They made a mistake when they thought he was just another docile drone mulling about the school. He was new, having only started at the school the beginning of his senior year. He kept to himself, never really interacting with anyone except for Jenny Maryweather. She had been assigned to welcome him to the school and show him around. She was cute with her blonde hair always up in a ponytail, her overly round glasses in a constant state of slipping from her nose, and her smile that made him feel welcome. She always waved at him and they soon became friends.
They spotted him on his third day. Johnny, the schools wrestling champion, was walking down the center of the hall with his three lackeys, Billy, Saul, and Pete. All four of them sporting their school letterman jackets. All four of them acting like they owned the school, which in fact was partly true as Saul’s father was one of the biggest contributors to the school’s programs. He was coming the opposite direction, not paying attention and trying to find his next class, still unfamiliar with the school’s design. When him and Johnny collided, Johnny took it as a personal offense and even though he apologized, the insult could not be overlooked.
They made a mistake when they took his silence as weakness. He never said a word as they humiliated him in front of the school. The torment was an ongoing ordeal. An ear flick here, a bathroom beat down there, knocking his food off his tray at lunch, or any other number of embarrassing scenarios they could think up to inflict upon him. But he never said a word, not even so much as a whimper, while he endured the trials. When the abuse would end for the day, he would simply pick his stuff up and walk away. Afterwards, Jenny would be there. Always. To help him pick his stuff up or to straighten himself out.
They made a mistake when they thought they were untouchable. Everyone knew it was no use to say anything. Johnny’s dad was the county sheriff, Pete’s mom was on the school board, and Billy’s dad ran the local factory. Everyone knew that the only thing that ever happened to anyone who tried to have something done to one of these four boys would end up with it worse in the end. So, he kept his mouth shut.
They made a mistake when they messed with Jenny. After 5 months of getting no response from him, the four of them were running out of ideas to get him to break. It was Pete who suggested they up the ante. Saul suggested they just let it all go. But Johnny would have his due. He convinced Billy to steal his dad’s keys to the factory and they would lure Jenny up there for a little late night fun one Saturday night. Johnny was sure that would finally get his goat.
And so they did.
And so it did.
Jenny was found the next day, her dress torn, her body abused. She knew it was no good to say anything, that no one would do anything, so she kept her mouth shut. But he knew what happened. Johnny made it perfectly clear to him that Monday in school when he walked right up to him, squared his body up and looked down on his smaller frame. “What you gonna do about it?” Then he barreled his way past him and walked down the hall.
Later that week, he sent them a message. It simply read, “Factory. Saturday. 9pm.” So it was set. He knew Johnny wouldn’t be able to resist, his pride being what it was. That Friday night, he visited Jenny at home, they didn’t talk much, he only sat and looked at her and apologized for what happened.
Saturday rolled around, and the four letterman drove into the factory ready for a fight. They never saw the other vehicle hit them, the collision pinning the car against a brick wall, trapping all four of them inside. They saw him at the front of the vehicle, lit up by the headlights, as he kicked over a large barrel of liquid, the smell of gasoline thick in the air. They watched as he pulled out a lighter and lit it. Then he said the only words they ever heard him say. “For Jenny.”
They made a mistake when they begged him for mercy.