Through a Headlock Darkly:
Bill DeMarco Concludes His Business
With The Cups of Coffee
(Part the Last of a 4-Part Series)

Bill DeMarco’s LAAt first everything happens slow. Angry arms uncoil like ferns in a rain-spattered forest. Mine among them. I’m in a hallway of people who are either trying to punch me or avoid being punched by someone trying to punch me. Some of the latter are unsuccessful at not being punched and retaliate–and miss. And hit somebody else. I think this is how fission works.

Then someone clicks “8x” on the options menu and things happen choppy fast. The girl bassist screeches unholy oaths but her complaint has been lost in the heat of the melee. Here’s my foot in someone’s groin. Here’s my neck on someone’s elbow. My hand clutches a tweed lapel and I find my head peering out of the back side of a headlock, as though through a submarine porthole, at an ecology of mayhem: shoves, hair-grabs, palm chops, quadruple clutches. There are yelled petitions of near-logic (“Whatareyoudoingmanwhatareyoudoing whatareyoudoing?!?!?!”) as roundhouse punches either land on nothing or someone’s shoulder blades. Everyone is as pumped as racing tires with adrenalin but that doesn’t help accuracy. It gives me a new appreciation for biathlon.

A fresh wave of mass pushing synchronized with a well-timed taint-punch frees me from my assailant. We both tumble toward the floor but I use my momentum to stay on my feet and squeeze around a guy wearing a pea coat who must be like 7’8″. I think it’s Captain Ahab. I use him as a blast shield to escape to the auditorium whence comes more violence-minded rubberneckers. A pocket opens in the onrushing maelstrom and I stand my ground for a moment, turn back to the center of the fighting and scream in a furious falsetto “You are the Dicks of Coffee! You are the Dicks of Coffee!” turn again to the doors, duck around a security guard who looks like a wrecking ball in a windbreaker, slip with my socked foot on a totebag (natch), rack my knee against a door, and make it outside.

Twelve blocks later, somewhere at the foot of the Hollywood Hills, I reach my car. Battered, sweaty, freezing, heaving, I take stock of the damage. Widespread abrasions, scratches, torn clothing, and humiliation. In other words the ushz. A voice calls out in the darkness.

“Hey man!”
This phrase never sat well with me.
“You nailed that chick.”
I can’t assess his seriousness.
“Yeah well I was trying to hit the lead singer guy,” I say between heaves, not proud of this explanation either.
“All I’m saying is nice aim man, that girl was a fuckin’ whore”
He proffers his hand in a high-five to which I meekly acquiesce, walks on into the night toward who knows what illegally parked Volkswagen. What kind of. Ah never mind. Just never never never never mind. I reach into my pocket for my car keys. Then I reach into my other pocket. They’re both empty. And my wallet’s gone too. Nothing but a ticket stub. Casagrande’s going to hit the roof.

I collapse against my cornflower Ford Fairmont and cry laughing, snot-infused, androgynous tears.

Next week: Bill reviews the ninth best Starbucks in Los Angeles.