It was 1997, May. I was a U.S. Sailor, twenty-two years old, in excellent condition, and a fantastic mood. I walked down the streets of Seattle - Broadway, specifically. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I was out for my standard, debaucherous weekend in Hillcrest, the queer part of the Emerald City. It was still early for a Saturday, only around nine a.m. There were people seated outside various breakfast spots at tables on the sidewalk, thanks to the popularity of the eateries in that part of town. Additionally, the weather was just amazing; it'd have been crazy to not take advantage of it.
I walked past most of the popular breakfast spots, catching a few appreciative glances as I went. Don't look so surprised. I used to be a hot number. Anyway, there was a little cafe I loved, and I headed straight for it. It was often uncrowded - a tucked away undiscovered gem of coffee, eggs, bread, and bacon. Simple fare, but I'm a simple guy.
That's when I saw him. He was across Broadway, but he stopped, his wild gaze piercing me, even from there. He didn't look, he started across the six lanes of traffic, striding with purpose. I couldn't help but stare as he approached. I thought for sure he would die, hit by someone on the road. Somehow, he made it all the way across. I had enough time to get a good look at him while he transfixed me with both his manner and his appearance. He was only a little over a hundred and forty pounds, though he was almost as tall as me, at 5'10" — knobby joints, the skin was drawn over them thanks to his lack of proper nutrition and food. His brown hair was wild on his head, tangled and long, but those eyes were what I really remember. Those eyes were so sure — Brown, wide, certain.
He pointed at me. "You! You'll burn in His fire for what you are!" Spittle flew from his lips, and he stepped closer. "Repent! REPENT!"
He swung. It was a wild execution of an attack, and my arm came up automatically. I intercepted it easily, and I realized that this man posed no threat to me at all. He was so enraged and addled by a combination of religion, mental illness, and drugs that my safety from him wasn't in question.
Three men saw what occurred. They had just exited the gym, and they pounded down the sidewalk like a male Flight of the Valkeries, all with deadly serious expressions.
They'd not get there in time.
My attacker swung again, and a pure, burning, white-hot rage replaced any fear I may have had. I stopped the latest blow with my forearm, and I viciously stomped down on the side of his knee with my steel-toed boots.
Something gave in the limb, and he crumpled to the ground. He landed on his front, wailing in pain, and I pulled his arms back. Then I sat on him so that he was pinned to the sidewalk like a stricken bug. My three would-be saviors arrived, and one of them possessed one of those cell phones that were beginning to become popular.
As I heard him call the police, I had a terrible realization. 'It's over. My career is over.' I was a U.S. Sailor during Don't Ask Don't Tell. A homophobic bible-thumper just attacked me in the gay part of Seattle. The police report would be my undoing.
I sat there, while venom and bile came from the lips of my wiggling captive. The police arrived a few minutes later. They took statements from everyone gathered who had witnessed the attack, and once they realized he was actually injured, my assailant was escorted by an officer in the back of an ambulance they called to the scene.
The remaining officer was a tall, broad, dark-haired fellow. His hair was cut into the high-and-tight calling card of a U.S. Marine, and he eyed my nervous face. "You're active, huh?" he asked, and I nodded mutely. He sighed. "Well, we've got to submit a copy of the report to your command." He reached and put a warm hand on my shoulder. "That's the limit of our responsibility." I frowned and looked up at his dark eyes. He smiled. "Is there anybody you trust there?"
My story done, I leaned back and took a sip of my wine. My date stared at me, his mouth slightly open. He finally shut his jaw. "Uh, so, so what happened? With your command? Did they throw you out?"
I smirked. "You asked why I didn't want to hold your hand in public, and I told you." Knowing I was a bastard made it all the sweeter to deny him the rest of the story.
"Maybe I'll tell you the rest on our next date."