The Legend of Carlos Zambrano
It was late September and I was in Chicago for business. What kind of business I won't say, but I wasn't someone to be triffled with. I thought I was a big guy, a tough guy. Then I met Carlos.
I was at a small bar on the Northside, McSomethingOrTheOther. Frankly, even if I remembered the name I wouldn't remember the name. I had a martini followed by another followed by a shot. Waiting for the buzz to kick in, I stared with glazed-over eyes at the TV. Some local sportscaster was trying to breath life into another tepid Bears season, but I wasn't buying. Just as the first wave of intoxication started to blur my vision, the air went out of the room. I'd claim I heard a record scratch, bring the music to a halt, but that's just too cliched. Hell, it might have. I barely remember the night. But I do remember him.
He walked into the room like he owned the place. I swear to God, he was ten feet tall if he was a foot and he sure as hell was a foot. Hell, he probably played out a foot at the urinal with plenty of slack left over. When he crossed the window, day turned to night. When he crossed the room, men turned to boys and women turned to expectant mothers. He was a force of nature. He was Carlos.
I swayed slightly in my barstool, staring up at the giant. Through the vodka haze he didn't look so tough. I'm pretty sure he was even smiling, although he could have been baring his teeth. I would believe either. And in the worst decision of my life, I decided he wasn't so special. Why did he get to block out the sun? Why not me. I'm just as special. I'm certainly just as drunk. And so I gathered myself and forced myself onto wobbly legs.
And this is were it gets hazy. I'm fairly certain I poked him in the chest. I know, I know...you don't even have to say it. I can definitely remember the look of surprise on his face as he stepped back, making room for my uneven approach. And then I was in his face, my stinking breath all over him. And then I woke up.
...a bruise on my right check.
He had the presence to take me down with his left hand. That's the legend of Carlos Zambrano.