After spending two days at home, Blake was more than ready to get back to school. He would never go so far as to call himself a nerd, but he liked school. Of course, there was the parade of eye candy. Blake liked getting a few glimpses of clothed backsides.
Ashley is another reason that he wants to get back to school. She makes an awesome friend, even if she is his aunt. Part of her allure is her mystery friend. Blake likes a phantom. He’s sure that on occasion their paths must have crossed at least once. Maybe today he’ll have a chance to meet him face to face. According to Ashley, his name is Ben. Ben isn’t the only reason he likes school. Blake has to admit that he likes the work. As anyone who knows this teen could tell you, Blake loves an academic challenge. He knows it’s the hours studying, learning and making connections that is going to help in college.
There is one major drawback: Rick. This kid has made school hellish for him. He’s glad that his dads understand his need to stand up and fight back. Without them, the past two months would have been even worse than they already were. Now if he could just ignore the bullies, his school days would be even better.
All he can think about is how Trace and Ian are okay with him defending himself. Ian knows that if his son fights back in any way, that he’ll end up being punished along with Rick and Juan. Trace doesn’t want Blake picking a fight, but he’s glad that Blake is willing to step up and defend himself. Blake still finds the streets much scarier than his bullies. It’s true, the streets are scarier, but Blake is still feeling the wear and tear from the constant bullying.
There is no doubt that the bullying is wearing on the young man, even if he won’t admit it to his dads or anyone else. Since the bullying started, it’s been harder for him to focus in class. His mind occasionally flips to Rick and Rick’s whereabouts. In fourth hour he’s worried about what Rick might have planned for him. He hurries through the hallways in hopes of escaping the eyes of Rick and Juan. All the speed and stealth in the world isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need Madame Luck smiling down on you to get through the school’s many hallways. Nowadays he can’t help being even more fearful of his tormentors. He doesn’t know when their next attack may come, or if it will ever come. It’s pretty cliché to say this, but the ball is in Rick and Juan’s court. Hopefully he can ignore them, or avoid them because he doesn’t really want to have to fight.
= = =
Around 8:45 am, Mr. DeSoto had Mrs. Hall call for Rick and Juan to come to his office. Rick doesn’t understand why he’s being called into the office along with Juan. As they enter the office, Mrs. Hall looks at them and says, “I want one of you to sit on that side of the office and the other one on this side.”
Rick looks at her and just smiles as he goes to sit down on the opposite side of the office. Juan is scared silly because he already knows what this visit is all about. Mrs. Hall has had it with Rick and his need to pick on people. Rick finds himself thinking that this is all Blake’s fault. In fact, the longer he sits there the angrier he becomes at Blake. Mr. DeSoto came out of his office to call the duo in. The vice principal had his game face on and it usually intimidated students. Unfortunately, it has no effect on Rick, but Juan, on the other hand, was more than nervous. Juan would have squealed on Rick except he was afraid of Rick. The boys sat across from Mr. DeSoto’s desk as Mr. DeSoto sat down behind it.
“Okay boys, let’s get down to business. I already know that Juan pushed Blake, but something is bothering me about the whole thing. Why would you just walk away?”
As he said the last sentence, he pointed to Rick. Rick was quiet and Juan was looking around for a chance to escape.
“I pulled a segment from the video from two days ago.”
He inserted a DVD into the DVD/Video combo and brought up the moment prior to Blake being pushed.
“Now Rick, I know that you’re not whispering sweet nothings into that young man’s ear, so why do you have Juan holding him?”
A smirk grew on Rick’s face as Mr. DeSoto spoke to him. He knew why Juan was holding Blake. Juan was just being a nice little lackey. Rick had planned this encounter down to the last detail. He even planned for this particular situation. He was not going to take the fall for this incident. Mr. DeSoto moved over to the DVD player again and sped it up till just after Blake was pushed.
“So did Rick tell you to do this?” Mr. DeSoto asked Juan. Juan sat there, not in defiance; instead he was trying to make the right choice. He was battling the voices in his head. His brain is saying, ’Don’t say anything or Rick will beat me up,’ while his heart is saying, ’You need to break away from Rick and spill your guts.’ Juan was fully aware of the man standing over him. Mr. DeSoto could tell that Juan was squirming in his seat. It’s a sure sign that a student needs a little nudging before he caves.
“Rick, out of my office for a second.”
Rick had seen this tactic before, but he knows that Juan won’t snitch on him. There is no reason for him to stick around, but leaving the office would make it look like he was guilty, which, of course, he was, but he’ll never admit to it. The bully got up and walked out of the office as Mr. DeSoto ordered. With the other student out of the room, Juan felt a weight lift off his shoulders. Mr. DeSoto backed off and walked to his desk.
“So, do you want to tell me anything?” Mr. DeSoto asked the student sitting in front of him. Juan wasn’t comfortable, but it was either now or never.
Juan just needed an opportunity to speak his mind. Mr. DeSoto realized it and had Rick leave his office. Juan was still nervous and scared because he knew Rick would get revenge, but he wanted out of this mess. Juan took a deep breath of air and then paused for a second or two.
“Rick planned everything. He knew if he pushed Blake that he would get suspended and have to be at home, so he had me push him because I haven’t been in trouble this year.”
“So Rick told you to push Blake down?” Juan just nodded his head. He wanted this mess to be over with and he wanted it over now.
“Yeah, he told me to push Blake down when he walked behind me, that way no one would know what he was up to. Mr. DeSoto, he threatened to beat me up if I snitched on him or if I failed to do what he told me to do.”
“Thanks for being honest with me. Juan, I’m giving you work detail for the week starting tomorrow after school. If you don’t show up, I’ll have no choice but to give you a week of ISS. You’re free to go.”
Mr. DeSoto got up from his desk and followed Juan out of his office. Pointing to Rick, he raised his voice and said, “Rick, get into my office!”
Rick was going to walk out of the office, but for kicks, he decided to oblige Mr. DeSoto. Maybe, he’ll piss off the old man. Rick sauntered into the vice principal’s office.
Mr. DeSoto had to admit that he really disliked some of the attitudes of the kids at school. They didn’t’ seem to be afraid of anything, which bothers him. These students were the ones who were always right and always went around throwing attitudes at teachers and staff. They are also the repeat offenders. Despite In School Suspension or Out of School Suspension, these kids come back to his office at least once or twice a week. Hopefully, this student will get the message.
Mr. DeSoto sat down at his desk. He quietly prepared his thoughts. Rick sneered at him. The teen wasn’t going to make this easy on the man in front of him. He was determined to stick to his lies.
“So you’re not only going around bullying one of my students, but you’re threatening the only person who you can claim as a friend?”
“And?” Rick didn’t care about anyone around him. Mr. DeSoto didn’t care about him, so why should he put forth any effort to care about him? As for Blake, he deserves everything that has happened to him and then some. Juan is just a pawn, a fool who sticks around, even though Rick treats him like crap. No one treats him with any consideration and he isn’t going to start treating anyone with respect now.
“‘AND?’ That’s the best you can do? Well, I’ve had enough of you and your mouth. I’m not going to give you OSS. You’ll spend two weeks cleaning part of the school and the other half in ISS. If you ditch school, I’ll send the police to your house and you’ll serve an additional week in ISS. Hmm, you’ll spend every day in ISS until you can show me that you deserve to be in my classrooms.”
“How can you do that? I didn’t do anything today. Juan is the one who pushed the kid to the floor.”
Mr. DeSoto was not buying his bull.
“I know that you didn’t push him, but you’ve been bullying this kid for weeks now, you’ve threatened him, and I know that you planned the whole thing. You had Juan push him so that you wouldn’t get in trouble. Well guess what? You’re in trouble.”
“Fine with me! Feel free to punish me. You might as well just call the police.”
Mr. DeSoto is now wondering what the kid meant by that.
“Now why would I do that?”
Rick sat there completely quiet. He was not going to tell him why he should call the police.
“So you’re not going to answer me?”
Rick was sitting there, very defiantly.
“Just sit there for a second!”
Mr. DeSoto left his desk and walked out of his office and into the nurse’s office. Meanwhile, Rick was debating what his next move was going to be.
Rick had to figure out whom to seize first. Blake had it coming. There is no way that he’s going to be in trouble and let Blake get away with it. He was going to make sure that the kid is going to be marked. Juan, the little trouble maker, squealed on him. The kid was warned; he’s got something major coming his way. He’s going to pound the kid. Blake first, Juan later, they have to pay. All he wants now is to leave this office.
Mr. DeSoto walked back into his office.
“So are you ready to answer me?
Again, Rick sat there and stared at Mr. DeSoto. Something suddenly hit the vice principal and he got an idea.
“I’m going to call your parents, which by law I have to do anyway.” He’s seen kids respond to this threat in a positive way.
The beatings that Rick has taken at the hands of his dad suddenly flooded back to Rick’s mind. Rick knows that he’ll get beat for getting in trouble.
“You do that and my dad will beat me black and blue and it will be all your fault.”
“Did I make you threaten Juan into pushing Blake?”
“No!” Rick said with just a bit of attitude. If Mr. DeSoto would just call the cops, he’d at least have protection from his dad.
Mr. DeSoto suddenly finds his mind troubled with the possibility of one of his pupils facing abuse. He couldn’t allow it.
“Rick, you better hope that this tale of your dad beating you isn’t one of your schemes.”
Mr. DeSoto left the office and went into Mr. Standford’s office, and from there he called Mrs. Green and the nurse. When the calls were completed, he walked back into his office.
“If you promise me to quit bullying my students, then I’ll see to it that you get the justice that you deserve. Do you agree?”
Rick had everything to gain from this play of DeSoto’s.
“K… K… I’ll leave the boys alone; now keep your part of the deal.”
Mr. DeSoto picked up the phone.
“Mrs. Green, I have a student in my office who needs your help.”
She told him that she would be in there in just a few minutes. Rick was amazed that someone actually would do this for him.
For over an hour, Rick and Mrs. Green talked about the abuse from his dad and ways to work around it. She also called CPS and then took Rick to the Nurse. Mrs. Green walked with Rick into the nurse’s office.
“Wait right here,” Mrs. Green said as she moved towards Miss Kremke’s inner office. When she reached the office door, she stuck her head inside.
“Laura, I have a student in your office who is being abused.”
“I’ll be right out.”
Mrs. Green returned to find Rick with his head down. Miss Kremke walked out and approached Rick. She smiled as she had him stretch out his arms. His arms were free of marks.
“I need you to lift up your shirt.”
As he lifted up his shirt, he turned around so that they could see his back. Across his back were marks, blemishes that could only come from a belt. From there, everything else was a blur. No one in Rick’s life has ever shown him this much compassion. All of this happened because he bullied Blake. What happens next for Rick can be best said simply by saying that ‘he lived happily ever after.’
Rick’s life does get better from this point on. His biggest change comes in the form of a new family, a family that will work with him to make even more changes in his life. His grades improved. The biggest change came after his punishment was over. His attitude had changed so much that there wasn’t room to harbor hatred or feelings of revenge.
Blake was in the cafeteria with Ian enjoying mini-pancakes, when Rick came up to them. He sat down without making eye contact with either Blake or Ian.
“Blake, can we talk for a second?”
Blake’s heart took a nosedive. He had a good week and now his torturer is back. Ian could tell that his son was worried. Who could blame him for being nervous? Ian stood up and dumped his tray.
“Look man, I’m sorry for being an ass. I hope someday that you can forgive me. I… I really have changed.”
Blake knows that he needs to forgive Rick, but he just doesn’t know if he can. As he sits there debating if he’ll accept the apology or not, Blake sees Ian watching and he decides to do the right thing. Blake reaches out his hand to Rick and says, “Apology accepted!” Rick felt a massive weight lifting off his shoulders. Now Blake could really focus on school since he didn’t have worry about Rick’s bullying. Rick was still there, as if he wanted something.
“Umm… if you need me to stop anyone from picking on you, just tell me.”
With that, Rick turned and walked away, leaving the cafeteria.
Ian walked back to his son. The look on Blake’s face worried Ian. Blake looked shocked; perhaps Rick said something vulgar to him. Rick didn’t seem angry though when he approached Blake, and he didn’t seem to be his normal self when he left.
“Is everything okay, Blake?”
“Yeah… things are great.”
Blake even sounded as if he was in shock. What did Rick say that would cause Blake to be in this surprised state?
“If everything is okay, then what’s up with the shocked look on your face?”
“He apologized to me and offered to beat up anyone who might pick on me. Dad, I think he’s flipped out or something.
Ian knew something major had happened in Rick’s life and with it; he had a change of heart.
Blake forgave Rick, but doubt was starting to creep into his mind. Blake didn’t like second guessing Rick’s intentions, so he decided to kick the doubt out of his head. He believed in people being able to change for the better. If anyone deserved a second chance, it was Rick. Blake wondered how he could really show Rick that he had forgiven him. All through first hour, it bugged him. Just before third hour, Rick approached Blake.
“Do you have a pencil I could borrow?”
Sure enough, Blake had an extra pencil. When he gave the pencil to him, a smile broke out across Rick’s face.
“Thanks man!” Rick said as he turned and went about his business. The scene didn’t go unnoticed. Ashley and Ben saw the whole thing unfolding in front of their eyes.
“Did you just see that?”
Ben just nodded his head. They had to get the story on whatever is happening with Rick. Ashley couldn’t believe the change that she just witnessed. Rick was glad to have someone who was being nice to him without the use of threats. Blake was smiling inside because finally he had a new friend. He couldn’t wait to tell Trace and Ian.
Ian noticed that Blake was unusually quiet on the way home. He continued to watch his son for signs of distress. Either Blake was covering up something, or he was deep in thought.
“Blake, are you okay?”
“Yeah Dad, I’m fine!” Blake wanted to tell Ian and Trace about what was going on when they were both together.
“Blake, are you sure that you’re okay?”
“Honestly Dad, I’m fine!”
Blake felt better than fine, he felt great. It’s not every day that a bully is stopped dead in his tracks.
When they arrived at home, Blake jumped right out of the car and ran up to the front door. He took his key out and opened it. As he was walking up the stairs, he could hear voices. Thinking that Trace must be home, he dropped his backpack and went back down to see who was in the house. As he got to the bottom of the stairs, he saw Ian and Michael.
“Hey Blake, what’s up man?”
“Not much Mike, just going to start my homework. Dad, when Trace gets home would you let me know?”
Blake didn’t even wait for an answer before walking upstairs. He got into his room and closed the door. Homework is calling and he wants to get it done early. Tonight, he wants to talk with his dads and then see about going out to do some photography with Ashley.
= = =
With his work done, Blake is still upstairs looking through Ian’s newest National Geographic Magazine. It’s a race between Ian and Blake to see who gets to it first. While his dad reads the articles, Blake is more interested in the photos.
“Man, I’d love to have a print out of the magazine for my room. I don’t know which one I want, but it would be awesome to have one.”
When he finished reading the magazine, Blake put it back in the office. Blake could hardly contain himself. Maybe he should just call Trace. No, he’ll wait ‘til his dad is home.
Trace didn’t get home ‘til around six o’clock. Ian and Blake had already had dinner by this time, and Ian had put Trace’s dinner in the fridge for him. Blake gave him time to eat and to see Ian before springing his news on them. His dads were sitting in the dining room discussing their day.
They turned, looked at him and greeted him, and then went back to their talking.
“I have big news!”
Blake’s face is beaming with excitement. If he is excited over Rick’s turnaround, what will he be like when he finds himself a boyfriend?
“Are you going to stand there or tell us?” Trace asked, teasing Blake just a little bit.
“Something happened with Rick; he apologized and even offered to handle any other bullying issues that I might have. I’ve got yet another friend to add to my little circle.”
“Awesome!” Trace said as he raised his hand to high five Blake.
“Is this an act or for real?” Ian didn’t want to cast doubts, but he doesn’t totally believe that Rick has changed. Blake gave his dad a weird look.
“I think he’s pretty genuine. Rick really seemed remorseful to me.”
“Well, if you trust him, then that is good enough for me. I’m sorry that I doubted him.”
Ian stood up and gave his son a hug. Just as dad and son broke off their hug, the phone rang in the living room. Trace went to answer it, but Blake was a little faster.
Blake had no idea at the time, but this phone call was going to change his life.
“Hello,” Blake answered the phone and his voice still had a bit of excitement in it.
“Hey nephew, why are you so happy?”
Blake wasn’t the only one who had excitement in their voice.
“I’ve got a new friend.”
“Really and who might that be?”
“Rick!” Blake said all excited.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I am, and it’s all good. He’s alright.”
“If you say so, Blake, but I’m not sure about him. Just be careful, will you?”
Doesn’t she understand that Rick is a changed person? Ashley almost hung up the phone, but then she remembered that she needed to tell Blake something.
“Blake, I have a friend who wants to meet you.”
“Is this someone I’m going to want to meet?”
Blake could use more friends, but a part of him is hoping that this person is the guy from the photo.
“Yeah, you want to meet this person.”
The way she said it left little doubt about the identity of Ashley’s friend.
“So are you going to meet my friend or not?”
Blake thinks to himself, ‘I can’t afford to not meet her friend.’
“Blake… Oh Blake, are you there?” Ashley asked hoping to get an answer, but nothing came from the other end of the phone.
“Blake!” Ashley yelled into the phone, hoping to catch his attention.
“You didn’t have to yell,” Blake said as he rubbed his right ear. He didn’t have a clue as to what Ashley wanted.
“Yeah, I did, because you didn’t answer me the first time. Now, should I tell my friend that you want to meet him?”
“Sure!” Blake wasn’t going to pass this opportunity up.
“Okay, I’ll tell him that you’re going to meet him.”
“Sounds good!” Blake said, trying to keep himself from blowing up from all the excitement inside of him.
He was now filled with joy, but he didn’t want to say anything to his dads because he didn’t want to curse himself. This phone conversation will just have to stay bottled up inside until he meets the mystery man.
“Talk to you later, Blake!”
Ashley had to call Ben back and set up a time and a place. Blake needed to get outside and work off some energy. As soon as they hung up with each other, they went to do their own thing. Blake has his basketball when suddenly he is overcome with a feeling as if something was wrong.
Blake has always trusted in these warnings, and puts the basketball down and runs inside. He didn’t see anyone in the living room, so he went upstairs to check the office. Sure enough, his dads are upstairs and despite the warning, everything seems fine. Thinking maybe that a phone call might be coming, he returned to his room. Not even a phone call; Blake is stumped.
Blake has no way of knowing, but at this very moment his mother is speaking with one of his older cousins, the daughter of his great aunt. Together, they’re making plans to keep tabs on him… plans that might include taking him away from his dads.
Blake was still quite concerned about the whisper of impending trouble and so he sat down and quietly waited for more echoes to come his way. Out of nowhere, there was a knock at the door and the teen jumped to his feet.
A part of him didn’t want to answer the door. His hand is trembling as he reaches for the door knob.
“Hello,” Blake says, checking to see who is at the door.
“It’s me, Blake.”
At first, he didn’t recognize the voice, but then it hit him. The voice belonged to Juan. Opening the door, he was a little shocked to see his ex-bully’s lackey.
“I wanted to hear it from you. Is it true about Rick, has he really changed his spots?”
Blake had no reason to doubt Rick’s change, and he seems to have changed for the better.
“Yeah… I think it’s pretty darn amazing. Rick’s changed.”
“Hmmm… I wonder!” Juan said as Blake stepped outside with him.
Juan’s trust in Rick is completely non-existent. He’s always been more of a follower; something his teachers and his parents don’t like about him. Juan will just have to wait and see.
“Blake, I’m really sorry for everything.”
Blake patted him on the back.
“Consider it over and done with.”
Juan was amazed that Blake could forgive him as if nothing had happened. Blake’s birth parents taught him to forgive others and he takes it seriously. Blake wasn’t going to lose a chance to be friends with someone.
To be continued…