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Hero's Don't Run
I was always taught to run. In this type of place, that’s probably the only thing you can do. People try to be the hero, stick up for themselves or other people, but they always end up the same way, coming home beat up, bruises and cuts all over their face. “It’s best to just avoid them,” my parents always told me, the gang that mugs every person that they think is vulnerable. Unfortunately they think I am one of them.
I walk home as I usually do, I don’t care if they are there or not, but of course, today they are. I hear the scream, the cry for help. I keep on walking as if I didn’t hear it, like I’m supposed to, and that’s when I see them. It was just a 12 year kid, and he is scared to death. They are pressing his back to the wall and punching him in the gut. You could tell he’s crying. I can’t just act like this isn’t happening, just walk by and not care at all. I take a closer look and I can barely make out what they are saying.
“Please, I swear I have no money,” the boy cries.
“Wrong answer,” a voice replied and the boy groans in pain. I know what they are going to do, beat him down until he cries for mercy. Animals. That’s all these people are. I’m so tired of just acting like things like this aren’t happening. I have to say something.
“Hey, back off. He is just a kid.” As soon as I said it, I knew I made a mistake. He and the two guys behind him look at me like I’m crazy. I knew I shouldn’t have said it. Why can’t I just mind my own business?
“Just walk away. This has nothing to do with you,” he tells me. For a second I thought I should just walk away, go home, do my homework, and avoid any trouble. But then I take one look at the kid. His eyes are wide with fear, sweat dripping off his nose. He clenches his stomach in pain, and has a cut on his forehead that’s bleeding. I’m not going to abandon him. I look at the guy holding him to the wall, and before I could debate on, I push him to the ground. Immediately the kid takes off, sprinting as fast as he can through the street. I turn around only to see a fist right in my face. I lose my balance and fall to the ground. Just as I hit the ground, the guy who held the boy to wall kicks me twice in the stomach. I grunt in pain. Next the boy who punched me in the face grabs my shirt collar and pulls me in close.
“Listen to me, and listen well because I’m only saying this once. Stay out of our way and mind your own business. If you mess with us again, we will come for you. Got it?” The pain in my head was overwhelming and I couldn’t think straight. The only thing I could do is nod.
“Good. Then I shouldn’t be seeing you again,” he said. Then he pulled me even closer, as if he is going to whisper something. Instead he punches me again, hitting me right in the eye, propelling me to the ground. I just lie there and watch the three gang members walk away as if nothing happened. That’s the last thing I see before I black out.
My vision slowly comes back from the blackness of nothing, to a hazy sight of my surroundings. I have a massive headache and my ears are ringing. While slowly sitting up I notice how badly my stomach hurts. I moan in pain as I reach into my pocket and take out my phone. Its 4:30 and I have a missed call from my mom. I also look at my reflection through the glare on my cell phone, cursing to myself as I notice that I have a black eye. My mom is going to kill me I think to myself. I walk out of the alley, still a little dizzy, and think about what I am going to tell my mom. There is no point in lying, but I’ll leave the part that I was knocked out. I walk down two blocks up my house. It isn’t a huge house but it’s still nice since I am an only child ever since my brother died in a car crash when I was young. I walk up the front steps to my door, fumbling for my keys while I think of what I was going to say to my mom. I take a deep breath and open the door.
“…. I’m not sure where he is, oh wait. He just walked in.I’ll talk to you later.” My mom hangs up the phone as soon as she sees me, and as I expected, she asks what happened. I look at her with a blank stare for a second, unsure what to say.
“Ummm… I got into a little trouble,” I said unconfidently.
“Look at your eye!” my mom exclaimed. She walked over to me and gently put her hand on my head, examining my injury. “It’s that gang again, isn’t it? I told you to stay away from them.”
“I know I know. I didn’t mean to, they got an innocent kid. I couldn’t just walk away…”
“Yes you could have!” She interrupted. “I don’t want you dealing with these…these hoodlums again. Now go get some ice for your eye.” I walk over to the freezer to grab an ice pack and put it on my eye.
“Mom, don’t you get it? These people hurt everyone they see. They’re…they’re menaces! Somebody has to stand up to them,” I explain.
“Well that someone isn’t you! You tried sticking up for someone, and look what happened!” my mom backfires. I look at her angrily. She basically said that I’m not good enough to stand up for myself. But then my mom looks sad, almost depressed. She walks up close to me and puts her hand on my shoulder. “Please John. Stay away from them. I already lost one son, I don’t want to lose another,” she says in a small, weak voice. I couldn’t find words to say so I just nod my head and walk upstairs to my room without another word.
I lay on my bed, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling thinking of the events that just took place. Those kids were members of a gang that never stops terrorizing us. They have been harassing our neighborhood for as long as I can remember. They basically do whatever they want, and are barely ever caught by the cops. Jumping people is their main way of making money that they use for drugs, but when they really need money they will rob a small town store. Knives are their usual weapons, but sometimes they will bring out a gun if they need it. Most parents won’t let their kids out after dark, some people are afraid to go outside at all. Ever since the first time they came to this area, I am taught to run if I see trouble. My mom is terrified of these people, but I don’t know exactly why. She doesn’t even like me walking home from school.
I get up from my bed, anxious to go back in it. I do my homework to get my mind off things. After a while I get called down to dinner, which is uncomfortably silent since my dad is away. My dad is always on business trips. I rarely see him other than weekends. We sit there and stare at each other, not saying a word. I finally just get up and go back to my room. I watch TV for a few hours and try to relax. Before I know it my clock reads 11:00. I turn off the light and get into my bed. My head is still hurting, but the pain is going down. I take my hand and run it up my head, feeling the bruise. I’m so tired of running away, of never fighting back. These people have been terrorizing us for too long. It’s time for a change.
I wake up with my head throbbing like crazy. At first I just lie there, not wanting to move. I turn on my side and look at my clock. At that moment I realized how much I overslept. I slide out of bed and go into the bathroom. While looking into the mirror I notice that most of the swelling went down. It doesn’t look too bad. I take a quick, refreshing shower, get dressed, and brush my teeth. I walk downstairs to see my mom waiting by the door. She looks at me for a second with a worried expression on her face.
“Please John, please stay away from those boys,” she asks me in a weak, almost pleading voice. I look at her unsure what to say. Why is she so afraid of these people?
“What if they jump me? Then what do I do?” I ask my mom.
“Then just give them what they want and run away, okay?” There is no use in debating; I’ll just lose the argument. So I simply nod my head and the conversation is over. The car ride to school is silent except for when I say goodbye. Nothing much happens at school. Not too many people ask about my eye, but when they do I just make up a little story.
When the school day is finally over I begin my normal walk home from school. At first I don’t see any trouble, but when I walk past one of the alleys I see three guys. They aren’t doing anything, but when I see them they stare at me as if they are going to do something. I feel a shiver go down my spine but I just walk casually, as if I don’t notice them. They finally stop staring and start talking to each other again. I take a sigh of relief. I was halfway home thinking that I avoided all trouble. That’s when I feel the blow to my head.
I never saw it coming. One of them hit me in the back of my head. Collapsing to my knees from surprise and pain, they grab my arms and throw me into a small alley that I forgot all about. They then punch me in the gut a few times and pin me to the wall. There are four of them. One was holding me to the wall, and I can smell the stench of cigarettes on his breath.
“You let that kid go,” he said, “Now it’s time to pay.” He punches me in the gut again, I felt like I was going to puke. His hand reached into my pocket and takes out my wallet and gives it to one of the guys behind him. The guy takes out the money and counts it.
“Fifty three bucks. Not enough,” he says
“Just take it anyways,” the guy next to him replies. I’m still pinned to the wall, I try to get free but I’m too weak at the moment. The gang member that is holding me loosens his grip, so I push him away and make a run for it, but one of the guys behind him grabs me and twists my arm until it’s about to break.
“Ahhhh!” I scream in pain. The guy is much bigger than me so there is no use in fighting it. He tells me to walk forward. Too weak to fight, I do what he says.
They bring me into a new and spacious alley. Even though it is daytime, the sunlight is barely protruding the buildings making the whole alley filled with shadows. The man twists my arm as we walk, making me whimper in pain. Just by seeing the chipped, run down walls, I can tell that this wasn’t the best part of town. Maybe it’s because of the fear I have, but I could feel a chill in the air, a sense of darkness knowing that wherever these people were leading me, could be the beginning to a very painful experience.
I can make out three figures, sitting on steps leading to a door. They were smoking cigarettes, and one of them had a half drunken bottle of beer. One of them stands up as he sees us getting closer. The man looks about 18 years old; he was well built and had a slight beard.
“Here he is, Kevin,” the man holding me says. The guy across from me throws down his cigarette, stamps on it and stares at me for a few seconds as if remembering me from somewhere.
“How much does he have on him?” he asks.
“Fifty three bucks,” a guy behind me says. I suddenly feel like passing out. My head feels like its pounding and my legs begin to wobble. The guy pinning my arms holds me up straighter as the man examines me again.
“I know you from somewhere,” he says with a smirk. Acting like we are having a normal conversation, like I’m not being held against my will. “Ah. You’re Jake’s little brother,” his smirk suddenly changes to a stare of disgust. “You’re as much of a scumbag as he was.”
“Don’t you dare talk about my brother!” I scream at him. My heartbeat suddenly gets much faster, my face filled with anger. The man stares at me again, and then begins to laugh.
“Don’t try to be a hero. You are nothing like your brother. Give me his wallet.” Only one thought passes through my head; there was no way these hoodlums were going to get my money. Just as one of the boys behind me reaches out his hand to give him my money, I find new strength and break free of the man’s grip and charge at the guy holding my wallet. I punch him as hard as I could right in the head. He collapses to the floor and drops my wallet. I pick it up, expecting for all of the guys to come at me, but just as they were about to react, they freeze. Confused, I turn around only to see a silver gun barrel pointing at my head.
I was obviously scared before, but now, I’m completely petrified. The three seconds in which I realize what is happening feels like an eternity. My eyes widen with fear. Chills run up and down my spine. The hairs on my neck stand straight up. My sweaty hands begin to shake and my heart feels like it’s going to pound out of my chest with the fear that all he has to do is move his finger, and the force of the speeding bullet would penetrated my body, stopping my heartbeat, and ending everything that I have ever known.
“Just give me the wallet kid, and this will all be over,” he says. Suddenly all of the fear vanished from me, and new feeling comes over me. It’s not feeling of anger or some heroic bravery, but a feeling of confidence. I slightly nod and raise the hand holding the wallet. He raises his other hand to grab it from me, but still has the gun pointed at my chest. Just as his hand meets the wallet I run forward with all of strength, with all of my will, tackling him to the ground and knocking the gun to the floor. Everything seems like it’s in slow motion. I get up and make a fall out sprint towards the street.
The echoing of footsteps behind me fills my ears. I turn around and see the guy with the gun and three other gang members behind me. People. That’s all I was thinking about. If I could get into the streets where there are lots of people walking about, they couldn’t hurt me. I could hear the sounds of cars in their busy commute from a distance. Almost there I thought. I was running as fast I possibly could, my sweat drenching my shirt. A picture of the busy street was coming into my sight; I nearly fell to the ground when I reach the sidewalk. I turn around one more time only to see the man with gun stare at me for few seconds.
“I’ll get you, I swear I will! And when I do, you’re dead! There is no where you can hide!” He then turns away, and walks back into the alley.
I sit down on the curb for a few moments, gasping for air, trying to comprehend what just happened. I try to replay what just happened in my mind, and then I try pushing it away and telling myself that it didn’t happen, that it was a bad nightmare. But after I while a came back to reality, and realized the events that just took place weren’t just going to blow over. I just made an enemy with the leader of the gang. And he does not forgive easily. Out of all of the feelings I have right now regret is not one of them. I’m done letting these people walk over everyone, and I’m glad I stood up for myself. But the one thing I am still utterly confused about is my brother.
I never got to know my brother; he died when he was young. It was eleven years ago and I was only five. I can’t really remember what happened, and whenever I ask, my mom gets a depressed expression on her face and changes the subject. By now I know not to talk about him too much. All I can remember is that he died in a tragic car crash, and his body was burned in the flames. How did a gang member know him? Was he part of the gang? These questions stayed in my head all of the way home. One thing is for sure; my mom had some explaining to do.
Don’t try to be a hero. You aren’t your brother. That line kept on replaying in my head. What could that possibly mean? My head began getting dizzy so I try to not think about it too much. Every step I take brings pain flooding into my body. I want to lie down, sleep for hours, and forget this ever happened, but that warm, relaxing bed was still three blocks away and I felt like I was walking in slow motion. Of course I knew as soon as I walk through that front door I will be struck with thunderous questions, but this time, I have some questions of my own. As my front door came into sight, I had to promise myself not to just give in. These animals need to be stopped one way or another.
I opened the door and a new sight surprised me; my dad was home. He was talking to my mom, and as soon as she saw me, she gasped. I guess I didn’t notice, but there was a cut going down the side of my face and it was bleeding. Being so preoccupied, I didn’t even think about examining my injuries.
“What happened?” my father asked. My mom went into the bathroom and got a long bandage and peroxide. I flinched in pain as she poured it over my cut and bandaged it to stop the bleeding.
“They got me. Again.”
My mom looks at me with a stare that scares me; I thought she was going to yell. Just as she opens her mouth, my dad tells her to calm down and asks me to say the whole story. I told them everything, from being jumped, to refusing to give them my wallet, and even to the gun being pulled out. Once I’m done my dad paces across the room and my mother looks me in the eye.
“I told you if you get jumped, just give them what they want!”
“Well maybe I’m tired of just running away…of just letting these people walk all over us!” I shot back at her. Suddenly my dad looks up to my face, I really did it now.
“You will listen to your mother, end of story.” My dad commands me. I look back at him and I slightly laugh.
“You know what else they said? They were talking about my brother. You know that guy who died that I know nothing about? That guy who every time I ask about, you just change the subject?” My dad’s face turned from anger to shock. There was no way he was expecting me to say that and it takes him a second to come back to Earth.
“What exactly did he say?”
“No. It’s my turn to ask questions. What really happened to my brother? I want to know EVERYTHING!” I exclaimed. My father looks over to my mom, who has a blank expression on her face. He nods at her and says, “It’s time.” He turns back towards me and we both take a seat across from each other. I look at him confidently, a look that tells him I am in control now, but on the inside, I’m giddy with excitement. I’m finally going to get answers to questions I have been asking my whole life.
“Well…you know that car crash that Jake died in?” he pauses and makes a loud gulp. I look over to my mom and she closes her eyes as if what she is about to hear is going to be painful. “Well, we lied.” At first I thought I misheard him, or maybe that he was joking. There was no way my own parents would lie to me about this. Then it all sunk in. He was dead serious.
“What?! You lied? Then how did he really die? Did they kill him?!” I exclaimed in bewilderment.
“John…Jake isn’t dead.” Suddenly the world begins to fade away. I feel like I am watching myself from above, in complete shock and awe. I shake my head and come back to reality. I get up and begin pacing the room, trying to comprehend what he just said.
“What…the hell…does that mean?” I barely stutter out.
“He’s in prison,” my mom says as she steps out of the corner of the kitchen and into the light. I can see that she has started to cry. “He’s going to be in there for the rest of his life.” My body begins to shake as she says this. I am barely able to force one word.
“You are a lot like him some ways,” my father says as he gets up from his chair. “Both of you eager to make a difference. He was 16 years old, just like you are now. The gangs were worse than ever. They took control over this town; people were so afraid that they never left their houses. The cops were blind, but who could blame them. This gang did everything without witnesses. Jake was tired of these hoodlums corrupting our home, so he started to make a difference. He would start fights with gang members; stand up for people who couldn’t do it themselves. And he was getting supporters. People were finally saying that enough was enough. He was becoming a real enemy to these people.
“He had a girlfriend, a great girl. Smart, pretty. He was getting serious about her. Once the gang found out about her, they jumped her; beat her down real good as a message. To make him stop doing what he was doing. But it did the exact opposite. Sarah, his girlfriend, gave him three names, the names of the guys that did this to her. I tried to stop him, but I never saw him like that. There was a crazed look in his eye. He went out that night and came home at about 3 a.m., and the next day, when we watched the news…” he paused for a moment. Mom began sobbing and my dad just couldn’t finish the sentence. “Those three people he went after…they were shot and killed. Pointblank. It was obvious who did it. Jake became the prime suspect. He was convicted to life in prison.” My mom burst into tears. My dad looked away, not wanting me to see him cry. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Anger swept through me. I begin shaking again and I slam my fists on the table making the silverware bounce.
“How could you lie to me?”
“W-we wanted to tell you,” my mom said in between sobs, “but he didn’t want you to know. He made us tell you that he was dead.” I felt like I was going to burst with emotion; anger, shock, grief, denial, betrayal. All of these emotions were expressed through one single tear that rolled down my cheek.
“I want to see him,” I say bluntly
“No. I want to see him. Now.”
The prison was exactly like I pictured it; lonesome, gloomy, a feeling of wanting to leave. There were about fifteen circular tables in a big room, for visiting hours. The different people scared me. You had the classic huge, muscular people covered in tattoos. Then there were the frightened people, the ones that are scared to death of this place. Even though there were tons of different people, they all wear the same thing; orange jumpsuits with handcuffs. Oddly enough, the big guys didn’t really scare me as much as the smaller, younger men. They had a look of despair on their faces, a look of depression. I almost felt sorry for them.
“He’s right over there,” a cop says pointing to table in the corner. My brother sat looking down at his feet. He was tall, muscular, and really needs to shave. I walk over to him slowly, not sure what to say. How do you start a conversation with a person you thought was dead your entire life? I guess I’ll have to start by introducing myself, he probably won’t recognize me. I finally reach the table and stare at him for a second, taking it all in. Up to this point, I still didn’t truly believe my brother was alive. But seeing him, right in front of me, it all sunk in. This is really happening.
“Who are you?” he says as he looks up. I pause for a second before responding, and then I snap to attention.
“Umm…hi. I’m John…your younger brother,” I stutter out. I can tell then I’m turning red and my forehead begins to sweat. He looks away for a second, then turns back to me, and does something I didn’t expect at all. He laughs.
“So they finally told you, huh?” he says in reply.
“Yeah,” I say awkwardly. His face suddenly turns from a smirk to an angry expression.
“I told them not to tell you…”
“I know I know,” I interrupt, “but I made them tell me. You’re my brother. I deserve to know what happened to you.” Jake tries to avoid looking at me, like he is ashamed of something. “Why did you want me to think that you are dead?” He looks back down to the floor.
“I’m sorry if you expected a happy, heartwarming moment. That we would hug and everything would be fine. But that isn’t the way it’s going to work out. I don’t want to see you,” he says instead of answering my question. I suddenly feel hurt, not like the pain I had when I was punched in the head or knocked out, but an even worse feeling. A feeling that goes deep in me, and to be honest, I feel like I am going to cry for a second. Here I am meeting my only brother for the first time in my entire life, and he doesn’t even want to see me.
“Don’t you get it?” he says when he notices my depressed expression on my face. “Look where I am? You should be ashamed of me; you shouldn’t want to see me. What I did to those people….you deserve better.” Jake once again looks to the floor and this time, he’s the one who looks like he is about to cry.
“Those people, the gang members, they’re back. And they are getting dangerous. People don’t want to leave their houses in fear of being attacked. Even I was jumped…”
“WHAT DID THEY DO TO YOU?!” he shouts at me. He stands up, his face contorting with anger. And he has a crazed look in his eye, maybe this was the way he looked the night he killed those people. I look around and noticed everyone has stopped talking and are looking at us.
“What’s going on over here?” a cop standing guard asked as he walked over to our table. I reassure him that everything is okay, and he goes back to the door he is guarding. I looked back over to Jake, shocked by his sudden outburst.
“Calm down, I’m fine. Just a few cuts and bruises. But…I kinda got into some trouble with the leader; Kevin is his name I think.”
“Kevin? No. John, please stay away from him. I hear things about this guy; he’s extremely dangerous and won’t hesitate to severely injure you, or worse. What kind of trouble did you get in?” Jake says with a worried look on his face.
“Well I stood up for this kid, and when he got away they got mad…but I had to! He was only twelve years old and frightened to death!” I say in my defense. “But then they just wanted my wallet to pay up, and when I refused to give it to them, they took me to Kevin. And he recognized that you were my brother and…he pulled a gun on me. I barely made it out alive. He said he was coming for me” Once I was done recounting the story he looked very angry with me; his fists were clenched and his leg was shaking, I was afraid that he was going to yell again.
“You should have given up your wallet. I want you to stay away from these people, and if you see them, immediately run away. Do you understand?” he tells me. I looked at him with confused look, kind of shocked of the way he responded. I thought he, of all people, would think that I did the right thing by sticking up for myself that I should do what he did and fight back, but I couldn’t be more wrong.
“I thought you would be proud of me and encourage me to fight back…that’s what you did, why can’t I-”
“No!” he interrupts. “You are not me. You are not strong enough to fight these people.” I open my mouth to object, to say how could you possibly know anything about me, but he stops me before I have the chance. “I can tell just by looking into your eye. You aren’t a fighter. So don’t try to be one. Mom tells me a lot about you, I know you better than you think I do. Don’t try to fight them. You’ll just wind up dead. You just aren’t strong enough.” He says this so matter-of-factly, like what he is saying isn’t offensive at all. I suddenly get filled with anger. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I don’t care what he thinks. He doesn’t know me.
“Thanks for the advice, but I’m going to handle this my own way,” I say sarcastically as I get up to leave. As I am walking away, Jake calls me back.
“Wait! John, no!” He shouts. But I ignore him and I walked right out the door.
I lay on my bed, thinking about yesterday, when I met Jake for the first time. You just aren’t strong enough. You aren’t a fighter; so don’t try to be one. How can he possibly know me? I don’t care what he says, I know how strong I am, and I will fight back. These animals have walked over me since before I was even born. They are the reason my brother is in jail. They have to pay for what they have done. I stayed inside all day yesterday and today, planning what I am going to do. But now I’m ready. This ends tonight.
Someone knocks on my door and my dad walks in before I can even respond. He turns the chair to my desk around to face me, and sits in it. I know what is coming, another conversation in which he will try to make me listen to reason and try to convince me to tell him how my visit with my brother went. My mom tried asking twice already, but I just replied saying “good” and I walk away, but there is nowhere to go to now.
“John. We are going to talk about this eventually,” he says to me. Instead of answering I just burry my head into my pillow, hoping he would get the message and leave. But of course he doesn’t. “John, listen to me. You can’t fight these people. You just can’t. You will just end up hurt.” I take my head out of my pillow and sit up, but I don’t look at him.
“You act like you care about me,” I say icily.
“I do care!”
“Really? Well, sorry if I didn’t notice. You aren’t around much to show it,” I say without looking at him. My dad then stands up right in front of me and makes me look at him.
“You think I like that I am away so much? I wish I could be home every day but unfortunately I can’t. And you can’t blame me for that. Now you will not go anywhere near these people and that’s final!” he barks at me. My dad then walks out of my room without another word. I curse under my breath as I lie back down. I look over to my clock. Its 9:00, time to go. I put on my jacket and quietly walk down the hall. My mom and dad’s door is slightly crack and I look in it. My mom and dad are both in bed watching TV. I’m sorry I mouth out. I then walk down the stairs and out the front door without any other hesitation.
As I am walking down the dark, lonesome streets I begin to doubt myself. Maybe my brother is right, maybe I’m not strong enough, and I’m not a fighter. I’m putting myself in so much danger by doing this. Who knows, I could end up dying tonight. The thought of that happening sends a new fear through my body and I stop walking, thinking about going back to my nice cozy bed, away from any danger. But then I realize why I am doing this so I keep on walking forward. Besides, if my plan actually works, I won’t have to do much fighting.
I walk past an alley, which looks frightening in the dark, and out of the corner of my eye I can see two people, obviously members of the gang. They whisper something to each other and I pretend like I didn’t notice them. They walk further into the alley, probably to get more people now that they know I am here, just as I thought they would. I could hear faint footsteps, as I am about to walk past the second alley. I know what is coming.
Just as I walk past the second alley, two dark figures charge at me out of nowhere. Expecting this, I quickly dodge their tackle and they fall into the street. I spin around and find myself surrounded by the gang members. They take me by surprise and one of them grabs me. I elbow him in the ribs and kick him to the ground. Someone suddenly hits my back and I almost fall. I regain my balance and turn around and swing at someone in front of me. My punch to the head knocks him to the floor and I see an opening in the circle. I take a break for it.
I’m in full stride, sprinting as fast as I can, but I’m not running for the sake of it, I have a destination; a small convenience store just a block from here. There is a surveillance camera in the parking lot; all I have to do is get there. Once there I will let them do whatever they want to me and it will all be on camera and tomorrow I’ll show the police who these people really are. All I have to do is survive the beating.
Don’t look back; just keep going I tell myself over and over again. I can hear the steady footsteps of people not too far behind me. The sound of every step they make haunts my ears, knowing that I will eventually let them catch up and let them beat me until I’m nothing. The thought of what is going to happen scares me to death, but I don’t stop running. My sweat drenches my shirt and I’m breathing very heavily. I sprint behind a gas station as a shortcut. I could see the store; the camera is less than a hundred feet away. I’m almost there….
Bang. I never saw it coming. An object hits me with such a great force that it cripples me to the floor. I lie there, paralyzed with pain and fear. The only thing I can do is roll over and I can see the thing that hit me. A wooden bat. I roll again facing upwards and I see five dark silhouettes around me. Someone crouches down and I can see his face.
“You should have stayed home kid,” Kevin says. He then grabs my shirt coller and pulls me in close, only to punch me in the face knocking me to the ground again. Kevin then stands back up and people to my left and right begin kicking my gut, making me groan in pain. They all stop for a second, letting me get up slowly, laughing at my pain. I punch the closest guy to me but suddenly all five guys are on top of me, punching me over and over again, making me cry out. My arms and legs were screaming in pain. I try getting up again but the big guy who crippled my arm the last time we met knees me to the ground again and they begin stomping on my hands and back. I can feel warm blood trickle down the side of my face and I can taste it in my mouth. Everything is pointless now. The camera can’t see us. My whole plan is ruined. I am going to die here for nothing.
“P-please….please stop,” I beg even though I know the response. I try to crawl away, but someone just kicks me to the ground.
“You really are nothing like your brother,” Kevin says, “You’re weak, spineless, and a fool. You are nothing.” He says as he kicks me one more time. Suddenly something happens to me. Memories come flooding back. I see my brother saying you are weak, you are not a fighter. My dad telling me that I can’t do this. And finally I see that poor, defenseless kid’s face that these hoodlums terrorized. Anger rushes through me, but then that is replaced with a new feeling. The same feeling that got me through our last encounter. Confidence. I am a fighter. I am strong. I can fight back.
I slowly get up and stand tall. Kevin seems to think this is funny and laughs at me, and I smile back at him. His expression quickly changes to anger and he swings at me, but I block it in midair and twist his arm behind his back. He moans in pain and I kick him into the guy next to him making them fall to the ground. Someone tries to punch me, but I duck and punch him in the stomach and then giving him an uppercut making him collapse. Suddenly I get hit in the back by someone I didn’t see. I almost fall to the ground but gain my balance back. I look down to my feet and see the bat on the ground. I pick it up and throw is as hard as I can right at the guy who punched me. It hits him square in the face knocking him out. I walk over and pick the bat up just in time to see Kevin and the big guy coming at me. I swing the bat hitting the big guy in the head and I can see blood as he hits the floor, but Kevin hits me, and then again making me fall to the ground. I quickly get back up and tackle him with all of my strength I have left, pinning him to the floor. I punch him in the face, and then again, and again until my knuckles are covered in his blood.
“What are you going to do, kill me?” Kevin says while covered in blood. One of his eyes is swollen shut and his nose is broken and bleeding along with his lip. Everything inside of me wants to keep punching him, until he truly is dead. This man nearly killed me twice, preys on the weak and innocent, and probably has even killed people. This man deserves to die. But then I remember my brother. And then I do the hardest thing I could have done. I let go of him and get up.
“You were right about one thing. I am nothing like my brother,” I say as I turn around to leave. But then I hear his voice again.
“You should have killed me when you had the chance.” I turn back around to see Kevin standing up, pointing a gun at my chest. Everything is in slow motion. I can hear the slow thumping of my heart beat, hear myself take small breaths. I close my eyes, not wanting to see my own death. Suddenly, I hear the gunshot.
I stand there awaiting the bullet to hit. Waiting to see blood spilling out of my body. Waiting to take my final breath. But it never happens. I open my eyes and I see Kevin falling to the ground, blood all over him. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more shocked, a cop comes walking into the dim light. Two of the gang members try to run away at the sight of the police officer, but he stops them and handcuffs them before they get the chance. I look back down to Kevin’s lifeless body, still shocked by what just happened. Then he comes over to me, but it’s too dark for him to see my bruises.
“You alright kid?” he asks me.
“Y-yeah. I’m fine,” I reply. The officer nods and goes to his car to call for help. I take a sigh of relief. Kevin is dead. They have two gang members under arrest and they will be interrogated and eventually talk giving the names of other gang members, and the gang will eventually disappear. I get a big smile, because for the first time in who knows how long, I feel completely safe. It’s finally all over.