So I guess I exaggerated when I said that no one in the neighborhood could outrun me, to my deepest annoyance and highest anxieties, Jerry could. There were so many times when I needed to run away from the one who was trying to kill me, but I knew it was pointless. Okay, “kill” is a pretty harsh word, not “kill”, more like hurt, maim, make my life hell. Mom would be leaving to work in the evening and I’d plead with her not to go because Jerry was going “kill” me. With Mom standing between us with her back to Jerry, Jerry would make the fist-to-palm sign and then point menacingly at me through squinty evil eyes and Mom always tried to reassure me that I was over reacting. As soon as Mom would leave the apartment, I would try my best to stand my ground but inevitably he would catch me, throw me to the ground and give me one good breath-defying blow. It wasn’t the pain that hurt so much, pain fades, it was the relinquishing of my power to someone else that was the most difficult. Regardless of how hard I tried to maintain, he was bigger, stronger and god damn it, faster. Perhaps he was practicing being a future menace and I was practicing being tough- a win-win. On one occurrence I got so fed up with taking his shit and I completely flipped. It really surprised him when he saw a crazy Tasmanian devil, spinning, frothing, screaming and lurching for his throat. The bewilderment in his eyes showed that he thought he had surely broken me and I had gone crazy. If I couldn’t evoke fear, bewilderment was good enough. Why did we fight? Probably for the same reason my own kids do, but they’re not angry.
One fine day, the summer before I entered first grade, Jerry and I raced to the local Circle K to buy some candy. The apartment complex was on one side of a very busy 3rd street and Circle K was on the other. Jerry beat me to the road and was positioned on the other side by the time I reached our destination. The cars were whizzing by very quickly and I saw no end in the long line of cars. Jerry yelled for me to focus on him and he would help me get across the busy road. With complete trust my eyes fixed on his and my muscles relaxed and waited in anticipation, like a sprinter waiting for the gun. There was nothing but Jerry’s eyes, no cars, no sound, no breath. For a few minutes his head bobbed back and forth exploring both directions, waiting for the perfect moment, then suddenly he looked at me and yelled, “Go!” Either he had incredible faith in my speed or he was truly trying to kill me, not “kill” me, but kill me. I was so fixed on Jerry that I had no idea that I had darted in front of a huge truck until I saw the wild eyes of the driver. Years later I would recognize the same eyes in Large Marge. Luckily for me, the driver was quick enough to abruptly turn at the last second and skid across the lane in front of the oncoming traffic. My mouth fell agape in complete amazement and fear and my heart tried desperately to come up my throat. The truck flew up a small hill and catapulted straight through the fence of an adjacent nursery. Wood went flying, plants went flying and we took off running as fast as we could. For years Jerry taunted me that I had killed the driver and I believed him. As for the rest, I don’t know.