Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Moonlit Night

Ron Smith is one the characters that appears here and there in my childhood stories. That's because he was kind of here and there in my childhood. He was certainly always one of our friends, but he lived a ways out of town and so, until we could drive, we only saw each other now and again. Once I had transportation Ron became a more permanent fixture in our group. This story begins with the fact that Ron didn't like the way I drove at night. If we were going anywhere after dark he wanted to be at the wheel.

On this particular night we were heading home from some Church get together. As usual Ron was driving. There was a beautiful full moon shining down on the deserted road we were traveling. Ron decided to to do something unusual that night. He made the observation that the moonlight was so bright that you could drive by it. In order to prove this, he turned the headlights off and drove along by moonlight. I thought that it was unwise, but the truth was that you could clearly see everything around us. Josh got tired of it after about ten seconds and opened a dialog.

“Turn the lights back on.” Josh said firmly.

“No. I don't need them.” Ron replied defiantly.

“I don't care, turn them back on.”

“No. I'm not going to hit anything.”

“I don't care about that. I don't feel like getting pulled over by the police.”

This argument escalated until two things happened. First, Ron did turn the lights back on. Second, he reached behind him and slapped Josh right in the mouth with the back of his hand. Now, I would have warned most people that hitting Josh was a bad idea, but Ron already knew it. Here I have to take a moment and explain one of Ron's limitations. He couldn't fight. I mean, he was strong, probably one of the strongest in our group. He was also ripped and looked tough enough when he pulled his shirt off. However, he hit like a girl. (There may be some big girls out there who would just love to show me how they hit, but I don't mean them. I mean princess-y type girls who love flying rainbow unicorns. Girls like my little girls... anyways, he hit like one of them.) I know that if Ron reads this he will deny it. Well, deny away, Ron, deny away.

For a moment nothing happened. The sound of Ron's slap was still hanging in the air. I could feel the moments ticking away. I knew that something was about to happen whether Ron had put that together or not. He had struck Josh in the face without even showing enough respect to look at him when he did it. Then he looked at the road as if there wasn't going to be a rebuttal. Poor Ron, he never saw things like this coming. After perhaps a second and a half it happened.


Josh had drawn his hand back as far as he could in the car and swung it with all his force. He hit Ron so hard that the side of his head slammed into the window. (Yes, I mean slammed, I don't use that word for effect. Had his head hit the window any harder it might well have broken.) The car swerved all over the road. With a sound of squealing tires Ron got the car back under control. He then opened another dialog:

“That is it! It is ON!” Ron screamed at the top of his lungs.

“Good. I hoped it would be.” Josh quietly replied.

“I am pulling this car over!”

“Good. I don't have room to beat your brains out here.”

“Wait until I get you out if this car!”

“There's a good spot. Pull over right there.”

The car skidded to a stop and Ron jumped out.

“Get out!”

“As fast as I can!”

Now, by this time I had decided that this had gone far enough. I stepped out of the car.

“You two stop it. Each of you has hit the other. Let's get back in the car and go.”

“Oh no, he's going to get it!” Ron shouted.

“Well, come on.” Josh said.

“Josh don't hurt him.” I said loudly.

“Hurt me!” Ron said derisively as he threw a kick right at Josh's face.

Josh decided that I was right and that there was no reason to hurt Ron. In a flash he had thrown one arm behind Ron's outstretched knee and the other in front of his shin. He had Ron's leg trapped between his arms. He pulled his leg up so high that Ron was standing on his tip toes on one leg. Josh began to explain the situation.

“See Ron? I got you. What do I mean by that? I mean I can move you this way.”

As Josh said this he began to pull Ron's leg to one side making him hop in order to stay balanced.

“Or I can move you that way.”

Josh moved Ron's leg to the the other side, and Ron couldn't help but hop along to remain upright.

“See Ron. I've already won. Don't get yourself hurt.”

After Josh said this he threw down Ron's leg. Ron stared at Josh and fire blazed in his eyes. He knew he couldn't take Josh fighting on his feet, but he wasn't ready to give up. Suddenly he sacked Josh. They both toppled over into a pile of briars and began rolling around, each struggling to get the advantage over the other. While this was going on I decided that diplomacy might be my best option.

“This is ridiculous guys! Look at you! Now your both rolling around in the briars when we could be heading home. We're all friends here. What's the point of all this. Let's just stop and go home.”

As I was saying this I heard Josh's voice rise above the tussle.

“Ron, you are going to let me go or I am going to jam you eye out.”

Nothing happened. They were still struggling on the road side.

“One... Two... Three...” Josh counted out loudly.


“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Ron screamed with everything he had.

Josh got up out of the briars and began brushing himself off.

“I warned you Ron. You need to learn to stop while you can.” Josh said walking back towards the car.

Ron crawled up out of the briars with one hand over his eye like a pirate's patch. He stood there panting staring at Josh. Again, I tried diplomacy.

“See, this is going nowhere. We all just need to get back in the car and go home. This entire thing has been stupid!” I said.

Josh tried a different type of diplomacy:

“Yea, Ron, you lost. Plain and simple. So let's get back in the car before you really get hurt.”

As Josh said this he turned around and started to walk away. At that moment Ron drew back and sucker-punched Josh in the back of the head.

Now, this was Ron's second big mistake of the night. This time it wasn't because Josh was someone you didn't want to tangle with, but because I was standing right there. I am a calm, peace-loving type of guy. It's hard to make me angry and I don't like to hurt people. However, once you step over the line I'm not going to warn you about it, you're just going to have to deal with the repercussions.

In a flash I shot my right hand up from my hip and punched Ron right in the eye. There was a loud “Crack!” and Ron was reeling on the back of his heels. As he slowly straitened himself, moving from side to side as his brain was working out what happened, I again tried diplomacy.

“Ron, do you see what you made me do?” I said, gently putting both my hands against his chest. “You made me hit you. I didn't want to. I even warned you that you needed to stop, but you wouldn't listen. I don't want to hit you again, but if you make me I'm going to be ready this time.” Here I dropped into my boxing stance and waited to see what Ron would do.

Slowly his eyes stopped spinning around randomly and he regained the ability to focus. He looked at me considering the situation and then looked over at Josh. He was clearly furious, but decided to open a dialog instead of start another fist fight.

“So! I see how it is! Ganging up me!?!? Takes two of you to beat me eh!?!?! Well, that's just fine!” Ron yelled right in my face.

“Ron, it wasn't like that. You just punched Josh in the back of the head.” I said apologetically.

“Oh no! You two wanted to jump me, that's fine!”

“Come on Ron, get back in the car and let's go home.”

“What!?!? Get in the car with you two!?!? Forget it! I'm walking!”

“It's a couple of miles into town.”

“I don't care! It's better than riding with you!” As he said this he stormed off down the road with me calling after him.

When he was almost out of earshot Josh and I climbed back in the car and headed for home. There was nothing I could do, I had tried to keep something like that from happening the whole time. Josh and I both felt like he would be over it in a few days. Fight or not we liked Ron and we didn't want there to be any bad blood between us.

Ron got over it more quickly than we thought he would. As soon as we walked through the door the phone rang. It was Ron, he wanted a ride home. He had walked about a mile down the road to where a friend of his lived. So, Josh and I climbed back in the car and went and got him. When we got him back in the light we could see his eye. One side was about as black as a black eye gets. He looked like he was wearing half of the Lone Ranger's mask. Between Josh's thumb and my fist that poor eye had a rough night. Still, none of us were worse for the wear and none of us held a grudge. Josh and I even helped him hide his black eye with Mom's makeup the next time we went to Church. It's wasn't perfect, but it was better than nothing.

Again, there are a few morals one can find here. The lesson could be “Don't start nothing, and there won't be nothing” or perhaps “Always drive carefully and you're less likely to get hurt.” Of course the point that stands out more readily than any other is “Don't start a fistfight if you hit like a girl.”

Writing all this has been good for me. I'm becoming a regular Aesop.

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