Thunk! You Lose

How 'bout a friendly game of darts? Watch your back!

"It's in your soul," he says.

Thickly bearded league CEO Bill Scileppi, whose team won the other semifinal match that night, nods in agreement. Scileppi, a receiver for U.S. Foods Co. and a darts player all his life, has three upside-down, Vortex darts peeking out of his front pocket. He assembled these himself, and they each weigh 21 grams, he says.

Ferger has been in the league since 1993, Scileppi the CEO since 1999. They've watched it double in size in recent years and become competitive at the state level. Their league is one of 19 in Florida and also part of the American Dart Association.

The league has definitely had its share of drama, they concede. Budweizer had to be dealt with. The guys involved in the dart pegging had to be dealt with. They all went before a disciplinary board, which temporarily suspended all three. Yep, even the guy who became a human dartboard got suspended.

"We don't tolerate it," Scileppi says of violence and misbehavior. "It's like taking a baseball bat and throwing it at the pitcher. You don't do it."

Across town at East Boca's Downtown Duck, two B-league teams face off in the semifinals. Except for the darts players, the bar is pretty much empty. Like all the league hosts, who also sponsor the teams, the Downtown Duck has run up some decent tabs on darts nights. The games last from around 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., and with at least five members to each team, that's a lot of beer.

Sheri Petagno, a stay-at-home mom on the Downtown Duck team, guzzles one before her turn. She's got coifed, Marilyn-Monroe-blond hair and wears thick, black mascara and eyeliner. Teams get built around women like Petagno, with dart-pitching skills; every team must have at least one female.

Tonight, Petagno is on, leading her team in the game of 501 in between interview sessions. Coincidentally, the guy who "accidentally" pegged a competitor with a dart used to be on Petagno's team, and she saw the whole thing. The consensus is that John Redhead got what was coming.

A quick check in the court database reveals that Redhead is one of those guys whose been in and out of court four times over domestic violence. He's also got a penchant for banging beer bottles on the bar to distract people while they're throwing darts. That's exactly what he did on October 17 while John Dixon was about to pitch his, and it distracted him. Drove him a little crazy, in fact.

Dixon turned away from the board and pegged the steel, sandpaper-sharpened dart in Redhead's direction. Dixon swears he was just trying to give Redhead a scare, and if you believe that, well, his aim was very poor. The dart sailed directly into Redhead's left biceps, sinking a quarter of an inch into the flesh. The bar fell silent and time seemed to stop as the dart stuck in, then dangled from Redhead's arm like a misplaced earring. Everybody stared. Nobody moved. Then Redhead yanked it out and called 911.

When police arrived, Redhead showed them the red mark on his arm, but he had already calmed down. He didn't want to prosecute Dixon on aggravated battery charges; he just wanted him to know what he did was intolerable.

They finished the game that night, although nobody remembers who won.

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