Thursday, January 6, 2011


I arrived at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro shortly before 2 o' clock yesterday afternoon with the intention of dropping off some resumes. It had been slow in getting there, as the first train I had gotten on from Georgia Ave.-Petworth was dysfunctional and spent ten minutes start-stopping before hurrying up to Columbia Heights, dumping its passengers, and speeding away.

This would have been the most interesting thing to happen to me that day, but after getting off the train and riding up a couple escalators, I entered the circular tunnel that led to the station's exit gates, where I saw a man on his back, and standing and leaning over him another man, holding him down and yelling at him, while hitting him in the face.

Though I can't be certain, I'm pretty sure three thoughts entered my head in quick succession:

1. My brother got a concussion two years ago for trying to break up a fight.
2. This isn't a fight, it's a beatdown.
3. Am I really going to walk by as someone gets the living shit beaten out of him?

So I and two other people already present went up and started yelling at the guy on top to let it go. We pulled him off, and as he rose back up the victim started grasping at his legs. This struck me as unusual.

Both of them got to their feet. The aggressor, wearing a dark blue jacket and black beanie, continued to yell at and try to get at his white sweatered quarry, who stood his ground and seemed to have no interest in ending the dispute. I would like to reproduce some of the dialogue of their exchange, but the things they shouted at one another were unremarkable and strangely non-sequitor, with no point but aggression for aggression's sake, so these "quotes" are more impressionism than journalism.

"I'm telling you, man!"



"You know what?"

You get the idea.

The attacker came at the other again, and I stepped in between them, putting my arms out to try to push or hold them apart.

"Come on, guys, just give it up," I said.

At this critical moment my memory fails me: I may have tried to pull the attacker away, or I may have just looked to him after looking to the other guy first. In any case, the aggressive one and I were sharing gazes as he brought his fist-balled right hand back and drove it full speed head-on into my left upper lip and nose.

I recoiled bloody and wondered: jesus fuck, did I lose a tooth? My tongue did a quick circuit around the inside of my mouth and found nothing amiss. I leaned forward to keep from bleeding all over myself, and reached into my left jacket pocket for some tissues originally intended for the snotty vestiges of last week's cold. This is not the first time I've been attacked or hit since I came out here, but it's the first time the assailant has very intentionally drawn blood.

The fisticuffs ended with that.

"I will pay for this man's medical bills," the attacker, now my attacker, said in calm and lucid tones. A policeman arrived and in short order put both of the men in handcuffs. At first he sat them down against the wall next to each other, but they were wont to renew the dispute and so the cop moved the aggressor to the opposite wall.

"I have no problem with paying this man's medical expenses."

After that, there was a lot of clean-up and procedure. A medic checked me out and I was free to leave thereafter. The other man was strangely uncooperative, making me wonder if he's some underling who was "paying the price" for screwing up or something. The offender already had a warrant for his arrest and he was probably going to plead guilty for assaulting me, so there wouldn't be need for a trial. I'm supposed to be get a call today from an attorney to make a statement, but that should be the end of my involvement.

(Also, I might be able to get a copy of the CC video of the incident. I've a morbid curiosity to see how it actually looked--if only to have a McLovin moment to call my own--and might take steps to acquire it.)

I would have gone home then to take it easy, but I had planned to meet a friend at the National Portrait Gallery in a couple hours, and I don't like cancelling plans. So in the meantime I walked and sat around Chinatown pressing some frozen Chinese pork meatballs to my lip. I even filled out a job application.

A day later there is surprisingly little damage. Aside from the scrapes on my lower lip the only visible sign of the attack is a small purple welt on the inside of the lip above. My nose is still a bit sore, but that's about it.

I wanted to have a pithy closer for this story, but my wit seems to be running dry. I'm a little exhausted right now--there's more going on behind the scenes, much more--and I am frankly looking forward to a little boredom.


  1. Jeez, BtA, you've had some initiation into DC. Maybe you should move to nice, safe, NYC. . . .

    I hope you're doing all right.

  2. I hope you understand the hatred is deep seeded.