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The Bully

posted Feb 25, 2016, 4:28 AM by Noa Shmueli

The bully stood confidently, measuring his opponent with cool, steady eyes. 30 seconds? He thought to himself. Naw, this one’s a weakling. 20 seconds.

Twenty seconds, the bully calls out, and cracks his knuckles menacingly.

The regular commotion begins. Bets are placed, some confidently, some gingerly.

C’mon, Braw calls. He’s gonna beat him bad. You can’t lose! Grimy hands reach in again, place more bills on the asphalt floor. Braw scoops them up victoriously.

Ok, chaps, now who’s betting on the weakling? Braw sneers.

Silence.

Fine, who’s betting that the weakling will win in ten hours? Braw raises an eyebrow, mockingly.

Jeering laughs.

Ten days? Braw calls out in mock concern.

There is unrestrained mean laughter at that.

The weakling looks nervous, fidgets. He’s still in his semi-defensive pose, crouched down but frail and helpless.

Braw raises the makeshift whistle (rather, two rough fingers) to his lips, signaling the start of the fight.

The timer, stolen from the school storage, begins to tick, seconds racing away as the bully corners the weakling.

A punch to the face. The weakling flips over and tears begin to flow, mingling with the blood and snot that drip from his flattened nose. His eyes already start to blacken and his four rabbit-like front teeth have nearly fallen out.

The timer shows seventeen seconds.

Whoops of joy and excitement engulf Braw. Ten dollar bills fly in all directions.

The bully wipes his nose with his sleeve, then turns to face Braw.

New record? The bully asks.

Braw shakes his head remorsefully. Nope, ya needed to be six seconds quicker, I’m ‘fraid, boss.

The bully cuffs Braw’s ears in rage.

Braw’s face contorts in indignation but then relaxes resignedly.

Yessir, guv’nor. Ya beat the record.

He beat the record, chaps! Braw calls out and sighs.

The bully roars in victory, and several people walk up and hand in bills in disappointment.

The bully rolls up his sleeves in anticipation.

Who’s up now? He drawls, smiling crookedly.

A silence settles on the crowd, an ominous, eerie silence. A silence so silent it was louder than any sound.

The bully smirks. Ok, then, I’ll just have to pick.

Three people make their escape, the rest are rounded up in a trice.

The bully looks around again, then points at a little boy, only up to the bully’s shoulders. Incidentally, the boy is the weakest and smallest of all. Jonathan, he’s called.

Everyone else breathes a sigh of relief as the boy whimpers.

How about… you? The bully says.

Someone else makes way for themselves through the crowd. A girl. Tall, sandy-haired, calm.

How about… no? She asks, but it is not a question.

The newcomer is not strong, but determined. There is no trace of fear in her hazel eyes, only pity and firm assurance.

Aha! The bully smirks. Jonathan has a girlfriend.

The girl says not a word but continues advancing. A step away from the bully, she stops and crouches down.

Start the fight, she commands, her eyes playing over the open-mouthed crowd.

Start the fight, she repeats.

Braw comes to his senses.

All right, everyone! Who’s betting on this round?

People surge in again, throwing in their money, the familiar routine beginning again.

Anyone betting on the girl? Braw pronounces in distaste.

After a few painful moments, Jonathan steps up and puts twenty dollars into Braw’s hand.

She’s not my girlfriend, he says shortly.

Braw shrugs dismissively, raises his two pinkies to his mouth and whistles.

Unexpectedly, the girl straightens up, turns to the crowd.

Everyone looks at her in astonishment.

Do you like this bully? She asks softly, yet everyone can hear her.

Do you like him? She says again. I’m no match for him. I mean it. I have never fought before. I’m doing this because I want justice. I want to stand up for myself and for others. I’m not a coward, that just stands by and watches people bully others. If there are only cowards in here, I’m going to lose. Has anyone else the courage?

Jonathan steps in next to her, willing as ever. His soulmate, Freddy, follows him hesitantly. No one else steps up.

The girl shoots a look of contempt at the crowd, and turns back to look at the bully.

Braw whistles again. The four fighters advance towards each other, the bully still calm and composed. He takes back his fist, ready for an almighty punch. It is not aimed at Jonathan, nor at Freddy.

Time seems to stop, everybody holding their breaths in horror and anticipation.

Suddenly, the silence shatters. The robotic melody of Big Ben pierces the air.

The teacher walks out of the classroom.

Everyone back in! Break’s over!

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