The Attack, My story, a True Story.
Flash disbelief was my first thought, if it could even be considered a thought, the kind that merges into shock. "Did what just happened actually happen?" If so, how could it be happening to me, and why? However, the latter two questions did not show themselves until many minutes later, after the calm had crept in and stole the chaos away from the storm.
It was the summer of ‘78; we were there to experience the fun and thrills of what a full Six Flags day had to offer. The new Mind Bender roller coaster had just debuted to long lines, searing heat and to excited and screaming riders, but only the girls of course, wink, wink. School was out and my great friend Kevin and I were on one of our many anticipated and ritual like trips to, what we believed to be, the most fun of places to spend a hot summer day. We were dressed for the heat in our summer shorts, flip-flops and t-shirts, expected of 15 and 16 years boys during their yearly school break. I’m sure we expected to get a bit wet on the flume, more known as the log ride.
Walking from the front gate to the Mind Bender back in 1978 is the same as it is now in 2013. Like every other brave visitor, starting your day riding the only roller coaster with loops was a MUST. A trek that begins walking under a tunnel of cooling plant shade, designed to cool the hottest of thrill seekers. Classify Kevin and I as hottest of thrill seekers, however, little did we know that the thrill we would find, was NOT one we would soon forget... in fact, we’ve never forgotten. If you are familiar with Six Flags over Georgia's geography and elevation, you can use your own imagery to see the path to our wanting destination.
Passing through the U.S.A section, immediate on the left was the Chevy Show and to the far right, the Great Gasp, the elevating parachute ride that dropped you over 200’. We meandered our way, down the hill, only taking a glimpse up at the train trestle above as it climbed over our heads on the downward approach. Nearly lost in the excited anticipation of the Mind Bender up ahead, were the 10-12 black males, all appeared older and bigger than we did. They were leaning on the wall to our left just as we passed under the tracks. The Mind Bender was close ahead and the line looked modest in length, “WOW”, we thought, “…how could that be?”, as we sped up. What did catch our attention as we passed were their low, almost whisper like name calling, hey Cracker, white boys, ugly honky sh*t and yes, even nigga. We kept going, not afraid, but definitely aware, but more excited about those loops up ahead.
The flash of disbelief had past and all I could now do was to react to what was happening to me. I was able to gather my thoughts, my conscious bringing everything back together, focus, understanding that I was being attacked... not by just one person, not even two, but maybe six, seven in all. The exact amount was never determined, but I was taking action to defend myself, using the most obvious of ways, swing away Darryl, whatever you do, swing away. I could tell that as they were swarming on and around me, I was making contact with my attempts to defend myself, not sure of what I was hitting, or where exactly, some high, some low and some at times were just plain misses. Nevertheless, even the misses caused a few to step back and away. What I did not notice were the impacts of their attack on me as well, but I kept thinking to myself, “…stay up, stay up, and do NOT fall down to the ground.”
This was not our first time riding The Bender; in fact, we had visited the park just the week before, inhaling our first “FIX” of the hot new coaster. Yeah, it was a rush indeed. We did learn a lesson though; sit in the back, what a rush! Our imaginations were running wild, just “hoping” for a rear seat was the least means of expressing our true desire. Like other daredevils, we had to wait a bit longer to get our prized seating, but when we did, Woooo WHOOOOOO! It was over in only a minute but it was everything we had expected it to be, the adrenaline was flowing and we both felt like we had just survived an earthquake-tornado combo pack. We were hoping to get back in line but in a matter of only minutes, the queue had grown to a point that convinced us that other rides were waiting for our challenge.
When two of them tried to throw me to the asphalt, it was challenging enough just to maintain my balance, but in some way, I found enough strength to stay upright, even after a third joined in on the tackle. All the while, others were still striking me at every open opportunity. Time seemed to stand still and seconds felt like minutes as the onslaught continued, my thoughts quickly wondered, where was my best bud Kevin, is he OK, is he being attacked, and it was then I could assemble enough awareness to see that he too was in his own battle, he too was under attack. However, as fleetly as my awareness of Kevin took hold of me, it was soon lost as another blow hit the side of my head. A concussion like force rang through me, and I can only compare it to what it might feel like being struck by lightening. I guess God had a plan for me because I was still standing, and I still had all my senses about myself. My sight was clear, my hearing was sharp and I could still feel the sensations of the blows as they grew as welts upon my skin. Unfortunately, I was also able to sense an intense burning pain coming from my foot, specifically my big toe, however, I had the larger picture to concentrate on, because I was still fighting for my life. Thoughts of “When is this going to end?” began to creep in to my brain, “When is the next blow going to knock me down and out?”
The moment that we decided to adventure elsewhere into the park, Kevin and I remembered that we might still have to pass by the group of blacks that harassed us only a half hour earlier. We said to each other, “…they wouldn’t still be there would they?” 30 minutes had passed, “why would they still be there, it’s not going to be a problem.” The farther we walked away from the coaster, heading to our next destination, the closer we came to a growing danger. We could see them up ahead, to us what seemed like a gauntlet of terror that we had to overcome. Marching forward, we did not waiver, looking straight ahead and drawing next to each other, they closely encased us from both sides, just as we were passing by. We both knew something was about to happen, but what exactly and when, we had no clue, though we knew it and sensed it, tensing up while we increased our pace. It was then that the hateful words began to spew themselves onto us again, louder this time, more aggressively and with greater sense of meaning behind them all. I suddenly felt the impact of a punch, and then another.
I could see this huge disrupting wave coming, and it was loud, very loud. I was suddenly hoisted into the air, not by my assailants, but by angels, by OUR angels, armed in size, strength and numbers. They were obviously angels because of how much care was used when I was lofted over the heads of everyone, and how violent the attackers were tossed about like dolls. Their voices spoke with determination and intent, backed by their brute force to clear a path of safety for us both. I could clearly see that the horror of the attack was over as I was looking up to the sky, a huge peace overtook me. It shook with the same immediate impact, as did that first punch. After being gently set down, the punks that stormed upon Kevin and I were gone, running to save their own lives now, from the massive defensive might of our rescuers. The physical pain of the attack caught up with me that moment. The pain surged throughout my body, greater in some places than others did, but none no greater than my foot. Looking down I saw that my big toe on my right foot was ripped open, some kind of laceration occurred during the early stages of the attack. My toenail was history, and I had a huge deep cut that ran the length of my toe, bleeding badly. I then searched for Kevin and saw him trying to regain his composure from the beatings, but he seemed to be OK. We both believe to this day that his experience and training in Jiu Jitsu protected him from the lowlifes that beat him. He managed to deflect many of the blows thrown at him. My next thought was to find my shoes that had flung off in the melee, only a single flip-flop, but I wanted it still. An older, kind man brought it to me, having found it in some neighboring bushes.
Our champions were still protective of their new found friends, their only desire was to ensure Kevin and I were going to be OK. We really wanted to recognize them as being our bodyguards, but we knew they couldn't hang out with us kids all day. They all tended to our needs, seeing that we were both going to be physically fine, by finding cold wet towels and ice to help with our bumps and bruises, but mostly what was left of my right big toe. These angels were the largest of men, I had not ever seen a person of their size before, and they were there for us. We soon learned that they were the Auburn Tigers football team, the offensive line unit in fact, on a day trip to Six Flags. They were getting away from the early summer heat of training camp. Can you say WAAAAAAR EAGLE? I can, and I do.
We recovered from our ordeal and soon discovered we were famous throughout the park for that day. We heard whispers of how we beat up a pack of punks, how we defended ourselves against a gang attack with relentless determination. It was easy for people to spot us, we were “the two” because of our torn clothes and war wounds. In a way, we felt like stars, if only for a day, but at what price, even now, we are still not sure at what price.