DiscoverComing of Age

Phighter: A Northeast Story



Set in late 2017, Phighter: A Northeast Story follows Donald Richard Mooney, otherwise known as Donny, who is a Northeast Philadelphian boy through and through. Residing in the beautiful neighborhood of Fox Chase and a student at Father Judge High School, Donny seems like your average chain-smoking, heavy drinking, Irish teenager who comes out of the Northeast. To most, Donny’s life doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Donny asks his grade school crush out on a date, their night ends in a kiss and Donny is on the top of the world. But his life takes an unexpected turn, as a lunch hall fight with his school bully, Brandon, leaves him open to threats, both through grade school name-calling and threats on his life. After a long Thanksgiving break, Brandon challenges him to a rematch fight after school one day, which Donny reluctantly agrees to. Upon his agreement, his life slowly begins to decline into a world filled with sadness, deceit and death.

Ugh. School. Starting in a few days. All Donny can do is dread the return.

The workload.

The stress.


Donny sighs loudly and turns on the music, watching his thoughts fade away and his body become calm, as he’s driving home in his little black sedan. He 10 feels the warm August breeze in his hair and cruises Rhawn Street.

Home from soccer practice, he showers and changes.

“Hey Ma, I’m headin out!”

“Where you goin?”

“Over a friends. I’ll be back tomorrow mornin.”

“Be safe!”

Donald Richard Mooney, born on January fifteenth of the year two thousand, at eight pounds three ounces, has grown up in the beautiful neighborhood of Fox Chase. He’s your average Northeast Philly kid, Irish as shit and a lover of sports. A graduate of St. Cecilia’s, he goes to Father Judge High School, where he plays soccer and baseball, while smoking too many cigarettes and drinking way too much.

Donny walks out the back door of his house and makes a beeline for his neighbor's bush, where he’s hiding a matte-black Jansport backpack. He opens the bag, grinning at the sight of the cans of tea and beer. He zips it up and pulls his phone out of his pocket to text his friend.

‘Ey Benny.’

‘Ey Wassup Donny.’

‘I got the stuff. You picking me up?’

‘Yeah, I’m right around the corner. I’ll be there in a minute.’

Donny’s walking back to the front of his house as he sees his friend pull up. The front tire jumps the curb, and the car jolts upward violently.

“You good?”

“Yea. Hop in!”

Donny slips his book bag off of his back and tosses it into the backseat as the two boys dab each other up.

“Wassup, bro.”

“Wassup, Benny.”

Benjamin Andrew Kennedy--A white kid so Irish, he sweats Guinness when he works out,--goes by the nickname “Benny” (or “Dipshit” when he’s being an idiot), is fun as hell. A heavy drinker and even heavier smoker, he’ll make your day. A St. Jerome's graduate, student at Father Judge and an avid baseball player, he’ll fuck you up on and off the field. Don’t mess with him.

“You got the stuff?”

“Psssh. Do I?”

Donny reaches into the back seat, grabs the bag, and cracks it open. Benny peers in, eyeballing all the booze packed into it.

“It's gonna be fun tonight!”

Donny nods as the boys pull onto Rhawn and cruise down the street, windows down, music making the whole car vibrate. They veer onto Cresco and pull up to Benny’s house. After Benny parks the car, they get out and start walking down the street to the trails, heading to Karma, a popular drinking spot in the Pennypack Woods.

There are many spots like these. Trails. Heaven. Unknown. Crater. You name it, Northeast has got it. The boys get into the woods and walk down the trails until they get to the spot, flooded with teenagers. You could see every high school there. Judge, Ryan, Little Flower, Roman, Huberts, Everyone.

Benny’s staring down at his phone, looking at his texts, trying to see who’s here.

“Whatchu got?”

“Well, just from lookin, Taylor’s here. Sarah’s here. I think . . .”

Benny’s phone buzzes in his hand, and he looks down at a text.

“Yeah, Aidan here’s too.”

“Well, let's go meet up wit’im.”

The two boys walk around, beers in hand, looking for Aidan.


The ground seemingly shakes as Aidan walks over to the two boys and dabs them up.

Aidan Daniel Smith. A gargantuan man with a gargantuan heart. Standing at a mere six foot four, he will crush you like a Bud Light can. A lineman for Judge’s varsity football team and a St. Albert the Great’s graduate, he is a brick wall of flesh and muscle. Nothing gets past him, not even a good time, which makes him a hell of a lot of fun at kegs and parties.

The three boys talk about how their summers went as Donny reaches into his bag, pulling out a beer for Aidan.

“Here ya go, bro.”

Aidan nods gratefully as Donny hands him the can.

“Aight guys. Let’s go!”

The three boys drink their summers away. All their thoughts of school, thoughts of junior year, thoughts of stress and everything else fade away. Their night’s drinking is reinforced by the sheer amount of nicotine coursing through their body for the entirety of the evening. Benny was such a heavy smoker, he’d gotten Donny hooked on it too. Donny’s chain-smoking habits somehow went unrecognized by his folks.

Guess he was just sneaky.

At one point, after about four or five cans of beer and a few teas, Donny looks down at his phone, reading 16 quarter past eleven. Maybe it’s a quarter past one. Donny doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter anyway. Sirens ring out through the warm late summer night. Pandemonium ensues as kids are booking it in forty different directions. Cans, bottles, and condom wrappers litter the dirt. Donny starts running but is too far gone, he blacks out, feeling his mind become groggy and his body become limp, his head hitting the dirt a few seconds later.


Donny wakes up on a couch, shirtless, with scratches covering over his body and a pounding headache.

Benny’s staring at the TV in his room, playing on his console. He turns around to Donny and looks at him with a wicked smile.

“Thank God. I thought you died. I was boutta cawl the damn cops.”

“What the fuck happened?”

Benny sighs loudly and turns off his TV.

“You blacked out almost immediately as the cops arrived. You couldn’t walk. You couldn’t tawk. Nuthin. I had to give you a goddamn piggyback ride as we ran outta the woods. We got to the tracks and you woke up but just enough to vomit your brains out and then you passed out again. You threw up on your shirt, your pants, everything. We walked down the tracks till we lost the cops and then walked back to my house, where I had to clean you up. So you’re welcome, dickhead.”

Donny rubs his eyes and looks over at Benny, whose headset is back on and is staring at the TV again. Donny looks around the room and grabs a piece of paper that’s laying on the table behind him. He crumbles it into a ball and tosses it at Benny's head, bouncing off of Benny's crew cut hairstyle.


“Got a cig?”

“Yeah. Smoke’em outside though. My rents don’t like that crap in here.”

Benny reaches into a desk drawer and whips out a pack of Marlboros and tosses it to Donny.

He walks outside to his friend’s steps, standing there with no shirt and gray sweatpants tucked into his socks. He places the cancer stick in his mouth and looks at his lighter and flicks it, watching the flame appear seemingly from nowhere. He moves the bright orange flame to the end of the cigarette, watching it burn the paper and the tobacco as he breathes in deeply, feeling the burn of the smoke. The taste smacks him across his hungover face and buries itself deep into his lungs.

He might smoke two. He barely feels it anymore.

He rips through the first cig and is halfway through the second as he sees Benny’s parents’ car drive up the street. He takes one last quick inhale, flicks the butt into the neighbor’s yard, and runs into the house.

“Benny, your rents are home.”

Benny immediately turns off the TV and races around the basement, cleaning up the room.

“I thought they weren’t supposed to be home till tonight.”

“I dunno, dude. Did you check your phone?”

“Damn it!”

Benny walks over and grabs his phone from his backpack, looking at his notifications.

‘Hey Benny. The trip ended earlier than expected. We should be home tomorrow morning. Have fun. Don’t stay up too late and no parties. See you tomorrow morning.’

“Aw shit.”

The two boys manage to semi-clean the room to an OK state, which they consider exceptional, given the circumstances and their severely hung-over state. The two boys, breathing heavily from racing around the room, recline on the couch and put on a movie.

“Good stuff, Donny.”

"Good stuff, Benny.”

The boys fist-bump as the early morning sun shines through a cloudless sky and in through the basement door.

Yesterday was perfect. Today might be even better

About the author

Danny Montvydas is a self-published author of Unto Dust They Shall Return. Born in Northeast Philadelphia, he draws inspiration from books he has read. With Phighter, he drew inspiration from Hubert Selby Jr's Requiem for a Dream. At 17 years old, Danny looks forward to keep writing in the future. view profile

Published on July 24, 2020

30000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Coming of Age

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