It was a warm, slightly overcast, Thursday afternoon, heading into fall. Two low wattage bulbs barely lit the dark, one room newspaper shack. We called it a shack because it consisted of 2” x 4” materials, with a door, a small steel barred window and without insulation on the walls. My older brother and I finished placing weekly adverts in the papers and headed out to deliver them.
A large group of mature, lonely poplar trees quietly towered behind the shack, extending an easy thirty feet into an open ravine. Two fairly lanky kids approached. “So, this is the tough guy that wants to fight?” mouthed the first kid, with a smug look smeared across his nasty looking face. The other kid seemed clean-cut. I wondered why my brother planned to fight the second kid. My brother had never been in a fight!
Turns out, it was my fight and my brother failed to advise me of my disposition. My brother wagered a bet that I could kick something or other out of the one kid. Once I figured out the slant this was taking, I was scared half to death. With my body starting to shake from fear, I nervously asked my brother how I was supposed to win this fight. I’d also never fought a real fight, in my life. The guy was clearly older and much larger. His only response was, “Kick him between the legs and the fight will end immediately”.
Alarms started sounding off inside my head as I could not imagine the pain I was asked to inflict. “I can’t kick the ape there”. This was in the late 60’s and they were just teaching us about peace and love, in the schools.
Without further warning, I was in the middle of this most unwelcomed fight and did not get a chance to admit that I needed to pee, possibly in my pants. The kid struck me with the force of a tornado, backed up with a burst of unwelcomed, painful kicks and lightning quick punches. He looked like he’d been in many fights, which did not help my feeling of self-worth, or what was left of it!
Things started to change rapidly, but not in my favor. He knocked me to the ground and began dropping the entire weight of his body onto my fragile head. After four or five strikes, I thought he was going to end my life, but not before I’d pass out. His butt landed on my dazed, spinning head. Unaware of which butt cheek that was now firmly locked into my teeth did not matter, as I felt the fight was about ready to finally take a better turn, in my favor. The intent was to ensure that I inflicted just enough pain that he would not come after me for a round two.
The air was filled with these incredibly delightful sounds of joyful music, to my pink, swollen, squashed outer ears. The feeling of becoming massacred started to slowly fade away. This now became my only hope of recovering after my failed attempt to execute that initial fatal kick. The kid did everything he could to free himself from the excruciating pain that he was now emotionally connecting with. I was not planning on letting go until he called, by this time, screamed, the proverbial, “Uncle”.
An elderly gentleman jumped in expecting to simply break up the fight. I’m sure he figured he would just pull us apart. He was not aware that we had become entangled, quite the way we were. With my second wind still shining, I had no immediate plans of changing my position with this maniac. The older fellow attempted unsuccessfully for several minutes to pull or shake me loose. His final attempt worked by somehow holding my pant leg down with his foot and gave one final yank that jerked the other kid from my successful deadlock. Off ran the kid, screaming and crying. The elderly man felt satisfied that he’d done his community duty and left in his automobile.
Torn, tattered, bruised, shattered and completely shaken, literally shaken, so to speak, I stood and listened to the other two finish negotiations. Even though I felt I’d finally won the fight, my brother and the other fellow agreed that it ended in a tie. My victory seemed spoiled.
Later that evening, the doorbell rang, with my mother answering it. There was the maniac who tried to wipe me off the face of this earth. I was appalled when I found out the bet was only for about five dollars. I was motioned to the door and was now in fear of the trouble I may be in. I was surprised to receive a sincere apology, based on the incriminating evidence his mother dragged out of him, during her motherly interrogation.
Believing that I now had what was needed to claim victory, I was feeling better. Like the lighting kicks inflicted on me during phase one of the fight, my mother did not miss a beat and quickly removed my win, right in front of me. I was forced to apologize to the frump. Now the two of us were both sitting at ground zero with all bragging rights snatched away. Thanks to my mother, who actually made this wise decision, I lost my final chance to call it a win. That actually took about twenty years for me to figure out.
Everybody more or less lived happily ever after, mainly because there was no rematch planned. To this day I often wonder what sort of ridiculous excuses he may have given to his future wife, to compensate for the lifetime of scars, I am sure he incurred. How would you cover that one up? School doctors do not normally vaccinate in that area. Surely none that would match the size of his long lasting wounds. Oh well!