Austin is known for its bar streets, sprawling out from famous 6th street. 6th street is Texas’s version of New Orleans’ bourbon street. Everything is bigger in Texas. Bars stack on top of, beside, and underneath each other for about a half mile for the main stretch. Over the years, bars opened along the alley ways, up and down the side streets, along the neighboring streets and now covers a massive oval area where you can close your eyes and hit a bar in any direction. With the bars comes late night food options. Pizza is the go to, but Mediterranean pitas are also extremely popular.
We were out on 6th street celebrating a birthday. Basically ignoring the covid situation as everyone is vaxxed and work in exposed jobs already (think retail or server). As the group dwindled to 5 of us my husband has the typical grand idea to get pizza at 1:50am – about ten minutes before the bars close and the pizza places get swarmed by similar tipsy and drunk visitors. Three of us go.
Hoboken was chosen… a pizza join with a brick and mortar on red river street. We make our way the three blocks up, order, and eat. At this point it’s 2:15am and our car is 6 blocks away.
A side bar on red river street: this area is not the best. Not the worst but also not the best. The main city of Austin homeless shelter is one block south and one block west. The Homeless population in Austin has been large since I moved here and gets worse every year. Someone told me that over the course of 12 months the city had gone through 6 different officials trying to solve the problem. An average of a 2 month stay in position. The bars are a bit of an older crowd than that of pure 6th street. I nearly never ventured here to be honest as it just “feels” unsafe. I made a comment to my companions. My bald, 6’1” athletic husband in his mid thirties, and my similarly built marine friend in his early thirties. They shrug it off. They don’t feel uncomfortable in this area so we go.
My husband decides we will wait by the pizza joint and he will run to get the car. My marine friend and I sit on a stoop in front of a bar called Valhalla. I’ve never been to this bar. He has work at 7am the next morning and we talk about his work. He’s between 5 and 6 feet away, also sitting on the stoop. Drunk groups of people walk by giggling and flailing their arms – telling stories and celebrating a successful night out. A black car pulls up to the pizza place and a man gets out to smoke a cigarette, waiting for a full pizza instead of the typical individual slice the rest of the crowd is ordering. I see group of girls stumble into the grass area, and they laugh as one friend spills the contents of her bag. The other girls get pizza and they sit on the curb 20 ft away. I continue talking to my friend… I recall our conversation was about a fancy dog leash he had just bought. He’s talking about how it’s chew proof or something. He can get me a discount from work if I want. I’m looking in his direction and nodding.
Then I hear someone closer than 20 ft away. 10 ft maybe? I was looking to the left at my friend. She’s coming from my right side. She’s screaming “go to hell. You stupid whore” “[email protected]@cling whore. I’ll kill you”. I casually tilt my head to look at the commotion. But the commotion isn’t there. Until I notice she’s quickly stomping her feet in the direction of… me.
I’ve never seen this woman before. She had her hair partially up. She had fabric tied to different clumps of hair, kind of reminding me of ribbons. They are made of old cut up t shirt material. I think it they were grey. At this point I don’t hear what she continues to scream. I just know she’s getting loud, and closer, and I’m sitting with my back up against the bar on the ground. She’s looming over me in just a few split seconds.
She throws something at me. It’s shiny and to me, everything is moving slow. I just got my hands on the ground to push me up. It hits the wall behind me and rebounds to the ground to my right – it’s half of a very large nail clipper. She’s got the other half in her right hand. Now she’s trying to pick it up but having trouble as she’s stumbling, and she accidentally kicks it with her foot. I notice now that she hasn’t been standing or walking straight.
She looks at me again. I notice in her left hand a lit cigarette. She’s close enough she tried to stab the lit end on my leg. Her right hand is jerking in an attempt at a stabbing motion, not really coming anywhere close to me with the other half of the nail clipper. I’ve taken one stumbling push left towards my marine friend who is now standing up, but my heel gets caught on a crack so I remain on the ground. She tries two or three times to make contact with the cigarette but misses. Out of ideas- she starts hucking spit onto me. Three or four times by my count. But Im not sure. My eyes are closed. My marine friend has taken a step forward and places himself between us after the fourth. She looks at him with a scowl and starts to walk away. She stumbles maybe 10 feet from us trying to pick up the half of her nail clipper tool she had kicked earlier. Finally, she disappears down the alleyway to our right. I hear profanity and whore yelled a few more times. I don’t really know what she’s saying but it’s still directed at me.
My husband pulls up a moment later. We get into the car and I slather hand sanitizer on my face, my neck, my chest, my arms. I don’t remember much for the ride home. Just that when we arrive, I bolted for the shower and put it in the hottest setting. Before I step in, I peel my shirt off and stuff it into the trash.