We stood there, the three of us, just staring at the six large teenagers walking towards us. I can only imagine that from an outsider’s perspective we must have looked like three kids who suddenly looked into the face of Medusa and were immediately turned into statues.
It was Finn who broke our silence “Fuck, what are we going to do?” was all he said.
“I aint giving up my bag to them fuckers.” Fish answered.
“We gotta run.” Was all I managed to reply.
“Hey, retards! Don’t you go anywhere! You gotta pay your candy tax!” one of the six yelled at us.
“Tell you what,” Fish said, “You two run faster than I do and I’m a better fighter, so, take my bag and head down Karl street.” Then he handed me his pillowcase.
“Nah Fish, you aint taking a beating for us. Let’s just drop one bag and all take off.” I said.
“Screw that,” Finn said, “We follow Fish’s plan. We’ll meet up in my garage. They know about the rafters so if we get away, they won’t look at my house.”
“Yeah, but then they’ll be pissed off and kick our ass’s later.” I said.
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Fish said and that’s when we heard a sharp click.
I looked towards the sound and saw Fish had pulled out a switchblade and was holding the gleaming steel in his right hand. The street lights reflected off the polished surface. When I looked at Fish’s face I saw the crazy eyes he was famous for.
“Fish, you don’t want to end up in Juvie. Shit.” I said.
“I aint gonna kill them. Hell, I probably won’t even cut them, but they don’t know that. Now run fuckers.”
Finn and I turned and ran.
“Where the fuck are you going? Get back here!” one of the Nine Hundred Six yelled.
We ignored the order and kept running.
“Get them!” was the response.
As Finn and I rounded the corner from Libel street onto Karl street I glanced back to where Fish was. He was standing tall, waving his knife around and in front of him three of the Nine Hundred Six stood with their hands in the air. The other three were in pursuit of Finn and I.
“Shit, we got three bogies.” I said to Finn.
“Fuck them. We run faster.” He said and started to pull away from me.
The sound of our candy sloshing around along with the coins in our bags drowned out the sounds of the older bullies yelling for us to stop. I could hear Finn trying to tell me something but I couldn’t understand him. I tried to speed up but carrying two bags of candy and money was slowing me down.
As we passed the large evergreen that was in the yard of the first house on Karl Street I saw there were still some kids walking along the street in costume. The kids were smaller and there were only a few adults with them. As we passed by them, Finn screamed something unintelligible to me and then we were gone.
Halfway down Karl, when we should have cut into the back yard of the house at 600, which shared a fence with my back yard Finn dodged to the left. Towards 601 on the wrong side of the street. I followed.
Once in the back yard of 601 Karl, Finn scurried to the back of the tool shed and stopped. He knelt down and tried to catch his breath. “What the hell are we doing? We’re supposed to go to your garage?” I said through heavy gasps.
“Bags… slowing down… stash ‘em.” Finn muttered.
I nodded and looked around, there was a couple of bushes near the shed and I quickly stuffed mine and Fish’s bags behind them. Finn followed suit.
We heard our pursuer’s shouts and we peaked around the corner of the shed. They were standing between the houses. One of them was holding his side, another had his hand on his head and seemed to be crying. “Come on out you bunch of pansies! Come get your ass whooping!”
We ducked back behind the shed “What do you want to do?” I asked.
“Double back. They don’t know where we are, so we go back for Fish.”
“Sounds good. Jump the fence and head up the back yards?” I said pointing to the fence not five feet from us.
Finn nodded. “Just give me another second to catch my breath.”
We didn’t get to wait as long as we would have liked, our three bullies started yelling and searching the back yard. We quickly shimmied the fence and ended up in the backyard of a house on Karl Drive. Neither of us knew who lived there and to tell the truth, we didn’t care.
“Skip, aint this where that girl Laura lives?” Finn asked.
Why the hell did Finn do that? I asked myself. Bringing up Laura. Ugh, as if I didn’t have enough shit on my mind right then. “No, man, she lives closer to the East River and on the other side of the street. Now shut up about her. Let’s go.”
We headed towards Libel through the backyards. We were two houses from Libel when Finn started talking again. “So we got a plan? Or do we just blaze in there and rumble like the Sharks versus the Jets?” he said referring to West Side Story. The movie he and I had watched at least a half a dozen times over the past year. It seemed the local UHF station had gotten rights to it and decided to run it at least once a month to try and get ratings. Also, after school or on rainy days in the summer, we’d just make popcorn and watch the television. The afternoon movie theatre was usually a western, a kung fu film, a bad horror movie, but then they started showing West Side Story. Finn was addicted to it. I was bored with it, except for Riff. I liked his character.
“No plan, but with only three of them, Fish with his knife and you and I show up, we may just win.” I said.
“Yeah, one day we’re going to kick all their asses. I can’t wait for that day.”
“I’d be happy if they just moved.” I said as we got to the sidewalk on Libel.
We both turned towards Karl Street and saw Fish standing on the corner with two larger forms and on the ground were three squirming bodies. “What the hell?” Finn asked.
“No clue, but let’s go find out.” I said and started jogging. Finn followed.
As we got closer to Fish and company, we realized the two teens standing with him were the Jamrog twins. The bodies on the ground, squirming, crying and moaning in pain, they were three of the Nine Hundred Six.
“What the hell happened?” Finn asked as we slowed to a walk.
“The twins showed up.” Fish answered with a shit eating grin.
“Yeah, we’ve been wanting to get a piece of these jerks for a while.” Dennis said. He was apparently the older of the two twins.
“Yeah, hard to believe they’re related to the Sandovals.” Glenn said as he kicked one of the squirming bullies in the stomach.
“Where are the other three?” Fish asked.
“Last time we saw them, they were halfway down Karl in the backyard of one of the houses.” I said.
“Where are the bags?” Fish asked.
“Stashed them in some bushed behind a shed.” Finn answered.
“Well, let’s go get them. No need to hang out here.” Fish said as he closed his knife and slipped it into his pocket.
“Uh, guys, what about the other three?” I asked.
“Don’t worry, Glenn and I will go with you guys. They aint gonna mess with you no more.”
“Cool, thanks. Finn said.
Twenty minutes later all five of us were crowded into the rafters of my garage, Dennis and Glenn were offered anything they wanted from our candy supply. They declined and quickly pulled out some Marlboro’s and lit up and started talking about girls.
The three of us, Fish, Finn and myself, separated candy, divided it all up and counted the change.
In the end, we all got what we wanted and spent the night eating as much sugar as we could handle and we learned that while running from a fight is smart, it’s much smarter to have friends who are older and bigger than the bullies who terrorize you.
I know, not an earth shattering revelation, but as an up and coming teenager who is out wandering the mean streets of your town, it is a vital survival tactic.