As he was pulled backward, I saw my chance. Even through my half-swollen eyes.
I fired off two right punches, as hard as I could, and they found their mark on his left jaw. The look on his face turned from anger to full-blown rage as I turned and bolted down the stairs . . .
I’ve always been told that I’m calm. One of the most tranquil people that others have known. Despite if I’m in an emergency situation, like performing CPR or titrating drugs on an exiting soul. Or when sitting on the bench when a childish argument breaks out between opposing legal counsel. Or when someone held a knife to my throat – in jest, of course, even though I didn’t know that at the time. Or in the middle of a heated discussion or argument with an ex. Or when being interrogated by an attorney in a deposition – for three draining hours. Or being the subject of a drunk’s delusion-driven escalation in a dive bar. Or when my brother’s girlfriend drew down on me with a 30.06. Or even when having handcuffs clamped around my wrists – a future instantaneously becoming uncertain.
Placid, serene, composed, harmonious. The very portrait of the classic pastoral landscape. Rolling hills, wooded acres, a pond without a single ripple. A pair of Swans, in all their grace, napping on those gentle waters.
Is it calm, or perhaps just a delayed reaction? A GABA induced neurotransmission. A mantra of
Om Shanti Om . . .
So, it might surprise some to discover that I wasn’t always like this.
Nope, I was a young man once. With raging hormones. And with little to no filter, I always spoke, or shouted, my thoughts. Instantly. No time for hitting the pause button. To think through any consequences.
Perhaps the worst time I expressed myself in this manner was when I was fired from my job as a lab assistant. Back during my college days. It was one of only two times in my life that I was asked to vacate a position. This one near the beginning of my careers, and the other bringing my careers to an end. And this was the only time of those two instances when I had actually earned the termination.
Even so, the hospital’s attorney recommended they rehire me or they could face a lawsuit for wrongful termination. But the hospital wouldn’t budge. So, I had a “conversation” with the CEO. That rapidly deteriorated.
He purposely provoked me as he wished to build another reason to justify my firing. But I was too blind to see that at that moment and raged on about the injustice. His perpetrated injustice. And his intentional ignorance.
As my anger flared, I stepped towards him, fists clenched: “You don’t need to sit here in your little cave! Get out there and check out what I’m telling you!”
Fortunately, a friend intervened and escorted me out of his office before things degenerated further.
It’s really funny, thinking back. I was one to always avoid a fight. Primarily for survival. You see, I’m not exactly Paul Bunyon in stature.
I think it is in the nature of young men to behave this way. Volatile. Head strong. Righteous indignation. That’s why strenuous labor is a good medicine for that age. Burns off that raging fire without anyone getting hurt.
But this time, the time of a real fight, I wasn’t even provoked. I had no opportunity to choose being calm or aggressive. The situation, or the person, was thrust upon me. And of all people, it was one of my brothers. And of all of the times, it was on Thanksgiving Day. And in all of the possible scenarios, it was a day when the entire family was together after years of only partial meetings.
And it was me who brought the turkey that was in the oven baking.
The turkey was my early Christmas bonus, given to me by the blood plasma donor center I was working for in downtown K.C. I had taken the bonus and run and was preparing to hit the road. Again. Two months had seemed like an eternity in one place and winter was setting in.
Itchy feet. Highway song.
My brother had asked to join me on the journey, which was fine, but he was becoming insistent about leaving immediately. And more insistent. And more insistent. And then angrily demanding.
And when I kept on saying no, I wanted to have dinner with the family, he stood up and screamed: “Ok, now I’m going to fight you Marine style!!!!!!!!”
And he was an ex-Marine.
He suddenly came out his chair and charged me. I instinctively stood and began blocking punches.
My mother was screaming at us to stop. And my other brother and my father seemed paralyzed for a few seconds trying to comprehend what was happening.
It was all I could do to block, much more get in a punch myself. I thrashed out wildly hoping to connect. Hoping he would quit or back down. But he didn’t.
I vividly remember the punch that hit me square in the face. Right eye orbit. Hard. I felt my neck pop.
I was some what surprised because there was really no pain. At that moment. I remember my fear vanishing. I thought I could take this beating and be ok, so punch back. Punch back hard!
I had somehow advanced and backed my brother up the stairs to the second story of the house. And then my father and other brother intervened and tried to break it up. They pulled my brother back off me as I was absorbing more of his blows and, once they were holding him, I saw my chance to lay in those two good punches. After taking the beating I had, I felt like I was going to get even, as much as I could.
So, I let those two fly. Landed them solid. And dove down the stairs.
Only to be greeted by the police, who were called by my mother.
The officer introduced himself as a former high school classmate and asked what the problem was.
I responded: “You! You’re the problem!”
Funny how stuff works. Now my brother joined me, no longer attacking me, and we both faced off with the police. Weird how things can unite you.
Options shifted. The smart thing was to leave, both of us, together.
Driving West now. Pure white snow was lightly falling. Silence enveloped us. Blood dripping down my face. Right eye completely swollen shut. With the brother who had inflicted my injuries sitting by my side . . .
And I never did get a bite of that turkey . . .
Photo: I could have gone several ways with the feature pic. I thought about using the Bison – extremely clam in its disposition. At least it appears so. It can turn aggressive and attack with a moments provocation, and you might not know what the provocation was. You would have it coming, I’m sure. But then I thought no, the serene and quiet of the snow falling while on the road. That fit too, and there can still be a bit of treachery hidden amongst the calm.