“Hey, Heidigger, we want to talk to you.”
Rog Heidigger swallowed his mouthful of cola, feeling his insides tighten up. Biff was a year behind him in school, but that was because he’d been held back a year. He towered over Rog, just like he towered over the other kids in his class. Rog was very aware of this as Biff stood in front of him.
“We don’t want you to play in the next game.”
“What?” Rog blinked.
“You heard me. Tell coach you’re sick. Tell your mama you wet your pants and gotta go home. But you’re not playing this next floor hockey game.”
“Yeah,” piped up one of Biff’s friends, “we’re sick of you shooting at our goal!”
“Or stumbling and missing the puck, or any of the other dumb-ass things you do. You shouldn’t even be playing this game.” Biff said.
“But you can’t play without me!! You’ll be down a team member! You’ll have to forfeit!”
Biff shook his head. “No we won’t. Frankie can sub for you. Anybody’d be better than your hopeless ass in there.”
Rog felt sick. He’d only started playing floor hockey because he’d liked it when they made him play it in gym class. Next thing he knew, mom had signed him up at the rec center, and he had no choice--she’d paid sixty dollars, she told him, he’d better play. He found he wasn’t good at it outside of gym. And he found that Biff was there.
He’d never have gone if he’d known Biff would be there.
He couldn’t fight Biff. Even if he wasn’t scrawny, even if he knew how to throw a punch, he’d promised himself he wouldn’t fight him. He seen his aunt and uncle, seen the bruises. He would never fight someone. Not even Biff.
And yet...something inside him spoke up.
“No,” he mumbled, voice small.
“No!” Rog could feel himself breathing deeply, feel his heart pounding. What was he doing? “I won’t drop out. Not even for you.”
Rog knocked the Coke can out of his hand, sending it in a high arc through the air. He pointed at the spilled soda. “Lick it up.”
By this time, Biff’s friends had gathered in a circle around them. Rog realized there was no escape.
He thought of every time Biff had tripped him at school. Every time he’d taken Rog’s lunch money. Every time Biff had made the class laugh and then made the teacher think Rog caused it, getting him in trouble. And he decided he’d had enough.
“No! You always make me do whatever you want, just ‘cause you can fight! I’m sick of it!”
“You wanna fight, you little puke?”
“If that’s what it takes to make you shut up, then yeah!”
And something happened. A look came over Biff’s face; his eyes darted around to the other kids, and Rog realized...he was scared.
Finally, he dropped his chin and muttered, “You’re not worth it, you slime.”
He walked back inside. One by one, his friends followed, leaving Rog by himself.
Rog picked up the now dented can to put it in the trash. He could hardly believe what he’d done. He felt terrified.