It All Started With Vaughn

            It was mid summer in my last year at Langley when Vaughn came to our shop after PCSing from England. Up until that point, where there was occasional heart ache when things don’t work out as we expect, things for the most part were very good. I had a roommate whose company I enjoyed enough to not try to make him leave at every moment, much like the early days of Princeton. I had a best friend in Tiff, who despite all that had transpired, remained my closest companion most of the waking moments of the day. My social network was excellent and I worked in a tight knit shop where nearly everyone got along. What could possibly go wrong?

      Shop life at the time was also good. Charlie had departed for the UK and most of the rest of the assholes had also dropped off one by one leaving things fairly calm. We had frequent parties, fight nights where we would gather for pay per view events, and a surprising lack of tension. The most violence we ever saw occurred in the old vs. young football games played twice a year. I’m proud to say that I and the other over 25 coots won handily every time. Vaughn came and it all changed.

      I first heard of Vaughn from Tiffany who happened to be around the day he first appeared in the shop and drew the duty of showing him around and helping him to get settled. She was quite taken with him and for days it was Vaughn this and Vaughn that until I had to meet this splendid character. He was not what I expected; a slightly chubby version of Mr. Clean; shaven bald, husky, with a booming voice, infectious laughter and sparkling personality. I liked him immediately as did most of the shop.

      The one person who decidedly didn’t like him was Alicia. I was never clear whether he said something that rubbed her the wrong way or she had an uncanny sixth sense and ability to see through disguise far better than the rest of us. She insisted he was a bad person, a bad influence on Tiffany, and dangerous to boot. We thought she was crazy, except of course Bryan, who politically had no other choice than to agree with her. Once he roused himself at 3:00 AM to go and kill a bug over at her place across town he was in it with no escape.

      Tension between Alicia and Tiff had been heating up for some time as they had shared a house for several months and discovered they were in a real Oscar/ Felix situation, with Tiff being unquestionably the Unger of the two. Bryan and I had a few conversations about it given his dating of Alicia and my friendship with Tiff and agreed that what transpired between the gals would not affect us and at worse, the four of us might be able to hang out together so much. Unfavorable but acceptable. Things came to a head, however, when Alicia made a bold move to ban Vaughn from their domicile all together citing a footnote in the complex and oft broken code of roommate conduct they had drawn up upon moving in together. It was a masterstroke of Machiavellian genius that set the whole row of dominoes tumbling.

      The shoe fell in early August as Bryan sat down with me to discuss. “I know we agreed that what happened between the girls would not affect us, but unfortunately things have gotten so they have anyway.” I was considerably uneasy about where things were going, getting the same feeling as all men get when a woman says, “we have to talk”. Tiffany, incensed at the ban, decided to announce her intentions on taking a spare room in the house Vaughn just bought and leave Alicia in the lurch. Bryan was then felt obligated to come to her rescue and immediately move in to share the burden of the rent on the place. The odd man out in this arrangement, was the one who caused no trouble to anyone in this situation, me.

      It goes without saying, although I will anyway, that I was not at all pleased with this situation. I was less than 5 months from departing the area forever and suddenly found myself with an apartment I could in no way afford on my own, even for that scant time. My response to Bryan was not at all kind and I felt justified in clearly accusing him of tanking the friendship all together by screwing me so royally without notice and leaving me with so little recourse. I offered to let her move in; a distasteful choice since watching them all lovey-dovey on the couch constantly made my skin crawl, but even this reasonable compromise was dismissed as she didn’t want the horrid mark of a broken lease on her record.

      What had started back in tech school was now broken. Bryan and I had broken every rule at Medina and Sheppard, lorded over the dorms, broke into the swimming pool and finally became roommates. In our first outing to get cheap furniture we loaded a gigantic entertainment center into the back of his truck and immediately tipped the thing into the highway where it splintered into a 1000 pieces and caused every manner of traffic problems. Our friendly rivalry in the shop spurned us to technical one-upmanship that resulted in our status as first of the TISS gods. Many beers drunk, many laughs, and much good conversation, all over in the space of a conversation.

      I was incredibly angry at the situation; probably more so than I had ever been previous and definitely since. I worked that night, and the morning after I went with Tiff to the house for the dual purpose of helping her move her shit and having it out with Alicia. To my delight, both Bryan and Alicia were present, and I entered into the only and only full tilt shouting match of my life. You see in my eyes she was a cold, manipulative shrew who trumped up bullshit charges against the innocent Vaughn for the express purpose of forcing Tiff out of her home and pulling Bryan in where she could keep better watch on him. A diabolical plot to get exactly what she wanted without regard to those destroyed in the wake of her slash and burn machinations. I made this opinion quite clear and loud and I give her considerable credit that although but 19 to my 28, she held her own admirably despite my foundation shaking fury and cold male logic. Probably because I was later proven wrong, but nevertheless impressive. Though the fighting Tiff kept silent looking scared while Bryan sat with his hands on his head weakly interjecting quietly though unnoticed.

      The fight of course changed nothing; angry accusations and grievous insults generally do nothing to change hearts and minds any more than ill planned invasions and I resigned myself to what lay ahead. The first division had thus occurred; and with it, the core group of friends. I ended up with Tiff, Travis, half of Kelly, Celeste, Vaughn, and pulled in Diana and France to round things out. I got McCauley shortly thereafter when Alicia decided she didn’t care for the cut of his jib. Bryan walked away with Alex, Bowsher, half of Kelly, and the younger set from the Diggs tournament. I felt I had the far better deal, though regretted the splintering of the group.

      Bryan’s move out day was a fiasco. In the days leading up to it, we managed to stay civil and even managed a joke or two. I didn’t volunteer to help him move and he never asked me to. He chose a time when I was sleeping to have some of the guys remove his possessions as was his right. What really set me off again, however, was that I woke up to find out what a Herculean effort he made to take absolutely everything he felt he had claim to, including the shower curtain when I knew full well Alicia had one as I had hung it. Now at the time he felt he was being magnanimous by using his moving truck to deposit the blue living room set Tiff passed on to me (which I still had until last year). At the time I discovered the curtain and confronted him about it, they had just move the sofa into the place while the fold out bed couch remained outside. I cursed him out for the removal and he responded by attempting to pull the sofa back out the door, with me finally jumping on it nearly breaking his fingers. A Jerry Springer moment at its finest. In the end, he left and I was still fueled with enough anger induced adrenalin to move the sofa bed in myself.

      Financially I had a month of breathing room during which I decided to keep the apartment while I planned my next move. The failsafe option was that I would also move into Vaughn’s, not a good choice for me given my ardent desire to cohabitate with less people rather than more. I also felt that living with Tiff would be a bad idea and she agreed; the reason she didn’t move into my apartment instead of Vaughn’s. We had settled into a comfortable equilibrium and living together was bound to bring back some of the old tensions. In the end it would prove a poor decision for the both of us, but the snake had not yet reared its head.

      Once Vaughn got his house in order, we began hanging out there a lot. He seemed like a really decent character and was considerably hospitable. His house was the ultimate bachelor pad with a regulation dart board in the living room, big screen TV and total surround sound which I helped him set up. He took to hosting Friday morning beer sessions as he worked mids as well. He, Tiff, Travis, Diana and I would gather there at the end of each week and have a jolly old time. On one occasion we were fortunate enough to have Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door. Travis answered, in full uniform, with been in hand and invited them right in. They warily stepped though and we offered them a Jell-O shot Vaughn had made. When they declined, Travis barked at them as he used to do to Tiff’s dog, and they beat a hasty retreat.

      For the most part, I was enjoying my time alone at the apartment and threw frequent dinner parties as I really ramped up my love of cooking. Socially I missed the old group but felt things worked out for the best. Tiff’s life seemed to stabilize and she ended up starting to date someone in a long distance relationship after she met Danny, the brother of Ski from our shop, when he was down to visit. This is about the time that things started to turn further south. Tiff was aware, though chose to handle as she did me, that Vaughn was beginning to develop a thing for her. An uncomfortable situation at best considering she lived under his roof.

      I began to see the cracks in Vaughn’s gleaming gild the day Diana threw a dinner party and invited me, Vaughn and Tiff. It was a fun time to begin with enjoying many hot appetizers and a drink or two. Tiff and I, smoking on Diana’s terrace had the opportunity to witness something unusual which I wasn’t even aware ever happened. Two squirrels were playing in the tree a few feet from us when one of them actually plummeted to the ground, landed on its back, and slowly and much more carefully scampered back up. I wasn’t aware that squirrels ever fell and was grateful to have witnessed what I have no doubt keenly embarrassing to the rodent. How we laughed at his expense!

      Dinner was good although Vaughn was hitting the sauce pretty hard though it all. After dinner when we were sitting down relaxing, Vaughn suggested we play a drinking game, which none of us were in the mood for at all with Tiff being the most adamant. Vaughn was becoming increasingly agitated at his idea being rebuffed and finally stood up and shouted at Tiff that when Danny wanted to play the same game, she was more than willing. Her response was sarcastic that she liked Danny better and at that Vaughn lost it and stormed out. We heard him peel away in his Camero a few seconds later and sat there stunned.

      I ended up giving Tiff a ride home and implored her to crash at my place that night. I did not like at all how wound up Vaughn got and imagined him sitting there waiting for her in a wife beater nursing a bottle of whiskey. Tiff had come from a difficult background, however, and was nonplussed by the whole show and somewhat annoyed by it. Against my better judgment I brought her there and walked her in and felt better when it was evident that he had gone to bed. My spirits were high that night as Tiff revealed that she was considering moving to Buffalo after the AF and we spent time on Diana’s computer looking at pics of downtown that seemed to entrance her.

      The next day I received a call from a contrite Vaughn who apologized for his behavior the night before. I told him I understood where he was coming from having been there myself and if he wanted to talk, etc and left it at that. The outburst still bothered me and I resolved to keep a better eye on him. While most of the shop, aside from Alicia and her crew, still thought highly of him, there were things that were beginning to bother me more and more.

      For one, he seemed to take it really badly that I always beat him at darts in his own living room, as he was under some strange impression that the house should always win. He ended my streak by banning me from playing and was surprisingly serious about it. On one occasion when the two of us where hanging out, he revealed that he had an ex wife and son in Ireland, but that the Irish courts would not allow him to see his son despite the clear establishment of paternity. This seemed unusually harsh and atypical of any court and I had to wonder what else lay beyond the story. Finally, I happened to be present when he admitted that he had not once, but twice been accused of rape in cases where the woman “changed her mind after”; something I was quite certain never really happens and is the pat excuse of brutish animals who are somehow able to use personal charm to dodge the charges as he did. The more I was finding out, the less I liked.

      Not long after the party at Diana’s, I happened to be present when he and Tiff got into an argument over some piece of trivia or another and I was asked to weigh in. In this case Tiff was clearly wrong in my eyes but I chose her side anyway. To Vaughn this was the ultimate betrayal in male solidarity and he broke off relations all together which was fine with me. Again I implored Tiff to move out, but she stood firm in her ability to manage her own affairs and I could do nothing but abide. My invitations to beer Fridays were rescinded, so I countered by moving things over to my apartment and managed to capture the entire attendance; very satisfactory!

      A large part of Vaughn’s brutishness was revealed to all a couple of months later shortly before I was to leave the area for good. Much happened in between, which will be the subject of 2 more stories, but I am obligated to end this tale by really illustrating the quality of his character. While I am aware of yet more; a far more heinous act perpetrated by this monster, I am bound by honor not to speak as the person most affected requested that the details not be revealed and I have no good reason to break my promise, although had I my way, he would be rotting in Leavenworth to this day.

      Further rifts in the social circle had occurred as well as some mending by the time Bryan threw his big going away party for which his parents came up. While I was told I would be welcome I declined to attend due to being obligated to take a moral stand in favor of someone who was not welcome. Not going turned out to be the right decision as chaos erupted that night. Despite the whole collapse of the shop structure being precipitated by Alicia’s dislike of Vaughn, he had the balls to show up the party uninvited with some others. Bryan and Alicia, in the spirit of generosity and partially because Vaughn was currently allied to some of their allies and against some of their enemies, decided to be hospitable and let him stay.

      Bryan was not pleased however, when Vaughn spurned their hospitality by acting in an insulting manner to Alicia anyway and then left. Bryan was always one to take the southern concept of both hospitality and honor to heart and was incensed. When he found out what had happened, he called Vaughn and entered into a verbal altercation with him over the phone, where things transitioned into the physical threat arena. Vaughn handled this maturely by getting into his Camero and speeding over there. He pulled up and without turning the engine off or closing the door, leapt from the vehicle and charged Bryan who had been taken outside to calm down. Vaughn charged him before he could react, all 6’3” and 220 lbs of him to Bryan’s 5’11”, 170, and slammed him into the ground, straddled him, and pounded away at Bryans face like an enraged baboon. Alicia screamed and tried to pull him off but he punched her out of the way as well. It took 4 others to haul him off, at which point he just walked over to his car and drove off, leaving Bryan bloody and unconscious on the lawn.

      Tiff told me she was home when Vaughn arrived back and that he could not be more pleased with himself, proudly showing off his bloody fists and bragging at his manly defeat of a much smaller opponent taken unaware. Again, it was not the worst thing he had done, but it was the most public and had the one satisfying effect of unanimously uniting the shop against him, tanking his once vaunted position as most popular to most reviled. This alone I was happy about.

      The aftermath of the event was pathetic and firmed up my resolution to get the hell out of there and never look back. While one would think that the foregone conclusion to such a well witnessed happening would be Vaughn having the hammer of god brought down on his oily chrome dome, he ended up escaping virtually unscathed. While they had him firm with aggravated assault and drunk driving, moving forward with prosecution would have additional effects. While he would have gotten his, Alicia would be hammered for underage drinking, holding a party where underage drinking was taking place, and (purely ridiculous) assaulting someone of superior rank in her attempts to get him off Bryan. In addition, everyone of sergeant rank or above who had been at the party with underage drinking would be Article 15’d and probably lose rank. To court martial Vaughn, Alicia would probably be kicked out, and about 5 people would lose rank, 4 of which would have been over the high year tenor and forced out on a technicality. With great bitterness Bryan and Alicia dropped the matter and Vaughn escaped scott free.

      While I left not long after having never gotten the satisfaction of seeing his downfall, I did look up an old friend when last down there on business back in ’04. I was greatly satisfied to learn that Vaughn committed a repeat assault of the same nature at another party a few years after. His beating of Bryan was recalled and cited and used to exile him from the shop to perform much worse duties. It is my firm hope that by now he has been revealed and charged as the monster he is and doing time in Leavenworth bending over and grabbing the bars for a Special Forces nut with an uncontrollable Mr. Clean fetish.

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3 Responses

  1. A real winner there.

  2. Hey Wolfe. I was there at the party. I have a somewhat different take on the events. As to Vaughn, there is no defense of him as a person back then. I do however, remember the verbal barrage that Bryan gave Steve in front of everyone with Alicia sitting on his lap (mocking him). All the while, with Bryan’s mom and dad in the other room. I remember the discussion that followed after Vaughn left and I told Bryan that he was wrong to call him out the way that he did. Again, what I recall of Steve back then left little to be admired, and if I’m reading correctly (about what you didn’t write), then he truly deserves our disdain (or prison). I thought Bryan was being cruel considering the situation and we (the NCO’s) were amazed that a fight didn’t ensue at that table. We talked about the level of humiliation he must have felt and how it hard it would have been to walk away (the first time). That was a watershed moment for most of us. After that, Ski, Alex, Keith and I, stopped hanging out as much with each other and almost completely stopped hanging out with airmen (a solid ass-chewing from Chuba helped too) Just a different view about some crazy times. Keep posting!

    Rocky

  3. Hey Rocky! Since I wasn’t actually there, I’ll have to defer to your eyewitness account as I admittedly only heard the one side. My opinion of Vaughn overall, however, has not changed primariy due to the reasons we are talking around as well as everything else I unfortunately knew about.

    You know, this does make me want to bring up a good point I have not mentioned elsewhere. Aside from a few very notable exceptions, the shop NCOs I found to be a very decent bunch who can be considered exempt, for the most part, from the picture I seem to be painting of the great airmen drama. Lots of excellent leadership that went all too unheeded by most.

    I did hear from Tokarcik though that things stabilized over the next 2 years after I, and I would imagine most of the more troubling airmen either PSC’d, left honorably, or otherwise. Great times in the beginning; not so much at the end.

    Glad you are enjoying and please always feel free to comment, make corrections, or even interject with your own remembrances. As the other authors of this blog will be quick to point out, my perceptions of the events may be less than ball on accurate some of the time. 🙂

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