"Well, I got to say; he's a resilient little bastard." I was talking to Tony Coronado, a friend, who was sitting on a back of rusted out car smoking on a Marlboro that he had stolen from his mom.
The front tires of the rusted car were flat and corroded, and there were no back tires. The rear sat on the rims that once held the tires. The driver's door was off and was being propped up in the dirt about six feet away from where it should have been. Little Leo, Tony's brother was sitting in a lawn chair behind the door looking through the roll downed window like he was driving.
We were all looking at Dahn Nguyen, better known as Bang Bang, rise up out the dirt in front of the white, adobe wall that I had just bounced him off.
He was mad as fuck, "Come on, fight, white muthafucka; I rip face off dis time!" He assumed the pose as before, his legs separated in a crouch and his hands raised as if they were mighty weapons.
"Come on then, you little Bruce Lee wannabe! Let me know when you're tired of getting your ass bounced off that wall."
"No Bruce Lee! I'm Chuck Nowiss!" He screamed and charged across the dirt between us.
I stepped aside, to the left this time, turned his momentum against him and tripped him so that he flew head over heels into a pile of tumbleweeds.
"Looked more like an Asian Wiley Coyote to me!"
Little Leo dropped the door over with a plop and asked, "Why you dudes fighten this time?"
I walked over and gave Bang Bang a hand up. His nose was bleeding, so I fished a red calico handkerchief out of right front pocket and handed it to him. I looked at him to see if he had had enough, and his eyes and posture told me that he did.
"I just told this little dumb ass that his sister was top notch."
In between deep laborious breaths, bang Bang mumbled, "Quit talkin bout sista; I kill you muthafucka." He handed me back the handkerchief.
Little Leo was confused, "Which sister. The oldest one?"
"No, the one my age, Vinh."
Little Leo whistled, "Top notched my ass; that girl's h-o-."
He stopped and looked at Bang Bang and shook his hand like he had touched a burning skillet.
"He thinks I was insulting her and attacked me. So I bounced his dumb ass off the crash car then the wall a couple of three times."
The truth was I was in love with Vinh and had been since the first time I laid eyes on her when she first sat down by me in the fourth grade at Sam Houston Middle School. She had the prettiest eyes that God had ever given a female and the calmest demeanor too. Being in her presence was like sitting by mountain pool being fed by a waterfall.
I been talking to her more and more and wanted to get Bang Bang's approval, for as scrawny as he was, he was still the titular head of the family. His father had owned a liquor store in LA but was killed in a robbery. His oldest brother was in prison convicted of arranging the murder of one of the robbers. The family had been forced to move to Texas where Bang's mom worked in a noodle shop owned by her brother.
Bang didn't know what top notched meant. I knew it was a bad choice of words even when I said it, but I was nervous because even though Bang Bang and I had been friends for years, it felt like I was talking to Vinh's father. Then the little shit head was on me like hairy on an ape.
I tried to explain thing between the wall bouncings, but he was too hot to listen and every time he ended up on the ground with a thud, he was less inclined to seek out a peaceful solution.
He was starting to straighten out some, and trying to squirrel up enough energy to attack again when Tony blew a smoke ring and slowly spoke, "Bang, you dumbass. Billy's just saying Vinh is A-1."
Bang's chin lifted. He looked at me confused. " No Balls, why you not say A-1?"
The nickname he called me alluded to the fact that I lost a testicle in a youth football game when I was brutally tackled by the only girl on the opposing team. It was an event that I had yet to live down. I grew red because he brought it up.
I choked the anger down a bit before I answered, "In the first place, I got one nut, and it's bigger than both of those pathetic little BBs you got. Secondly, you didn't give me a fucking snowball's chance to explain myself."
He thought about it a moment then answered, " My balls not BBs. More like walnut." He laughed revealing some blood on his teeth. Then he held out his hand. I shook it. "You like Vinh? She like you too. Treat her good, muthafucka, I kick you ass again."
Little Leo was sucking down a pop from a can and sprayed the soda out of his nose when he heard Bang's threat. Tony laughed so hard he rolled off the back of the Taxi thudding on the ground and stirring up a small cloud of dust.
Little Leo went and helped his brother up from the ground. Then they both got on Tony's bike with Leo standing on the axle extensions. Tony spit a loogie on the ground where it was immediately swallowed by the dust. They waved and left, and, as they did, Leo tossed the empty pop can on the rusted car where it made a tinny noise and rolled to the ground.
Bang and I left the scene too. We walked around to the front of Walker Warehouse Building and found ourselves on Main Street. There was gray stone water fountain near the Drexel Pharmacy, and we made our way to it. I took a long-assed drink. Tossing little dumbass dudes was strenuous work in the middle of the day in the west Texas heat. Bang took a long drink also because bouncing off adobe walls and rusted cars was hard work too.
Bang walked over to the bench near the fountain and found a seat in the shade.
I decided to use the time to explain my feelings for Vinh. "Bang, I think Vinh is the best thing in this town. She makes me feel strong and like I'm something better than just the son of the town drunk. She makes me want to be good enough to deserve her."
He didn't say anything, but he looked real serious. He looked, for a moment, like a small old man. "Vinh good girl. Always help family. Good for my mom. When Pop die, she strong girl." He looked away at the memory. We were sitting on a bench on the Main Street of Wheelbarrow, Texas watching farm trucks and dirty cars wander by, but Bang, for a moment, was in LA reliving the details and aftermath of his father's death.
When his eyes looked back, he stated, "You treat Vinh good."
I waited for a bit before replying, "And what you gonna do if I don't?"
He looked straight at me, "I cut you nuts off! Oh, I forget, you got no nuts!"
"I'll throw you over that fucking building, you little asshole!" I raised my voice and pointed the hardware store.
Bang grinned and laughed, "You call me Chuck Nowiss next time, no Bruce Lee."