(Excerpt from Hope for Misfits)
My Alabama friend had finally had enough of my dares, insults and threats.
Pudge drew back and walloped me.
I braced myself as much as a drunk can, but the punch lifted me off the floor and I crashed atop a table behind me, breaking two of its spindly legs. My jaw began bleeding and swelling immediately, but I did not lose consciousness. I was numb to the pain and mumbled through my traumatized mouth, “You see, Pudge, you couldn’t knock me out. You owe me a beer.”
The Frenchmen were incredulous at the young Americans who came into their quiet café and put on such a perplexing display. Ed settled with the proprietor for the damage we’d caused, and quickly drove us back to the base and me to the base hospital where I was treated. Today the scar on my “iron jaw” is hidden by my goatee, but when I trim my beard I can see it and am reminded of Pudge.
Several years ago, I went to see Ed in Louisiana and on the way back stopped in Athens, Alabama, to visit with Pudge’s widow, a woman I had never met. Pudge had died years earlier of alcohol-related illness. I enjoyed the visit and was well received by her and some of Pudge’s friends. But I was disappointed when she told me that Pudge never mentioned me to her.
There were other instances when I insisted someone hit me, and other fights. However, I never came out on top in a brawl. And, interestingly, I rarely wanted to hit or hurt anyone. I only wanted to be hit.