Monday, August 1, 2011



I didn't feel the first punch or second or third. I was trying to get home before dark,  i knew of a short-cut.  Ride my bike over some lawns, go behind a few houses and end up back on the street. Simple.
I was on my way back from the gas station, a mile or two west of my home."Up to the corner " is where i told my Mom i was going.  I bought a Coke,  the icy cold bottle in one hand, small change curled in my other fists. I rode fast and hard , i was feeling lucky so cut across the lawns and found the next street over.
  Kids fought kids for all reasons and no reasons in this neighborhood. It was 1979 i was 10. Small houses crowded close with peeling paint lined the street. It was dinner time and i thought i could make out the smells of  tater-tots or hamburger helper.  From the corner of my eye, I spotted them sitting on the sidewalk.  4 or 5 kids, passing around a cigarette, and one straddling a bike. I peddled fast but the kid on the bike wheeled out in front me,  blocking the road  the group of kids all got up at once.  I tried to ride around but one of them pushed me and i fell in the street. Coke bottle and coins and bike and skin crashing to the asphalt. I could smell fresh cut lawn, i could smell sweat and cigarettes. I heard Rockaway beach by the Ramones playing from an open window. My arm was already bleeding from scraping the road.  I knew what was coming next. fists and feet flying from all around.  The bigger kids hung back and shouted " Kick his ass Stevie!, Take his fucking bike, take his fucking bike!, "  I felt a few punches but they didn't hurt much. My Dad it me harder than any kid could ever punch.  I got up and started grabbing and punching. It's what i usually did in fights- a short flurry of crazy. I didn't like fighting, i knew kids who could fight. that liked it, were good at it even. But, what was worse, having my bike taken or having to walk back home and face my Dad ? I knew i had to fight either way. At least some blood would prove i tried. and i did, I fought back and then got shoved down and took the beating,  I thought about grabbing the broken Coke bottle  i thought about breaking free and running over picking it up and tearing it across one of these kids faces. hurting them real bad. Finally, one of the bigger kids went over to my bike, now laying on its side by the curb. He got on and called back to his buddies "Come on"   The kids started walking away, but not before one of them got in one last kick. I got up and saw the sun almost gone, I liked the color of the sky,  purple- black just before it turned dark. I heard laughing in the distance. A faucet running, someone doing the dishes. I barely made out the back of a kids shirt and my bike carrying him away.

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