I say sir, who are you calling a bat?

Story from trip described in travelblog, Big Trip Up North.

(Tour bus - old people in distance)

The blind man with the cane started it. But the other was not blameless.

It was near Pleasant Bay on Cape Breton Island. One of those impossibly beautiful places where the land drops into the ocean. We had pulled off at an overlook, hoping that the sign was right and that we would see whales.

The first tour bus was already there when arrived. It had deposited about 30 - 40 seniors. Most stood at the rail looking out at the gray water. Some, pushing walkers or thrusting out with canes, roamed the parking area. Everybody seemed in good spirits.

No whales were in sight.

The second bus pulled in a few minutes later. The driver maneuvered around the first bus, tapping his horn to clear wanderers out of the way.

(Several of the wanderers seemed offended, which might explain what happened happened a few minutes later - the ferocity of it.)

A lady wearing a baseball cap and a blue wind breaker muttered "Asshole" as she scuttled to one side. A man, moving just enough to let the large vehicle creep by, said, "Stuff it." He carried his walking stick like a weapon . He might have been ex-military or police. Probably an NCO.

After the passengers from the second bus disembarked, the overlook became crowded. People bumped into one another. Walkers got tangled up. There wasn't enough room at the rail. There were muttered apologies and and a few complaints. ("Sorry". "You stepped on my foot." "Watch it." "Be careful." "Ouch.")

The last person off the second bus was a blind man. He seemed especially disturbed. He swung his white cane in wide arcs as he moved around the parking area. His ashen face was contorted in a grin or a grimace. I don't know where he was going. Nobody looked after him; his companions from the second bus stood out of the way. It was only a matter of time before he hit somebody.

As luck would have it his cane slapped the the leg of the man who had made the "Stuff it" comment.

The man bellowed, "Eooww! Watch what you are doing you blind old bat!".

The blind man stopped, pulled himself erect, and, turning in the direction where the other stood, said in a precise British accent, “I say sir, who are you calling a bat?”

The “Stuff it” commenter stepped closer. “You. You blind bat.”

The blind man cocked his head and seemed to concentrate. Then he swung his cane precisely in the direction of the “Stuff it” man’s cranium. However, “Stuff it” must have been anticipating the move because he raised his own stick to block the strike. He pulled his stick back, preparing a counter blow, but the blind man maintained contact between his cane and the other’s stick.

They moved around the parking lot like that, grunting, mouthing breathless curses. Occasionally the blind man would pull his cane back and take a swing which the other blocked. “Stuff it” never managed to get his stick free for a blow.

Members of the two groups offered encouragement, riders from the first group shouting, “Go Fred!” and those from second group yelling, “Whack him good Nigel!”

The two tour bus drivers tried to break it up but seemed reluctant to get in too close. (The driver of the first bus was tall and skinny; the driver of the second bus was short, fat and red-faced.)

After several minutes the participants were gasping for breath and the fight appeared to be winding down. That is when the driver of the second bus, angling into position to grab the blind man thrust his large butt into the stomach of the woman in the baseball cap and the little blue jacket. Screeching "you bloody oalf" the woman flailed out with her hat. Turning away from the flurry of blows, the driver stumbled over another woman from the first bus. She hit him in the crotch with a large handbag. He went "oof!" and staggered into another man - also from the first bus. This man, pink cheek and merry, pulled a canister of pepper spray (the Mace brand I think) from his pocket which he emptied into the fat bus driver's eyes.

The fat bus driver screamed.

Passengers from the second bus joined in to rescue their hapless driver. Insults were offered. Blows were exchanged. A general melee ensued. The parking lot was a sea of thrashing old bodies. Walkers were used as battering rams, canes as swords.

Bob and I managed to sneak away without getting involved. But as we were pulling off, a man, false teeth grinning through the sheen of blood that ran down his face leaned over the door of our open car and said, "I saw you two in Sydney. You really out to join us. It's loads of fun."

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