(Make sure you read Part One to get a full understanding of what led to Part Two)
The clocks slowly ticked that Thursday. Nervousness and electricity was in the air. The tension that surrounded R. and my friends had never been so thick. We hadn’t said a word to each other since the day he tried to piledrive my friend, K. Dirty looks were exchanged on a daily basis. R. never knew what was going on.
After school, R. took pleasure in swinging on the swing set. As R. kicked his legs back and forth to get high as he could, my friends and I got in position in the wooded area. K. took it upon himself to be the bait. Waiting for R. to complete his swing, K. punched R. in the lower back as hard as he could. The strike startled R., leaving him somewhat hurt and furious. Just as we’d hoped, R. gave chase. R. followed K. to the wooded area before K. turned around to seemingly lead him back to their original confrontation spot. Before R. could get a running start, I exited my hiding spot, jumping onto R.’s back.
This time, R. wasn’t ready. My weight and R.’s forward momentum sent R. to the ground. I clutched my hands together, lifting them above my head. R. had no time to ready himself for the double fist slam that smacked the back of his head. The attack left R. rocked enough that I could stand up and drop all of my weight across his lower back without retaliation. I kept my position atop R.’s lower back, holding him in place so one of my friends could whack him on the head and back with the sticks we scavenged. Our assault on R. lasted for another minute or so when a few students alerted the teachers about what was going on. We stopped our actions when approached by the teachers, knowing full well that the punishment we would face wouldn’t compare to the joy of vindication.
R.’s guardian arrived not long after the fight was broken up, as did my mom. When R. refused to verbally defend himself by telling his side of the story, and my friends and I sticking together when telling the truth, we walked away with a literal slap on the wrists as our punishments.
R. didn’t return to school the next day. Monday arrived and so did R. But there was a noticeable difference in his demeanor. The once boisterous R. was a lot more reserved and mindful of his words. By the middle of May, R. was a complete team player and potential friend. R. proved that during the annual Field Day competition where the highest grade (the sixth) classmen would captain teams of five. Interestingly enough, R. was placed on my team. R. took every order I gave him to heart and offered strategic input whenever he could. R. proved to be one of the top players of the entire game – the obvious MVP of my team.
Unfortunately, R. seriously injured his hand during the second to last game. Everyone felt bad for R. as he was finally gaining true acceptance by fellow students and teachers alike before his injury. R. would have to go to the hospital and didn’t come back to school for the remainder of the semester.
I would actually have a class with R. four years later in high school. R.’s attitude was still friendly to me. We didn’t see much of each other after he dropped the class, but I was happy to know he had carried on in life like he did during his last days with us at our old school.
Whenever I recount this story, I do it with a smile. I smile not because of what we did, but why we did it – a group of friends who stuck together to make sure none of us got hurt. I also smile because I know how good of a person R. became after that day. Wherever R. is, I hope he’s doing well.