[The Sheik horned in on a convo over at RSM’s blog regarding Dan Riehl’s delicate condition, with the idea to casually mention his own respiratory failure story of getting stabbed in the lung by some chick. That’s all. One sentence just to pique interest and walk away! To avenge myself I threw down the gauntlet and demanded The Rest Of The Story. Sheik was kind enough to send it to me. And here, I share with you. Because I’m a giver. Plus, my hand is hurting from some malady that is likely not stabby-related but likely RSI-related and typing hurts. Herewith, a story from The Sheik. ]
I met Valerie when I was 13. She was my friend Gordon’s 18 year old sister, and I had a huge crush on her. Valerie was a hard core punker. It was 1972, and she hung out at The Mudd Club and CBGB in New York City. She was beautiful; light-brown hair chopped and bleached, charcoal circles around her eyes, lids painted white, brightly colored cocktail swords through her ear-piercings, and extremely short skirts. She showed Gordon and me photos of herself partying with Iggy Popp, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols, MC-5, Alice Cooper, and many other famous rockers of the time. I didn’t know what a groupie was. But if I had, it wouldn’t have diminished her a bit in my eyes.
One day, while Gordon and I were in his bedroom playing Battleship, Valerie came barging in, announced that she had gotten a tattoo, and asked if we wanted to see it. This was big news in 1972 – girls did NOT get tattoos. OF COURSE we wanted to see it! I was not prepared for what happened next; Valerie grabbed the hem of her tee-shirt and pulled it all the way up to her neck, exposing the first pair of boobs I had seen in person in 12 years! And there on her beautifully-formed, bare left breast was a cartoon skunk. You know Peppe Le Pieu? His girlfriend. (Her boyfriend’s nickname was Stinky. He was a member of the Pagans M.C.). I was dumbfounded, and so possessive of the memory of that magic moment that I would never reveal to anyone what happened that day. I don’t imagine Gordon would, either…though hopefully for different reasons. I was crushed when, a couple of weeks later, Gordon’s family moved to a different school district. I was bummed that I would probably never see Gordon again. And I was heart-sick at the prospect of never seeing Valerie again.
Six years later I was a typical Long Island punk. Nineteen, living at home, working at a chemical plant, and spending too much time in bars. One bar in particular, a biker dive within walking distance of my job, was my second home. I’d had a running tab at this place since I was sixteen, and usually stopped in for an hour or two after my shift ended at 11pm. One night I was there shooting pool when a small group of people popped in, all obviously quite hammered. One was a quite attractive young lady who looked vaguely familiar. And when she saw me she screamed, “OH MOY GAAAHHHD! JOEEEEYYY!”, then ran up to me, threw her arms around my neck, and jammed her tongue down my throat. By then I had figured out who she was, and it truly was like a dream come true. The boobs I had been fantasizing about for six years were now mashed against my chest! I was in heaven, and it was soon to get much, much better. As it often does before the stabbing begins.
My beautiful Valerie, now 25, was a nurse at the mental hospital down the street. And she was telling me that she always thought I was the “cutest” guy she’d ever known, and always fantasized about running into me once I’d grown up. Cute or not, I wasn’t stupid; I knew I was no prize. I figured she had on some big ol’ beer goggles, and I’d better strike while the iron was hot. There was a crappy motel a couple of blocks away, and I suggested maybe we could get a six-pack and go talk about the old times.”No, let’s go to my apartment”, she said, squeezing my butt. No argument from me. But her apartment was a couple of miles away – how would we get there, when neither of us had driven and her friends had all left? “I’ll ask Artie for a ride”, she said. Artie was a big, fat biker. But this being November, he was driving his car. And as it happened, Artie was already giving this old barfly Gracie a ride home, which was on the way to Valerie’s place. Cool.
We all piled into Artie’s old Chrysler, and off we went. On the way, Artie and Valerie, who had many mutual friends, were talking shit back and forth – just typical drunken banter. At one point, Valerie said, “Aw, Artie – you fat fuck…”, when BOOM! – Gracie turned around from the front seat and punched Valerie square in the face. And it was on…hair pulling, face smacking, nail gouging, punching, biting, while I tried to pull them apart and Artie tried to keep the car on the road and get to Gracie’s house. As we pulled into Gracie’s driveway, I finally managed to wedge myself between the two ladies. Just as I got them apart, Valerie – now half-lying across the back seat with her shoulders pinned under my weight, managed to get her leg cocked back and, with her wooden-heeled, six inch platform boot, kicked the old bitch in the face, stunning her and causing her to rethink things.
As she opened the door of the car, she looked at me and said, inexplicably, “Motherfucker, no man hits me and gets away with it. I’m getting my son!” Before Artie could back the car out, Valerie jumped out and took off after Gracie. It was now officially a clusterfuck. Artie managed to corral her about the time Gracie came back out of the house with her son, John (“Goog”, as he was better known). He took one look at me, turned around and went back in the house. I like to tell myself it was out of fear. But more likely, it was embarrassment, as we had gone through junior high and highschool together. Realizing she had no help from Goog, Gracie rushed up to me, fists flailing. Blocking my face, I never even saw the steak knife she was holding, and I barely felt it as she plunged it into my chest and quickly pulled it back out, then tossed it into the adjoining yard. There was hardly any blood, and very little pain. I opened my shirt to see what appeared to be a fairly minor wound. I figured hey, Valerie’s a nurse – she can patch me up. Valerie concurred, so off we went.
But just as we turned the corner of her block, I coughed. And blood came squirting out of that slice like a fountain. Splashed the windshield. And weird noises were emanating from my chest – like air being let out of a balloon. “HOLY SHIT!”, screamed everyone.
Artie turned the car around and started speeding toward the hospital. By now, I was starting to have some trouble breathing. About halfway there, we saw a cop car hiding out in a funeral parlor parking lot. Artie pulled in, ran to the cop and told him, “This fuckin’ kid is DYING!” So off I went with the cop, 100mph the remaining five miles.
The Indian doctor who greeted me in the E.R., a fine and funny gentleman, asked whether I’d been drinking, and I told him I had. “Well, I hope you drank enough”, he said while cutting an X into my lower chest and inserting a drain tube. I hadn’t drunk enough. It was the most painful thing I’d ever experienced. The knife had missed my heart by a few centimeters, going about halfway into my lung, which for some reason remained inflated until that cough.
After two days in ICU, I got a regular room, and could finally have visitors. Which was fantastic, as I was dying for a smoke, and none of the nurses would share. And wouldn’t you know, the first visitor I had (besides my parents, who could come whenever they wanted) was my high school sweetie, Mary, who had dumped me two months earlier. I was still pining, and after a few minutes it was looking like we would patch things up. But then in walked Dorothy, a 29 year old widow who I had just started dating the previous week. Followed immediately by Valerie. Very awkward. Both Mary and Dorothy were deeply offended, and left, leaving Valerie and me in an uncomfortable silence. Which Valerie broke by exclaiming, “Fuck them anyway.”
So, fate, it seemed, had brought Valerie and me together – or, rather, dragged us through hell to be together. When I got released four days later, I moved in with her. It was not the healthiest relationship.
I testified before a grand jury, and Grace was charged and convicted of 1st degree attempted murder. She was sentenced to twenty years in prison and served every day of it.
Eleven months later, I was run over by a car.
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