Why I Fight / Chapter 1

DON’T call me kiddo. I REALLY hate it. People been calling me that way too long. Fever and Ma and Uncle Spade all call me kiddo, and it makes me crazy. See how I ain’t smiling? People who know me, know that means trouble. Oh man. Look at me, all wet and shaking and messed up– JEEZ, and blood on my fist. I ain’t a good guy. Even my own ma says I’m trouble. I just left her and Fever again, but I ain’t never going back.

Gosh, my knuckles hurt. Look, I can’t barely make a fist. I’m used to the pain, but this hurts different. I been bare-fist fighting a long time now and I know how to keep from busting my bones or shattering my wrist. Learned the hard way. I’ve cracked a bunch of ribs and fractured my eye socket in a few spots. Can’t count how many times my nose has been snapped. But, believe me, I done some damage too, sent guys to the hospital a bunch. I was real good at winning. So what I’m saying is, I don’t care that my fist hurts. What’s peeving me is this dried blood on my knuckles. Listen, soon I’m going to need some ice for this swelling.

See, Fever and me, we’d got this parking lot together. We planned it and bought it and built it together, him and me. Used most of my leftover fight money. It was a big deal, us two working together after me being away almost six years. And tonight was opening night, but junk went wrong. This is Fever’s blood on my knuckles. He got me so peeved I popped him in the face. I usually got better control than that. I gotta calm down now. Take a deep breath.

What happened was, back on my twelve-and-half birthday, we was suddenly homeless and got put in the Downtown City Shelter. I didn’t got no shoes and my feet were real cold and real dirty, so this super nice social-worker lady, she tried to find me sneakers that’d fit, which ain’t easy. Me being already six foot tall with my feet was as big then as they are now. I rubbed them while I waited, locked in that old lady’s office, listening to Ma stomp around outside the door and wail about how she wanted to kill herself. Fever hollered too. Pounded on the door, saying I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE, WYATT! Made me smile, knowing they were finally thinking about me. Fever hollered at all the city workers how he wanted to kill me. Those workers gave them both pills to quiet down, then put them in locked rooms. Later, even though I still didn’t got no shoes, I took some of those pills too. And when I woke up, there my uncle was, kneeling by my cot, whispering:

–Come on, kiddo, let’s get you out of here. You’re coming with me.


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© 2008 J. Adams Oaks