Hero, a short story

The other day I was playing around with writing flash fiction and wrote this silly little short story instead. It’s quick and goofy, so I thought I’d share it. It is about 1,000 words, though, so be warned it might take more than 30 seconds to read.

 

It was the first butt Bobby had seen glued to a locker.

It happened during recess of fifth grade lunch. He’d been waiting in the tetherball line when he’d heard about it, then rushed to see with everyone else, shoving his way through the school doors into a crowd of kids gathered in the hallway. Two teachers were there, too, holding up towels to block the view while the janitor worked to rip the kid free. Rip. Bobby shuddered at the thought.

It took him a while to fight through everyone to see who was stuck, but eventually he got a good look at… Laurence Borduck.

The poor kid, pants at his ankles and butt firmly affixed to locker, was trying to pull away but getting nowhere, like when Tom has Jerry by the tail. He was crying, but, despite the fussing kids and scolding teachers, he still looked determined.

Of all the kids, of course it would be Laurence, Bobby thought. To call him a nerd was unfair to the other fifth grade nerds, the ones like Bobby who did their best to go unnoticed, the nerds who preferred to pass their classes quietly in the back of the room. Not Laurence. He was the kind of kid who knew he was smarter than everyone else and reveled in it. He’d happily shout out right answers after kids got them wrong without waiting for teachers to call on him first. When adults asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d say astrophysicist, while most 11-year-olds just shrugged as they struggled to replace superhero or princess with more grownup answers. Heck, he was the kind of kid that insisted on being called Laurence instead of Larry or LB or anything less dorky.

Still, with all his annoying quirks, Bobby didn’t think he deserved to be embarrassed like this. No kid did.

With only minutes left in lunch, Bobby heard a slow, stuttering sucking sound, like a sticker being yanked off a window. Laurence was free. As the teachers led the sobbing boy away, one slow step at a time, Bobby heard a chuckle behind him. Not a laugh of innocent immaturity, but one of mean accomplishment. Bobby turned to see Mark “The Knife” Hawthorne, with a too-big smile on his face, watching Laurence leave.

Unlike Laurence, there was nothing unique about The Knife. He was a bully, plain and simple, cut and dry. He pushed third graders down for walking too close to him. He took fourth graders’ desert and ate it in front of them while they whimpered. And he forced any fifth graders who sat near him in class to let him copy their work.

Including Bobby.

Watching The Knife sneer, Bobby decided two things: he’d had enough of the The Knife; and, he hadn’t yet given up on being a superhero.

So, after school, Bobby walked over to Laurence’s. As he approached the front door, he picked up a blade of grass and rolled it in his fingers before sticking it between his teeth. Then he paused and flicked his nose with his thumb. Maybe his mom was right. Maybe he read too many comic books. But there was something in those pictures that seemed clear to Bobby, whether he had superpowers or not: if you could help someone in need, you had a responsibility to do so.

            “Hi, Mrs. Borduck. Laurence here?”

            “Hi, Bobby. He is, but, you know, I don’t think he’s up for visitors.”

            “Well, could you tell him I’m here and that I’d really like to talk to him.”

            “Sure. Just wait here.”

            After a few minutes, Laurence shuffled to the door.

            “Whaddaya want? To laugh at me?” he asked as he rubbed his back.

            “No. I wanna help you get back at The Knife.”

            “Oh really? And how ya gonna do that?”

            “The same way all superheroes beat their villains, by taking away their power. I’m gonna make it so kids aren’t afraid of him anymore.”

            “Superheroes? Villains? What are you talking about? Little you is gonna beat up The Knife with your super strength?” Laurence asked, laughing.

            “Look, do ya wanna get back at him or not?” Bobby asked, unfazed.

            “Of course I do. I hate that guy, always grabbing my books and throwing them.”

            “Well, I know a way you can. You know that presentation we have to make in Ms. Willsey’s class tomorrow?” Laurence nodded. “Do it on milk.”

            “What? Milk?! Now I know you’re crazy.”

            “He’s afraid of it.”

            “Of milk? The Knife’s afraid of milk? How do you know?”

            “Watch him go through the lunch line at school. You’ll see. He almost vomits on the lunch lady when she offers him milk.”

            “Are you sure?”

            “It’ll get him good. I promise.”

Bobby spent all night planning, with his posters of Spiderman and Batman looking on. If I pull this off, Bobby thought, all the school’s bullies will be on notice.

The next day in class, Laurence volunteered to go first. Dressed as a milk carton, he got up and gave an excruciatingly detailed presentation on milk, complete with papier-mâché cow.

And samples. Those had really sent The Knife over the edge. From the moment Laurence stood up, Bobby watched The Knife squirm in his seat and slowly turn green. He even gagged when Laurence demonstrated milking. And when the samples came out, sweat formed on his forehead.

            “Ms. Willsey,” The Knife said as Laurence poured. “I don’t feel good. Can I go to the nurse?”

            “My, Mark, you don’t look good. Yes you may. Just hand in your report first.”

As Laurence handed out cups of milk, The Knife searched his backpack furiously. When Laurence was only two desks away, The Knife turned it over and spilled its contents into his lap. “I can’t find it. But I did it this time, Ms. Willsey. Honest. Maybe it’s in my locker. Can I go look?”

            “Be quick.”

He jumped from his desk and ran just as Laurence offered him a cup. “I’ll be right back.”

He wasn’t.

For, when he got to his locker and ripped it open, he was greeted by a bucket of milk falling and spilling all over his head. Two girls walking in the hallway said they heard him scream, “It burns! My nose! It’s burning my nose!” before he stripped off his shirt and pants and ran down the hall and out the doors.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, Bobby shoved a report entitled ‘Scorpions by Mark Hawthorne’ deeper into his backpack.

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This entry was posted in musings.

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