The first time I saw
The dum dum boys
I was fascinated
They just stood in front
Of the old drug store
I was most impressed
No one else was impressed
Not at all
--Iggy Pop, "Dum Dum Boys"
It was not long after Jimmy had quit school that he started hanging around outside The Maritimer restaurant with some other guys, all more or less the same age, all more or less out of school. When they had money they'd go inside and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. If nobody had any money, they'd hang around until someone came along that did. Mike, the owner of the restaurant, was originally from Syria. Jimmy and his friends thought that maybe he was a Christian, but they were never able to find out for sure. Mike was always coming out and telling them to get the fuck off his steps or he'd call the cops. Mike never did call the cops, not even the time Jimmy got totally wasted and puked all over the steps leading into the restaurant-- just before lunch. Sometimes Mike would give them something to eat for helping him move stuff and other odd jobs.
Jimmy and his buddies occasionally got into this or that or some other kind of shit, but it was all pretty low-key and definitely small-time. They would never have called themselves a "gang". No, they were generally quite content to hang out in front of the restaurant, smoke cigarettes, do some small deals, and get drunk on the weekends.
Sometimes things got weird. One Friday night Jimmy was hanging outside the restaurant with a couple of his buddies--his best friend Fulo, and an older guy, a glue-head named Jerry, who actually lived upstairs. It was a bit late and pretty quiet on the street when they noticed a guy coming towards them. He was walking like he was drunk or stoned, and at first they didn't pay much attention to him. As he got closer, Jimmy realized that he knew the guy. He was one of the Christers from Jimmy's old neighborhood. These were people from the countryside who, for some reason, had built a small fire and brimstone church smack in the middle of a small town neighborhood. Jimmy had always figured that the kids were alright, but their parents were a bit wacky. This guy's name was Freddy.
When Freddy got close enough to get a good look at him, he didn't look so hot. He was white as a sheet and clutching his arm. Jimmy hailed him, but he didn't respond. Instead, he took his hand off the arm he was holding onto, letting loose a stream of blood that must have shot out at least three or four feet. Jimmy, Fulo, and Jerry let out a round of shits, damns, and fucks before coming to their senses. Freddy had been cut pretty bad in some kind of scrape somewhere. Jimmy and Fulo looked at Jerry, who would sometimes rent a car and, in fact, happened to have one parked across the street on that very night. Jerry, like anyone else in a similar situation, spent a couple of seconds fretting about the blood. Jimmy and Fulo reminded him that the car was only a rental. Soon Freddy was in Jerry's rental car and on his way to the hospital.
Jimmy's buddies were generally OK guys. With one exception. Robby. If you'd asked Jimmy back then if Robby was a friend, Jimmy would surely have said yes. Jimmy feared Robby. In fact, any sane person would have feared Robby, because he was a borderline psychopath. One night at a party, Robby thought it would be fun to throw darts at Jimmy. Another time Robby decided to use Jimmy as a punching bag. He smacked Jimmy about 5 or 6 good ones right in the face. What Robby didn't know was that a punch in the face was at the bottom of the list of things Jimmy was afraid of. And really, unless you get it right in the nose, it doesn't even hurt. One time Robby, for no apparent reason, ripped all the buttons off Jimmy's shirt. When Jimmy complained about losing the buttons on his shirt, Robby got a weird look on his face and said, "You want buttons? Have buttons," and swept his arm through the air. This really creeped Jimmy out. That night he learned the word "megalomania" from the dictionary.
For all the times he hung out and got drunk and high with Robby, Jimmy didn't really know much about him (aside from his being a crazy ass motherfucker). Robby didn't talk much about himself except to brag about how big his dick was, how many chicks he'd laid, how many guys he'd beat up, that kind of stuff. Like anyone afraid of having the shit beat out of them for saying the wrong thing, Jimmy would nod and smile at his friend's tales of his exploits. Jimmy actually hated Robby, and would sometimes fantasize about ridding the earth of a worthless scumbag piece of shit...
One night Jimmy and Robby were inside The Maritimer having a coffee. Robby could be generous with people he considered friends, and tonight he was buying the coffee. They were discussing music--a common interest; Robby knew his tunes, and so did Jimmy. Somewhere in the middle of a discussion about the latest Dylan album Jimmy looked outside, saw who was there, and muttered a small "shit."
The first day that Jimmy had started high school he'd managed to get himself suspended for a week--on the first day! Jimmy would tell you that it was completely undeserved. Jimmy, in fact, had done nothing to warrant anyone even noticing him on the first day of high school. Someone, however, had claimed that he saw Jimmy letting off stink bombs in a stairwell at school. That someone was Calvin Smith. Jimmy swore revenge...
Several months later, Jimmy's hanging out with the boys in front of The Maritimer, and Calvin approaches them, asking if they know where he can score something. Jimmy gets his revenge. He arranges a small deal where he takes Calvin's money, and then laughs in his face as he walks away. Calvin is outnumbered, and helpless. He's lost his 25 bucks...
Calvin, somewhat brazenly, comes into the restaurant and delivers an ultimatum: give back the 25 bucks or get the shit kicked out of you. He's got his big brother and some other guy outside. Robby raises an eyebrow. Jimmy's not afraid. Yet.
Jimmy and Robby go outside and Calvin's big brother approaches. He opens his mouth to say something, but doesn't get the chance. Robby whips out a knife from his jacket and, leaping at the guy, takes a big swipe at him. Jimmy almost faints on the spot. This is not what he expected. He spends the next two minutes trying to prevent Robby from killing Calvin's big brother. The panic, the irony, the absurdity, none of this is lost on Jimmy...