A Sucker Punch Likely Killed My Friend
The conversation we had a couple of months ago would have gone a lot differently if we knew it would have been our last. A lot can change in 30 seconds.
I was in a good mood yesterday. That happens when you abstain from alcohol for 43 days and bike 30 miles before noon. But, as always, the good times are fleeting in my life.
I received a phone call around 2:30 that luckily didn’t send me across the street to purchase a $20 bottle of Tito.
My friend had gotten into an altercation on High Street in the Short North early Monday morning. He was a state champion wrestler in high school and is a guy who knows how to handle himself. He squared up with one guy, only for another to knock him out with a sucker punch he never saw coming. He fell off the sidewalk and smashed his head into the road's asphalt.
Not satisfied with their work, the two attackers stood over his body and punched him repeatedly as his body convulsed. They called him a bitch which is a funny word to use after you needed two dudes to beat one.
I know all this because a posse member posted the video to Facebook with the caption, “So this happened last night,” with a series of crying laughing and skull emojis.
That video has since been deleted (though it’s forever preserved) because it shows the violent assault that likely killed my friend. He is currently in a Columbus-area ICU, brain dead and living on a ventilator. I’m told his family plans to pull the plug on his life if conditions remain the same after Friday.
My friend is the father of a young child.
I’ve known my friend for 15 years. I met him at the University of Montana in acting class if you can believe it. He flipped out when I mentioned in the class ice-breaker that I hailed from Marion, Ohio. He knew Marion since he had family there. He confirmed various landmarks around town, like the Little Red Caboose ice cream stand on the east side of town. We got an “A+” on our final project together.
We became good friends, and eventually, we both returned to Columbus. Coincidentally, my dad bought his dad’s old house in Marion. Neither of them knew that their sons were good friends. We always joked that was God’s way of showing us we were meant to be friends.
It breaks my heart to know that this transpired with me three and a half miles away, sleeping soundly and content with myself for avoiding alcohol during Labor Day Weekend. It’s an accomplishment that now seems so small.
I’m told the cops have the names of the perpetrators. Not hard to do when they post the crime on Facebook and then tag the participants in the comment section. Their lives are over, just like my friend’s, unless they have mountains of cash to live on the lam forever or a previous relationship with the government of a country without an extradition treaty with the United States. Judging from their brain power displayed earlier this week, I’m guessing that’s not the case. They should turn themselves in if they haven’t already.
I frantically searched local media for stories on the assault that occurred in the city’s most famous neighborhood over a holiday weekend. Our corporate media loves to bleat at us about any violent crime. But I couldn’t find a single story.
I want the perpetrators to die in prison. Sucker punching somebody in a street fight is one thing. Repeatedly punching that stranger in the head after they’ve been knocked out is another act entirely. There is a reason why UFC refs are so easy to shield fallen fighters in those situations.
But those idiots were probably drunk, too. And they’re about to learn how quickly your life can change when you decide to throw a punch on the street. And while I will smile at the news of their arrest, I know that throwing them into a violent cage for the rest of their lives will do nothing to bring my friend back to life. It will do nothing for his child or its now single mother. It will do nothing to rehabilitate his killers.
I texted with my friend a couple of weeks back. “Let’s link soon, my G” the text read. “I have some stories for you.”
“For sure, man,” I responded. “Hit me up next week.”
I never hit him up. He never hit me up. Because that’s how life goes as you get older. Responsibilities get in the way of friendships and telling your people you love them. Your friendship is always going to be there. Or so you think.
I could’ve folded and gotten a bottle of vodka. Hell, who would have blamed me? But I didn’t. I instead got on my bike and rode another five miles. While riding, it hit me that I probably will never see him alive again. That caused me to cry all over again.
I’m at peace with his family’s decision. Whatever it may be. I know that he would rather die than live dependent on other people. I’m the same way. But man, what I wouldn’t give to embrace him as the friend he was. To tell him I love him, even if he can’t understand the words.
If not in this life, then in the next. If this is my friend's end, I take solace in knowing that his soul is finally at rest. He deserves that much.
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