IT ALL STARTED BACK IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. I walked towards the other building where the library was when I met Buddy and his pals.
Salvador “Buddy” Jimenez was a strong-willed guy bullies were made of — tall, medium built and muscularly fit. He always wore a baseball cap that he got from another student a few months back. He had a white t-shirt topped with a denim jacket, his denim jeans almost torn on the knees, and dirty white rubber shoes. A good-looking mestizo covered with filth. He compensated by surrounding himself with good-looking close pals –– Mark and Jim.
Mark was dark, chubby, and short, who wore his pants low-waist. He always has this headband on his forehead, showing off like a thug and a martial artist wannabe.
Jim was taller, thinner, and handsome despite his scar on his left temple. Something in him doesn’t fit right. Maybe, just maybe, he was just pressured to be one of them. A good guy went badly.
The three of them always walked together, with Buddy always at the center, Mark on the left, and Jim on the right. They always chewed gum and spit sideways.
“Hey, Huan,” greeted Buddy. “Long time no see…”
I tried to continue walking, but Mark and Jim blocked my way.
“Can I have a peso?” Buddy asked.
“Uhm…” I said as I dug into my pocket. “Here.” I gave him a peso. “Can I go now?”
“Sure,” Buddy said and they moved aside to let me pass through.
They do that to everyone in school. That was how they got their lunch or snack, whatever time of day it was.
They were once my classmates back in grade school. But when they learned that I was one of the top students in junior high school, they started harassing me. I don’t know why. Some students said that Buddy was jealous of my achievements. I didn’t believe that.
Buddy was smart, made it to the top of his section but failed to make it to our batch’s honor roll. He was a famous campus delinquent who visited the Principal’s office more often than not.
I didn’t fight them back because their bullying was something I could still tolerate. It was much minor than the rest of the students.
IT TOOK CREATIVITY on my part to get my form of revenge at them that year. In our English class, we were divided into groups and assigned to create a simple newspaper. I wrote a poem about bullies without mentioning their names, of course. Some of my classmates had read it and they loved it. But, I never knew that it spread like fire across the campus until a few days later.
Buddy and his pals waited for me outside the school. I was walking home alone in the street when I heard them call.
“Hey, Huan!” I heard Mark shout my name.
I turned around and saw the three of them approaching. ”What is it this time?” I asked.
“Don’t pretend you know nothing,” Buddy said as he pushed me.
I went out of balance, but I managed not to fall to the ground. “Hey, if you’re not guilty of anything, then you shouldn’t be affected by that poem,” I said, sensing that it was the cause of it all.
But I received a punch on the cheeks as his reply. It made me fall down to the ground. As I was about to stand up, Mark kicked and Jim punched me. Buddy joined so I fought the three of them unprepared.
I fought back and tried to beat them with all my strength, but I felt too tired and ill-equipped against them. Seeing that I couldn’t fight anymore, they left me alone, bruised and beaten. After that, I felt I had enough.
When I got home, my mother saw my bruises and asked why I looked that way. So I told her the whole story. She then decided to speak with our principal the next day.
Being an honor student gave me an advantage. The Principal, and the faculty members who were there at the office, took my side. The Principal decided to suspend the three for a week and ordered them not to get closer to me until the end of the school year.
I took that opportunity to prepare myself physically. I exercised, worked out, and ate healthily. At the same time, I tried to avoid Buddy and his pals as much as possible.