‘I’m Not A Monster’

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As you remember, Dear Reader, we left last week’s column with the kids from Flamingo Street stuck in a precarious situation. Waist deep in the muck of Cripple Creek, they struggled to free themselves before Bully Brad and his gang of three could reach them.

Unfortunately for those stuck: Bubba Hanks, Goofy Steve, my three brothers and me, it wasn’t them we were watching stomping through the woods. It was something much, much worse.

Dark shadows were now moving our way as low guttural growls clawed their way through the darkness. What happened next was beyond belief – yet it happened just as written here.

Our plan was to ambush Bully Brad by staging a late-night water balloon battle outside his house. Unfortunately, the plan had gone horribly wrong. Somehow during the day, he had discovered our strategically placed buckets of water balloons along the way. In our retreat from our attack launched at his house, we discovered he had popped all of the balloons, leaving us defenseless. And on the run for our lives.

After a long downhill chase, our only chance of survival was to try jumping across Cripple Creek. None of us made it, and now stuck in mud, we were facing something far worse than a bully and his gang. We now were gazing at the pack of wild dogs that roamed the street of Flamingo at night. Luckily there was an expanse of water between us and the dogs. We were safe … or so we thought.

With a commanding growl from the pack leader, one of the dogs did a mighty leap towards us. He landed with a splash just inches from Goof, stuck in the brown much like the rest of us. The more he struggled the deeper he sank. The pack leader gave another commanding growl and another much larger dog than the last backed up to start his leap. And that’s when it happened.

Out of the darkness of that moonless night an Angel descended upon us. The help we had all prayed for had arrived. Only it wasn’t Heaven-sent. The origin of our Angel had come from a dilapidated white clapboard house, the first house on Flamingo. The house of none other than Down the Street Bully Brad.

Without a word, Bully Brad and his gang of three unloaded all of their dirt clods, but not at us. The pack of dogs growls soon turned to whimpers under the barrage of dirt clods that had certainly been meant for us. Still stuck in the muck, we watched as the pack scampered off.

Then we watched in fear as Bully Brad and his gang picked up long sticks while walking our way. Reaching the bank’s edge, with a limb outstretched, Bully Brad said, “Here, grab hold.”

One by one, Bully Brad and his gang of three pulled us out the muck that night, up on the bank and to safety. I asked him why he just didn’t let the dogs get us. He answered over his shoulder as they walked away into the darkness, “I might be a bully, but I’m not a monster.”

His answer I’ve never forgotten. If someone as bad as Bully Brad can rise up and do the right thing, then perhaps others can also. I choose to believe there is always some good in every person … even if they’re as bad as Down the Street Bully Brad.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]