When he hit me
The first thing I thought was this:
‘Don’t break the bottle’.
He was young, stocky, perhaps a boxer,
wearing one of those godawful snapback
baseball caps and a padded jacket. Someone had
spat at my feet, and I grabbed him, and then someone
grabbed me, a good strong lock around my head.
Then he hit me.
He must’ve hit me five or six times, all fair belts,
all bang on my right ear. I didn’t feel too much pain,
not then. And I didn’t fight back.
I was worried about the bottle, you see.
Maybe that’s what made him stop,
me doing nothing.
He stood there, after he’d hit me and let me go,
his back against the plate glass window of the shop,
watching me, turning the gemstone ring
on the finger of his hitting hand
back round the right way, and I’m thinking,
‘I really want to hit you, boy,’
but there’s the bottle in my inside jacket pocket,
and I know that if I hit him, we’ll tussle,
and the bottle, it’ll get broken, and I won’t
get that drink that I’ve been looking forward to
So I leave it.
I walk away and get in the car. His crew, some
boys like him, and a couple of girls with their bits
and spots and face shrapnel on show,
they yarp at me as I get in the car.
‘Silly old man,’ says one.
Sitting at the wheel, I boil up a little.
I think seriously about it. Running them over.
I get even hotter, realising that
I have that capacity,
That I’m actually thinking
of doing it.
I drive away.
At home, my ear looks like mashed red cabbage
and regret sets in. Regret mainly
for being a silly old man.