I was a victim.
I know it’s hard for most person’s in my position to admit it but it’s the truth.
I was a victim, but today all that has changed. I just woke up one day and decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I wasn’t going to be their punching bag, their duffus, or the butt of their jokes anymore. I’ve had enough.
But I couldn’t have done it by myself. I could not have stood up to those bullies on my own. Oh no! Someone helped me. But the mystery is, I don’t know who. Maybe you can help me figure it out. We’ll have to go back in time because it all started three days ago.
“Honey, pack your lunch. You’re going to be late again.”
It was my mom. She already had my snack and lunch items on the kitchen counter. It was Monday so I know the strawberry apple sauce was there. It was my absolute favorite. And these days, a guy’s gotta have something to look forward to in this life. My strawberry apple sauce was my comforter. It was my job to get my lunch and snacks into my bag.
It was Wednesday and I was stalling. I stalled every morning. It was better for me to catch the late bus because Spike and Booner were always waiting on the playground for the early birds.
Spike and Booner are the terrorists of High Rock Primary School. Spike was 13 and still trying to pass the 6th grade. Some say he wants to be king of grade 6 forever. This is the first time that Booner is taking grade 6 but you could swear he knew Spike for ever. He became Spike’s personal terrorizing assistant on his first day in grade 6. Well, these are the goons I am trying to avoid.
“Thanks mom. I’m just getting my shoes on.” I tied my laces slowly; then I pulled them out again. I did this three times.
Mom kissed me on the forehead and shoved me out the door. She meant well. She didn’t know I was about to be pounded like ground meet. I couldn’t blame her.
I made it to the bus stop just in time. The door on Bus number 39 swung open and I got on with the other late goers.
When the bus turned the last corner before the school, I started peering over at the playground. It was right in front of the school. My heart started pounding. The playground was empty; except for two familiar figures. The goons were waiting for me. I ducked down behind the seat and clutched my chest to keep my heart from popping out of my chest. What was I going to do? The bus pulled up and I could hear the swoosh sound of the door as it opened.
“This is it! Everyone out.” The bus driver said.
I stalled hoping she wouldn’t see me. I could just take a tour of downtown or wherever the bus was headed. Anywhere was better than here.
“Hey you! Yeah you. We’re here. Hope off .”
I crawled out from the chair and took tiny steps to the door. I barely had my feet on the pavement when the bus sped off practically announcing my arrival. It left me there in plain sight like prey in open season. Two turkey vultures swooped above my head casting their shadows on the pavement.
I took a deep breath.
The goons were looking my way. Why? Why couldn’t they be turned the other way. I could have made a run for it.
‘Well, let’s get this over with.’ I mumbled to myself.
I walked in through the big double gates. There was only one path between the gate to the main school entrance. There was no escape. I picked up the pace.
“Hey Joey! Come here I got something for ya.” Spike shouted out.
I looked straight ahead and kept on the path. He and Booner were standing by the swings about ten feet from the path into the school.
I was going to make it I thought.
I’m not going to make it I realized.
“Get him.” Spike shouted to Booner.
The words hardly left Spike’s mouth before Booner sprang forward. He grabbed me by the collar and dragged me toward the swings. Spike was grinning. I wandered when he brushed his teeth last.
“where do you think you’re going Joe. It’s Monday. What do you have for me today?”
“I….I..noth..nothiing!” I tried to be brave. Two weeks ago, Spike discovered my strawberry apple sauce treasure. He’s been searching my lunch bag for it since.
“Nu nu nu” Spike and Booner laughed.
“Well, let’s see. Booner pulled my lunch bag from my shoulder and handed it to Spike.
Spike unzipped and looked in.
“What are you boys doing out here?” It was the head master. He pointed his cane in our direction.
Booner immediately released my collar that was up to this time twisted in his hand.
I snatched my lunch bag from Spike and ran past the headmaster.
I didn’t look back. I know what Spike wanted and I didn’t want to give it. Strawberry Apple sauce was my favorite and the Tylers Food world only stocked it some weeks. Spike wasn’t getting it today.
‘wait! Whose thoughts are these? Am I really willing to stand up for my Strawberry Apple sauce? Well. It’s mine isn’t it? Oh God, can’t I get some help please?’
Today is Thursday. It really doesn't help that Spike and Booner are in the same class with me. They gave me ‘the look’ as they walked past me down the isle on the way to their seats.
Then it began.
“What’s this?” Spike said aloud.
The whole class turned to the back where his seat was located.
Someone had left a note on Spike’s desk.
“That’s enough! Settle down class.” Ms. Pringle started the morning routine. It was prayer, the national anthem and then Language lesson.
The Bell rang.
I stalled. I planned to stay under the protection of Ms. Pringle in the class during recess. But that plan went out the door-literally. She stepped out.
I got up to leave also but was jerked back by a familiar hand.
“Are you stupid? You dare to threaten me?” Spike was literally spitting in my face.”I know you wrote this note.”
He shook the piece of paper in my face.
“What? No! I’ve never seen that paper before.” I said
The paper read…
“You can’t bully me anymore. I’m going to fix you good.”
Spike spat the words out and threw the paper in my face.
“I…I.. didn’t..” I sputtered.
Just then Amy stepped in
Amy. Amy. Amy.
Amy was the beauty of the class. She was every sixth graders ideal girl. Her golden brown hair sat perfectly on her shoulders. Her tender skin radiated brighter than the sun. Her voice was so smooth that it was hypnotic. In short she was beautiful.
“He said he doesn’t know anything about it. Let him go now please.” Amy looked at me and winked. She actually winked, it's true. But the goons didn't notice. Everyone paused seeming to savor the words she just spoke.
Booner dropped my collar. Spike had a stupid look on his face. I too tried to pick up my face.
Then I grabbed my bags and ran out. I shouldn’t have left the class beauty with those goons but truth is she had more power in there then I ever would.
I took one look back and wished I hadn’t. I ran straight into Bino.
Bino was my best friend and the funniest guy in sixth grade. His solution to every problem was a good joke. So far it’s served him well.
“Like a bat out of hell. Who’s chasing you?” Bino asked me as we peeled ourselves off the floor.
I tried to catch my breath.
“Those goons.”I finally said.
“Are they after your sauce again? Why don’t you just give it. Seems like an easy pay off.”
“Why should I?” I was getting upset.
“Whoa! Save the anger for them pal. Well at least you’re standing up for yourself. That was a pretty scary note.” Bino said
“What? No! I didn’t..”
“Nevermind! I know you didn’t pal.” Bino patted me on the shoulder and ran off before I could say anything to that.
Bino was long gone.
It was a sweet familiar voice. Why was it calling my name.
Amy walked up to me and the sun seems to tune down in the background. Her curls bounced on her shoulder as she came to a standstill in front of me. I looked around to be sure she was talking to me. Joey was a popular name after all.
“Hi Joey. Are you okay?” She smiled and I froze. She was really talking to me.
“Joey are you okay?” She asked again.
“I..I…sure.” I finally managed to get out.
“Gee, I didn’t realize you stuttered.”She said almost sounding concerned. “It sure was brave of you to write that note. Those two deserve whats coming to them.”
I broke out of my trans.
“Wait! I…I didn’t write it. You said so too back there.” I was a bit confused now.
“Well of course I did. Under the circumstances I didn’t see the need to tell your secret.”
I was baffled and I know it showed on my face.
She giggled. “ oh. I know you didn’t really write that note.”
Just then the bell rang.
Amy smiled a curious smile and turned and started to walk away.
She didn’t turn back.
‘What’s going on here. Someone is trying to sabotage me. But why?’
It was Friday. As I got to the class room door, Ms Pringle beckoned me aside.
“About that note Joey...” She started.
“I didn’t write it. I swear it wasn’t me. I swear.” I pleaded with her.”
Ms. Pringle was about to say something but the class was bustling in now. She nodded for me to take my seat.
Just as the class was settling down…
“Are you crazy or stupid?” It was the sound of Spike’s voice. It was loud and I didn’t like it.
I could feel his feet stomping up behind me.
“Spike take your seat!” Ms. Pringle commanded.
“He wrote me another threat Ms. Pringle.”
“I said take a seat.”
Spike returned to his seat.
I hardly looked back during the commotion. My heart was pounding again.
Ten minutes later I felt a nudge on my back. It was Paul. He sits behind me in class. Paul nudged me again and I saw he was handing something to me.
“Spike says take your stupid paper and he’ll meet you…and beat you at 4, like your note says.” Paul whispered.
“But I…” I was a bit too loud.
“Is there a problem Paul and Joey?” Ms. Pringle asked.
We both shook our heads and looked back at the board.
With shaking hands I opened the note.
This school’s not big enough for the two of us. Playground. 4pm.
You and me.”
I almost died.
I would never. Suddenly there wasn’t enough oxygen in the air. I was sucking in air but I felt like I was passing out. My heart was pounding so hard I couldn’t hear Ms. Pringle any more.
‘Wait a minute. Just wait. I didn’t write those notes. I really didn’t. Doesn’t that mean someone else did. Correct. So then that means someone else is out to get Spike. But who?’
I looked around the class.
‘hmmm…there’s Jimmy. Last week Spike helped himself to all his pudding during break time. He didn’t ask, he just helped himself. Jimmy couldn’t stop him. How about Carrie, she’s twice the size of Spike but she’s terrified of him. He’s been teasing her about her size since second grade. There’s Davey too. Spike is always making him share his pens and pencils. Sometimes he doesn’t have any left for himself. I don’t know. Would these guys do it?’
“Are you following with me Joey?” Ms. Pringles voice was sharp. I think she was talking to me for awhile now.
“Yes maam.” I said. I had no idea what she was talking about. I tried to focus but my thoughts wavered. Was this my last day alive. Some say they get flashes of their best memories. I was still trying to figure out who wrote the note.
I suddenly looked to my left. It was weird. Bino wasn’t just looking at me but he smiling at me. Why? Then he looked away.
He was freaking me out. He knew something.
I looked up at the clock. It was 3:15pm. The bell rang and everyone scattered out of the class. I grabbed my bags and went up to Ms. Pringle’s desk. I don’t remember what I said exactly but I asked her to review some of the points she made in class.
I still had no answers. Ms. Pringle packed her bags and I pretended to pack mine also.
Ms. Pringle lifted her bags and went to the door. There she paused and said.
“Standing up for yourself is commendable. But you don’t necessarily have to be the hero.”
‘What was that about? Standing up? Hero? Wait does she know something about this too?’
My head was swinging now. Bino and Amy think I wrote the note but they know I didn’t. Ms. Pringle knows something…or said something.
“Ok. I got it.” I said to no one in particular. “I’m going to the playground. Whoever wrote the notes is going to show up there. Someone that’s not me. I didn’t write the notes. At least I am sure of that.”
“But what if…?”
“No- What if? Someone is going to show up.” I shouted back at myself.
I made small determined steps towards the front of the school. Half of me wanted to go. The other half wanted to run for safety-fast.
I dragged my body while my head hung down. School was nearly deserted. It was almost a half hour now since school closed.
I came to the school entrance and veered towards the playground. My fate was set now.
Someone was coming. It was now or never. I should look up.
I looked up.
“What in the world? How come it’s you?”
You’ll never guess who it was. Not in a million years. I’m still getting over the shock.