Boys will be Boys

Submitted into Contest #203 in response to: Write about two friends getting into a fist fight.... view prompt

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Fiction Friendship High School

Charlie Summers' annual barnyard bash is the highlight of the school year. Every spring the school gathers on his parent's farm while they are on their annual Carribean cruise to get wildly intoxicated and partake in games and competitions. The defining characteristic of this high school festivity is the boxing. Anyone you had a problem with for any reason throughout the school year, you got to call out to lace up the gloves. If you were challenged, the whole school would drag you into the ring and not let you out. I just got challenged. I have three beers in me and four shots of tequila. For a fifteen-year-old beanpole who rarely drinks, that’s a lot and I am feeling well past buzzed. I'm trying to gain my bearings as some upper classman I don't know laces up my gloves by barn light. Really, I don’t want to do this, but my best friend since first grade, Jack Tanner, who is staring me down from across the imaginary ring with a wrathful stare, is more than a little upset that I’m now dating his ex-girlfriend, Susan Stone.

Susan was a private school girl that we saw around town before high school, but neither of us had the gall to talk to her. Once we had classes with her in high school, and reasons to talk to her, we started competing for her attention. I was able to charm her into going on a couple dates with me, but it was Jack that swept her off her feet with his witty banter. Jack and Susan dated for several months, but she started to see a side of Jack she didn't like. She broke things off with him to start things back up with me. Jack can be possessive, and I don’t know if he is being possessive of her or me. Either way, he isn’t handling things well.

“Are you guys ready,” Charlie asks us, as Jack and I stand up and approach him, keeping an eye on each other as he goes over some basic ground rules.

In the first grade Jack and I went to different schools, but that spring we played on the same soccer team. He was the goalie, and I was one of the defenders. Since our team was pretty good, the ball would usually be on the other end of the field. We would pass the time trading yo’ mamma jokes as we tried to keep our heads in the game. My favorite was when Jack hit me with, “Yo mamma so fat, the space station knows where she's at.” Thanks to his dad, Jack was full of jokes for a six-year-old and would have me breathless with laughter whenever we were together. Our families each treated us like family. They would take us out for burgers and shakes after the games, and every weekend we would spend the night at one of our houses together, staying up late playing video games and reading comic books; talking about which superhero could beat who.

“Fight,” Charlie yells, and the crowd that forms the circular ring gets rambunctious, always wanting to see some violence. They have no idea what this is about or how personal it is. They just want to be entertained. No sooner than the word comes out of Charlie’s mouth, Jack hits me with a right cross that knocks me to the ground. I bounced up as quickly as I fell, shaking off the blow. I threw a right jab that he dodged but caught him with a left hook. We circle around, bouncing up and down, trying to look like real boxers, our shirtless teenage bodies betraying the image we are trying to portray.

When I was about eight, there was a ten-year-old monster of a kid that moved into the neighborhood. Tommy Miller was his name. He would knock me off my bike and beat me up. He stole things from me and broke things that were mine; threatening things would be worse if I ever told. He caught me and Jack out one day, walking to the store to get some sodas and baseball cards. He shoved Jack hard, knocking him back, then grabbed me by the shirt, demanding my money. Jack came out of nowhere doing one of those high-flying crossbody splashes like they do on those wrestling shows, knocking Tommy to the ground. I ran up and kicked Tommy as hard as I could between the legs. Jack and I continued to kick Tommy until he started crying. Then we warned him to leave us alone or we would get him again. Jack couldn’t resist dropping an elbow on the boy as we walked away.

Jack faked his left and then planted his right fist in my gut. I could feel the alcohol slosh in my stomach. It started to come up. I could feel it burning in the back of my throat, but I swallowed it down and hit Jack with an uppercut that put him on his back. He shook it off and got back up. Then I paid him back for the shot in the gut. I could tell by the fluttering in his cheeks that he was going through what I just went through, which made me laugh, enraging him, and he tackled me to the ground and started pounding on me. Charlie quickly separated us and sent us to the opposite sides of the circle. You listened to Charlie’s rules because if you broke Charlie’s rules you had to fight Charlie, a senior with a second degree blackbelt in kickboxing. Nobody wanted to fight Charlie.

On Jack’s thirteenth birthday, his parents let us and two other friends from school, Sam Levine and Carl Winthrop, camp in the woods behind their house. I thought it would be cool for us all to get drunk for the first time together, so I stole a bottle of Scotch from the old man’s liquor cabinet. After we got the tent set up and the fire started, we popped open the bottle. Each of us with our first sip croaked out our rendition of, “that’s good,” even though we could hear it in our voices and see it in our faces that it was some nasty stuff. We didn’t care. We were going to prove we were men that night. It took a few times of passing that bottle around, but it eventually tasted better, and the conversations got funnier. We got the wild idea that we were going to hunt with sharpened sticks, but instead, we ended running through the woods barefoot and shirtless that night, howling and roaring like wild animals, slapping each other with sticks. When Jack’s mom came out the next morning to bring us breakfast, she found Jack and I passed out in our camping chairs with the empty liquor bottle at our feet. Sam had passed out halfway into the tent next to his vomit, and Carl had his shorts around his ankles having passed out while dropping a deuce. One of the four camping chairs had been turned upside down and impaled on the sharpened sticks. It happened to be his mom's chair, and she was furious. Needless to say, we weren’t allowed to see each other for a while after that.

“Fight,” Charlie yells out once more.

Jack comes at me full force and unleashes a barrage of hits. He doesn’t care where they land, he just wants to hit me. I start throwing back in the same manner and the crowd eats it up. The problem is, it’s exhausting. We’re not hurting each other. We are just wearing down quickly. Suddenly, everything spins, and I drop like a teenager’s backpack when they get home from school. Jack had caught me with a hard right, square on the temple.

“Get up! Come on, James, get up you wuss,” I hear Jack shouting.

“2…3…4,” I hear Charlie counting.

I sit up on my elbows and look at Jack. “Do you remember the Caselli twins?”

Jack drops his guard and looks at me quizzically, “Yeah.”

“Remember how they used to switch on us?”

“Yeah," Jack said with a reflective grin, " we never knew which one we were making out with until we figured out their styles.”

“I miss those girls. I wonder what they are up to these days?”

“9…10! We have a winner,” Charlie announces. Everyone boos, saying it was the worst fight of the school year, scuffling off disappointed. I even got hit in the head with an open can of beer for essentially giving up.

“What about Susan,” Jack asks as he takes a seat across from me.

“Oh, I think she’ll understand. Besides, it’s not like she won’t find somebody else. It’s me I’m worried,” I say with a chuckle.

“Nonsense. We did alright before her, and we’ll do alright after her. We just can’t let girls come between us anymore,” Jack tells me.

“Speaking of which, how’s your sister?”

June 21, 2023 08:32

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2 comments

Helen A Smith
13:35 Jun 30, 2023

Enjoyable and humorous story Ty. Seems like they learnt a few lessons along the way. Fast-paced and well-written.

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Kevin Logue
18:34 Jun 24, 2023

Well written Ty, I was there in the barn. Enjoyed the back a forth, was well paced. And bonus points to anyone that can get rambunctious into their prose 😁👍

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