Detroit is a violent city and I remember one of my first nights there we were approached by a group of boys. I don’t think they wanted to rob us because we didn’t have anything to rob. I think it was more of a pissing contest.
I stood in the back and they went up to the fireplace where some of the elders were trying to keep themselves warm.
They started talking but I couldn’t hear what they were talking about. It was clear though that one of these guys was accusing one of the old men of something and he was kind of in the defense.
I got somewhat alert because the situation escalated as they began to push one of the elders around.
They began to hit the old man and he fell to the ground while they continued kicking him.
Now I’m not really a fighter, but there is no chance in hell that this man could handle five young men armed with bottles and metal pipes, so I quickly ran over to them.
– HEY HEY HEY!!!! What seems to be the trouble? I asked politely but loud.
– Piss off. You are not part of this. One of them replied.
– I am now!
– OK bitch! I’ll teach you who is in charge here!
– I laughed. In charge? Of what? Empty streets and no food? You are a joke man!
He was the one with the metal pipe. He raised his arm and I guess he planned to smash my skull with it.
But If I gotta be a bitch, imma be a bad one!
So a fast stroke to his throat even before he was ready to strike and he fell to the ground gasping for breath.
I didn’t wait for the next guy to attack. I just jumped the closest one. He got the underside of my shoe right in his face. It is called a back spinning roundhouse kick. The ones Chuck Norris famously delivers in all of his movies.
It is fast and in real life, it works a lot better than in the movies where the bad guys need 5 or 6 of these kicks before they give up.
In real life just ONE of these kicks – if it is well placed can be lethal.
He went down without a word. And he didn’t get up. He wasn’t dead. If I wanted to kill him I would have hit him with my heel in his temple. This was just like a hard slap on his chin with the sole of my left shoe and he fast-forwarded to his sleep.
After that kick, the third one stood right in the landing zone for a jumping front kick which completely sucked all air out of his body. As a matter of fact, it was a variation of the Crane kick from Karate Kid. He sat gasping on the ground growling funny sounds.
The two last guys ran off…
I went over to the old man and kneeled. He was conscious but bleeding from bruces in his head and from what I have seen he probably had some injured ribs on top of that.
– Can you breathe?
– Yes, but it hurts like…
– OK, we need to get you to the hospital.
That was the moment the police arrived. Accidentally I guess. They pulled over and looked at the old man. They seemed like they didn’t really care but they called for an ambulance and ten minutes later the old man was on his way to the hospital.
I wanted to go with him but the officers stopped me. They wanted to know what happened.
They took a report and they asked me why one of the guys was unconscious and two of them had problems breathing.
– Dunno, I said. Maybe they got a throat infection or something.
– You have any ID, one of them asked.
– No. Where did they take him?
– Henry Ford hospital I believe. What’s your name?
– Quiet is my name.
– Oh, I thought you told me to shut up.
The other people from my group told the police what happened. That they attacked the old man and I went between them. But I had nothing more to add.
So, the police drove off and we went back to Tent City to get some sleep.
The next day I went to the Henry Ford hospital to see if I could find the old man.
I asked in the emergency room for the old man and one of the nurses said:
– Come with me. We got a man who was attacked last night. It’s probably him you are looking for. Follow me.
– He got beaten up and got a lot of injuries and needs to stay here a few days, but he is ok.
We took the stairs up to one of the upper floors. I followed the nurse into a room and yes! It was him.
– Hi there! I said.
– Ohh It’s you! My Guardian angel!
– That’s me all right. Aren’t you a little too old to involve yourself in a fight like that?
– Yeah, I tried to avoid it but it seemed inevitable.
He tried to sit up in the bed but couldn’t get up so the nurse had to help him.
– Boy I’m glad you showed up! My name is Harry by the way. People know me as Street Harry!
– I’m Lenora. But they call me Quiet. Are you doing all right?
– I will live. Thanks to you!
– No problem. I said!
– How on earth did you manage to handle five guys that were bigger than you?
– Well… I’m very boring. People tend to fall asleep when I come too close.
– Haha!!! What a skill to have!
We talked for several hours. He told me his story and I told him mine. Both our pasts were stories of pain and despair.
– I can imagine with a past like yours you must be a very angry woman? I think that’s where you get your power and strength from. Yes, it must be!
I never thought of my past this way, but it made a lot of sense when thinking about it. All the betrayal, the abuse, and my non-existing confidence in people – especially in a certain kind of men. Yeah, I was angry. Very angry.
I took his hand with a tear in my eye and he looked at me with his deep, dark, and soft eyes. I felt his pain as clearly as my own.
– I’ve been abused my entire childhood, he said. By my father and his brothers. They raped me and made me do horrible things. My life got so messed up that I couldn’t keep a job for very long. I have lived in these streets for 27 years now and I will die here. This is my home. The only thing that ever worked for me.
– You… you… They abused you? I stuttered.
– They sure did! As a child, I thought life was supposed to be like that and I was the one to blame because I didn’t fit in. For half my life I thought something was wrong with me. I was so shameful that sometimes I just wanted to die. Does your anger come from the same kind of thing?
Boom! It was like being hit by a runaway Amtrack! He was direct and it was spot on!
It wasn’t just a tear from my eye any longer. I was flooding his entire bed. I buried my head in his blanket.
He put his hand on my shoulder and I asked him how he managed to live with all that pain.
– Considering the alternative, I simply had to, and looking at you I see a very strong woman trying to protect that child who got molested. It’s not your fault it happened. It is the world that is bad. Not you. You probably feel just as shameful and misunderstood as I did, but my little boy inside of me now understands there was nothing he could do and he did nothing wrong. It was my parents who failed miserably. Not me. That attitude helped me overcome my shame and helped me move on. You hear me? It’s NOT you!
His words echoed in my cold and empty heart, but I sure as hell understood what he said. And listening to his words I realized I had to forgive myself because I knew he was right! It wasn’t me who was wrong! It just might be the world that is crazy.
– I killed my stepdad because… because of… I choked in the words. Wasn’t able to speak the unspeakable. But Harry’s eyes told me he knew.
-That’s very admirable. One scumbag less in the world to hurt us. You are a true fighter. You can do anything you want! You have a bright future! I KNOW you have! You are going to accomplish great things. I can feel it!
Harry looked right through my tough face. He saw ME! And it felt good to be seen and understood by one who it was forced upon to live with the same kind of shit as me.
I visited Harry every day for the next half week and on day four he was released from the hospital.