Suddenly three more homosexuals, as gay as gay can be, were walking up the sidewalk as fast as they could in the same direction the drag queen had gone. I’ve never seen anyone walk as fast as these three guys were without actually being in a run. They were like Olympic speed walkers with a feminine twist - mice scurrying away, thoroughly upset with the situation that had come to their neighborhood. They did not look like happy campers.
I got my first whiff of the tear gas. It didn’t seem like pleasant stuff.
“Get to the car!” Chad shouted at me. I didn’t move. I knew I’d write about everything later on and so I wanted to get as much in my mind as possible. We should have taken the bus or a taxi - instead here’s Chad shouting at me to leave the scene of the best action in years just so his car didn’t get destroyed by cops or protesters or both.
This was one hundred percent prime time fucking comedy.
Chad and my girlfriend were shouting my name.
“Let’s go, let’s go!”
Speeding onto Broadway, we were the only car on the road. The tear gas was suddenly stronger and my eyes started to burn. I’m not sure what Chad was thinking when he turned on the defrost, but instead of it blowing in fresh air, it blew in tear gas and pepper spray. We started coughing and I couldn’t see and Chad slammed on the brakes. We skidded to a stop.
I shouted, “Roll down the windows!” Chad was frantic. Then he pulled his shirt up over his face so he could breathe, and I did the same. But we were still choking and coughing.
My girlfriend shouted, “Keep going! Don’t stop!” She was choking and coughing and crying.
Suddenly a protester in a Halloween mask came running out of an alley, tripped over a curb, stumbled, ran into Chad’s car, slid over the hood, and stumbled the rest of the way across the street.
Chad floored it. Another protester appeared - Chad had to swerve to keep from hitting him. My girlfriend was screaming. I was shouting for her to shut the fuck up. Chad was driving with his head out the window because the car was filled with tear gas. And protesters were appearing out of nowhere, blind and in a frenzy from being gassed. They could no longer function. They were like rabbits jamming out of the bushes onto the road in front of your car, tripping over curbs, speeding across the street.
An army of cops appeared a few hundred feet ahead of us. Chad swore and slammed on the brakes. He put it into reverse and then turned around. He took the next right, then slammed on the brakes again. More cops were marching up the street.
“Shit,” Chad said. “They’re boxing in Capitol Hill.”
We got back on Broadway. The street was desolate except for the occasional protester in a Halloween mask running into an alley. Tear gas drifted closer and closer, cops in full body armor and high-tech gas masks with hoses running into oxygen tanks emerging out of the clouds.
Chad slowed to a crawl.
“How do we get out here?” I said.
He said, “I don’t know. We’ll try an alley or something.”
He took a left into the next alley and again stopped.
In the headlights, a formation of cops appeared. They were just standing there, in full riot gear and gas masks, staring at us. They didn’t move. We didn’t move. Chad was frozen. This was something out of Star Wars. We were face to face with a hundred Darth Vader looking cops.
Finally Chad dropped it into reverse and gunned it, the tires squealing as we flew backwards onto Broadway.
The cops were probably in the alley awaiting orders to march, but that didn’t matter to us. We just wanted to get off of Capitol Hill, but the streets were quickly being blocked off and some we couldn’t see down because of thick clouds of tear gas that were drifting towards Broadway. My girlfriend was screaming and shouting - Chad was swearing and swerving all over the road because his eyes were all fucked up from tear gas and pepper spray - and me, will I probably have some problems because I was getting a kick out of everything. I had my seatbelt on in case we crashed. This wasn’t my car so I had nothing to worry about.
My fear of going to jail forgotten, for me this had become a 3-D ride at Universal Studios. It was a combination of Back to the Future, Robo Cop, Mad Max, and Night of the Living Dead, complete with riot police, protesters in Halloween masks, clouds of tear gas, and terrified homosexuals, all seen from the front seat of Chad’s red 1998 Ford Mustang, which was faster than shit as we sped every direction trying to get off Capitol Hill.
I was having a blast.
The ride came to an end though, Chad having found an opening by cutting across a deserted parking lot and speeding through an alley. We emerged on a street lined with houses. Except for a roadblock to our right at the end of the street, everything looked normal, which was strange because of all the Chaos only a block away.
In the direction of home, we eventually got back on the Evergreen Floating Bridge, the windshield coated with a film of tear gas and pepper spray, Chad driving at 65 miles an hour with his head out the window, the car swerving in and out of the white lines on the freeway.