Tag Archive: fight

Prince – Part Two

Very shortly after we’d moved back to the ‘hood, I was out walking my dog on a leash.  He was a “Cockapoo” – a mixture of Cockerspanial and Poodle.  A black dog with curly silken fur, he weighed about thirty-five pounds.  I know because that’s the amount of weight I was required to lose in order to keep him. It was part of my parent’s requirement to ship him home.  He’d been trained in apartments, was good, though nervous or anxious sometimes.  I’d read a few books on animal psychology, including – and specializing in dogs.  (To this day some in the family call me “the dog whisperer”, and dogs and I tend to get along.)

Anyway, as I am walking along, here comes my old Nemesis.


German Sheppard

Prince had been the big dog that had torn me up in my youth.  He’d clawed me from face to navel while the grownups had stood around – feeding us kids to him one-by-one.  They were intending on us making ‘friends’ with him.  Instead he had clawed us all to pieces.  He’d been restrained on a chain around a great big old pine tree – but there was no escaping. If you hung back they’d push you into that circle, swept clean of pinestraw and debrie’ by his constant running . . .

It had hurt.

This time, though, Prince was loose.  He lived with the neighbors across the road – good friends of mine.  Usually he ignored me and I him.  But this time he’d seen my dog.

Prince was a German Sheppard.  He probably weighed upwards of fifty pounds, if not more.  I greatly outweighed him – but he was as long as my body –

I didn’t have time to react as my dog, sensing immediate attack, immediately began to mount me, climbing towards my head.  I could almost read the thoughts in his eyes:  “Master! Save me!” –

and as he’s climbing, Prince, drawing closer, increases his speed.  He knows me.  I’m the puny human he’s dealt with before . . .

But here’s the thing.

I’m older now, by three and a half years.  I’m heavier, too.  And I’ve been trained. During my time “over there” I’d been trained to take on – and/or take out – dogs like him.  Yeah, I’m only thirteen – but he doesn’t scare me now.  Not a bit.

As I help my dog hoist himself over my shoulder, claws scratching as he tries to climb on my head and perch there, Prince launches himself up, full height, his paws going for my shoulders.

As I stood there, I took the weight of him awhile – about a millisecond – and then I stepped into him, throwing him back and down with my forearm in his now surprised mouth. Then I dropped down on him, throwing my own dog aside, embracing his body with my own, wrapping my legs around him, one arm levering his mouth and head back as the other cleared his throat of front paws.

And then I bit him.  And I bit him hard.  Not hard enough to break the skin, but hard enough to let him know who’s boss.  I had him outstretched in my arms, his body under me, his fur in my mouth.  It was thick and dusty.  I clamped down harder, on his larynx now – I had shifted from the jugular, where I had taken my first clamp.  He was whining now, and struggling to be let go.  I bore my weight down even harder, shaking my head and growling, pulling and grinding the double lapped thick skin in my teeth.  He whined, then cried out.  I held him there for several moments – huffing through my cheeks, teeth white gripped in his downy fur and hair – shaking him.  Letting him know who’s boss.

When I got up and let go of him – wow!  He took off out of there, looking behind out over his shoulder as if I was a demon standing there.  My own dog stood shaking and shivering beside me, pressing his body against my calf.  I looked down and smiled.

“Come on buddy,” I said.  “I just saved your ass.”

The End




This was written and produced by one of my ‘alters’, #13.  He is rather proud of it.  One of the things he kept wanting stated as a ‘fact’ he learned about dogs (for it is true: I am somewhat of a “dog whisperer” – and a lazy dog trainer, too).  “Dogs,” he sez, “is different.  Some of them got fur; some of them got hair.  The ones with hair hate the ones with fur and viz versa.  Same goes with cats & some kinds of other animals.  So you always gotta be careful when you introduce a dog with fur to one with hair.  Dogs, them gonna hate one another.  Unless you’ve raised one with pup, that’s the way.  Otherwise you might tend to have a little trouble.”
And by the way?  That German Sheppard never bothered us again.  In fact, if he saw me on the road, he’d take off for his house, and we’d find him cowering and slinking away out back.  He was scared of me . . . (grin)


Taking On The Bullies In The Hood

There was a family of bullies on our street. They lived in the fourth house up the dirt road from us – I can see their white single story house plainly, set behind a chain link fence. In it lived a group of teenagers ranging from about sixteen to nineteen (I was eight or so), and they didn’t get along with anyone except (perhaps), themselves. They wouldn’t hesitate to stop a little kid walking along the road and beat them up. Even the teenager next door didn’t get along with them, and he was a favorite among both us little kids and the grownups. They had parents, I’m sure, but we rarely saw the parents – and no one ventured into their yard. It was certain death – or at least a good thrashing if one of them even saw you looking at them too hard.

Now we had a game we’d play when I was a little kid – “Hockey on a Stick” – which had absolutely nothing to do with hockey. Instead, a kid (usually one of us littler ones) would get a stick, and finding a pile of dog poo, would load up the end of the stick and begin chasing the others with it – all the while yelling “Hockey on a stick! Hockey on a stick!”. I haven’t a clue where that term came from, but I do know this: whoever had that stick was someone to run away from – for if they got too close, down would come the stick, and the next thing you knew, it would be ‘hockey on ME!” Fortunately, I was fast on my feet, and agile, too. That was a skill that was to come in handy for a long time in my life. Especially in this next part.

One hot summer day I was walking up the road going to visit a friend when I noticed the teenagers busily waxing their nice white hotrod (okay, maybe not a hotrod, but definitely their car) – in their driveway. To this day I don’t know what compelled me to do what I did, I only know that I did it – and loved every minute of it.

Finding a stick, I loaded it up – “hockey on a stick” – and loaded it up GOOD. And then I waited until they began putting up their rags. Walking casually ‘past’ their driveway gate – I’d of been whistling if I knew how – I suddenly rushed in, brandishing my poo-loaded stick over my head, and with a loud Indian cry, yelled: “Hockey on a stick!”

And with that I dropped that big load of smelly doggy poo right there on the car’s shiny white hood. I can still see it now: a nicely curled poo, thick and fecal.

I’ll never forget the look of disbelief that came across those teenage faces as I spun and bolted out of the drive, kicking sand up at my heels. After that I wasn’t looking anymore – I was headed for the only safe place I knew: the safety of ‘home’. And like I said: I was fast. I didn’t waste any time hoofing it through the door – and instinctively knowing I’d done something ‘bad’ – I bee-lined it to my bedroom, threw a couple stuffed animals down, and began to ‘play’ as if I’d been there all along.

It didn’t take but a moment, and my heart sunk as I heard the doorbell ring. I could hear angry teenage voices, and my mom’s voice, and I knew I was in for it – big-time. And big-time with my mom – well, read some of my other stories, and you’ll know it was something to be feared. Really. It could be downright life threatening. Literally.

Anyway, I hear the back door shut, and a few minutes later my mom comes to my room. I look up, trying to portray the perfect picture of innocence (still seeing my hands paused over my bears), deathly afraid I’m about to be beaten. I remember looking to see if there was a belt or spoon in her hand – that I remember real clear. Checking to see is she was cocked and loaded, ready to go off.

“I heard what you did,” she said, scolding. But there was an amused glint in her eye and a smile twitching at the corners of her thin lipped mouth. “You know that was wrong.”

Gulping, I answer her all meek and mild, as I’ve been taught to do: “Yes ma’am.”

“Well, I don’t want you to do that again. You leave those boys alone.”

“Yes ma’am.”

And with that my mom turns and walks out of the room. As she goes down the hallway I can hear her chuckling.

Why? Because she knows me: her stupid and daring son. And she knows those teenagers: rough boys who pick on anyone smaller than them. And I guess she figured I’d dished them up something that was not only something they deserved – but exactly what the whole neighborhood thought of them. To this day my mom says she went into the other room and laughed so hard it brought tears to her eyes.

Of course, that led to one of them trying to get revenge.

About a month later I’m sitting in the sandy ditch – we called it a ditch though it was no deeper than the road – playing with my nice new metal Tonka dump truck. You know the kind – big steel thing with plastic wheels and a bed that actually ‘dumps’. It was my pride and joy – we got toys so rarely back then – and I was busily filling it with sand and dumping it, amazed at the smallest details – the yellow cab with the open windows, the smoothly working hinges, when . . .

Along comes one of the teenager bullies – a boy of about sixteen, seventeen or so. He is nonchalantly walking along the road, on my side, in the ditch – and probably would’ve been whistling if he’d thought about it. He stops just across from me and stands there for a moment, looking. I, being a trusting kid who never holds a grudge, look up at him and smile.

And with that he snatches my truck up by the cab, and with a big backhanded swing, bashes me in the face with it.

Normally I guess a kid my age would of jumped up and ran shrieking in the house. But – hell, I was anything but normal. Pain was rarely a factor for me.  I didn’t waste one second – not even a microsecond. I had taken teenagers on before; I wasn’t afraid of them – or him. So I did the first thing that came to mind.

I jumped on him like a vicious little monkey, grasping him with clawing hands around his shoulders, wrapped my legs around his waist – and burying my face in his chest, I bit. And I bit HARD and DEEP, shaking my head like a dog and savagely growling like the animal I had become – the animal he had made me.  He started screaming and yelling and trying to push me off, but no – I shake my head like a shark wanting a piece of the kill and come away with a ragged chunk of flesh big enough to fill my already bloody mouth. Turning my head, I spit it out – I can still see that little crimson crescent moon with skin on one side rolling across the sand, getting covered in grit – and then I dropped from him like a rock, arms still raised with clawed hands to jump back on him and go another round.

He didn’t even pause to look. Grabbing his bloody chest – the blood was just pouring down – he took off up the hill, racing for home and safety – away from the angry little beast I’d become.  I think they actually had to take him to the hospital to get some stitches . . . SOB.

As for me: After he left I sat right down with my truck and started playing again, perfectly calm and happy, as though nothing had happened at all. (In this day and age I know what happened: I’d ‘switched’ to one of my more vicious DID selves – and then switched right back after the threat was gone.)

It was only later when my mom called me in for supper that she noticed the dried caked blood on my face, and how my gums had gotten cut back above my front teeth, making them seem even longer than before. She asked; I told, end of story.

Except for one thing.

Those teenagers never – NEVER – messed with me again.  Me giving them the ol’ stink-eye was often enough to give them pause; you could SEE the fear in their eyes . . . it was well known all about the neighborhood:

You don’t mess with Mikie.  No matter how much he seems at peace and play; no matter that he’s just a small boy – because once I started there was no ‘quit’.  I would keep on going until either I was dead or you left me and my friends alone.  Unfair fights didn’t matter to me; they just made me fight all the harder, mad me even more mad.  I had already fought bullies against tall odds many and many a time.  I guess that one learned it too.  At the expense of a scar he probably carries on his chest to this very day, reminding him: you don’t go bullying the children of the ‘hood.  One of them might “get” you.  The way I did that day.  By biting hunks outta your chest – and out of your heart and courage as well . . .

Southern Snowballs

Southern Snowballs: The Dirt Clod Wars

When I was a kid growing up back in the ‘Hood, we lived on a sand road. The road, a big old horseshoe shaped thing, stretched for about a mile through the scrub woods. It connected at both ends to the same road,  just a stone’s throw and a skip or so from Tobacco Road. It was even more undeveloped than Tobacco Road, though – saw less traffic, was much less famous – was pretty much a nothing neighborhood in the sand hills; cut through the pine barrens and dotted with scrub oak and the occasional house and farm.

But that road was the life of the neighborhood – it connected everyone and everything. It led out of the hood (a forbidden area to us kids in the hood, until later on) – and it led in. It was lined by sandy ditches and it was a sandy road.

We used to stand in the rainstorms out in the sand – in the disappearing ditches (for they would disappear as they filled with sand – and in those ancient escarpments we would plunge our feet again and again – sinking down through the sand until we were up to our knees.

Our mom talks about that thing – how funny it would be to drive by and see this row of kids, all up to their knees in the sand – ‘standing’ on their knees. Of course we were all in bare feet – us boys wore nothing but underwear and cutoffs – not a stitch more; not out of comfort (though that was there) but out of necessity. Clothes were too precious to be tearing up; shoes were for indoors, not out. They were something to be put up for special occasions – like going to the store, or church. Nothing for everyday wear. That was too expensive.

And during those days – those dry days in the hood – the dirt clod wars would begin.

There was something special about that sand in the hood. With just enough ‘binder’ to hold things together, the sand clods would explode on impact into ‘smoke’ – sand and dust – showering their victim with sand. How many times did I show up when the dinner bell rang with my head full of sand – hair, nose, ears, eyes – everything – and covered from head to foot in a grimy layer of sweat soaked and dry caked dust – runnels of dust, layers of dust, with sand dibbling from my drawers . . . my ears . . . my hair – everything.

But those dirt clod wars were fun. We would get in the ditches (they were much deeper at the end of the hill) – and sheltering in them like trenches, we would lob dirt clods at one another.

Now there were several rules to this dirt clod war – and they were basically understood. (Those who did not understand them were taken aside and made to follow our own rules.) First: no rocks and things which could hurt you. Second: no throwing of dirt clods in someone’s face – you could blind them with sand and all. (It would be a bad thing if someone ran home crying and sobbing that someone had thrown a dirt clod in their face. All of us kids would have heard about this thing, and some of them – including us – would have been scolded, if not downright punished – whether guilty or not – and none of us wanted the parents to outlaw our dirt clod wars because they were so much fun . . . and because there was so little else to do. (Which might explain . . . well, never mind . . .)

Other than that, it was “game on” – all the time. A dirt clod war could break out any time you got two or more of us boys together. And they escalated from there on up. A boy, seeing two throwing dirt clods at one another, couldn’t resist picking one up and popping one himself. There’s a fulfilling sense of self-satisfaction in seeing one ‘blow up’ on someone’s back or head. (Head’s were allowed, as long as it was the back of them. And yes: accidents do happen. But no one complained – or rarely did, as we were careful as hell not to hit someone in the eye with one of those things.)

But dirt clods are friable – they are hard to carry around. It’s not like you can stick one in your pocket and walk around. All you’ll end up with is a pocket full of sand. And loading a bucket up with some doesn’t work as well; the dirt clods underneath begin disintegrating under the weight of their brethren; you just end up with a bucket of sand – with a few dirt clods floating around on top, like little ships of their own.

It’s kind of funny. We’d wear out all of the clouds in front of our house, as well as several others – and then we’d have to go down to the “real ditches” where clods were available full time. However, you had to be careful there. There were stones in those clods from when they formed the road, and some of them were made out of a very special kind of dirt. Down here in Georgia we call them “clay clods”. They are hard – they can get almost as hard as a brick (which makes sense, since bricks are made out of them) – and they could hurt you. Or actually someone else. And you didn’t want to do that because then they would begin to use those kinds of dirt clods on you. And you didn’t want to do that; go down that kind of road. That would have led to war – the very real kind, with kids using sticks as clubs and trying to kill one another. Yeah – we weren’t always kind.

But we would stand impatiently, waiting for the rain – staring up at the cloud puffed sky – in the loose sand beneath our feet. For when the rain would come we could sink up to our knees in the sand – and the next day the dirt clods would be there. Sugary crystals (though they certainly didn’t taste like sugar! I should know: I ate many of them – the hard way!) – all packed together in a layer you could skim and break up into many, many clods – or several great big ones.

The wars went on for years, off and on. It developed to the point to where we made a giant slingshot. And then things kinda got out of hand.

Using two of the mailboxes up by the road (and with the teenager’s encouragement and direction) – we rigged a slingshot – a big one. Taking an old bicycle inner tube, we strung it between the two mailbox posts and begin having a war over one of the houses. With that giant thing we found we could sling a dirt clod or two a long way – completely over the neighbor’s house and on into their back yard. And so the war began.

And it all went well – we spent a couple days at it, off and on between playing at something else – lobbing those big ol’ clay (sand wouldn’t work too well; it would fall apart on the way ‘up’) – clods over the house. Until someone noticed something.

There was sand all over everything. All over the house and cars. All over the fence. Huge clods (some of them weren’t breaking) all over the yard. And while we had found we could use the big slingshot for some of the sandier clods – most of them were filled with clay. And so when the neighbor would get mowing (not that they had much to mow; after all – everyone had basically a ‘sand’ yard) – he’d be hitting these big ‘dust clouds’ as he’d be mowing on.

So the parents had us put up the thing – no more slinging clods across the yard. Or the house. Or into the next door neighbor’s yard. And that was pretty much the end of it . . .

But –

I still enjoy a good dirt clod fight. Always have and always will, I suppose. It’s the Southern version of snowballs is the best I could explain it. And done right it can be so much fun.

Little kids – and little boys – playing in the sun; showers of sand – laughter – running, good times; the feel of sand beneath my feet; the cool water playing around my calves as my feet sank down through cool dirt –

Sometimes things were good.

Never Say Quit

Never Say Quit

When I was a kid, one of the things I was taught is that you never say quit, you never cry uncle, and if you surrender, it’s just to come back and fight another day.  Nothing is ever good enough; therefore you should never stop trying, and society is going to judge you by the things you do.  And I never was one to hold a grudge, even as a kid.

A lot of folks are bewildered by that – how I can forgive someone who has wronged me, or why I can take a slight one day and shrug it off the next.  I have trouble explaining it other than to say I forgive.  I note of a person’s weaknesses and catalog their misbehaviors as something special about them.  Whether that person is a thief or a liar or given to exaggeration – I don’t mind.  It’s just human, which is something I am.  So instead of rejecting them or taking vengeance upon them, I just take steps to ensure whatever happened doesn’t happen again.  I don’t leave temptations laying about.  After all, if you find your friend is a thief, the best thing to do is make sure things are put up when they come around, and to keep an eye on them – not scream and yell and accuse, driving them away.  That’s the worst sort of thing you can do.  And if they are a liar, then take what they say with a huge grain of salt. No need to drop the friendship, in my opinion – just be aware of their failings, and remove the temptations.  You’d be surprised how loyal friends can become when you learn understanding and forgiving them like that.

But not holding a grudge has gotten me in trouble a time or two. Mostly it is with other people who don’t understand my strange way of thinking – and those who have held grudges against me. Picking back up where I left off – when I was a kid living for a brief amount of time in North Carolina – this story is about one of those times. I was nine years old.  And it’s about one of the worst fights I ever had.

It started simply enough. Some big kid, a bully around the military apartments (the same one mentioned in “Fight or Get Beaten”) – decided to pick a fight with me. No big problem; I’d taken on big kids before. But this one was different.

The kid outweighed me by about twenty pounds or so, maybe more, and was built like a side of beef. Like me, he could take pain and keep on fighting. And like me, he didn’t seem to know to call it quits.

Our fight started one sunny day during the latter half of the last summer I spent in NC. Like so many fights, I haven’t a clue what started it, nor what it was about; however, I gave as good as I got, and I got as good as I gave. We fought for hours, trading blows and wrestling in the dust, neither one willing to give in, give up, or go away. We fought until the other kids, tired of watching, wandered away – something unusual for kids, since they are drawn to fights like birds to corn – and then we fought some more. But it’s strange living on a military base – at about five thirty, all the kids go in, for that’s when the fathers come home and supper is served. It was almost like a rule, a regulation. And so when the sun had rolled from its zenith and was dropping towards the horizon, we both obeyed the demands of our lords and masters – our mothers – and brushing ourselves off, separated from each other’s violent embrace and walked away, casting sullen looks over our shoulders.

The next day started normally enough. I had no interest in fighting this kid; the fight was over, history, and nobody won – plus he was one tough cookie, albeit a bit chipped and frayed from the day before – just like me. And holding no grudge, I was just as happy as not when the other kids started a baseball match out in the green field between the apartments. He was on the other team; I was playing second base, and the game held my attention instead of this boy I’d fought the previous day. Little did I know I should have been watching him instead of the game.

It was when he’d gone to bat and made second base that I learned he was one of those who held a grudge. I guess not being able to whip my ass the day before had something to do with it – most of the kids he would attack would buckle down, crouching and crying while he rained blows on them, forcing them into mindless submission for no other reason than to beat them. And like any bully, he seemed to have a penchant for attacking kids who were smaller than him. I guess my standing up to him was like a sticker in his throat, for as he was behind me, dancing back and forth on the base – and I, my attention on the next batter to arise – he attacked me.

It was a total surprise; my own personal Pearl Harbor. Attacking me from behind with nary a warning nor a cry, he bore me down face first into the dirt and began having his way with me – pounding my back, and pinning me to the ground. Squirming, I managed to wriggle around and begin returning fist for fist – and the fight was on. And again it was like the previous day, with one small difference: I could not understand why this kid kept attacking me. As far as I was concern the fight was over; it had been finished the previous day; why he wanted to keep on going was beyond me. But in my wondering I was taking a licking, and because I was more upset and confused by this kid’s reaction, I wasn’t as mad as I should have been. Instead I started fighting a defensive fight, just barely keeping the large boy at bay. And as it had been the previous day, the fight went on for hours. At first the other kids gathered around – then after awhile they wandered away to go play their ballgame, leaving me and the boy scuffling in the dirt.

By four-thirty I was worn down; this kid just wouldn’t stop fighting and I wouldn’t say ‘quit’. I just didn’t know how. By five he had me on the ground, and with evil intent, was taking great joy in trying to see how many sticks he could cram into my nose and ears. I refused to cry ‘uncle’ to him. I’ll never forget that – the dirty tricks – and how angry I’d become. Angry at myself for being rendered helpless; angry at him for pushing those sticks into me. But I was wearied, pinned down, and could do nothing but thrash helplessly around. And then came the big moment which ended the fight once and for all.

As I’m laying there, twisting my head, nose and ears bleeding, the kid suddenly flies up and off me like he’s grown wings. At the same time he lets loose a fearful cry which I can still, now, forty some odd years later, hear ringing in my ears:


That cry has told me a lot over the years. While that kid might not of feared us other kids, there was one person in his life he truly feared: his father. Whether or not that is because he’d had the snot beaten out of him by his father, I don’t know – but it would explain why he was such a bully, taking out his fear and exercising his desire for control by trying to dominate the little kids he came across. I’ve found that is the case with many violent people: their parents were violent towards them, and they, as helpless kids, can not control the anger directed at them – so they take out their own anger by trying to control others, by abusing them, thus giving themselves a small sense of power, however fleeting it may be.

And so with that cry of fear, he flies from me – and I see my own father standing over me, holding the kid up by the loop of his pants and the back of his shirt. And I was so surprised! Never had my father rescued me from a fight – he had never needed to. But in this one case he was there, and setting the kid gently down on his feets, he ushered his stern words.

“Go home.”

The kid, turning, trotted away with a mixed look of meekness and relief. I truly think he thought he was in for an extreme ass-whoopin’. As for me, I look up from where I’m laying in the dust, and my father extends a hand towards me, helping me up.

“Good fight,” was all he said. Then throwing a hand across my shoulders he guides me, sore and stumbling, towards what we call home. “Let’s eat.”

That was one of the only times I really, really remember being glad – and amazed – that my father was there, and one of the very few times I remember him helping – actually helping – me without a demand or an obligation to give something in return.

Somehow I find that strange.

Fight Your Own Fight

My brother had a nasty tendency to pick fights, then count on me to save him. Despite being my older brother, he was thin and scrawny, and to make matters worse, he’d pick a fight – and wouldn’t fight back. Instead he’d just lay there, letting some other kid pound on him, screaming until I’d step in and take his opponent on. Lucky for him, I was a tough, scrappy kid with a fearless heart, one who didn’t know the word “quit” or “uncle” – or at least I’d refuse to say it, fighting until I’d won. No amount of pain seemed to get in the way of my determination, and when I’d get angry, I get determined. Pain would just anger me further, thus bolstering my determination. For some reason I’d become immune to pain in a fight; not caring anymore, just going at it, sucking up my opponent’s blows and delivering plenty of my own. And my brother – he would pick a fight with anyone, mostly through his smart mouth and smarmy answers. And he wasn’t above picking fights with kids – sometimes teenagers – who were almost twice my age and size. Not that I’d let that bother me; I’d just be more cautious, more vicious, and hitting them a lot harder. But I’d never beat up a kid just to beat him up; instead I preferred getting along peacefully, and even when I’d find myself in a fight as soon as the other kid would start crying it was my cue that he’d had enough and it was time to let him go home.

But while the teens in the ‘hood had learned to respect my fighting skills and leave me alone, the ones in North Carolina at Fort Bragg when I was nine didn’t know me. Which was fine by me – I wasn’t out to impress anyone with my fighting skills, preferring instead to just play with my peers. But my brother wasn’t going to let it stay that way – and I had my last big fight with a teenager courtesy of his aggravating one on the playground late one afternoon.

It started simply – and usually enough. My brother and I were at the playground, not far from the military quarters, and it was late afternoon early in the summer. It was late afternoon; most of the other kids had gone home, and we are just aimlessly tooling around, staying away from each other while wishing we had someone to play with. We had only been in this place a month or two, and didn’t have any friends, but my brother and I weren’t friends, either. We were more like two convicts reluctantly stuck in the same prison; neither one able to stand each other for long, but bound together by the ties of family and familiarity. My brother is casually licking at an ice cream cone, one he’d gotten from the ice cream truck that came around sometimes.

This teenage guy comes walking up – tall, lean, black haired and narrow faced, and my brother starts talking to him. He’s about fifteen or so, and I don’t pay much attention, but what is coming from my brother’s mouth catches my attention.

“He can beat you up,” my brother says, nodding at me. “He beats up teenagers.”

I inwardly cringe. I don’t want to fight anyone. But the teenager looks over at me with this look – one of scorn and disdain. I don’t like his look. It’s like he’s looking for someone to pick on, and my brother and I are alone.

“Your brother thinks you can beat me up,” he tells me. I size him up. He’s lean and wiry looking, a third taller than me. But I’m not going to lie.

“I’ve beat up older kids,” I grudgingly admit – and yeah, with a bit of pride.

“I don’t think you can beat me up,” he states it as a matter-of-fact. I shrug. I don’t care. I’m not looking for a fight – especially not a tough one.

“He can, you know,” my brother eggs him on. “I’ve seen him take on BIG kids and beat them. You ain’t nuthin’.”

The teenager eyes me speculatively, then turns to my brother.

“You’re lying,” he says, shoving my brother. My brother stumbled back a step, then the teenager came over to me and stands there defiantly, his hands on his hips.

“You think you can beat me up?” he demands.

I stop – I was on my way over to the monkey bars – and look at him again.

“I don’t know,” I say, nonchalantly. “Maybe.” Again, I am telling the truth. This kid is tall, strong, and I’m beginning to see he’s sort of mean, too.

That’s when he shoved me. He should of never shoved me. My temper was already starting to cook over what my brother was saying and doing – and now this guy is going to shove me.

So the fight was on.

I came in low, like I always did, and me and the teenager tangle. His reach doesn’t count since I’m already up against him – and we fight.

It was a long, drawn out fight. We tangled over the sand, then onto the monkey bars. That was the hardest, riskiest part – balancing on the bars, hanging on with one hand, and trying to strike with the other. We both got in some licks, but it was to my advantage, and I knew it. I could squeeze between the bars easier than the teenager, and I used it to my advantage. But he could dance around the outside of the cage of metal squares quicker than I, using his long arms and legs to cross over the empty spaces. We are going around and around like a pair of mismatched monkeys, trading licks – I can see his narrow face, the eyebrows pinched in concentration as he’d throw a fist at me, or try to kick down through the bars – and me, hot and sweaty, getting tired, trying to keep some distance between us. My heart really isn’t in the fight – I didn’t want it to begin with – and I am a bit confused, since I don’t know this kid, didn’t want to fight him, and really would much rather just be playing. But the guy won’t stop; he keeps on chasing me around, and we get in little tussles on the bars, wrestling, scratching, and trading punches. He gets a couple good licks in and I get mine, when I look down and what do I see?

There is my brother, standing on the ground, watching us – and licking an ice cream cone, as though he is at the circus or something. Not coming in to help me, not lifting a finger in my defense – and yet this is HIS fight, the one HE picked – and I’m having to deal with the consequences!

That just blew a fuse in my mind. I mean I went from ‘not really caring’ to ‘simply enraged’. And my rage was more at my brother – the one whom I’d rescued so many times from fights he’d caused, the one I’d beat up my best friend over – and the little SOB is standing there licking on an ice cream and watching us fight. The only thing I wanted to do was get down and kick my brother’s ass – but I couldn’t. I had to take care of this stupid bored teenager first.

I barely remember what happened then. I remember launching myself full bore into the teenager’s chest, driving him down through the bars, riding him like a cushion. I think he hit his head on a few bars on the way down; I know he ended up on the ground inside the cage, his arm hung across one of the bars. And he was groaning, not moving a whole lot. Maybe I’d knocked the wind out of him, riding him down like that. But I didn’t care. I immediately got up and went over to my brother, who was standing there agape, the ice cream melting and running down his cone.

“GD you,” I said (only I used the words, not the initials). “Why didn’t you come and help me? YOU picked the fight!” (This is just paraphrasing; I was so mad I wanted to just chew him up and spit him out.)

“I was eating ice cream!” he protested, as though that simple activity was all the excuse he needed.

I angrily stared at him for a moment. He licks his ice cream. And I guess it was then I decided: I wasn’t ever going to stand up for him again, let him suck me into another fight. Not for him. Not when he was just going to stand there eating his ice cream and watch me face some threat.

Never again, I sort of silently promised myself, more with angry feelings than words as I stalked off the playground.

And I never break my promises.

That was the last time I ever fought for him.