===Part 3 of 3===
Face down in the snow with a trio of bullies piled on top of me, punching and pounding, everything went black. The hood of my big winter coat had slipped up over my head as I fell, pushing the wool hat I had been wearing down over my eyes. I was blinded in this most desperate time. I could hear the sounds of three sets of fist landing blow after blow on my body. Trapped in the cave of my winter parka, under layers of bully bodies, I was unable to move, defend myself or fight back. As I laid there I suddenly realized that there was no pain in their punches. They didn’t hurt. The winter coat I was wrapped in was so big, so bulky, so puffy, that it absorbed every punch the bullies struck. It felt more like they were pushing me rather then beating me. In my mind flashed this image of me as a large turtle safely hiding in its protective shell as hungry predators tried unsuccessfully to find a way through to the sweet, tasty meat inside.
I found this funny.
Whenever I find something funny I laugh. This situation, though dire, was no different and I started laughing out loud. They couldn’t hurt me.
The noise of the beating stopped and, muffled, through the hood of my winter coat, I heard one bully question with unbelief, “He’s laughing?” My cave of darkness suddenly exploded with light as my hood was yanked back from my head. Still pinned, my face was melting an impression of itself in the cold snow to which it was pressed and all I could see of my attackers was a knee inches from my nose. One voice, cruel like jagged gravel, hot and foul, spoke near my ear. “Locke, are you laughing?”
Not having yet learned the value of a good lie I answered in truth, “Yes!” I wanted to explain how funny it was that none of their punches hurt, but just thinking of it made me laugh that much more and I couldn’t get the words out. This infuriated my attackers and the bullies started punching harder, faster and more often, all to no avail. My big winter coat absorbed every blow and I laughed more and more. The more I laughed the more furious those three bullies would grow. The more furious those three bullies would grow the more determined they would punch. The more determined they would punch the more I would laughed. The more I would laughed the more furious those three bullies would grow… And so it spiraled, an ever accelerating circle.
Suddenly the punches stopped, and the weight of three bodied holding me to Mother Earth vanished. I discovered I could lift my face out of the snow and wasted no time jumping to my feet, still laughing as snow slid from my parka of protection. During the struggle we had somehow managed to get turned around so now I stood facing the three boys with my back to the door. I stood between them and the school. All three looked pale, each with an expression that very few of the students in my school had ever seen on there faces; the look of fear. They were afraid of me! I wanted to say, how are you getting past me now, punks? But, I was laughing too hard to get any words out at all.
Then a voice, deep and stern, towered up behind me and my laughter stopped. “Boys, I asked you a question, what’s going on here?” The bullies quaked, one may have been having bladder issues. I turned around and there standing in the door way, his head nearly touching the crossbeam, was Mr. Sparkes. He looked twelve feet tall. The expression on his face was of displeasure. He hated having to use the strap but that didn’t stop him from doing so when required and fighting on school grounds would be one of those required times. He didn’t look happy, and that was a most frightening sight to behold in fourth grade. When no one answered his question he looked to me. “Bradley,” he asked, “are these boys picking on you?”
All I had to do was say yes, a simple three-letter word, yes, and all three of them would be escorted to the principals office were detentions, straps and phone calls to parents awaited. I glanced back over my shoulder at the bullies. The three pitiful souls stood there in fear with heads down. They knew the trouble they were facing. One of the bullies looked up at me. He must have gotten something irritating in his eye during the attack because he seem very close to tearing up. With my 9 year old sense of humor I found the fact that this bully was on the verge of crying absolutely hilarious. That instant I realized their fate rested with me. I started giggling and turned back to Mr. Sparkes with a huge smile on my face and laughed as I said. “No sir, they weren’t picking on me, we were playing, having fun!”
The principal looked at me puzzled, what I was saying didn’t match with what he witnessed through doors of the school; me under a pileup of the three known bullies with punches being thrown. Yet he couldn’t deny the expression of joy on my face, the look of pure happiness, the laughter I couldn’t contain. He shook his head, all he could do was admonish us for being late and sent us off to our separate classes .
In all the remainder of my days at elementary school, I was never bothered by bullies again.