As I was wrapping up practice for our youth basketball team I spotted another parent/coach from across the gymnasium. I was trying to coax his youngest son into playing basketball for my team the following season so I made my way over to him. The kid was a talented baseball and football player so I felt I could teach him the game and he would be a great addition to our team. He was considering it and I knew if I got dad on board he’d agree. I figured I’d make some small talk and ease into it before I gave him my pitch.
“Hey TJ, what’s going on man?”
“Hey Cam, I’m here to pick up Jared.”
We shook hands then looked out on the court at his eldest son enjoying practice in his first ever season of basketball.
“Looks like Jared is having fun out there.”
“Yeah, he don’t know quite what he’s doing yet but he’s having fun.”
“That’s where it starts at. Just like baseball, once you get them to love the game everything else just falls in place. Speaking of which, you know I’ve been talking to Jackson. I’m putting together a team for the winter and I would like for him to be on…”
I stopped in mid sentence after seeing the huge bandage on his forearm.
“Man TJ what happened to you? You been hanging out at Franks?”
I was just making an innocent joke about an incident I heard about from some of the parents of my young players. One of our local watering holes was the site of several stabbings a few nights before. No one was seriously injured but it was not a good look for the biker/sports bar.
“Well, I wasn’t hanging there but I got stabbed.”
I was shocked.
“What? You were one of the stabbing victims?! Hey I was just kidding man. Are you alright?”
He touched his bandage and looked down.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Luckily they didn’t cut any tendons or ligaments.”
He looked a little shook. I caught his eye and asked him again.
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
Slowly he answered me, still gently rubbing his wound.
“Yeah, I’m gonna be fine but I still feel a little anxious around crowds. I feel like I have to look out for people because you don’t know who’s got what and what they might do.”
TJ went on to explain to me the night’s events and how he became a part of this ugly situation. He was home when he received a call from his girlfriend and a group of his other friends. They were at Frank’s having too good of a time and needed a designated driver. He retrieved his intoxicated friends and as they made their way to his vehicle he could see a commotion brewing in the parking lot. TJ thought he saw someone from their party in danger and he went back to see if he was safe. Out of nowhere came the cold steel of the blade slicing into his flesh. He was treated and released but the memory of what happened still weighed on him heavily.
I asked him what caused all of this and he gave me a brief summary of what he knew of the event. I thought to myself how tragic it was that this man was assaulted with a weapon and he wasn’t exactly sure why or by whom. I needed to know more about what happened and who these people were that committed this horrible act. After reading the report of a young man punching his girlfriend and them both pulling knives on anyone who attempted to intervene, I drew my own mental picture of the people they might be and what brought them to this place in their lives.
Cam’s Fictional Account:
“Hurry up bitch. You spend all of your damn time in the mirror. Who you tryin’ ta look good for? We’re just goin’ out for some damn beers. Hurry the hell up before I drag your ass out of there!”
Tammy kept teasin’ her hair not saying a word. Her friend Samantha inquired about her demeanor.
“You don’t ever get tired of him talkin’ to you like that?”
Tammy waved her hand in the air.
“I ain’t studying nothin’ he’s sayin’ in there.”
“But what if he smacks you again?”
“Well if he does, he does. Won’t be the first time and probably won’t be the last.”
Samantha said no more about it but a strange look came over her face as she realized that she needed to choose her friends more carefully. Norman cursed Tammy more but he didn’t escalated to striking her in front of her new friend. Eventually they pulled out of the trailer park and sped down the road.
Norman was in the mood to raise some hell! He hollered out the window and spun the wheels on his big truck every chance he got. He sped into the parking lot pass a row of motorcycles and double parked near the entrance. Norman jumped out and left the two women behind. As they entered they could see him already bellied up to the bar shooting a shot of whiskey with some of his buddies. Tammy and Samantha were left to order their own drinks. Tammy and Norman didn’t spend much time around each other that night but he did watch her like a hawk. She could feel his jealous eyes on her and it excited her.
Samantha found some girlfriends of hers while she was there and secured herself a ride home. She had enough of the Norm and Tammy show. While they were there, Norman would walk by occasionally, pull Tammy to him and whisper threats in her ear. Samantha said goodbye to her new former friend and made a false promise to get together with her soon. Tammy was getting a little tipsy and she was attracting attention from some of the fellas at the bar as she danced by herself to her favorite White snake Song. She twisted and wound up like a wrist watch in her short cut off jean shorts and cowgirl boots. The white bottoms of the pockets stuck out in the front and a little but cheek showed in the back. Her tiny tank top rode up a little showing off her belly ring.
Norman knew that she was acting that way to make him crazy; that’s what she always did. Tammy knew too and she liked it. Tammy was addicted to the chaos. She had no understanding of how to love without violence. Tammy had never been in a healthy relationship before. People who were supposed to love her had been beating on her since she was a little girl and she showed her love by fighting back. She fought back with her fists, feet, nails and especially her words. Tammy would say the most awful things to the ones she “loved”. She possessed a sharp tongue and she cut deep with her words. Things that hurt you the most flowed freely from her lips, but only if she loved you.
As it got closer to last call, Norman got more pissed off with Tammy. He called for his tab and then slammed the payment down on the bar. Norman rushed over to where Tammy was dancing and snatched her by the arm and dragged her to the door, cussin’ and fussin’. She returned his insults and then some, drawing more of his rage out. A few people followed them out, concerned about the girl’s safety. When Norman got her to the truck there was some yelling, pushing and shoving. Then Norman reached back with a closed fist and punched Tammy square in the face.
Women in the parking lot started screaming and more people poured out of the bar. As men approached Norman asking what was going on he pulled a knife on them. That angered some of the men so they closed in on him. Then Tammy pulled a blade of her own and started using it. Norman brandished his knife to keep people off of him; Tammy drew her knife so that she could cut as many people as possible. The fact that they were coming to her rescue didn’t even enter Tammy’s damaged mind. All she saw was, they were attacking her man and she wanted to hurt them. TJ walked into her blade as she slashed at the crowd.
The Ocoee Police arrived and quickly restored order. The four stabbing victims were transported to two different hospitals within minutes. After gathering statements from witnesses Norman Swartz was arrested and charged with domestic battery. Tammy Perkins was charged with Aggravated Battery with a deadly weapon. In her head she did it for love. Fortunately the scars she caused that day on peoples flesh and on Frank’s Place’s reputation would heal but it will take a lot more to remove the deep jagged scar from her heart and mind that caused her to live such a volatile and violent life.