Bonny could actually feel her teeth rattle. She’d heard people use that phrase before, but until now, she’d never really experienced the phenomenon. Her uterus vibrated with the power chords of Tarzan’s Bloody Stump, as they launched into their almost-hit, “Monkey Hump.”
The black hole that was the Angry Cock & Blushing Bull erupted in a scream from the packed masses, combining with the thunder drum blasts and the ear-piercing drop-a-rhino-at-40-paces heavy metal guitar roar and the booming bass bangs to make a hearing-loss-inducing cocktail.
Bonny made a mental note: always wear earplugs when attending Tarzan’s Bloody Stump shows.
214 people were stuffed sardine-tight. On the wall next to the door hung a sign that said:
MAXIMUM OCCUPATION: 150.
Piercings piercings everywhere, all throbbing now, bobbing up and down, the Mohawks and shaved heads pogo hopping to the beat me daddy eight to the bar the Japanese alphabet, Chinese dragon, dripping heart, cartoon skunk, naked lady, tumbling dice, pouncing cobra, Betty Boop, Micky Mouse, Aboriginal symbol, Sappho inspired, flying squirrel, Van Gogh sunflower tattoos.
She tried to listen to the words Able Joshua “Hammerhead” Shineburg was screaming into the feeding-back mic.
They sounded like this:
They lyrics were actually:
“I’m Tarzan, and I’ve got a bloody stump
“Monkey hump monkey hump monkey hump!”
Bonny felt like a teeny tiny midget had crawled inside her head with a ball peen hammer and was excavating in her brain for uranium.
An odor of moldy yeast, old sweat, and vomitus was making her light-headed.
Of maybe it was the personal odor of John Randolph “Pukeface” Phillips, 24, 6’ 3”, 245 lbs., as he rubbed up against her, pretending not to notice her, but intentionally getting off on her without her consent.
And she couldn’t get away. He was blocking her exit, and she hated that.
Bonny made a mental note to herself: never stand next to a huge smelly pervert at a Tarzan’s Bloody Stump concert.
I have seen enough, if I don’t get out of here, I am going to pass out, Bonny thought to herself as she tried not to breathe.
She tried to go right around Pukeface, but he easily blocked her with his smelly bulk.
She tried to go left around Pukeface, but merely shifting from stinking left foot to disgusting right was enough to cut off her route of escape.
Bonny considered herself a reasonable person. But there are moments in life when even the most reasonable person is pushed too far.
When Pukeface bent forward and tried to lick her face with his pink and purple tongue, he pushed Bonny to that point.
Without any thought at all, her body took over, and deep in the memory of her muscles she remembered the boxing lessons her dear old dad had drilled into her between the ages of 10 and 13, when she refused to ever put on another boxing glove or engage in another round of shadow boxing.
With enviable technique Bonny pulled back, with all her weight on her left leg, coiled her muscles taut with dynamic tension, made a fist like an iron, and with perfect balance, unleashed a corker of a right roundhouse, swinging from the heels as she stepped forward with her right leg into the punch.
Pukeface, 80% dazed from the merry mixture of ecstasy, amphetamine, and the cheapest vodka in America, didn’t even see it coming.
Bonny was so intoxicated by the adrenaline rushing through her that she was having a transcendent peak experience, at one with the universe, a feeling of happy harmony filling her, losing a sense of time.
And when that right fist of iron struck the surprisingly fragile nose of in the middle of Pukeface’s face, it snapped.
Bonny couldn’t hear the snap over the din, but she felt it reverberate down her spine with a jump a jive and a wail. She stood panting like an animal, cheeks aflush, sweat busting out all over, high and alive. It was one of the greatest moments of Bonny’s life. She wouldn’t notice for fifteen minutes that her knuckle was badly contused.
Pukeface flew backwards with a shocked roar, blood geysering up and splattering the twelve people immediately surrounding him.
Pukeface’s head smashed into Alexander Phillip “Needlenose” Rivers’ right eye-socket, cracking that bone.
Pukeface clutched his nose screaming and crying, ricocheted off Needlenose and landed with a thud on Wanda Reynolds. She caught him, but he was so heavy she collapsed under him and they landed with a thunderous thud on the concrete floor.
Wailing Pukeface rolled over and was now lying supine face-to-face on Wanda, 23, 5’4” 155lbs, dressed in extra large striped overalls, who was only there because her friend Sheila Rooks threatened to tell her mother that Wanda had had sex with Sheila’s brother Earl.
Pukeface bled profusely in Wanda’s face.
Wanda was paralyzed, flat on her back, crushed under this mountain range of a man, blood pouring all over her. And yet she felt strangely turned on.
Then Pukeface did what he was famous for.
Right in her face.
Wanda screamed louder than she would ever scream in her life.
Wanda’s scream was the catalyst for a knock-down drag-out caterwauling melee.
This was a one of the greatest moments of Hammerhead’s life. He thought it was him that caused this outbreak of raw violence. He had fantasized for many years about a moment like this.
Bonny skedaddled through the madness, clawing through the Angry Cock and Blushing Bull crowd like Captain Spaulding the African explorer hacking through the bush.
Just as the backdoor was in sight, she was slammed into by Alan “Sick Al” Brundt, deeply into meth-addled mania, trying to get in the middle of the action.
Bonny thought for a moment she was going down with the ship, and had a vision of herself lying on the cold concrete floor getting her head smashed like an old pumpkin after Halloween.
But at the last moment, she grabbed Big Al, who was standing stock still stunned temporarily by his collision with Bonny.
Bonny regained her delicate grasp of balance, pulled on Big Al’s jacket, and slingshotted herself through a knot of walleyed wallflowers and into the back door.
With a shove on a bar across the door, Bonny accomplished two things.
She made the door fly open.
She activated the emergency alarm.
Bonny then noticed the sign on the door that said:
DO NOT OPEN
With a quick glance she looked back at the crowd and saw it with the objectivity of detachment, like it was a movie.
Punching, gouging, head-butting, skin bursting open, blood flowing kicking, stomping, rockers pumping toxic volumes of musical waste fueling the fire of violence, ramming, slamming, slapping, whapping.
What are they all so mad about? Why do they want to punish each other? Why do they want it so loud? So they can’t hear themselves think. A generation of TV heads, internet babies numb bombarded saturated over-stimulated deadened, Death looming over their beds whenever they have sex, taught that buying things will make them happy, a future of selling out to the evil Gap empire or living in shameful poverty, 15 year olds getting breast implants, teenage suicide rates soaring, UN delegates trafficking in underage sex slaves.
Bonny saw someone pointing at her from across the thrashing clash.
Time to exit stage left.
She dashed down an alley and around a corner onto 18th St., where Jordan “Quack Quack” Ducksworth was purchasing a dime of smokable crystallized cocaine from Miles “Mookie the Dookie” Miller.
Bonny saw the business transaction out of the corner of her eye, and had the sense to neither stop nor look directly as Quack Quack slipped Mookie the Dookie ten dead presidents, and Mookie slipped the Quack a small sealed plastic bag with a small rock of extremely low grade narcotic.
Although they appeared not to notice Bonny, they were completely aware of her presence, and judged correctly that she was neither a threat or a potential mark.
Bonny’s head poundpoundpounded with the too-loud sound of Tarzan and his bloody stump as she power-walked onto Mission, jumped into Petunia, her $4999 eight year-old Volvo, ignited the engine, and whipped right around 19th St, then right on Valencia, left on 18th St., across Polk St., then across Market and left up the hill. It was a nasty shit night, and as Bonny got to the top of the hill, the misty foggy cloud shroud covered everything. Suddenly Bonny could barely see five feet in front of her.
But more disturbing, she couldn’t hear anything except the horrible roar in her suddenly hollow head.
I’m deaf, she thought.
Deaf. Deaf. Deaf.
She felt a panic pull at her and she pulled Petunia into a bus stop.
God does make us pay for being happy. I should have stayed at the Gap. Yes, I’d be morally bankrupt, but at least I wouldn’t be deaf.
Bonny turned off Petunia.
Slammed up the emergency parking break.
Jumped out of the car.
Listened harder than she ever listened in her life.
Nothing. Deaf. Oh, Jesus please help me, thought Bonny.
Just then Harold “Filthy Harry” Jonkers, 54, 5’11”, 169 lbs., a Viet Nam veteran with a long sad gauntlet of a face, pocky skin, and a guilty conscience, walked past, huddled into a long gray Army jacket. He was thinking about how he could resist the temptation to find a stray dog, feed it meat laced with tranquilizers, take it back home, and when it woke up torture it for days, until it died.
Bonny stared at him. She wanted to stop him. Grab him. Say, Please, help me, I think I’m deaf. I didn’t mean to make God angry, but I have and he is punishing me. I’m deaf. I’ll never hear Paccabell’s Canon, or the sound of my future babies laughing, or a phone, how am I gonna talk on the phone? Please help me.
But she didn’t.
But all her frantic desperation poured out of her and all over Filthy Harry’s jacket.
It stopped him instantly.
He stared in her eyes.
When she looked at him, he felt her scared glare touch something that had not been touched in a very long time.
Since he lived off a stipend form the government, he had not spoken with another human being for over a year.
But now he felt an overwhelming impulse to talk to this woman who seemed in such trouble. He wanted to tell her that he had trouble too, that he was in awful pain, and that no matter how much opium he smoked, it never went away. He wanted desperately to confess about the dogs.
Instead, he said:
“Are… are you okay?”
His voice sounded so strange, like the voice of a ghost that lived inside of him.
But Bonny heard him. The words brought a cry of joy flying like a dove from her throat. It sounded like this:
She had not been this happy since her first moments of being a professional thirty seven days earlier.
Without even thinking, she reached out and hugged Filthy Harry.
He was so shocked he did nothing.
She held him tight as she said softly:
“I’m not deaf, I’m not deaf, I’m not deaf.”
As his brain stalled like a station wagon wheel in the deep mud, Filthy Harry’s arms acted on their own, and slowly closed around Bonny.
He had not been hugged for over a decade.
He was shocked how good it felt.
He remembered his last hug: from his mother a week before she died. He had stopped hugging her before she stopped hugging him.
He was determined not to let that happen this time.
It felt so warm in the hug.
Not sex warm.
Warm like home-made bread fresh out of the oven.
Warm like sitting in front of fire in a home you love on a cold night.
Warm like spooning in bed with your dog who loves you more than anything.
Suddenly Bonny realized she was hugging a total stranger on a semi-deserted hill over the Haight-Ashbury.
She pulled away, but he didn’t let go.
Bonny was scared for a second.
Harry felt her fear.
So he let her.
He looked into her eyes.
For the first time in five years.
He forgot how nice it was to smile.
He saw how if made Bonny relax a little.
“I’m glad you’re not deaf. I have a friend who’s deaf. It totally sucks.”
Bonny laughed loud, and it went right into Harry, lit him from the inside and faded in his belly.
Harry was shocked.
He made a joke.
Hadn’t made a in over fifteen joke.
A huge smile swept over him as this slid out:
“Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“Thank you,” Bonny said, then got into Petunia, fired her up, and chugged away, happy that her knuckles were starting to ache.
Harry stood there for he knew not how long, feeling his whole life surging through him, feeling the tears coming up from a hidden Atlantis within him.
Then they came.
The tears he’d been trying to cry for a thousand years.
Harry stood, crying like a fool on the hill, for over forty-five minutes, the salty balm baptizing him, cleansing him, cleaning out decades of damage.
The next day he went to Vet Center and signed up for a creative writing class, a music appreciation class, individual, and group therapy.
Harry wound never torture another animal.