“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists primarily in dealing with men.”

-Joseph Conrad-

Why are women in hoodies so fucking depressing?

I’m not talking about sweats; those things are awesome! Just as long as they don’t have anything written across the backside. Things scribbled across lovely asses like ‘juicy’ or ‘tasty’, make me feel physically ill. But sweats in general: fantastic! Hoodies on the other hand make beautiful creatures look like slobs or lovers of the meth of crystal. What saddens me even more than the fact that they make the most beautiful specimens of our species look like cheap hussies, is the fact that it always makes me feel a little strange. Not just because women always (!) look sad when they wear hoodies, but because of a thing that happened to me in a bar. Every time I see a hoodie clad female walk by, my knuckles ache. Don’t worry, I am not the kind of guy that smacks women around, completely the opposite. And that is why my hands tingle.

The story is very simple and never as epic as one would like these sort of stories to be. This one is extremely simple actually: Girls is sad, girl dates a dick, dick acts ‘dickish’ (as they so often do), dick hurts girl, friend of girl breaks his hand on dicks’ face. Simple, right? Or maybe not so much…

The plan for that day was the same as it was any other day: Go to class, meet some people after and see where the night may take us. In this case the ‘night’ was Tuesday afternoon, but who gives a damn? We’re students.

The afternoon lectures were canceled and instead of sensibly going to the library and study for a few hours, I decided to drag my friends down to ‘our’ bar; or ‘pub’ as they call it on the island. As I led the way in the bartender smiled widely at us just before his face turned apologetic. “Sorry mate,” he said as I reached the bar, “We usually don’t serve alcohol before one o’clock.” I looked at him in mock horror which made him laugh out loud before pouring my drink. “And give me five pints, please.” I said. He raised one eyebrow at me and asked: “Are you getting drinks for them again?” I shrugged before he added: “You know, people always say British folks are border-line alcoholics. But I think you bring it out in them.” I smiled dryly before answering: “It’s a dirty rotten job but someone has to do it.”

I took the drinks over to our regular table and looked around the pub. There were a few other students sitting a few tables away from us. At the other end of the bar sat a few work-men (proper fucking geezers) having their lunch-time pint. In between there just sat a few ‘normal people’ having lunch. As I sat down, a rough looking girl looked at me and gestured at the pool-table in the corner.

“Let me just have a smoke first,” I said getting to my feet. “Aren’t you joining me?” She rolled her eyes before rolling a ‘fag’. As we walked passed the bar towards the garden/smoking area (stupid puritanical smoking laws and all) the bartender mumbled: “Again with the bad influences.” I grinned before giving him a look that told him to bite me.

Once we had both finished our cigarette we moved back inside and the girl did not even take her coat off. She moved directly to the pool-table and inserted the right amount of change. As the ball rolled out onto the table she looked at me with a slight glint in her eyes. That told me she was feeling lucky and up to trying to beat me again, so I walked over to the bar to get another drink before we began playing.

When my friends and me play pool it’s not like how other people do it. The game works the same and has the same rules; it is the surrounding area that turns into war-zone of words. Turning pool into a much more exciting spectators-sport. As the first game drew to a close the verbal carnage was making half of our group piss themselves laughing. The other half was looking around hoping the other patrons would not mind us swearing like drunken (albeit well-educated) sailors. We doubled-up for the next game as some of the other group members made for the jukebox.

Outside, the sun had already set as we started our umpteenth game (and drink). We were being as loud as ever but no one seemed to mind, as the volume of the music easily matched ours. As I came back from the outside smoking area I noticed something that no one else seemed to have: A small girl dressed in grey slipped past the doormen inconspicuously. She was wearing a grey sweats and a hoodie with the hood up. A thin strand of blond hair looked out of place against all the dark grey of her ensemble. I smiled to myself before reaching the pool-table, where the observation about the grey-girl completely left my mind again.

A few minutes later I felt someone tapping me on my arm and as I turned to see who it was it turned out to be the ‘grey girl’. To my astonishment she turned out to be one of our friends: Beth. She is usually one of the ones out of our group to be the first to join me in the pub so we had already wondered where she was. Smiling widely I said: “There you are! We already wondered why you weren’t in class today.” She just shrugged without looking up at me.

I was about to turn around to announce her arrival to the rest of the group when she yanked my sleeve to stop me. Looking back down at her it dawned on me that she had not said a single word yet, which was unusual for her. She had not even looked up at me yet.

I stooped down a little to try and see under her hood and as I did my stomach recoiled. The entire left side of her face and lower lip were swollen and bruised. Her right eye was red and puffy, clearly caused by a lot of crying. “What the…” But the words got lost on the way to my mouth as her shoulder gave the slightest of shakes. She started crying silently and I saw that some of the people around us noticed there was something wrong. As I imagined she did not want to be bombarded with questions from all of her friends, I took her by the shoulders and steered her towards the door into the garden.

It was completely silent for a minute as we made our way to a bench in the corner of the garden. We sat down and she took a deep breath as if preparing herself for the cannonade of questions that were about to be unleashed upon her. Then she looked up and stared me full in the face. Up until that moment I had not fully freaked out, but the orange light of the heat-lamps showed her injuries in a sharper relief.

“Beth, What the fuck happened to your face?” Was all I seemed able to utter. She almost smiled as she said: “is that seriously the most original way of asking you to come up with?” I told her it wasn’t funny before asking her again what the hell happened to her. She just shrugged again and looked away from me. I had to grab her by the shoulders again and turned her face me. “Fell down the stairs.” She murmured under her breath.

As the penny dropped I felt the color drain out of my face. “Beth, where is Marcus?” I asked in a cold voice. She shrugged again. This time I grabbed her wrists but let go quickly as she winced. Before she could pull her arms out of my reach, I yanked her sleeves up and saw that there were bruises there too. Before I had consciously made the decision I had gotten my feet. “No.” She just uttered and I turned around to face her again. “It’s nothing.” She said, hanging her head and pulling her sleeves down. “Nothing?” I almost yelled at her. “Nothing? Oh, let me guess: the face was because you fell down some stairs and the wrists are just a weird sex-thing gone a bit overboard?” Her shoulders started to shake again and this would’ve usually calmed me back down, but it infuriated me even more. Through the silence saw she mumbled: “We were both angry and we lost control a bit.” “A bit?!?!” I yelled again. She sank into a deeper slouch and sobbed a little louder. “You should yell at me,” she muttered between sobs. “I yelled at him just like last time and he…” “Last time?” I asked as I sat back down next to her. She shook her head as I realized something else. Grabbing her arm again, this time gently, I rolled her sleeve back up her arm. As I looked at the bruises more closely I noticed that they seem to vary in color. “He has done this before, hasn’t he” I asked in a hollow voice. She nodded just once. That little not seem to take all the anger out of me and I wrapped my arm around her. “Tell me what happened.” I just whispered in her ear.

“We got up this morning, and all was well. He made coffee as I had a little bit of a lay-in.  He was so sweet; he brought me coffee and some toast and reminded me of my early lecture. I only just remembered and jumped out of bed. But as I did I also spilled the coffee all over the sheets. They were brand-new; his mother had just bought them for us. Then,” she hesitated at this point. “Then he just got a little angry.”

I sighed. “Darling, a little angry is when they cancel my favorite TV-show. This was not a little angry this was…” “I know what this was.” She said interrupting me. “I’m not sure you do.” I said looking her full in the face. That hatred welled back up as I saw the bruises again. “I left him.” She mumbled. “This afternoon. He did not agree…” Her voice trailed off as I can only imagine what he had done to express that disagreement.

I wanted to put my arm around her again but just before I could do so, she jumped up and said: “So it’s over now. Buy a girl a drink, would you? I seem to have forgotten my wallet.” “Over?”  I uttered.  But before I could go on she had already moved back to the door and opened it. I just signed and followed her.

As we walked back into the bar my mind was still buzzing with hatred and therefore I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen. All I heard was a sharp intake of breath from the small bundle of gray beside me. When I looked up I understood why she had just made that frightful little noise. Standing in the doorway was a wild looking young man. His eyes searching the entire room for something, or someone. My mind still buzzing I could only react naturally and looked down at the girl besides me. As I stared into her battered face something sparked within me. Something I had never felt or understood before: I snapped.

I ran across the room bumping into people on my way, but I did not care. All I wanted to do was get to this man as fast as possible and hurt him as much as possible. He looked surprised as he saw me coming towards him. He opened his mouth to ask me something but before he could, my hand flew up and I felt the sweet sensation of knuckle sinking through that thin layer of flesh before connecting hard with the cheek-bone.

My mental blur seemed not to impede my accuracy as I hit him again and again. His face, his midriff, his shoulder and his face again. As this last blow struck home he raised his arms to try and defend himself but was knocked off his feet. I tried to jump forward to land on him. But before I could bend my knees I felt two sets of arms grabbing me.

Jimmy, the scruffy boy from our group would always had a crush on Beth and one of the door-men tried to restrain me. “What the hell are you doing?” Jimmy shouted in my ear, slightly out of breath with the effort of restraining me. I did not answer for a moment as I was still trying to get at that loathsome little fuck lying on the floor. Then I stopped struggling but the two men did not released their hold on me. “Look at Beth.” I growled and thrusted my head in her direction. I could feel both men turning their heads, freezing for a moment and then releasing me. But before my brain had registered the freedom my eyes noticed the flash of brown hair besides me. It was Jimmy, diving for Marcus. The door-man and I just stood there and we watched how this scruffy man-child lunged for his prey. Jimmy grabbed the front of Marcus’s jacket and attempted to punch him in the face. But Marcus, who seemed ready this time, defended himself by kicking Jimmy in the unmentionables and throwing his attacker off. Struggling to get to his feet he was unprepared for my right foot flying towards him. As it made contact with his face he moaned and fell back.

The blur of punches and kicks that followed have been suppressed from my memory but apparently the 2 door-men stepped in when Jimmy and I were only punching a limp sack of flesh and broken bones.

The bar emptied, except for the people in our group. Some of the girls had taken seats next to Beth. She seemed to have gone into complete shock. She just sat on a stool resting her hands on the bar, staring at Jimmy and me with a mixture of amazement and disgust. The door-men had helped the ambulance personnel load Marcus into the ambulance and were now talking to the three police officers. I was trying to light a cigarette with one hand as the other was currently resting in a bucket of ice. Pete, the bartender, walked over and said: “you know it’s still not allowed to smoke in here, right?” Then he took the lighter from me and lit my cigarette. I nodded my head in thanks before I asked him: “Could you get me a drink?” He pulled a face and said: “Are you sure you want that? The police are going to want to talk to you.” I grinned before replying: “I know, and I also know I don’t want to be the only one in their cell tonight that is sober.” He grinned and poured a fair amount of amber liquid into a glass.

“You boys should have warned me in advance.” He said as he slid the drink over. I just gave him a questioning look as he leaned in and replied: “I could have loaned you my emergency cricket bat, then we wouldn’t have had to deal with the ambulance.” I just grinned at him before he continued: “I suppose I should thank you guys,” he got another questioning look from me. “This town thought this pub was going a bit soft with all the students coming here.” I actually chuckled at that but quickly stopped as the police officers walked in. The one in front looked a few years older than the others and he seemed he out-rank them too, as he was the one that spoke to me.

“You the two boys that caused all this, then?” he asked in a stern voice. “No officer.” I responded before Jimmy could even look up. “My friend here was just trying to hold me back.” The policeman just nodded and then said: “That’s an American accent. Are you a Yank?” “No sir.” “But you aren’t British, are you?” I almost smiled before responding: “No sir.” He nodded again and walked down the bar towards Beth. “Excuse me, young lady,” he said to her in a much gentler tone than he had used with me. “I am led to believe that you were involved in all this somehow.” Beth seemed to come out of a revelry and turned to face the officer. As she did, her hood slid down and we could all see the bruises on her face. The officer’s eyes narrowed slightly before Beth had the time to nod. The officer rummaged in his pockets and took out the little white card. “If you want to press any charges or if anything like this was to happen again…” He handed her the car and walked back to me. Without looking at them he clearly addressed his two fellow officers. “You know the problem with these damn foreigners?  Their passports are so bloody confusing I never know what to write down. Every time I want to get back to them, say when: a potential victim wants to have them arrested.  I always seem to have written down the wrong number or name. Therefore I can never find them again. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?”  He looked me full in the face as he said the last few words and I saw his two colleagues nodding in understanding. I could’ve also sworn I saw the officer winking at me. Then he turned on his heel and said to the room at large: “Your kids stay out of trouble now. And have a drink, on me, to calm the nerves.” Then he turned once more to look at me and said: “You know, the bartender was right, it is still illegal to smoke in here. You wouldn’t want me to give you a ticket now, would you?”



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