Bob was a bully. He was short but powerfully built, like his father, the no-neck sort and where his father’s hair was an iron-grey brush cut, Bob’s was a long sweep of greasy black. He carried his short stature like a dare. The cigarette pack rolled in the sleeve of his white T would likely be crushed if he flexed his bicep. Anyone who thought they might tangle with Bobby was in for some hurt.
He ruled the block with a balanced combination of threat and action. I was one of that swarm of little kids who trembled in awe of the stories and took extraordinary care to stay below his sight.
Occasionally, it took more than reputation to maintain order and one lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Bob was establishing his place in the grand scheme by kicking the daylights out of some hapless pretender, or maybe he had slurred the name of Mr. B’s latest girl or placed his greasy hand on the fender of his wheels. Regardless, Bob was vigorously applying his boots to the head and gut of the victim on the ground while everyone else leaned against their cars and casually observed. The scene that afternoon was unfolding in the hydro field that backed on our house. It was common turf used for pickup baseball games, walking the dog, or in this case, a pit stop for amateur mechanics trying to get their wheels to spin a little faster. Low-slung cars with straight pipes, fender skirts and purple sex lights on the dash were the order of the day. You did your own work on these machines and co2 emissions were not an issue, neither was safety, nor the price of a gallon to make it go. The hoods were up and wrenches were in hand and Bob was hard at work.
I think Bob was starting to inflict some serious damage when my father intervened. It might have been the sight of blood, or the sound of those heavy black boots (you remember the kind, thick soles, chain loop, aka biker boots) landing on the victim’s head, ribs & gut. My father had some rules. “You don’t kick a guy when he’s down!” he shouted, pulling the kicker off who was by this time blind with fury. I guess it was OK to put him down, but once there any further beating was over the top.
But then again, I guess that’s what made Bob a bully. My Dad didn’t stand for that kind of nonsense. It offended his sense of fair play and nobody in his right mind offended my Dad.