We're waiting in a line of cars at a stoplight when half a dozen guys pile out of a car ahead of us, and it's clear they're up to no good. Some of the men have wrapped their knuckles with thick chains, and others clutch empty beer bottles by their necks. They're stalking towards the cute couple who haven't noticed them yet, and my stomach twists with realization.
My son-in-law, Bert, jumps out of the car before we can stop him. My daughter claws at his shirt and tries to scream some sense in to his brain, but it's no use. Bert's always had a strong sense of justice. Either that or he doesn't put much value on his own life.
The light changes and the convertible speeds off before the thugs reach them, but their group is still looking for a target and they set their sights on the most likely target: Bert. It happens in slow motion, but it still happens. One of the guys smashes his bottle over Bert's head and blood trickles in his face.
I don't want to fight. There's three times as many of them as there are of us. I'm not much of a gambler, but those odds aren't good, even with a firecracker like Bert on your side. Like it or not, though, I can't leave him out there alone. They'll kill him. With a backward glance at my wife, daughter, and young son, I bolt from the car and into the battle. I still don't want to fight.
Two-to-one. If we survive this, I might kill Bert myself.
I don't see the guy until he's clocked me in the side of the head and I'm sprawled on the ground. He brings the pointed toes of his boots to my face and kicks me over and over, sending spikes of pain through my jaw and behind my eyelids. It's not enough to him that I am on the ground, that I didn't want this fight. It's obvious that he won't stop until he's made his point clear. As far as I'm concerned, the point of his shoe has done quite enough talking.
Elise flies from the car and launches herself on the back of my attacker. On her way out of the car, she grabbed the closest thing in reach, a can of oil, which she now uses to hammer away at his thick skull. She stuns him long enough to give me a chance to stagger to my feet, but I can't stop him from wrenching her free and kicking her in the face with those horrible, awful boots.
I didn't want to fight.
We drive ourselves, licking our wounds, to General Hospital. Bert needs stitches, and I'm not sure what Elise and I need. A uniformed officer comes to arrest us for beating up a group of men, but his mouth and the charges drop when he surveys our assortment of injuries.
A couple days later our friend Benny takes in Elise's cuts and bruises and asks us to name names. "You'll never hear from those guys again," he vows. I don't doubt Benny one bit, and I appreciate the gesture, but I don't tell him anything.
Our bruises haven't healed up before one of the smaller thugs struts into the store. He's alone and looking for another fight. The tips of Bert's ears flame as he orders him off the property. I keep an eye on the man as he slinks away toward the restaurant next door. A wave of rage courses through me and I think how easy it would be to get my revenge on just one man, the runt of the bunch. With a shake of my head, I turn away from the window where I have a clear view of him glaring over at us.
I don't want to fight.