My screaming brought my mother to my rescue, even if it seemed under-toned. "John, get Michael's head out of the vice and come in for lunch."
There were other memories of brotherly fun but this is turning into a shaggy dog story. What to do about that - - -?
Can't be fixed. Just need to get it done. OK, there was the constant bait to get me to fight him. When I finally could stand it no longer and answered the call, I would get the inevitable thrashing. When John cut loose he would come at me like a windmill. There was no style, just arms swinging in a circle so fast that I was usually beaten senseless before I knew it.
One day, when I was about 8, my mother was watching my brother set me up and stopped him just after he had me on the ground. This time she baited him. She told him that he fought like a sissy. Bait, hook, line, sinker, and the boat. Red in his face he started yelling at her that he was not a sissy. She told him to wait on the front lawn where all this was taking place and went into the house. Shortly she returned with two pair of boxing gloves.
Now this was in the 50's, with my mother in a dark blue dress with white polka dots. John was in his swimming trunks while I was laying in the grass with grass stained T-shirt and pants because he had already delivered my killing. I do not think that the phrase "Child Abuse" was in existence then.
She put one pair of gloves on him and I put the other pair on her. She then instructed him to defend himself with his left hand while holding his right in reserve. She demonstrated the technique and then started the first round.
Ignoring her instructions, he did his usual windmill and she fended him off, then stopped the round.
She demonstrated her instructions again and started the second round. The terrible windmill was his answer to her patience.
Now her face was red as she started with the third set of instructions. She told him that if he ignored her instructions one more time, she was going to knock him out.
Round three started with the terrible windmill and then my mother cut loose and John went down, out cold.
"Oh shit," my mother exclaimed, "I killed him." In a panic she pleaded with me to help her get her gloves off. Once they were off, she ripped off his gloves and started to rub his hands and then moved to patting his face asking him to wake up. I was mesmerized as I had never seen my brother knocked out before. His eyes were open but not focussing on anything.
This lasted for a minute and a half or two minutes until his eyes started to track. At that point he jumped up and ran away.
My mother and I sat on the front lawn while she told me that she had overdone it, but he had to be taken down a notch.
About ten minutes later John came running back with three other boys. I thought that he had formed a gang to beat up our mother. John was out of breath gasping until he could finally ask my mother to teach him and the other boys how to box.
It was not too long before mothers came to get their children away from the crazy woman who was beating up their boys.
The McLane family had already been conferred with the "McLane Gang" status, so I think that the "mothers" were a little afraid of my mother.
I was around 12 when one day, my brother's harassment stopped. Thinking back on it, even though it meant my death, I remember that I came to a monumental decision not to be a victim anymore. John was setting me up with his usual baiting and it felt like everything went into slow motion. I was not really listening to his baiting, I was concentrating. I knew that I was going to get beat up, but this time I was going to watch for an opening. When it came, I hit him as hard as I could. With some sort of primal instinct, I had aimed for his nose and connected. Blood flew all over the place and John just stood there with his hands covering his nose, while the blood leaked between his fingers.
I was sure that with his temper and his ability to deliver uncountable blows, this was the end for me. I was OK with that because I knew that my torture would soon be over as I would be dead and I was right - - - almost.
He started laughing and I thought he had gone insane. Dropping his hands, I could see that I had broken his nose. Grinning he said, "This is going to have to be to be our last fight. We are getting too big and starting to hurt each other."
That was it - done - over. No more fights, and we became the best of buddies.
All through the preceding torments, when ever someone else tried to pick on me, John was always in my corner. The rule was, up to the moment that I broke his nose, he could beat me up, but only he had that privilege.
Always quick with a smart mouth, John would challenge all authority. Like I said, he is two years older than me. In school he managed impress his teachers by drawing unflattering caricatures. Two years later, I was in those teacher's classes. They always always called me John, never Michael. Some times, I had no choice but to live with it. Sometimes I contented myself with the thought that there was a younger brother coming along behind me.
John and I kind of looked alike, only I was six foot one and he was five foot fifteen, as he liked to say. Never mind that. When we both worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, he was quick to recognize that when someone thought that he was me, he could get away with his smart mouth. This came to my attention when I was brought up before a supervisor for something that I had not done. So much for my gold star.
So on John's big day, there he was, holding onto that hang glider control bar. He'd accepted my gift certificate for a free hang gliding lesson. He had the ground training and now was strapped into a hang glider looking down a 60 foot hill. How could there be a problem? He had graduated from jet flight training in the Air Force many years before.
It was like the day mom tried to teach him to box, he had paid no attention to instructions. He ran down the hill, pushed the bar forward, lifted off. Then he pulled the bar in, and augured into the ground, hard. He had to be hurt, so I was running down the hill to him but noooooo, only his pride was hurt and, yes, his sense of humor was intact. Dirt all over his face, he turned to look at me and said, "Oh, I get it! Keep the pointy end up a little so that it keeps flying."