“Hah! You think you’re a man? You're such a wuss!”
The punches kept coming. I wanted to curl into a ball and weep, or just run the hell out of there, but his buddies were holding me up. All I could do was take it as best as I could, and pray they would stop soon. I could feel the bruises coming already, one over my right eye, another few on my arms. God knows how many I would have on my chest. I hoped my wrist wasn’t broken from when they shoved me down the second time.
Finally, they were finished. His buddies threw me onto the road, and laughed as they all walked away. I slowly picked myself up, glaring in hate at the man who waited at the bus stop; he’d watched the whole thing without intervening.
No one was home. I painfully made my way up the stairs to my room. Taking off my shirt, I looked in a mirror at my torso; the bruises were coming in now, ugly purple monstrosities across my chest and stomach. At least, as I probed around a bit, nothing seemed broken. I wouldn’t have to spend this Friday night in emerge.
I paused for a minute, considering myself in the mirror. How did it come to this? Every Friday brought another beating by the school bullies. And that was only if I willingly gave up my lunch money every day. I’d tried ignoring them one day, and ended up with a broken wrist. They’d gotten in trouble for that one though; a teacher saw the buddies holding me down as my right wrist was deliberately broken. I got a few days respite, then got cornered on my way home from school. That was when they started being more careful to leave only bruises.
I lay down on my bed, staring at the ceiling. There was a large water spot in the corner. The roof had been leaking for a few years now, but still no one cared. Dad had been gone for three years now, and mom was hard pressed to keep food on the table. There was no money to spare for fixing my room.
That got me thinking about the inevitable conversation tonight. Mom would notice the bruises. We’d have an argument, her telling me to stand up for myself. I’d sit there silently, staring at my plate. All the time I’d be thinking, You stand up to a bunch of grade eights. One of them is bigger and stronger than me. How the hell am I supposed to take on three of them by myself?
But really, how the hell could I? There had to be a way. I was sick of the bruises, sick of seeing emerge on a monthly basis. I got up and went to my computer. The old desktop was sitting on an even older desk. There was a pile of papers next to the keyboard, but other than that, everything was in its place. I’d been working on a book report last night and was planning on working some more on it. But I pushed the papers to the side, grabbing a fresh sheet of lined paper. I had to wait about ten minutes from when I turned the desktop on till when I could actually start using the computer, so I sat in my chair, daydreaming about all the things I could do to the three of them if I were Batman. Of course, if I were Batman, I probably wouldn’t be getting bullied in the first place. So that put a sort of damper on the daydream, but it still made me feel a bit better about everything.
Finally, I started doing some research. I Googled “how to deal with bullies” and got a whole bunch of hits. All of them seemed to say the same sorts of things. “Avoid the bully.” “Be brave.” “Don’t bully back.” It all sounded good on the internet. But in practice, it just didn’t work for me.
Right when I was starting to despair, I hit upon the perfect solution. My eyes lit up with glee as I eagerly read the webpage. It would take a bit of planning, and I only had a week until the next scheduled beating, but I was pretty sure I’d be able to pull it off. A smile lit my face for the first time in a few weeks as I scribbled down the instructions.
I was walking home from school the next Friday. I caught myself whistling at one point, and had to force myself to stop. As I turned the corner, in view of the bus stop, there they were, waiting for me. I nervously fingered the small remote in my pocket as I walked up to them.
“Where you going, squirt?” the leader asked me.
This question was a sort of ritual between us. “I’m going home,” I mumbled, looking at my feet.
“Not so fast, squirt.” At this, his two buddies circled around me.
“Hey, wha’cha got in the bag?” one of the buddies asked me. This was breaking with the ritual a bit.
“Nothing,” I replied, still looking down.
Of course, this provoked them. The bag was practically ripped off of my back. All three of them crowded around the bag. The leader pulled the device out, looking very confused. “What is it?”
Only after I was sure that all three of them were touching it, I turned it on with the remote control. They screeched in pain as electricity coursed through their fingers, and immediately dropped the device as their muscles went limp.
“It took a bit of work,” I told them, grinning, “but I was able to build this little baby. It’s sort of a home-made taser.”
I then proceeded to kick all three of them while they were down, before they could recover. When I was finished, I turned the device off and picked it up, carefully putting it back into my backpack. “If you three ever touch me again, just remember this day. Remember that I have this baby. And remember that the next time I have to bring this out, it’ll be much worse for all of you.”
With that, I turned and continued on my way home. I was on top of the world! I’d done it! I’d been able to best all three of them! Brains really were better than brawn.
As I passed the bus stop, the man who’d watched me getting beat up last week, and who had seen my little display this week called out to me, “You’re still a wuss!”