) not to pull a gun unless you plan to use it.  I figured Reggie pretty much planned to use this gun.  I watched "calmly" as he slid the clip into the gun.  Inside my head I was screaming "OKAY TAKE ME HOME PLEEEASE!" But he needed my help.  Somehow James was still drunk and stumbling around behind Reggie.  He was saying he's okay.  It's no big deal.  He didn't want any trouble.  What a team we were.  Reggie was walking with purpose.

- Let's go.

Reggie drove over to the guy's apartment building.  I guess we'll wait out here for him to show up.  Reggie gets out.  I guess not.  He's moving like a trained professional.  Arms extended with two hands on the gun.  I'm walking and trying to look as hard as possible.  James is whisper-whining behind us.

- Man, we ain't got to do this, man.

We get to the apartment and there is only a dim light coming through the window.  Like from a television.  Reggie checks the door handle.  It's locked.  Welp!  Guess he's not home.  Let's go now.  But Reggie doesn't go.  He tucks his gun in his waistband at the small of his back as he takes a big step backwards.  I was confused.  He looks left and right quickly and I guess what he saw was sufficient because he proceeded to kick the apartment door in!  I didn't say anything but I couldn't think thoughts anymore.  My brain was just ringing alarms and sirens.  Now I was just following.  I couldn't believe how easily he kicked the door in.  Like he'd done this shit before.  It was like a movie!  Reggie walked in while pulling his pistol back out of his waistband.  I followed.  We were in a living room and there was a startled woman that had fallen asleep on the couch.  She picked up a baby and held it to her chest.  She yelled at us.

- What y'all niggas doing?!  He ain't here right now.

Reggie pointed the gun at the woman holding the baby.  I repeat.  Reggie pointed the gun at the woman holding the baby and said.

- Shut the fuck up bitch!

Then he began ransacking the place while telling the woman to tell her boyfriend to come find him.  James (smartly) remained in the hall outside of the apartment.  I guess he was our low-budget lookout.  Now I really didn't know what to do.  I was in too deep.  My fearless leader had begun destroying the place, so I had to do the same.  He knocked over the TV.  I pushed a cup onto the floor.  He flipped a table and everything crashed to the ground.  I laid the toaster on its side.  I may have damaged a pencil and some Chapstick as well.  Reggie said some more harsh and threatening things and then we exited.  I really wanted to tell the lady I'm sorry and everything's okay.  But I didn't.  That's not gangster.

We head back in silence for a while.  Reggie calmly smoked a cigarette.  Now I was waiting on Reggie to take me home.  If he knew where the corny guy lived, odds are the corny guy knew where he lived.  This game wasn't fun anymore.  Reggie explained to me that he couldn't take me home.  He didn't want to risk driving on base with a gun and an underage drunk guy.  He asked was I cool to stay with him.  Hell no I wasn't cool staying with him! I said, "Yeah that's cool."  Knowing that those would likely be some of my last words.  James spoke up and asked if Reggie could drop him off at his girlfriend's house around the corner from him.  Reggie obliged.  Now it's me and Reggie.

I asked about the girls one last time.  Reggie called and it turned out that the girl's friend had met up with some guy at the club!  Go figure.  His girl was too tired to come over.  He set the couch up with some blankets for me.  We had one last drink and talked for a few minutes.  He wasn't sure if the guy knew where he lived.  But he was ready just in case.  He took his gun (our protection) into his bedroom and closed the door.  I laid on the couch and stared at the front door while trying to fall asleep.  Sleep would have been easier if I hadn't JUST seen someone kick in a locked door.  I got about 45 minutes of nightmare-filled sleep in that night.  Luckily no one kicked the door in and pointed a gun at me while I held a baby.  The guy did throw a brick through Reggie's car window though.  I guess he didn't know the apartment number.  Lucky me.

I saw James a few more times after that around the base.  Reggie and I emailed back and forth and talked about hanging out again.  I wasn't as motivated to have that new and long friendship after all.  I hope he stayed out of trouble.  I know I did.  Until next time...

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