The first thing we did was blame each other when the rocks started to hit us.
“AHHH!” Steve cried out—he was holding where his bare arm was bleeding. Then he glared at me as if I’d done it.
“What th–” my brother yelled at me, more stunned than mad, as he felt the first stinging rock. He also thought I’d thrown a rock at him.
Playing at the bottom of a very steep hill at Valley Forge Park, we could not see where they were coming from. The sun was glaring so hard down the long hill that it hurt to look at the intensely green grass. But as my brother came closer, I saw a rock whizz past him from somewhere higher up. Looking uphill, almost straight into the sun, I couldn’t see anything but felt a rock strike my head hard—I crumpled to my knees. Then instantly I understood, even before the yelling, that kids uphill were hurling rocks at us.
I could not see them—I only saw silhouettes. They taunted: “CHINKY CHINKS! CHING CHONG CHINKS! GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM—CHINKS!”
My big brother, Steve and I had just been following a creek, enjoying the shade. We had just started back to the picnic of the Taiwan Club where Steve’s and our parents were. The summer picnics at Valley Forge were often around July 4th—that could’ve been the day. Our parents were too far away to hear us—we couldn’t hear the barbecue, their happy yacking in their mother tongue.
It hurt to look uphill into the sun. But I had to try as I picked myself up, hearing my brother and Steve yell out in pain. I yelled straight up the hill: “Stop it! We didn’t do anything to you”
Then a rock my brother in the head and he almost fell over.
Steve got hit in the stomach with a big one and crumpled down on his knees. I went over to him and he was clutching where it hurt. I got grazed, too. The rocks were coming too fast, meaning, the boys up there had been gathering them for a while.
We were getting killed in the valley shaped like a bowl. Even the bouncing rocks were picking up speed on the way down. My brother Leon yelled, “C’mon! We gotta get up the hill—there’s only two of ‘em and three of us!”
I crouched, trying to see up there. “Wait—pick up some rocks, first!” I yelled.
Steve in a rage was already charging up alone—he couldn’t wait to get revenge. He got within forty feet when a huge rock slammed his face and he fell over crying loudly.
“HA HA! GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM—CHINKS! GO TO HELL!”
They were so happy, whoever they were, that they kept on yelling, “CHINKS! YOU DIE! CHINKS! GO TO HELL!”
I wanted to help Steve, but he was too far up there. He was down, but they kept throwing rocks at him anyway. More rocks rained out of the sun at us, too—my brother and I couldn’t dodge enough of them. Throwing them back was futile. We were getting hit all over.
Leon said, “We gotta charge up together—they can’t stop both of us.”
“Okay,” I said, “but we have to spread out.”
So he ran up, mostly straight ahead and slightly to the left. I went up more slowly, far to the right, protecting my head as I went. Then I ran much farther to the right, almost out of sight, and then ran straight up the hill until I knew I’d passed our attackers. I came back to them from higher ground, no longer blinded by the sun.
The smaller, younger one saw me and made a frenzied shower of rocks at me, but they were much weaker with the hill against him. I finally saw his face. It didn’t make any sense. I was so startled, I could hardly move. I just couldn’t believe an Asian kid, maybe nine years old, had been attacking us. I froze.
The younger kid was scrambling through the grass on all fours, feeling for rocks. But the bigger one, who was as big as my brother, maybe thirteen, hurt my brother with a very big rock. So I threw a medium-sized rock at the younger one’s head and got lucky. He wailed, “AHHHH! Victor, help!”
I leaped on top of the smaller one. I could feel he was much weaker than me. It was too easy to slap the rocks out of his hands.
He shouted, “GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM—CHING CHONG—CHINK!” He was as hateful and sneering as the rednecks at school. “CHINKY CHINK!” he yelled, struggling to hit me. I pinned his arms next to him and struck him in the face really hard. He burst into furious tears, crying.
I shouted through the noise, “What’s wrong with you?”
Then Steve came up and beat the little kid’s face in, and he kicked him over and over.
I didn’t want to hit him anymore. It was like a terrible nightmare, instead. I could see the bigger one was Asian too. I had a feeling they were brothers.
“What’re ya doing?” my brother yelled at me—he was still getting hit by the bigger one. The bigger one wasn’t keeping good track of me. He only glanced and saw me running away. He was closing in on my brother, who had gotten hurt again by another big rock.
I was running farther up the hill as if I were running away from everything. I could tell by the way my brother yelled“HEY!” at me that even he thought I was running up and away to our parents.
But I was then just fifty feet higher—just enough to run full force into the bigger one. The hill did all the work for me. My body slammed into his back as he was winding up to throw again at my brother— it was an easy knock down despite his greater bulk. I fell right on him and we slid a little down the steep thick grass.
He was so hurt that he could barely roll over to fight. But he was still raging. When he turned over, I hit him with my left fist as hard as I could. Then he started crying hard.
My brother came up quickly, panting, “Good one,” meaning the way I went behind the kid and made it look like I was fleeing.
I was really surprised then that this kid kept yelling the same stuff as before, but worse, “Fuck you! Fucking Chinks! FUCK YOU—FUCKING CHONG!”
The word “fuck” made my brother so mad he started kicking him and hitting him until Victor was lying there motionless. But he kept cursing “Fuck you!” at us anyway and my brother kept hitting him.
I stood aside, stunned. Here was a kid who looked just like us, but he was saying the same stuff that the rednecks did. The air was too thick with heat. The glare on the grass was too harsh.
Suddenly I wanted him to shut up. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I threatened, “SHUT UP, YOU JERK! OR WE’LL KILL YOUR LITTLE BROTHER!”
Victor did shut up, finally, and then we heard his little brother getting beat up by Steve, not too far away. We could hear the smaller one crying hopelessly.
Leon stopped hitting Victor, who was almost motionless, and asked me, “How did you know they were brothers?”
“I don’t know—I just knew.” We found out later that they were brothers, just like us, except they were farther apart than us.
Then Leon went back to hitting Victor until he was too tired and sick of him to hit him anymore. Victor crawled away a little, then suddenly charged back in a crouch—even with all the dirt and blood and bruises all over him. My brother was caught off guard and fell over, so then Steve hit Victor in the head with a big rock in his fist. That stopped him from moving and talking, finally. I was even a little scared at how hard Steve hit him, but Victor was still breathing.
Steve had left the little whimpering kid behind. Steve’s face was bright red and sweaty, and he started screaming at the top of his voice at Victor, “Are you crazy? Are you crazy? You’re Taiwanese! You’re Taiwanese! You’re just like us! You’re just like us! You’re one of us! You’re one of us!”
Steve kept screaming that way till he got hoarse.
Then he wanted to hit him even more, but we stopped him. I could hear Victor’s little brother getting slowly up and running away, over the hill, crying, “Daddy! Daddy!”
“C’mon. Let’s get out of here,” I said. “We gotta tell somebody what happened.”
We all looked at where the little kid had fled, and then at each other. Steve shouted a final “Fuck you!” at Victor who just lay there. My brother looked at me and said, “You’re bleeding.” Limping and clutching our injuries, we started the long trek back to the picnic where all of our parents were having such a great time. When we got there, they all looked at us like we had just done something terrible.
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