Bruce in the Packet
134. An Incident

It could have been a perfect day. My in-laws took me to an afternoon concert of the Caritas Consort, a superb choral group of volunteering singers who collect to perform at different locales to raise money for various causes. This was their 10th Anniversary Concert performed this time at Saint Woolos Cathedral, with all proceeds going to Eden Gate.

Afterwards, they took me to an early dinner at Junction 28, where I enjoyed venison in two forms. On one side of the plate were slices of venison breast on a bed of braised red cabbage. On the other side, a spiral of venison steak atop roasted root vegetables. Both were covered with a juniper berry and port jus.

They dropped me off at the usual spot, “The Angel”, our quick name for the South African War Memorial which is topped by a bronze angel holding an olive branch. From there it is a very short walk to the apartment, but I did not return to the apartment. Stopping at Saint David’s Hall, I bought a ticket for the concert that had already started. I took a standing position at the back of the hall to catch the last twenty minutes before interval of Tadaaki Otaka conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, performing Britten’s Violin Concerto. During the interval, I took my seat for the second half of the concert, which was Elgar’s Symphony No. 2. At the concert’s conclusion, I took a circuitous route home to pick up fresh fruit from the Sainsbury’s. It wasn’t to be a perfect day.

The incident occurred on the way to my apartment following the stop at the local corner grocery. Entering The Hayes, a plaza-like area in City Centre, I saw a big young fellow in a T-shirt, who I am sure was drunk, bullying a slim, middle-aged gentleman, who, like me, also appeared to be going home with a small bag of groceries. He looked scholarly, wearing glasses. He was dark skinned, with a neatly trimmed mustache. From his accent, I took him to be from India. “Why are you pushing me?” he pleaded with the bully while trying to back away, “leave me alone.” The bully kept saying, “get out of my way,” then pushed the fellow again. It was a very uneven fight, if one could even call it a fight. A fight hadn’t really begun. The bully appeared to be looking for a fight and the gentleman appeared to be trying to avoid one. The bully wouldn’t leave him alone. When the gentleman tried to leave, the bully kept coming back at him. I inserted myself between them and asked, “What’s going on?”

I thought the bully, who was my height, to be merely fat. I wondered who was fatter, me or him. He decided he would push me. He was strong and had little difficulty thrusting me backwards. I quickly sensed that I was not to be the hero of this story, rather the loser, as I could not stand up to him. I could feel the violence flowing through his veins and the weight behind his force. It was more than I had. “Ah, well, you are strong,” he said to me. I was complimented that he thought so, but I was not feeling it. He made me feel like the gimpy old man I have become. The sciatica in my left leg still lingered. With the arthritis in my ankle, I was having a difficult time keeping my balance and holding my ground. What was the appeal of bullying an old man with a limp?

While the bully was pushing me, I kept telling the gentlemen to go, to get away. He seemed too slight and fragile. I felt that at least I could take a beating. Every time I turned my head to address the victim, the bully lurched in and pushed again, keeping me off balance, demanding I stayed focused on him. I asked the gentleman to hold my bag of groceries and to please go, but instead he came back and insisted on standing by my side. He wanted me to leave with him, but I couldn’t. Any time I turned to walk away, the bully came up behind me, so I had to continually confront him. At one point he grabbed the lapel of my jacket. I said to the gentleman, “I can’t leave until you do. Please go. Can’t you see I’m trying to protect you?”

Because the bully was drunk, I thought I might have had a chance on a better day, if only my damned leg worked. With the weak leg, I would not be able to tangle his legs and throw him down. I thought about the injuries I was about to incur, even wondered if he would kill me. Instead of fear, I felt exhilaration. My wife was dead and this would be a noble way to die, attempting to serve justice and do good. Yes, I actually thought that. But it didn’t come to that.

Suddenly, there was a group of young men twenty feet away that I hadn’t noticed before. They turned out to be the bully’s friends and called to him by name. They were telling him to leave me alone, but he ignored them. Then one of them called out, “Can’t you see you’re being watched by CCTV cameras? The police are on their way.” The bully ceased pushing and joined his friends.

The gentleman and I walked together a short distance until we got to the front of my building. I asked how did it get started and he didn’t know. The guy just came up to him and started trying to knock him down. We shook hands, said good night, and I went into my building. You, good reader, can write your own moral to this story. I could not think of one.

Mr Bentzman will continue to report here regularly about the events and concerns of his life. If you've any comments or suggestions,
he would be pleased to hear from you. 

You can find his several books at Enshrined Inside Me, his second collection of essays, is now available to purchase.