Stepping In To The Fray

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Witnessing a beating, what would you do?

Submitted: September 15, 2016

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Submitted: September 15, 2016

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Stepping In To The Fray

 

I have driven past this park so many times in the last few years. I barely even register it any more. Today there are traffic lights and I am brought to a halt right outside it. If it had not been for the red light I would never have noticed what was going on; I would never have got involved.

 

There was this kid, couldn’t have been more than twelve, perhaps thirteen; head down and hurrying along the path. I watched for a while, he reminded me of someone, something from the past. He reminded me of myself.

 

No sign of the lights changing so I just keep on watching. There, in the bushes up ahead I see them. Four of them, all bigger, stepping out in front of him, walking towards him. They are not moving to the side but are placing themselves directly in his path. I know what is going to happen. I experienced it plenty of times myself about fifteen years ago.

 

I’m not the sort of person that likes to get involved in things that don’t concern me. But I know that feeling, that feeling of doom, that feeling that there’s nowhere to run to, no one to care. Can I just turn away and ignore it? No, now I’ve seen it, now I know what is going on, I am going to have to try and help in some way.

 

The lights change. I signal left, turn into the car park and climb out of the van, locking the door as I move off through the gate and along the path. I don’t want to make it too obvious what I am doing but I can see that they, the gang, have reached their target. They are circling him like a pack of wolves preparing for the kill.

 

I speed up my pace. Not far now. I can see one of them reach out an arm and shove that kid back towards another, who quickly pushes him forward again. I see that fist being made, that hand moving through the air to make contact with that poor lad’s face. Another second and there is a fist landing hard in his stomach, doubling him up, winding him.

 

I start to run, to shout, but they are so caught up in their attack that they either do not hear me or just ignore me. That poor lad, he’s on the ground now, his knees drawn up to his chin, his arms holding his face. And what are they doing, that gang of thugs – they are kicking him, any bit of him they can, over and over again. Their expressions are no longer human, they look like animals intent on nothing but their victim’s blood.

 

“What the hell are you doing?” I scream into the face of one of the attackers as I pull him away by his collar. I duck the fist he aims at my head, shoving him hard away from his mates.

 

They still haven’t noticed me, so I move myself forward leaning over the figure that’s huddled on the ground. I take their punches and return them. Two of the attackers move away, finally realizing that it’s not going to be quite so easy any more. The other, the leader I presume, stands in front of me. He’s maybe 15, 16 years old, as tall as me, physically bigger.

 

“Who are you, eh?” he snarls at me. “This don’t concern you, unless you’re his dad or something.”

 

I can’t help myself. I’m reminded too much of all the torment I went through myself. All the bruises I hid, the cuts I made up stories to explain. All the times I was punished for not doing homework that I had done before it was stolen and destroyed. All the clothes that were torn, the books that were lost ,the money for trips and lunches that was stolen. It all comes straight back to me as though I am still at school. As though I am still living through it.

 

Only this time I fight, I retaliate. I won’t just accept it as my fate. I will hit back and this bully that stands in front of me will take the brunt of this anger. It won’t take long now his mates have left the fight. Bullies are all cowards really.

 

The kid is on his knees, crawling away from the fight that is now taking place between me and his former tormentor. He gets to his feet and half runs, half staggers away. I’m watching with one eye, fighting with the over and do not notice the police approaching until they restrain me.

 

And I’m at fault. I know I am. I should have kept control, not launched in to the attack. I shouldn’t have let myself be dragged down to their level but should have acted my age, dealt with it properly. I should have taken control in a responsible manner. Maybe I should have just not got involved. No, I couldn’t have just driven away.

 

But now I am being portrayed as the attacker. Four against one saying that I started attacking them for no reason at all. I am violent, unstable, should be locked up. If my story was true where was their victim? I don’t have answers. I have no idea where the lad came from but I’m pretty sure this gang know exactly where he could be found.

 

So, hey, I stop to help and now I’m looking at a charge of assaulting a minor. Maybe there will be a witness come forward to back up my story. Maybe someone else caught at the traffic lights will have observed the entire thing and will come in to report it. Maybe this whole mess will be cleared up.

 

The door to the police station opens and in walks that kid, all bloodied, bruised and beaten. He is accompanied by a woman. She looks scared, way out of her depth. She can’t be much older than me. The kid nods painfully towards me and she approaches me.

 

“Thank you!” she says. “Thank you for standing up for my son. There’s not many people round here would have been so brave.”

 

They are pressing charges, her and her son. The police accompany them to the hospital for the kid’s injuries to be assessed. The names and addresses of the attackers are taken down, and they will be brought in for questioning. I, myself, am free to go. For now. But don’t leave town, charges may still be brought.

 

Do I regret getting involved? Yes and No. I’m glad I intervened, stopped that lad getting even more of a beating. But I should never have allowed myself to lose control and know that there could well be serious consequences for me. If I could go back in time would I have still have got involved. I’d like to say yes but who knows.


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