Sunday, June 18, 2006

Do-overs

Since I've been having writers block, I decided to use one of Susan Taylor Brown's writing prompts. Here it is:

The fight

I was not the type of kid who could fight. But where I lacked brawn, I made up for in sheer craziness. When danger cornered me, dirty words became my defense mechanism. I defended myself with four-letter words, and threats of what would happen should I get my hands on the poor soul who threatened me. I scared my foes, leaving them to think I was a straight-up, out-of-my-mind lunatic. I played crazy because nobody messed with crazy people. Bullies dished out beatings, but crazy folks might kill you.

I think that's why Andre jumped me the way he did. He was scared.

Our mother's had been best of friends since early childhood, so, of course, we were paired together from birth — born one day apart. Andre and I weren't particularly close, but because of the relationship between our mothers, we became good friends. Our families went to the same church. We were first on each other's birthday lists. We both worked together for my grandfather, an entrepreneur, who ran a small building maintenance company. As Andre and I got older, we grew apart. He was heavily into sports; I was artsy. He liked rock music; I liked funk. He sang in glee club; I thought glee club was for geeks. We just didn't mix.

We were about 11-years old when the fight happened. I was visiting an aunt, who lived across an alley from Andre's family. Loris, one of my cousins, and I sat outside on a stoop listening to Earth, Wind and Fire on an 8-track. That's when her best friend, Lyda storms up, telling me that Andre was waiting for me in the alley, wanted to fight. I had no idea why, but the reason didn't matter — I was in the company of two girls. If Andre wanted to fight, there'd be a fight, or at least a standoff that would give me a chance to spout off at the mouth. My plan was simple: I'd scare him away with the best of my trash talk. I put on my armor — the dirtiest words I could think of — and headed up the hill to the back alley. Once there, I started firing my weapons. "Where's the mu%@$er? He wants to fight?— well bring it on, I'm kicking his @$$," I said, standing beneath the overhang of my aunt's garage. The girls looked frightened. My tactic was working, I thought.

The next voice I heard was Andre's, and it came from the sky. As I looked up, he came flying down on top of me like a dive bomb from an airplane. He had been waiting, perched high above on the roof. The force of his 140-pound body — 40-pounds heavier than mine — knocked me to the ground. Everything went dark as my body slammed — face first — into the gravel beneath me. He came to rest spread eagle on my back, pummeling me. His fists slammed into the back of my head like lightening, driving my face further into the sharp rocks, broken glass, and gravel. My skin tore, and when I briefly opened my eyes, I saw my own blood. My ears burned from the friction of each punch. My body went weak, not only out of fear, but from having had the air knocked clean out of me.

As fast as it all happened, it ended. Andre jumped up and darted home through the alley, Lyda chasing behind him. I lay there, crying, too ashamed to look up at my cousin, who surly was staring at me. The fact that I cried hurt worse than the beating itself.

I didn't learn until later that the fight came as the result of a lie, something that Lyda had fabricated. And no explanation was offered as to why she told the lie on me. Andre and I made up, but remained distant from that day on.

If I could retell the story, the only thing I would change is the cry. The beating taught me that sharp tongues will get you nowhere, particularly when you are about to get the snot beat out of you — that it's smart to use good words to exercise diplomacy. The cry, however, for some reason, has haunted me every since that day.

2 comments:

rindambyers said...

You?!!! Writer's block? I DON'T believe it! Naaaah! You didn't convince me about the writer's block......

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Hey Don - glad to hear you found a prompt of use to you. You just wrote a great scene...perhaps there's a middle grade novel in your future?

Susan Taylor Brown
http://susanwrites/livejournal.com