came out of the shower as I picked my notebook off the bench
in the middle of the room nowhere near my usual spot, subtle
as a sledgehammer to a thumbtack.
“Forget something?” cackled Number One.
cackle that was immediately recognizable to anyone who has
ever been in a school or watched an after-school special. A mix of degrading
mockery and threatening humor, and there is always more than
“Yeah, looks like Goofyneck is forgetful,” Number Two
chimed in. I
didn’t know these two any more than their faces on the
playground or in the hall, but someone wanted them to know
me. Every sign
told me they were about as bright as a flashlight after three
years in a junk drawer.
They had not come up with this plan themselves. They were enjoying it
though. My job
now was to stop their enjoyment without escalating them to
They were from the other sixth grade class and one was
a half a head taller and only using half of his brain, and the
other was more than a head taller and borrowing at least a
third of first one’s brain. I didn’t know their
names but if Crabbe and Goyle were to quit Hogwarts, these two
could find spots in Slytherin.
They moved into the classic intimidation positions on
either side and in front of me. My back was to the row
of lockers. Bully
radar has tracked on me before, and I keep a few tricks up my
sleeve and some cards in my hand, at least until I bluff my
way out of this situation:
the likelihood of violence.
a thick skin and a sense of humor.
to the first appendix to read each of these steps spelled out
that’s funny,” I replied. “I can see you guys
have done this act before.” They were momentarily
confused by my comeback and lack of emotion.
“Yeah, well,” said Number One, who was a big enough
jerk to be up to the challenge of pushing around someone half
his size, but his brain lacked the capacity to send the right
words to his mouth without instructions from somebody
else. He was a
56K modem in a cable modem world. My response had thrown
them off the script and these two were not quick enough for
“We got a message for you, Sissy Boy,” Number Two
chimed in getting the festivities back on
“Sissy Boy?” I said. “Is that the message
that I’m a Sissy Boy?”
“Yeah, what are you gonna do, Sissy Boy,” Number One
threw in, feeling a little left out and needing to get his
bully points in for the judges.
“About what?” I asked.
“No,” Number Two who clearly was working with 2/3 of
their collective brain.
“The message is: If you want to get along stop doing
what you’re doing.”
“I thought bullying was strictly forbidden at William
B. Travis? What
if I report you two to the Agitator Awareness Society?” I
asked changing the subject. Their laughter brought
back the stab of fear that had waned since I began to take
control of the situation. These boys had no fear
of the Society or its corrections. Did the Society have
no real power in stopping bullies, or were they from the
They laughed like Hyenas another half minute leaving me
to wonder if they actually need me here to witness this
suddenly noticed a clue the size of a treasure chest. Hanging halfway out of
Number Two’s pocket was a hall pass. I needed that little
bit of evidence and its information. It had his name, time,
and who authorized this little jaunt. The hall pass also
said where they were supposed to be going. I was already kicking
myself for leaving my digital pen recorder at Grandma’s house
when I went over there to download old Sam Spade radio
turn on each other in a second when they hear their attacks
played back in their own voices. I needed to do
something stupid, and against any anti-bullying rule on the
“Been nice seeing you girls,” I said as I moved in
toward my new pals as if I was going to leave. Number One was thrilled
with his chance to be a bigger part of this project and pushed
me up against the lockers. I bounced off
the locker, which was a lot louder than it hurt. Number Two picked up
the dialogue, “You want to act tough, Goofyneck?”
“Yeah, we’re not girls, Goofyneck,” said Two. “You’re a
Great comeback genius I thought as I pretended the slam
against the locker hurt more than it
“You go when we say,” Two sniffed, “and do what we say
Sissy Boy again – was this guy twelve or six? I could think of about
3000 crueler and more disgusting things to call someone. I bet their parents
never even let them near a PG 13 movie.
I made my final stupid move by stepping over the bench
at Number Two, who grabbed me. I kept my arms at my
sides and Number Two bear hugged me awkwardly for a second
while, I pulled the slip from his pocket. Two pushed me away,
stuck his knuckle out of his fist, and punched it into my
arm. That was
going to leave a bruise.
I showed no pain this time though as a reaction was
just what they were looking needed. I said nothing.