I go drinking with a group of mates on Tuesdays, and have been doing so for many years. As Adrian commented recently, this practice is 'an institution', and over the years it certainly has become one. Anyway, on one particular evening we were at the Crystal Palace up the top of George St. It was towards the end of the night, and a group of travelling English women arrived and sat near us. I was straggling with Chris, and while we finished out beers we joined the girls and had a chat, etc. Chris had to go home, and the girls were leaving to go down to the Scubar, a pub frequented mostly by back-packers just down the road. I hadn't been there before, so I didn't know exactly where it was, but after they'd invited me to join them I wasn't inclined to say no!
So I finished my beer, and went down the road to the Scubar. I arrived there and was on my way to the bar, but needed to get some cash out of an ATM on the way. I asked a few people if they knew where a cash-machine was. When I asked one group of guys sitting at a table smack bang in the middle of the pub, they said "What!” standing up like I'd insulted them. I explained that I was looking for a cash-machine, and they were flustered and rude and eventually dismissed me with some rude comment. I was a little bit pissed off, because I had only been asking where the ATM was, in much the same way you might ask a stranger if they knew where the bathroom was. Regardless, someone else ended up telling me that there was no ATM in the pub, and that I had to go across the road.
I left the pub and went across the road to get some money. I was in high-spirits and having a great night. Perhaps too high-spirits, because when I came back to the pub, as I passed the table of guys that had been ballbags about the cash-machine, I smiled at one of them and said "I can see all the chicks are sitting at this table", then casually went on my way to the bar. I was waiting to be served when someone tapped my left shoulder. I looked over to see who it was, and pretty much just turned my head as a guy head-butted me just under my left eye. I hadn't been at all prepared for it, and fell backwards onto a guy in a wheelchair that was behind me. I just stood up and looked at the guys; the bouncers had already grabbed them (there was at least two, I think three) and were carrying them out of the bar. One guy was staring at me the whole way, with a big tough-guy grin on this face. I just smiled at him and flipped him the bird as the bouncers carried him out of site.
Since everything was over, I turned to the guy in the wheelchair next to me and apologised for knocking him. He was cool, and we started having a bit of a chat, and I offered to buy him a drink. I was chatting with him and about to buy a drink when I was grabbed from behind. Two bouncers had come back and grabbed me and were carrying me outside. When we got to the top of the stairs they just threw me towards the footpath. I turned around and asked "Why are you kicking me out?” They said, "Just keep walking buddy". Having dealt with plenty of bouncers I knew there was no point in arguing, and feeling a little bruised and hardly done by I started walking towards the train station.
I had walked about five meters from the front-door of the pub up Rawson Place, when a big green car pulled up. The guy who had been smiling at me as he was being kicked out was sitting in the front passenger seat with the window down. He leaned out the window and smiled at me and said "You see what we can do?” He had a loud, grating, American accent, and a smug smile to match. I was still looking at him, just smiling back, when the back, right passenger door opened and a guy jumped out and ran (really fast) around the back of the car and just stormed towards me. He let rip with a right hook and clobbered me in the left side of my face. I sort of rolled with it down to my right, then straightened myself up and took a quick step back, as another two blokes jumped out of the car.
I was pretty taken by all this, as wasn't quite sure what to do. I grabbed my phone out of my pocket, and threw it to a dumb-struck girl that was walking past us to my right and yelled “Call the cops“. She just watched my phone sail through the air and smash to the ground, splitting into pieces. I didn't have time to see what she did next, and it gets a little bit confusing then. Basically, 'the fight was on'. The guys starting punching and kicking me. A couple of them grabbed me while another one just punched and kneed my face and body. Since they were holding onto me by my shirt I sort hunched over and pulled backwards, and my shirt got ripped off my body. By this stage I could feel blood streaming out of the side of my head, and my nose and mouth. It was just after my shirt got ripped off that I got really angry and went momentarily berserk. I ran straight at the blonde guy who'd been in the front passenger seat, who was in front of me. I was yelling at him, "Who the fuck do you think you are?", "You can't come to my country and fucking treat me like this!” etc. As I yelled I could see and feel blood spraying off my lips and out of my mouth. I guess it's not every day that you see a guy in the middle of the street with no shirt on, steel-capped boots and blue jeans, screaming at you with blood pouring out of his head, and I could see the startled look in the guys face, but he was still wearing an "I'm slightly satisfied with myself and have no regard for you" smile which just infuriated me more. I just walked steadily towards him, and he sort of trotted backwards for about 20m. We got right up to Pitt St. when his mates started yelling at him, "Quick dude, come back, let's go!” etc. He had to get around me to get back to his car, and he sort of bolted to get around me to my left, but he got blocked by the cars, and had to come within my reach. I tackled him to the ground, and he tried to get up. The only thought that was in my head was "hold on to him until the cops get here", but his mate came over while I was lying on the ground wrestling with this guy and grabbed my hair and kneed me ferociously in the left side of the head about 5 or 6 times.
Those blows to the head made me quite woozy, and I had that distinct feeling that one gets where they are fighting off concussion and clinging to consciousness. While I was getting smashed in the head, the other guy got up and jumped in the car. Then the other guy jumped in the car as it was just driving off. I was sort of pulling myself off the pavement, and couldn't really do much except watch them drive away. As they were driving off, I looked at their licence plate, and repeated it to myself, over and over, then ran to the Kebab shop next to the pub on Rawson Place. I just walked up to the counter and said, "Can you give me a pen and paper?” The customers in the shop looked at me horrified, and backed up to the side of the shop, and the guy behind the counter rushed to grab a pen and piece of paper, he passed them over the counter and simply said "Now get out". Heh, guess I must have been bad for business.. :P
I wasn't interested in sticking around; I went outside and leaned on a table to write down the number that I'd been repeating over and over in my head the whole time. One bloke came up to me and said something about the licence plate number; I don't remember what he said exactly, or what I said back. I was still fighting the concussion, and had a dose of adrenaline in me that would have killed a small child.
After writing down the licence number, I ran up the road, the bouncers who'd kicked me out just sort of looked at me, and I just looked at them. My look said "Fuck you arsehole", their looks said "Shit, maybe we shouldn't have kicked that guy out, there's going to be trouble over this". I went back up to where the fight had been. My watch and ripped and bloody clothes were lying on the ground, and I went to collect my phone. As I mentioned, I'd thrown the phone to some passer-by in the hopes that she'd call the police for me, but it had just landed on the ground. When I'd seen it land as I threw it to her, I'd seen it break into pieces, luckily apart from a few chips and scratches, and it had only really been the battery popping out. I plugged the battery back in, and called 000 (the Australian police emergency number) and told them that I'd been assaulted. I was pretty distressed then. I felt really self conscious too, because no-one was there to support me, and I was bleeding and half naked and lots of people were just staring at me.
I went and sat in the gutter and waited for the cops to arrive. They didn't take long to get there. Apparently some other people had called the police too.
The police basically treated me like shit. There was quite literally 'bad cop' and 'good cop'. I never found out bad cop's name, so he will be referred to as bad cap. 'Good cop' was Constable Quinion. I guess they saw a bleeding, white, drunk, mid-20's man with no shirt and blue jeans and black boots and just 'assumed' that I was an arsehole.
Quite a lot of things happened while the police were there, but I'll just highlight the main ones:
Firstly, they asked me to show them my ID. I just took my wallet and gave it to Quinion. He literally jumped backward about 2m when I leaned towards him to hand it to him. He then explained that I was bleeding and 'he didn't want to catch anything'. Fair enough I guess, but it didn't help make me feel any better. I tried to give him my wallet, and told him to get whatever he needed out of there. He said "I can't take your wallet, because later you might accuse me of stealing it". Wtf?! Yep, that's what he said. Anyway, I just said, "Oh, get fucked" (or something to that effect) and threw my wallet on the ground and walked over to lean on a sign post and feel sorry for myself.
After talking to me for some time about what happened, breath-testing me, and making comments about what I said like "that's what you say", etc. and just generally being arseholes, they went inside the pub to get statements from other people. While they were inside one of the bouncers who'd kicked me out, came over to speak to me. He approached in the same way that a used car sales man would, then said something, I don't remember exactly what, but he was obviously trying to drive an agenda to make sure I did as little as possible to get him in trouble, and I can remember verbatim what I said in reply: "Fuck off". To his credit, he did.
Anyway, the police came back up eventually, and talked with me more. At some point I was breath tested, etc. My wallet remained on the ground, both me and the police refusing to pick it up, so they hadn't got any identification off me yet, even though I had told them my name etc (from memory). They asked me "Do you need to go to hospital?” I said, "I don't know, what do you think? I just got smacked in the head over 10 times and I'm bleeding from my left temple". In his wisdom bad cop said, "We think you should go to hospital". So, someone called an ambulance and bundled me into it. The ambulance guys chucked me on a stretcher, and grabbed my clothes, wallet, etc. I heard Quinion ask the ambulance guy for my wallet so that he could get my ID. I waited in the ambulance while they finished off, and was very close to passing out by then, I guess from shock, concussion, tiredness, etc.
I asked the ambulance guy for my phone, and I rang my Dad:
"Yeah Dad, it's just me. I'm in an ambulance on my way to Prince Alfred hospital. A few American blokes bashed me up. I'm OK, but I just thought I'd let you know".
I think I just wanted to speak to a friendly voice; everyone else had been a fuckwit to me.
Dad didn't say much, just "OK, we'll be there in about 50 minutes". I hadn't expected them to come down, so I was surprised, I guess I hadn't thought about it, I just wanted to tell someone. Given that it's at least an hours drive from my parents place to the hospital, 50 minutes was his way of saying "we'll be there faster than possible", which was totally awesome. :P
I was in the ambulance, just chit-chatting to the guy in the back about what had happened. I was really pissed off with his attitude, but he was a great bloke and really looked after me. The thing that pissed me off was that he said "Well if you hang out at night you have to expect this kind of thing". Fucking what?! No I don't! I couldn't believe that this guy’s mentality was "if you're out in the evenings by yourself then you are just asking to get hospitalised". What sort of a world is it that you can't walk around in at any time without fear of violence? But he had accepted this. That just pissed me off, totally the wrong attitude in my view. I'll get beaten up every night if I have to, but I'm not going to live in fear.
Anyway, the ambulance driver was a Kiwi chick, and she was cool, as she was pushing me in to the emergency room I was telling her a funny NZ joke that I'd heard that day. Can't remember the joke, but we were laughing on the way in.
I ended up getting put into a bed in a ward somewhere. Don't remember all the details now, but basically the police turned up at the hospital. I'm not exactly sure why. I had given them the piece of paper that I'd scrawled the number plate on, and they told me that they'd run the number and hadn't been able to find a car with such plates. I guess that I either got it wrong (quite possible after the number of times I'd been hit in the head!) or else the plates were fake (also quite possible, since I thought that I'd got it right, and there was another guy with me when I wrote it down helping me out). Anyway, given this news, I said "can I see the piece of paper?” They said "No". I explained that I wanted to interpret it for them, in case they had been unable to read my writing. Bad cop said "this is now state evidence and will be held in case it is needed in a court case". I said, "in that case I'd like you to give me a certified copy right now". Bad cop said "No". I said, "I insist". Bad cop said "No". Quinion looked uncomfortable, I looked at him, and he looked at his shoes. I said, "Give me your badge numbers, and a certified copy of the licence plate number that I wrote down". (Not bad for a guy who'd just had the shit kicked out of him hey? ;) Bad cop said, "OK, have you got a pen and paper?” I laughed, because we all knew he was being an arsehole, I said "not on me, how about you get one for me?" He sort of patted his chest, and said, "Nope, I haven't got one" or something like that, basically just being a fuckwit.
After that the cops started murmuring "er, yeah, well anyways, got to go, cya later, best of luck, bye" (almost literally) and just started walking away. I jumped out of my hospital bed and followed them (still with no shirt on, bleeding face, etc. down the hallway. All the other patients and the nurses and everyone was staring at me, the cops had their heads down and were just trying to ignore me as they walked away. I said, "I want to know who you are, and I want a copy of the licence plate number". We stopped in some main sort of registration area, where there were a heap of nurses behind a counter, just sort of looking at us, hoping I guess that I didn't go nuts (I guess I must have looked like I might). Bad cop was really pissed off, Quinion was as uncomfortable as shit. I think Quinion was just about to weaken and give me what I'd asked for, but bad cop chimed in "What do you do for a living?” I said, "I'm a computer programmer". Bad cop says, "Well in that case, I can't give you the licence plate number, because you might be able to hack in and get it and we need to protect those people". What a ballbag. Quinion almost visibly gagged. I just laughed. What else could I do? I said, "Well then give me your badge numbers". Again, bad cop says "have you got a pen and paper?” I walked over to the counter where the nurses were, and said "excuse me, could I please have a pen and paper?” The nurses looked afraid, and confused, they just stared blankly at me, then looked at the police, then looked away and completely ignored me!
I turned around, and cops turned around and walked away, ignoring me too. Then a nurse came up to me and told me to go back to my bed. I was furious. I walked back up to my bed, and then grabbed my smokes out of my jeans and said to the nurse, "Screw this" or something like that, and then went to find my way outside. Pretty much everyone was still staring at me. I didn't care. I just went out the front to have a smoke. There was another bloke out there. We chatted for a while, it wasn't until I was speaking to him and he told me "man you look messed up" that I actually realised that I must have looked pretty bad, until then I hadn't even thought about it, because *I* couldn't see my face. But the pain was starting to kick in, as the adrenaline was wearing off.
I got a call from my Mum while I was outside. She was just telling me that they weren't far off. I told her that I'd cracked the shits and left the hospital, and she kept saying "go back to your bed Johnno", etc. Heh, you've got to love your Mum! ;) Anyway, I stubbornly refused, and waited out the front of the hospital for another 10 or 20 minutes with my new found smoker buddy chatting and waiting for my parents to arrive. Eventually they got there. I was still really pissed off with the police, and the nurses, etc. I told them pretty much everything that happened. Mum said, "Let’s go back inside so they can have a look at you". I said, "no way, fuck them". Then Mum got upset and I felt bad, so I said "OK, Mum, I'll go in for you. Let's go". So Mum and Dad took me back in to the hospital, Mum kept saying "So where's your bed Johnno?", etc. asking about what tests they'd done, etc. You see, my Mum is a nurse. She has been a nurse for a great majority of her career, so she is pretty jiggy with the protocols, etc. I was really glad she was there. Dad was pretty quiet the whole time, but obviously quite concerned. Anyway, once we got back to my bed, I needed to go to the bathroom. All the hospital staff were far more civil once my parents had arrived. It's funny how people treat you differently like that. I think that's pretty shitty, imagine if I didn't have the support of my parents, I would have been alone and at the mercy of a whole heap of people paying lip-service to due process who didn't give a flying fuck about me, but when my folks turned up, everyone was all like "oh, are you OK?", "do you need anything?", etc.
I took myself to the bathroom, and it was there that I saw myself for the first time. Man I was messed up. Both of my eyes were swollen up, my left one particularly badly, in fact the whole left hand side of my head had swollen up like a balloon. There was blood coming from various locations on the left side of my skull and forehead, and it had leaked down my eyes and face and neck, blood was coming out of both nostrils, and clots of blood were stuck to my teeth, so when I smiled I looked like a vampire who'd just finished feeding. Really, I looked pretty bad. Far worse in fact than I felt. The blood had all mostly dried up by then, but I did my best to wash my face while I was in there, it was kind of futile though.
I went back to my bed, chatted and made light with my parents. Then the doctor arrived, took me and x-rayed (or something-rayed) my head (which really hurt, I had to put my head in all sorts of weird angles, and the left side of my head was throbbing constantly by now). Anyway, it all ended well enough. Mum was fuming by the time we'd left though. It's the nurse in her I guess. She was really pissed off, because apparently the rules for care in a situation like mine where you are dealing with head injuries are that you take half-hourly obs (observations) for sometime, followed by less frequent but regular obs. I guess I hadn't made their life easy by 'doing what I was told', but Mum said "that's not the point Johnno, you're entitled to proper care, you were obviously distressed, and you could have been an axe-murderer and you still should have had obs every half hour". At any rate, the hospital ended up getting a letter from Mum, where she told them how disappointed she was in everything that they had failed to do, and she ended up getting some reply from them, but as I recall she wasn't real happy with what it said. The good news is that Mum had read the doctor’s notes on the end of my bed, and in the write up the doctor had said "Mr Elliot. A charming, if intoxicated, individual". Heh, nice one Doc! ;)
So anyway, once I was finished at the hospital, Mum and Dad took me to the police station in Newtown under the advice of the doctor to have photos of my head taken as evidence in case it was needed in the future. We were inclined not to bother, but the doctor had stressed that we should do this, because we couldn't possibly know why they might be required and this was our only chance to do it. So we did. We went down to Newtown and waited for 20 minutes while the police got a camera and took photos, etc. They looked up the details of the incident, and gave me a 'reference number', that I could use to get in touch with the police about the incident. That was about it. I got a lift back to my place, and tried to go to sleep, but there was pretty much no way that I could lie that didn't cause pain to my head, in the end I just gave up tossing and turning, took the pain, and ended up falling asleep.
When I woke up the next day, I inspected the damage. My watch had been smashed, and didn't work anymore. My jeans had been torn at the knees, and had big red blood stains on them. I had been wearing a plain white t-shirt, and this was quite a mess, with blood mostly. That was about it. My knuckles were swollen and cut, I had a few bruises, etc. but mostly my eyes had turned black, and my head just throbbed with pain. I've kept the clothes, and never washed them since, they're a bizzare trophey of sorts.
I had to go to my client's on Wednesday morning. I was really self conscious. I didn't want to turn up looking like I did, but I didn't really have any choice. At least they were on my side; one of the blokes that I work for was particularly pissed off. His comments were along the lines that you can't deal with stupid people who are violent because they can't communicate, so you might as well just take them out the back and shoot them. The scary thing is that I don't think he was kidding!
The week after the incident, I got a call from Constable Quinion. He gave me his name (over the phone) and told me how I could get in contact with him, etc. He said that he'd found video footage of the fight on from some surveillance camera's that I could come down to the station to watch, and asked me to come in and make a statement. I told him that I'd go that night (it was Tuesday again, so I was going to be in the area anyway, since it was pub night). I went down there, and saw him and made my statement etc. Quinion was really awesome. He apologised for how they'd treated me on the night, showed me the piece of paper with the licence plate number that I'd scrawled then sat with me at the computer terminal while we searched on the number and possible similar numbers looking for a car that might match the description. He took me to the conference room to show me the footage that he'd found, but we weren't able to watch it properly because it had been recorded on 'long play VHS' and their VCR couldn't handle long play. Quinion commented that he'd found the guy in the wheelchair at the Scubar, and my story 'checked out', this was funny from my perspective, because he commented that he thought that I was just bullshitting them when I'd told them about the guy in the wheelchair, and I hadn't even considered the possibility that they wouldn't just believe me, I'm just not a liar, come on! I was surprised that he hadn't believed me, and he was surprised that I'd been telling the truth! Anyway, luckily I had a corroborating cripple, but I never did get to buy him that beer..
After I'd finished up there, I swung by the Kebab shop and gave the guy behind the counter his pen back! I basically just wanted to say thanks for helping (a bit :P). I had a brief chat with the guy who remembered me from the previous week, and wanted to know what was going on with the 'case' etc. After I'd finished chatting with him, I headed over to the pub to drink beer with my mates and await my next adventure.
..and that my children, is the story of how I got beaten up for making a smartarse comment to a bunch of fuckwits.
p.s. I never did see those English chicks again.