A friend of mine recently opened his own catering business. A few weeks back, he asked if I'd help him with a large Bar Mitzvah he was catering at [bus station/event center]. He's always doing me favors, so of course I said yes. The catering itself went off without a hitch (aside from a few bus patrons filching food off our carts), but when the time came to load everything back in the van, things got a little nuts.
We rolled most of the equipment and leftover food out to the sidewalk in front of the station, while two of the women my friend had hired left to bring the van around. I elected to stand watch while my friend and his wife went back inside for the rest of the gear.
While I was waiting, a blocky sedan the color of rotting bones pulled up to the curb, with a woman apparently passed out in the passenger seat. A man with no neck, boxer's ears, and a haircut you could set your watch to lurched out. He looked to be about my height (I'm not tall by any stretch), but he had some heft to him. The top three buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a hairy chest and a thin gold necklace.
He swaggered over to the valet stand with the kind of don't-fuck-with-me confidence reserved for men secure in their own physical prowess. A small family was gathered around—a young man, his wife, and three clinging children.
"Are you the valet?" No-Neck grunted.
The young man smiled politely. "No, we're just waiting for our car."
No-Neck strode over to me next, purposeful. He pointed at the bone-brown car. "That guy's going to stay right there while I go inside and talk to [club owner], okay?"
I don't know whether he thought I was the valet at that point (unlikely, since I was wearing an apron, surrounded by catering paraphernalia), or simply that I worked for [club owner]. Either way, I didn't want to get on this guy's bad side.
"Okay," I shrugged.
Once No-Neck had disappeared inside, the young man called over to me. "What did he say to you?"
"He told me he was leaving his car while he went inside to talk to [club owner]."
"What, did he think you were the valet?" The young man burst out laughing. "The look on your face was priceless. You were like, I DON'T FUCKING CARE!"
I laughed as well, albeit nervously.
The valet arrived shortly with the young man's car. As he ducked into the driver's side, still chuckling, he called to me. "You made my night, bro!"
After the family drove off, my friend and his wife returned with more equipment. My friend's wife stayed with me while he went back in for one last trip. I glanced at No-Neck's car, to reassure myself that the woman in the passenger seat was still asleep, then I told my friend's wife what had happened. She had a good laugh.
No-Neck reappeared, and my heart jumped. But he strode past me, and as he approached his car, I allowed myself a sigh of relief.
Then the woman in the passenger seat opened her eyes.
She pointed an accusing finger at me. "He was disrespecting you while you were inside!"
My first thought was, Has she been awake this whole time?
My second thought was, Oh, shit.
No-Neck rounded on me. "What did he say?"
"I don't know," said the woman. "But that family at the valet stand was laughing and laughing. I don't understand! Why would he disrespect you like that?"
No-Neck barreled up to me, breath steaming from his nostrils. "Because that's what little boys do."
I almost laughed. Tearing down another guy's manhood is the default for alpha males, and at this point in my life, I'm pretty much immune to such petty shit. But I could see two little spots of blood on the lobe of his right ear, and it was becoming increasingly difficult not to think about where they might have come from. "Look, man." I held up my hands. "They asked what you said to me, and I told them. That's it. I meant no disrespect."
No-Neck squared his shoulders and put his face very close to mine, sizing me up. I'd reached the point of fight or flight. I wasn't about to run, but I sure as hell wasn't about to be drawn into a fight with this guy. I had no doubt that if he chose to throw a punch, I would have been laid out.
At that moment, the two women my friend had hired returned with the van. "Are you going to move this car?" one of them called.
No-Neck's eye twitched. A vein in his forehead bulged. He stomped toward the van. "Listen…I'm not having a very good night." His voice was calm, like he was trying hard not to let the rage froth out of him. Even so, he had the air of a man already committed to doing violence. Despite my near bowel-loosening terror, I followed after him. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I wasn't about to let him hurt someone else because of my stupid mouth.
No-Neck turned to stare at me, that appraising look on his face again. By now, the valets and a bunch of other people were milling about. No-Neck must have thought we weren't worth the trouble. He gave me one last scowl, then stormed back to his car, jerked the door open, and drove away.
My friend returned, and I told him what had happened, adrenaline still thumping through my veins, making my hands tremble. We packed up the van and got the hell out of there.
I later learned that No-Neck has ties to the mob. My friend's aunt held a function at [event center] and was brought in the back to talk to [club owner], where she was threatened. Apparently, parts of [event center] are mob-run, and [club owner] is some sort of boss.
Needless to say, I won't be returning anytime soon.