1008 words (4 minute read)

An Odd and Lonely Guy

Jay’s journal - 03/18/1991

This is how Jeremy and I finally severed. I could tell he was done with me. He used to tease me, but now I couldn’t go into A-Court without getting stuffed into a locker. My parents, despite my pleas, went in and talked to Principal Oatman. I tried to tell them it was useless. Bullying is an accepted vice at Cascadia, but ratting out a fellow students is treason. Mr. Oatman humored my folks, telling them he would ‘keep an eye out.’ I swear he then turned straight around and told Jeremy everything. Because from that day forward, Jeremy’s shit got worse.

It was a dark fall day when it finally went down for real. I remember the heavy clouds, splashing dark circles on the pavement. I remember because I was looking up at the sky. As I walked the courtyard from C-Court to A-Court, I should’ve been looking out.

School was over, and the courtyard was barren. The library was dark and lifeless, which I remember thinking was odd. It usually stayed open until at least five, on the off chance some dimbulb wanted to take a crack at homework.

I was squinting to keep the rain from my eyes, and I didn’t see Jeremy and the rest of the baseball team, in their practice gear, fanning out from the gym, sneaking up behind me. It was a total surprise, then, when I was tackled from behind, and went skidding out across the ice-cold mud.

Next thing I remember, I was looking up at the sky, this time on my back, wet drops pounding my face. Jeremy’s foot pressed down on my chest. I tried to yell, and he pushed harder. A halo of John’s popped their heads alongside Jeremy’s face.

“Well well. And we’ve got ten minutes till practice.”

Jeremy pulled me up.

“Someone run into Ms. Belves room. Get some duct tape.” Jeremy and John Warner muscled me over to a lamppost. I was yelling but trying not to, knowing it would do no good, and would only encourage Jeremy.

I saw something through the glass A-Court doors. I’m not certain, but it looked like a man, tall and heavy. The figure, as soon as it saw me looking at it, stepped back into shadow. It was only a moment, but I swear it was Principal Oatman. That the school principal was there, watching me get beat up. Probably even laughing. That’s when I realized I was truly alone.

I was held against the lamppost, and Matt returned with duct tape roll.

“Wrap him. Just the chest.”

I stared up the sky, just waiting for it to be over.

“Take his pants off.”

Matt knelt down. I could feel him tugging at my belt. And then, in my darkest hour, I saw it. A dark flash, speeding across the lawn. The other boys, leering in at me, didn’t see it. Colin hit their pod like a freight train, bowling three of the Johns over, sending the rest scattering.

I knew Colin fairly well. We’d been science partners in Mr. Henley’s class together. He was a quiet, kinda dopey kid who was easy to ignore. Despite his size, he always seemed to be trying to disappear; in the back of a class or crowd. I’d never seen him do anything but trudge quietly across campus. Certainly nothing like this. Now, in the middle of the Johns, his massive bulk leapt nimbly back and forth, darting this way and that, face a mask of rage, towering above the tallest Johns.

John Dorsey was first to recover. He stepped in and swung at Colin. Colin lowered his head, threw out a meaty hand and grabbed John by the shirt collar. Moving with clumsy grace, he threw a foot behind John’s legs and threw John forward. John did a full flip, landing face-down with a heavy thud. Colin then spun around and grabbed John Warner by the arm. Warner threw his hands up in surrender, and Colin threw him straight into the air, and he skidded back through the mud.

John Becker punched Colin in the head. Colin swung round and gave a bear’s roar. He slammed a forearm into Becker’s nose, and Becker staggered backwards, turning away. At this, Jeremy and the other Johns leapt backwards. Colin strode back and forth before me, daring the others to step forward.

An air of uncertainty hung in the rain. I was in shock. This was not the Colin I knew. We were friendly when were lab partners, but nothing that would have inspired this kind of heroism. The Johns hesitated before Colin’s methodical pacing. They turned to Jeremy, looking for a signal. The only sound was rain hitting pavement. Somewhere down on the track fields, a whistle blew. Coach Strauss, calling his players. Jeremy turned.

“Let’s go.”

The boys jogged off toward the gym, and down the steps to the field. John Warner, still hunched and holding his nose, stumbled behind them. Colin watched them go, chest heaving, steam rising off his skin, like a horse after a race. Finally, he turned, painfully shy, staring down. His voice was quiet and mild.

“You okay?”

I laughed. “Am I okay? You just took on the entire baseball team.”

Colin gave an awkward giggle, laughing into his shoulder.

“Man, you’re a freakin’ wolverine.”

Colin blushed. “I don’t know if that’s true…”

He ripped a strip of duct tape, and my feet touched the ground. He stood several feet taller than me.

“You’re the god-freakin-zilla of Cascadia. Where’d you learn to fight like that.”

“Just a few books. It’s a martial art I’m developing. Nothing trademarked or anything. Just some ideas I’m trying out.”

“Those are some pretty powerful ideas.”

Colin lingered for a moment, but seemed to have ran out of things to say.

“See you later, hope you’re okay.” He turned quickly to go, but I ran after him.

“Wait, man! It’s pouring out. Can I get a ride?”

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