Micah was walking home from school when someone punched his lights out. When he came to, he was lying in the gutter, damming the flow of the rain. Fallen leaves were piling up against his face. He tried to get up. The palms of his hands were skinned and his knees were bleeding through the holes in his pants. His backpack was lying behind him. It had been emptied, books and papers cluttering the drain.
He stood up and started gathering his stuff. His entire body hurt, telling him whoever had knocked him unconscious hadn’t stopped there. He would have a hard time hiding the bruises from his mom again. How was he going to explain some kids at school were hitting him simply for being himself? His wet clothes and school things were easily explained. I slipped and dropped my pack, mom. I’m all right.
But he wasn’t. And if something didn’t change soon, things might get even worse.
“Need a hand there, buddy?”
The voice startled Micah. He turned around and almost did slip. A strong hand grabbed his left arm and held him steady. Micah looked from the hand across the muscled arm to the giant standing in front of him.
The giant smiled. “You was lucky I was here. Scared off them punks. Couldn’t catch em, though. Getting’ too old for that shit. They botherin’ you for long, son?”
“You want me to help with that? Teach ya some moves? ‘Course it ain’t gonna do you no good if they blindside ya like that. That’s fightin’ dirty. Fightin’ cowardly. I’d like to see them take you on in a face to face battle, mano a mano, after I trained ya some. Whatcha say?”
Micah shook his head. “My mom wouldn’t want that.”
“Bet your mom doesn’t want you creamed every day either, now does she? It’d be our little secret.” He winked at Micah. “Would do me some good to get out of my old rockin’ chair. This old fella gonna turn to dust otherwise, methinks.”
Micah smiled. “All right, Mr Clay.”