When I was not yet a teenager I was attracted to a group of rough kids in our neighborhood that were already teenagers. They cursed, they told dirty jokes, they were witty, they smoked, they resented authority – they were my mentors.
My parents were not too happy with this group I was chasing after. After all, my father was Chief of the Marietta Police and had a pretty good hunch about these boys, knowing that nothing good would become of it.
Enter another Eddie. This Eddie was a couple years older than I. He was from the town of Newnan, west of Atlanta. Eddie was mentally challenged (not this Eddie – that I know of).
Eddie and his sister a couple years older would come up each summer and spend weeks at a time visiting their grandparents. In Newnan, they lived on an egg farm, but I don’t think they lived with their parents.
Eddie had a habit of sucking on the back of his hand. He would walk around with one hand up to his mouth and he was either sucking on or slobbering on the back of his hand. He seemed to do it more when in stress.
The ruffian teenagers were hanging around the corner, and I gravitated to them. Eddie was also there. They seem to be making fun of Eddie, and he didn’t realize it. He thought he was impressing them, but they were smirking at him. I felt for Eddie.
Somehow I said something in Eddie’s defense and the next thing I knew they teenagers were telling Eddie I was saying bad things about him behind his back. He was getting mad at me and I kept trying to tell him it was them, not me. Either he was pushed into me or I was pushed into him, I don’t remember, but the fight started.
He came at me swinging one arm like a windmill. His other arm was helping hold his hand up to his mouth so he could suck on it. His face was not guarded, so, I hit him in the face as hard as I could.
He ran home crying with blood splattered all over his face.
If you read my blog entries this might remind you of another fight I had in high school, with a tall kid name Crane but they are two separate incidents – it is just that the people who at different times chose to fight me didn’t know how to fight.
Fighting was simple, you just keep your face and whatever else from being hit, and you hit your opponent in a vital place to make him hurt.
So, Eddie ran home crying with blood spurting from his nose. I ran home too. I stayed away from them from them for a few days. Which was a good thing. Eddie’s sister came looking for me. She wanted justice. Eddie was taken to the hospital. He had a broken nose. His sister was trying to find out who hit him in the nose – she was confused, because he kept saying Eddie hit him in the nose, she was wondering if Eddie got confused and thought he hit himself in the nose. Eddie hit Eddie in the nose. She was trying to find out so she could have that person arrested for assault. As far as I know she never found out. If I knew she was looking for the guilty party I would have told her how it happened. But I was lying low.
Then fast forward 5 or 6 weeks. A bunch of us boys were playing in Eddie’s grandfather’s barn behind his house. Eddie saw us climbing all over the rafters and things in the barn and came out. I kept my distance for a while, but it appeared he forgot about our little incident.
We were up in the loft looking in old boxes and opening old squeaky doors, and things like that when one of the boys reminded Eddie just who punched him in the nose.
Eddie jumped on me. He was very strong. I didn’t realize of his brute strength. We fell on what appeared to the loft’s floor and he got on top of me and started choking me. I couldn’t holler, I couldn’t breath. I was about to meet my maker.
Of course, at the moment I didn’t think of it, but it would have been nice if Eddie would have thought that was one of the tense situations that he should be sucking the back of his hand. But he didn’t.
One of the boys realized he was just about to kill me and jumped on his back to pull him off, when he did, some how the floor we were on tilted and fell. We fell to the dirt floor of the barn.
I think the section in the center of the loft we were on was not a floor at all. It was just a sheet of plywood stored over some rafters. When they knocked Eddie off me, and I crawled backwards to get away from his grasp all the weight of the plywood was on one end, beyond the last rafter it was on, and the plywood shifted and pointed downward , turning itself into a slide.
Whatever. When we hit the ground I jumped up and sprinted out into the woods and circled around back to my house.
I don't remember if I felt or said, "Whew!" or not, but if I didn't I should have.
That was the last time I had any contact with Eddie. I kept my distance.
And I looked for some new mentors.