One rumble involved a hot head named Buddy Gordon. He was a year younger than I was but big for his age. You had to give Gordon his due, he wasn’t a bully. He fought tough, older guys. Eventually he played football, but in junior high you were more likely to see him fighting. Gordon typically beat his opponents by using his size to advantage. On this occasion, Gordon challenged a guy everybody called Pryor. Gordon and Pryor were going to rumble on the back street that dead-ended into our athletic field.
No one used Pryor’s first name—he was one those guys who didn’t need one. He was in my gym class, which made him a minimum of a year older than Gordon. But who knows how old the guy really was? He was all muscle; you couldn’t hurt a guy like that with an ax. He was also strong and fast. Acne covered his pasty skin; he had dark brown hair cut medium long and combed back on the sides. Pryor didn’t seem to have any friends, and you couldn’t imagine where he lived. He never talked much. Pryor was the last guy you’d tangle with. So, of course, Gordon decided to pick a fight with him. I never knew what their rumble was about, if anything.
Gordon was a brawler-wrestler kind of fighter: he liked to throw people down and make them submit. Pryor was a little smaller than Gordon, but I figured he must know how to fight. They exchanged some words and a crowd gathered as Gordon moved in to work his best stuff. But Pryor punched Gordon twice, hard in the face, with a left and right, before Gordon could lay a hand on him. Gordon fell to knees in front of Pryor with blood drooling from his nose. The rumble was pretty much over before it started. But Pryor wasn't finished. He took off one of his black loafers and put his foot in Gordon’s face where he kneeled.
“Kiss it. You pick a fight with me, Gordon, you kiss my foot!”
Gordon shook his head, so Pryor dropped the shoe and hit him two more times hard and fast in the face. There was more blood, spurting this time, and Gordon was crying. Someone appealed to Pryor to let Gordon off the hook, saying he’d had enough.
I never saw Pryor again after that school year. He must have moved away. But I did see Gordon fighting a high school kid downtown. The older guy was subduing Gordon with a choke hold and talking him down.
“Bygones are bygones,” he said.