I was taking my daily stroll, and figured I’d swing by the bank to deposit my tax return check. A few minutes into the journey a group of kids doing wheelies on their bikes rode by in bunches of 5 or 6. They were obnoxiously going over their plans for the day, jokingly calling each other faggots, and yelling out whatever else 14 year olds yell about, as one fat kid was pleading “wait up, guys!” from a block behind. The weather was getting warmer, and these passing encounters were becoming an annoying regularity. I began to wonder, if I rocked one of these kids off their bike, mid wheelie, how many more could I take out before they overwhelmed me and fucked me up?
When I was about 9, me and my two sisters were sitting in the living room of our old house. It was a fairly small house for 5 kids to be living in, my oldest brother Frank was the only one to have a room to himself. It was a Saturday, so we were just sitting around watching TV or listening to music when we heard Frank’s door open, you could always hear any door that was being opened in the entire house, no matter what room you were in. Frank’s door opened around noon and we thought nothing of it, it was common practice for both my brothers to stagger out of their rooms later in the day, a lot of the times they would call for me to bring them water because they were too hungover to get up, plus they knew I was happy to help. So we thought nothing of it until he carefully came down the 5-6 steps to the living room, and his face was mangled with cuts, scrapes, and bruises. There didn’t seem to be an inch of his face that was unaffected. We slightly gasped, eyes wide, and looked around at each other and him. He closed his already half shut eyes and softly shook his head as if saying ‘don’t ask.’ We didn’t, we knew we’d hear at least some of the story when our parents got home and saw his face, anyway. “Tommy,” his voice was hoarse, “get me a water, please.” I was happy to help.
We were all over Frank’s new house to watch a Canelo Alvarez pay-per-view. I don’t remember who he fought, but it was over quickly. So what usually happened at such gatherings happened, the gals formed a gal circle and talked about weddings or whatever, and we talked about the fight, which in turn, got my brothers recalling their war stories. “I just remember having, I don’t even know how many people, kicking me in the face, but being on top of this one dude, and I was just choking the shit out of him and actually saying to him, as this is all happening,” Frank’s hands were now out in front of him, choking the air, “‘were both gonna die tonight mothafucka,’ cuz I really thought I was gonna die, all I could see was feet,” he said, laughing all the while. “I bet that dude still tells that story to this day, he must’ve been horrified, like how is this kid talking about killing me while he’s getting stomped in the face.” The story was being directed at me even though by now I had heard it plenty of times, it seemed to come up every couple of years. “Then finally, Al and Tim started ripping people off of me and got me up, and they were like ‘yo you’re fucked up, get on the bus,’ but I looked over and saw Dan just taking people out with a crutch and I was like ‘nah fuck that,’” he busted out laughing at this point, “and then I went after more people and like 5 dudes jumped on me again and Dan ran over and started taking them out with the crutch, I was like where the fuck this kid get a crutch?” Dan chimed in, “I took one of Steve’s crutches, that was after he fucked up his knee.” “Yea I had forgotten at the time, I guess due to the pummeling, but yea, then Dan got me up and got me on the bus, it was fuckin insane, pure mayhem.” “Yea,” Dan calmly agreed, “there was like 30 of them and like 10 of us, and one of us was on crutches, I think we still did pretty good,” then he laughed, “but it was still bad… I think you got it the worst.” Frank’s laughing fit had died down and he calmly replied, “yea it was pretty bad,” he laughed again, “I’m just happy I didn’t actually kill that kid, I don’t need that on my conscience.”
I guess it all depends on if they knew this attack was happening or not. If they knew, I could probably catch another 4 or 5 before their not yet fully developed fists and feet brought me down. But if they had no idea, at least half of them are booking it out of fear and sheer confusion. So let’s say there were 20, half of them bolt, plus the initial one I took out. That leaves 9. 9 confused, adolescents, I think I could take them all before they formed a united front.
I must’ve been 12 or 13, me and my friends were walking back from a movie, getting kicked out of a department store, calling each other faggots, whatever else 12 or 13 year olds did. We were about 20 minutes from home when another group of kids on bikes passed us. Nothing was said but there was certainly a fair deal of glaring. When they were almost out of earshot one of my friends yelled out “HEY!” or something, then shot them the finger. This was fairly common practice amongst 12 or 13 year olds, but perhaps ill-advised since they had bikes and we were on foot. A few minutes later the messenger from their group caught up to us and said they were gonna fuck us up. My friend who initiated all of this unconvincingly welcomed a fight, or perhaps it sounded unconvincing to me because I wanted no part of it. They had bikes for fuck’s sake, with pegs. This was what it must’ve felt like to see the Mongol Army approaching across the horizon for the first time. We continued walking and they continued following on their steads, 10-20 yards behind. We kept talking a good deal to hype ourselves up. “If they follow us around the bend, forget it.” “If they’re still behind us on Stoneham, that’s it.” “If they cross Guyon, we’re fucking them up.” “Oh god, I hope they follow us all the way back to the neighborhood, they won’t even know what hit ‘em.” Somewhere in the ever shifting line in the sand between Stoneham and Guyon, they retreated, lucky them. Sweet relief. The rest of the day we fantasized of the blood bath that would’ve ensued had they followed us a little longer.
I woke up on the couch at my brother’s apartment after a night of boozing. After some stirring, him and his girlfriend came out to the living room. None of us were in a real rush to do anything, so we sat around bullshitting, listening to music for a while. Somehow conversation drifted towards someone from his past that he used to wreak havoc with. Dan was 9 years older than me, so we didn’t hang much during his wreaking havoc days. “So these were the kids,” he was midway through the story about how he lost 98% hearing in his left ear, “these were the fuckin kids, and they, for some reason, I have no fuckin idea why, they came down to our neighborhood, and were talkin all this crazy shit.” His girlfriend Ashley was trying to get all the facts straight, “so wait…the kids you hit with the bowling pin, who then hit you with the bowling pin, later came down to where you hung out? To do what?” “Yea…well that was the thing, I’m not sure what they thought was gonna happen…but it was bad, my god, it was fuckin bad,” he said while laughing and shaking his head. “Why,” Ashley asked, “did you beat them up?” “Putting it lightly, yea…well I didn’t do anything, the fellas, uh,” Dan laughed again, “the fellas wouldn’t let me, they said they’d take care of it. So the kid Dave, my friend Dave, this is so wild thinking back on it, so the one kid’s sitting on the curb for some reason, tryin to look all cocky and talkin shit, and Dave just goes ‘oh shit! Look out for ya boy!’ and our other friend Steve came out of nowhere with a half full 40, and broke it over this kid’s head.” Dan was still chuckling and shaking his head, Ashley put her hands over her mouth and looked over at me as if to say ‘do you believe this?’ I could, I could believe it. I’ve heard this story and many more like it a million times over. “Oh my god, what the fuck,” she said. Dan continued “so yea, they just went to town on these kids…oh man it was fuckin bad, Jesus Christ, haha.” “Why are you laughing?!” “Cuz fuck them, they almost killed me.” “Well you hit somebody first.” “Well yea, I kinda had it coming, but still, fuck them anyway. Whatever, that’s how it was… crazy times.” She was shaking her head, not necessarily in disgust, more in amused disbelief, “a gang, you were in a fuckin gang.” “God…I think about all that stuff and it really seems like a whole other life, like a totally different life that didn’t actually happen.” She looked over at me, “meanwhile you’re so calm.” I smiled, “I just didn’t want to get smashed in the head with a bowling pin, I avoided all the mayhem.” Dan jumped back in, “that’s why I don’t speak to anybody from that era anymore, it just got to a point where I was just like ‘you know what, I don’t wanna do this anymore, I’m tired of beating the shit out of people because of my asshole friends.’” “Well why the fuck were you always beating the shit out of people,” she asked. “Because… we were a bunch of degenerates,” he laughed, “but it wasn’t all our fault, dudes would always start shit with us because there wasn’t a whole lot of us-whether it was over graffiti or a girl or fuckin whatever- they would have us wildly outnumbered but we were all maniacs and happened to be fuckin huge, so we would just fuckin charge them, and they’d be like ‘ahh AAHHHHHH’ and wouldn’t know what to do, and most of the time we’d win.” “A gang, you were a fuckin gang.” “It was just different times… My neighborhood was fuckin crazy growin’ up, it was only 3 blocks, but the concentration of lunatics in that place was insane. When I was like 12, this 16 year old just blasted me across the head with a 2×4…for no fuckin reason. I didn’t go outside for like 3 years.” She laughed, “and that’s when you said you got fat, right?” “Yea, I was horrified. I just stayed inside and ate entire pizzas, for like 3 years,” he said laughing and shaking his head.
The train let you off at the top of Guyon, it was about a mile and a half walk home. But it was on a downward slope, so even drunk at 2 in the morning it wasn’t too bad. Plus it was a beautiful summer night. A kid in my age range, 21, 22, something like that, got off the train a little before me. We were walking down the same side of Guyon, he was probably 2-3 blocks ahead of me. As I was approaching the main intersection at Hylan Blvd- which was about my halfway point- a car pulled up a block behind my fellow pedestrian, a kid with his hoodie up got out of the backseat, and began following him. I couldn’t tell if my fellow pedestrian noticed any of this happening, I slowed down a bit and used my peripherals to see if anyone was on my tail. Nothing yet. Before I arrived at the intersection the car pulled ahead of everybody and turned onto one of the crisscrossing side streets. Maybe I was in luck. My fellow pedestrian turned down a different street. Did he do this intentionally? I had no idea. The hooded kid jogged up in pursuit, but still appearing to keep a little distance. By the time I crossed the intersection, I had Guyon to myself, but it didn’t feel that way. I passed the street they turned on a minute later and nothing seemed to be happening, no sounds or signs of a struggle. Perhaps my fellow pedestrian escaped, perhaps he didn’t. I wasn’t sure which outcome would’ve worked more in my favor. Either way, I quickened my pace while trying to maintain a confident gait, and decided to forgo my usual shortcuts down side streets. A block before my normal shortcut, the same car slowly passed by me on the opposite side of Guyon, I pretended not to notice. I passed by my shortcut on Riga, passed Stoneham, and turned right on the next street, Mill. I gave one glance as I turned; the car had made a U-turn. Half way on Mill between the street I lived on and Guyon, another car was parked with people getting out of it. Civilians. Witnesses. The car slowly passed us all, but made the next left. My street was a one way, sandwiched in the middle of parallel running two way streets. All 3 ran about 1/3 of a mile long. All 3 were desolate, and I lived all the way at the bottom. I still had a chance if they didn’t park near the top. I jogged over, ducked behind a parked car, and peaked out. The car was stopped all the way down, seemingly right near my house. I figured this to be a coincidence, assuming these random assailants didn’t know where I lived. This would’ve been rotten luck if Dan hadn’t moved into the side apartment across from my parent’s house a few weeks prior. I ran down the sidewalk, slouching behind what few cars were parked there, until I got to an old friend’s vacant house, and ducked into his backyard to call Dan. He was home, he was awake, he didn’t really believe me, he sighed, “alright, gimme a minute.” He took a little longer than I would’ve liked. For 5-10 minutes I went between hiding and running out behind a parked car to peak my head out and see if the car was still there. And after 5-10 minutes the car pulled away and looped around to the adjacent street. I carefully jogged down towards my house; Dan appeared when I was almost all the way home. He was wearing basketball shorts and a white ginny-tee, covered in tattoos, and wielding my little league baseball bat, apparently it was his now. We met in the middle of the street, “well,” he looked around, “nobody’s here.” “They just turned the corner a minute ago, they were parked down there for like 10 minutes.” Alright,” he said, still not believing me, “and they followed you?” “Yea, maybe all the way from the train, I saw them tracking the kid ahead of me.” “Alright…you sure? You’re not just a little high? Paranoid, somethin’?” “Yea man, I’m fuckin sure, they’ve been following me since Hylan, and were parked down here and probably heard your door opening and drove off.” “Alright… guess we’ll just wait a minute and see if they come back.” He steadied the bat at the top of the barrel so it was standing on the asphalt, turned and started to piss in the middle of the street. A moment later headlights swept across the top of the block, a car was slowly coming down. “See man,” I said. “That’s the car?” “I can’t tell from here, but who else is it gonna be.” “Alright, let’s see what happens,” Dan said as he grabbed the handle of the bat. A minute later the car slowly passed us as we stood near the narrow sidewalk, staring in as they passed by. They parked in the middle of the street about 25 yards from us. We waited to see if anybody was getting out, when they didn’t Dan took a B-line for the car, my little league bat slightly shielded at his side, I followed right behind him. When we got within about 15 yards, two guys with their hoods up got out of the passenger side, the one who got out of the front seat leaned back in and grabbed something, then quickly stuck it in his pocket. They started to walk in our direction, but not straight at us. When we were a few yards out of striking distance, Dan slightly raised the bat and causally said, “hey fellas, what’s goin’ on tonight?” They put their heads down and walked right past us, opened the nearest gate, and scurried across the vacant backyards to the other parallel running street. The car peeled away, me and Dan stood in the middle of the street, watching them go. Dan looked at me and shrugged, “alright then.” We walked to his apartment and opened up a shitty bottle of wine. “Jesus man, what the fuck was that,” I said before taking a gulp. “A couple of fake frustrated tough guys cruising around on a Friday night looking for someone to beat on.” “What do you think that was the dude in the front seat grabbed?” “He grabbed something?” “Yea, he grabbed something as he was getting out and put it in his pocket.” “Really? I didn’t even see that, you sure?” “Yea, must’ve been like a Taser or some shit, it was small enough to fit in his pocket.” Dan took this in for a minute. “Hm, well now I’m pissed, I should’ve just cracked him with the fuckin’ bat if he had a Taser.” “Well I don’t know if it was definitely a Taser, just kinda looked like it.” He shook his head and looked off to the side for a second, “fuckin sweet boys. You know what, good thing I didn’t see that, good thing I didn’t see that and good thing Frank’s not here, we might be burying two bodies,” he laughed, “fuckin’ punks. That drives me nuts, it’s not bad enough you’re driving around jumping random people by themselves walking home, you need to fuckin electrocute them too. Good thing I didn’t see that fuckin pussy grab a Taser…” Dan went on about the ethics of brawling a bit more, while we polished off another bottle or two of Yellow Tail.
Then I started to think, what happened afterwards if I do level this group of bike riding teenagers. Say they are all sprawled out across the street and sidewalk, their bikes everywhere. It was a busy street, it might stop traffic. What happened next? There would be ample witnesses, possibly an adult who would see this heinous act and counter attack me. Even if it was someone I could normally take, I’d be tired from wailing on the children. Once I come to from my burst of fury, what’s my next move as I stood there, blood and bikes about? Do I continue to the bank? Turn and go home? Take a bike and make a run for it? It all seemed like a horrendous ending for me, so long story short, I didn’t do it.
I guess I was 19? 20? My friend was having a shindig in his basement apartment at his grandmother’s house, this was common practice at 19 or 20. A group of kids we knew to be douchebags showed up, and not too much later, began living up to their reputation. Well it started with one kid who I didn’t really know, friend of a friend, that kind of thing. Somebody called somebody else a faggot, and supposedly the other somebody was indeed gay. I never really got the story straight. I just saw a melee, and I didn’t really know the two kids at the bottom of the scrum, so I was just interested in keeping some order of peace for my friend and his grandmother’s sake. But once mayhem ensues, it’s difficult to retain peace. So there were kinda bodies everywhere, some trying to fight, most trying to break it up. I was one of the breaking it up people, until one of the main fighting people tried to throw a couple of haymakers at my friend whose house it was. I wasn’t sure what tunnel vision was, but that must’ve been the state I went into upon seeing these horrendously thrown punches in the direction of the party’s host. Outer body could’ve been another term, I yelled out, “YOU FUCKIN KIDDIN’ ME?” and darted in their direction, grabbed the assailant away from my friend, and rag dolled him what felt like 15 feet, across the lawn. As soon as I let him go, and he was sprawled out on the grass, attempting to get up, my other friend came out of nowhere to rock him in the face, but pulled up a tad last second and just forcefully tapped him with his fist. The first person I saw when I looked up was my friend’s grandmother, nervously leaning, half in half out, her screen door, staring at the ruckus. Thankfully nothing escalated after that, it might’ve killed her. I was replaying the brouhaha to my sisters and Frank the next day, before heading to a family BBQ. Upon the conclusion of my story, we headed out in separate cars. Me and my sisters in one, Frank and his girlfriend in the other. As we got in the car, Amy lit a cigarette and said “god, Frankie looked like he was gonna cream his pants while you were telling that little story.” Sue added, “reliving his past battles,” we laughed, “but seriously, don’t start being like them now, mom can’t handle another lunatic.” “I’m aware, it’s not like I went out looking for blood, this kid was swinging at my friend, what was I supposed to do.” “I know. I’m just saying… try to avoid it. You’re the good one, you can’t kill mom.” We laughed, and I rolled my eyes.
I arrived at the bank and deposited my tax return check. As I was coming out of the bank, an older guy of 75-80 was about 10 feet away. I walked through the door, waited a couple of extra seconds before leaving to hold the door open for him. “Thanks,” he said in a raspy tone, putting a little extra effort into his stride to take the door from me. “Have a good one,” I said with a smile. I nearly took a bow, what a gracious act.