I got off work early, and by that I mean around 2:30 AM. I rode my bike downtown, stopped off at home to change shirts and grab a coat, then road further downtown to Saturn Bar for the Mod Dance Party. I'd yet to make it to the Mod Dance Party, as it's always on a Saturday, and I often work until 5 AM on Saturdays. I was glad to be out and it seemed to be shaping into a good night.
Once there, I danced a bit, saw some friends, had a few drinks. Then I took a ride back toward the Marigny for a late night snack, after which I planned on heading back to Saturn Bar. I was riding down St. Claude, as it seemed faster and safer then cutting through the neighborhoods that time of night.
Riding down St. Claude, a white pickup truck pulled up along side me and threw a cup of water at me. I was surprisingly unfazed. The truck pulled off. I passed them at the light. As they drove by again, they threw a glass bottle at me, missing me, it shattered against the wall. They yelled "Faggot" out the window then drove off. I decided it would be best to turn off St. Claude at the next street, but they pulled over at the intersection. I froze for a minute. One large fella got out of the car, shirtless and built like a brick wall. He was about 15 feet away. I said "What's going on?" He said nothing and kept walking toward me. I began to turn my bike around, putting my feet on the pedals, but it was still in 8th gear, and I couldn't get it moving fast enough. He ran at me.
He threw me off my bike and began to hit me. I said over and over again, "Why are you doing this?" His friends, 4 others, stood in a circle around us. One of them began to hit my legs. The big one kept hitting my face and my head. I tried to relax my body and not fight the blows. I didn't resist, except to say "Please stop." He ripped my jacket off and continued punching me while I was face down on the ground. A care driving the other direction began honking over and over again. The car flipped around at the next intersection and pulled along side me. The group of guys ran back to the car just before it arrived. They dragged my bike halfway back to their car, breaking the chain and wrecking the gears.
The woman rolled her window down and said how sorry she was, that she'd tried to keep honking so they'd head off. I told her, in my confused and beaten state that I appreciated it, that I'd be fine. When she took off, I saw the state of my bike. Still not clear headed, all I could do was start walking home with my bike. I went a few blocks to Esplanade and turned left. What happened had just begun to hit me... I began to fall apart, in pain, but more frustrated at the pointlessness of it. They hadn't even tried to steal anything.
A few block down Esplanade, a cop drove slowly by, I waved him down, not knowing what to say. He rolled down his window and I quickly recounted the basic scenario. I think he was especially effected by the story, as he was gay. He had me sit on a stoop and called it in. I told him that I was aware that there was little that could be done, seeing as how all I could say was that 5 white guys in a white truck beat me up. Because of the "Faggot" comment, it went on record as a hate crime. Soon, another cop showed up, one that I know from the Quarter and who comes into my work sometimes. They called in an EMT to check me out. The EMT was worried that I might have a slight concussion and that my jaw may have been broken. They all agreed that I should go to the hospital. I was very reluctant, as I don't have insurance, but I consented as I didn't feel clear headed enough to make a decision contrary to that which was being suggested.
I took the ambulance uptown to Touro Hospital. My friend Natasha came with me, as she was only a few blocks away. I was admitted and questioned and had vitals taken. I waited until the doctor came. He wanted to have CT Scan done, as he said an Xray wouldn't convey a broken jaw. I inquired about the expense and was given a $8,000 to $10,000 estimate. By this time, some of the swelling had gone down and I could open my mouth a little more. I decided to refuse any further care and had myself discharged with a prescription for some pain medication.
That was around 6:00 AM this morning. I went home and slept much of the day. I've now been awake for a few hours, feeling better, but still in shock about this having ever happened. I know the bruises will heal, the swelling will go down, and my jaw will hopefully be fine, but I'm shaken up, startled by loud noises, and disheartened. Little things: the buttons torn off my coat, the ear rings gone, beaten out of my ears, my bike with a few hundred dollars in damage.
I remember riding in the ambulance with the EMT. I turned to him and said "I guess I picked the wrong night to wear tight pants." He laughed.
We spoke of New Orleans, with its ups and downs, with its way ups and way downs... a frequent line of conversation around here. I told him that I was happy to take that bad with the good. A bruised face in this city is still better than the lifeless faces in so many other cities I've lived in.
I would like to write a poem about being beaten up in such a senseless way, but I don't know why I would write it. Perhaps later. For now, I have so little to say about it. I suppose I simply would like some folks to know that it happened.