Confronting a Childhood Bully - 7/26

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Brian A. Klems
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Confronting a Childhood Bully - 7/26

Postby Brian A. Klems » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:58 am

You’re out at restaurant and bump into a childhood bully who used to steal your lunch money. Confront the bully and give him or her a piece of your mind.

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sns3guppy
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Re: Confronting a Childhood Bully - 7/26

Postby sns3guppy » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:31 pm

With only an hour to spare from work, I slipped into the Bosco Diner for the lunch special, and found a table by the window. I perused the menu, but knew it by heart. Burger well-done, fries on the side, and pickles. Nothing fancy, but Bosco does it so well.

Ten minutes to kill; I surveyed the parking lot. Same cars, same spots, same as every other day. I turned my thoughtless gaze to the patrons, all the same but one. I thought I recognized him and then he became clear, a sharp point that pricked painfully in my memory. How could I forget Kevin Peterson? There he sat, alone behind a table for two, across the diner, poking at his food.

Seventh grade metal shop, a blustery day outside, and me with two casts on my hands, broken playing tag football, as I recall. It was Kevin Peterson who threw staples in my eyes just for spite, and later that day tried to burn me with a cutting torch. Mr. Dows took it away from him, of course, but it didn’t stop him from sadistically trying to burn me. How many times, I pondered, had I slunk home from school on foot, for fear of him waiting for me by the bus stop? How many times had I gone without lunch, when he took my money?

I seared him with my gaze, though he didn’t look up. I ran from him, but he was the coward. All bullies are cowards. Kevin Peterson must have been the greatest coward of them all. We had people most likely to succeed, most likely to do this or that; I always figured Kevin Peterson most likely to end up on death row. I was no hero, hiding from my childhood nemesis, but Kevin was the anti-hero. No more.

Twenty years later I was no longer afraid. I owed the little boy I once was to put things right. I owed it to me-then to march up to Kevin Peterson, head held high, and stand up for once. I needed closure. One surely couldn’t be a bully forever. He was bigger as a kid because we were smaller as kids. He lorded over us because he could. Look at him now, I thought. Not so big any more. I pushed my chair back with a screech, fingernails on a green slate chalk board, and stepped away from the table.

“Excuse me.” I said. “I’ll be back.”

The thirty feet to Peterson’s table was the longest I ever walked, and I don’t remember a single step. Next thing I knew I was by his table, and he looked up at me, face blank for a moment, then recognition, and a smile.

“Mark!” He said, as though we were lifelong friends. “I haven’t seen you in,” he paused, “how long has it been?”

“Twenty years, Kevin.” I reminded. Twenty long years. “Where have you been?”

“You know me.” He said. I was afraid I did. “I never could steer clear of a fight. After 09/11, I enlisted, had to see it for myself. I did. Where have you been?”

“Right here where I always was, Kevin.” I said. Right here, in Appleton. Married the prom queen, thank you very much. I’ll own Barkman’s Securities one day, I wanted to tell him. I wanted to rub it in his face in the worst way, show him that I won. “Never left town.”

Silence. Kevin seemed lost in thought, though he didn’t look away. In fact, he looked through me, seeing something that wasn’t there. Not me. I wondered what.

“I treated you like poop unicorns and rainbows, didn’t I?” he asked. That took me by surprise. Yes, he did. “I’m sorry. I was an ass. It’s been twenty years, but I’m sorry.” He offered me his hand. I dumbly took it. He pushed back from the table to greet me, and only then did I realize he couldn’t get up. His wheel chair caught on the table, and I saw he had no legs. He saw me see, and apologized. “Sorry I can’t stand. That was me, couldn’t walk away from a fight. I lost them in Afghanistan.”

Our hands clasped, our eyes locked. I had no words. I tried to speak, but my throat swelled. I reached for his check.

“I’ve got it, Kevin.” I said, at last. “You’re money’s no good here. It’s great seeing you again.”

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Re: Confronting a Childhood Bully - 7/26

Postby pandasrpeople2 » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:46 pm

The first time I worked my hellish power in public was at an Applebee's. I was all but certain that the greasy looking man at the bar was Bob Lawson, my childhood nemesis. A simple question would settle the matter.

"Excuse me. Are you Bob Lawson?"

He nodded faintly. "Yeah. I'm sorry, do I know you?"

"I'm Jake Thatcher. You used to steal my lunch money in middle school."

"Oh, yeah." He blinked, then gave a bemused smile. "Sorry about that."

He wasn't really sorry, of course. He was, if anything, irritated: irritated about being confronted publicly about such a trifle; irritated about being called to account for such a long-ago grievance. He figured that the statute of limitations on his bullying had expired. His presumption infuriated me, and I felt the hot red darkness rising behind my eyes. I would make a terrific spectacle of him. My reign of terror would begin in the home of the Realburger (TM).

"Bob Lawson," I shrieked, "the hour of my vengeance has come! Prepare to pay for your crimes!"

Instantly the bar fell into shocked silence. Bob sprang, glowering, to his feet. Perhaps he expected that I would pull a knife or a gun. Perhaps he hoped, instead, to have the pleasure of beating me up for old-times sake. Never would he have expected the effects of my sorcery. Even as I began to utter the delirious words, tendrils of sanguine light played upon his skin.

The transference did not take long. In fact it went as smoothly as hot lard. No doubt, had the simpletons around us been capable of anything but screaming in the face of true black magic, they would've appreciated the ironic aesthetic of my justice. A meal for a meal: one lunch extracted from Bob for every lunch he'd stolen from me. They'd been quite a few lunches, too, over the years.

I left Bob an emaciated and malnourished husk, sprawling feebly on the sticky floor. As I walked out I had to hold my pants up; my newly voluminous gut had popped the button off. The freshly minted jowls on my chin jiggled with triumphant laughter... a laughter far louder to my own ears than the cacophony of demented shrieking that ushered me out of that restaurant and into the welcoming arms of the night.

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Re: Confronting a Childhood Bully - 7/26

Postby jinhessel » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:55 pm

Queening It

Wendy had settled in and started on her fish taco with the pico de gallo when the door to the nearly empty taqueria opened. Was that Violette Mayflower straggling in with three tots? There was a girl about three with two ponytails, a younger toddler in footed pajamas and an older boy with rolled-up pants he was tripping over. Vi? It had been awhile since their PTA days, but there were the same Vi dimples, the same golden hair gone dullish.

The woman, who certainly was her old nemesis gone thick through the middle, settled her lively charges into a corner booth without glancing around.
“Mikey, take your finger out of your nose. That’s gross,” she told the older boy. “Everyone sit still. I’ll bring something back. Don’t stir one foot.” Her voice was raspy, and she pointed her finger at the three.

That finger! So bossy. She had bossed their group as children and she had bossed the PTA with her down-turned mouth and snappy views. And now she had a chance to bully her grandchildren, Wendy supposed they were, unless she was taking in foster children, and Vi never struck her as being that expansive.

Wendy smiled to herself at the scene across the room: Vi hissing and shussing, Vi mopping up spilled juice with hastily grabbed napkins, Vi holding her palms up and casting her eyes to the ceiling.

Good training for her, thought Wendy, remembering her old classmate’s meanness at school – how she queened it over the VIP table in the caf and decided who got to sit there. She robbed Wendy and some of the other quiet girls of their lunch money. She had grabbed Wendy’s arm and twisted it behind her back until she gave.

“And don’t you dare tell your mother, either. My mother runs the store where your mother shops on credit. They won’t let her shop there no more.”

By this time the little girl was throwing a fit on the bench, and Vi was bribing her with a pack of cookies from her purse. Wendy had finished her lunch and was ready to walk past them to get to her car. Should she speak? She was seized by an impulse to sashay by and pose a little – show off her dieted-down figure, maybe drop the word that she and Brad had just bought their second house and were renting out the smaller one. She just couldn’t help herself.

“Wendy? Oh, sure, I remember you from PTA,” Vi said, but the dull cast to her eyes showed the memories were not vivid. The flesh on her cheeks seemed pulled to earth and her face was drained of color. She was melting into her notched collar as two of the tots were dragging her by her hands.

“Outing with the grand kids?”

Vi winced. “More than just an outing, I’m afraid. I’ve got ‘em full time. You remember Chrissy, my daughter? She’s uh…away…for awhile. You know how it is.” She shrugged. Then she set a tight smile on her face and held it there. I have the honor of raising my grand kids. How about that?”

“Wow,” said Wendy. “Outstanding.” She stuck her two thumbs up, hoping her grin looked genuinely congratulatory.

Vi hastily scratched her number on a grocery receipt from her purse. “We ought to get together,” she said, as though she really needed a getting together.

“Sure,” said Wendy. She had thought that gloating time would taste sweet forever. Now, it felt a little more like forgetting time.
~We continue to dwell in the rooms we leave behind~


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