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A New York Night: Bad Guys, Mexicans, an Afghani, a German and a Hero

Last night, I encountered a young Mexican couple carrying an infant on the exit stairs of the local subway. Three rather large young "gentlemen" accosted them, beating the young Mexican man and his young wife, tearing a purse from her hands and ripping the man's pockets open for cash. The young mother lost a grip on her infant, who dropped to steel and concrete steps.

I had just exited the train station and was headed down the stairs when I spotted the brawl. I leaped onto the largest of the three assailants from several steps above the scene and tossed him over the stair railing to the pavement 20 feet below. Grabbing the other two by the collars of their jackets, I wrenched them away from the couple... so, they could recover their infant, who was then tumbling down the staircase to the street.

Doom on me: enter two more bad guys from the platform above us. Seeing the other two coming, I tossed one of the two down the staircase (h-a-r-d), then pushed my thumb into the eye of the other (whose coat I still clutched in my fist.) Exit one more bad guy screaming like an operatic soprano.

The bad news: the other two got to me from behind. I took a sharp blow to the right rear crown of my skull from a two foot length of pipe. Not good - it opened a 2 inch hole in my infamously hard head, from which blood poured profusely. The good news: rather unexpectedly (I'm just assuming this by the looks on the faces of the other two in question), I wheeled left, drew my sizable gerber parabellum, and chased them *over* the stair railing to the street - 20 feet below. Then, I pursued them for four blocks on foot (occasionally making breathy requests for 911 calls from passersby) before I lost them between some close-quartered houses.

During the foot chase, it became clear the perpetrators were functional in English... as I heard intermittent "oh shit!"'s every time they looked over their shoulders and me gaining on them.

As a public service, I'd like to formally announce that, at age 46, I no longer *bounce* when I hit the deck from 20 feet.

On instinct, I doubled back to a car I'd seen two blocks from the platform during the chase - bingo: guess who's clamoring into the car - the two perpetrators. They apparently have trouble getting the key into the ignition. I get within 15 feet of the rear of their car when they burn rubber and weave down the street. So, I head back to the train station where it started.

On arriving, I find the Mexican couple and their child gone. my guess is they may have expected some immigration problems from any police contact or are just plain scared. In any case, two of the other three perpetrators area also gone. The third is still at the bottom of the stairs on the sidewalk limply clutching at his face where the eye *used* to be in the socket.

I kicked him in the groin just about as hard as I've ever kicked anything in my life, to the best of my recollection - and I've kicked quite a few... things... as i recall (to which a pile driver break on my large right toe is a continuing reminder). The gathering crowd abruptly fell back 10 paces from the perpetrator... and me. Not a common reaction for a new York crowd.

Enter new York's finest... three cars on que - post facto. A report was taken, and I was given the customary phone number (that's always busy) to obtain the complaint number and the crime victim's aid number.

We prowled the area for two hours looking for them, with the two officers in my car keeping me penned in the rear seat cage for fear i was still... over-enthusiastic about the hunt. No dice - but the broadcast call was put out for the perpetrators and their vehicle - which (of course) wasn't carrying rear plates.

The obligatory ambulance showed up in the obligatory 45 minutes. Busy night I'm told... full moon. They got one look at the back of my head (and my blood drenched hair and coat) and strapped me into the seat, siren wailing.

Dangit. My quarter pounder's in my pocket and it *ain't* gonna be very appealing by the time the sawbones get done with me. Forget the fries and coke - they hit the sidewalk with perpetrator number three on the subway stairs.

I took four stitches at Jamaica (Queens) hospital from a former Afghani surgeon. This guy was *good* and clearly had field surgery experience. We talked while he needled and stitched... blood still oozing. His entire family - some 20 plus by my conversational reckoning, was killed during the Soviet occupation of his home country.

Predictably, just as the surgeon was completing the first suture, a staff puke enters and asks me to sign "here, here and here". The surgeon went ballistic and bodily pushed the guy away with one hand while holding my half sutured (and now stretched) skull cap. This guy must have been a kick ass wound dresser under fire.

He noticed some familiar scars on my narrow butt, back, face, hands and feet. He knew without a word from me that I had a little mileage on my odometer.

Enter an entourage that even took me back for a second: the two EMS techies and the two NYPD officers who'd carted me around looking for the perpetrators (at my insistence) rather than go straight to the local ER. They were digging into their own pockets for the ER billing charges (the techies looked at my registration form at the ER desk - "no insurance"). Turns out they were all operators at different times and with different outfits over the past 3 decades or so.

On the way out, the surgeon personally went to the galley and brought me back a plate full of fried chicken (typical New York hospital fare), green beans, peas and mashed potatoes on a Styrofoam plate wrapped in plastic wrap. Why? He'd noticed the quarter-pounder-puree in my jacket pocket, and figured out the rest.

I guess it just reminded me... operators everywhere can smell each other at 200 meters. I'm grateful for that. But, there's a post script to this that really made me appreciate the warrior - and the citizen - in all of us. Read on.

When I got back to my place at about 03:00, a neighborhood elder, a gal of maybe 70 or 75, was sitting on my front steps with my gloves. They had dropped out of my coat jacket at the train station. She'd been there, seen me, recognized me, picked up my gloves, walked the five or so blocks to my place, and waited for me on my stoop for something approaching four or five hours... in the f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g cold... wearing only her housecoat and a light jacket.

The lady is German - old world - and while not Jewish, she'd survived some very unfriendly events in Europe during the German occupation of WWII.

She was so cold when I reached the stoop that she couldn't stand up on her own power. I kneeled down to her, lifted her up to her feet, and she hugged me so hard it almost knocked the wind out of my lungs. All she said, with her heavy German accent, was, "I knew you'd want these back. Come over for dinner whenever you like. You're a good man." I escorted her back to her house just down the block, and we said goodnight.

That must have been a sight... a bloodied old coat on me with my freshly gauze-wrapped head, and an old gal in her housecoat... I can just hear the rumors.

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