By: Wyatt H Knott [2006-06-16]

Tough, Part II

characterized by severity or uncompromised determination

Yeah, I'm tougher than you are, but let's be clear from the word go: there is no epitome of tough, no acme of strength that cannot be surpassed. Tough is about not being easily chewed up and spit out.

You suckers who think you'll get over with a sucker punch, be warned: the first one only makes me more determined to beat you senseless. There's no way I'm going to let you get over at my expense. Tough is about justice. The kids who sicced their Rottweiler on me thought it was funny to see me running down the street, crying, desperate to get to my house before the dog got his teeth into my ass. On the other hand, they didn't think it was so funny when I came back out of the house with a softball bat. The dog didn't think it was funny either.

I had a running feud with those kids, the Jervis brothers, during most of the time I was growing up. We lived in adjacent developments, dead end streets cut from former farm fields and maple woods, so we shared a school bus stop. It made for brutal waits in the morning and often, desperate sprints in the afternoon. I was snowballed, whitewashed, new sneaker stomped, pelted with crabapples, rocks, and books. I once had my lip split with my own flute case - you name it, it happened to me every day going to and from school.

I hated and feared the Jervis brothers. Their verbal abuse was a form of psychological warfare - there's nothing so intimidating as hearing about the plan for your upcoming beating over the back of a bus seat. I lived with the very real fear of sudden pain. In response, my stomach burned with the acid bile of revenge. The dog was just one battle in a war. They stole my bike, I stole it back. We shot each other with BB guns and wrist rockets and bottle rockets. They tore down my tree fort, I hit Ronny Jervis in the face with a camp shovel.

Yeah, you could say I had a tough childhood - but not because any one of these battles was crippling or overly damaging. It was tough because it helped me develop an unswerving determination to get even.

The Jervis brothers broke into our house twice. We knew it was them because the first time, the police found heavy footprints leading from our backyard, through the woods and right up to their backyard. They left such nice deep tracks because they were carrying, among other things, our TV and my stepfather's toolbox. The cops searched their house but by the time they had got there our stuff was gone. We figure that was the older brothers. The second time, it had to be the younger ones: they stole nothing of value but booze from my parent's liquor cabinet. They focused on trashing my room, knocking over my bookshelves, stealing comic books, cassette tapes and a ghetto blaster.

My war with the Jervis brothers went on for years - they were tough. They had to be, their old man was a mean drunk and their mother had fled soon after the last brother, Jeff, was born (the story went that she'd been much younger than the old man, still hot even after popping out four boys in rapid succession. Supposedly, fed up with the old man's drunken violence, she'd gone to Boston to work in a strip joint. Whatever the truth of the rumor, I can reliably report that any of the brothers was likely to be aggressive in response to taunts involving their mother and the phrase "Boston Red Whore"). Jeff was my age and until he was held back in junior high, we were in the same grade. Of all the Jervis brothers, I fought with Jeff the most and he remains the likeliest suspect for the second B&E to my house.

The war finally ended when I was about fourteen. By then the older Jervis brothers were out of high school and had moved on to dead-end jobs at gas stations and liquor stores. Only Jeff and Ronny remained living at home and they were skipping school so much that I hardly ever ran into them anymore. So I was surprised to see Jeff on the bus ride home one day, smiling evilly at me over the back of his seat. I was even more surprised to see Ronny and their Rottweiler at the bus stop.

When I came out of the house with that bat, there was just one thing on my mind. I was sick of those stupid grinning Jervises. This was the last time they were going to do this crap to me. The dog was dumb enough to wait for me but the Jervis boys weren't - when I chased the dog back up to the bus stop and they saw me with the bat, they took off running. The dog held his ground, unintimidated by the raised bat and my howling, tear-streaked visage. He barked. I screamed and advanced. He lunged, I swung.

I don't know if the dog actually intended to bite me or if he was lunging for effect or what. The bat caught him squarely on the side of the head and he staggered sideways, squatting on his forelegs and shaking his head. I raised the bat again and yelled "Git!" He barked and took off running.

I declared myself the  victor in the Turquoise Drive Dog Battle, but I knew victory in battle wasn't enough. I had to press my advantage and win the war. Something decisive was called for.

In those days, my mother had gone back to work and I was a latchkey kid. A few days after the dog incident, on a dark winter afternoon before any parents got home, I borrowed a .410 shotgun from a friend who lived on my street. He had been terrorized by the Jervis brothers almost as much as I had: he was fat, but at least he hadn't made the near fatal mistake of being a smart Jew in a redneck Yankee neighborhood. He was willing to loan me the weapon, but he didn't want to go with me to see what I did with it.

I took the gun and a pocket full of shells and hiked through the woods to the Jervis' back yard. There were no lights on and it looked like no one was home. And if there had been? Tough. I'd had it with those boys.

I put the gun to my shoulder and took aim at the sliding glass doors that led out to the patio. There was a hollow place behind my forehead, an empty echo-chamber in which all objections rebounded uselessly against themselves, isolated from the rest of my brain. I knew what I was about to do was horribly wrong, but there was no talking myself out of it.

The gun kicked and a satisfyingly large hole appeared in the center of the glass door. Scattered holes from individual pieces of shot surrounded the hole and large cracks radiated out to the frame. After a few seconds, a large shard dropped out of the upper frame and smashed onto the ground.

I felt a tremendous rush of power, a feeling I would not have again for quite some time but that I would come to recognize as being similar to the orgasmic rush of sex. It made me shake, exultation and fear and anger all bouncing around in me, buzzing in my ears.

I proceeded to reload and shoot a half-dozen times, putting out every window on the back of the house. When I was done, I was spent and sweaty.

I slowly made my way back through the woods to my friends house and gave him back that pretty little gun. He cleaned it and put it back into his father's gun locker. It stood proud in the rack alongside the big deer rifles, gleaming, victorious. I imagined that it was pleased with itself for having been part of something so momentous and moving.

We were nervous, but no one ever showed up to ask us about the shooting. Our parents, as always, were clueless. Not long afterwards, my mom took a job in another state and we moved out of that house. I never had another run in with any of the Jervis boys again.
Gawdam Jervis Bros! [2006-06-16 00:10:04] König Prüße, GfbAEV
As a fellow flute player who had my Gemeinhardt stolen, I hate the effing Jervis Bros! And their little dog, too! I just got done watching "Bum Fights 3" so I was pumped for this anyway. A-hole Jervis Bros!
Fact or fiction [2006-06-16 05:49:13] FGS
This is fucking awesome.
S'alright [2006-06-16 13:11:24] Wyatt
needs editing again - too much bs up front, not enough detail at the end. Structure is all over the place, I'm still trying to figure it out as I go, which is always a mistake.
fact or fiction [2006-06-16 13:53:46] posthumous
this explains a lot...
Very nice [2006-06-16 17:26:15] casey
I thought some more about it [2006-06-16 18:09:11] posthumous
no... no it doesn't really explain anything...
by the way [2006-06-16 18:10:07] posthumous
it's spelled 'salright
God damn. [2006-06-16 18:52:55] Mr. The Plague
These stories are getting longer and longer.
~sonuvabitch~ [2006-06-17 17:47:55] perfktMperfktshn
penises r getting longer too...they didnt make em like that when i was a teen.... oh and i like how its save comment now instead of sumbit...i always felt like i should press the enter button while on my knees with my head down and eyes focused on the floor
So sad [2006-06-18 13:58:38] Wyatt
to see this up instead of a Zirealism. Though I imagine Antwan is pleased.
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