He stumbled back, his shoes scuffing against the gravel and asphalt as he tried to regain his balance. He hit a brick wall and the back of his head ached with renewed pain. He dabbed at his lip and saw blood as he drew his hand away. He smiled.
It was night. There were no stars in the sky. The ally street light threw everything into an orange hew. They were in between the barber shoppe and a club he didn’t care to know the name of. The ally-way was complimented by a large metal dumpster at the entrance which blocked most of the view to and from the street. A perfect place to pick a fight.
For the boy, picking fights was more of a practice than phenomenon. More of a lifestyle than a hobby. For him, t’was almost an escape and a purpose at the same time. An escape from the cruel reality of life and an alternative purpose to what he hoped his life had been. A ritual or religion.
His father had left when he was barely born. Thus, his mother had never been home. She wanted to be, so very much, and would when she could. But she couldn’t of course. So, every day and every night, torn between the desire to watch her son grow up and the necessity to provide for him, she was forced to go off to the jobs she managed to keep and the odd jobs she managed to attain. And her son grew up despite her averted gaze.
Whenever she had the chance to be with him, however seldom those chances were, she loved him and spoiled him. She tickled him and kissed him. She joked with him and listened to him. But one of the things he remembered most was her insistence on being well mannered. She taught him manners, for she was the loveliest, and most well-mannered woman of all in his eyes. There was no one in the world who he admired as much as his mother. He believed there never would be. Nevertheless, he couldn’t afford to listen to his mother’s instruction. So, he didn’t.
Growing up, his sore heart yearned for the appreciation and attention that he was being starved of. He wished and hoped and praised attention whether he received it in the form of recognition or a scolding, for what was the difference when attention was never defined any other way?
When he was little, much of the time he’d felt invisible… He’d hated the feeling with an intense passion. When he was nine years old, he had resolved never to feel that way ever again. His simple solution had been arrogance, and impoliteness. Picking fights, making a name for himself and proving everyone wrong. Not that he categorized it like that in his mind. In his mind he was being tough and strong. He was standing up to those who misjudged him. He was a man. To him he behaved like it was his right to, and anyone who thought otherwise, was an idiot and should come prove himself in the alleyway between the barber shoppe and the club.
All this because he didn’t dare cry or tell anyone of his emptiness. He’d rather have them admire him for his strength, and bravery.
So, he drew another fist and reeled another punch like so many nights before. He’d quite forgotten why this boy and him had decided to come and have a fist fight, but that hardly mattered. That wasn’t the point anyway. He’d take fights where he could get them, no matter what they were fighting about.
All this to say, to most onlookers it would seem as if he was seeking approval, which of course he was, but he would never admit so, not even to himself. But of course, one must not always judge by first impression.