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Meeting Big Ron
4/20/17, White Avenue

I had planned on being there first at the Shamrock—was becoming peeved that Big Ron was always waiting for me when I walked in the door at Six. But the growing heap of books and clothes that is my room conspired to put me right on time—but to be late, hell no!

Neglecting my sun glasses I headed out the door and up the walk to Harford Road, just past the house that Elsie was recently burned out of.

This was the night he would talk again—for the major encounters in a fighter's life always benefit from a layered revisiting by the biographer—of the Hat Stickup on Hamilton and the Conduit Brawl on Baltimore Street.

Up ahead came on, tentatively, four minor hoodrats, thirteen-year-old boys in recently purchased upscale clothing with $400 dollar smart phones, who were casting about for trouble, in the time-honored way that packs of feral teens have ever attempted to reinvent Man's crawl up out of the abysmal savagery of our original condition.

One pointed at a girl walking along, but she was too old, too muscular and was gone anyhow on her speed walk.

One hefted a trash can, as it had been trash day, Thursday, and began preparing the large municipal green repository on wheels to throw it into the speeding traffic at rush hour on this secondary street. Then, noticing the caravan of rumbling, diesel pickups, loaded with thirsty rednecks and Mexicans with wide, tired stares under the bright blue sky, he dropped the can in the yard to his left, slack-jawed in fear of what rumbled by.

Then they all four fixed on me, coming there way, conferred hurriedly and then broke out into an inverted wedge that put me at the base. The hitter—at this size the guy that punches you in the back of the head after he passes and turns—got on the curb and sped up with short, high steps to get behind me.

They were all around 100 to 110 pounds.

I saw no knives.

I would have to markup at least two or get charged with oppressing the youth, the greatest crime in America.

I decided to shove the hitter into traffic with my shoulder as he passed and then grab the right flanker and fling him to the traffic as well. I would hopefully be able to grab another and—

As I glanced at the hitter, walking the curb by me, he momentarily made eye contact. His jaw dropped, mouthing an O and he pranced back into line as the pickup truck he might have been slammed into zoomed by and he tip-toed behind the non-descript punk and the kid who, a moment past, had dreamt of throwing a trashcan at the world, declared, "Oh, you a bitch-ass nigga," and then promptly skipped around me like a vaudeville actor of old making fun of his ancestors.

I considered then, that of such fleeting stuff is human aggression made. Only the boy that had a seed of a man within him had both the confidence to strike and the sense to back off when he saw my shoulder round to scoop him off the curb. Even those who aspire to prey on other humans, most often balk at that crucial juncture when we devolve in an instant, an instant that might make the only unspoken sense in our circumscribed lives.

Behind me they hemmed and hawed, argued and chattered, skipping along like girls, having once again failed to rise up from under their mothers' prodigious aprons and invent their parody of manhood.

A pickup truck slammed into a crookedly dropped trash can and sent it skidding back across the sidewalk ahead.

The electronic church bell above chimed Six O'clock as I turned into the lot behind the old church and cursed myself for being late in a city that failed to give a damn.

When You're Food: Raw:

A Fighter’s View of Predatory Aggression: The Forever Autumn Press Edition

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