The sun was setting behind the bluffs on the far side of the river, casting an orange glow in the quickening dark. The day had been warm and the night warm also, although I’d hope it’d be considerably cooler. I made up my mind to forgo cooking my own meal and instead try either one of the two other eating establishments open for evening meals. The small café I’d seen on the way through the town was open for breakfast and lunch only, so the sign said. My choices were either the “Rusty Scupper” or “Danny’s Riverside Pub and Eatery.” Before leaving, I decided to check at the campground office and inquire which of the two would be the better choice.
The campground manager assured me either place was acceptable, depending on what I desired. “Danny’s” would be fine if I wanted a burger and fries or pizza; a limited short order menu was available, but there was a fine selection of beer, wine, and liquor. After he said that, he paused and added, “It’s Thursday night so ‘Danny’s’ will be pretty busy. The summer college enrollment is smaller than it is during the regular fall and spring terms, but there’ll still be a pretty good crowd though. Depending on the crowd, they might open the outdoor beer garden, but I couldn’t say for sure. I do know ‘Danny’s’ has a either a DJ or band or something each Thursday.”
I thanked him and as I turned to leave, he asked, “Will you be here through the weekend? I’m full beginning tomorrow night through Monday and have started turning people away. There’s a big family gathering this Sunday and they’ll gather from near and far. I should’ve asked you when you checked in so I do apologize.”
I decided then to stay through at least until Tuesday morning, telling him I had business to conduct in the area, and paid the necessary fees to hold my campsite. With that, I walked back to the camper, puttered around doing some odds and ends, and around eight o’clock drove to town to get something to eat.
The parking lot at the “Rusty Scupper” was not full, in fact, perhaps only half, whereas, the lot at “Danny’s” appeared full, with more vehicles parked along the highway and side streets. I also noticed a police squad car parked across the highway from it in a spot marked “Official vehicles only.” Two uniformed officers sat inside. Deciding I’d hold my appearance at “Danny’s” in abeyance until later, I turned around in the IGA lot and drove back to the “Rusty Scupper,” hoping I didn’t need a reservation.
When I entered, I was pleasantly surprised how nice the establishment was. A rather large bar room was to my left as I entered the main foyer, a door directly in front of me with a sign above it reading “Banquet Room,” and to my right the opened French doors leading to the dining room. A young man, acting as the host, enquired if I had reservation and when I replied “no,” he simply smiled and replied “no problem,” asked if I was alone, and on my acknowledgement, led me to a small table with an excellent view of the river through the large windows on that side of the room. He quietly and quickly lighted a candle on the table, handed me a menu, and informed me my server would be with me shortly.
Quickly, I looked around the room, noting it was well-appointed, clean, and relatively quiet, although there were numerous other diners there as well. Perusing the menu, I noticed one of the dinner specials was an open-faced prime rib sandwich, served au jus, with roasted new potatoes, and choice of green beans, Brussel sprouts, or broccoli as sides. Included with the dinner were fresh baked dinner rolls and a garden salad. As I looked it over, the table busser, dressed in a white shirt, red bow tie, black pants, and a long, white apron covering him from the waist to just about mid-calf, filled my water glass and as soon as he finished, my table server came over.
He was dressed in the same manner, introducing himself as “Cameron,” asked if I was ready to order or would I prefer a cocktail or drink of some sort before I ordered.
“Actually,” I responded, “I am ready to order, but I would like a brandy old-fashioned sweet while I waited for it,” and proceeded to order the rib sandwich, with broccoli as my side, and Ranch dressing on the side for my salad.
When he returned with my drink, I decided to quiz him a bit on the establishment. He was most amicable and answered my questions freely. The “Rusty Scupper” was built originally by a cousin of his grandfather’s and was now managed by his father, but owned by “Big River Enterprises, LLC.” His grandfather’s cousin originally owned “Danny’s” and once it became successful as not only a great pub, but a place for college students from the University in La Crosse, decided their little town needed a more up-scale supper club. He was quite right; according to Cameron, the “Rusty Scupper” seemed to draw from all three states, especially on a Friday and Saturday night.
“Ordinarily, I’d suggest you stop in for our Sunday brunch buffet; it’s absolutely the best around, but we’ll be closed this Sunday for a private party. Usually, you have to have reservations for the buffet and if you want to get in at all, make the reservations no later than the Wednesday before.”
Nodding, I changed the subject to “Danny’s.” “I noticed quite a few cars at the other place; is it always that busy?”
Cameron laughed, replying, “It’s their slow time, except for breaks at the University, since it’s only summer students and many of them are older, back for summer classes only. However, there are enough younger ones who still want to party on Thursday night, so they head down here, among other places. During the school year, the place is packed on Thursdays.”
How well I knew, having graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Thursday nights seems to be party nights.
“But,” he continued with an even wider grin, “at Homecoming, just before Christmas break, just before Spring break, and the two Thursdays before spring finals and graduation, the ‘Rusty Scupper’ has a special party night; music, dancing, dinner specials, and tons of fun! I’ll be a senior next year so I usually only work summers, but I do work those special parties because of the crowds. The tips aren’t the greatest, but the workers all get huge bonuses because of the large crowds.”
“Does your grandfather’s cousin still own ‘Danny’s’? I inquired.
Cameron laughed again, “Not really, one of my uncles, my dad’s brother, manages it, but “Big River, LLC” owns it. Sort of keeps it in the family, if you know what I mean,” and excused himself to check on my order and his other tables.
I couldn’t help but notice, as he walked away, how those black pants he wore molded to his firm, pert butt cheeks. I wondered what was concealed in the front by the long apron as well. Sighing in resignation, realizing I was but day-dreaming and didn’t stand a chance in hell, I turned my attention to my drink while contemplating how in the world I was ever going to wrangle an interview with Bill Iverson and Dan Fielding, the two older gentlemen who were the focus of my visit and potential story. Not only did I have to secure an interview, but I had to receive their permission to write a story, either fiction or creative non-fiction, with their lives as the focal or starting point or as inspiration.
My contemplation was interrupted when Cameron brought, first my salad and, after I’d finished it (crisp, fresh, well-presented, with dressing on the side), my entrée with sides. It was one of the best open-faced sandwiches I’d eaten in a very long time – like, never! It was perfection personified, I thought. When I finished (no dessert, thank you), Cameron presented me with the bill, I offered my debit card for payment and added a healthy tip for him and the table busser. Hey, good food, good service, and the ambiance of the establishment deserve to be rewarded!
Cameron thanked me and added, “Please stop again, but notice we’re closed this Sunday for a private party.”
I decided to drive up to “Danny’s” and see what was happening. The evening was young, well, nine thirty, so I figured the place wouldn’t be too rowdy with college students imbibing heavily, yet! It would’ve been just as easy to walk since it wasn’t really that far, but I wanted my truck nearby. I finally found a place to park it at the far end of the pub’s parking lot, locked it, and walked up to the front entrance. The cop car was still across the street and, just inside the entrance of “Danny’s” two very burly bouncers, about the size of line-backers, asked to see my ID. I smiled at their request and showed it to them. When I did, one of the bouncers asked, “Designated driver; with a group; or single?”
I scratched my head and was about to ask what difference it made, when he grinned, “First time here, right?”
I nodded and he explained, “Green wristband is for a designated driver – no cover charge, free soda and pizza all evening. A yellow wristband means you’re with a group, pay the cover charge, and you go home with the one that brought you- no driving! Red wristband; cover charge, all alone, and we reserve the right to cut you off at any time! We notify the cops out front if we think you need your keys taken or need a ride back to campus. That’s another fifteen bucks, up front when you pay the cover charge, but is refunded when you leave, without assistance or in a condition to drive. Pay the lad at the register and get your red wristband!”
I paid the cover charge and the additional fifteen dollars, received a red plastic wristband and a red token about the size of the old silver dollars. After paying, I did a quick check of my billfold and had thirty dollars left. I figured that would buy me a couple of beers, give me a chance to look over the crowd, and go back to my camper before it got too late.
The bar area was fairly large; along one wall, about half to two-thirds the length, was a wooden bar, with a brass foot rail, and swiveling stools anchored to the floor. Behind it, attended by four smartly dressed in black pants, white shirt, red bowtie, and white apron (outfitted exactly like the waiters in the “Rusty Scupper”), good looking young male bartenders, was a wall adorned with a large mirror and an assortment of alcoholic beverage bottles. A precursory glance gave indication there was very little one could ask for they didn’t have. The bar had an old-fashioned Wild West look, complete with large handled taps for drawing beer, but still very modern and inviting. There were revelers seated at about half of the stools.
About two –thirds of the tables scattered throughout the large barroom were occupied. Each table had a wooden sign, about eight inches high and four wide, with beverage lists and pizzas listed, placed in slots on either side of a napkin holder. Although there were a half-dozen table waiters, all dressed similarly as the bartenders, attending the tables, they only cleaned up empty cans, glasses, mugs, and cardboard pizza trays and wiped the tables. If you wanted a drink or pizza, you went to the bar, placed your order, gave your table number, and paid in advance. The drinks you took with you; the pizza was delivered by one of the table waiters.
Standing, almost unnoticed, in the shadows of the room, near the fire exits, the restroom doors, off to one side of the bar, were four or five rather hefty, strong “line-backer” types, dressed in the same black pants, white shirt, and red bowtie as the rest of the staff. However, these men did not have the long aprons, perhaps to aid their movement if they were needed. As I looked them over, I was convinced I would be good boy; no sense tangling with those bouncers. The men had biceps like I had thighs! Either “Danny’s” was noted for trouble or just the opposite- no trouble wanted or tolerated! For some reason, the second option seemed the most likely, I thought.
I waited my turn at the bar to order an amber red (tap, please) and noticed a small stage with a wooden dance floor, maybe twenty by twenty, tucked into one corner of the room with a DJ busy providing music for the crowd. It wasn’t too loud, but loud enough to attract attention, but no one was dancing. The bartender drew my beer, tossed me a smile (cute shit, I thought), so I dropped a dollar on the bar for a tip, walked away, found an empty table, and sat down to savor the brew and watch the crowd.
It was a mixed crowd of male, female, mostly college kids, but off by themselves, sitting at a table, were three rather rough cut characters who somehow just didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the clientele. I had no reason, other than first impressions, to suspect they were anything else, but thought perhaps they were locals just stopping in for a beer. The rest of the crowd, jovial, celebrating, and enjoying each other’s company as college students are wont to do, were paying no attention to the three interlopers. I wondered, as I watched, how many would be spending the night together in the little motel up the street or stretched out on top of each other in the back seat of a car. I could observe some “touchy-feely” activity going on between boys, boys and girls, and girls; just enough to give every indication before the night was over someone, somewhere was going to get licked, dicked, or both!
The first beer hit the spot, so I meandered up to the bar, waited my turn, and ordered another one, vowing it would be my last. I didn’t want to be picked up for OMVI; besides, I wanted my fifteen dollars back. The bartender, before delivering my beer, asked to see my red chip. I handed it over and he returned an almost identical one; different because it had a large “2” printed in the center.
He grinned when I frowned when looking at the chip, “It’s how we keep track of the drinks red wristbands have. Give it to the guys at the door when you leave.”
Aha, I thought to myself; “we reserve the right” means just that. The method was primitive, yet efficient and I’d bet very effective, especially considering the size of the bouncers at the door and scattered throughout the barroom. I dropped a couple of bucks on the bar as a tip and walked back to my table. I sat, nursing my beer and continued watching the crowd. As I neared the bottom of the mug, I observed the three rough looking characters get up from their table and leave, but lost track of them in the crowd. I decided I’d had enough fun, finished my beer, and headed for the restroom to make a pit stop before I went back to the camper.
The bouncer stationed by the restroom door previously was now over at a table visiting with some rather boisterous young men. They weren’t being obnoxious, but I think he was just cautioning them. I stepped into a foyer or small lobby, before going into the restroom proper through another door. Before opening the second door, I thought I heard muffled voices from within.
I stepped into the restroom and observed, in addition to several urinals and three or four stalls with toilets along one wall, a row of sinks and towel dispensers on the other wall, and in the middle of the floor, the three scruffy characters I’d seen leave the barroom. Two them were holding a small (about my size or smaller) young man pinned to the floor on his stomach. His shirt was shredded and part of it stuffed in his mouth, his jeans were torn and pulled off of him. I saw no sign of briefs or boxers; what I did see was the third burley bastard kneeling between the young man’s legs, fly open and jacking his cock (from what I could see, nothing to brag about), readying it for an assault on the delicate, now exposed anus.
“Hold him still so I can fuck him!” the third man growled to his partners. “The sooner I get to breed him up the ass, the quicker you guys get a turn.”
By chance he looked in my direction, spotted me, and snarled, “Fuck off asshole or you’ll be next!”
“Hey, no problem,” I responded, “don’t think I want to cause any trouble,” did a quick about face and stepped through the door I just came through.
A quick survey of the little ante-room and I spotted a hand-held all-purpose fire extinguisher. I grabbed it off of the wall, pulled the pin, and stepped back in the room just as the rapist was about to mount his victim, snorting, “Hold still you little shit or I’ll kick the piss out of you.”
“Hey!” I hollered, getting their attention and causing them to look at me. “ I changed my mind, I want to play too,” and loosed the fire extinguisher in the face of the guy positioned between the legs of their victim and quickly swept it across the faces and bodies of the other two. All three screamed as the powder from the extinguisher hit their eyes and they fell away from the young man. I ran up, thumped the would-be-rapist on the back with the extinguisher, and threw it at one of the other ones who thought he just might get up, grabbed the young man by the arms, and dragged him, sans pants, out of the restroom!
Evidently, I created enough noise and excitement it brought the bouncer to the restroom to check it out. He was coming in the door as we entered the anteroom,
“Jesus, Robbie,” he gasped and looked at the young man, “what the hell happened to you and where are your pants?”
Robbie pointed over his shoulder, “In there, Hank; three of them thought they’d fuck my ass.”
The bouncer pulled out a two way radio, said something quickly, kicked the restroom door open, and barged in. Not ten seconds went by and three more bouncers pushed through the door and, when Robbie pointed with his thumb toward the restroom, entered quickly to help. Personally, I didn’t think the first guy needed much help; I’d pretty much put their fires out before he got there!
They were followed by one of the bartenders who took one look at Robbie, peeled off his apron, handed it to him, saying, “Wrap this around your waist, wouldn’t want you shocking the paying customers and we’ll get you guys to the office quick.”
Out the door, a few steps behind the bar, and into an office.
“Pete will be here in a minute,” the bartender said as we sat down.
Robbie waved his hand, “Thanks Cole.” It was then I noticed a white wristband on Robbie’s wrist.
Curious, I asked, “What the does the white band mean?”
Robbie shrugged, replying, “Family!”
Thank you for reading “ Fielding Boy” – Chapter Two- “We are family …….”
(Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards)
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