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I tasted dirt; bitter, dry, red clay. I lifted my head off the ground and saw my brothers. Jimmy was shaking his head. His blue eyes said it all.
“Okay, Calvin, you have to win this fight,” Jimmy had told me earlier. “You have to keep the reputation as the best fighter. Don’t let me or yourself down.”
It was true or it had been true before this fight. I had never lost.
My other brother’s voice swam in my head. “You may be small but you’re tough. It’s your Irish blood. Remember who you are and you’ll be fine.”
Who I was? I was a Childers’ boy. I ruled the neighborhood along with my brothers. No one messed with us. If they did, they got something coming, most likely a fist to the face. Despite all that, I was here lying in the dirt with some thug standing above me.
“I guess you Childers aren’t as tough as I thought,” His voice patronized me as he kicked dirt in my face.
I lifted myself off the ground. No one pushed me around. The bitter salty taste of blood filled my mouth as I stood. I ignored it. No one not even this guy messed with me.
“You are dead,” I spit at him.
He laughed in my face. I could see why he might but he wouldn’t get away with it. He was a good four inches taller than me but I was tough. He must have skipped the lesson that said great things come in small packages.
I ran straight at him. My shoulder jammed right in his stomach. He gasped. I had knocked the air out of him. I took advantage of his distraction and slammed all my weight into him. He hit the ground hard. Now he was the one to taste dirt.
“You little son of a,” He groaned from the ground.
I reared up my fist to pound into his jaw. There was a satisfying pain in my hand as I hit him. He struggled to get away. He wouldn’t. He had already made the rudimentary mistake of thinking I was down just because I laid on the ground. I wouldn’t make that mistake. I punched his gut a couple times and took one more whack at his face.
“You win,” He mumbled through a swollen lip.
“What did you say?” I asked him loudly.
“You won,” He said louder. “Just get off me.”
I moved and helped him off the ground. He seemed surprised by the move. He must not have known me very well. In a fight, I would take anyone down. In life, I would help them back up.
“Good job, Calvin. We raked in about 20 dollars just from this fight,” Jean, my other brother, grinned.
“That’s great,” I said.
I didn’t really care about the money. There wasn’t anything to buy. I just cared about the pride that followed a win…
“Hey Calvin,” A cute girl waved.
And the girls.