===Part 1 of 3===
I remember elementary school was home to three bullies. Three mean individuals known for being quite willing and most eager to beat up any student unfortunate enough run afoul of either of them.
Though the student body was unlucky to have such a triad of meanness prowling our school grounds it could have been worse. They didn’t run in packs, they didn’t have sidekicks, they weren’t followed by an entourage trying to appear cool basking in the bully’s notoriety, and, most fortunate of all, the three bullies weren’t friends with each other; just three angry individuals, usually alone, and that made it much easier to avoid becoming their next unlucky victim.
For the year and a half I had had attended this school I avoided the bullies by implementing a very simple two-point strategy; wherever they were, be somewhere else, and if you had to be where they were, never be there alone. Having three bullies in a four cornered school yard made this strategy fairly easy to accomplish for it meant there was always one free corner to play in. Should one of the bullies encroach upon our freedom we simply shuffled off to the next free corner and continue with what we were doing. The secondary strategy, a simple tactic, proved quite effective in dealing with schoolyard bullies, stay in a group. One bully, though mean and angry and knowing more curse words then actual Queen’s English, would usually be reluctant to take a swing at you when a dozen of your friends were standing firm at your sides, or at least standing behind you, or, most likely standing a little distance away trying to sneak off without looking like they were trying to sneak off. Regardless, the point is, the more people near you the less likely the bully would end up pounding on you.
No matter how careful you were, no fool-proof strategy is guaranteed 100%. This truth I was about to discover for myself on that bright winter day. The fates were conspiring and converging events to bring about a situation so horrible that even in my darkest nightmare could I never imagine what I was about to face.
The night before had dumped a fresh batch of snow in our schoolyard that required playing in. At the end of the lunch hour my friends and I were laughing and smiling and happily having fun in this fresh winter blanket. The first bell had rung and we all made our way to the school’s back entrance.
Almost to the door I had needed, for some reason, to run back to where we had been playing, probably forgotten my book bag. Making my way back to the rear entrance a second time I realized I was the last student in the school yard. I was mistaken. Rounding the corner of the building I found out there was one other student still outside with me. The one student nobody wanted to be caught out alone with on the school grounds. Separating me from the door stood the biggest, cruelest, meanest and angriest of all of the three known school bullies.
This didn’t look good.
He had an evil grin on his face and hate gleamed in his eyes. I started to shake in fear making it look like he had six legs. Escape, my brain screamed in my head! I looked over my shoulder at the gray chain link fence blocking the route to freedom. Run through it! My brain screamed again.
This most definitely did not look good.
Running away was not a viable option. So that meant running past him in hopes of reaching the door he blocked, trusting that sanctuary could be found within.
The bully laughed. He knew what I was thinking. He crossed his arms across his chest and shook his head slowly side to side. “You’re not gettin’ pass me, Locke!” He knew my name. That is never a good thing when a bully knows your name.
It was at that moment the bully revealed his supernatural powers and his shadow started to move at the same time he stood still. That shadow split, one becoming two, each solidifying on separate sides of him. I couldn’t believe my eyes as the one bully transformed into a wall of bullies. I didn’t want to accept the fact that the school’s other two bullies had been hiding behind the biggest bully the whole time and after stepping out from behind him now flanked his both sides, but there they were, all three of them. “Yeah, Locke! You’re not gettin’ by us,” the second bully taunted. What were the chances that the only time in recorded history these three bullies would team up in an alliance of evil, would be that moment? What had I done to deserve being the poor sap that they would choose to team up against?
The smallest of the bullies chided, “What ya gonna do now, Locke? Cry to mommy?”
I’ll admit, the urge was there to burst into tears, and, briefly, I considered letting those tears flow. I could let them stream down my face as I begged for mercy, but that was the type of things bullies thrived for. If they made me cry now, they would never stop, taking every opportunity to may me cry again in the future; provided I had a future and survived this encounter – which was looking more and more unlikely. There would be no talking my way out, there would be no running away and there would certainly be no fighting my way through this, not against all three of them.
I was nine years old and I was going to die.
My only hope was in the door behind them and that looked miles away.
I decided to make a last ditch effort to reach the door. Maybe I could get past them, just maybe. I planted my boots firmly in the fresh snow. I took a slow deep breath and hoped I wouldn’t pee. If the Grim Reaper planned to claim me that day it wouldn’t be without a fight. With a last desperate ploy I exploded in pre-adolecent fury, screaming as loud as I could hoping to startle the trio, I aimed straight for a tiny sliver of empty space between the largest and smallest of the three. Drawing on the experience of every game of red rover, British bulldog and king of the castle I had ever played, my feet started to move and I began my charge at those three dirty rascals.
I took one step, slipped on a patch of ice, fell face first in the snow and all three bullies piled on top of me.
Everything went black.
===Part 1 of 3===