Finally, a flying toe stomp

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

Word file for the Flying Toe Stomp

Roger menaced the corner when we turned. He must have misjudged when we’d make the turn because he looked real cold, as if he’d been waiting for a while. His splotchy face glowed red, and snot, the really gooey kind—which I always found strange, because snot, unlike water, is all gooey when cold and hard when warm—dripped down around his lips. Roger wore a blue ratty sweater and his bare skin poked out of the huge holes left by the wide knitting. It wasn’t a good look, and the cold must have bothered him because his hands were the same shade of red as his face and chest, and he kept rubbing his hands together. He looked bigger than I remembered, not huge, just puffed up like a marshmallow man.

“You think you’re a funny guy,” Roger said. He took a step toward us, well, really toward Charlie but I was still standing next to Charlie, and Roger jerked forward with his fists. This time, Charlie didn’t move. I moved a bit, I’m ashamed to say, but Charlie stood his ground and looked at Roger with his head tilted to the side as if he were studying a strange animal in the zoo.

A group of third graders played across the street from the corner. I didn’t notice them when we first turned, but when Roger spoke, they stopped playing whatever their game was, and watched us. Now, I know you’ve been out of school for a long time, so you probably won’t understand this, but this was a difficult decision for me. Charlie’s my bud, and I’m a good guy who always looks out of my buddies. If I wanted to, I could have pummeled Roger into hamburger meat, but I had to consider the rules, you know. In school, those rules are different, but once you get past the playground, you have to be careful. It wouldn’t take long for everyone to know what happened here at the corner of Avenue P and East 23rd street, and I was giving my next move a lot of thought.

“What, no jokes this time?” Roger said. Roger was moving from foot to foot either in anticipation or because the cold was getting to him.

Charlie still considered Roger and remained silent. He wore a very large, puffy coat, and his thin neck and head poked out of its zippered neck, like a straw in a glass of milk. I half expected him to bring up the Roger nose, and I was tempted to beat him to it, but I still wasn’t sure if I could step in. I could have fought instead of Charlie and no one would have looked down on me. The only problem with that was that the other kids might question Charlie’s manhood, and I wanted to avoid that. A guy’s manhood was all he really had in school. And anyway, Charlie didn’t appear scared or anything, it just looked like he was chewing over his next move.

As I was saying, there are rules in a street fight. You can’t just jump in anytime you want. I mean, you can if the circumstances are right. Let me put it this way, if Roger brought a friend and the friend jumped in, there’d be no problem. I’d be there for Charlie. But he didn’t, and Roger ignored me, he was concentrated and talking only to Charlie. If we both jumped Roger, then that would be wrong, unless we were trying to mug Roger—but that’s a whole different situation, and, besides, we weren’t after Roger’s money.

“You don’t want to make fun of my nose now, huh, Charlie? What, you’re not such a big man without Mr. Gerling saving you?” Roger said. He fell back into a karate stance, his front leg bent and his back leg at a wide angle with his foot facing forward. He placed both of his hands on the sides of his waist and I was real close to just socking him one. There was no way he’d be able to stop me if I jumped on him. I’d pummel him down and it would be fair, in a way. But I looked over to Charlie, who was still standing there and I could have sworn he gave a small shake of his head.

“You sure, Charlie,” I said. This time I definitely saw the shake of his head. I remember shrugging my shoulders and taking a step back. He baked his cake, and it was time for him to eat it.

Roger gave out a loud yell, took a strange, almost diagonal step toward Charlie, moving his back foot toward his front foot, and then forward at the same angle. Charlie rubbed his chin like he was in deep thought and watched Roger get closer. Roger looked close enough to strike at Charlie and Charlie finally raised his hands to his face and formed fists. He still hadn’t said a word.

Roger again brought his back foot forward and stepped diagonally forward and his left arm struck moving and twisting at the last moment. His fist fell into Charlie’s padded jacket and Charlie stepped backward. The punch didn’t penetrate the huge padding of Charlie’s jacket, but he still looked confused—outside of wrestling when he stayed over friends, I don’t think he’d ever been in a fight before and it showed. He moved around Roger, and forced Roger to get out of the ridiculous stance he was in to keep Charlie in front of him.

Charlie’s hands were near his head and he tucked his elbows tightly under his neck. I wasn’t sure if he could even see past his arms. Roger moved in again and tried to punch him, but his punch fell into Charlie’s arms. Roger backed off again.

“This is going to be fun,” Roger said.

Charlie remained silent and kept his arms up around his face. He focused his eyes, brown beady eyes that he used so effectively to make hilarious faces, on Roger’s every move. Roger stepped back and jumped toward Charlie, his front leg extended trying to perform a jump sidekick. One of my favorite games in the arcade is the game called Karate Champ. It’s in the pizza store and I can play it for hours. There are two joysticks and the fighters perform their special moves by moving the joysticks in different directions. Like, if you wanted to do a forward flip you would push the first joystick up and the second joystick down. Likewise, if you wanted to do a kneeling punch, you would push the first joystick down and the second joystick up. You could do a flying sidekick, which is what I think Roger was doing, but all in real life, not in the arcade, by pressing the first joystick up and the second joystick to the right.

Roger jumped toward Charlie and he extended his foot. Charlie scrambled backward and when Roger landed, Roger’s foot had landed on Charlie’s front foot. Roger was still yelling when he landed and he stepped back. Charlie lifted his foot up to his hand and he rubbed it.

“That hurt,” Charlie said completely deadpan. Without even noticing, the kids had crossed the street and were watching the fight from close in. They started laughing, their high-pitched laughter echoing off the line of attached houses that lined the sidewalk. Roger looked at them, rubbed his hands together, turned, and walked away.

As he walked away, Charlie said, “Did you see that? He hit me with the super-honney flying toe stomp. That was amazing.”

***

Yeah, yeah, yeah—the voice—I’m not sure where it went again. But I’m hoping to put all the pieces together, write an ending, and finally finish this first draft. There’s a lot of thinking I’ll put in to the second draft—the characters need to be better developed, and don’t get me started on the voice, but I’m generally happy with the basics of the story and some of the descriptions I came up with.

After finishing the first draft, I will put it aside for a few months. I’ll ask for suggestions before I start in on the rewrite. Looking back, I should have sucked it up and finished it the first day. I didn’t think writing the last parts would be so difficult.

I’ve discovered that most days I have nothing interesting to talk about musing-wise. I think this is one reason I spaced my musings usually a few days or weeks apart. My life is very uninteresting, and when nothing exciting or funny happens, I don’t have much to write.