I drove my parent's VW bug to school the day of the fight. When school let out, I met Rick in the parking lot and we drove over to the Bag O Chicken together. There was a sizeable group of kids already there. The high school was located right next to a major freeway and a steady stream of students was pouring over the walkway bridge that crossed the freeway from the edge of the school grounds. The Bag O Chicken restaurant was located across the street on the other side of the freeway. For years it had been a favorite lunch and after school hangout for students. The fried chicken and French fries were served in a brown paper bag that was instantly saturated with grease. As soon as I stopped the car, Rick hopped out and walked right into the middle of the crowd, disappearing from view. I noticed a number of hoods, supporters of Chadwick. The talking suddenly died down. Everyone began backing up, opening an area in their center which defined the battleground, a familiar high school ritual. I worked my way into the inner ring where I could clearly watch the fight. I noticed Paul on the other side of the circle with some of our friends. I caught his eye and he gave me a subtle wave. The others didn’t look my way. They all assumed my friend Rick was going to be slaughtered. From opposite ends of the circle as if choreographed, stepped Rick and Chadwick into the open space. I expected some kind of verbal exchange, like Rick saying "I don't like the way your thugs talked to my girlfriend," and Chadwick saying "Oh yeah tough guy, what are you going to do about it?" and then maybe a little pushing and shoving, but none of that happened. Chadwick gave Rick an acknowledging almost friendly nod and said, "Let's go." Rick nodded, put up his fists, and crouched down into a fighting posture. Chadwick didn't look ready. He raised his hands only slightly, not forming them into fists, but intensely watched Rick. They both began to circle around each other. My heart was beating fast and hard. I hadn't realized how big Chadwick was until now. Rick was six feet tall, strong and wiry, but Chadwick looked several inches taller. His rolled up shirt sleeves exposed thick forearms and bulging biceps. Rick closed the gap between them, approaching Chadwick in a sideways walk and then lunged in throwing a fast left jab. Chadwick effortlessly bobbed his head back and away. They circled each other a few more times and then Rick threw two more left jabs followed by a right punch toward Chadwick's head. Chadwick stepped out of the way and caught Rick on the side of the face with a bone jarring punch. It looked like Rick had thrown his head against Chadwick's fist. I felt sick to my stomach and light- headed, but forced myself to keep watching. Rick staggered back, but quickly regained his composure. He approached Chadwick again in the exact same manner. The crowd murmured and I thought, Oh God, don't try that again, but instead Rick faked the left and then squatted down low punching Chadwick right in the stomach, causing him to double over gasping for air. Rick punched him again, a glancing blow off the side of his head. "All right Rick", I blurted out. Rick backed off allowing Chadwick to straighten up. But now Chadwick began moving with a new level of intensity. He walked right over to Rick, allowing several of Rick's punches to bounce off, grabbed one of Rick's arms in mid-flight and pulled him into a headlock. He then proceeded to punch Rick's head over and over. Rick struggled to get free. This stirred the crowd up and my sick feeling, which had left momentarily, was back. With much effort, Rick managed to wiggle free. but the side of his face was dripping blood. He bobbed and circled and threw several more punches at Chadwick, but none of them landed with any force. Chadwick kept his composure, waiting for his opportunity and then landed another bone thumping punch to the same side of Rick's head. Rick staggered and fell, dazed and disoriented. Chadwick stood over him, with his fists poised ready to knock Rick back down if he tried to get up. No one would have blamed Rick for staying down. It was obvious to everyone that Chadwick out matched him. But Rick shook his head and struggled to get back on his feet. Several guys in the crowd encouraged Rick to stay down and we all braced ourselves for the final blow, but a police siren broke the suspense. The police car pulled into the Bag O Chicken parking lot and the crowd scattered. Chadwick and his guys began walking quickly toward the footbridge and back onto the safety of school property. The air was filled with the sound of crunching gravel, screeching tires and roaring engines. In a matter of seconds there was no one around except Rick and me. Rick was still on one knee, too stunned to get up from where Chadwick had left him. The cops remained sitting in the squad car and watched the crowd disperse. I walked over to Rick, helped him to his feet, and we slowly made our way to my VW. As I drove out of the parking lot and onto the street, in the rear view mirror I saw the cop car pull out and head back toward town. This was routine for them, but we all knew that the officers took notice of who was there and especially who was fighting. We went to Rick's house where we could assess the damage. He had a swollen eye and a bad cut on the side of his head by his ear. I found some iodine in the bathroom medicine chest and Rick began dabbing the cut behind his ear. I was embarrassed that Rick got beat up in front of our fellow students. "That Chadwick is one hell of a fighter." I said trying to ease Rick's emotional pain. "Yeah, he's tough all right." "What if his guys start to harass Cathy again?" "I guess I'd just have to fight him again." I thought, Are you totally nuts? but said, "Man, I hope that doesn't happen." I certainly didn't want to go through that again. Then Rick stopped dabbing his head, looked right at me and said, "Thanks, dude, for sticking by me." "No problem." I replied and with that the whole incident made sense. I remembered when I felt like quitting wrestling because I was losing every match and my dad telling me, "Sometimes it's not about winning or losing or what other people think". Rick threw the iodine soaked gauze into the trash can and said, "I think I'll go lie down for a while. Maybe after school tomorrow we can hang out and listen to music." "Sounds good, I'll see you tomorrow" and I left.