Copyright© 2011 Ethan Holmes All rights reserved.

Have Some Milk and Cookies
By, Ethan Holmes

The three boys froze in their tracks. He was there, not twenty yards away. He was always there, or somewhere on the way to school. The route to school had too many places to hide, too many yards with bushes and hedges that lined the sidewalk in front of houses. Then there were the trees along every street in the small town. Most of them had trunks large enough for an adult to hide behind. That’s just how it is in many small Pennsylvania towns.

Billy, Frankie and Dennis stood stock still clutching their backpack straps. There was no escape. They knew that. Jake was faster than them. Sometimes they caught a glimpse of him a half block away and that gave them enough cushion to get away; especially if they split up.

At the beginning of the school year when Jake first started harassing them they would either just stand there and take it or run together. Jake would catch them and corner them in some alley or yard with no escape. At first he would just steal their lunch money or their lunch and do vicious things like tear up their homework. Try explaining that to your teacher.

“Well I had my homework all done but Jake tore it up on the way to school.”

Yea, they were going to buy that.

Gradually as the school year went on, Jake’s harassment and bullying escalated. The small amounts of money and destruction weren’t enough anymore and Jake took to cuffing them around. Billy went home with a black eye last month but he had drunken parents who didn’t even notice. Dennis took a cut, swollen lip home and told his Mom he fell on the playground. Jake seemed to enjoy punching Frankie in the stomach a lot and lately Frankie had started giving away his lunch to the other two rather than toss it up in class an hour later. Dennis and Billy were growing increasingly concerned about that.

Jake was smiling but it wasn’t a happy, twelve year old kid smile. He always smiled like that when he cornered the three best friends. He seemed to take some sort of evil pleasure in what he was about to do.

“What ya got for me today?” Jake stepped out from behind the large oak tree just starting to pop young green leaves on a late spring day.

“We ain’t got nothin’ ya jerk! Why don’t you just leave us alone?”

Billy was always the outspoken fighter in the group. When you go home to abusive, alcoholic parents every day sooner or later you’re going to have to decide whether you’re a victim or a fighter. Billy was getting tired of being a victim.

“Ya think you’re a tough guy now?” Jake walked over to Billy and grabbed him by his backpack strap with his right hand.

Jake was at least six inches taller than the three friends, a sixth grader who should be in seventh grade but was held back a year after being suspended for bringing a utility knife to school. Billy, Dennis and Frankie were all fifth graders, ten years old and each almost exactly a month apart in birthdays. They thought that was awesome and it was one of the many bonds that tied these three together.

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