Lloyd and I left our house and boarded the school bus. Dreading my possible confrontation with Rabbit Cameron, I was extremely nervous during the trip. When the bus stopped at the school, Lloyd and I stepped off. Waiting beside the bus was Rabbit Cameron. He immediately walked to me and reached for my lunch bag. “Okay, buddy, lets have it!” he demanded.
Lloyd immediately stepped between us. He glared at Rabbit and said, “Leave my brother alone and get away from us! He don’t owe you anything!”
Rabbit replied, “Get lost, Fatso! What business is this of yours, anyway?”
While Lloyd and Rabbit continued to argue, I quickly left the scene. Clutching my lunch bag, I bolted away and ran up the hill to the school and into my classroom. I felt like a coward, but at least I still had my lunch. I remained in the classroom throughout morning recess and until lunch time, when I stayed inside the school building and ate my lunch. However, I wasn’t happy about the way I had escaped a fight by leaving my brother, Lloyd when I ran away from the school bus.
I saw another boy having lunch inside the classroom. He was a scrawny lad who seemed bashful. After greeting me he offered me an apple from his lunch, which I declined. He smiled and asked, “Say, how come you’re eatin’ inside? It’s a pretty day out on th’ playground.”
“Well, why are you eatin’ inside?” I asked.
He seemed embarrassed. “Another boy took my lunch away from me a few days ago.” He lowered his head in shame.
“Who was the boy?” I asked. “Was it Rabbit Cameron?”
“Yeah, It was him all right. He ain’t nuthin’ but a shithead! But I was afraid he’d kick my ass! He’s bigger than me. And he’s probably the toughest boy in school…’specially fer his size. Even some of th’ older boys are afraid of him!”
“Yeah, he’s th’ reason I’m eatin’ my lunch inside. He took my lunch too!” I said.
“Well, he don’t show nobody no respect. Somebody needs to stand up to him!”
I felt a stab of shame. For the rest of the day I began to better understand my father.
When the afternoon bell rang, I realized that I would need to leave the building and join my brother, Lloyd to catch the school bus. Because I feared that Rabbit Cameron would be waiting for me, I dreaded the confrontation. Although I was afraid, I had made up my mind. I would face my enemy and do my best. Whatever happened was in the hands of fate.
When I walked outside onto the school grounds, I saw a crowd of students standing beneath a tree in front of the school. In the midst of the crowd, I saw Rabbit Cameron. I realized that he had told the other students about the way I was avoiding him, and that he was waiting for me. Among the group of people I saw my brother, Lloyd. I realized that the crowd was eager to see Rabbit wreak his revenge on me.
I was about to lose my nerve as I hesitantly walked toward the crowd. When I approached him, Rabbit prepared himself for the slaughter. He took a stance much like a prize fighter, with his legs spread apart, as if he were preparing to throw a punch. When I was facing him, I remembered some of my brother Bob’s instructions: ‘pick his most vulnerable spot when you make your first move.’
Rabbit sneered at me. Then, with the sole of his brogan shoe, he scratched a dividing line in the dirt between us. “If you cross that line I’m gonna beat th’ shit outta you,” he threatened. Although I trembled with anxiety, I mustered the nerve to step across the line.
He looked surprised when he took a step backward. It was at that moment that I detected a bit of hesitancy in him. He immediately drew another line in the dirt and repeated his threat. “I’m warnin’ you!” he shouted, “If ya cross that line again, you’re gonna get th’ livin’ shit beat outta you!”
Bob had also advised me to be vicious in my attack. “Hit him with all your strength!” he had told me. When studying my adversary, I focused on his wide-spread legs. I then chose his most vulnerable spot: his testicles.
I glared at him and viciously kicked between his legs with all my strength. His surprised expression became one of complete agony. As he grasped his crotch in severe pain, he threw back his head in dismay. Adrenaline was now rushing through my veins.
I again chose my perfect target. With all my strength, I viciously struck him in the nose, which quickly began to bleed. In only a short time his nose was gushing blood, completely covering the front of his shirt. With an expression of agony, he slowly dropped to his knees and began to moan.
Lloyd quickly rushed to my side and hugged me. He then addressed Rabbit. “That’ll teach you to mess with my brother! You’re lucky he didn’t hurt you worse!”
The fight was over. A couple of bigger boys pulled Rabbit to his feet while the remainder of the group of children stared at me in awe. Because our confrontation had delayed the departure of the school bus, the driver drove away without my brother, Lloyd and me. Lloyd highly praised me as we walked the two miles to our home.
We arrived at our house later than expected; as a result, other family members, especially mom and dad were extremely worried about us. When Lloyd related my heroic action, I was highly praised by my father and my brother, Bob. When we joined for a late dinner, my dad continued to praise me, as Bob gave me additional advice about fighting.
On the following day, when Lloyd and I returned to school, my reputation had drastically changed. Other students had developed a respect for me, and despite my small size, most of the larger boys in the lower grades avoided making me angry. Even Rabbit Cameron became one of my friends.
I experienced a drastic change in my attitude. I began to accurately and easily read orally in class, and I could spell better than any other student in the first grade. In the middle of the school year, I was double-promoted to the third grade.
My mother felt a deep pity for the bully who had taken my lunch. In spite of our near-poverty, she began to sneak enough food into my lunch bag to enable ‘Rabbit’ Cameron to share lunch with me. Dad would probably have protested my mother’s compassion, and although I felt sorry for ‘Rabbit,’ I began to have a clearer understanding of his belief in an eye for an eye.