The Colonel deserved a hell of a lot better treatment than that but….life ain’t fair right?
I remember hearing about it through my friend Sharon, the cop. She had been on duty when the call came in that night and she called me immediately after realizing who the old man was.
At the time, I was playing at a place called…oh hell…what does it matter anymore? I think it was called The Shire in the triangle city area in West Columbia. Triangle City referred to the fact that some moron had laid out a really stupid intersection some years before and a bunch of stores and shops had sprung up around it. To put it more plainly…it wasn’t exactly an historical or cultural destination. Basically, after dark….you went there to get drunk, high, laid, arrested and/or…a combination of all of the above.
Putting it plainly….this was not a high end neighborhood.
I say all this to explain how things came to happen as they did in the next week or so.
Sharon the cop found me hanging out at the Shire after playing a set with my old buddy Tony H.. we were laughing, joking and having a good time until Sharon made her appearance.
She explained in detail what Brett had done to his grandfather.
A brief synopsis of the event goes as follows:
Brett had come home from a day’s disappearance and demanded money and car keys from the Colonel who denied him both.
Brett proceeded to beat the hell out of the old guy and shove him down four brick patio steps while Mrs. Ashley looked on. Brett had somehow locked her inside the sliding glass door while he beat his grandfather unmercifully.
Mrs. Amy called the police after Brett left.
After a few days, Brett turned himself in to the police but not before his grandparents told him that they would not press charges nor testify against him.
Needless to say…the prick skated on all charges.
A week or so, I don’t know…maybe it was a month later…it’s been awhile. Anyway, I saw Brett again. I was doing a solo gig at my neighborhood bar, Ashley B’s when I spotted him walking in with another guy. He went to the game room side of the little place and began to shoot pool with his friend.
As the night went on….I really tried to ignore him. He made this difficult however because he and his friend made quite a bit of noise as they shot pool and slammed shots of something.
It was quite obvious to me that they were especially loud and obnoxious when I was playing. After each song, they got noticeably quite.
Randy, the owner of the bar, asked them several times to quiet down but they kept it up. I just remembered….this was actually a kind of a special gathering for a couple who had just become engaged. They were locals…regulars of the place and friends with a bunch of us. Their names were Darlene and Mike and they were a nice couple.
I know….I digressed.
Anyhow…..slowly but surely, the whole damned place got really tired of Brett and his buddy. Being a blue collar, semi-red necked kind of crowd of about forty people….things got a wee bit edgy pretty quick. As the drinks flowed and the necks got redder….I could see things were going to turn nasty pretty soon. Honestly….I was kind of hoping for just that reaction to these idiots behavior.
A guy named Mike F. (not the guy who was getting engaged) had finally had enough. Old Mike looked like a half chubby science teacher but was actually, one bad assed SOB. Many a stranger had made the mistake of taking him lightly or trying to bully him…much to their displeasure. Mike was one of those guys who seemed to be in a perpetual state of irritation. I suppose that the word which best fit him is ‘surly’. To put it bluntly…he was an asshole but, he was sort of a local legend. He would fight at the drop of a hat and usually prevailed.
Mike F. walked over and told Brett and his partner to shut up. No prelude, no introduction, no discussion. He simply told them to shut up.
Well, instead of simply shutting up, Brett tossed his pool cue across the room, pushed his buddy toward the door and left.
Simple as that.
The night wore on and a good time was had by all.
Until around one in the morning.
I was sitting at a table talking to some friends when Cecil B. came running through the front door shouting.
“Randy! Call 911!” he screamed to be heard over the juke box. “I think Mike is dead!!”
Turns out….Mike wasn’t dead but he wasn’t far from it. His head had been bashed in with a blunt object and he had been damn near stomped to death as he lay bleeding on the ground.
The police were called and Mike was taken to the hospital where he spent a couple of weeks. No evidence was found at the scene and Mike had never seen the attack coming but everyone knew who had committed the crime. No guess work was needed.
The very next night following the attack on Mike, Brett and his friend returned to Ashley B’s, sauntered to the pool tables and began showing their asses again. To top it off, Brett repeatedly asked anyone who would listen one question.
“Anybody else wanna tell us to shut the fuck up?”
There weren’t any takers and Randy told me that almost everyone left the place immediately.
Brett was having a ball.
Well, to make a long story short….
The final straw came a week or so later when I woke up early one morning to the sounds of an ambulance pulling into my neighbor’s driveway. Police cars came screeching up as well. Lights flashed everywhere and I went out to my porch to investigate. After a while, I was able to flag down a cop who explained to me that my neighbor had reported that a man had tried to break into her house.
Do you remember the girl who Brett had tried to spy on?
Yep…it was Layla Collins.
She told the cops that she had seen a guy standing on her back porch making strange noises. The guy was wearing something over his face so she didn’t know who it was but that he was calling her name while masturbating! She screamed that she was calling the police and he went crazy. He lunged at her back door and almost broke through before she told him that she had a gun.
For several days after that, she got anonymous phone calls.
Some guy was singing/laughing the song ‘Layla’ until she slammed the phone down.
The calls continued.
Well….of course, I KNEW who it was and so did the cops but…they couldn’t prove it so…I took things upon myself.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure that I could have kicked Brett’s ass pretty well by myself but honestly, I didn’t want to deal with the aftermath. I didn’t want to ‘get involved’ with the sick bastard and I damn sure didn’t want to go to jail over HIM. So…thanks to an idea that soon presented itself....I did the next best thing.
I’m not particularly proud of my solution to the problem but…it WAS effective.
Here’s what happened next…
Sitting at the bar of Ashley B’s one afternoon, Randy, Cecil, Eddie, Dale and I were discussing the ‘Brett Problem’. I remember the conversation as though it was yesterday. It was a Sunday and the place was technically closed for business but…well…we were just a few friends having a beer and shooting the breeze.
After rehashing the details of why Brett should be shot, stabbed, horsewhipped, castrated, or simply killed, there was a knock on the back door.
Well, more like a hammering really.
“Aw shit!” Randy groaned. “I’ll bet you anything you wanna bet that ain’t the cops!”
He got off his bar stool, walked behind the bar and stared into the kitchen.
“Aw shit!” he repeated. “I wish it WAS the friggin’ cops! It’s Chet and his biker boys wantin’ me to sell ‘em beer.”
South Carolina still had Blue Laws back then…hell maybe they still do. I don’t know. But….back then at least, alcohol sales were a no no on Sundays.
Grudingly, Randy let Chet and his two cohorts in through the back door.
Chet was a well known local figure. The kind of biker who gave biker’s a bad name. He seemed to relish his prototypical ‘Biker’ persona. Everyone who knew him was well aware of his past. He had worked hard all his adult life to build a ‘rep’ and, to his credit…the son of a bitch had certainly done so.
As Randy got Chet’s ‘order’ together, Chet and his buddy’s bellied up to the bar. Chet leaned against the bar and surveyed us.
“Why ain’t you boys in Sunday school this morning?” he asked.
“It’s four o’clock in the afternoon Chet.” Cecil said meekly.
“Well hell!” Chet laughed. “How the fuck should I know when Sunday school lets out?”
The conversation went downhill from there until he happened to ask what we had been talking about when he had interrupted us.
All of the sudden….I had a flash of brilliance!
From that second forward….Brett’s days were numbered.
“We were talking about the guy who’s been trying to rape Layla Collins.” I said innocently as though I didn’t know that Chet was infatuated with Layla. To him, she was like a fairy princess who was to be wanted but one that he wasn’t ever going to be able to have for his own. I had seen him moon over her for a long time. He never tried to force himself on her or really even talk to her much but…..he had a THING for Layla. It was sort of a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ thing going on with Chet and everyone knew it. Hell, we laughed about it….well, not so Chet could hear us but still….everyone thought it was funny.
Between the five of us…..we related what had been going on with Brett. It was obvious that Chet was going into a slow burn. About that time, I noticed the Marine Corps tattoo on Chet’s arm.
Oh hell…..this was TOO damned easy.
Chet had never been in the Marine Corps but, his brother had been killed in Vietnam while serving in the Corp. Chet was a hard core Marine fan.
I just happened to let it slip that Brett had robbed, beaten and terrorized his own grandfather, Colonel Ashley….a retired Marine Corp hero.
Chet and his two friends were drinking and fuming.
While this was going on, Randy, Cecil, Dale, Eddie and I were exchanging knowing glances. We knew exactly what we were doing and, honestly….we were having a ball.
As time went by, we were all stirring the pot.
“The son of bitch oughta be shot.”
“The law’s not going to do ANYTHING!”
“I wish I could shoot that SOB!”
“Somebody oughta do SOMETHING!”
You know....old west lynch mob type talk!
We were doing our best to stoke the fires in Chet and his boys.
It was really going well. The liquor, beer and trash talking were flowing like water until Eddie managed to touch a lit torch to the gunpowder.
“You know….they caught him molestin’ a couple of kids last year but they let him go. The kids were too scared to testify against him!”
That pretty much sealed Brett's sorry fate.
Apparently, only Eddie knew that Chet was the devoted Super Dad of the Bikers! Apparently he had four small kids and doted on them.
The rest is history.
Chet finished his beer and looked at all of us.
I know it sounds like something from a bad “B” movie but this is the truth.
Chet said quietly and simply.
“Problem solved boys….problem solved.”
A couple of days later, a strange thing happened.
Brett was found lying in the parking lot of a Waffle House at three in the morning.
He wasn’t dead although he probably wished they would have killed him.
SOMEONE….no one ever found out WHO….but someone had thoroughly thrashed his ass.
Man….they destroyed this bastard.
He was never the same after that. He was severely brain damaged to the point that he had to be confined. He never walked again and was pretty much blind. Someone had beaten him and then set him on fire but….the guy didn’t die.
Well...actually, he finally did die when he launched himself out of a four story window a few years later but….he did suffer for a few years so….I suppose that was a good thing.
I still can’t believe that his grandparents were devastated by the ‘incident’. Hell, they acted as though a perfectly wonderful grand child had been ‘taken from them’. As though Brett had never harmed them!
I felt bad about that for a long time….still do.
Whether or not I understand their grief…..they DID mourn their grandson’s fate.
And so…I DO feel guilt.
I guess I won’t know the right or wrong of it until that big ‘Ah ha’ day as my Mom says.
All I know is that while I think I would feel better if I had simply shot the SOB myself, I BELIEVE that Brett was evil. Hell…..I think HE knew that he was evil. I and all those involved back then also believe that he would have ended up hurting a LOT of people had he not been stopped.
But who knows if that’s true?
I BELIEVE it’s true but….
I suspect that some part of me HAS to believe it in order to be able to live with myself.