“What are you lookin’ at? You wanna be famous?” The big kid asked.
Josh froze. He wanted to say something, but couldn’t make his mouth form the words. The big kid looked around at all of the other boys and girls, standing in a circle, bearing witness to today’s entertainment.
“That’s what I thought you’d say.” And with that pronouncement, the bully turned back to the task at hand – pummeling the small kid Josh had never seen before. The bully he knew – Mac Evans.
Mac had been pushing around smaller kids for as long as Josh could remember, and he had plenty to choose from since pretty much everyone was smaller than Mac. They weren’t even finished with eighth grade yet and already Mac was pushing six feet in height and probably weighed close to 200 pounds.
Mac’s latest victim (Reed, he thought someone had called him) was new to the school and so was unaware of what it took to avoid Mac’s notice and subsequent wrath: Don’t be famous.
Being famous to Mac meant standing out in any way that Mac didn’t like. He kept a “Wall of Fame” in his room that held photos of all the kids he’d made famous over the years for the beat-downs he’d given them.
Reed was very short, skinny, sported red hair, wore a band jacket and had been carrying a study bible right up until Mac made his first statement that the bullying was about to begin by knocking it out of his hand. Immediately a crowd gathered round to watch the “entertainment”, including Josh.
“Better him than us,” Josh’s friend Dave said quietly.
They watched in silence as Reed stepped over to his bible and bent to pick it up. He was met by a kick to his hip that sent him sprawling to the ground.
“Leave it!” Mac bellowed.
Reed sat on the ground for a moment and rubbed what Josh assumed would become a very large bruise.
Then he began to stand up.
“What’s he doing?” Dave asked as Mac stepped up and gave Reed a monstrous shove that put him right back on the ground.
“And don’t get up until I say so!”
The other kids started to let Mac know they didn’t want to be next.
“That’s showin’ him!”
“Stay down kid, if you know what’s good for ‘ya!”
Mac had a good memory for his cheering section and would leave kids alone for days, sometimes weeks, if they were enthusiastic in their support of him thrashing someone else. Josh was ashamed to admit he had taken advantage of that benefit from time to time himself.
To everyone’s alarm, Reed was getting back up. Mac was so astonished that he was actually dumbfounded for a moment and just stood in surprised amazement. Everyone else quieted down, as well. There was complete silence as Reed took his first step towards his bible again.
“Omigod! Omigod! He’s going to die!” Dave started blabbering.
Josh was never sure if Reed saw it coming, but suddenly the ham that Mac called a fist was slamming against the small kid’s nose. Blood spurted, some of it landing on Mac’s shirt, and Reed spun around and landed face first on the ground.
There was no cheering now – only shocked silence as the violence of the moment sunk in. Even Mac looked a little frightened at how things had just spun out of control. His eyes were wide, his nostrils flaring and spit flew from his mouth as he yelled at Reed like a crazy man.
“I said ‘DON’T GET UP!’” Then he turned and gave Reed’s bible a huge kick that sent it flying across the circle that had formed to land at Josh’s feet.
Mac spun around, looking at each kid there, daring someone to tell him he’d crossed a line. Nobody did. No one even met his gaze. They all just stood looking at their feet.
Including Josh. His feet – where the kicked bible now lay. As he contemplated what he was about to do, Josh heard those words in his head again.
“You wanna be famous?”
Josh didn’t want to be famous. He wanted to hide. He looked at Reed again, on the ground and bleeding, but still struggling to get back up.
Josh picked up the bible and carried it over to his fellow Christian.
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