Conflict has built up for their young lifetime, and an unknown part of the world that makes you question how everything will go from then on.

 

“I definitely like her that much. In grade school she used to stick up for me in fights. It’s about time I returned the favor.” I smile, but the next day fear sets in. Somehow, this was the day I was gonna stick it to Mitch Bower.

*****

“Mitch, I want to talk to you,” Jessica staggers the words out of her mouth. Mitch sits in the dim light of the dead end street. Beer cans lay at his feet. His motions are slow and uncalculated. He sits on top of a trashcan, un-emptied, and reeking.

“Oh, you finally decided to come out,” Mitch spits. He is beyond gone, and I want nothing of it.

“Jessica… are you sure you want to do this now?”  I whisper to her. She trembles, but says nothing to me.

“Mitch, I want to talk to you,” she says again. She folds her arms, hugging her body, while she shakes. “I wanted to talk to you about the other Jessica.” She coughs. “Jessicas.” Mitch starts and falls off the trash can. The lid swirls around his feet before it comes to a shattering halt.

“You don’t need to know what I do in my spare time. You’re my girl. You’ll always be my girl,” Mitch slurs. His words collide with each other, coming out of his mouth, in competition for the biggest lie. He is thinking of any impossible combination of words that could to keep his first Jessica. “Let’s talk it through, babe,” he pauses. “Haven’t you ever felt the itch for someone else? I had to scratch it baby. Come back to me like you never left.” Mitch staggers towards us, drool on the side of his lip, hands out to trap Jessica again. Next to me, Jessica is trembling trying to keep herself together. True fear and shame overcome her. Part of her wants to keep this bastard.

“You’ve got to stand up to him Jessica, you can do this.” I nudge her.  Her head whips around to me, her arms still clutching her sides. In the light of the street lamp she looks beautiful in her dark blue tee-shirt and light grey jeans, but now is not the time for that.

“Three years is hard to let go of Leo,” she whispers back to me.

“Remember what he did to you, Jess.” Turning away from me she faces her boyfriend.

“Mitch,” she trembles. “ I’m done with you, I never want to see you again.” She closes her eyes waiting for a punch, but the punch doesn’t come. Not yet. Mit is two feet in front of us now, his drunken eyes holding anger and deep sadness.

“You what?” Mitch growls.

“I want nothing to do with you! You’re a lying, cheating bastard! You mean nothing to me. I’m done with you Mitch Bower!” Jessica shouts. There’s an echoing and a pause, filled with the noise of the city at night. Car horns fire, and there is a precious moment of silence before Mitch breaks it.  

“If you give me that shit one more time I’m going to get angry.” His voice is deep and made of gravel. He holds out his hands. “Take my hand, and let’s forget this ever happened.” Jessica reaches out towards him, and with a quick motion punches him in the face.

“You’re a cheating bastard!” she screams. Her voice hits near the end of its pitch. Her body’s falling apart. “Fuck you Mitch Bower!” She turns and starts to walk away. A gun fires in the distance, and I follow, terrified. The echo of gunfire fades as the sound of Mitch’s foot steps rushing up from behind. I see Jessica’s cheek scrape pavement. She screams. Mitch is on top of her now, his open hands now in fists. He spits on her and laughs. I rush towards Mitch, and punch him square in the face. Time slows down as I’m looking at someone I’ve known since I was five.

“How could you turn out to be such a raging piece of shit! Do you understand what you’ve done. That was your girlfriend. You fucked up Mitch.” He is bent over while he wipes the blood dripping from his nose. A car screeches to a halt in the distance, and I can feel wind wafting the stench of Mitch towards me.  

“You don’t even know me Leo. I can do whatever the hell I want, and get anyone I want, and I want her.” He points a finger at Jessica. Jessica looks from me to Mitch with eyes full of fear. She thinks she lost.

“You know what Mitch, I never want to see your drunken ass again. I hope you never look me in the eye, and don’t you dare…” I take a moment to take him in. His wife beater is filthy, and covered in booze, and he reeks like nothing else. I don’t know why it took me this long.  “And don’t you dare, pretend you love her.” I lunge forward, on top of him, and punch until my fists bleed.

“Please stop! I’m done! I’m done!”

“Done with what! Say it.” I look at Mitch, his hands are blocking his face. I didn’t think I had it in me.

“I’m done fucking around…” He looks fixedly over at Jessica who is staring at the pair of us.“I’m done with her.” He looks away.

*****

Looking back I would describe the fight like I would describe concrete. The alleyway we fought in is a small dead end street. It’s cramped, with a yellow street light emitting tender waves of mild anger, and fear. I can feel the uneasiness, and the nights I returned after it, I can feel the fight as if it were yesterday. All those times he cheated on Jessica, and he couldn’t stand the thought of losing her. Bastard.

I walk away from the fight with former friends’ blood on my face, an expression of satisfaction and guilt glued to me. He lies on cold concrete watching me go. I do not consider myself a strong person, but the strongest person I know is crying in the middle of the street. Jessica stands up, and holds her cheek. Tears hold strong to her eyes, and with my arm around her, I walk her home.

*****