Luis’ cousin, Sixto, warned him one time, “That white guy is fucked up.” I went after Sixto with a bat for saying that. He had a knife. It was a bad fight. Luis broke it up.
I was going to fight this guy Ruben one time. I’ve long forgotten why. He was big, way bigger than me. I planned to beat him with a 2×4. I spend a week slamming that board, about 5 feet long, into the trunk of a tree, as hard as I could, so I’d get used to the sting in my hands and arms when I finally connected with Ruben’s torso. That was Luis’ idea.
I ask guys about the fights they’ve had. Some recall one or two, most recall none. I remember the fifteen or twenty worst. Most of them were with Luis; the reasons lost to the fog.
Luis was a violent drug dealer and drug addict. He ran to Middletown to escape the city’s shadows that haunted him, and eventually caught up to him, and killed him. He had to bring his whole family here to some kind of safety, even Sixto.
My mom loved Luis. She thought he was a good influence on me. I still ponder that this criminally insane thug, who blamed most of his insanity on his Puerto Rica grandma’s witch blood, was widely viewed as a better person than me. I still believe he was. He was my best friend.
I got better after I stopped doing drugs. It got better; I’ll never be cured.
I called out a guy yesterday. It wasn’t some random incident. The night I first encountered this guy, I knew I wanted to fight him. I’ve been waiting for the chance. I swear to God I don’t understand this. Last summer, it was some MAGA hat who came toe to toe with me. He backed down when I told him he had one shot, make it count.
It’s always a man; I’d never raise a hand to a woman or a child, I can’t hurt an animal, I have a hard time eating meat, for Christ’s sake.
They always back down. That’s what feeds this. I tell myself I need one of these jerks to kick my ass, but I’ve had my ass kicked so many times, it doesn’t seem to register. I like the fight. Maybe I need the fight.
It baffles me, and it terrifies me. I’m old. I’m too old to fight anyone, but I look for it. As I’ve grown older, the fight is always with the younger men and or perceived authority. Maybe I’m threatened by authority or envious of youth, or terrified of my own inescapable demise, so I pick a fight to prove I can still fight.
It makes no sense.
I should apologize. I should do some good AA/NA fourth-step work and make that ruthless self-inventory. I should make a list and apologize to every man I fought, who is still alive.
But the desire to make the list, the desire to make amends is elusive at best and probably non-existent.
There is still some jagged edge of my soul, some monster without a name, buried deep, but very much alive, that still looks for it. Still wants it. Still needs it.
I hate whoever that monster is. I hate what feeds him and drives him. I want him to leave me the fuck alone and die.
I was in a crowd of two hundred peaceful people yesterday, and I realized the only problem there was me.