I was one passive aggressive little fucker. My anger still sits and festers but my sense of self worth and discipline rarely allow it boil over. Usually I let something bubble inside of me, waiting for the moment to pop, waiting for the heat to get too close. And when I burst, the rage explodes onto those around me like, bile from the belly of a bubonic barbarian. I guess it stems from my desire to keep the peace by all means battling against my desire to totally annihilate my foes. The deciding factor is less often my opponent, and more often my whimsical sense of principle and righteousness.
If I told you the number of fights I had over principles, you’d think I was an instigator, and you are probably half right. But I am also a gentlemen. I am a chivalrous man of morality and I have not easily accepted many challenges to my moral codes. I would gladly die for the most minute of my beliefs, because what I believe is heartfelt. I would like to say something like ‘to thine own self be true’, but I won’t. This is a story about violence after all.
I have no idea who the fuck or where the fuck Keenan Kinard is now. For all I know he could be a terrorist. Back then, he was just some kid in my class. I’d just moved to Tulsa and I hated it. I went to Boevers Elementary on the southeastern side of town. Boevers was predominately white, as in 98.7 percent, so the assumption was Keenan and I would get along fine because we came from the same socioeconomic background. I don’t remember much about him, but I knew we had few things in common. I was smart. He was not. Or at least he didn’t apply his brain, to be more truthful to memory. I was athletic. He was not. And his jokes weren’t funny. Keenan might have made a good nemesis if it weren’t for the fact that there was no competition.
One day when I was walking down the street to my apartment, following some friends home, I noticed a small group of kids, standing in the front yard of a random house down the street from the school. I came across Keenan and his brothers picking on the only black girl in my class. I hadn’t talked to her much all year. She was quiet and always kept to herself. It was obvious she did nothing wrong. Keenan was doing it for the crowd of kids gathering around.
He never had a chance. I had pent up aggression over the course of two semesters. After months of being compared to Keenan and paired with Keenan, I’d had enough of Keenan. I’d finally had a reason to explode.
I’d be lying if I told you the fight commentary. Who knows what punches I landed. All I remember is asking Keenan to stop before he laughed at me and pushed the girl again. Then I swung at him and waited for a returning volley of punches only to find that his punch was weak. And at some point shortly after, I hurled a left hook that crashed into his face, chipping his face with my knuckle, forming a gash wide enough to stick a penny in.
The kids in the crowd yelled with splendor at the sight of my feat. Kennan cupped his chin with both hands as he slithered away with his pack of followers. I shouted, boasting and beating my chest, as I stomped the block on my way home. The black girl from class was long gone. She didn’t even stay to watch the fight.
I barely got two blocks away before the first sensations of pain arrived. First, there were sharp pains, like someone was tattooing the wound. Over the course of the weekend, my hand would swell to three times its normal size. It looked like a surgical glove full of water, but, you know, Black. The pain was immense. The more swollen my hand became, the tenderer it became, the more I literally begged for a miracle. I wished I could have reversed it. I wasn’t that mad at Keenean.
For sure, it was the worst pain I have ever endured in my life.
I was sure my hand was broken, but my mom thought otherwise. When I told her about Keenan, she was adamant I had some kind of infection. She joked the other half of his tooth might be lodged inside my hand. The pain made it believable. I couldn’t move my fingers without feeling pain. The ice packs melted too quickly. The puss that my mom let out did nothing to lessen the swelling. My brothers didn’t take any mercy upon me. After years of nonstop torture and bullying, they didn’t hesitate to seize their opportunity for revenge, getback, and retaliation. A poke here, an accidental bump there, and they were chuckling like the two squirrels from the Geico commercial. I hid away in bed, praying for mercy and a quick recovery.
I am certain that god was punishing me for my lack of love and hot headed overreaction to my would be rival. That’s the lesson I learned as I prayed for my hand to heal, wondering why I had to suffer the pain to being with.
I’ve still got the scar.