I loved being a kid. I loved impromptu games of kickball and climbing fences and walking barefoot on fresh hot tar. I loved my friends. I loved Wendy and Angela most, but I also loved the neighborhood kids and my classmates as well. I loved them so fiercely, especially the ones I saw as weaker, that I would kick the ass of anyone who caused anyone any grief. I guess I maybe had a reputation.
Laura fancied herself as tough stuff and came looking for a fight. For that reason alone, I should have taken an extra hit of joy in knocking that clown down. I made short order of Laura, but it was a joyless exercise. I realized that once people started searching me out to challenge the champion, then I was no longer, nor maybe ever was, defender of of the little guy. I was just a target for every wannabe tough kid.
With one last face shove in the dirt, I got up, my brain reeling in confusion. Yes, I kicked her ass in front of her friends who had just told her they would jump in but who didn't. Yes, she was more stout than I, but I was an inch or so taller. Not only did I not want to be My Bodyguard*anymore, I also didn't want to be part of that sort of humiliation, even when people deserved it. I determined Laura was my last beat down. I was finished and I said so.
Laura got up with grass in her hair, clothing askew, and obligatory dirt smears on her arm and cheek and asked for more. I couldn't believe it. She hadn't even caught her breath from the last round! "Nah, I think we are done here," I said. "Are you scared?" she asked. Hell no I wasn't scared; I had just kicked her ass! I laughed incredulously, but couldn't think of the gracious way out, so I turned away and began walking home. She shoved me and her previously mute friends renewed their empty promises.
I faced them in disbelief. I was absolutely NOT used to people not accepting my word for gospel. "I said I was done." "Because you're a big ol' chicken!" Laura said and her friends clucked in agreement. Then I said the dumbest thing of all. "Can't you hear my mom calling?"
* Did I mention I am a