I heard youre the re-invention of stupid. Sheila said to Johnny Brain-Dead, the chosen nickname for John Minter from certain female classmates. It was a warm spring Friday afternoon and the sun wouldnt punch out until six p.m. John, sixteen, had just finished playing handball in the parks courtyard with Eddie, same age, his friend and classmate.
Eddie went to the public rest room for a horse piss and John was waiting for him when the skanks showed up. He detoured to the grassy hill and they followed him.
Sheila, also sixteen, was getting on Johns case for messing up her BFF Myras math test. He had been seated ahead of her during the exam, allowing her to peek at his answers.
Next time shes on her own. John warned. Last I heard cheating on a test is un-cool.
Sheila stepped up to him and got in his face. So whyd you agree to it, Brain-Dead?
Cuz you told me to, or else!
Fuckin A, or else Sheila nodded, hands on hips. Her other BFF Kate, (Sheila had two BFFs) spotted her and joined the rhubarb.
I just came from Myras crib? she said, pointing at John, she told me Brain-dead here gave her the wrong answers on purpose!
Sheila glared at John.
Zat true, Brain-Dead? She approached him. John stood his ground. Sheila was on the school wrestling team and was taller. Just then skinny, crew-cut Eddie showed up in his warm-up jacket and jeans. He sidled next to John, eyeballing Sheila and bleach-blond Kate.
Sup, John? Whats the prob?
Mind ya business, Eddie. Sheila said.
Yeah, mind ya business. Kate echoed, wearing a crop-top and shorts.
John turned to Eddie.
Wonder Woman here thinks I gave the wrong answers on purpose for Myra to copy. How could I have done that if I didnt know the answers myself? That test was a bitch, yo.
Bunch a skanks, all of them. Eddie said, loud enough for Sheila to hear.
You wanna repeat that, Enema?
Eddie did so. And the names Eddie, Skank.
Fug im up, Sheila. Kate said.
Eddie raised his eyebrows. Lets see you try!
But John stepped in. Its my battle, Eddie.
Eddie frowned. Naw! Dude! I can handle her.
But John insisted. Sheila was the school bully. (or Bully-ette, as Eddie once named her). Even though Sheila was a girl, the guys avoided getting into a fight with her. She could box and knew all the Greco-Roman grappling moves. The school jock she beat up at the courtyard last month was so abashed he switched schools.
Nobody messed with Sheila Friggin Gomez.
She stood five feet eight and ate nails for breakfast. But John wouldnt back down this time.
You sure, Johnny? Eddie asked, as John removed his Mets jacket and looked around. The park was nearly empty. His heart pumped acid. Sheila pulled off her Yankees jacket. Her cut-off jeans showcased long, smooth but firm thighs. She stared down John, who lacked street-fighting skills. Fug im up! Kate repeated, as the two combatants circled each other.
Keep your right hand over your chin, Johnny! Eddie instructed.
The fight did not last long.
In less than a minute Sheila had John pinned to the grass, twisting his arm behind his back with her knee on his spine.
Give up.? she hushed in Johns ear. He nodded, grimacing in pain. She helped him to his feet. Johns face was flushed red. He had been beaten by a girl. Sheila and Kate slapped palms. Two other girls had stopped up the knoll to watch. They applauded and Sheila waved to them, grinning. John bowed his head, wanting to crawl under a rock. Eddie placed an arm around his shoulder.
Dude, whatta you lookin so sheepish about?
John spoke to the ground. Isnt it obvious? I lost to a girl.
Aaaw, is wittle Johhny cwying? Sheila teased. Kate giggled and whispered something in her ear. They burst out laughing. They were in no hurry to leave and whipped out their iPhones. Texting to other BFFs, John imagined. He felt low.
Okay. Eddie poked Johns chest, Im gonna show you what you did wrong. Im gonna show you how to think outside the box.
John frowned. What did Eddie mean by that?
Yo, skank! Eddie yelled to Sheila. I'm right here!
Yeah, fug i'm up, too. Kate yawped. Sheila hesitated. Eddie looked too eager for a battle. He ambled towards her.
Knock you out. he said, then shoved her.
Ho shit! Kate shouted, backing up. Then Eddie slapped Sheila, whose eyes blazed. She quickly got him in a headlock and flipped him to the grass. He stayed on his back and Sheila straddled his chest, sliding her knees up to his arms, pinning them. John went pop-eyed. A feeling he couldnt explain stirred in him.
Sheila began slapping Eddie across the face. Hard.
Eddie squirmed underneath her. He made a feeble attempt to buck her off. John studied his face. Was Eddie smiling? Sheila was on to the kick and shot to her feet. Asshole. she murmured. Think I dont know? Lets go, Kate. The girls walked away, not looking back. John pulled Eddie to his feet. You okay?
Eddie chuckled. Of course Im okay. I wish she hadnt stopped so soon. Hurt so good, those slaps.
Johns brows knitted. Arent you embarrassed?
Eddie reared back like whoa. Dude, dont you get it? It felt good feeling her weight on me. I dont have male ego issues like you do. You were lucky she took you on. She was dumb enough to take me on! Its a kick, yo. Too bad she caught on, though. She wont be fighting with boys again, trust me.
John thought about it, and it took a while before he grasped Eddies meaning. But his sense of shame faded. Eddie had changed his perspective on the body boundaries between boys and girls in combat.