Monday, July 16, 2012

Kung Fu Masters.....Not!

The time was the mid to late 70's and the world was in love with Kung Fu. There were TV shows, movies, books, plays, toys, lunch boxes and Bruce Lee's death was still fresh in the mind of the world.

Kung Fu was king and I was in the Marine Corps enjoying life with my buddy Wild Bill.  As I said in another post Wild Bill was a little nuts….Okay, he was fully nuts but he was sure fun to be around.

 Like I said before Bill was a highly decorated Vietnam veteran with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Bill and I also had something else in common besides being from the south and liking sweet tea. You see Bill and I were both Recon Marines.

The Marine Recon is our version of "Special Forces" only better because we were Marines.....Well don't you think that if the Navy, Army, or Air Force "Special Forces" had the chance to be a Marine "Special Forces" they would jump at it?

Well they can't, they aren’t Marines. And they ask themselves all of their life....."I wonder if I could have made it in the Marines?” Well now that I've pissed off half of the readers, I'll carry on. I was joking....kind of....okay maybe half way.

It's a Marine thing.

We trained in the hot California sun and climbed mountains and swam miles with 70 pound packs. They taught us how to use improvised weapons, they taught us how to live off the land, and they taught us how to kill things including people with our bare hands. We learned hand to hand combat; we learned Judo, and even some improvised Martial Arts. Our training was intense every single day.

Getting back to Wild Bill….He liked beer, I was not a beer drinker or anything else for that matter, I just didn't like it.
Still don't.

Guess who always drove?  Yep, it was me and that was okay since I knew I'd get back safe. There was a little bar not far from the base we were at in Charleston, South Carolina we called The Pit, short for The Garbage Pit, I'm not sure of the real name. It was a dirty little place that only served beer and sandwiches. Its saving grace was it had a jukebox. 

Now….Get the picture…Charleston, South Carolina is a Navy town. There is also an Air force base there. So there were about eight to ten thousand sailors and about three thousand airmen in Charleston plus approximately 300 Marines.

We were the MP's.

They sailors and the airmen hated us and the odds were thirteen thousand to three hundred.....The odds were about even. There were bars around Charleston that would have signs in their windows that said "NO DOGS OR MARINES ALLOWED" but the sign was often misspelled in some way. The Pit was one of these places so that's where we went.

There were about eight tables and about ten bar stools at the bar plus one pool table. I’ve already said that Wild Bill liked to drink beer and he liked to fight, right?   I never saw Bill drunk, EVER. The boy could drink four pitchers and you could never tell he had a drink.   That’s an important detail to remember, by the way…..

We had been at The Pit about two hours.  When we got there we saw about ten cars in the lot and every single one of them had a Navy sticker on it. Like I said we had been there a while but the whole time we were there we were being watched by three sailors by the jukebox.

Well this is about the time the fun started.

Drinking two pitchers of beer will make you look for a bathroom and fortunately for Bill there was one in the corner.

Bill got up and headed to the bathroom and I was left at the table drinking my Coke and eating my sandwich. When Bill got up to leave there was a little commotion at the table with the sailor. They started poking each other and shoving each other and talking under their breath. Well two of them got up and followed Bill into the bathroom. 

I sat there wondering if I should follow them and finally I said to myself "There's only two of them".

Well about ten seconds later I heard Bill in a rather loud voice say "What The F*** Do You Think I'm Doing You Stupid Deck Ape?!?"

Then I heard a high pitched scream and a man yelling "Let me go!!!, He made me come in here!!!!".

What followed by a lot of noise. I walked over to the door very slowly and propped up against the wall holding a bar stool I picked up on the way over. The lone friend came over and told me he was going to see if his friends need help. I said, “No, you’re not, you need to go sit down until my friend is through.”  The guy responded with "What are you going to do to stop me"? I said "Do you want me to tell you or show you?” He said "No.", and he sat down. 

About that time it got very quite in the bathroom and everyone in the bar was trying not to pay any attention to what was going on. The door opened as a bloody hand held it open and Bill said "I need your help." 

As I walked in there was one guy unconscious under the sinks and the other guy was half way in a stall. I opened the stall door and it was a mess. Bill had pulled the towel machine off the wall and beat this man with it. This was one of the old kind that had the cloth towel all rolled up and you just the same towel for years.  Remember those?

Anyway this guy was flat on his back on a really nasty floor with a red towel draped over his face. Bill said "What are we gonna do?" I said, "We? You killed um."

I guess Bill felt guilty.  He wanted to get their friend…the lone one… to help us get them to the hospital.  Bill walked out the door and was heading over to the table where the guy was sitting. Bill had not seen himself and I guess I should have said something, but he looked like he had just slaughtered a hog with nail clippers. He was bloody from head to toe, his shirt was torn and he was missing a shoe and one sock. The sailor saw Bill come out and heading to his table. He jumped straight up and ran in place in midair from Bill like you have seen in a cartoon. He bolted out the door and ran down the street.  He might still be running today.

Well, we drug the two guys out and put them in the back of Bills truck and took them to the Naval Hospital and left them in the parking lot.

I'm sure hoping somebody found those old boys.

Now getting back to Kung Fu. Every year in the fall there is a big fair that comes to Charleston, and it's a really big deal. Like I said this year Kung Fu was a big part of the fair. There were a lot of places all over town teaching Kung Fu and there were also no shortage of exhibitions at the fair itself. Bill and I had gone to the fair and as we were walking out we passed one of these exhibitions. There were people jumping and screaming and kicking and punching and more screaming and we had a good time watching.

We headed out to the parking lot along with about a hundred other people. As we were walking to the truck I walked past Bill and turned around and in my best Bruce Lee voice I yelled Hiiiiii Yaaaa, and jumped up and kicked Bill in the chest, not hard but it looked it. He jumped up and got into his best fighting stance and chopped me in the neck and I went down and did a leg sweep and he went down and I dropped on his chest and he kicked me off and I rolled over and got up and he was behind me and got me in a full Nelson.

We were trained how to break that and get the upper hand and that's what I did as I dropped with a reverse leg sweep then I turned and jumped on Bill’s chest.....But it was not Bill. It was one of Charleston’s Boys in Blue. I had my guy on his back pined and Bill had his face down in the grass. At this point we stopped playing and the cops were really pissed. You see while we were playing a crowd had circled us, there several dozen people watching us.

We let the police up and they were both a little like Barney Fife. They were both shaking trying to get the cuffs on us and one was saying "You’re in a lot of trouble mister, we are police officers and you attacked us.”

I really thought it was Bill behind me and we tried to explain that to the police but they were embarrassed by just having their lunch handed to them in front of all those people. We told them we were best buddies and we were playing and not fighting and they said, "We know fighting when we see it."

I said, “Look there's no blood, I'm not hurt....He's not hurt, we were playing.” About that time Wanda came and saved our butts. Wanda had gone out with Bill a few times and she was still a little sweet on him and she also was one of the cop’s sister in law. After about 30 minutes in cuffs they let us go.

Kinda makes you want to rent a Bruce Lee movie, don't it?

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