On that short walk between school and our apartment, I developed a habit of walking swiftly, which is something I’ve kept up since then. I would pass up other kids right and left and leave them in the dust.
My brother and sister traveled the same route, but usually not with me.
Normally the trip was uneventful. We saw the seasons come and seasons go by the trees that lined Lafayette street. Winter followed fall and spring winter.
One day a singular event broke in on this normalcy. I was zipping along the sidewalk at my usual furious pace, when I noticed my siblings walking together about a block ahead. Then, a smaller kid, who had been walking behind them, caught up and stopped them, and began harassing them. I saw red. I did not break into a run, but I did lengthen my stride even more; and had enough time to plot out just exactly what I was going to do. I saw it all clearly in my mind’s eye all in advance.
The kid’s back was to me, and he had no idea that I was right behind him. I reached out and grabbed his coat between his shoulder blades, bunching the material as my fist closed, and then lifted him bodily into the air. I could feel him go limp.
Then I told him through gritted teeth that he would never touch my brother or sister again; and shook him for good measure.
He was in a panic and shivering. He asked in a tremulous voice who I was. So still holding him aloft, I turned my wrist, pivoting his body 180 degrees until I could stare him straight in the face.
Curiously, or maybe not curiously, he seemed relieved that I was not an adult, and began to recover his bravado. But I could tell it was all an act as I set him down and he backed away.
My mother used to watch for us from the bay window of their room at that time of day. She saw it all, and never said a word, (which I just learned about this last week). Although from her viewpoint she thought I had tossed him into the bushes when I let him go.