Before Cars on BainbridgeWe all know Dave Grohl’s story. Drummed for Nirvana. Played on Nevermind. After Kurt Cobain died, he switched to guitar and started Foo Fighters, then proceeded to win Grammys and sell millions of records.

But what of Nirvana’s previous percussionist, Chad Channing? The one who left the band before it became huge, the one who toiled in obscure clubs; who cut a swath through Europe; who helped bring Seattle music to the world; who played on Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach. What of him?

[Above photo: Before Cars, 2013. From left: Chad Channing, Andy Miller, Paul Burback, Justine Jeanotte.]

For an explanation of the 30 Stories in 30 Days, start at Day 1.

You guys! I never thought I’d say this, but, I am tired of telling you stories! Are you tired of hearing them? Well here’s the good news: you can stop reading them any time. But not me! I have committed to writing them, so here I go again.

Today’s story is kind of brutal, actually. It’s hard to make jokes about a guy getting beaten bloody. I mean, I’m not above it, I’m just saying it was hard. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Read it below.

The First Rule of Fight Club is: You Must Agree to Be In Fight Club.

I worked the fuel desk at three different truck stops while getting my college degree. I guess you could say that interstate commerce helped fund my education. Well, okay, my parents funded my education, but interstate commerce paid for the alcohol and concert tickets that went with it.

The first truck stop I worked at was located at the junction of two roads in the middle of nowhere, Texas. The large complex included a restaurant, liquor store, Post Office, and bait shop/video rental store/dry cleaner (all in one).

It was at this truck stop that I witnessed the kind of backwoods Texas tragedy that made-for-TV-movies are TV-made-for.

My boss, Bill, was a fairly private, soft-spoken and extremely nice guy. And even though he very much minded his own business, there are no secrets in a small town. One’s private affairs are discussed quite publicly, especially by the regulars who spent hours in the restaurant booths sipping coffee and chit chatting. If any local residents were sleeping around, drinking too much or missing church on Sunday, Bill probably knew about it.

Just before midnight on a random Wednesday, Bill and I were getting ready to close up shop when a man came in to buy a 12-pack of beer. I was putting things away in the kitchen. Bill was working the register. The customer was leaving when a second guy came in.

I hadn’t really noticed much about the first guy, but the second guy got my attention. I saw him walk aggressively toward the first guy, getting right in his face and speaking angrily, though surprisingly quiet. It was clear there was some sort of issue and the first guy stood his ground, but looked terrified.

I should have been minding my own business, but I couldn’t look away as Bill walked over and separated the two guys. In his friendly, calm manner, he explained that there was a time and a place to discuss whatever issue they were having, and that this was neither.

That issue, apparently, was that the second guy’s ex-wife had started dating the first guy? And I guess Ex-Hubs was not cool with New Guy taking his place? I don’t know. But based on what happens next, I assume this ex-wife character was some sort of superhero in the sack. Like, her pussy must have been lined with kitten fur and cocaine, or something, because these two gents were about to get into some serious shit.

Still puffed up, Ex-Hubs backed off and walked out the front door. New Guy apologized to Bill for the trouble, but stuck around making extremely awkward small talk until they both saw Ex-Hubs drive away. A little more small talk and then New Guy left through a side door and Bill and I picked up where we left off, getting ready to go home.

One last car pulled up for some gas and a couple got out and waved for us to activate the pump. I walked over to do so, but then I saw them both walking toward the side of the building, staring curiously at something. Then the guy ran inside and yelled, “He’s killing him! Call an ambulance!”

It is worth noting that even though I recognized that this situation was suuuuper serious, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at the way the guy pronounced it “AM-bah-lance.”

Bill ran outside and I called 9-1-1, even though I had no idea what was going on. I handed the phone to the gas guy and heard him tell the operator that a man was beating another man to death on the sidewalk. He repeatedly requested an “AM-bah-lance” and I assume the operator knew what he meant.

I started walking toward the side door to see if I could help, but Bill ran in and yelled at me, “STAY INSIDE!” It was the first time he had ever raised his voice to me. He then took the phone from the panicked customer, gave information to the 9-1-1 operator, and ran back outside.

I tried (or rather, pretended) to keep busy as the police and AM-bah-lance came and went. It was eerie being all alone inside a truck stop, surrounded by sirens and flashing lights. After everyone was gone, Bill came in and, without a word, started filling a large white bucket with hot water. He emptied a gallon bottle of bleach into it and told me to bring it to the side door when the bucket was full.

“Do NOT open the door,” he said. “Just knock and I’ll come get it.”

I’m not that squeamish, really, but I did as I was told. I brought the bucket to the side door and knocked on it. Bill opened the door just enough to pull the bucket outside and the amount of blood I saw–just through the barely-opened door–made me immediately fall to my knees and vomit.

HOW DO WE HAVE THAT MUCH BLOOD INSIDE US? I almost vomited again, just thinking about it.

I filled another bucket with hot bleach water and cleaned up my barf. Then I filled four more and Bill took each one to clean off the sidewalk. He also had to take my keys and drive my car from the side of the building to the front, so that I could leave the store without seeing more blood.

New Guy lived, but it was a fairly close call. His nose had been kicked off his face. His NOSE had been KICKED OFF his FACE.

That’s a real fucked up way to play “Got your nose.”

Ex-Hubs came to the store a few days later, after being released on bail, to apologize to Bill… for making a mess, I think? He seemed pretty level-headed and not crazy, but, you know, he still had that look of a guy that could kick the nose off of another guy’s face.

He also came over to the register and apologized to me. I don’t remember what he said, or what I said, but we were both pretty uncomfortable during the exchange. I mean, it’s not like he borrowed my jacket without asking. He tried to straight up murder a dude at my job. I’m pretty sure they don’t make a Hallmark card for that.

Anyway, I never saw him again, presumably because he did a good bit of jail time. A few months later I got a job at the mall, where the only crimes I witnessed were the repeated purchase of the most terrible ladies’ blouses. Oh, man were they awful. I almost vomited again, just thinking about it.