When we were kids, my brother, Wes, and his good friend, John, found an injured bird. Wes wanted to save it. John wanted to kill it, mercifully. A fight ensued. When I say fight, I mean fight. They weren’t slapping each other in silliness. Punching and shoving proceeded. The argument went on for weeks.
My sister and I walked home from school. The disagreement between my brother and John raged on. John and two other thugs thought it would be fun to torment us. “Just give them a little a shove…” He demonstrated a slight push. However, the hooligans took him seriously. They ran and pushed with all their might. I landed in the middle of the street with a car coming towards me. Okay, there was a car on the road, doing at least ten miles per hour, but still an imminent threat. My sister ran to help me. Apparently, the malcontents thought they would finish the job. They trotted down with their fists raised and planned to “take care” of my sister and I. John came to his senses and defended us. For a skinny kid, he had a reputation as a tough guy. He fought them off with little effort. They ran home crying.
It should be understood that our families were close. We exchanged Christmas cookies with their fruitcake. Our parents were friends, and my brother was friends with all three of their boys. They were always at our house. We were good neighbors. No way would John have let those boys beat us up. He knew he was wrong and he proved it. After he ran off the wimpy adolescents, he and my sister helped me up out of the street. Without taking a breath he said in rapid fire delivery, “I’m really sorry. Tell Wes I want to be his friend again.” With that he ran off. My sister and I limped home, bawling like the little girls we were.
I bear the scar of the mangled knee still today. The thing got infected, and remained a constant problem for many, many months. The scar looks like the state of Texas without the panhandle. (I was going to take a picture of it for your viewing pleasure, but that would mean I would have to shave my legs. And let’s face it, that’s not happening. It’s the dead of winter and I need all the warmth I can get.)
Had this incident occurred in today’s world, my parents would have had a meeting with their parents. The principal would have been involved and a school counselor would have counseled us for months. The bad boys would have been suspended. (About time.) We all would have been sent to a psychologist and in the end we’d sing Kum-bay-ya.
Recently, I asked my mom, did they have any conversations with John’s parents? Why didn’t my mom bang on their door and ask to speak to him? Why didn’t my dad go up and talk to his dad? What about the other boys? Why didn’t they sort it out? Blank stare. When I say blank stare, I mean literally deer in the headlights, who are you and what are you doing here? She recalls my knee injury. She bandaged it. I was the walking wounded for nearly a year. She remembers the fight over DoDo, but can’t recall how I injured my knee. I asked my brother. He remembers the fight. He remembers the bird. I asked my sister. She was there! She helped me up. She cried with me. We limped home together! Blank stare. Everybody remembers the dadgummit freaking now dead bird, but no one can recall what happened to me!
I lifted my knee and showed a little leg. “SEE!!! More blank stares.
John has moved away and works for a bank. I’m sure he’s not spending his nights perusing blog posts on the chance his former neighbor may have written a blog about him, but surely he might remember. Granted it is some forty plus years later. My family probably doesn’t recollect because it’s kind of an ugly story. Someone they care about got injured.
I can’t recall how the bird did meet his maker. If I ask my family, they are liable to say, “You mean Tweety? We buried her in a shoe box under the Walnut tree next to our dead beagle and your pet rabbit.” I don’t think I could stand to find out they remember how Foghorn Leghorn entered into eternal heaven when the tragic details of my lifelong maiming have long been forgotten.