Violence has been kind to me.
The first act of violence that I remember was self-inflicted. As a three year old, I was playing on my tricycle. I found myself a stick and figured that it would be a great idea to try and pass it through the spokes of my front wheel. Call it an early science experiment or safety test. As logically follows, the wheel jammed and I went flying over the handlebars, landing face-first on the offending stick. Part of said stick managed to work its way right up my nose and down the back of my throat, leaving me screaming in a puddle of my own blood. I like to think that stick is partly responsible for my voice, scraping my vocal chords on the way down my thrapple. I don't remember the look on my mother's face, but I'd imagine she was somewhat horrified.
I've always been good at terrifying my mother.
I was always getting into fights at primary school. There were three chaps in particular with whom I seemed to have perpetual active beef. I don't remember exactly how it all started, but I'd imagine my quick wit was a little too scathing for them, even at an early age. They were always picking on folk and, developing an early sense of injustice, I would stand up for those who wouldn't stand up for themselves. This almost always ended up with me getting punched in the face. I was prone to nosebleeds as a child so I'd often bleed Ric Flair-style. I liked the drama and it freaked people out.
My bloodletting ability served me well come high school. One lunchtime, when a bunch of friends and I were 'wrestling training' in the gym, I managed to knee myself in the face and my nose exploded. I was used to people finding me a little strange so thought nothing of walking through the recreation centre with blood pouring down my face. I tried to stem the flow with my white Offspring shirt, but it was a losing battle. Most people were quite concerned but one chap, a prefect two years older than I (and a total douche), laughed at me as he walked past. This bastard had been at a party thrown by my sister at our house and he'd poured cherry brandy into my goldfish bowl. At least Eric died happy, I guess. All I could picture was my dead friend so as he laughed, I literally saw red and grabbed him, headbutting the swine right in the side of the face. The image of my blood staining his school shirt remains. I'm not proud of myself, but that boy was a grade one dickhead, so I stand by my actions. He also never killed another one of my pets, although I suspect he continued to give my sister some grief. She can fight her own battles.
I remember once when she had trouble with a few girls at school. There had been some beef or other, probably because she's intelligent and goofy-looking with a big mouth (much like myself). I was a karate enthusiast at the time and was always entering various regional and national championships, so I took her upstairs in our house and showed her how to punch properly. This was a bad move. A few days later whilst having a barney about something or other, I whacked her in the back of the head with a pillow, although I was fantasising that it was a steel chair. Immediately upon impact, she swung around and levelled me with a perfectly thrown right hand to the nose, busting the bastard open again. The student becomes the master.
There were always fights on the school bus. In fact, I saw one of the worst beatings I've ever witnessed on that school bus. There was one girl, a member of the drama society, that always seemed to be a target of the bullies. This one time, she was just sitting there, probably too far up the bus for some peoples' liking. The first punch landed on her left cheek and that was it, like sharks to a bloody corpse. Six or seven girls starting weighing in about her, punching and kicking her from all sides. They pulled her hair back over the seats and yanked at it with all their might. As she was being dragged backwards and battered repeatedly, a particularly loathsome male punched her square in the face. The slap of the flesh was brutal. Nobody did a damn thing so I stood up and pleaded with them that enough was enough. Valiant though it may've been, it earned me a punt in the bollocks and a smack in the face. Strangely, the victim and I became friends for a while after that. That was around about the time she announced she was a lesbian, which came as a surprise to absolutely no-one. She definitely didn't deserve all the abuse she got for it. Who cares where people get their kicks? Mind you, we did grow up where we did.
I got bottled for the first time just after my seventeenth birthday. By the time I reached that age, most of my friends had left school and had jobs and/or went to college, so the weekends were the only real times that we got to hang out. It was handy that one of the crew didn't drink and that the other worked in a shop, as that meant we had a plentiful supply of pikied cigarettes and bottles of whisky. Nobody ever suspected the youth of stealing whisky, so it was nigh on bulletproof. Not that it mattered to me, I wasn't a thief and I wasn't the one doing the pinching. The only time I ever got busted stealing was when I didn't pay for a bottle of cola. I was so petrified that I apologised and paid for it; saved me a ban at least.
The party that wasn't a party, but a gathering, was just getting started when the doorbell rang. Those that attended Hardcore Friday knew not to ring the doorbell, but to just come straight in the side door of the house. This meant either gatecrashers or the police, and it was far too early for them. I went through the hallway and saw through the window that it was my favourite three bullies.
"Hain a perty th'nite Larry?"
"Naw man, just a few pals roond."
"We nae yer pals like?"
"Ah widdnae say so, naw."
Headbutt to the cheek.
The bastard had broken the left leg of my specs and barged passed me into the hallway, making towards my bedroom. Everyone in the room was terrified of these swine and they began taking bottles of beer from the box in the middle of the room and asking the girls for cigarettes. The boys, disappointingly, just sat there with their mouths gaping, too ripped and too paranoid to do anything about it. Anna stood up and got in one of their faces. The tall one grabbed her and went to swing, which sprung me out of my disbelief and into action. I forgot my fear and went crazy, shouting and screaming and ushering them outside. The adrenaline was pumping and I got all three of them outside. Eventually they left and we got down to our business; mainly getting shitfaced, listening to punk records and putting the world to rights (strange that a decade later, we perform the same rituals).
Gregor got battered by those same three boys a couple of weeks previously, so was too scared to walk his girlfriend to the bus stop, so being the gentleman that I am, I offered to accompany her. Bad move. This girl is a magnet for maniacs and as soon as we reached the main road, the abuse began to fly. She would snap into these frothing fits of rage and lose all sense of perspective, ranting, raving and goading people into conflict. I thought we'd had enough beef for one evening and managed to get her into the graveyard across from the bus stop until the bus itself went up and turned at the square. Thank Buddha we got rid of her when we did because she wouldn't have made what was to follow any easier.
Eventually, it was home-time for Anna, so I walked her home. She didn't want me to go alone as she lived right beside the park where our enemies hung out. I took Julie with me for moral support, although she was hardly the ideal tag team partner at 5 foot 2 and weighing maybe nine stone soaking wet. We walked on. We dropped Anna at her front door and hurriedly scuttled over the bridge in the park and back over the main road. We though we'd gotten by undetected when Julie heard noises;
"Dinnae worry, it'll just be the pubs emptying."
"I'm no sure likes."
Just like that, we looked behind us and our favourite three lunatics were sprinting down the road towards us. At this point, there was one choice; take a kicking or fight. I opted to the latter and charged forward, only to be met with an empty bottle of Grant's smacking straight into my cranium. The glass didn't break and I didn't bleed, I just slumped to the ground as Julie screamed at the top of her lungs. One of them, the legitimately psychopathic one, grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against the wall. I dragged myself up and jumped on his back, trying to claw his eyes out. It was at this point that I just lost it and we managed to fight them off. I think they were dumbstruck that they hadn't killed me with the bottle shot and they seemed to disappear, at least for a moment.
We stumbled down the road and thought we'd lost them. We were on the final stretch home when two of them appeared from the sheltered housing complex next door to the primary school. This truly was do or die time. I heard the sound of running feet behind me and knew that this was it; I had to fight. I spun round and, for the first time in my life, through the perfect spinning discuss punch, taking the lanky uncoordinated oaf clean off his feet. Kerry von Erich would've been proud. At this same time, I felt the punches raining down on the back of my head. I don't know how many times I was hit but I was beside myself, utterly flying on adrenaline and the thrill of the fight. My shirt was ripped from my back and I was bleeding from the lip, nose and eye by this point. It was primal, it was violent and I felt alive. I was drunk and crazy, half-naked in the street on an early December night and covered in my own blood. I'd torn my favourite shirt and had lost my hat, a present from Canada, somewhere along the road. My parents were home by this point and they led the charge of a dozen steaming teenagers into the street as neighbours turned their lights on and peered out of their curtains.
It took three hours for the police to show up. They were no use in moment like these anyways. I'd have to wait another two years until they caught me in the act. That's the irony of protect and serve; never there when you need them, always there when you don't.