Weatherby's Justice

5 min
I was passing through the alley behind the grocery store when I heard the shouts coming from behind the yellow row of dumpsters. I was curious, and so I stopped and leaned my bike up against the back wall of the store, then walked around so I could see what was going on.
It was Nills Weatherby and his gang.
They're the most notorious group of middle-schoolers in the whole town. Six of 'em, the biggest kids in the sixth grade. The only ones who’ve actually started puberty. They all wear leather jackets—they think it makes them look cool—and lord it in the playground at recess and lunch.
This time, though, they were doing something a little more serious.
Graffiti. On the back of the grocery store.
I watched them for a minute as the largest of the group, Chubs the Nugget, painstakingly wrote a swearword on the wall of the building. Idiot. He even put his name under it! Actually, he put “the nugget”, but it's the same thing.
I decided against doing anything and honestly was about to leave when Carmela Burton marched in from around the corner. I groaned. The unofficial Nerd Queen in our school and a goody-goody tattle tale, she was unbearable at the best of times. It took her a second to notice the gang, but when she did, she put her hands on her hips and strode to confront them, her head of burly blond hair springing about her face with every step.
“You boys stop that immediately!” she said in a shrill, loud voice.
Nills turned and looked at her. “Oh, it's Miss Loudmouth, boys.” There was a chorus of guffaws, and he spat in the dirt before continuing. “We're just makin' the property prettier, Carmie.”
“You're gonna get arrested! That's illegal! And bad, too!” Her bouncing curls added emphasis to the declaration.
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah!” she screeched.
“Who's gonna arrest us, little Carmie?”
“The police officer around the corner talking to my daddy! He says he's just waiting for a chance to catch the kids who been graffiti-en the school and library. Just you wait 'til I tell him it's you! Then you'll get it, you lousy boys!!” With that, she turned on her heel and marched away again.
After a shocked silence, the gang charged after her and grabbed her, spinning her around to face them. “Don't you dare tell no cops!” said Nills loudly. “Or we'll beat you up!”
She struggled in his arms. “You couldn't if you tried!” She stomped on his foot and succeeded in pulling her arms from his grasp, curls swinging wildly. “Ha!”
She took a step backwards and Higs, another one of Nills' cronies, grabbed a handful of her curly hair. She yelped in pain.
“Don't move, Carmie, or I'll cut off your hair, he he he,” he rasped. He pulled on it.
She shrieked, loudly. “Don't!!”
“Just teach you a lesson not to tell that officer,” said Nills. “We'll just give you a warning.” So saying, he pulled out a rusty old knife and sliced off the clump Higs was holding. The two inches of bright hair fell into the dust.
She drove her elbow into Higs's belly, stomped on Nill's foot, and bit Chubs the Nugget's arm like a curly-haired vampire before wrenching her way out and running around the corner to fetch her daddy. The gang stood, shocked, before they came to their senses and realized that they were about to be found out.
Naturally they booked it straight towards where I was hiding.
I yanked my bike from the wall and jumping madly on. I started pedaling, but Chubs the Nugget crashed into me and brought me down with the bike, skinning my knee. “Give me that,” he said, yanking it out of my hands.
I'd paid for that bike myself. A hundred fifty bucks worth of shocks, extreme rubber tires with deluxe non-popping tubes, and a beautiful set of Shimano gears, 21 speed. It'd taken me all summer last year to earn the money, mowing grouchy ol' Ms. Grimzer's lawn for five bucks a week. I was NOT giving it to Chubs the Nugget.
I stood up and punched him in the gut.
“Oof,” he gasped, reeling backwards.
“This is my bike!” I yelled.
They surrounded me. “Hand it over, Wyatt,” said Nills. “You’re surrounded.” He laughed, his yellowed, chipped teeth glinting like gold in the sunlight.
I was trembling, but from anger rather than fear. “It-it's my bike,” I stuttered. “N-not yours. Mine.” My hands balled into fists.
“Guess we'll have to do this the hard way, then,” said Nills. “Higs, take the bike.”
Higs reached out, but I yanked the bike out of his way. “Hand it over, slimeball,” he rasped at me. “It's ours now, he he he.” He landed a hand on the bike, gave a hard tug, and the handle slid from my grasp, the rubber cover coming off in my fingers.
I dropped the cover and slugged him hard as I could, right in the eye.
“Oooh!!!” he screeched, like a little girl. He fell backwards onto his rump.
“It's my bike!” I wasn't about to lose my bike to some delinquent who was fatter than a grey whale!
He got to his feet with a sneer in his eye. “You're in for it!” he muttered. A muscle in his jaw twitched sporadically. “No more Mr. Nice guy.”
He stepped forward and threw a fist. It floored me.
“He he,” he laughed.
I stood up shakily. The pouding of running feet filled the air, and Carmela appeared around the corner, curls flying wildly. “There they are!” she shrieked, pointing at us. “Get them!! They cut my hair!!”
Nills looked desperately around at his gang, then yanked the bike out of Higs’ hands and swung onto it. “Run for it!!” he yelled, and then took off.
I ran after Nills. He was still in first gear, the idiot, and the pedals were spinning uselessly. I tackled him, causing the bike to crash once again. He fell to the ground with a cry of pain and I landed on top.
Carmela's daddy—same bright golden hair and a pair of thin glasses—came running up. “You're in big trouble, young man!” he said. He yanked Nills to his feet and marched him over to Carmela. “Apologize to my daughter! Now!”
Nills mumbled something and Carmela's dad grabbed him by the shoulders. “Say it louder! And look her in the eye!”
Carmela stood with a frown on her face, her arms folded and her curls waving crossly in the wind.
“Sorry,” muttered Nills. “Sorry I cut your hair.”
The cop came around the corner the next minute and shouted at Nills even more than Carmela's dad had. He dragged Nills by the arm and put him in the back of his car, then took off down the road to where the gang was trying to escape, yelling at them. A minute later they'd all been dragged back to join Nills. The cop gave them a lecture and then called for some backup to take them all to the station.
Carmela's dad came up to me then and glanced at the damaged bike I was holding. “Oh dear,” he said. “That's too bad.”
I nodded my ascent mutely.
He looked at it a moment longer, then turned to face me. “Thanks for keeping those boys around while Carm came and got me,” he said. Carmela came up at that moment. Her right bunch of curls was noticeably shorter than the others.
“Sorry about your hair, Carmela,” I said to her.
“It’s okay, I guess. Sorry about your bike!”
“I think what we need is some ice cream,” said Carmela's father kindly.
I quickly nodded my agreement. “Yeah, me too,” I said.
“Come to the front of the store and we'll load he bike into my truck,” he said. I nodded gratefully and started wheeling it over.
Carmela fell into step beside me. “Thanks for helping,” she said in her shrill voice.
“Yeah,” I said.
“We got 'em back!”
“True,” I muttered. It did feel good to have shown Nills Weatherby what was what.

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