When I returned home, after the fight in the park, I searched my Junior High yearbook for the number of a friend I had who lived in the unincorporated part of town. He was smaller than me and extremely awkward. He had hay fever allergies so bad his nose ran all the time. His eyes were always red and he looked anemic. He wore hand me down concert t shirts, that were faded and oversized, every single day. They never looked clean. For every muscular, athletic and socially popular friend I had… I seemed to have an equally matched friend from an alternate universe. I considered myself an awkward social outcast. I had been robbed of girlfriends, beaten up and humiliated enough to not completely trust anyone. Everyone I met was a potential threat. The outcast friends I had posed no threat to me. They didn’t think in terms of physicality. Generally speaking, their interests leaned towards laughing and music. I enjoyed the social outcasts… I could be myself around them. Eric, from unincorporated Oak Forest, Illinois, knew the kid who broke my nose at the mall that day. The kid beat Eric up plenty of times throughout his life thus far, and lived only two blocks away from him.
I met Eric at his house about two hours after my fight at the park. I told him I was looking for our pal, the tough guy, and wanted to make sure he knew I was going to be a freshman at High School in a few weeks. Our pal was going into his junior year at the same H.S. Eric and I would be attending. Eric just laughed and laughed at this suggestion. Looking back I believe he thought I wasn’t serious. It was too odd for little guys to go looking for bullies. He said it kind of reminded him of the cartoon of Spike, the muscular pitbull, and his little pal the Chihuahua. Eric and I knew this cartoon real well. We were the Chihuahuas. We had watched it several times while converting my old KISS albums to the new technology of cassette tape. I think Eric was more interested in seeing how this joke played out, he was obviously fucking bored, and agreed to take me to our pals house. As he laughed and sarcastically offered to pick up big sticks from the road for me, to hit our pal with, I was more focused on the fear. The fear came a lot in those days. I had just felt it a few hours ago on my way to the park. What I knew about the fear from today was, like most feelings, it could be ignored to get through the task at hand. Fear made my body uncomfortable. I would begin to sweat, my hands would start to tingle and I wouldn’t be able to swallow. Above all else was the thoughts.. the rapid fire thoughts that I had no control over.. they played out scenarios of situations I had no control over. I learned, on that day, how to stuff the fear.
We pulled up to the bullies house and Eric stayed across the street. He had a smile on his face and told me good luck. I rode my bike up to the door and let it fall on the lawn. I rang the doorbell. The bully answered the door. I asked him to come outside and talk to me on the lawn. He agreed, without hesitation, like this happened everyday in his life. I found it odd. As we reached the center of the front lawn I turned to face him. He was more interested in Eric, across the street, who by this point had lost his smile and laughter. He was stone faced. I told the bully I was here to return the punches he gave to me at the mall a year ago, I paused, then I started to swing. I hit him with five straight right hand punches as hard as I could. He fell to his knees. At this point, out of desperation, he grabbed for my legs. As he grabbed my legs, I grabbed his hair. I yanked his hair back hard exposing his face to the sky. I had full intention of delivering as much devastation to his face as I could on this day. THE FEAR HAD TURNED TO RAGE. As he looked to the sky, he calmly said to me, “I have had enough”. It was done. His words dissolved my rage. I left him there on the lawn as I fetched my bike. I rode towards Eric, who’s jaw was hanging wide open.. like he was catching flies from the air. We both pedaled off towards Eric’s house.
Eric was so excited and enthusiastic that he didn’t know what to do with himself. When we got to the front door of his house, he erupted into dance and song, singing “We are the Champions”… over and over and over. I couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t so much his enthusiasm or over excitement that made me laugh. It wasn’t even his choice of cheesy lyrics that he was singing. I was completely entertained watching an 80lb kid with a runny nose try to hold his oversized levis up as he danced on the lawn.
Eric went into the house begging me to stay just long enough for him to go get something and return. I reluctantly agreed due to my longing to go home and block out the world by locking the door to my room and listening to AC/DC. When Eric returned he was holding an already lit joint of weed. He took a hit and offered it to me.. right there.. in front of his house. I was in a state of euphoria mixed with exhaustion and relief… I took the joint. He walked me through my first hit.. I exhaled.. and went home.
After hours and hours of listening to AC/DC alone in my room, completely stoned off my ass at the age of 13, I decided I would have to get some of my own weed as soon as possible.