Tolkien it to the Streets (The Final Chapter) – A Team PCPB Original Story
So I decided to take a cue from High Noon and put together a posse. I figured my best bet was my closest confidant Simon. I approached him while he was eating his lunch. “Hey, Simon, buddy…”
“I’m not helping you fight Lyle.” Boy, there was no fooling Simon.
“Why not? Don’t you care about your friend?”
“I do, but after hearing you brag about your fighting skills, I think you can handle yourself. Didn’t you once fight off a bear?”
“I did, but what if he brings a bear?”
“You’ve done it before, you can handle it!”
“Yeah, but I fought off a bear by itself – not a bear AND Lyle Hewett! Do you think he cares about playing by the rules? Lyle may bring the whole Hewett family tree, chop it down and beat me to death with it!”
“That’s a risk I’m willing to take!”
“How can you be so callous?”
“Is Lyle coming after me?”
“That’s how I can be so callous!”
I stood on top of the table because I wanted to make my point. “Simon, Lyle Hewett isn’t coming after you today. But he could come after you tomorrow! Or the day after! People like this tend to breed like rabbits! Maybe one of them might even come after your children! Or your children’s children! Or your children’s children’s children!” I started pointing to random people in the cafeteria in order to prove my point. “It could happen to you! Or you! Or even you! I’m Robert Tolkien, and I approve this message!”
This display naturally meant nothing to Simon or any of the other students in the cafeteria. However, that wasn’t the only game in town. Maybe it would behoove me if I sought help from an actual tough guy. During my next class, I approached Big Chuck, one of the biggest guys in school. Big Chuck could probably bend Lyle Hewett into a pretzel and dip him in mustard.
“Hey Chuck, how you doing?”
Big Chuck turned to face me and stared a hole straight through me. I’m convinced this is what the late Kimbo Slice looked like when he was 17. I’m convinced the man may, in fact, be part-Terminator. If he said “Give me your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle”, I’m certain someone would hand them over. The man never had a whole to say. He just said, “What do you want?”
“I’m sure you’ve heard by now that some nefarious fiend is coming after the heart of this school, me! And I think a little muscle might prevent that from happening.”
“Why should I care?”
“Chuck – can I call you Chuck?”
“Chuck, I know you like hurting people, and this is your chance. Besides, Lyle Hewett is a jerk anyway. Wouldn’t you like to stick the boots to him?”
“I like Lyle.”
“What? Nobody likes Lyle! He’s nobody! He’s a zero! Between you and me, I heard he’s a communist! What’s he ever done for you or anyone for that matter?”
“He got me booze once.”
“Booze? Ha! Do you realize all the things I can get for you? Money, women, cars! All this can be yours!”
He caught me off-guard, but I wasn’t going to back down. “I don’t have this stuff ON me! But I can have it at your doorstep by tomorrow.”
“Then I’ll see what I can do for you tomorrow.”
“But by tomorrow, it might be too late.”
Big Chuck stood up and got in my face. “Robert, if you don’t leave me alone, Lyle Hewett won’t have the chance to beat you up. Because I’m going to pound you into a coma.”
I paused. “Listen, I can see you’re a busy man, so I’m going to leave you alone to chew things over.”
So Simon was of no help. Most of my classmates were of no help, and Big Chuck was of no help. I had one last chance. In a way, I viewed this as Jeremy Kane’s fault. I figured if there was anyone who owed me a favor, Kane could somehow help. I approached him after class.
“Hey, Jeremy old buddy, old pal…”
“I know Lyle Hewett is already coming after you.” Damn, word really does travel quickly!
“You and I have been friends for a while. You realize that in a way, it’s you who got me into this mess.”
Jeremy blinked in disbelief at my comment. “How… is this MY fault?”
“You set off the stinkbomb!”
“And you’re the dope who spread the rumor!”
“It wasn’t me who started this! It was… It was…” Boy, I realized I still didn’t know exactly who put that idea in my head. How I’d love to get my hands on a faceless student in my social studies class right now! “Maybe I don’t know the guy’s name, but I know somebody else started the rumor!”
“Yeah, but if you heard a rumor, you could have just ignored it like everyone else did. Besides, if Lyle was threatening to beat up THAT guy, would you help him?”
I had to think for a second. “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”
“It sounds to me like you made your bed and now you have to sleep in it.”
I sat in art class, feeling forlorn. How could my school, my people abandon me this way? I’m sure my classmates probably noticed I wasn’t my usual chatty self during class. My normal favorite class had this somber pall cast over it. Even though I believed I could handle Lyle, there would always be that extra level of doubt, but the real tragedy was everyone in the school was turning their back on me.
In all fairness, there was one person who was still by my side. Carrie approached me with a few supportive words. “I heard that you and Lyle Hewett are going to have a fight.”
“It’s not really going to be a fight when I merely pulverize him!”
“You don’t have to pretend you’re brave, Robert. He’s a big guy. He can be intimidating. I mean, I want to gloat and tell you I was right that spreading rumors was a bad idea, but now I’m worried that you’re really going to be hurt. I mean, you don’t even have to fight this guy. You could always just run.”
“Carrie, Wild Bill Kelso once said, ‘you should never run from a bullet. Bullets run faster than you do. If I don’t confront Lyle today, he’s just going to come after me another time, probably angrier than ever.”
“Why don’t you tell a teacher or somebody? Maybe one of them can protect you. Maybe they can confront and him and put him in detention or something before he can beat you up.”
I took a sigh. “Carrie, things don’t work that neatly. Snitchers get stitches. He’s coming after me because I told people about something he didn’t do, imagine what will happen if I tell on him for something he IS doing! One way or another, this guy is coming after me.”
“Yeah, but if he does anything, he’ll get in trouble!”
“And I’ll still be beaten up!”
I could tell by the look on her face that Carrie was starting to see my point. There was no getting out of this. She took a sigh. “I guess you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, aren’t you? I guess I can’t stop you. Is there anything I can do to help you? Maybe I can come and offer a little protection of my own?”
It’s hard to tell if Carrie genuinely wanted to help me or if she was just using this as an opportunity to score with me. I also hadn’t ruled out the idea that she cared BECAUSE she wanted to score with me. Despite the fact that Carrie could get under my skin at times, I still cared enough about her that I didn’t see her hurt. One of my dreams was that she moved to Fiji or something – happy and unharmed, but out of my way!
“Carrie, I don’t want you to get hurt. Maybe you should stay out of the and not worry about me. I can take care of myself.”
Carrie frowned at this. “Well, if you need anything from me – even if you just need me to kiss a few booboos, let me know. Here’s for good luck.” Carrie kissed me on the forehead. She just had to do that, didn’t she? Carrie just had to cook up any excuse she could think of to steal a kiss, didn’t she? Actually, using a good luck as an excuse to plant a smooch on me was a good one. Points for creativity!
The bell rang. There was no point in running. It was time to face the music, and this was music certainly written in the minorest of minor keys. Forget what I said not being able to run. This was going to be a matter of pride. I wanted the school to know what I was made of – Fighting evil by the moonlight, winning love by the daylight, and never running from a real fight! And in the unlikely event that I did get my butt kicked, I wanted them all to feel really bad!
I may not have been able to keep my conventional weapons on the school grounds. However, I did have my art supplies in my locker. I decided to play a few mind games with Lyle. I figured someone who was all bulk, no brains like Lyle was wouldn’t be bluffed by threats, but maybe he could be vanquished on a cerebral level! I took my art supplies and put on a little war paint for myself.
I decided to approach the soon-to-be-battleground cautiously while keeping my distance. As I saw Lyle standing around, waiting for a battle, I couldn’t help but notice several of my classmates were standing around, gearing up for a fight. Tell these people I needed help, and they run to the hills. Tell these same people there’s going to be a fight, and they come in droves. I don’t even think they necessarily wanted to see ME get beaten up. I think they just wanted to see someone gets beaten up. A show’s a show for these people.
Lyle must have grown impatient waiting for me. He called out: “I know you’re out there, Robert. You can’t hide forever!”
So I decided to make my entrance. Humming my own entrance music that combined guitar with cinematic orchestration, I emerged in my war paint. Parts of my face covered in black, my entire upper body covered to look like a mouth with razor shop teeth and a tongue that went to the bottom of my navel. It wasn’t just a cosmetic change, I was crawling and making some feral body language, raising my arms with each musical sting. Lyle Hewett wasn’t going against any Robert Tolkien – that would have been hard enough. If he wanted to fight me, he was going to have to go face to face with Demon Tolkien!
Lyle smirked at me. “Is this some kind of a joke?”
“The only joke here is you. Now, you can go peacefully, or you can go IN pieces!”
Lyle started laughing again. “Let me get this straight, you think I’m not going to fight you because you put on a little clown makeup?”
I was becoming a little frustrated as his blatant disrespect, but I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I was still hoping to resolve this matter without raising a fist. “Alright, you’ve left me with no choice. It’s time for the Tolkien Eye!”
(Kids, don’t attempt the Tolkien Eye at home. Go to a neighbour’s house.)
I concentrated my powers of hypnotism and focused on leaving Lyle helpless and stupefied. Perhaps Lyle was made of stronger stuff than I gave him credit for. After a few minutes of giving him the Tolkien Eye, a move that vanquished some of the most nefarious members of my rogue’s gallery, Lyle was unphased. Maybe it’s true what they say, hypnotism is harder on the stupid.
Some jabroni from the crowd called out, “Hey, is somebody going to throw a fist or something?” My memory was a little hazy on matching the voices, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe it was the same jerkass who got me into this mess.
Lyle concurred, “The guy’s got a good point. I think I’m going to enjoy beating you up.”
You know, in the past, I’ve boasted about many great things, but there were many people who will verify what happened next as the gospel truth. Lyle cocked his fist, I ducked in just the nick of time, swung my fist and connected straight in the bridge of Lyle’s nose, drawing blood immediately. I predicted Mr Hewett might have brought weapons or extra hoods to make the odds unfair. What he didn’t count was Robert Ulysses Tolkien being a purple belt in karate. Those instincts kicked in when after already breaking the guy’s nose, I lifted my knee and gave Lyle a swift kick in the family jewels so hard I probably prevented another generation of those misbegotten miscreants from spawning.
One thing I’ve learned in 17 years of existence is to break a guy’s nose and give him a pop to the pills, he will go down no matter how tough he is. (Okay, there are still people who wouldn’t go down even after all that, but you get my point.) Lyle Hewett, one year older than me and about several hundred pounds heavier was felled at my hand… and foot. At least I thought it was a heroic victory.
Carrie had made good on her plans to help… in all the wrong ways. Out came Carrie with Mrs. Newcastle. “Robert, I know you said you didn’t want me to help, but …” As they arrived on the scene, all they saw was me standing over a bloodied and whimpering freshman. I tried. I really tried to tell my side of the story, but even if it was self-defense, they still viewed it as fighting and I “should have handled things differently.” (Also, going shirtless was a violation of school dress code.)
I was sentenced to an in-school suspension. I’m not sure if they were trying to give me a lighter sentence because I was in fact defending myself or if they thought letting me stay home for a few days would be a reward. My suspension wouldn’t start until the following Monday – I guess they wanted a nice round number. The Friday between my fight and my in-school suspension was going to be a slog.
There were one or two people who were impressed that I beat up somebody so big. And a good chunk of people were proud of me for felling someone they thought was a jerk. One guy came up to me and said, “Robert, I’m proud of you for standing up to Lyle.”
I asked, “How come you never did anything like that?”
The guy just gave me a look as if to say, “Because of what happened to you.”
However, a lot of the school treated me like a thug. Someone grabbed the last chocolate milk before me, and someone chimed in, “You better let him have that, or he’ll sock you!”
Ben Giggard, in particular, had a field day busting my chops for the brawl to end it all. “Hey, Robert you like to brag. Why don’t you tell everyone how you beat up a freshman?”
I had to bottle a lot of my frustration up. I sure as hell couldn’t dig my grave deeper by actually hitting anyone, and even an idle threat would have gotten me in trouble. Even with the few people on my side, it stuck in my craw that so many people STILL cast me as the villain! Not only was I the winner, I was defending myself! What was I supposed to do? Let him clobber me?
Besides, my display of fisticuffs didn’t accomplish anything. Lyle left me alone but decided to harass easier prey. That’s the way people like that think – they truly believe they can push certain people around, then they find out people like me have teeth, so they move on to someone easier to push around. Every now and then he bumped into the occasional freshman who reminded him that he got his jaw jacked. Who was to thank? Me! Who got treated like a villain? Me! I’ll say one thing, being around that twerp made me think harder about my grades. I sure as hell didn’t want to end up held back like Lyle. Forget wanting to move forward, what if we ended up in the same class?
However, there was one person who was always on my side – even if it was more on moral ground than actually helping me. Carrie approached me after school was over. “Hey Robert, I’m sorry I got you in trouble.”
Even though this was technically Carrie’s fault, I didn’t want her to feel bad. “Carrie, maybe you were right. Maybe I am the one who got myself in this mess. From now on, if I’m going to tell stories, I should stick to my favorite subject – myself.”
“I am curious – how did you beat up someone as big as Lyle Hewett? I mean he’s huge! He’s mean! He’s probably been in a zillion fights!”
I pulled out my phone and showed Carrie my picture wearing my purple karate belt. Carrie seemed quite impressed. “I practice every week.”
“You mind if I ask one more thing?” I raised an eyebrow. “Does the purple belt go with your pink underwear?”
Maybe some days of in-school suspension would do me well.
Copyright 2017 Alex deCourville