I made the paper!=/ (564 words)
| It all happened so fast. He had taunted us from the street, and then took off running. We exploded from the small circle we stood in, talking of the night's earlier events. A long distance runner, I had caught up to him first. He was unarmed so I held back.
"You ain't no Cot-trell" he'd said to me.
"No, but I'll fight for them", my harsh reply.
Jesse then passed from the glare of the street light into the shadow of a tall holly tree. His home was right on the other side of this yard, over on 7th street. The rattle of the gate told me that he was going through it and on home. Following him would have been even stupider than chasing him was in the first place, on the night of his eighteenth birthday party. My line of thought was that his friends were lying in wait to ambush us at his parent's house.
I had only turned for a split second to see where my friends were...
There I stood, a lean boy of thirteen, muscles twitching as adrenaline rushed through my veins, chest heaving from the 150 yard sprint. The four-foot piece of galvanized fence post felt cold in the October air, or maybe I was just hot for some payback for what he and his friends had done. All Old Man Crow did was yell at them to get off the property. They didn't have to beat him with a tire iron. My personal code of honor and need to defend my friends has always negated any pretense of fear that I would normally feel. In situations like this it fills me with a sense of righteous invincibility.
In that split second... that small twist of my neck and averting of my eyes... Jesse erupted from the shadow. A garden shovel, found just inside the fence, in full forward motion. Too late to even react, the corner of the top of the blade skipped off the crown of my head and then its edge sliced my face deep, just missing my temple. Dazed, I launched the pipe at his torso. He countered with every bit of strength he had and caught me square in the ribcage.
I stood slumped over a bit, galvanized pipe still in hand seeking a point of entry. In his frustration at my refusal to just go down and stay down, he swept the shovel across my ankles breaking its handle.
Down I went on to the pavement...
Everything went black.
Because of this one split second in time, I needed eight stitches on the top of my head and fifty-six in my face. He had broken two of my ribs and my ankle and I would have to spend the next two weeks in the hospital. I would be on crutches for another two months. A judge would give each of us a years probation. And, since the shovel was used to pick up dog crap, the story in our regional newspaper would read:
"Boy Assaulted With Pooper-Scooper"
That distinction would take away even the reputation I would have received for being so daring/stupid/insane as to face one of the meanest and most-feared guys in town.
About a year later we'd start a friendship that would span for many years more than most I've had in this life.