Serves Him Right

by Regis Boff

Three years later I threw Jimmy down a hill.
My father, in his chair behind the newspaper, heard me say “I broke his leg, he is in the hospital.”
Without lowering his paper, he said, ” Serves him right.”
Every boy is first the product of his father. Mothers are there to erase what parts of this they believe they should or can.
I was always ashamed of being the biggest in my class. At seventy years old I still never look in mirrors.
Jimmy, my next door neighbor and three years older, would push me down and hold me in the mud or dirt until I cried. He was smaller than me, so I was his trophy; he would take my hat as well.
I came home sobbing to my father who worked at a bank all night. He waited for me in the afternoon in the kitchen having just woken up.
All he ever said was, “What happened?” My telling him seemed to be his response.
Later Jimmy would throw my hat on our patio making sure my father saw.
There grew a silence between dad and I. Men and boys know this quiet. Women do not. It is what makes us so dangerous.
One afternoon, while I was crying my father dragged me to our neighbor’s door and screamed that I was ready to fight him. Jimmy did not come out.
There was no more hat stealing after that.
I grew, but Jimmy did not.
Years later while home for my father’s funeral, I ran into Jimmy, and we sat and talked on that same patio about the bullshit things of a shared childhood. We were both grown men. In the end, he had turned out passable. We shook hands, and as I turned away, I knocked his hat off his head.