THE PRICE OF FEAR

a story about a thirteen year-old boy and a bully.

     Joey Duduka was lonely when he moved to Monotoning, until he met Butch Kilabreski.  Butch introduced Joey to all the places in a small town that would excite and delight any thirteen year-old boy.  Like the park, with its three baseball diamonds.  And the municipal pool, where they dived and swam, played water polo, and splashed the pretty girls in their bright bikinis.

     Butch's favorite hangout, that summer, was old Mr. Hanks' pharmacy, which stood on the corner of the last block in town, just before the Monotoning Hotel and the double set of rusted railroad tracks, at the north end of town.

     One afternoon in late August, Butch led Joey to the pharmacy door.  "Wait here," he instructed Joey.  "I'll be right back."

     Butch came running out of the pharmacy twenty seconds later.  Joey raced after him, down the narrow alley, next to the pharmacy, and past a short row of dilapidated, old houses, with dark windows and broken porches, to where the alley dead-ended against the grassy railroad embankment.  There, panting and breathless, Joey watched, while Butch pulled a king's ransom in candy bars from the bulging pockets of his tight-fitting jeans.

     "Wow!" Joey gasped.  "Where'd you get the money to buy all that candy?"

     "I didn't buy it," Butch replied proudly.  "I took it.  And now, it's your turn."

     "My turn?"

     "Uh-huh.  Your turn.  You're going to march right back up there and see how much candy you can get away with without old man Hanks catching you."

     "But that's stealing!"

     WHAM!!!  Butch's fist came flying out of nowhere, striking Joey on his jaw.  Getting hit by Butch was like getting smacked in the face with a brick.  The blow knocked Joey's head all the way on his neck and made him stagger back a step.

     "Ow!" Joey yelped involuntarily like a frightened puppy.  Hot tears sprang to his eyes.  He touched the fingertips of his right hand to his cheek, which felt like it was on fire.  Pain ripped like a ragged razor blade from just under his right ear and all the way down the thin line of his haw, to the blunt knob of his chin.  He waggled his jaw back and forth several times to make sure it wasn't broken.

     "Hey!  What did you do that for?" Joey shouted at his friend.

     "Because you're a coward, that's why," Butch sneered.  "You're even too scared to try and take a little candy from a stupid, old man in suspenders and a silly, little red bowtie."

     Butch turned and casually sauntered away, with his hands in his pockets and a happy, contented grin on his face, leaving Joey to stand there and watch him go, and wonder what he'd done to make his new friend so mad at him.

The End

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