Growing up my cousin lived with us. One day I’m a kid with a terrible sister then plop there’s a terrible cousin sitting on the kitchen floor. We were fairly close in age but never close. We’d fight like you do with people who live in your house. And it was a pretty battling family just like everyone else in the old neighborhood. It was a rough and tumble place and fights were a common occurrence all up and down the streets in and out of the houses. Remember the old Bill Cosby joke about all the kids in the neighborhood finding out someone was getting a beat so they’d all run to the window to watch? We didn’t find it funny, we thought he was just telling our life story.

We’d bicker but never really fight fight. We only had one fist fight. It was boxing (me) vs. karate (he). I’ve been in a lot of fights in and out of the ring. I’ve always hated street fights when the other guy was talking. If I wanted to talk to you my fists wouldn’t be balled up. I’m in my fighting pose. so that day he was chatting a bit. Finally I said let’s get this over (I’m a busy guy, I’ve got shit to do). I blocked a few of his karate moves then when thought it was my turn so I hit him.


I knocked out four teeth and punctured his ear drum.

It was funny to hear him sputter like Yosemite Sam while trying to explain what was very obvious to me what I’d done. I mean, he couldn’t even see it all. All he could really see was blood and teeth in his hand. I knew he wasn’t going to be too happy looking in the mirror for a while.

But we never fought again.

I’m not sure whose choice that was. But I think I could hazard a well-informed guess.

Most of the fights we had growing up were the normal things boys living on top of each other had. Shoving, punching in the back, wrestling, etc. He had a habit of throwing things at me long after the fight was over. It makes one unhappy to get hit in the head with a metal dump truck. Yeah, back then toys were metal and the edges were far from ‘kid safe’. They were more like ginsu sharp.

One day after getting a special dump truck delivery while I was at my desk reading I got up and if I got my hands on him I would have thrown him down the stairs. Dragged him back up and thrown him down again.

I like to make my point explicitly known.

I struggled to my feet and started out after him. It was a narrow hallway and he was too far ahead for me to catch because I knew he was heading for the safety of the only door that locked inside the house: the bathroom. But I took off after him. If I could get there just as he was closing the door I might be able to get inside.

But, just in case, as I’m running down the hall I’m looking for something to throw. Nothing like a metal toy truck. I pitched in baseball. I’d put the truck through his head. So I reached into the dresser of the desk I was running by. It happened to be my sisters room. It was filled with brushes and make-up and gawd knows what else was on that dresser. But I cleanly snapped one item off the dresser: a nail file.

I could see I wasn’t going to catch him so I did the next best thing. I stopped, aimed and let the file fly. It was traveling straight toward his head. It was like watching something from The Matrix. The file rotating over and over until it was time for impact.

It hit with a thud and stuck. It actually pierced the bathroom door. After a beat he opens the door, see the file at eye level then looks at me.

“You could have killed me.”

I just smiled.

“Chris is trying to kill me.” He said running downstairs to tattle. I calmly walked to the bathroom door checked it out and damned if I didn’t get it through. I jiggled it until it was out of the door turned around to put it back before calmly going back to what I was doing.

Funny, I don’t think he ever threw anything at me after that.

I guess I should have punched him the next day. That way I would have had a very calm, fight free childhood. Well, at least one part of it.


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