“No Guts, No Glory”
A Mort Laitner Short Story
The venue: Blue Jean Blues Bar and Grill, A Fort Lauderdale drinking and eating hangout. A joint that houses a small stage; where the patrons on a Saturday night are packed in as tightly as jeans housing their waitress’ behinds. The smell of alcohol, grease and perfumed bodies permeates the room.
The show: The Blues Brothers Show, a cover duo with their five-piece band. They wore black: fedoras, suits, thin neckties, sunglasses and white cotton shirts which reflected their mood. Two older retired couples, in their mid sixties, sat at a table about ten feet from the stage. They watched, hummed (Da Da—Da Da) and nodded their heads to the beat as the band warmed up to the Peter Gunn Theme. The couples having eaten their dinners, now imbibed cocktails and made small talk about the Blues Brother movie.
I listened, sipped on my first steaming-hot Irish coffee and absorbed the conversation. By the way, I’m one of the older men at that table.
“Hard to believe that the movie came out in 1980.”
“Thirty-five f’ing years ago. Where did the time go?”
“Hard to believe Belushi been gone for some many years.”
“G-d did he do a lot of coke.”
“I wonder what Aykroyd is up to.”
“I don’t have a clue. I’ll Google him later.”
“What were the names of those brothers in the movie?”
“Wasn’t it Jake and Elwood.”
“They were two gutsy guys, not searching for any glory.”
“Yeah your right. Your long-term memory is still plugging away.”
“Those were the days when Saturday Night Live made me laugh.”
“Today the show sucks.”
“Weren’t the brothers on some sort of mission from the Almighty?”
“Yeah and they drove that Bluesmobile, like maniacs, all over Chicago.”
In silence, I continued to listen to the conversation until the show commenced.
Then to my surprise, I watched two 45-year-old men, dressed in tank tops and plaid shorts, situate their portly figures between our table and the stage. Holding their drinks, they acted as if their bodies had taken on a cloak of invisibility.
“What nerve! Quelle horreur! They are invading our space, our turf. They are going to ruin the show for us.”
My friend and I stood up and politely requested, “Gentlemen your blocking our view. Please move to the back of the bar or at least stand to the side of us.”
They both complied. But then the younger guy started to drift back to the space in front of us. He continually bobbed in and out of our space, like the alcohol he had consumed had melted his brain.
He blocked the wait staff from getting by to serve their drinks, while his hands groped the waitresses’ bodies as they tried to squeeze passed him. I thought, “This was all he was getting tonight.”
I listened as three different employees told him, “Sir, you have to move out of this spot and go to the back of the room. We can’t get by you to serve our customers.”
He ignored their pleas. He didn’t give a shit about us nor them. He was looking for a fight. He had managed to push all of my buttons.
My blood started to boil, getting as hot as my Irish coffee. My fists clenched in anticipation of tasting blood and teeth.
This was not me.
I’m a consequentalist. I immediately ran through my risk-benefit-analysis list: arrest, lawyer fees, my license, hospital bills, a civil lawsuit and my name in the paper.
Then it hit me right between my gonads.
“The kids are gone. I am not practicing law. The jury will understand. He wouldn’t have the nerve to press charges. He wouldn’t show up and testify at trial. He is most likely on probation. Life is too short not to do the right thing.”
Take a risk. Seize the moment. Fuck consequences.
No guts, no glory.
I stood up and pointed my index finger in his sweat-soaked face. I yelled with the loudest voice I could muster. “Get your fat ass in the back of the bar now!”
I was in his face. I smelled fear emanating from stinking-drunken breath. He saw crazy and smelt death.
He started to walk toward the back and then twisted around and came back at me.
“Don’t you ever point your finger in my face,” he screamed with fists raised.
“Get your ass in the back of the bar. Right Now!” I sneered. My eyes were locked on his as he slowly complied to my demand.
I sat down with a sense of pride and relief. I took a long sip of my third Irish coffee.
Three young ladies seated behind me voiced excited utterances:
“Did you see that?”
“Did you see the way the guy with the eye patch handled that drunk?”
“We were almost in that fight.”
“If they started punching and missed. We could have had bloody eyes and noses.”
I refused to turn around and face these women. I would act cool, like I participated in bar brawls every Saturday night.
A waitress approached me, placing her hand on my shoulder and her mouth near my ear, she whispered, “Thanks for doing that. That guy deserved it.”
Then owner of the bar approached me, shook my hand and said, “Thanks for doing that. We should have taken care of the situation. With your permission I’m buying your table a round of drinks.”
I smiled and basked in the role of hero. “Sure,” I said, “I have another Irish coffee.”
A few minutes later, another waitress approached. That man at the bar wants to buy you a drink,” she said as she pointed at the man.
“Sure. Tell him thanks.” I replied.
After finishing the drink, I went up to the patron who had bought me the drink to personally thank him.
As he got off the bar stool and he rose six feet and seven inches. He looked like a Hurricane or Dolphin football player. With a firm handshake, he said ,”You did the right thing. I should have got to that son-of-a-bitch before you did.”
“Thanks for your kind words.” I replied.
As I sat back down at our table, I focused in on an empty glass beer bottle. I thought, “The perfect bar weapon to be slammed against the table and with jagged edge thrust toward the neck of my assailant. I had seen it done that way so many times on TV or in the movies, probably on the Peter Gunn Show.”
I scoured the room to make sure the creep in shorts and the tank top wasn’t returning for a third round.
Just as I finished scanning the room, my wife, with a perplexed look on her face, queried, “I did not know you were a fighter?”
I smiled and in a soft voice replied, “No guts, No glory.”
What the readers are saying:
I love this story! I could so relate to trying nicely to tell someone like that to move and getting the finger. I get the manager but that doesn’t help either.—Lynn
I have always appreciated a good storyteller. You do not disappoint!—Bob
Cool enjoyed that story. —Terry
This is my fav.—Ricki
Stuff like this is fantastic. —-One Note at a Time on Facebook
Later that night…..
This is channel 4 News Special Report!
This is the way I would like to roll my friend. I am proud of you. Plus story was damn well written.—Susana
You are a tough guy. Who knew.— Barbara
Dad, great story! I really enjoyed reading it.—Travis
Loved it! Thanks Mort.
Really enjoyed your story!!!— Marianne
Twelve “likes” on Facebook