The following is a fictionalized retelling of a street fight I witnessed once in Ottawa. The lead-up and quotations are imagined, but the fight itself is told more or less as I saw it.
By the time he stepped out of the club, the streets were teeming with people. Throngs of the shrink-wrapped masses pulsed as police corralled them onto the sidewalks to let taxis through.
He brushed past the bouncer and found a wall to lean against, taking stock of his own situation. Though he had mostly regained control of his body, his thoughts remained cloudy.
He pulled up his left sleeve, counting nine marks scrawled in marker. His face bunched up as he struggled to perform some mental arithmetic. By his count, he had spent nearly fifty dollars on drinks. He scratched his temple and dug into a back pocket, retrieving his wallet.
Nearly two hundred dollars greeted him. A pleasant surprise.
Folding up his wallet, he stepped out to the sidewalk, pushing past the crowd, all smoking and texting and exchanging numbers.
At the end of the street he rounded the corner of a shoddy brick building, the mortar cracked and loose. The three men there turned to face him, a flash of recognition in their eyes.
“Speak of the devil,” said the tallest of them. “We were just talking about you.”
“Is that so?”
“That’s right. Talking about how we oughta beat your sorry ass. ‘Bout how we oughta take back what’s ours.”
“And what’s yours, exactly?”
“The money, dipshit.”
A flash ran through his brain.
“I won that money, fair and square. Besides, there’s three of you and one of me. Where’s the honour in that?”
The tall one looked to his partners, snorting.
“Honour? If you think honour’s got a place in a fight, you’ve never been in one.”
Then they advanced on him, the partners grabbing his arms as the tall one laid in on his ribs. The strikes were clumsy but landed hard.
He tensed up his gut, trying to absorb the blows, but they shook him, his whole body writhing and his neck whipping back and forth. He wrenched his arms, loosening his captors’ grip. He kicked out in front of him, hitting the tall one in the right hip, knocking him back. He yanked his right arm away, and then his left, falling down on the sidewalk. He rolled over his shoulder, which gave way with a crack, and scrambled to his feet, running down the nearest alleyway.
The three assailants turned to each other, a look of satisfaction upon their reddened faces.
“Fuck. We didn’t get our fucking money back,” said the tall one.
“Whatever, man,” said a crony. “He won’t fuck with us again.”
A murmur of agreement.
Just then, the tall one caught a shadow in the corner of his eye. He turned to see it, and in a split second saw his victim. Saw him running. Saw him pushing off one leg, fist cocked behind him. Saw him swing down, all his body weight centred on one single motion. Saw his fist, larger, larger, until it struck him on the crown of the head, no time to react but for a helpless yelp.
The tall one crumpled to the sidewalk, head bleeding before it hit the ground, bouncing twice before coming to rest on the cold pavement. He looked up at the shadow that had struck him down.
“No honour, right? You said it, chump.”
And just as quickly as it had emerged, the shadow scurried back into the alley.
The tall one lay on the sidewalk, his skull leaking blood, the steadily growing puddle forming a kind of crimson halo. His friends gathered round, and their girlfriends, until now standing on the sidelines, came together, and they wrapped the wounded man’s broken head in a torn scrap of a cotton shirt.