Serves Him Right, Pittsburgh Style

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 chiefly the result 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. At seventy-two now, I continue to avoid 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 prize. He would take my hat and keep it until later, tossing it onto our adjacent patio where my dad would find it.
Dad and I grew a dangerous quiet. Both of us were ashamed.

One afternoon, while I was sobbing, 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 briefly home for my father’s funeral, I ran into Jimmy on the same patio., We sat and talked about small things. We were now grown, men.
He turned out OK. Shaking hands, and as I turned away, I knocked his hat off his head.

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