Now I never was much of a fighter. There was just something about getting my nose plastered all over my face that never did appeal to me. I didn't like the idea of black eyes, cauliflower ear, broken jaw, scars, broken ribs, busted hands and wrists and fingers, scrapes and cuts, hurts and bruises, skint (skinned) shins, out of place knee caps, . . . I jes didn't cotton onto that! I was proud of what little bit of body God gave me, and I intended on keeping it just as close to original as I could.
But there are some occasions when you either fight or get whupped! And I'd had several of those occasions on the farm. And they were all by one kid; someone I loved and looked up to.
You wouldn't know it now if you were to meet him, but one of my uncles was mean . . . junk yard dog mean. And ornery. Just plain ornery. He settled down a whole lot when the little lad he married was the sweetest little thing ya ever did see, but she cooled him off! Amazing! She did in a week what all kinds of bruisers of the local area had been trying to do most of his life!
But that's the way of a woman, especially someone as special as Aunt Sandra.
But Byron was tough! And it seemed like we fought all the time. He'd try to boss me around and I'd buck up, and here he'd come! And I don't think he ever failed to whip me . . . every time!
Well, I'd better get on with this here story if I'm ever gonna get it jabberized! One day we was a pickin cotton out North of the Big Red House. The Big Red House is a story all its own, but that will have to wait.
North of the the Big Red House were two fields. The further most field had quite a difference in soil and quality as well. The lower end of that field, like the whole of the southern field, grew cotton somewhere in the neighborhood of about two feet tall - sparse, spragly, poor yield. The top end butted up against a huge ditch and fence row, and being soiled well in loam and clay, produced cotton stalks well over my head in places.
The crew that day was the crew that helped out most of the time, mostly family, and it included Aunt Betty, (uncle Deweys wife), her sister, (Vonetta Keller), Aunt Shirly, (Uncle Wayne's wife), my Mother, (Melda (Shelton) Cavaness), myself and my Uncle Byron.
Now we'd been picking out there a good week ande'd had the typical tussles, arguments, laughs, wrestles, cotton bole wars, pranks, cotton stalk tea . . . But for some reason, one day Byron seemed to be on the prod all day, and I'd just about had enough of his "tude" (foul mood - attitude).
He wasn't just sporting a bad tude, but he was just downright obnoxious! It didn't matter what I said, he'd insult me. I'd always tried to walk softly around him 'cause he was pretty swift to plant a number twelve in your caboose or a number five on your nose.
So, this afternoon, I'd gotten to the point I that I thought I was about to "try a little bit of his honor on!" You know how it goes with kids. He said that, I said this, he threatened that, I said "come on!"
Wrong! I looked up an he was barreling toward me at full gallop. I didn't even have time to get out of my cotton sack! He was on me like a tornado. I guess he was pretty cottonpicking mad! Too late to rescind anything I'd said! I was a fixin to get a whuppin!
Not a spankin' mind you . . . A WHOOPIN'!
This wasn't going to be the first I'd taken from him. Not by a long shot! We'd been scrapping for years! But I sure had in mind if he was gonna get a full meal off me, I was going to get at least a sandwich off him! He was coming fast! My mind was whirring. What to do? He was much bigger than me, and much, much more agressive!
All I knew to do was hit him first . . . In the millioneth of a second of time in which I had to prepare, I did the only thing I could, and that by the instict of survival: I hit him first! And that went against all the instruction I'd had from my momma. But, what was I gonna do? I was getting old enough to know that these incidents weren't supposed to take place, but, whether I wanted it or not, "it" was gonna take place!
And so I did! I reared back, planted my feet, swung and stepped into the punch. And it landed squarely on the front part of his head somewhere. I do not remember where, but it was a good un!
I was quite proud of myself because I'd hit him so hard right in the face. I would have been more pleased had he hit the ground bleeding, or heck, I'd a been happy just to see a trace of something red. Alsas, but it was not to be. I was the one who had the scrapes and cuts . . . and the blood streaming from my nose, but I felt good about it! I flat snockered him a good one!
Yeah, I got whooped again. But it was the last time we ever fought. I really didn't mind too much about the whoopin as I was babied the rest of the day by Momma and all the Aunts.
The title of this little story isn't quite true. While it is definitely true that was the last fight I had with Byron, I did have a bout with a fat little brown girl in Corcoran once. She backed me into the huge pine tree in the playground, and gave me whoopin' me good. Nope, I wasn't afraid of her, it's just I wouldn't hit a girl. In later years I came to the conclusion that "if a girl can dish it out like a man, she'd better be able to take it like a man!"
I'm reminded of another story concerning Uncle Byron.
Now, my Grandpa Shelton was a pugilist of the first order! Bare knuckle fighting was a way of life for him in his younger days. He didn't think too much of boxing gloves but loved to watch boxing on the TV. Now Byron acquired a set of gloves from somewere along about his eighteen or nineteenth year. He immediately took them home, put a set on and challenged Grandpa Shelton.
Byron was dancing around shadow boxing waiting for Grandpa to get ready for a real butt kicking. As he practiced his footwork, his blocking technique, his jab and duck he kept egging Grandpa to "Come on. Take it like a man . . ."
For a while Grandpa just ignored him, then after persistent goading, he finally acquiesced. He put on the right glove, and simply slugged Byron up side the head with a huge roundhouse knocking him flat of his back, took the glove off, tossed it onto the table and sat down to finish watching his boxing match. Heck, he wasn't even breathing hard.
Someone said Byron jumped up and took off out of the room mad and nearly crying. Another said he got up and stomped out yelling no fair . . . Either way, he left the room. Whatever he said or complained about didn't matter a whole lot beause he was still whooped!
Yep! Byron hung his gloves up!
Uncle Byron and I have been the best of friends all our lives, and I don't guess there's nothing we wouldn't do for each other. One thing for certain; I never did whip him, and probably couldn't do it now, but at least I got one good punch in on him. Whether that was enough to convince him to stop picking on me or not, I do not know. But our fighting days were over.
But I never did get comfortable gettin a whuppin. It was bad enough to have a brain the size of a BB in a boxcar, but to have it rolling and bouncing around in yer head like the silver ball in a pinball machine, well, that is way over the limit. When that happens, I hear bells, whistles, music dings countin up scores. I see numbers flying by, a small ball bouncing around like my brain . . . And don't even tell me there ain't no sech a thing as stars in the middle of the day! They is! I've seen em!! Makes me wanna vacate the premises.
Yep! There's a lot of things I can find to do that is much better'n gettin my brain rattled!