Spit out and gurgling into waiting hands. Born of violence and love, contradiction is forever a part of the soul. That childhood picture of me giving the peace sign next to the one of me holding a hose, spraying my cowering brother with cold water will forever remind me of who I am. For my brothers, out of loyalty, I would pulverize any foe to young for them to beat on. I would often warn these boys, tell them I had no choice.
“Put down the radio man cause I’m going to hit you.”
“No you’re not”
“Oh?…Oh yes I am.”
D Batteries, blood and broken plastic erupting onto the asphalt followed by hugs and acceptance.
“I’m sorry… It was you or me. It’s nothing personal.”
It was always personal. It was personal for me, it was my place, my role, fighting was done out of love for my brothers, for my family name, to earn the right to be called a McNasty. It felt good to be in control. King of the clan for a day.
Followed the next day by my brothers breaking the 300 hundred balloons I blew up with my little lungs. Light colorful delicate balloons bouncing around the basement, covering the cheap indoor outdoor rug that hid the cold foundation. All that work destroyed in an instant by the stomping feet of older brothers.
The boy who could have been a priest tainted every Christmas with gifts of boxing gloves. Tuck your elbow in; don’t lose your cool, lead with your weak hand. Don’t let anger rule. Victory is your joy. Bust their eye socket with the overhand right.
By seventeen I was dropping freight trains who charged me with a single overhand right. My brothers were in the Navy unable to pick fights for me and my talent for hurting moved away from bullying. I could no longer stand the bully. I packed a punch of righteousness. I converted drunks into straight men and used my fists for a god I no longer believed in. I was sickened by the mass of men. I was a contradiction of love and violence. Beating up new versions of the old me.
I was fighting for goodness, for a god I never did understand. I became angry at the worild. I curbed the ankle of guy who date raped a girl I knew and I still don’t regret it. I would have broken both if I had the chance.
Pushed out, pushed in, it’s the struggle I enjoy. It’s the meanness of men I cannot stand. It’s that boy giving the peace sign I want to be.
I live with guilt even when ankles need to be broken.