On scarface

On scarface

Dante Zúñiga-West

On Sacrifice, Dartboards, and the Night J.D. Salinger Died

If you really want to hear about it the first thing you'll probably want to know is that a bar isn't a place of sacrifice … surrender, solitude, cirrhosis, sure, but not sacrifice. Unless you are the bouncer. I'm the bouncer. And being the bouncer is a lot like being the designated driver at a raging house party. It is part drug intervention and part animal planet. The difference is that most interventions are well-planned, emotionally sensitive ordeals, and say what you want about the late Steve Irwin, but at least the wild animals he was pissing off were sober.

I don't know how I got this fucking job. Well, that's not true, but I do honestly have to ask myself what the hell I am doing in this line of work from time to time. Right about now I should mention that I am roughly five foot seven, and a hundred forty-five pounds. Normally, a person of my size would not be employed in this type of profession because I don't look like some Cro-Magnon-gorilla-Frankenstein-manbeast with tattoos on my neck and a head the size of an industrial-grade microwave. But I am a martial arts instructor, and the head teacher of my dojo referred my services to the bar owner.

I want to make it clear that while I do sometimes enjoy physically harming people, I would never actively pursue a situation where that sort of thing could happen, without very good reason. Years ago I dedicated my life to the study/teaching of my discipline, and though that sounds very romantic and all, the brass tacks of the matter is that working a second job is the only way to sustain this dedication. The dojo, though formidable, is a small establishment and working there alone cannot fully financially support me. I make about one hundred-fifty dollars a night while bouncing, and for only this reason, I hold this vocation. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the love of something that kept me alive.

My theory on dreams, lifestyles, achievements, goals, etc, is that to reach them, something will be sacrificed, regardless- and it is always better to choose what it is that will be sacrificed, rather than allow the natural process of stress and striving to choose for me. The latter is how things and people get neglected, pawned, and/or unnecessarily damaged.

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There are many other things I could be doing with my life as an able-bodied educated single young man in the heyday of my late twenties. My mother often chooses to remind me of this, and how she gave up smoking, drinking, contact sports, recreational narcotics, roller coasters, and any aspect of joy in efforts to bring me safely into this world. One of the other things she loves to remind me of is the master's degree I hold in literature, which was paid for in full via scholarship, and which hangs above the old fencing trophies in my childhood room at her house, collecting dust. Why I am not standing at the front of a college lecture room in a collared shirt and Oxfords, teaching Dostoevsky to hung-over twenty-year olds while collecting a professor's salary, is beyond her. That being said, the irony of putting my body on the line in a seedy bar, to humbly sustain a way of life that is devoted to a refined mastery of the body, is something I choose not to think about - unless I am drunk. And I don't get drunk a lot, it hinders my job requirements.

Usually there isn't much trouble. The place I work for is a hick-bar in a folksy college town. The locals are kind, and the drinks are strong. The University's football stadium is located about three blocks from the establishment, so the only real ruckus that occurs takes place in the Fall season- when home games get out. During such occasions, the bar permits me to call in an extra man, just in case. I always call in Haoa, a displaced Hawaiian local boy who also happens to be another instructor at my dojo. He is about one inch and ten pounds heavier than me, arms covered in beautiful Japanese-style tattoos of black bamboo shoots. Before he came to the dojo we work at, he'd left Hawaii to become a successful tournament fighter in Thailand. His fighting career was skyrocketing, as he was one of the only foreigners to consistently hold and defend the championship belt. But the higher up you go in the tournament bracket, the dirtier the game gets on account of the gambling. His last fight there, Haoa was given a large sum of money by a collective of gamblers and told to throw the fight. It was his latest title defense - he hadn't lost to anyone in years. But instead of doing as the gamblers had paid him to, Haoa knocked his opponent out in the first round. As a result, he had to flee the country, or face potentially life-threatening retaliation at the hands of that gambling collective. He has a hard time explaining exactly why he didn't throw the fight, but I understood. We were kindred spirits of some sort, and the fact that our dojo's head instructor often paired us together on weeknights to teach the intermediate students strengthened our friendship. The only time we ever talked about what happened to him in Thailand, he simply said "Some tings bra, you no can

1) how does the bouncer feel

2) what does the last line suggest

3) what problem is the character facing

4) even though the author never says what will the character most likely do