Chapter 4: Bradley gets attention
Before Mike knew it, December had arrived. He had pulled it off. He hadn’t talked to Cindy for a whole two months. It was tough, but he had done it. Now he wished he could do the same to prevent himself from failing English.
On December fifth, Mike was late for school. When he arrived in school it was ten o’clock in the morning. He didn’t even attend his first class; he went straight to the office to get an admit slip. When he finally got to class, it was ten-ten A.M.
“Il est en retard!” shrieked his French teacher, Mrs. Callé poking her nose in the air as if she was trying to squash a fly on the ceiling.
“I know,” Mike groaned.
“Take your seat and I don’t want to hear a sound from you!” she screeched. Her voice was so shrill and high-pitched it sounded like sharp, pointed nails being run down a blackboard. She was a small woman, but had a voice that could break glass if she stood too close to it. Mike couldn’t understand why the school hadn’t used her to replace the school bells. He knew Mrs. Callé would get everyone running to class and shutting the door to get rid of the ringing in their ears.
“Quelle est la date aujourd’hui? ”
She stared directly at Mike.
“Nous sommes mardi le cinq décembre deux mille huit,” Cindy spoke out sounding as if she was fluent in the language.
“Quel âge as-tu? ” asked Mrs. Callé smashing her chubby fist on Mike’s desk.
“Um, uh…je suis très bien,” Mike jittered being directed away from his distraction.
“Tut, tut, tut,” said Mrs. Calé shaking her finger in his face. “Angela, why don’t you give it a try?”
“J’ai quatorze ans,” said Angela proudly. Mike just ignored her. That girl really did believe she was a master at the French language. The truth was, she wasn’t. She’d failed many of the easiest tests that even Mike had been able to pass with at least seventy percent. Mike knew it had probably taken many months for her to pronounce and understand the sentence she had just uttered.
While Angela was answering the question, Mike looked at Cindy again and saw Bradley’s fist punch his open palm. Then the bell rang.
“This is pathetique! ” cried Mr.s Calé. “I ask two questions and the class is over, oh Mon dieu! ”
The principal had neglected to inform the school that the school bells weren’t working properly and classes weren’t actually only ten minutes that day. Luckily, the problem was fixed by the beginning of second period.
Mike’s next class was Design and Technology, a subject involving metal and wooden craft construction. The D.T. teacher was Mr. Billet and he really didn’t fit the profile of a D.T. teacher at all. Mr. Billet would show up in class wearing very handsome looking suits which would be covered in sawdust by the end of the day. He had short tufts of grey hair on the top of his head and a large moustache that looked like someone had placed a comb over his upper lip. He would always have proper gloves or goggles on when he was working, but then he just looked ridiculous. Mike’s D.T. teacher appeared like a businessman giving a lecture to students.
Surprisingly though, today there was no sawdust, wood shavings, or any other material on his suit that would make a drycleaner scream. He was perfectly clean in his dark blue suit and even his white shirt and burgundy tie weren’t stained. Mike noticed he was wearing big brown work boots that stood out from the rest of his outfit. He was teaching the class how to saw a piece of plywood in half. No one was really paying attention as he explained how straight the saw should be. Beth Olden even yawned out loud as the D.T. teacher rambled on about the use of a saw. Mr. Billet usually took up half the class speaking before he ever gave out any assignments that the students could actually work on.
Then, once they all thought the lecture was over, the suit-attired teacher asked one student named George Franz to practice slicing the piece of plywood. Everyone watched unenthusiastically as Mr. Billet guided George through the steps as if he was cautiously teaching a child how to turn on a stove. They all nearly fell asleep until George cried he had cut off his finger. But it was only a minor cut on the top of his thumb. Mr. Billet gave George a bandage and everyone stared in horror at the deadly saw.
The morning, to Mike, had passed him pretty quickly and when lunch approached, he wondered if the rest of the day would disappear quickly or drag by slowly. During lunch, Mike listened to music on his iPod mini as he slowly walked down the hill. As The Beatles’s “Day Tripper” played through his headphones, he saw two hands strike him in his left shoulder and push him to the ground. Mike fell with his iPod falling out of his coat pocket and sliding down the icy slope. His attacker picked up his iPod mini.
“Say Mike, this yours?” Bradley asked. He removed his black hood so Mike could associate the voice with the face. Without an answer, he continued. “You know, I would steal your iPod but I already have one so I’ll do something better.” Mike watched helplessly as Bradley smashed the blue iPod mini on the icy ground and the screen filled up with cracks like a spider’s web. Then the bully tossed the destroyed device back to its owner. Mike awkwardly caught his iPod and stuffed it back into his pocket. Soon a bunch of boys arrived, sensing a fight. Bradley smiled; he had an audience. To Bradley, bullying was a performance; it had to be watched and enjoyed. And the bully knew that his audience wouldn’t leave disappointed. “I saw you looking at Cindy today. I warned you, Mike. Now you’re gonna get it good!” Then he lifted Mike off the ground. The crowd began chanting: “Fight! Fight! Fight!” as Bradley threw Mike against the icy hill. Mike had never been bullied out of jealousy. For the first time in his life he felt that he had an advantage over Bradley. So instead of being the sore loser always being pushed around, Mike decided to stand up for himself. When Bradley’s fist headed straight for his face, he grabbed it and held on. Bradley was surprised at this and the crowd too was getting excited. Bradley couldn’t believe Mike was getting all the attention; he couldn’t allow this. He grabbed Mike by the right shoulder. “You’re going down, man.”
“You know, I’m not.”
The crowd was in awe. Bradley was getting agitated. “What did you say?”
“You heard me, I’m not gonna put up with your bullying anymore.”
Bradley snorted. “We’ll see about that.” He lifted up his fist, aiming to break Mike’s nose, when Cindy appeared.
“Bradley, what are you doing?” she shrieked. She couldn’t believe what she saw and ran to inform Mr. Billet, who was the teacher on duty, of the fight that had broken out. Soon, Mr. Billet was running towards the scene. But Bradley’s moment of fame wasn’t up yet. The crowd, Cindy, and Mr. Billet watched as Bradley’s fist went crashing down on Mike’s face, knocking out his victim.
A few minutes later, Mike awoke staring into the beautiful, bright blue eyes of Cindy Welkey. “You O.K.?” she asked.
“W…what happened?” asked Mike in a daze. He was still slowly regaining consciousness.
“Bradley knocked you out.” Mike looked around; he could not see Bradley anywhere. “I don’t see him.”
“He’s in the office for what he did. You sure you’re O.K.?” She sounded seriously worried as she stared at the big purple bulge that looked like a small plum on Mike’s right eye.
“Yeah,” replied Mike as if he was perfectly relaxed.
“It’s just that you have a black eye and a bloody lip.” She then reached into her blue Coach purse and handed him a tissue.
“Thanks.” He took the tissue and wiped the blood from his lip.
“The office has called your parents. I decided to wait with you until they came.”
“That was very generous of you.” Mike felt very stupid as Cindy just smiled at him. This cliché conversation was going nowhere. Thankfully, Mike’s mother soon appeared on the lip of the hill.
“Sorry I’m a little bit late,” she said. “I tried to come as soon as I could.”
“I’ll leave you two alone,” said Cindy as she got up and started to head for the school doors. Mike didn’t want her to leave and luckily his mother stopped her.
“Thank you for watching over Mike until I came,” she said gratefully.
“Here.” She handed Cindy a ten-dollar bill.
“Oh, I couldn’t,” said Cindy trying to push the money away.
“No, please take it, you’ve been a great help.” Cindy knew this wasn’t the time to argue, so she took the bill out of Mike’s mother’s hand.
Soon, Cindy disappeared behind the school doors. Once she was gone, Mike got up from the ground and his mother helped him walk to the office.
Once they were in the office, Mike’s mother told the woman at the front desk that she was taking Mike to the doctor. Mike didn’t think he’d ever understand mothers. He hadn’t needed help walking to the destination since his legs hadn’t been crippled and he also didn’t need to see a doctor because he knew that there was nothing more Dr. Morris could do for him. But Mike, of course, didn’t tell his mother any of this.
He had been in the office before. It had a large brown counter a few feet away from the door and seven chairs lined up against its wall. The school got a lot of people to deal with every single day and so they needed the extra chairs. Luckily, the principal, Ms. Charles, was not at the counter; one of her assistants was instead. According to the students in Barkley, when anyone was sent to the office for misbehaving, she would strangle them, break their arm, or do something even worse. Mike had seen her a few times and she did not give off that sort of impression. But he was not taking any chances, so he was thankful of her absence. He wanted to get out of this office as soon as possible. He grabbed his mother by the arm and pulled her outside before she could start explaining the reason they were leaving.In Room three of the doctor’s office, Mike’s mother told Dr. Catherine Morris that Mike had tripped and fallen down a hill.
That’s a load of shit! thought Mike. He couldn’t believe that the office hadn’t told his mother that he had been beaten up. He knew that might give away that he was being bullied, but he didn’t want people to think he had very delicate skin. The school must have said this in order to protect their establishment.
After his mother had disclosed this news, Dr. Morris asked Mike’s mother politely to leave the room so she could examine Mike’s eye privately. When Mike’s mother had left, Dr. Morris picked up an ophthalmoscope and used it to look into the damaged eye. While she was examining him, she said, “I don’t believe you fell, I believe something much worse happened.” Mike didn’t say anything for a while.
“Don’t tell my mom,” he uttered.
“I won’t,” nodded Dr. Morris. “But I feel you should tell her. And if you come back here again with another black eye or worse a broken arm, I will tell her.”
“Is he O.K.?” asked Mike’s mother opening the door.
“Yes, he’s fine,” replied the doctor. “He had a nasty fall.” She looked straight at Mike when she said this. “And his eye got a bit damaged but as long as he doesn’t touch it, or fall again, he’ll be fine.”
“Well, thank you for your help,” said Mike’s mother, relieved.
Then Mike and his mother left the doctor’s office.
When they arrived home, Mike’s mother got a phone call from the school. It was the principal telling her that Mike was failing English and that she needed to talk to her about Mike’s “little accident”.
“What’s there to talk about?” she asked worriedly. “He only fell.”
“I’m afraid you’re mistaken on that one Mrs. Roberts,” came the reply.