Short Story: “Fightin’ Words”
A Rett Bonneville Short Story
By Anne M. Freeman©
The woman was waiting for me at the bar when I got off the stage after my first set, I realized later. I noticed her raising a stink earlier with another woman at the bar, who skipped out after their confrontation. I didn’t have the choice to run. I was the entertainment that night.
“Hey, ass-wipe.” Great, I thought, now she’s harassing me. She moved into my space, filling it with her bar breath and spittle. I scanned quickly for the Tom, the bartender, but he was busy filling pitchers of beer with his back to us.
“I’m talkin’ to you, b*tch,” she sprayed. “Yeah, ya think yer so f*ckin’ la-di-da. How ‘bout we go outside and find out what the hell la-di-da’s good for!” Her bloodshot eyes glowed with rage.
“Did I do something to upset you?” I asked, not caring about the answer from this crazed female thug, just trying to keep the talking stage going until the bartender realized what was happening. What triggered this madness and why was she after me?
“Ya think its f*ckin’ funny singin’ yer ass-hole songs, makin’ fun of folks livin’ in trailer parks, callin’ us trailer trash! Well, how ‘bout I trailer-trash yer f*uckin’ face right now!” She grabbed my blouse with both hands, her grossly pierced and painted face straining hard. Now I was really scared … and suddenly ashamed. My face burned.
“I … I’m sorry. You’re right. I was an ass.”
“That’s right, b*tch. Now yer gonna be more than sorry.” Her weight shifted and I sucked air to yell for Tom.
“Crystal, let her go. Now!” Tom commanded.
Crystal shoved me away, then spit on me.
He said, “Sorry, Rett. I’ll take care of her.”
“No, don’t!” I said quickly. “I’m the one in the wrong, Tom.” I turned to Crystal. “Give me a chance to make it right, Crystal.” She turned her back on me and leaned on the bar. She was going to wait for her chance.
I ran to the bathroom to clean up, my insides twisting as I washed her spit off my face. I had to figure my way out of this mess or Crystal would get me later tonight, probably in the parking lot, or the next time I showed up here. When I closed my eyes to rinse my face, my mother’s face was frowning at me. “Loretta, you were wrong and you better find a way to make it right,” she scolded. Great. Now my mother was harassing me from afar. But, of course, she was correct. My trailer trash song usually went over big, but then, I didn’t normally perform in bars like this one. I vowed I’d never perform that song again. But for now, I had to fix it with Crystal, and I had to do it fast.
Bolstered by my mother’s accusatory but correct words, I strode out of the restroom and up on stage, grabbed my guitar and walked up to the mike.
“I have an apology to make,” I announced. Some of the patrons stopped and looked at me. “Crystal, I’m sorry I disrespected you and anyone else who lives in a mobile home with the song I sang at the end of my set. I was wrong and I’m sorry.”
The bar went quite. Crystal looked panicked – she didn’t know how to react with everyone now staring at her. I had to act quickly before her panic turned into more rage and violence.
“I’m dedicating this next song to Crystal, and I wanna to hear some voices, people! I’m rippin’ out my rendition of Gretchen Wilson’s great anthem, ‘I’m Here for the Party‘!” I slammed into the opening chords:
*I may not be a ten
But the boys say I clean up good
And if I gave ‘em half a chance for some rowdy romance
You know they would …
By now, the crowd was hooting and jumping, singing along. Suddenly, Crystal was up on some guy’s shoulders, pumping her tattooed fists into the air.