It never matters what year it is, archetypes remain the same. The victim, the bully, the hero, and the bystander are archetypes. Who knows who the originals are? They could be Biblical, mythological, historical, and very possibly, even prehistoric. The thing is, with people can their character change? Is their archetype interchangeable? Can a victim become a bully? Or a bystander become a hero?
Angelo picked me up in his rusty, gold, ‘69 Grand Prix. It was a loud, gas-guzzling boat. We drove to the party on Ferry Street in the first-floor apartment of an old two story. A half barrel of Pabst Blue Ribbon was buried in ice in an old claw tub in the bathroom. Two bucks, all you could drink. There were only about ten people there, but by bar time the place would be packed. This was 1978, a time before cell phones and the internet. A couple of landline phone calls and word of mouth was enough to spread the news about the when and where of any party.
Angelo and I got a beer in a twelve-ounce plastic beer cup and wandered into the kitchen to socialize. I was hoping someone was passing a joint, because I hadn't gotten high all day. I ran out pot last night. If worse came to worse, I could scrape resin out of my pipe, but I didn’t like to resort to that. It tasted like shit, and the high seemed kind of dirty. I was also looking for the opportunity to buy a bag. I had thirty dollars. Enough cash to buy a half ounce, and enough left over to party.
Angelo and I stood in the kitchen talking about Mr. Danoff, our Econ teacher. We were in the same class for the last hour of the day. We knew economics had relevance, but the thickness of the material combined with Danoff’s lackluster delivery and monotone voice was as sedating as a light rain on a lazy spring afternoon.
Bobby Kay walked in to the kitchen. My spine-tingled with fear, and I froze. Bobby Kay was a bully and a badass. He backed up his mean streak with strength. This was the worst kind of bully. Earlier in the summer he had knocked my brother off his bike. There was really nothing I could do about it. If I tried, I would've gotten my ass kicked. It would have been worse than getting knocked off a bike.
Bobby came from a family of loggers, and it was obvious that he had been in the woods for years weight training with tree limbs. He was about my height, about five-seven, but more muscular and physically dominant.
Bobby walked up to Angelo, and I was relieved. I didn’t think he recognized me, or even noticed me. I could tell they knew each other.
“Hey, Bobby,” Angelo said.
“Hey, pussy.” Bobby moved directly into Angelo’s personal space.
“I don’t want any trouble.” Angelo avoided eye contact and turned his body to a passive posture. He was about two inches shorter than Bobby but with a similar build. I wanted Angelo to stand up to him. I thought he stood a chance.
Bobby muscled into Angelo and forced him into the kitchen wall by the frig. Bobby was cornering him like a predator. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know whether I should, or even could. I held out hope that Angelo would push back. Despite Angelo’s deference to Bobby, he didn't appear petrified with fear, just very annoyed. Bobby tried to force the fight from Angelo.
Then suddenly, startling me more than Bobby Kay had previously, Tim Cullen bolted into the kitchen from the living room, although I didn’t even know he had arrived at the party, and grabbed Bobby Kay by the throat and lifted him off the floor. “Stop fucking with my friends!” Tim was about five-nine, probably a hundred and seventy-five pounds. He had long dark hair, longer than mine. He had native-looking features, but he had never mentioned it, so I had no idea. I had never seen Tim be aggressive. He wasn't the kind of guy who looked for a fight. He usually spoke quietly and didn’t make a spectacle or an ass of himself. There was an inherent kindness and confidence about him, but at this moment I thought he was going to kick the living shit out of Bobby. A madness filled Tim's face. He became ferocious, and his eyes were wide and wild.
Bobby Kay’s eyes were red and teary, and it looked as if he was going to full-blown cry. He tried to resist and grabbed Tim's hand on his throat, but Tim overpowered him. Bobby looked like an animal ready to get eaten. I enjoyed his helplessness. Now you know how it feels.
Tim was on the precipice, the point where he was either going tear Bobby Kay’s head off or release him. In an instant, Tim let him go. I think he saw and felt Bobby’s submission. Bobby walked out of the kitchen and left the party.
After this, Tim, Angelo, and I decided to leave the party. We figured Bobby would tell his older brother, Billy what happened, and Billy might show at the party with some of his friends. We didn't want a brawl. Getting drunk and fighting wasn't our thing. Getting drunk, getting high, laughing, and looking for women was how we partied.
We landed at the DA Club on the corner of Third and Main. Tommy Smith was there waiting for us. Tommy was fair skinned with a smooth complexion. He was a handsome, slim guy with long brown hair, who walked with a confident bounce that looked a bit effeminate. He was also a bit androgynous looking, but not as much as I was. I had long dishwater blond hair, and a few times I was mistaken for a girl. One night down at the bars a guy thought he knew me. He thought I was some girl with whom he had sex, but once he heard my voice, he figured out I wasn’t her. Then he said, supposedly to make me feel better, “She was ugly anyway.” He quickly walked away as gracefully as he could. “Catch ya later, man.”
“I’ll get a pitcher.” Angelo headed to the bar and brought back a big frosty glass picture of Special Export. It was high in alcohol content. We didn't need many of these to get all fucked up.
We poured our first pitcher of the night, as the song Hurricane by Bob Dylan played on the jukebox. Tommy played this. He was a big Dylan fan. Angelo was too. My dad was a boxing fan, so I was a boxing fan. I knew more about the fighter, Rubin Hurricane Carter than they did.
As we sat at the round wood table drinking, Bobby Kay walked in with his older brother Billy and Billy’s best friend, George Orlin. Billy had long, shiny, curly, blond hair. He wasn’t much taller than Bobby, but he was a lot more muscular. He was a badass, but he wasn't a bully. He didn't need to be to instill fear. I didn't know who he destroyed, or how he did it, but he had a legendary reputation. Whenever I passed him in the halls at school, I felt an electric fear run through me. I averted my eyes and hoped he wouldn’t notice me. Once when I met his eyes in passing, he said, “What are you looking at?”
“Nothing,” I mumbled and kept walking with my head down so my long hair would hide my face.
George Orlin commanded similar respect and fear as Billy. He was bigger, but I believe he deferred to Billy. Still, I felt exactly the same way around him as I did Billy. With his wavy red hair, he looked like he could have been a descendant of Vikings. He sure acted the part.