The Fuel of Feuds
Even a place as small as this
breeds enemies. Bill Mason fought
Howard Breeley in the street,
in front of the Five and Dime
and Mary Ann back in 1952.
Bill swung first, rounding a left
into Howard’s jaw that made
the larger boy’s teeth rattle.
As Howard shook the strike away,
Bill raised his knee into Howard’s groin,
a sissy move, except Bill stood
six inches below the other boy’s head.
Howard’s first strike sent Bill
sailing over the ’48 Ford parked
parallel to the drug store,
the crack of Bill’s collar bone
echoing down Main in the awed
silence. No coward, Bill rose,
blood spurting from his bulbous nose,
and head-butted Howard, knocking
the wind from the giant in a whoosh
that smelled of the White Pig’s burgers
and greasy fries, the lunch favorite
of every high school senior.
As Sheriff Brady gazed from his pickup,
Mary Ann scurried from the general store
where she sold nylons and bobby pins
between the pages of the romance novels
she secretly read. One slender,
manicured hand was all it took
to sway Howard from his next blow,
as Mary Ann rushed to Bill,
peppering butterfly kisses
on his pimply forehead.
Half a century later, Howard sells
used cars to put his seven grandchildren
through university. No Breeley
nears a Mason, not even
Bill’s youngest grandkid, the girl
who is the spitting image of Mary Ann.
April 21, 2015