Jake walked into the school. No one looked at him or tried to talk to him. He had a reputation. He wanted to be left alone. And he was tough. Even though he was only ten, he had fought boys in middle school and beat them up.
No one knew exactly where he had come from. He and his dad moved to the village three years ago. His dad worked at the mill. Jake had no brothers or sisters or even a mom that anyone knew about. He walked to school, did his school work, and walked home. His dad drove a beat up pickup truck that once was blue. He had been seen around town at the grocery store or drug store. He went to work every day, did his job well, and went home. No body knew anything about either of them.
The boys at school tried to make friends, but Jake just looked at them. He never smiled. When called on in class, he answered the questions as briefly as possible, usually giving the correct answer, but never elaborating. He ate alone in the lunch room, bringing his lunch in a paper sack…always the same lunch: A peanut butter sandwich, and an apple. He bought a carton of milk and that was it.
The boys gave up trying to include him in recess games or in talk at lunch. He didn’t seem unhappy. He just liked to be alone. This was back in the days before anyone was worried about “loners.” Everyone seemed to agree. It was his right to be alone, if that was what he wanted.
Then Kevin moved to town. Kevin was a jerk. He had moved from the city and had little use for small towns or their inhabitants. He was a big kid, probably weighing 150 pounds, and a bully. He picked on smaller kids, calling them names, shoving them, and generally, making their lives miserable. It was long before schools worried about bullies either. If a teacher saw him push a smaller child, the teacher might yell at him, but the attitude was, “boys will be boys.”
Jake was aware of Kevin, but didn’t pay any attention to him, even though they were in the same class. Kevin didn’t spend much time with boys his own age, preferring to pick on the smaller ones.
One day, Jake saw Kevin push a smaller boy down, kick him in the ribs, and take his lunch away from him. Without saying a word, Jake walked over to Kevin and decked him. While he was down, Jake kicked him in the ribs, and picked up his books and threw them across the school yard. Then he helped the smaller boy up, gave back his lunch, and walked with him to his class.
Not a word was said. No words were needed.