A large group of boys crowded round Dwight Blaine, Staley High’s Finest School Loser. Also known as the kid who wore those thick nerdy glasses and kept mostly to the shadows of the school halls or the safe, quieter atmosphere of the library in the attempt of avoiding unfortunate situations - such as the one he was stuck in now.
They were pushing him up against the tiled wall of the boy’s changing rooms, jeering at him and hollering out foul names. Dwight’s expression was one of desperation and fright, his pale complexion becoming even more pallid as he admitted immediate defeat. This did nothing to discourage them, but spurred them on like bulls when confronted with the colour red. Some of them had their fists clenched as if they were ready to pound the life out of him.
“Hey!” the largest one yelled.
It was clear he was the leader simply by his dominating stance. He had a strong, masculine jaw and muscles that more resembled boulders rippling beneath his sportswear. His wrestler’s build made up for the brain cells he had lacked since childhood. This great oaf went by the name of Bradley Colbert. Just Brad to his equally bone-headed crew.
“I saw you eyeing up my girl,” he accused, jabbing at Dwight’s chest so violently that he gasped. “Don’t even think about trying anything with her! She’s mine, you got that?”
Dwight briefly thought back to the beautiful blonde he had nervously glanced at earlier that morning, strutting across the sport’s field like she was all that. And really she was. Every single guy in the year and surrounding years had an eye for her since puberty decided to treat her kind.
Since nobody dared to admit their feelings out loud, Brad’s arrogance and instinctual stupidity made it so he was none the wiser to the amount of attention his girlfriend received from his fellow male classmates. That was until he caught Dwight’s quick peak. His menacing stare locked onto him and the fiery jealousy everyone in the school was all too aware of began to boil within the balls of his clenched fists. As soon as Dwight realised what was happening, he knew he was in for it.
When Dwight did not respond Brad lent in closer towards him. Their noses were almost touching. The tough scent of testosterone mingled with deodorant rolled off Brad’s body and a rather petrified Dwight swallowed hard to keep from choking on it.
“Nobody eyes up my girl.” Brad grabbed a handful of his shirt.“Nobody.”
“S-s-sorry,” Dwight stuttered through chattering teeth.
“And just to make sure you don’t do it again...” Brad trailed off, a malicious glint sparkling in his dark eyes. Dwight's heart lurched.
Suddenly he was hauled off the ground. He felt a blow to the back of his head and spine as Brad slammed him into the wall’s rock-hard surface. The force was too much. He felt his consciousness slipping through his increasingly heavy fingers. He crumpled onto the mud-stained floor below, his glasses clattering onto the floor somewhere beside him. The last thing he heard was Brad’s faraway voice order his cronies, “Strip him.”
An abrupt hammering noise startled Dwight from his dreamless sleep. Groaning, he tried to get up from his cramped crouching position, but ended up banging his head into something solid situated above him. The impact caused his eyes to snap open and he saw only unyielding darkness surround him.
Panicked, he flung his arms out and his sweaty palms smacked against the cool metal of a changing room locker’s interior. Driven by confusion and claustrophobia, he began frantically to search for the door. When he found it he realised. They had locked it.
“Help me!” he burst out.
Before he could stop himself he began to pound at the door, hysterical with distress.
“Anyone? I’m in here! Please help me!”
The sound of footsteps sprinting towards where he was trapped made him feel relieved. He was about to yell out more when a dreading thought drifted into his mind. What if it were the boys that had confined him there in the first place?
He heard the combination being put in and like the scared, helpless kid he pushed himself right into the locker’s corner, preparing for the beating he would face it was Brad or a member of his crew.
“There you are!” A voice exclaimed in a tone of quizzical amusement.
Dwight blinked away the tears formed by the light that flooded into the locker.
“Aww, there’s no need to be such a cry baby,” his rescuer laughed at him as he clambered out, shaken up by the whole experience.
Though Dwight could only see a spectrum of blurs, he recognised the sniggering buffoon. It was his cousin, Josh.
“Have you got my specs?” Dwight asked tensely, feeling blindly around on the floor.
Josh knelt beside him and handed over his glasses. Dwight took them gingerly between two fingers.
“So, what did you do to Brad to make him so mad?” questioned Josh as Dwight started to attach the two parts of his broken spectacles together.
“Absolutely nothing,” muttered Dwight.
“Come on! You must have done something. Brad never makes a fuss like that over nothing.”
Josh nudged him when his cousin did not reply. Dwight ignored him and slid on his glasses, sighing when he noticed that the right lens was shattered beyond repair.
“When’s lunch?” He said, refusing to think about how his mother would complain at him when he got home.
Josh glanced down at his watch and sighed loudly – a sound he made when he was about to disappoint someone.
“Sorry buddy, you just missed it.”
He pat his cousin on the shoulder, stood up and then looked at down him. His nerdy cousin Dwight, who was sat on the changing room floor wearing nothing but his underwear.
“Do you-” he began.
“No, I don’t know where they put my clothes.”
Josh ran a hand through his naturally messy brown hair.
“Stay there a sec, I be right back.” He turned away and left the changing rooms without a word of explanation.
Dwight sat there rubbing his hands over the goose bumps that had erupted over his bare arms. Inside the confined space of the locker it had been much warmer, but now he could feel the draft that blew in from the vents above.
He supposed he should have hid in case someone other than Josh came in. The only problem was where? He was not going back into a locker any time soon if he could avoid it, and the showers were still wet and dangerously slippery. Besides, Dwight always hated going in them. Not just for the fear of his skimpy body being laughed at by the other boys, but because of the nasty, disgusting, putrid bacteria that crawled around in there.
Finally, Josh returned several minutes later clutching onto some clothes.
“Don’t ask how long they’ve been in my locker, but these are the only things I’ve got.”
He threw them carelessly across the room at his cousin.
Dwight put the t-shirt on, forcing himself not to wrinkle his nose at the stale smell that came off it and deliberately ignoring the stain smeared across it. He then pulled on Josh’s spare jeans, not quite sure whether or not he was truly grateful for those un-ironed garments.
“Have you got any shoes?” Dwight asked, looking down at his bare feet.
“Sorry Cuz,” Josh apologised.
Dwight grumbled under his breath. It was going to be a long walk home.
“Hey Dee,” Josh said after a short pause. “Could you do me a favour?”
“Don’t tell Aunt Em about this. She’ll go ballistic and head straight to the principal’s office. You know what your mum is like.”
“How do I explain my broken glasses?”
“I dunno. Just say you walked into a wall or something.”
Dwight snorted at the crudity of such an appalling excuse. Josh pretended he did not hear him and carried on with his plea.
“If you dob him in, Dwight, Brad will probably end up getting suspended, but when he gets back he’ll be angrier than ever. You won’t see a day of peace. Whereas if you just leave things as they are Brad will eventually get bored and move on.”
Dwight knew that despite Josh’s seemingly altruistic words, he was really only looking out for himself. After all, they were related, and everyone in the school was aware of that as much to his cousin’s ill-concealed embarrassment. If Dwight were to get Brad in trouble, Josh’s popularity in the school would dramatically decrease. Or that is what Josh feared anyway.
“Okay,” said Dwight, rather reluctantly.
“So you won’t?” Josh gasped with joy filled surprise, though deep down he knew Dwight would have agreed anyway. “Thanks man!”
“No problem,” Dwight mumbled half-heartedly as Josh again patted him lightly on his shoulder.
He instantly began regretting his decision.