Tuesday, September 1, 2009


That Monday, and every school day for the next three months, a bully they called Zombie, who wore size fourteen Nikes and had three black gaps in his lying smile, stole Greggie’s lunch money. Greggie didn’t tell anyone, because there wasn’t anyone to tell. He didn’t have a father or a big brother, or even a tough cousin. It was just him and his mom, and she worked as a colorist for minimum wage. After school and until his mom came home around seven or eight he stayed with Mrs. Freeman, this old lady in their building, and she gave him cookies and muffins and pretty much anything he wanted to eat, so he only had to be hungry between approximately one p.m. and three p.m. and Zombie gave him nightmares anyway.

But then in school they read this story about this little kid who tricked the Nazis and brought information to the French resistance and that afternoon he went down to the salon where his mom worked before he went to Mrs. Freeman’s and he stole a nail file, the metal kind. That night, under the covers, he filed his nails into claws like Wolverine.

After that, the kids gave Zombie a new nickname, which was One-Eyed Jerk, which stuck even after he didn’t have to wear the patch anymore, and even after the scars were just a few puckery white seams down one side of his face. Greggie had to go to counseling for the rest of the school year but that didn’t bother him much and no one ever bullied him anymore.

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