Extract from the diary of Lionel Richardson 11 years old.
Zunder arrives on a yellow bike, he stops his bike by putting his right Bata shoe on the back tyre. As you can see he is not wearing a t-shirt, so as to show off, his prison drawings. His smiley green eyes, make our eye contact and he offers us the bicycle, at a bargain price of $2 dollars, a single blue note. We try to bargain with him, even though we don’t have a single copper cent, to our name. He laughs and leaves, callings us, stupid lighties. We laugh back, cause laughter is what gets us through these mean rough streets.
Can you hear the shouting? There must be a fight going on. We follow the sound towards the commotion, hoping to get some of the day’s action. It is Kingston and Brian bartering punches, for the second time this week. The crowd around the waring pair, are all smiles, fights last a few seconds, but the commentary last forever. The belt is awarded to Kingston, for this bout. We missed the whole build up to the fight, and the fight itself. Cronje, fills us in on everything. When he is finished telling us, the blow by head butt account, we now tell the story, as if we witnessed it for ourselves. Mrs Baxter at number 7, the only women with a phone, in our neighborhood, and her finger trigger ready, on the 99 button, calls the fuzz, but it will be hours till they arrive.
People take their time to move away, from the scene of the crime, and Big Don is trying to stir up another fight. He asks King who else can he hit. King is in his glory. Brian is leaking blood, but no one tends to his wounds, or notices that he is holding brick in his hand. We know how Big Don operates, so we decide to leave. Big Don is going to get another fight today, no matter what, he is going around, the gathered circle and asking who is not scared of who, till even friends like Brian and King end up having to fight.
Brian cracks his missile, landing it fair and square on Dons face, just two seconds shy of minute, of our departure. We missed the action again. Brian loses the battle but not the war. Can you see, now everyone heads in their home direction, they wanted hand to hand combat, of which most in the neighborhood have the skill for. But bricks and bottle mean, even the observers can be hurt. Just last week my friend Rat, was hit with a half filled beer bottle, it took the doctors, 4 hours to scrape out, all the broken glass shards from his leg.
We walk our way, telling each other the story of the fight, over and over again, oral tradition at its finest. When all the noise breaks down into silence, the quite is made whole again, by Sam from number 6, playing his radio at full volume. We appreciate Sam, for most of us, we have no radios and TVs in our semi-detached homes. We move to the rain drain near Sam’s house, to have background music to story. Rain drains serve as public benches in our area.
The police arrive and of course no one knows where the fighters live or stay as we say. Once the blue lights are gone, the streets begin to fill again. We sit at the drain bench till late in the night, when 6 taxis arrive at Mrs Baxter’s house, a revenge call from one of the women who work as white men biters in the nightclubs. We laugh and smile and make our way home.