I have to admit Joey was different. He arrived in our classroom at the beginning of summer term and Miss Miles introduced him. “This is Joey Tyson. He’s just moved here from out of town and he’ll be joining our class.” There was a spare seat beside me and Miss Miles decided that Joey would sit there. “Lucy-Anne, make some space will you. And help Joey with his books and stationery.”
Well, Joey settled in pretty fast. He looked like a computer geek with his curly hair and round glasses and he also thought like one. Talk about smart. Anyway, the boys labelled him straight away. “Joey Different.” They would chant as he walked down the hall. “Joey Different. Joey Different.” If you could see Joey, you would understand why. Although he was our age, he stood head and shoulders above all of us. And he was so skinny; his knees made me think of meatballs on spaghetti ropes.
It didn’t seem to bother Joey in the slightest, though. He lived in a world of techno-gadgets and was always busy on some project. One week it was photographing tadpoles. Another week he compiled a CD of memories for us girls. He had all the equipment of course. Cell phone, digital camera, video camera, laptop computer, DVD writer… his dad worked in computers and as he upgraded, he would pass stuff on to Joey.
There was one thing that upset Joey, however, and that was the bullies: Brian, Malcolm and Tony. They strutted round the school like they owned it and we were all victimised in different ways. They stole from us and pushed us in the mud. They hid our homework, scribbled in our books and pulled our hair. If we dared to say anything, they would simply double their attacks and the worst thing was, we could never prove it was them. I was scared of them and had reported them to Miss Miles more than once. “I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” She would say, but nothing changed. Even when they misbehaved in front of her, she seemed to turn a blind eye.
“Lucy-Anne, I’m going to teach them a lesson.” Joey confided in me one day. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so said nothing but thought, yeah, right.
Several weeks passed and I’d survived exams and chickenpox when the bullies got hold of me on the field. “Here, Brian, catch.” Brian lifted my bottle into the air and watched the juice drain out.
“Mmm. Fancy cake.” Sniffed Tony who’d opened my lunchbox. “Did Mommy bake it for you?” He shovelled a handful into his mouth. I was almost crying by the time they had stomped on my sandwiches and pulled my ponytail. Where was Miss Miles when I needed her?
Brian was the first one to see Joey loping across the field. “Hah. Joey Different, Joey Different. Coming to the rescue are you?”
The three bullies lined up and waited for him to get closer. I was shaking in my shoes. Joey was an okay sort of person and I didn’t want him to get hurt. I needn’t have worried though. Joey was waving a CD in the air as he shouted to them. “I’m tired of you bullies. I’m tired of you thinking you can do as you please.”
Malcolm took a step forward. “I’m so scared, Joey.” He mocked.
Joey held up the disc. “I’ve been tracking you boys all term with my cameras.”
Malcolm laughed. “You can’t prove anything.”
Joey smiled confidently. “Remember the day you tipped Carla’s bag into the mud? That’s on here. And how about the time you stole $5 from Miss Miles’ desk? I’ve filmed you taking lunchboxes and pushing people around; destroying property and following children home.”
Brian suddenly jumped at Joey and tried to grab the CD. Joey simply held it in the air. “Don’t snatch Brian. It’s bad manners. This is actually your copy anyway. I’ve several of my own plus it’s on my computer and my dad’s. Have fun watching it.”
He tossed the disc to them and helped me gather my belongings. The three bullies stood there, uncertain, afraid. As we walked past, Joey gave them a final warning. “If I see you bullying anyone, ever again, that CD will go straight to the principal.”
“Joey,” I said. “You’re a great guy. Never stop being different will you?”
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