Two days after his eighteenth birthday, Joey Labianco was leisurely leaning against a parking meter in front of the City Diner and crossed his arms while waiting for a few of his friends to come around. Standing six feet tall and muscular from working as a laborer in the construction business, the youth had wavy, black hair that came to his collar and hazel eyes that attracted most of the girls who knew him. Although he was usually peaceful, Joey wouldn’t hesitate to clobber someone who tried to mess with him.
Noticing Patty Walsh and Georgey Delaney coming toward him and knowing they would want to start a fight, he pretended not to see them and looked straight ahead. Joey also knew they stole ornamented rings from a local store and wore them on all their fingers to inflict as much damage as possible while punching someone, always as a team.
Georgey Delaney was about five, eight and had a slightly stocky, yet not fat, body. He had sandy-brown hair that always seemed to need a comb, a face that couldn’t be classified as handsome and was rarely seen smiling. Whether with one or two friends, he was usually the leader of what Joey called the Irish wolf pack. Because he had never done any hard work, his arms were thin.
Patty Walsh, on the other hand, was a good-looking kid who had neatly combed, blonde hair and was the same height as his closest friend, Georgey. A born follower, people who knew him, wondered if he’d ever made a decision on his own.
“What does a bag of shit sound like when it hits a wall?” Georgey Delaney asked through a corner of his mouth when they stopped in front of Joey and looked at him with something that resembled disgust in their eyes.
Both boys had smirks on their faces, making it obvious an ethnic slur was forthcoming. To them, that was one of the best ways to suck a victim into a fight. And since there were two of them, Joey shouldn’t present a problem.
“WOP,” Patty Walsh said and chuckled. He was referring to the derogatory term for Italian seamen who jumped ship and stayed in the United States Without Official Papers.
Joey ignored Patty Walsh, who weighed about one hundred, forty pounds with heavy shoes on and stared at Georgey Delaney indifferently through cold eyes. His lips were slightly curled into what could be classified as a sympathetic smile. All he had to do was take care of the leader, and the other clown would buckle.
“And what might you be lookin’ at now?” Delaney said with the slight trace of an Irish brogue, even though he had been born in the United States. His fists were clenched and ready to sucker punch their victim for the day.
“I’m lookin’ at a good imitation of a piece of shit.” Joey’s hands lashed out with the speed of striking vipers, grabbed the fronts of their shirts and smashed their faces together twice in rapid succession, which caused Patty Walsh to lose his balance and fall backward. A hard, left uppercut to the underside of Delaney’s jaw sent him sprawling to the sidewalk where he lay dazed for a few seconds.
Hearing a clicking sound, Joey turned his head to see Patty Walsh standing again and holding an open barber’s razor while snarling. He looked at the sixteen-year-old kid coldly and spoke menacingly. “Patty, put that fucking razor away or I’ll break your arms off and shove both of them up your skinny ass at the same time.”
“Oh, my goodness,” and elderly woman worriedly said and walked on faster without looking back.
“Cut the fucking greaseball bastard.” Delaney sat up while rubbing his jaw. “He loosened a few of my teeth.”
“Put it away, Patty,” Joey calmly warned without a hint of fear in his unblinking eyes.
Patty Walsh frowned, looked at his friend and spoke with a voice that was noticeably shaky. “Someone will see us. We’ll get the asshole another time.” Pretending not to be intimidated, he took his time folding the razor, slipped it back into one of his pockets and smiled at Joey smugly. “We will get you. Just wait and see.”
To show them he was really a nice guy, not that he usually was, Joey extended a hand to help Delaney up. At the same time, he was poised for a sneak punch. But it didn’t come.
Delaney was going to throw a punch when he noticed Joey was no longer alone. And the other guy was someone he didn’t want to mess with.
“Need some help?” Stepping closer, Ronny Meyer nudged Patty Walsh aside with a hip as if he were an empty garbage barrel and didn’t even bother to look at him.
“Nah. They were just leaving,” Joey said, glancing at his friend.
Looking at his companion, Georgey Delaney jerked his head and flatly said, “Let’s get the fuck outta here. Between the Krauts and the grease balls, this neighborhood is starting to smell like a garbage dump.”
They walked away saying nothing, each silently vowing to get even with that WOP bastard.
“You handled that rather nicely,” Ronny Meyer said calmly. Carrying one hundred, ninety pounds of muscle and having done some boxing, he wasn’t intimidated by street punks. Knowing Joey felt the same way, he liked him.
“As long as I don’t run into them at night,” Joey said, a thoughtful concern dulling his eyes. But that was something Delaney and Walsh didn’t have to know about.
“Yeah, that would be a problem for you.” Ronny knew Joey had difficulty seeing in the dark and knew he was eventually going to lose all of his eyesight. “Maybe you should start carrying a blade.”
“That’s strange coming from you.” Joey grunted a laugh, mainly to disguise his nervousness. He knew Ronny was scheduled to become a police officer in two months. Yet he advised him to start carrying a knife.