In the Fire Lane…

It was 1985 and a typical summer day in the neighborhood and I was somehow able to get a reprieve from my Father’s summer book reports – I had intended to make the block long walk to the candy store, entertaining the possibility that I would run into some my friends to accompany me on the way.
By the time I made my way to the Fire Lane – the open area that served as the gathering area for the residents of the neighborhood.
I heard a commotion and pivoted to see a kid that I gathered to be around my age running from two older kids – and they were headed in my direction.
One of them happened to be my arch-nemesis and his partner-in-crime, I scanned the area to see where I could stay out of their immediate line of sight.
I wanted a pack of Now and Laters and a bag of pork skins – not a serving of harassment that they would be more than willing to provide.
As the scene unfolded before my eyes – my blood ran cold.
They gained ground and eventually caught him.
One held the squirming boy and wrestled him to the ground – face stained with tears, his cries for help going unanswered while the henchman pulled the young boy’s shorts down, they both glanced down in his crotch area and started howling in maniacal laughter.
That afternoon they were busy – playing a twisted game of pulling down the pants of the younger boys down to see if they had hair on their genitals.
And he was another victim.
It seemed like an eternity, but it could not have been more than a minute and some change.
Seeing the pain, tears and anguish in the face of the boy lying on the ground shook me to the core.
While they were in the act of laughing, the boy managed to get up and scurry off.
When they saw me, they made a beeline over in my direction before I knew it they had me in a headlock.
My heart was in my throat…
The henchman took a long squint at me and grabbed my arch nemesis by the shoulder.

“Naw man, you know he’s gonna run and tell Alfie, this is Alfie’s brother!”

You gonna tell your brother little Alfie?

I snatched my arm away from them and shook my head in the affirmative and replied with righteous indignation:

“Goddamn right, I’m gonna tell Alfie!”

They stood there frozen for a moment.
The light bulb went off in their cold dead eyes and they let me be – and I watched them start off down the Fire Lane in search of easier prey.
Just when I thought my loathing for them could not be exceeded, on that day it reached critical mass.

Me and my older brother Alfie
Me and my older brother Alfie circa 1985.

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