(When an old foe returns and wants to resume a relationship where it left off, we can engage or redefine the relationship. When Al faced this circumstance, he did both because his conscience gave him no other choice.)
Excerpt #7 from "A TIME TO..."
“Always so brave when you’re with a crowd,” Al said, looking eye to eye with Billy.
“I don’t need anybody else to take you. The only reason I didn’t do it when we were kids was my dad. And, since he ain’t around anymore, guess what?” Billy said as he handed his bat to the tall Apostle, and motioned for his two buddies to give him and Al some room.
Al took a boxing stance facing Billy, and repeated to himself his Disciple mantra, “Be tough, brave, intelligent and loyal.”
“I never liked you. You always rubbed me the wrong way,” Billy seethed.
“That’s your problem,” Al shot back. “I always minded my own business, but you.... you weren’t happy unless you were making my life miserable.”
Billy swung his fist hard at Al’s face, but missed when Al moved to the side and deflected it with his open hand.
“You didn’t always mind your own business, Daniel Boone.... Always bragging about coming from Kentucky, like you were somebody special,” Billy corrected Al, as he swung again, hitting Al in the stomach this time.
Al backed up to catch his breath. “I only talked about Kentucky when people asked me about it. Special...? Me...? Confused! Lonely! Freak!....was more like it,” Al barked as all those hurtful memories rekindled a fire in him.
Before Billy could respond, Al lunged at him, landing two blows... one to Billy’s side and the other to his nose, which started to bleed.
A startled Billy backed up a few steps and wiped the blood, which had trickled down into his mouth with his hand. Billy, now enraged, pointed at Al with his blood-soaked finger and said, “Now.... now you learn a lesson you won’t forget, Daniel.”
“Get him Billy! Yeah!” urged his fellow Apostles.
“Go away! Take that stuff somewhere else!” shouted an elderly woman from her third-floor apartment window overlooking the fight scene from across the street.
“What was that Grandma? I can’t hear you!” laughed the tall one.
“You’ll hear the police when they come!” she shouted even louder.
Billy swung his fist wildly at Al a couple times, but didn’t connect.
“Come on! You can do better than that,” mocked Al.
“Shut up and fight,” Billy demanded, before grabbing Al’s arms and wrestling him to the ground. As they rolled around on the sidewalk, they exchanged punches. Billy’s bloody nose smeared blood on both their clothes. It was a bright red on Al’s white tee shirt, brown on his tan jacket, and a darker shade of burgundy on Billy’s sweater.
“How do you like that?” Billy scowled after landing a solid punch on Al’s right ear that dazed Al for a couple seconds.
“Here’s some mor, mor, mor....” Billy stammered as his eyes rolled up into his head and his body began shaking wildly. He let go of Al. His body looked like a fish’s that had been pulled from the water and tossed on land.
“What the hell is wrong with you Billy?” the lanky Apostle asked incredulously.
Just then the sound of a police siren started growing louder as it approached them from a block away.
“Come on! We gotta get outta here,” screamed the tall Apostle, as he began running down the street in the opposite direction.
“What about Billy?” the other Apostle asked with concern.
“What about him? He’s either possessed or really sick. Nothing we can do,” the tall one said as he continued running. The lanky Apostle shrugged and followed his buddy down the street.
Al watched Billy flop around for a few seconds before he knew he had to do something quick or else Billy was going to hurt himself seriously. If he continued to hit his head against the sidewalk and roll over onto the broken wine bottle that was now just a foot away, he could even kill himself.
He remembered seeing his cousin flop around like that on the carpeted floor of his home during a visit. His aunt and uncle wrapped him in a blanket so he wouldn’t bang into things in the room. Since Al didn’t have a blanket, or anything to wrap Billy in, Al got down on his knees behind Billy’s head, and lifted him from his armpits while wrapping his arms around Billy’s chest. He held on as tight as he could. The force of Billy’s convulsions knocked Al off his knees and onto his backside. Now he could more securely cradle Billy between his knees while holding onto his chest with his arms.
Billy’s face and head were bloodied, bruised and scrapped when the police car pulled up to the curb, along side Billy and Al.
“Break it up!” commanded the officer who popped out of the passenger seat of the cruiser.
“It’s not what you think. We’re not fighting now,” said a breathless, blood-stained Al.
“Officer...Officer! Two of the young hoodlums are getting away!” shouted the woman, who had called the police, from her third-floor window.
Ignoring the woman, the officer responded to Al, “Is that right? What then?”
“He’s sick! Look at his eyes!”
“Officer... Officer! Can’t you hear me? Don’t let them get away!” the woman pleaded.
“Lady, please...first things first!”
Billy continued to twist and turn as if jolts of electricity pulsed intermittently through his body, and Al hung on despite Billy’s head butting his head several times.
“Is he on drugs?” asked the policeman who had been driving, as he exited the car.
“No. One second he was fine, the next he started shaking like crazy and his eyes... his eyes went blank.”
“Sounds like an Epileptic seizure. We’ve got some padding in the car,” the driver said as he rushed to get it from the trunk.
“I think he’s dead! His body stopped shaking. It’s not moving at all,” Al said to them.
The first officer checked Billy’s pulse before saying, “No. His seizure is over. It just took a lot out of him.”
Billy, still cradled between Al’s knees, with his back propped up against Al’s chest, moaned as if he had just begun feeling the effects of what had just happened to him.
“You must have gotten me good,” Billy said to Al, while he opened and closed his eyes, and regained his consciousness.
“No. You... you had a seizure,” Al told Billy.
“What?” said a puzzled and exhausted Billy.
“Yeah. Your friend probably saved your life,” said the first policeman.
“Friend? Where are my friends?”
“Right next to you,” said the second policeman.
“You... you helped me?” Billy said in amazement.
“Yeah,” Al replied matter-of-factly.
“Why?” a dazed Billy wondered.
“Somebody had to keep you from killing yourself, and I was the only one around,” Al replied.
“Where are my Apostle brothers?” a surprised Billy asked.
“I’m guessing they’re at least five blocks away by now. They took off just before the cops got here,” Al told Billy.
“Officer! Officer! You let them get away,” the woman shouted from her window across the street.
“Lady, you’re right. We’ll get ‘em next time,” said the first policeman.
“Why.... why didn’t you run too?” Billy asked Al.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t. I thought about it. I guess I didn’t think I could have lived with myself if I left you like that,” Al replied uncomfortably.
“Here,” said the second officer as he handed Billy a handkerchief. “Wipe the blood from your nose and face.”
Billy took it and slowly wiped off his blood.
“I wouldn’t have done the same for you,” Billy said somberly before covering his eyes with the blood-stained handkerchief and hanging his head. “I wouldn’t have done the same for you,” he repeated as he began sobbing.
“You don’t know that, but it doesn’t matter,” Al said as he got up off the ground. “We aren’t friends, but that doesn’t mean we have to be enemies,” Al said as he walked away. After taking a few steps, Al stopped, turned around to Billy and said, “Maybe you’ll return the favor some time,” before he continued on his way to Sal’s Place.