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Drop And Give Me One!
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Drop And Give Me One!
A short story.
[1,015 words]
John C Smith

J C Smith

[May 2000]
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Drop And Give Me One!
John C Smith

The first time I saw Ben Hoskins I felt sorry for him. He was physically deformed. His body was a collection of twisted bones. His head was slightly bigger than normal and on it was a confusion of hair and a set of irregular ears. Tiny eyes that never seemed to look at you were hidden behind government issue glasses that were "Coke bottle" thick. I couldn't tell if he had a hunchback or just hunched shoulders, but something caused his chin to be imbedded in his chest. There were braces on his legs, and it was a mystery to me how he could even walk, much less attend the eighth grade of Alexander Hamilton Junior High.

Ben came from a large family of kids, and his parents couldn't afford to send him to a special school. The school nurse said his condition was the result of a bunch of childhood diseases. I don't know why, but whooping cough sticks in my memory. She also said Ben was in good shape mentally.

One day I attempted to talk to him. I walked up to him in the hall between classes and said: "Hi Ben, how's it going?" A robotic voice that came from somewhere deep in his chest replied: "Go to Hell, Smith! I know all about you, and your smart-ass buddies." Then he hobbled off in the other direction. Okay, so I was a smart-ass, and had smart-ass friends, but I wasn't being a smart-ass to him. So much for my feeling sorry for him.

A couple of days later, after eating lunch, a bunch of us guys were waiting for the gym to open, Wilson, Koloras, Melnik, Badham, Bearden, Coates, myself, and Ben, collected around the gym door. "Hi Bennie," said Wilson to Ben in a mock greeting. "Ah, go to Hell and leave me alone!" Was Ben's reply. "Bite me," said Wilson as he chuckled to rest of the guys. "What are you gonna do in the gym anyway, Bennie?" asked Melnik wearing a smirk. Ben kept quiet. "When's the goddamn gym gonna open?" Said Badham. "Yeah, lunchtime is gonna be over before we get in there," added Bearden. "I've got it, let's blow the door down!" Piped up Coats. With the exception of Ben, we all started chanting "We'll huff and puff and blow the doors down." This was followed by the group blowing in unison at the door. We repeated it several times, getting louder until it became finally grew tiresome. "Wait a minute guys," said Melnik (a weasely little guy with a big cruel streak), "Let's blow Bennie over" (Ben probably weighed no more than sixty pounds). It was cruel humor, but a kind of mob mentality took over. All of us, plus a few others who had joined us started repeating over and over "We'll huff and puff and blow Bennie down." Followed by the group blowing in unison in Ben's direction. "Knock it off, you bastards!" Was Ben's only reply.

Suddenly Mr. Hogle flung the gym doors open and in a loud voice asked, "All right you guys, what's going on?" A shameful silence was the answer. "Ben, you all right? He asked as he looked at Hoskins. Ben didn't answer. "Gee you guys must be having a lot of fun," Mr. Hogle said in a mocking tone. Then he commanded "All of you, come in the gym, and stay close together. You too, Ben." We followed him into the gym and stood in a group. Mr. Hogle surveyed us with a look of contempt and then said, "Well, you must be some pretty tough guys if you can pick on someone like Ben here. And really funny, too." I was feeling pretty small and thinking the opposite by now. "You want to see something really funny? Ben come here will you?" Hogle asked. Ben hobbled forward. Hogle went on to ask Ben to do some push ups. We all shot each other puzzled looks. What was the point of this? Was Mr. Hogle in some sick way daring us to laugh? I thought this was really pouring it on.

The gym was totally silent as Ben struggled to get in position to do a push-up. It was hard to watch as he slowly bent and twisted and somehow started a series of push-ups while Mr. Hogle counted. "One...two...three...four...five...six...okay, okay Ben, that's enough, thanks." As Ben stopped and slowly regained a standing position there was dead silence. I was still trying to figure out the point to all of this when Mr. Hogle spoke, "Koloras, come here. Let's see you do some push ups?" Now this was really getting ugly, I thought. Koloras was an average-sized kid for his age and more athletic than most of us. He played on the school basketball team and was a fixture on most intramural sports.

Koloras' face took on the bright red color of embarrassment as he sheepishly came to the front of the group. He seemed surprisingly reluctant. "Come on Koloras, we don't have all day. You're a big strong guy. You're stronger then Hoskins. In fact, you're so strong that you and your buddies can make fun of guys like Ben. Let's see how much stronger you are." To my astonishment Koloras seemed to be crying as he got into position. "Let's go Koloras, we're waiting," Hogle egged on. By now Koloras was sobbing as he struggled to attempt one push-up and eventually gave up. All of a sudden I realized that Koloras had a dirty little secret, and Mr. Hogle knew it. As athletic as Koloras was, something in his physical makeup would not allow him to eek out even one push-up.

Koloras' sobbing and surrounding silence were interrupted by Mr. Hogle saying, "come on Ben, I'll get you a basketball. The rest of you guys, get out of here. You're kicked out of the gym for a week." We all slowly left the gym without looking at each other. I was thankful Hogle hadn't singled me out. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Koloras the next time I saw him.



"Not bad. Maybe explain why Kolaras was so weak with upper body strength(plays soccer or another sport that requires only legwork)" -- Jane.
"good story, well written. xcept for why the other kid couldn't even do one pushup, that kinda blew the ending." -- sunny, DC.


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© 2000 John C Smith
May 2000

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