Serves Him Right

by Regis Boff

Our neighbor next door had a son who was three years older than me. I was as big as he, but three grades below him. One winter he began stealing my hat and knocking me down on the way home from school. I would be crying when I came in. The boy would later throw my hat on the patio. My dad would make me go get it. We could hear the boy laughing. This continued on and off for months.
One afternoon, my father dragged me crying out onto the patio between our houses and screamed for him to come out and fight me. He did not come out.
The hat stealing stopped, and my father and I settled gloomily into that lost regard that fathers and sons often quietly endure.
Over the next two years I grew. That boy did not. One afternoon we got into a fight. I picked him up and tossed him down a hillside, breaking his leg.
I went home afterward sick about what I had done and what my father would do to me. He was sitting in his chair reading his newspaper when I told him. He lowered the paper and looked at me. “Serves him right,” he said returning to the paper.
Years later I returned home to visit my mother; my father now dead. I ran into that boy on the patio between our houses and we sat, both grown men now and talked about how we grew up.
He was friendly and nice though still none too bright.
We said our goodbyes, and as I got up to leave, I grabbed his hat.