"Oh shit!" he said, steaming with the fever of a flicker knife plunged deep into his thigh as the blood begins to sink into his dark blue jeans, his big man-shoulders quailed and his dirty, orange hair surrendered on his chest.
"..The fuck was that?" he continues, "Goddamn motherfuckers, I think, yea ah think we just..
ah shit man, you know?"
Ginger's breath freezes nasty nicotine stench in the cold winter air.
"I don't know, Ginge.." I replied, reaching into both my empty pockets as if to make sure what just happened really happened, and then my back pockets, nothing.
"But yea, I think we got to get you to a hospital."
His soured face depicts defeat as we stands there, wondering perhaps if we're even here at all.
The intimidating character that he is, now gradually dissolving before me as he begins to embrace the reality of the situation.
The distinct scent of blood flushing along his side, smearing on his hands and clothes.
We didn't see it coming, and it's that first sucker-punch that finds you behind the head, impelling you violently unto the pavement;
followed by the tingly sensation in your vertebrae as the kicks program you, almost by default, into fetal position.
It's that brief transition you know you're being jumped by the same mob of bigots that kept staring your direction that entire ride on the subway car.
"Goddamned son of a bitch!" I know I heard Ginger get a few good swings in there, those big man-hands must've turned a few cheeks until the knife came into action.
Every city teaches you what to look out for, it's what you pick up from experience and word of mouth;
things such as checking over your shoulder once in a while for that occasional over-indulgent cop you wanna avoid making eye contact with,
or those random groups of rowdies with the tendency to eyeball you enough they'll ultimately feel compelled to do something about it_
Either way you're screwed, which, in this case; example number two, is what we were.
The colorful nickname aside, brought upon by the bare look of his long, smelly, ginger colored hair, a name that's stuck with him since upbringing.
Ginger's an intimidating fellow, tall structured and with all the necessary skeletal blueprints to be big and muscular if he wanted, rather then the skinny man-child in those robust shoulders stretching through an MC jacket, the hopeless characteristics of a demi-junkie;
still not the type you imagine being jumped like that out of nowhere, but if it gets the jump on you it has you and I'm now seeing a different side of Ginger, one I hadn't known was there, being both his typical bossy self and a vulnerable mess.
"No man, you gotta do it,. you gotta do it man you gotta pull it out can you just pull it out man?.."
—A blathering clutter.
I help him drag himself across the curb, smacking his back against the brick of the building, the leg is a mess, both our attention steered at the small but effective blade comfortably pricked into his muscle tissue, his hands pressed against it.
"..Gotta do it, can you do it?" he repeats.
You can see the strains of pain spreading through him like a disease, going for what really hurts, his ego.
I know that in a matter of minutes I'll be plucking than thing off to who knows how much more blood still waiting to flow out of there, and I don't like the sight of it so I may as well stall as much as possible.
"You got a cigarette?" I ask, now I'm just predicting the inevitable, he fixes his stare on me but doesn't answer - "..what about a light, you got a light?"
I look over just enough to see his hand form a first, the 'big twinge' as we friends have come to call it, we know it well, heavy burden, "..okay.." I conclude.
At almost 1 a.m. on a Wednesday, these streets are empty with the subway still running, only three stops away from the nearest hospital so we're going to need a plan.
I'm thinking I'm going to pull that little fucker out and hop him on the next train, it's really that simple, not much else we can do, we just got to do this.
"Yea, aww fuck.. alright yea okay, we're pulling it out." I realize, pulling his scarf from around his neck as I kneel by his leg "Gimme that.." and begin to wrap it around the leg, only gently now;
"What the fuck, man?" he says "That's my woolen scarf motherfucker!"
"Let me do this."
I know his eyes are close to tearing by now, he lets his head back again but not enough for me to miss that apologetic look scrambling over his face.
Suddenly it doesn't all feel so bad, it's his very imperfection that puts me at ease with the situation, funny thing, and maybe it'll only sting.
"Gimme that beer, man.." he commands
I hadn't even noticed the cans still lying by the stairway there, the only thing that wasn't lost or taken, only dropped to the ground, probably what got us jumped in the first place, they didn't like the hippy punks drinking beer on the subway.
"Yea hold on.. here."
Back to the plan, the scarf bound ready around the leg, going to pull on the count of three and tighten as hard as possible, it's only going to sting, it's only blood, the hospital's only 15 minutes away, we got this.
"You ready? I'm going to count to three, pull, tie this and we're off to St. Eva's alright? We're three stops away."
"Hey you mean by train, man? I'm fucking bleeding.."
"You prefer a cab? Dude, we got mugged.."
"Aww shit man yea fine, just fucking do it, Jesus 1 2 3 bam! Okay?"
"Okay, here we go.." I can hear my voice echoing those numbers in my head before I even have time to mouth them, a higher state of awareness has kicked in — I'm ready.
one.. the voice calls out in my head, I repeat it through the mouth
two.. deep breath
"Awww! Oh shit argh you goddamned son of a bitch that was still two, fuck you oh fuck!"
"Hold on!" - and maybe it isn't a higher state of awareness at all, we may both just be in shock, each our own way.
I tighten the scarf as tight as I can, his screams continue to spew a mixture of mother cursing and religious profanities, blending them beautifully like some strange, new language, spitting the mouthful of beer all over us and on his leg, maybe in hopes to numb what pain's installed him so long.
Time to go. I shove the knife into my pocket, pull him up by his heavy shoulders, in all that snot drooling nostril, his baby-man spit seeding from his teeth and the blood creeping into his shoe.
Fuck it and we're off back down the stairway.
"On A Train" a story by Vice Lesley, taken from: The Smile of a Crocodile © 2015. Available on ltd paperback 60 pages. Journal entries, scrap notes, short stories, prose, and poems.