The Image Was Me

Living Lessons with Duke Tirschel

When I stepped up to the bar it all came clear, I really forgot. In the mirror behind the pretty little bartender I saw this image looking back at me. The image wore a dress shirt rolled up to his forearms, his tie was loosened and the knot was pulled down. He was wearing a leather shoulder holster with the butt end of a .357 magnum sticking out from under his armpit. His badge was pinned to the leather strap of the holster in full view and read City of Atlanta – Homicide. The image was looking directly at me. The image was me.

Time’s running out.

Life is running along and at one time it was carrying me with it. But, I stumbled on several occasions and life, of course, kept running. Sometimes life came back to pick me up and carry me along and sometimes it just left me on the side of the road.

So you see, as much as I should slow down, I can’t.

The BIDEN Gun Plan Expose

I don’t want life to slow down either, because if it slows down I do too, and I can’t do that. I have to run and reach that spot where I was supposed to be at this time in my life. I have to catch up with everything I missed, before life runs off and I miss it all.

My problem though is that when I run faster I lose my balance. Things get out of whack and people look at me strange. There is no safe way to run fast enough to recover all I missed unless I run over the edge a time or two. And, when I do, I have to accept that running over the edge is what causes me to leave undone those things I most want to do.

What things?

That’s a good question.

Chuck Norris Fighting Duke Tirschel
Chuck Norris Fighting Duke Tirschel

I shrugged it off and turned my attention to the end of the day and wondered how I should close it out. I don’t have a whole lot to go “home” to these days since I moved all my things from the house and started living in my karate school. I would just shower and then go out to the bars and lose myself in those people who were absolutely insane. Little did I know they thought much worse of me.

I know! The Oyster Bar!

That has a nice ring to it. I never been inside the place but with the way traffic was, right then, I decided to hang around this side of town. I stopped at the Lakewood Fairgrounds, which is less than a half mile from the Oyster Bar, and got spruced up a bit before going on. No one knew me around here, so what the hell, I’ll enjoy myself. When I saw how crowded the parking lot was I laughed and as I climbed out of the car I said, “This ought to be fun”. I parked in the back so I could check myself out in the reflection of my car window but I wasn’t but one step inside the club before I forgot that image I just saw and my full attention was now on this totally different world. The bouncer stepped forward and waved off my attempt to reach for my wallet with, “Here for pleasure?”

I said, “I hope so.”

“No cover for you, man.”

Stuntmen Greg Anderson & Duke Tirschel
Stuntmen Greg Anderson & Duke Tirschel

My first thought was that he must know me from the south side or that he may have seen me fight on the docks at the Farmers Market. These early morning bare knuckle brawls don’t pay much. The only way to make any money is to get someone to lay some money out for you but too much money being bet on any one person scares away the money for the other guy. It was a short lived vocation.

I turned to the bouncer, “Do I know you?”

“No man, I’m clean.” I was surprised by his response and the serious look on his face.

When I stepped up to the bar it all came clear, I really forgot. In the mirror behind the pretty little bartender I saw this image looking back at me. The image wore a dress shirt rolled up to his forearms, his tie was loosened and the knot was pulled down. He was wearing a leather shoulder holster with the butt end of a .357 magnum sticking out from under his armpit. His badge was pinned to the leather strap of the holster in full view and read City of Atlanta – Homicide. The image was looking directly at me. The image was me.

The bartender asked me, “You here officially”?

I gave her what I thought to be my best Mickey Spillane smile and said, “No, I’m almost off duty and, well, one hell of a day, too, I tell ya.”

This excited her, “Oooh, tell me about it.”

“Give me a Bud-light”.

She frowned, “Bud-light? Couldn’t have been too bad a day.”

Quickly switching gears, I added, “No baby, that’s my chaser, just trying to choose between a shot of Wild Turkey or Jack Daniel.”

She reached for the bottle of Jack as she excitedly stretched her eyes open wide in hopes of hearing something juicy.

So, as not to disappoint her, I barreled forward, “Damn, spent all day chasing that guy we think is dumping the dead kids in the Chattahoochee.”

“You mean, Wayne Williams?”

“No, we already got him. But, there’s always someone who… ”

She stopped me and yelled, “Hey, I know you. Saw you on the news, you’re that expert witness… ” she turned to the bouncer, “Tiny, lookee here, hey Tiny… the guy from the Wayne Williams trial.” and turning back to me she asked, “… what’s your name.”

I put the Jack down and chugged half of the Bud-Light… drank it way too fast and had to burp or I’d choke, “Uh, wait a minute, now…” I could feel my face turning bright red.

She furrowed her brow and started chewing her gum, “What’s wrong… you’re the one, I saw ya, on the news coming out of the courthouse, remember? That was you… right?”

“Yah… yah, that’s right.” I lowered my voice and said, “But, you see… this is all on the down low. I came in here cuz no one knows me here.”

She smiled and almost whispered, “But you’re the guy… right?” She turned her shoulders away just slightly and cocked her head as if she was fixing to pull the wings off a butterfly unless I confessed.

Still talking low, I said, “That’s me, but look, I’m not off duty yet. Started a little early,” I held up my Bud-light, “drinking… you see… I shouldn’t be in here, you know, drinking.” The waitress was tiny, no more than 5 foot tall. Reminded me of a Pekinese dog, real little with a irritating yapping bark. She frowned and shifted her weight and then opened her mouth to speak but I spoke first, “Thought people, would pay me no mind.” I pushed the Jack Daniels back towards her, “As a matter of fact I have to stop by the precinct… best I didn’t have this on my breath.” I threw a $20 on the bar and said, “Gotta go.”

I saluted the bouncer on the way out by tipping my half empty bottle in the air and nodding, “Be cool, man.” He didn’t stop me leaving with an “open container” and I drove back to the fairgrounds without incident.

I didn’t think this could happen in a million years. She was right, two weeks ago, I was an expert witness in the trial of the serial killer that got national attention, Wayne Williams. How in the world would anyone remember me? And too much focus on me at the Oyster Bar could have messed things up; after all, I was just having fun.

I headed back to the Lakewood Fairgrounds that was really the Lakewood Studios since Burt Reynolds bought the Fairgrounds and built movie sets and sound stages on it. It was the base out of which Bob Shelley ran his “Spectacular Effects”. Bob does the special effects for most of the movie productions that are shot in the south. I started the Fighting Arts Motion Picture Workshop with Chuck Norris in California and brought our stunt coordinator, Greg Anderson, to Atlanta where we teamed up with Jere Beery, a descendant of Wallace Beery and Noah Beery, and we formed “First Team Stunts”. Our “Stunt Hut” in Lakewood has everything you could imagine in the way of props, wind machines, air bags, vehicles and of course, just about any weapon you can think of, and a wardrobe that would make you into anyone you wanted to be.

Today, I was a detective from the Atlanta Police Department – Homicide Division, but I didn’t want any close scrutiny.

Chuck Norris & Duke Tirschel Movie Stunt
Chuck Norris & Duke Tirschel Movie Stunt

The Fairgrounds is still there, grass has grown tall in the cracks in the blacktop. The chain link fence is sagging and the sound stages are quietly waiting for a better day. Greg Anderson moved to Las Vegas and works extensively in L.A., Jere Beery moved north and wrote a book of his experiences when he was wounded on a PT boat in Viet Nam. After doing a couple films with Chuck Norris I went back to running my karate studio. But before I did, I made one more film. It was an Italian film and the star and I were the only ones who spoke English. Everyone else, the entire crew were from Italy. They shot it here, in Atlanta, but will finish all the rest of the work in Italy but because they’ll be able to say “it was shot in the USA” and therefore, they’ll be able to demand a higher price for the film. It seems everyone has a game they want to play.

The name of the movie is “Blast Fighter”.

That was my last film. And of all things, I played a detective for the Atlanta Police Department – Homicide Division. And even though I played a great part, I got killed in the end.

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