Cave liked to get good and drunk and punch things.
Sometimes it was doors and cupboards, he’d curl his ridiculously long fingers into ridiculously large fists and punch dents into the wood until his knuckles were skinned and bleeding.
Other times he’d let his pent-up rage out on a window or two – we’d all be sitting around at another blurry digs party, making insidious efforts with random girls to get laid and next thing a window would smash somewhere and we knew without even getting up to look that it was Cave throwing another one of his inexplicable drunk tantrums.
You’d meet him sober, in daylight hours and he was a reasonable enough guy. You might say he had a ‘kooky’ side to him, but that was about it. He spent a lot of time avoiding the drama department at all costs, despite the fact that he usually got the leading parts in all the plays. It was pretty hilarious actually, he’d skip out on as many rehearsals as humanly possible and then take to the stage on opening night and steal the show. He was a natural.
So yeah, he was a reasonable enough guy, maybe a little crazy, nothing too out of the ordinary. But once he got started on the sauce something else took over and the guy, all six feet five inches of him, became uncontrollable in every way.
He was skinny as a bean pole, but fuck me, it took at least four guys to wrestle him to the ground once he got started. I never got involved, it was way more fun to watch everything go sprawling in every direction in a tornado of whirling limbs as they tried to subdue the raging monster that was Cave after a hard day’s bingeing.
On the night in question I was out at the Rat with other friends when Cave, and all hell, broke loose. I dimly remember getting invited to the party in The Gutter (a friend’s digs) that Cave was at, but I’d decided to opt for regular insanity at the Rat that night instead of the particularly potent strain of insanity The Gutter bred.
If memory serves me right, it was Guitar Jon, Pansy and Mr D who had the pleasure of wrestling Cave that night. He’d been hitting it hard all afternoon and sometime around 10pm decided to pick a fight with the windows upstairs in The Gutter.
Problem this time around was Cave caught a major artery as he drove his right fist through one of the panes and he started pissing blood in dark squirts from his wrist all over the place.
Of course, in his magnificent and drunk state he flat out refused to be taken to hospital and physically assaulted anyone who came near him to try and help him out. It took them half an hour to drag him, literally kicking and screaming, into Pansy’s car so they could drive him to hospital and even once he was inside the car, he fought like an asylum escapee to get them to pull over and let him out.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Grahamstown, things at the Rat were getting rowdy. The usual crowd of loud, drunk jocks that hung out in groups of five or more were belting out James, Counting Crows and Bon Jovi songs at lung-busting volumes while the rest of us grimaced and ordered more tequila.
I swear, the Rat and Parrot in Grahamstown is like some kind of washed up old pirate ship that beached itself in the middle of that ghost-riddled town and refused to budge. Empires will rise and fall, but that place will always stand, a bastion of drunken debauchery, until Judgment Day, and even then, ol’ Satan himself will probably drop by for a smoke and an ice-cold pint.
Anyway, back at Settler’s Hospital, the guys had just managed to wrestle Cave out the car, but noticed he wasn’t putting up the fight he had been before. Somehow they got him to the casualty ward after much drunken swearing and half-hearted flailing on Cave’s part and explained to the shocked nurses what had happened.
He was immediately given some kind of sedative to calm him down and once the nurses had wheeled him off to get him fixed up, the three of them breathed a collective sigh of relief, got into Pansy’s car and went to find a bar.
In four years of drinking in that town, I’d never heard the Rat go as quiet as it did when they walked in there half-drunk, all scuffed up and disheveled from fighting Cave and covered from head to foot in the man’s blood.
They looked like three murderers coming for a drink after their last kill, but they hardly gave a fuck. Pansy ordered a couple of beers and shots while Mr D scanned the room with tiger eyes and Guitar Jon lit a smoke.
From there they got stuck into the earnest job of getting completely fucked up as the jocks around them welcomed them like heroes returning home off some ancient battlefield and bought them one shot after the next while the guys told and retold their story, making it more outlandish with each telling.
I left sometime in the early morning, shortly after Mr D took down one shot too many and ended up puking all over an oil heater in the corner of the room. I think most people left after that.
One thing’s for damn sure though, nobody getting fucked there that night will ever forget the three guys who came sauntering through the door, beat down and bloody, not giving a flying fuck, untouchable in every way.
Silencing the Rat.