I hated Allen. We all did.
He'd been a fag before, two years prior, played drums for one of our shitty bands, and was fucking awesome, was like a taller, younger Lars, but when he'd hit puberty,
he metamorphosized into an asshole. A jock. He'd joined the dark side.
Still, as much as I disliked him, part of me worried for him. With his brace face, he shouldn't have been fighting, and certainly shouldn't be trying to fight a gorilla like Lenard.
I figured Lenard would bash open his face and I could envision the metal wires of Allen's braces mangled, his face a bloody car wreck, or maybe Lenard might just rip him limb by limb.
That challenge, that gym class, was in the morning, and after that, the rest of the day, we didn't mention it, talk about it, but we all knew it would happen. It was a tacit understanding.
It was inevitable.
I think we fags were quite looking forward to it, on some level, seeing a fag fucking rock asshole Allen. Allen, that piece of shit, that traitor, that Benedict Arnold. Fucking Darth Vader.
Lenard, our Luke, and like 5 of us fags skipped the 7th and final period, smoked weed in the woods, and debated what was better, the horror movie "Carrie" or its book.
Then we walked over to the bleachers for the fight.
Lenard was unnaturally calm; his eyes crimson; his face dark as a cave.
The rest of us, while sky high, were amped up.
Two of us had mace; one had a bottle of hairspray he stole from a girl's locker, which he paired with a lighter, to create a makeshift flamethrower, and I had a can of insect repellent ready.
All this in case the other jocks jumped us.
We were flanked to the side by a short hairy Greek kid who whistled and mockingly sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy" clapping and slapping rhythmically on his thighs and chest.
It was our best attempt at drums of war.
When we got there, Allen stood at the ready, 6 or 7 big burly jocks to his rear, reinforcing him, clustered shoulder to shoulder, a parabola of smirking dickheads.
As we stepped under the shadow of the bleachers, away from the amber afternoon, Allen shoved Lenard, hard, and yelled, "Let's go, bitch!"
Lenard stood stolid.
WHAP! Allen pushed Lenard again, this time harder, the sound like a muffled gun shot. But Lenard didn't buckle. Not one bit.
Lenard, barely moving, did nothing, stood and stared blankly at Allen.
Then Lenard's skin shifted. It was as if he'd been hit with a bucket of ice. He went pale as a ghost and spoke, meekly, "I don't want to fight you."
Allen, confused, forehead furrowed, eyes narrowed, replied, "What? Come on, don't be a fucking pussy!"
Lenard's red eyes got glassy; his voice cracking, he muttered, "No, I don't want to," and a single tear slid down his cheek.
Allen turned to his friends, the ensemble of assholes, who looked bewildered. A chubby black kid in a baggy FUBU shirt shook his head and shrugged his shoulders wordlessly.
"I'm going to fuck you up!" screamed Allen, as he swung back towards Lenard and crept up, got mere inches away from Lenard's grill, on him like a drill instructor.
Lenard stood stoically, sucking his cheeks, and began to shed more tears.
"I'll fucking kick your ASS!" threatened Allen, his voice seesawing, and he'd stressed that syllable in "ass" with a prophetic intensity.
Allen feinted, mocked a right cross at Lenard. Lenard didn't flinch, just stood, ten toes on the ground. Despite the tears, he was impassive. The tears seemed more mechanical than hot.
Allen tilted his head, jutting out his square jaw, and peered over at his crew. Some were chuckling. Some were whispering to each other. The chubby kid again shrugged his shoulders.
"Alright then, if you don't want to fight, drop to your knees and kiss my shoe," commanded Allen, pointing to his shiny white and purple, puffy Reebok Pumps.
"And you'll leave me alone?" asked Lenard, unwavering, though his voice taking on a more hopeful, higher register.
"Yup. Kiss it." Allen affirmed, still pointing to his right foot, that 100 something dollar shoe.
Lenard dropped down, his gigantic frame folding, and got on his knees, like a dog, crouched and smooched the shoe, the kiss touching the toe vamp, and then slowly rose back up.
"Oh my God!" cried one of the jocks, as they broke into hysterical, cackling laughter.
" scoffed Allen, who waved a hand in Lenard's direction like he was swatting a fly, and he shook his head at his crew, in disdain and disgust, and they all, at once,
clotted together and sauntered off hooting and hollering, the fucking pack of wolves, and one of them screamed "fags!" at us.
Lenard wiped his nose with his forearm and began to walk off in the other direction. His face bore no hint of emotion.
The rest of us looked at each other, unsure what to say. Lenard went off towards the woods, alone, and none of us followed him.
The rest of us retreated to a parent-free home, ripped bong hits in the basement and played Streetfighter.
We didn't talk much about what'd gone down, aside from one of us, violet mohawk Mike, who pontificated, like, "Dude, I don't know why he didn't fight. He's much bigger.
He could have fucking killed Allen if he wanted."
I can't remember who, but someone replied, "He's like the white Gandhi." And that was the last we mentioned it.
Looking back, if it'd happened today, I'm sure it'd been filmed by a cellphone, had made its way onto social media, likely gone viral.
Yet another reason I'm happy to have not grown up with aspects of today's Black Mirror, tech bullshit...
The next day, Lenard showed up to school in a mocha brown trench coat. He'd been quiet, and he looked different, like he was older, and he was paler, white as a bone.
We'd smoked a morning cigarette down the street with him, but he hadn't spoken, and had kept his head tossed back, his gaze at the milky morning sky. We weren't sure what to say to him.
Later that morning, before gym class, Lenard was in the locker room, getting dressed, and a skinny kid walked by, a kid who was with another crew of losers,
idiots always running around the hallways, playing "YOU ARE IT!" tag games.
This loser had these funny Alfred Neuman ears that always got flicked or pulled on by jocks, and Big Ears walked by Lenard, snickering, and said something about "Hey, kiss my shoe!"
Lenard spun around, grabbed a fistful of the kid's sandy blond hair, a big clump fixed at the root. Lenard cocked his huge right arm up in the air, in the shape of a C.
Big Ears also had braces, and I anticipated blood, massive amounts, about to be spilled.
But Lenard drew down his balled fist. Lightly pushed Big Ears away. Big Ears, terror of God on his face, clasped a trembling hand onto his ruffled hair and scampered off.
Lenard, who'd been changing into his gym clothes, instead got back into his street clothes, and coolly left the locker room...
That night the police showed up to my house.
From my bedroom window, I saw the cops, in two squad cars, pulling into my driveway, blue and red lights flashing, but no sirens.
I quickly snatched a bag of weed from my desk, ran to the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet.
A minute or two later, a clapping knock on my door.
Opening the door, my asshole older brother, in his clean white Duke sweatshirt and sweatpants, stood smiling in the threshold.
Lips barely moving through his shit-eating grin, he snorted and said, "Hey faggot, the fucking cops are here for you."
Walking downstairs, I pondered what had brought them. It could have been any number of things, but I suspected it was about drugs.
3 of the cops were in navy blue uniforms, perfectly creased, with shiny badges that glowed in the vestibule's buttery glare.
One of them, a slightly older, a late middle-aged, Fred Dreyfus looking fuck, wore a well-tailored, wolf gray pin-striped 3-piece suit.
They all looked serious, had angry, hornet faces, and all of them rested their hands on their belts or hips. One of them smelled strongly of Brut aftershave.
The cop in the wolf suit stepped forward, spoke from underneath his bushy mustache, and said solemnly that Lenard had taken a shotgun and killed himself and asked me what I knew about it.