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Another childhood story by Ol' Smoke

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The Smoke

The Smoke

    I will kill anyone who walks on my lawn

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This story is about when I moved from Bly, to Albany, to Philomath and finally to Chiloquin, all in about the space of a year.

 

1965 finds me in a little town in Southern Oregon called Chiloquin.  It is in the heart of the Modoc-Klamath Indian nation.

When we moved there, there was no housing available in Chiloquin, so we got permission to live on the Indian Agency

Land at Fort Klamath till something opened up.  There were only 5 families living there at the time, and we road the bus to

school at Chiloquin about 7 miles away.  It turned out that the principal of Bly High School was now the principal at Chiloquin

High School (CHS).  So the first day I show up, he takes me into his office and tells me that I am not going to be the a**h****

I was in Bly.  So I knew that rough times were ahead.  So here we go...first day of school at CHS...8th grade.

 

When I first got to class after getting my paperwork done, everyone was staring at me.  So I took a long look around the room,

as I had in the shools before, and I tried to find one of the boys who would not stare down.  Bingo!  There's always one.

So I found my desk and sat quietly while I tried to catch up on where the studies were going in this new school.  At 11:30 a.m.

the bell rang and a kid came up and said it was lunch time and he would walk with me over to the grade school, where the

lunches were served.  His name was Mark Fried.  We ate lunch together and he helped me to a great deal to acclamate to

this new school.  But, two tables over was this Indian boy who I had set eyes upon earlier.  I kept making eye contact with him

until he got mad.  So as Mark and I were walking back to the high school after lunch, I heard him talking behind me.  He was

saying some remarks about me and I knew I had found the kid who ran the 8th grade.  His name was Richard Harrington.

As we got onto the school grounds again and made our way to the front door, I turned around and walked straight at him.

Without so much as a howdy,  I said, "You and me after school".  He was a little set back, but after a few seconds, he replied,

"sure".  "The field between the roads right there."  I said "okay".  We never looked at each other again the rest of the day.

At 3:15 p.m. the bell rung and all the kids ran for the field.  "FIGHT ! FIGHT !"  they yelled.  When I got there, he was waiting

for me, surrounded by his friends.  I walked straight up to him and said, "Mine name is Rich...what is your name?"  He said

"Richard"  I said to him, "straight up fists, no kicking, is that alright with you?"  He replied, "Yeah"  We squared off and he

threw a punch but missed, another and another, all missing their target.  I stepped to the right and hit him with a left hook.

I hit him again with a right, then a stomach shot.  Then we just started hitting each other.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, we

were both weak and shakey legged, but neither of us was going to quit.  So we went at each other again,  I lost my stamina

and he got the best of me and bloodied me pretty good.  When I couldn't get back up, I said enough.  He said okay and

walked away.  He got about 20 feet from me when I yelled at him,  "Same time tomorrow"  He turned around and looked at

me as if I was an idiot.  Then he said, "If you want to".  I said, "I have to".  He turned and left.  When I could get up and stand

by myself, I looked around and all the kids were looking at me as if I was a total geek.  Luckily, the bus driver had not left

yet.  In fact, he was standing in the door of the bus watching us fight.  I got on and sat down.  When we pulled up to where

the bus let us off,  I walked by him, and he stopped me and said, "Good fight...but use your left more.  He doesn't cover

his right side.  You can win by using your left"  "Then cover with your right arm when he swings".  "You'll take him"  "Now

go soak your hands in salt water, it'll toughen em up"

 

When I walked into the house, my mom was ready with the wash cloth and some hot water.  She had been through this

several times before.  I told her that I was going to settle it tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow came and then it was 3:15 again.  As I walked past the bus toward the field, the bus driver again told me to use

the left and cover with the right.  My dad showed that move the night before after dinner.  So I was ready.  I was set back

a little by how black and blue he was as I neared Richard again.  Then without a word we were at it again.  This time

I kept hitting him with the left and blocking his shots with my right arm, held closely by my face.  He started tiring earlier

than me, and I saw the opening I had looked for...his left chin was open.  I threw a left at him, but intentionally missed,

so that his head would be traveling to his left, I then unloaded a downward right and smack!  right on target.  I watched

as his eyes shook from the left to right very quickly, then they glazed over and his knees collapsed and he fell into the weeds

that we were standing in.  I moved back to re-group in case he came up, but he didn't move.  I stood there motionless,

waiting for him to get up.  But he didn't move at all.  Then fear ran through me.  I went over to him and turned him onto

his back.  He immediately took a deep breath and started breathing kinda shallow.  Then his breathing became more

normal and suddenly he opened his eyes and kinda stared around but still not really awake.  So I sat there holding his

head out of the dirt, while he woke up.  Then the bus driver showed up with one of the teachers and they took care of

him.  About 15 minutes later I was on the bus home.  No one talked the whole trip.  No one looked at me.  The next

day, Richard came up to me before class and said, "Jesus man!  What did you hit me with?"  I said, "A lucky punch"

He then asked if I wanted to go to lunch together that day.  Sure.  We were close friends after that.  I never had much

of a problem with anyone else in school after that until 2 or 3 guys came into the 11th grade from the boys correctional

school.  They thought they were tough guys, but when Richard and I and several others showed em how it was going to

be, they settled down and behaved themselves.

The sad part of this story is many years later, Richard and this girl from my class got married.  It was about 1974 

that they were having this party at their house, and a rifle that Richard kept playing with, went off and killed his wife.

In 1970, I had taken her to the senior prom.  She didn't deserve to die that young.  Richard went to prison for many

years and got out, but later he raped a very young girl and went to prison and is still there.  Our futures are so clouded

with choices that it boggles the mind.  I was actually the one heading for bad times, but I got a wake up call and

heeded the message.  I just wish Richard could have had the same chance.

 

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