Day 3: First Fight, First Party
The day went quickly. It went way quicker than the dash of the malnourished, mad, skinny dog on the cemented road.
Joey, Jayce and Joseph took a chance to make a show of strength and led seven other youngsters to the basketball court late in the afternoon, hoping to draw the Street Eaters out for a longer, more decisive fight. Although it was a Sunday, there were no games in the basketball court, as the village government placed up a large poster saying that “The basketball court is due for maintenance today.” Most of the time, it meant only scrubbing the floor, collecting trash and cleaning the surroundings; very rarely, they paint the court in order to give it a spanky new look. The three of them came to the side of the chapel which faced the Street Eaters’ neighborhood.
The Alley Boys were also aware that they needed to move as fast as they can.
Joey shouted, “Street Eaters, come out if you have balls!”
After a while, a lone voice replied.
“Yes, Joey, we are coming for you!”
Joseph added, “Come out here and show your faces!”
“We are here with our faces intact, you rascals!”
Joey and his brothers went back to the basketball court, where their friends were waiting for them. Meanwhile, Tom and Berto came out with their long bamboo swords and carton shields. Aldrin, Richie and Charles came out from their neighborhood, taking positions across the field with their slingshots.
“Do you want to give up, Gar?” bellowed Joey.
Gar, who had nothing but a long wooden pole, had his reply ready.
“It is you who is supposed to give up!”
“Come and get me, baby!” taunted the leader of the Alley Boys.
Within a few moments, the situation quickly degenerated into a nasty festival of stones, seeds and pebbles raining from the sky as both sides tried to hit each other with their rudimentary weapons.
Gar yelled in panic, “Charles, shoot that guy! The rest of you, defend yourselves and fight back!”
It was just their second time to be in a fight like this. After all, they only had to deal with the smaller neighborhood of Purok 3.
Berto looked at the situation and the time of the day. He knew that if they held on for a bit, they would be able to beat the Alley Boys. He calmly fired his slingshot, aiming for the chest, even as his friends started to waver.
They were clearly not used to the concept of a turf war. They could not possibly know that apart from planning and preparation, they also needed to execute their plan and have the mental fortitude to grind through it all.
“Do not be scared, guys, we can do this! They are nothing but fat fools!” bellowed Charles.
Meanwhile, Gar noticed that it was time for them to ask for help.
“Richie, run and tell the rest of our friends that we are under attack!”
Richie sprinted back to their turf, searching for the rest of the Street Eaters in their houses.
“Press the attack, they are one kid less! Fight! Fight! Fight!” Joey ordered. The Alley Boys started to advance, with big smiles on their faces as they used their slingshots to deadly effect.
“Do not break up! Help will come!” Gar countered, even as they were pelted on all sides by their rivals.
Charles and Aldrin tried to dodge as many of the shots at they can, shooting back as quickly as possible.
“Ouch! It hurts!” complained Aldrin.
“Just keep throwing and shooting, bro!” answered back Charles, who was also hit by a fruit seed in the knee.
As for Tom and Berto, they used their carton shields to block the shots, collecting the projectiles afterwards for their own use.
“Can’t we try to run in front of them and make them go back?” asked Berto.
“Impossible. The moment we do that, we become their number one target and we risk getting injured. Better to stay here, block some of the shots and wait for our friends,” replied Tom.
However, the situation was getting dire as the minutes chimed by.
“Fight hard! They will cower soon!” yelled Joey.
“Remember, we are better than them! No one can beat us!”
On the Street Eaters side of the field, everyone was already getting hit multiple times by the Alley Boys’ relentless shooting.
“We can’t last much longer!” Berto exclaimed.
Tom, in an attempt to keep everyone’s morale up, shouted to his friends, “Keep the faith!”
A very long time later, Richie came back with Nando, Harris and Dennis. Even though they were still outnumbered, their arrival surprised Joey and his friends, for they were not expecting backup to arrive...much less the three of them, who were known for punching down their opponents up close and personal and just beating the hell out of everyone they faced in fistfights and duels.
Indeed, the three newcomers didn’t have anything, save for the clothes on their back and their ready fists. Their movements were brisk and solid, like that of a tiger readying to chase and crush its prey.
“Guys, fall back to our alleys, if those three guys get near us, they’ll punch us into pulp!” Within seconds, Joey and his team quickly fell back into the shadows, knowing that they would be bested if they allowed the fight to rage on - after all, they have brought nothing but pellets, fruit seeds and slingshots.
“That was timely, Richie,” commented Tom.
“Yeah, I was lucky to have the wind behind my back!”
“Great job!” exclaimed Charles.
It was about to be sunset already and they did not want to miss a dinner of steamed rice, canned sardines and instant noodles inside their homes. Some of them also wanted to go to Mass.
The Street Eaters have just won their first victory, although Charles knew very well that it was a small one.
Later, when the stars and the moon are already bright up in the sky, they gathered on the street in front of their neighborhood.
Gar said,“People, time to chip in! Give some of your money so that we can celebrate our first victory!”
Everyone cheered at the suggestion.
As a result, everyone contributed two pesos each and went together to the store to buy low-grade junk food and concentrated fruit juice, whose total didn’t even reach $1.00 – 50 pesos in local money. Moments later, they were celebrating in the street just outside the alley that leads to their homes.
“Yo guys, you saw Joey? He was scared to death!” noted Dennis.
“Holy crap man, if you didn’t come, we would have received black eyes!” cried Richie.
Aldrin gushed, “Yeah, they kept on throwing stones at us like there’s no tomorrow!” After a pause, he continued, “I was hit somewhere on my shoulder…”
Charles interjected, “That’s nothing; at least we won!”
“Wait,” said Gar.
Everyone looked at him in silence.
“We should congratulate Charles for giving us those tactics. Charles, we could not have done this without you. Seriously, thanks.”
“Yeah, sure, if you all now listen!” Charles commented. He looked at Aries and Tom, who both doubted his line of thinking earlier.
“Do you expect something from us?” asked Edgar.
Charles didn’t wait for long to reply.
“No, it’s fine, we’re all friends, right?”
Then, Gar paused for effect. Even though he was just a freshman at a nearby high school, he observed from the speeches that people do in movies and in the gymnasium that people listen more if he paused for a while before continuing.
“Also, I wanted to tell you that we need to fight them to the end. Our rivals will not stop until they win…or we win! What is it going to be?”
“Of course, we will win!” answered Michael.
“Yes, we will win! We will crush them!” shouted everyone in unison.
When the moonlight became brighter and the bats started to fly freely, they all went back home and looked forward to the next day.
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