DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.
The pointy ends of the stems of the freshly mown grass poked through the back of David’s thin cotton shirt and scratched at his skin. Here and there, a particularly stiff piece scratched deep enough to draw a trickle of blood.
Any pain inflicted by such scratches on his back paled in comparison to the stabbing pain in his profusely bleeding broken nose. David’s broken nose was courtesy of Les McKuen’s fist. Until Les landed the blow that broke his nose, the blow that landed David on his back, the seven-year-old had been holding his own against his classmate, giving as good as he got. Les’s swollen and darkening left eye gave testament to David’s pugilistic skill.
The backyard fight was a continuation of a feud between David, Les, and Les’s brother Miles. Miles, a year younger than David and Les, had two days before stood on David’s front porch and called David’s mother a bitch because she’d told the younger McKuen brother to stop picking the flowers off the Rose-of-Sharon bush next to the front walk.
Miles hadn’t been picking the flowers for some benign purpose. He was simply picking them off the shrub, throwing them to the ground, and grinding them under his heel. Mile’s mother had complained that “Nancy Wilson is so proud of that damn bush of hers. I wish someone would pluck it bare. Then the bitch would have nothing to be smug about.”
To Miles’ way of thinking, he was carrying out his mother’s wishes to ruin the bitch’s flowery bush.
David didn’t care why Miles pulled the flowers off the bush and cared even less why Miles called his mother a bitch. Miles had cussed at his mother, and that was all David needed to know. He’d stormed past his mom and grabbed Miles by the collar.
“You take that back,” David demanded, shaking Miles for good measure.
“Hell No!” Miles yelled before spitting on David’s shirt.
David’s fist came up and caught Miles on the tip of his chin before Miles had entirely pulled his tongue back into his mouth. While the blow wasn’t mighty, it was strong enough to make Miles bite down on his tongue hard enough to draw blood.
Miles screamed in pain and fell to his knees, spraying droplets of blood down David’s shirt as he did so. David was able to rain several more blows on Miles’ head and shoulders before his mother pulled him off and sent him into the house. Then she turned on Miles and screamed, “Get out of here, you little monster! Go on, get! Go on home to your crazy mama! Go!”
Miles struggled to his feet, hand clasped over his mouth, blood dripping down his chin. Without a word, he turned and ran down the walk toward his house.
Les’s inevitable retaliation had come as no surprise, other than taking two days before he came after David. With David flat on his back, blood gushing from his nose, Les stood over the other boy, pulled back his fist, and leaned in to deliver the coup-de-grace. The sudden, violent introduction of David’s knee into the space between Les’ legs prevented that from happening. Les might only have been seven-years-old, but a blow of that magnitude to his privates was still a devastating blow.
Les tried to stand upright. His face contorted in pain. He staggered backward a couple of steps and then fell to the ground, curling into a fetal ball. Les’s hands were tightly grasping the injured part of his anatomy.
David rolled onto his side and spat out the blood that had pooled at the back of his throat. He looked at Les. The other boy was still curled into a ball, emitting strained sobs. Tears rolled down his cheeks and splashed onto the freshly mown grass.
David sneered at his disabled opponent. “Up yours, you stupid jerk!”
Nancy looked out the kitchen window and spotted David staggering across the back lawn. The breakfast dishes soaking in the white enamel sink were instantly forgotten. Nancy hurriedly dried her hands on the red-and-white striped towel hanging on the rack over the sink. She didn’t even take off her apron before rushing out the back door.
Nancy’s question about what happened died on her lips when she saw the blood on David’s face and soaking the front of his shirt. She could see Les’ coiled form writing in the grass several feet behind David. It was obvious to Nancy that the two boys had been in a fight. Tears of anger and frustration rose in her eyes.
“Ever since those McKuen’s moved in, their boys have made David’s life miserable,” Nancy muttered to herself as she put her arm around her son and guided him toward the house. “Why the hell didn’t they stay in Southie where trash like that belongs?”
© 2021 DW Davis