Monday, November 9, 2009

Super Bowl Boxing, part two: One-Armed Nate

One-Armed Nate was a cool dude, but not the kind everybody would like. He was a total punk rock asshole and he’d come to our house with cheap bottles of whiskey and we’d all get blackout drunk and raise some hell. Mostly that meant destroying our apartment, then going to some party and getting kicked out for being assholes.

He didn’t exactly have one arm; his left arm had grown funny and it was super-short, maybe the length of a baby arm. The hand had three or four stubby fingers and the whole appendage was really only good for hanging his backpack or lifting a bottle of whiskey to his mouth. In fact, it was the perfect size for that, and that was its primary use almost any time I ever saw the guy.

He was pretty pissed about the whole thing. I remember him getting drunk and getting mad and telling me, “I didn’t do anything wrong. What kind of fucked up asshole God just decided I deserved this? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG.” He didn’t look at his arm as he spoke -- he just nodded his head back at it, like it was a person he hated standing at the other side of the room. To this day I get kind of a chill when I remember that.

I also can’t separate One-Armed Nate from Evan Williams whiskey. It was his trademark. He was pretty much always packing a bottle. A lot of guys ended up with reliable bourbon brands, stuff you knew they’d have on them if they had scrounged up any money at all, and that was his. He loved the stuff; it had a label like Jim Beam or Jack Daniels, but it was barely better than stuff like Old Crow.

All right, back to the fight: One-Armed Nate is in the ring with some asshole -- I mean, really, who gets in a ring to fight a guy with one arm? -- and he’s beating the crap out of Nate, who doesn’t appear to be trying very hard. He’s just sucking up punishment.

The guy gets Nate pushed up against the crowd, and Nate reaches down with his one, gloved hand and pulls up his shirt, and he shouts at the guy, “Bring it!”

Then, as the guy goes to town beating the hell out of Nate’s chest and stomach, Nate reaches back with the stump arm and tells somebody to give him that bottle of Evan Williams bourbon, which appears miraculously from the crowd. He grabs it, pivots it up to the ceiling and chugs whiskey. Bubbles are coming up from the neck. He finishes drinking and hands the bottle back to the crowd.

It’s like Popeye just sucked a can of spinach through his pipe.

One-Armed Nate drops his shirt, hauls back and knocks that other guy flat on his ass.

Seriously. He beat the shit out of the guy and it took him all of about five seconds. He just pulled back that one fist, powered it into the guy’s face and the dude was out cold on the floor.
The whole room exploded into belligerent joy. We were all shouting at the top of our lungs, overflowing with an insane raucous drive to kick the walls down and huck rocks at everything and chug beers and whiskey bottles and play loud music and punch each other.

It was right around then I decided that One-Armed Nate was the coolest guy I ever met.

A brief epilogue, if the reader will allow: Nate came around the next day when we were making hangover breakfasts and drinking screwdrivers. He was in a t-shirt and he lifted it up to show us the single largest bruise I believe I’ll ever see in my life. It was six or seven inches wide, started at his belly and went up to his armpit. It wasn’t black-and-blue: it was solid ink black, the whole way around.

So, of course, we poured Nate a good stiff drink and raised a glass to the awesome success of Super Bowl Sunday Fight Night.

Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez