An occurrence at Enos Garcia Middle School playfield

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

We were getting ready for soccer practice. As was the case for the next 5 years or so we had no adult supervision. Jesse Castañeda was coach at the time. He was often late and even left a couple of months early on one occasion with all our money if I’m correctly informed. We were too young for tracking that sort of “politics” so I’m not positive the story is straight. My mother will correct this if it’s in error. Your mother’s role in corrections has uses too though so don’t get down about it all.

François was the oldest kid who played. The rest of us were 12 or 13. I think François was a couple of years older. A big kid and lippy; easy, being the oldest and biggest. Though at 12 I was the same height, he probably had 30 pounds on my rail frame and I was scared of older kids so I submitted.

Jeff didn’t. Jeff was one of the smallest kids on the field but a natural athlete and daredevil. I don’t remember what François said one day but Jeff said something back and there it went.

François lunged at Jeff who neatly sidestepped him and slapped him in the face. And laughed.

The enraged larger boy tried again. Same graceful lack of acquisition punctuated by a clapping sound. In a blurry-eyed fury François went after Jeff who ran backwards slapping him at will. Laughing. Backwards. Effortless. Around the entire soccer field just like that until François was crying too much and too tired to keep the farce going.

For many of us it was a triumph. The coolest kid in our grade, years younger, putting the bully a few jalasos in the most improbable display any of us had ever seen. A rallying event. Something to talk about. A warning to others eager to step up and step on those smaller or younger.

In the harsh light of adult experience the only thing that really happened that day was we all learned a great deal about both of their fathers.

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