Hello, Internet! Pat Henshaw returns to Flash Fiction Friday with a contemporary tale about what happens when you run into the school bully at your high school reunion.
Restroom Revenge by Pat Henshaw
“Do what I tell you and everything will be fine.”
The arms of the guy behind me banded around my torso. Déjà vu of high school nightmares. I knew who it was and now ten years later could beat him at this game.
When he took a breath, I elbowed him in the chest, whipped around, and kneed him in the groin. Bernie went down with a thud.
Before I could have it out with him, the restroom door opened, and a vision of handsomeness entered, his glance going from Bernie on the floor clutching his junk to me standing over him.
“Alex?” the vision asked.
“It’s not what it looks like.” My fury eased as I recognized him. “Stephen?”
“Uh, Steve now. Can I help?”
I grinned, looked down at Bernie, and laughed.
“Nope. Think I’ve got it under control.”
Since Steve had been another of Bernie’s victims in those long ago high school days, we shared a laugh as we looked down at our groaning harasser.
“Should we kick him?” I wondered.
“He’d do that to us,” he muttered.
“So which is better? An eye for an eye? Or let bygones lie?”
I walked to the sink, keeping my eyes on Stephen’s golden brown hair, his sturdy build, his beautiful abs being displayed through his mohair sweater.
“If I’d known you were going to be here at the reunion, I’d have brought the book.”
“What book?” I was confused. Weren’t we talking about Bernie on the floor.
“Your book, silly.”
Oh, right. Wait. He bought a copy of my book?
“I’d get your autograph.”
While my mind swirled around the knowledge he owned the book, I washed my hands and listened to Bernie’s moans ease. Was he going to try the assault again?
Then the door to the restroom opened again. This time vice-principal Martin came in. He’d earned the name “vice” as far as I was concerned back then.
He stopped and stared at Bernie, whose groans were getting softer.
“Is there trouble here, boys?” He glared at me and Steve. “What happened?”
“Tripped,” I said as much as I could like Bernie had each time I’d been on the ground and he’d been standing over me. Now, however, I was taller and broader than Bernie.
Steve started laughing beside me. It hit me that Martin couldn’t do anything to us now. Unless Bernie wanted to press charges—what kind, I had no idea—we were at a standstill here.
“Bernie? What happened?” Martin’s voice made him sound confused.
And there it was. The shoe on the other foot. Tit for tat. Was Bernie going to roll over like he’d always wanted me to do? Or was he a scrapper like I’d been?
His mouth hung open and saliva was dripping down his chin. His hands still sheltered his groin. He had to clear his throat a couple times before he could speak.
“Nothing happened. I tripped. I’m fine.”
Let’s see. Steve and I were standing. Mr. Martin was standing. Bernie was in a fetus roll on the filthy high school bathroom floor. And everyone was all right?
The years of abuse and resentment eased themselves from my mind and my soul. I’d survived Bernie. I’d survived Mr. Martin. I was successful, and from the looks of him Steve had both survived and was successful too.
With a shake of his head, Martin left.
Bernie held up a hand.
“Help me up?”
I extended a hand and hoisted him to stand, ready to retaliate if he decided to continue his harassment.
On his feet, Bernie shook himself like a dog coming in from outside.
“You don’t understand, Joel. I never meant to hurt you. I just wanted to be your friend.” His voice whined, and his body slumped.
“Funny way of showing it.”
Steve put his arm around my waist.
“So are you going to autograph my copy of the book?” As he pulled me closer, he kind of snuggled into me. “And I think they’re playing our song out there.”
I glanced at Bernie who looked completely nuked.
I shook my head.
Then putting my arm over Steve’s shoulders, I said, “Yeah, you’re right. They are playing our song.”
As we walked out the door, Steve growled, “Do what I tell you and everything will be fine.”