Chapter One

The Monkey Wore Pants


The chokehold, it’s so misunderstood.

In this little journey through the cosmos that we all blunder through where we’re supposed to be enduring those painful little ‘life lessons’ all designed to make us a better person or whatever load of new age crap they’re trying to force down our throats, there are two truths I know as fact. One, the chokehold is not as simple as it is looks on TV or in movies. Example, some bloke sneaks up from behind, slips an arm around some poor bastard’s neck, applies a little force and boom out go the lights. Usually accompanied by some insipid dialog like “Don’t fight it” or “Just go to sleep.”


If you buy into that facade you’re out of your gourd. People tend not to like having the life choked out of them by strangers or even friends for that matter and will do just about anything to extricate themselves. No sane person is going to say “OK Roscoe, I’ll be a good lad and let you bring me one step closer to meeting my maker.” 

Stupid, really stupid.

In actuality there are really two types of chokeholds, the blood choke and the air choke. The blood choke is where a pro can lock in and in about five seconds it’s lights out, stops the blood flow from the jugular to the brain. In a hand full of heartbeats the brain starts to shut down, everything goes squishy and your legs decide to fold up like grandma’s card table. No fuss, no muss just the asphalt rushing up to greet your face. 

The other, the air choke, different story completely which brings me to the second truth I know as fact. The air choke is excruciating. Extreme amount of pressure directed onto your windpipe flattening it out so no air can get to your lungs, couple of ticks and your brain starts to take a siesta from the lack of oxygen, lights out, game over and you hit the ground like a bag of soup. 

And that’s if you’re lucky.

This all supposes that your assailant actually lets go in time before your eyes roll back into your head for one final time. If they hang on too long it becomes a permanent slumber from which there’s no waking, basically death. And that got me to thinking how much research actually went into timing someone in a chokehold before they wouldn’t be making their next VISA payment? Did they ask for volunteers? Figure out some bizarre party game? “Hi there, pass the peanuts and by the by Michael here is going to grab you around the neck until you’re face down in the shag carpeting so we can time how long it takes not to kill you.” Did someone start counting one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi and then check for no heartbeat?

My case in point, I found myself skulking about the shadows in a darkened ally behind a local strip club called the Frisky Kitty one rather cool night in October. I’ve been following this guy whose wife thinks he’s been banging strippers like a Salvation Army drum and wants proof so when she takes him to divorce court, and as she so delicately put it “she can rip him a new crap hole.” I get to meet all types of classy people in my line of work, but that’s what I do. I’m a Shaman. OK so most people call it Private Investigator but it sounded so cool in the Humphrey Bogart flick ‘The Big Sleep’ I even put it on my first business card, Mac Macallan, Shaman, until I got so tired of explaining “No I don’t work at a Japanese Noodle House. No I’m not some sort of religious fanatic. No I didn’t just make up some strange word.”

So I’m trailing this misfit Jeff around to capture video of him playing trap the clam with tonight’s stripper de jour. Once that’s accomplished I can wash out my eyeballs with hydrogen peroxide trying to excise the memory out of my corneas, burn a couple of DVD copies for the spurned wife and her lawyer and receive a nice bonus by the end of the week. Poking around with some of the local talent I found what’s supposed to be a favored spot for a few moments of purchased moaning and sputtering. It’s off the back alley somewhere between the dumpster and dried vomit, an ideal spot for these two gems. I’m sure years down the road they’ll look back fondly on this moment and share the story with their bastard child. Scoping out the best vantage point to capture their glorious moment of ‘love’ I found that I was not alone and apparently he didn’t take too kindly of my rummaging about video camera in hand. Long curtains of greasy brown hair covered most of his ugly face and he was dressed in some sort of blue/gray plaid shirt and torn blue jeans. My new pal Kenny wanted to know “what’s up” with me and the video camera. Guess my response of “fuck off” was not to his liking.

When he took a wild swing at my head I simply took a step backwards out of danger’s path, unfortunately that’s where I met Carl. And while we weren’t properly introduced I took an immediate dislike to him, probably because the next thing I know he’s got his large sweaty arm wrapped around my throat with every intention of showing off for his little buddy. The video camera I was so carefully holding leapt from my hand. OK, I dropped it because I knew I was in trouble. The very sound of a five hundred dollar video camera careening across the worn asphalt was not especially pleasant but I really didn’t have a choice.

“Hey Kenny, look what I caught.”

He just sounded stupid.

“Choke him out Carl, just like in the fights.” Kenny squealed probably like he did when he pulled off the heads of butterflies as a kid.

Carl, being the obliging dolt friend, about six foot four and maybe two eighty most of which was blubber, did exactly as he was instructed and applied a tremendous amount of pressure around my neck. Yes, the air choke. Goody. Now I know Army Rangers are trained how to easily break this hold by doing this or that, sadly I was never an Army Ranger. In the Police Academy they taught us how to extricate ourselves from this exact predicament, but that was sixteen years and too much Scotch to remember so I did what most people do and flailed about. Well Carl was obviously not a trained professional at the chokehold because during my attempt to break free I was able to catch small breaths of air but to his credit he was quite strong and I knew immediately any amount of wriggling I could do would eventually be in vain. The debilitating pain exploding from my windpipe being crushed mixed with the fact that everything was starting to take on a strange grey hue sent my mind reeling into a panic. I was in trouble, serious trouble, and if something wasn’t done to rectify this soon the best case scenario would be to find myself unconscious in a skuzzy back alley at the hands of these two cretins free to do what they want to me, worst case, I’d be dead because Kenny didn’t tell Carl to let go in time, not a great pair of options. The clock had started and I was running out of time... 

One Mississippi, two Mississippi…