I had blood in my eyes. I got up slowly, while the wound on my forehead gushed blood at a rapid pace. I felt dizzy and weak. I looked down at my khaki shirt sticking to my skin. It wasn’t pale brown any more, but deep red. Long crimson lines were slowly running down my khaki pants. I heard a laugh. I lifted my head too quickly and instantly a streak of pain ran down my temples. I shut my eyes and grimaced. The person continued to laugh. But he laughed by himself. The rest of my classmates only stared warily. The showdown had come.
Bruce Reynolds was going to get his ass kicked today. Not only was he disrespecting me by laughing; he had messed up the only good school shirt I had. I was in pain and bloody but I was resolute. This boy was never going to laugh again because I was going to shove a rock down his throat. I took a step forward, slowly knelt and picked up a rock. The blood on my face had slowed to a trickle and I wiped my eyes.
“Hey boy, what you going to do with that eh? Don’t make me make you eat that stone, you know.”
This boy always picked on me because I was quiet and preferred to talk to the girls than play football. He didn’t know anything about me. Today he was going to find out that I came from a violent home. That only God had saved him before today. Today, my Granny forgot to pray to keep me from the devil. Bruce was about to find out.
His march towards me was abandoned as he fell to the ground choking on his teeth and blood in his mouth. I watched him, we all did. He couldn’t call for help because the six teeth I had knocked out with the rock were choking him. Soon his thrashing subsided and he was very still. I smiled at the crowd of children around me and I began to laugh. My Dad was probably looking down on me with a smile of satisfaction. Like father, like son eh Papa? In my head, I could hear him saying “Well done boy. Now I know you’re a man.”
But no accolades poured in from the spectators. In fact, the crowd was backing away. Some of the girls were crying. Others were running off to call a teacher. Good, I thought. Call the teacher, call the police. Let them see what a real man looks like. I’m a man, I screamed in my head. Right Papa? I listened, expecting to hear a confirmation. I heard nothing. My father was dead, he couldn’t answer me. The last man he tried to rob was a police man who shot him in his chest and watched him bleed to death before calling for back up. I looked at Bruce lying on the playfield. I’d killed him. I tried to laugh again, but this time, a shrill sound came from my mouth that wasn’t anything close to mirth. I thought about my Granny. I had promised her that I’d be a doctor and keep out of trouble. I vowed I’d never be like my Dad. My Dad had won and I had failed. This time I didn’t even try to laugh. I opened my mouth and screamed.
“Get the school nurse. Quickly!” Mrs. Hamilton shouted at a small girl.
“Peter, can you hear me? Can you walk?”
I blinked. Blood was in my eyes. My teacher was sapping my forehead with a cool cloth while Bruce Reynolds was being marched off to the Principal’s office. He was alive and I was lying on the dusty playfield.
I was in a lot of pain, but I smiled. I looked at my teacher and said “Yes, Miss, I can walk.”
As my teacher guided me towards the sick bay, I noticed a trail of blood leading to the principal’s office.