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Alex the Bully
|I watched as my little brother Kenny lined up for the last race of the day. It was the last day of school, and the last place I wanted to be was here at my old grade school. But they were having their annual “Spring Games” and since mom couldn’t come she made me promise I would walk over as soon as school was out to give my kid brother my support. Kenny lined up with the other third- and fourth-graders on the front lawn for a hundred yard dash. He caught my eye and I gave him a “thumbs-up” and smiled. Poor Kenny, I thought. He inherited the same genes I did, and would never be mistaken for an athlete. We were destined to be skinny and gawky and somewhat uncoordinated. But I admired him for trying.
I had just survived my freshman year of high school. All freshmen are picked on by the upper classmen, I know, but it’s worse when even your own classmates pick on you because they suspect you’re a wimp. I was looking forward to a quiet summer without being picked on every day.
As I waited for the race to begin, I glanced down at the other end of the school, where the fifth- and sixth-graders were competing in some kind of fitness contest. Various boys were doing sit-ups, push-ups, vertical leap, and other tests. But the kid that really caught my attention was an athletic-looking dark-haired boy doing pull-ups on a chinning bar. He was shirtless, and as he smoothly pulled his body up time and time again, I started counting the reps in my head. I wished I had a better view, since I was so far away and looking from the side. As my count got to ten I started walking in that direction. Just before my count reached twenty I was interrupted by Kenny running up to me and shouting.
“I almost won that time!” he panted.
“Good job!” I said, knowing that he exaggerated. “Let’s go, okay?”
“Just a minute,” Kenny said. “I have to get my ribbon.”
The first place got a blue ribbon, the second place got a red ribbon, and everyone else — so they didn’t feel left out — got a white ribbon. As Kenny ran to the teacher holding the big box of white ribbons, I was shocked to see the chinning boy still doing pull-ups! He must have done over thirty reps by now, I thought! And he didn’t look like he was slowing down. A young teacher with a clipboard and a whistle around his neck finally tapped the boy on the back, and he dropped to the ground. The teacher took a blue ribbon out of his pocket and handed it to the boy. Since he wasn’t wearing a shirt, he pinned the ribbon to the waistband of his jeans. I noticed he had quite a few other ribbons there, all blue. Then the boy high-fived a buddy and raised his right arm to flex for him. I cursed because he was still so far away and his right side was turned away from me so I couldn’t see his arm. The buddy smiled as he reached up and felt the kid’s biceps, and I was getting really impatient.
“Come on, hurry up!” I yelled to Kenny. He was talking to a friend, so I ran up and grabbed his hand and started walking briskly toward the dark-haired boy.
“How come we’re going this way?” he asked.
I knew it was the wrong direction, but I told him I wanted to talk to someone. The boy was already pulling on his tee shirt. It was one of those oversized tee shirts with sleeves that hung down to his elbows. I cursed again but kept walking fast. Kenny seemed to realize where we were headed and started pulling on my hand.
“Come on, let’s go home!” he pleaded.
“I want to congratulate this kid for winning all those blue ribbons,” I said.
“That’s a sixth-grader, leave him alone!” Kenny said. I saw a bit of fear in his eyes.
I ignored him and pulled my hand away. The buddy had left, and the dark-haired boy had his back to me. To get his attention, I walked up and clapped my hand on his shoulder from behind.
I have trouble remembering exactly what happened next.
In the split second after my hand hit his shoulder, the boy grabbed my hand with both of his and spun around, twisting my arm in the process. Then he dug his fingers into my wrist while he pressed his thumbs against the back of my hand, bending it back painfully. It all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react. All I knew was my body went stiff with pain as I went up on my toes and yelped loudly.
The teacher heard my cries and ran over. “Alex, stop it!” he shouted. The boy let go and the teacher asked me if I was all right. When I nodded, he took Alex aside and started bawling him out pretty good. Kenny tugged on my shirt and begged me to go with him. Alex stared at the ground while the teacher lectured him, but before I turned to leave he shot me a dirty look that made me shiver. Alex was a handsome boy, but there was evil in his eyes, and I figured Kenny was afraid of him because he was a bully.
We cut through the park next to the school. It was a real woodsy park with lots of big trees, and I think Kenny thought we were less likely to be seen. I asked Kenny if Alex had bothered him at school and my little brother just shrugged. I think he was embarrassed to let his brother know he was being picked on. Just then, I looked over my shoulder to see Alex riding his BMX-type bike about twenty feet behind us. Right away he started taunting us.
“Hey wimp-boy!” he shouted. “Is that your wimp-brother? Did you bring your big wimp-brother here thinking he could beat me up? I guess I showed him, didn’t I? You’re both wimps, and your whole family are wimps. I bet your dad’s a wimp… I bet I could kick his ass, too!”
Alex went on and on like this, and I tried to ignore him, like I always did with bullies. But then I saw Kenny frowning and shaking a little, and I thought why am I letting this little kid get to me? Sure, he surprised me and put some kind of pressure hold on my wrist. But I was a fifteen-year-old in high school and he was just a twelve-year-old sixth-grader. I was about a head taller than him, and no matter how husky he was underneath that loose-fitting tee shirt, I had to be at least 15 or 20 pounds heavier than him. This was my chance to stand up for my brother and act like a grown-up, for once. I turned around and confronted Alex, who stopped his bike.
“Why don’t you stop picking on my brother?” I said. “You better start leaving him alone.”
Alex stepped off his bike and let it fall, staring at me the whole time. “What are ya gonna do about it?” he said, walking slowly toward me.
Kenny tugged at my shirt again, but I told him to get behind me. I tried to be brave, but my heart was pounding. Alex was a tough-looking kid, and the way he stared at me with a confident look as he walked right up to me made me nervous.
“You gonna make me?” Alex said. He was now right in front of me with his hands on his hips. He had a real cocky attitude and I noticed those half-dozen little blue ribbons hanging from the waistband of his jeans. I knew I should just turn and walk away, but this kid was asking for it.
“I said, leave us alone!” I shouted, as I lunged at him and shoved as hard as I could. I wanted to send him sprawling on his butt to teach him a lesson, but as I turned to take Kenny’s hand I saw Alex out of the corner of my eye. He didn’t tumble head over heels — he didn’t even fall down. He just stumbled back a few steps before regaining his balance and started to charge back toward me at full speed. He threw his arms around my waist from behind and locked me in a bear hug. I felt the strength in his arms as he pulled me tighter and tighter. I grabbed his wrists and tried to break his grip, but there was no way I could pull those powerful young arms apart. Instead, I felt Alex’s forearms ripple as he squeezed me even harder, despite my efforts to break free. Then he reared back and I felt my feet leave the ground. That strong kid was holding me up and squeezing me at the same time! He walked me around a bit, carrying me as if I was nothing, to show off his strength. Then he shook me a little as he poured on the pressure. I let out a groan as I tried to take a breath and felt his arms crushing my diaphragm. I was starting to panic now as I was getting light-headed from not being able to breathe. Alex set my feet back down and let out a loud growl as he gave me one tremendous final squeeze. Those young arms that had just pumped out 30 or 40 pull-ups had unbelievable power! I coughed out my last breath of air and started gagging as the pain in my ribs became so great I thought they were going to break! Then Alex lifted me up again, spun me around two times fast and let me go, throwing me with all his might. I flew through the air and landed face down in the dusty path, filling my mouth and eyes with gritty dirt.
As I sat up and began spitting and gasping for air and rubbing my eyes, I heard my little brother scream and then heard a dull whump! that sounded like the landing of a solid gut punch. Then I heard only soft moans and whimpers from Kenny as I imagined him rolling on the ground holding his stomach. Just as I cleared my eyes and began to blink them into focus, Alex dropped to his knees behind my back and suddenly wrapped his arm around my throat from behind. I was still sitting on the ground and couldn’t move. I grabbed his forearm with both hands but it didn’t matter. His right arm was stronger than both of mine put together and as he flexed it I felt his hard young biceps begin to bulge as it crushed my throat.
“This is your payback for getting me in trouble with my coach!” Alex said, right into my ear. “Because of you wimps, he’s gonna make me sit on the bench for our next game.”
Alex flexed his arm tighter and his solid little biceps cut deeper into my throat as his forearm crushed it from the other side. I tried to speak but could only gag as my tongue shot out of my mouth. I was being choked by a freaky-strong muscle kid about half my size! Alex grabbed his right fist with his left hand and pulled as he flexed his right arm to the absolute max. I felt his biceps reach the ultimate peak as it grew into a rounded ball of solid steel that crushed my neck like a soda straw. My eyelids began to flutter as I felt myself quickly losing consciousness. Just as I blacked out I felt him release me and shove me to the ground.
I couldn’t have been out for more than a minute, but when I woke up I saw Alex kneeling over Kenny. He was holding both of Kenny’s wrists pinned above his head with one hand, and with the other he was digging a claw hold into my kid brother’s soft little belly.
“How does that feel, kid?” Alex laughed. “Is your gut still sore from taking that punch?”
Kenny was just bawling now, and tears were flying from his eyes. I rolled to my knees, took a deep breath and yelled, “Leave the kid alone!”
Alex released Kenny and looked at me. He stood up and walked slowly in my direction. I knew I was over a head taller than this boy so I scrambled to my feet. That didn’t intimidate Alex in the slightest and he just kept walking right up to me with an evil look on his face. As he got closer, I got scared and I tried to kick him right between the legs. He not only jumped aside to dodge my kick, but he used quick reflexes to catch my foot with both hands and yanked it, sending me sprawling on my butt. He held on to my foot and twisted it with all the strength in his arms and shoulders. The pain in my ankle and knee was so great I yelped out in pain. He twisted my foot so hard I rolled over on my stomach and pounded the ground with my fist as the pain increased. Kenny heard my moans and fought back his sobs long enough to yell, “Quit hurting my brother!”
Alex threw down my foot and shot Kenny a dirty look. That was all it took to get my little brother to squeal and run off to hide behind a tree. I rose up on all fours but before I could stand up Alex thew a kick to my stomach that sent me over onto my back. As I held my gut he walked up and dropped a knee right across my throat. My neck was already sore from his choke hold and the pain was terrible. I raised my arms up to push him off, but Alex grabbed both my wrists with his hands and held them tight. This muscle boy was so strong he could easily hold my arms frozen in place, or move them to any position he wanted. His forearms were bigger than mine and as he squeezed my wrists I saw them bulge with power. Alex ground his kneecap into my throat and bent down to speak right into my ear.
“You just don’t get it, do ya? Once a wimp, always a wimp. It doesn’t matter how big you get or how old you are. A kid like me will always be able to beat up a wimp like you. ’Cause I got something you don’t got… you know what that is, don’t ya?” He stood up so I could turn my head and look at him. He pulled up the sleeve of his tee shirt and raised his right arm and flexed. “I got muscles!” he said confidently, and for the first time I saw up close the mighty twelve-year-old biceps that had crushed my throat. It was the size of a small orange and bulged up impressively. My head was spinning at the sight of such a big, hard muscle on such a young little kid. Alex lowered his arm and looked at me with disgust. He hacked up a load of mucus from deep in his throat and spat it into my face. “I can’t stand wimps!” he said. “They make me want to puke! Why don’t you both go back home to momma now!” Alex turned and walked away back to his bike.
I wiped the spit off my face with the back of my hand and went over to get Kenny, who seemed to be okay, even though he was still fighting back tears. I walked him out of the park and down the street without saying anything, and without looking back. We were about a block from our home when we spotted Alex following about half a block behind on his bike. We hurried inside and I locked and bolted the door, then felt stupid for being so afraid. Kenny went to the window and peeked through the curtains. Alex was showing off on his bike in our driveway, doing wheelies and handlebar spins and a few other tricks. Then he looked right at us, to show us he knew we were watching, and sped off down the street, his strong young legs pumping hard.
“Now he knows where we live,” Kenny said sadly.
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