Humor Blogs - Blog RankingsBlog DirectoryRSS Search

Inanity of Violence: The Blood Feud

by George Jones on April 18, 2011

SnowfallThe heavy overnight snowfall that blanketed our area softened the normal audio track of our little sub-division, but something wasn’t right. The almost rhythmic sound of my brother plowing the driveway with our trusty garden tractor faltered … then surged … then stopped. I stopped in the hallway at the sound of this unexpected silence trying to deduce the cause, but couldn’t. But something was wrong – really wrong. I did a quick-step down the hall towards the front door to have a look outside.

A new, but not totally unfamiliar sound – my brother shouting – became more obvious and alarming as I heard him making his way across the front lawn, his urgent footfalls breaking through the thin, frozen layer of snow resting atop the six inches of overnight fluff. The snow was having little effect on dampening this noise.

Just as I turned the corner of the upstairs hallway and the doorway came into view, the front door exploded open and in came Bob. Only the preemptive shouting and the explosion of the front door gave me any hint it was Bob coming through it – because he was almost entirely unrecognizable. He was covered in blood.

Bob was wearing one of those faux Marlboro Man jackets with the white wool lining that, when unbuttoned, showed the wool lining along the front of it and around the collar – everywhere else was green suede. Except today; today it was either red where fresh blood soaked into the white wool or a crimson and rust color on the suede shell. The only white wool to be seen was on the right collar, but even it was specked with blood. The blood was rushing from a decent sized gash above his left eye all over his face, down the front of the jacket and onto the front of his jeans. Even his boots had a conspicuous amount of blood on them.

Not that I got a very long look at him – he’d blasted through the front door, yelled something at me about what had happened and made haste for our basement. The basement seemed an odd choice for someone with a gaping facial wound inasmuch as all of our medical supplies were upstairs, but his motivation became quite apparent when he returned from the basement with a 8-pound maul.

Maul axeA maul is a handy tool for splitting wood. It makes an axe head look almost dainty by comparison. It’s the thing you use to turn big logs into smaller ones that the axe can handle. It’s a pretty logical choice for that one time you might want to break through a wooden door that someone was hiding behind – especially if that person just happened to have recently opened up your head with an unprovoked, home-run quality swing of a hockey stick.

Let me explain: we’d been in an ongoing feud with our neighbors, the Bristols, who lived right across the street. It was very similar to the Hatfield-McCoy feud, except it only last 10 years, and there was no actual gunfire. Otherwise, it included a number of incidents that sent at least one person to the hospital. The feud started when my sister Linda (my eldest sibling), after a significant bullying effort put forth by Eddie Bristol (their eldest sibling), threw a beat-down on him that broke a couple of his fingers and his nose – thus terminating his bullying campaign. This attack on my brother occurred in the final year of the feud when I was 17 and Bob was 16.

The perpetrator of this attack on Bob was his contemporary in age, Brad Bristol – who apparently decided to sneak up on Bob from behind while he was plowing our driveway and take a swing at his head with his hockey stick.

What made this odd, other than someone attacking someone else with a hockey stick outside of an actual hockey game, was that there had been relative peace and calm for many months prior to this incident. Although there’d been many conflagrations amongst the two families going back for years, the score was essentially even. There didn’t seem to be a precipitating incident to warrant this type of attack; typically, there was.

Nonetheless, Bob was clearly enraged – and that wasn’t a good thing. Seeing him enraged – and armed with a maul – was alarming.

To say my brother had a temper would be understatement in extremis. He was predisposed to a level of rage that was just terrifying to witness; it came with a portent for destruction that would make a Viking raiding party look like a church social.

So, when my brother Bob appeared with the maul I might not have really understood quite what HAD happened, but I had not a doubt about what was about TO happen.

It wasn’t that Bob was going to kill Brad with the maul, he just needed something to get through the door that he was hiding behind. Once he was inside, the odds of Brad Bristol becoming anything less than a barely-conscious victim of a savage beating dropped to zero. The odds that he would escape with his life were about even.

BloodFortunately, my mother was still home – and likewise alerted by the commotion – was able to intercept Bob before he could get out the door and wreak his vengeance. How my mother accomplished this I cannot entirely recall, but with the blood all over his face Bob was having trouble seeing clearly. The blood all over his hands made it nearly impossible to operate a door knob, hold the maul, and fend off my mother at the same time – that much I remember.

My mother then took Bob to the emergency room where he received about a dozen stitches to close the gash scarily close to the outer edge of the orbital socket itself. Had the blow occurred a half-inch in the wrong direction he probably would have lost his left eye.

Bob settled this score about four months later having elected to choose the time, place, and manner of retribution. It would be public, it would be violent, and he would do it with his own bare hands.

KaratePerhaps even Brad knew he created some bad Karma. When the winter passed and the weather warmed up we began seeing Brad practicing karate “katas” with some guy out in the side yard. Somehow I didn’t think that would save him.

The moment of closure came during a summer basketball game when Bob and Brad competed for the same rebound. Bob cleared the rebound, sort of brushing off Brad in the process. Brad returned this umbrage with a shove and Bob turned to face him.

In a heartbeat Bob unleashed a flurry of straight three straight jabs into Brad’s face. I can still see Brad’s head snap back with the force of each shot. Then Brad’s head snapped violently to his left as Bob’s trademark hook found Brad’s right temple, which buckled his knees. At this point people were beginning to restrain Bob and protect Brad from more damage, but the point was made.

As Brad was led off the court broken and bleeding, Bob just stood there watching. The score was even again.

A short time later an unfortunate mishap at a motocross course would take Brad’s young life. Not long after this tragedy, his older brother Eddie died in a car crash.

The senseless blood feud between our two families died with them.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie Weymouth April 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Interesting to me just how similar our fathers were. It is a generational thing, but sometimes I miss that generation. Raising kids now is likened to being a “helicopter.” Our kids today are so sheltered. They have no idea what it is like to fight their own battles. . . I think in some ways, they are truly missing out. I hate complacency, and I am so afraid that we are raising a generation that avoids conflict out of respect for political correctness and an ability to just “get along.” I’m afraid the pendulum has swung from one end of the spectrum to the other, and that our kids today may need therapy because of this as well. Hopefully, when they raise their kids, they will have figured out a happy balance!


George April 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm

That generation certainly had its virtues, among them being simply sensible.

The pendulum has definitely swung too far. It seems everyone’s skin has gotten much thinner in the time I’ve been alive. I guess every generation has a similar observation of a shortcoming of the generation that follows it; I wonder what your kids will say about ours?

On the upside, many topics that never got a moment of discussion in the past do get discussion now and that’s a good thing overall.

Hopefully we are progressing, but some days I am not so sure. 🙂


George April 20, 2011 at 11:57 am

Years later, when I was an adult, I ran into Mr. and Mrs. Bristol at a social event. They clearly didn’t recognize me, so I went over and introduced myself. Ironically, they were amazed that I was who I said I was. Clearly, they were moved by this simple gesture of friendship – they invited me to come visit them some time. And I did.

In one of what would be several conversations with them at their house, Mr. Bristol expressed great frustration with the fact that at least one, if not both, of their remaining children had entered therapy to deal with their peculiar childhood (as I had as well). Apparently, he couldn’t see what all the fuss was about; my father would have been likewise dumbfounded by any of us seeking therapy.

I think my father and Mr. Bristol were invested in being great providers (and they were) and were unwilling or incapable of anticipating the impacts this feud would have on the happiness of their children. I think had they the insight to understand the futility of this conflict and its cost, I think it would have stopped much sooner than it did.

But they were from a different generation.

I am simply pleased to have survived and have that time of reconciliation with the Bristols.


Leave a Comment