The second half of my sixth grade year was tumultuous. Actually, it became a troubled time for my friends as well. Around February that year, a new kid showed up after being enrolled. This guy – who I’ll refer to as “R.” from now on – had an obvious chip on his shoulder. Being two years older than all of us (he started school a year late and was held back respectively), R. had and elder swagger with a bad boy mentality. R. knew he was bigger than us. R. thought he had seen and done more things than we could’ve imagined. And, most importantly, R. believed he could put us on the ground any time he wanted.
But that’s not to say R. came in throwing his weight around and being a bully. Actually, R. was a pretty cool guy for the first few weeks. Not long after R.’s enrollment, I cut my left shin on a piece of glass. Like any boy, I showcased my new scar like a badge of honor. R. also had a few scars; giving us the chance to bound over something so trivial, yet profoundly meaningful to us. But not long after those days did things get serious.
R. decided to get a little too rough with one of my friends – K. – during a friendly sparring session on the playground. K. put a little too much power in his right jab and popped R. hard enough that he became infuriated and went to piledrive my friend after kicking him in the stomach. For those who don’t know what it is to “piledrive” someone, the attack involves the attacker turning his victim upside down before dropping him on his head by sitting down. The devastating maneuver is a broken neck waiting to happen.
Seeing the danger K. was in, I rushed R., jumping on his back. Sadly for me, R. was prepared and widened his base enough that he could keep his balance. After tossing my friend to the wayside, I was hurled off R. like a sack of potatoes. The sickening thud of my body hitting the dusty ground was only matched by the wind being knocked out of me. Unaware of what was going on thanks to the fall, R. took the opportunity to stomp me in the chest for good measure.
I clutched my chest as R. stood over me to say, “Don’t ever do that again! I’ll beat the f*** outta you!”
K. shoved R. away from his fallen buddy, only to see R. rear back in an attempt to punch him. Smartly throwing his arms up to block the incoming strike, K. became an object of R.’s laughter as he walked away.
K. and I went to the bathroom to clean ourselves off when I was able to catch my breath. Knocking the dust out of my hair, I thought about our retaliation. K. could’ve gotten his neck broken because of something silly. I got my chest stomped in. We couldn’t let that stand.
My dad picked me up that day as usual, and I eventually explained what happened. Not trying to advocate violence, my dad told me that sometimes you have to stand up and fight fire with fire to ensure situations like the beating I sustained wouldn’t happen again.
The week flew by, as did the weekend that followed. All I could think about was my plan of attack. I scoured the playground and surrounding areas to figure out how I could take the much larger R. down and keep him down long enough to really give him a good thrashing.
By Wednesday, I sat four of my good friends down to tell them my plan. Though only two of us, including me, were involved in an altercation with R., the rest of our friends understood that any one of us could be next if we weren’t careful. My plan was relatively simple. Not far from the playground was a wooded area with a clear path to the playground where people could hide without being seen. One of us would lure R. over to the wooded area so the rest of us could take him down and wear him out. After doing a supply run for large sticks, we decided that Thursday would be our day.