This is my third novel. I based it on some experiences I had in junior high school. Many of the characters are loosely based on myself and others that I knew. I decided to base the novel in the year 1987 as it was interesting to go back before everyone had cellular phones, a computer in every home, and internet access. I also usually abstain from using profanity in my writing, but I wanted to try being somewhat realistic in what I remembered of my time in junior high. Actually, I toned down the profanity quite a bit from what would have been realistic. But it would have been unrealistic to think that kids in junior high do not ever use profanity.
This novel stems from my constant thinking along the lines of "What if this had happened in my life instead of that." Or imagining being able to relive my junior high school days with the knowledge that I have now. This novel is an exploration of that.
Chapter 1 - Counting down the days.
The teacher blabbed on about tonight's homework assignment. Dave looked down at his paper as he carefully wrote out the date on the heading line next to his name. He wrote "April 20, 1987." He figured if he at least started the homework, maybe he'd think about completing it sometime. He was already counting down the days until school was out for the summer. He'd be leaving this dreadful middle-school and moving into high-school. As the bell rang signifying the end of class, he glanced over at the girl of his dreams on the other side of the classroom. He dared not look too long as she might notice him staring at her.
He put his backpack around his shoulder and started to file out of the classroom with the rest of the students. As he made his way into the main hallway, his eagle eyes started looking for any sign of trouble. No bullies in sight, fortunately. He realized he'd need to make his way to his locker before his next class. As he turned down a different hallway, he spotted a medium-threat bully. However, the bully had not seen him yet, so he turned around and walked the long-way around to his locker. After making it to his locker safely, he applied the combination and opened it up. As he swapped books between his bag and his locker, he was constantly keeping an eye out for bullies. He was almost done, before spotting a low-threat bully. Her name was Robin. She lived on the same street as him, but for some reason had always picked on him since the 4th grade. She was a low-threat because she was more of an annoyance than a physical threat. Unfortunately, since her locker was directly above his, she often made a scene when Dave was in the way of her reaching her locker. Lucky for him, he had just closed his locker as Robin was approaching.
She looked at him with a mocking face and said "Hi stupid! How is your afro today?" Dave ignored her and tried to pretend he was looking the other way as he shrugged passed her. If that was the worst thing he'd have to worry about today, he'd consider himself lucky. "Afro indeed.." he thought to himself. He didn't really have an afro, but he did have extremely unmanageably curly hair. He had tried to do things with the hair, but the only two choices seemed to be cutting it off, or letting it grow. As he was lazy about getting haircuts, sometimes it would grow a little too much. But, he was right. It was far from being considered an afro.
Next class was algebra. Dave had already decided that there was no way to pass this class. He had missed so many homework assignments that it was now impossible to pass even if he made 100's the rest of the year. He didn't really care about his GPA, so he just used this time to do homework for other classes, to draw pictures, or just spend time daydreaming. He could skip class like all the other kids do, but he'd have nowhere really to go. Sitting in the bathroom didn't really sound like fun, especially since that would be the time all the bullies would be in there smoking, while skipping their classes.
As silly as it sounds, algebra was no trouble for him at all. In fact, his math skills were much higher than most of the other kids. He was actually amused at the thought of receiving a zero on his report card for that 6-week period. Of course, his parents wouldn't be amused by it.
At lunch time, he made his way towards the lunchroom. He was fortunate in that his last class was close to the lunchroom so he was one of the first in line. Otherwise, anyone getting stuck at the end of the line would have to wait 20 minutes to get his or her food, having only 10 minutes to consume it. As he was walking at a faster than normal pace, his mind was thinking about what he was going to do this evening at home. Suddenly, he tripped on something and fell forwards into the floor, loosing his backpack too. He looked around quickly to see one of his medium-threat bullies walking in the opposite direction. His name was Ian and this was the normal sort of thing to expect from him. He was a big guy with a big mole on his face and always wore heavy-metal band shirts. Ian usually didn't stick around for any gloating, he just took care of his bullying like it was a duty and went on. This was good, as Dave would prefer this to a full-blown confrontation. The other students just walked by, most of them careful not to step on him, but otherwise ignored him completely. A few people did step on or kick his backpack although he wasn't sure if it was intentional or not. The halls are pretty crowded and most people aren't expecting anything to be in the floor.
After making it through the lunch-line he sat down with his two best friends, Dusty and Mark, who were already having a conversation about last night's science-fiction show. Dave couldn't wait to engage in this conversation as he had watched the same show.
Dave's two friends were also social outcasts. Dusty had red hair, glasses, and lots of zits. Mark was just barely overweight, but a bit goofy. And though they were often subjected to bullies and insults, for some reason they seemed to be immune to the worst of it that Dave had to endure.
As he sat and ate his square lunchroom imitation pizza, Dave looked across the lunchroom and found Cynthia. He always wanted to see where she was. Was she with another boy? Who are her best girlfriends? Any information he could get would aid him with his ultimate goal of having her as a girlfriend. Of course, Cynthia had no idea that he was infatuated with her, and for all Dave knew, had no idea he existed. Currently she was sitting with some other girls eating and trying to do homework. She was actually an honor roll student. This frustrated Dave because this was the one thing he did feel inadequate about when facing her. He never mentioned her to his friends, except on rare occasions. He let them know that he liked her, but he didn't let anyone know how completely in love with her he was.
The 3 friends sat in silence for a while and Mark eventually said, "School is so stupid. I mean we're forced to learn all this garbage, and who cares?" The other two nodded their heads. Dave followed up, "yeah, I know. Why should I care how to do polynomials? I'm not ever going to use that in a career." Dusty interjected, "Yeah! And why do I care when Abraham Lincoln was born?" Dave said thoughtfully, "You'd think if they were going to force us to learn things, it could at least be stuff related to computers, or something." Mark replied, "Yeah, this is 1987. Most of these books have material in them that was written like 100 years ago."
Dusty looked startled and quickly said, "Dave.. look out.." Dave knew what that meant. He started looking around quickly but it was too late. A bully had thumped his ear, which hurt a great deal more than it appeared to. Dave shouted, "Stop it ass-hole!" It was Nick. He was a high-threat bully. Fortunately, he appeared to be operating alone. He usually wouldn't take things too far without backup. It was a busy lunchroom and technically Dave and his friends outnumbered the bully. However, Dusty and Mark would rarely engage the bullies, probably because they had been fortunate enough to stay off the bullies' cross hairs so far.
Nick laughed and said mockingly, "What are you going to do about it, little dip-shit?" Dave didn't answer. Nick looked around, presumably to see if any teachers were watching. He slapped Dave over the top of the head and gave him a mean look and said, "I'm going to kick your ass next time I see you."
Nick walked off. Dave's adrenaline started to finally level off again. Mark made some comment about "Savage barbarian." And then life went on as usual. This type of thing was so common that there wasn't any point in really talking about it much anymore.
Next class was P.E. This was Dave's least favorite class. The main reason was that his worst bully, Nick, was in that class with him. And he considered himself lucky if he were able to get changed in the locker room and out into the gym without getting bullied by Nick. What makes it worse is that two of his bully friends are in there with him. These other two boys would likely not be much a problem except that Nick always encourages them to assist him in bullying.
Dave always tried to keep his eye on the bullies and wait for them to leave the locker room before he would enter. Only this time the P.E. teacher saw him standing there and said, "Hey! What are you doing standing around? Get in there and get changed, now!"
As he entered the locker room he could see the bullies were done changing. He walked passed them. His heart raced as he anticipated trouble. Fortunately, they didn't seem interested today. He had just changed his shirt and taken off his jeans. He reached down to pick up his gym shorts when suddenly he was being lifted off the ground by his underwear. It turns out Nick and one of his bully friends had both sneaked up on him and were giving him a "power wedgie." This actually hurt more than most people realized, even the bullies. They just thought it was funny. The bullies were laughing and having a good time, but Dave was in severe pain. So he started hitting at the bullies arms and hands that were holding him up. He must have hit one of them too hard, as they dropped him and Nick's face changed from laughter to anger.
"Now you've done it you little piss-ant." Nick used both hands to push Dave forcefully up against the wall. Dave hit the back of his head against the brick wall. Nick looked around and told his buddy, "Make sure nobody is in here." A moment later there was an answer, the answer Dave didn't want to hear. Nick punched him in the stomach and Dave bent over in pain. He couldn't get a breath, nor could he stand upright to fight back. Nick cracked his knuckles and said something to the effect of, "I'm just getting started. You'll think twice about hitting me again."
Suddenly another boy walked into the locker room. It startled Nick and his bully friend. He was a new face. None of the boys in the locker room recognized him. He was well-groomed and wearing strange clothes. Dave didn't normally notice things like clothes, as he was too socially inept to care about such things. But even here, he noticed something about this boys clothes. They didn't appear any more expensive. They fit nicely. But they seemed a little more reflective than usual, maybe a little more synthetic. The boy had a nice haircut, looked much like an adult would keep it trimmed. Not a sign of the normal acne to expect at this age. He seemed to even walk with a certain confidence.
The boy didn't speak. His mouth remained closed and he stood very still while his eyes and head moved to examine the activity that must have just been taking place. The two bullies were unsure of themselves. Nobody said anything to anyone. It was the strangest circumstance. Had it been any other boy the bullies would have probably decided to hide what they were doing, or bully the new person too, depending on who it was. But as nobody knew this kid, nobody knew what to make of him. He didn't appear to be much of a physical threat to the bullies; he was not much bigger than Dave himself. But his interruption was welcome by Dave, regardless.
Finally, the boy spoke. He said in a friendly tone, "Hi there. I'm new here, my name is Will." Nobody said anything to him. He spoke in a somewhat unrecognizable accent. It was barely noticeable, actually. Since nobody replied, Will continued, "this is the boy's locker room, correct? I need to change into my gym clothes."
The two bullies must have decided they'd forgo their violence for the moment due to the unexpected nature of this interruption. They straightened up and tried to pretend nothing was going on. Nick kind of brushed Will's shoulder as he walked by. It was just enough that it could have been considered an accident, but enough to warn Will that Nick isn't to be messed with.
Dave tried to look the other way as he finished wiping the tears from his eyes. He was embarrassed that violence always caused him to cry. Strangely he was never sad during these times, in face he was usually filled with rage. But nevertheless his eyes would always betray him and start tearing up. Will sat down on the same bench and started to change clothes. Dave had wished he would have gone to a different bench and left him alone.
As Dave was tying his shoelaces, Will spoke to him, "I can help you with those jerks." Dave was kind of offended by the offer. After all, he'd prefer most people not even know that he was subject to so much bullying. That is one of the reasons he hated to tell his parents about it. His parents would, in good faith, attempt to call the school or other parents to remedy the situation. But this usually only made things worse for him, and made him appear weak. And he knew that appearing weak was what made him a constant target of bullies to begin with. So instead of accepting this offer, he looked angry with Will and said, "I don't know what you're talking about!" as he stormed out of the locker room.
After school Dave made a quick stop by Scott's locker. He had his two friends on guard at either side of the hall to let him know if anyone was coming. Dave pulled out packages of ketchup and mayonnaise from his pockets and tore open the tops. He quickly inserted the top up through the locker vents and slapped the rest of the package. He quickly went on to the next one. He was apparently quite practiced at this.
He did things like this all the time to Scott and Ian. Sometimes he would drop thumbtacks in their shoes or in their chairs if he knew he could get away with it. He never, ever let them find out it was him. It was the only way he felt he could at least give them some irritation in life, even though he couldn't take credit for it. Enough people in the school hated those kids that Dave was never a suspect. In fact, he was the least likely suspect as they all knew he would be afraid of any retribution should they find out about it.