A story about high school shenanigans. Hope you enjoy!
“Yo, Tiny, how are things down there?”
Clementine stopped, her foot in midair as she did so. She let it fall to the floor with a tense thud. The words felt like that extra shovelful of coal that a smith’s apprentice ineptly threw in, accidentally sending hot surges of fire to consume the building. No, too small. The sudden anger in her heart was more like the discovery of gunpowder. Except that it wouldn’t help the discoverer any.
She twisted around toward the sound of the voice. No one, absolutely no one, called her Tiny. Sure, Clementine was a mouthful to say, but of all the nicknames to use, Tiny was the worst. Sure, she was rather vertically challenged, but she thought she had taught most of the kids in the school not to call her such names years ago.
Sure enough, Clementine didn’t recognize the tall, beefed gangster standing before her. Really, he was the epitome of the high school tough guy. Cap backwards, giant basketball shoes, low jeans, and heavy jacket that hid his muscles. If he had any. She sized him up, wondering how long it would take her to get him in a headlock. Probably longer than she wanted, what with the two goons on either side of him.
Around them, the streams of students paused at the brewing confrontation, especially those among Clementine’s class who remembered why people had stopped calling her Tiny.
“What ya just call me?” she asked, her brow lowering like a knight’s visor.
“Tiny. Cause ya are,” he replied. The goons snickered.
“Ya know my name’s Clementine, right? Clementine Brown? I know it’s a lot to say, but can ya say it with me? Cleh-men-tine. Now you try.”
“Girl, I know what your name is.”
“Then why’d ya not address me by it? Kids these days.” She rolled her eyes. Already, a circle had formed around her, the gangster, and the goons.
“I’m just saying, you’re short.”
“Here we go,” said someone in the crowd.
Clementine stepped forward. “Yeah, and you’re skinnier than a giraffe on a diet. And you look as good. Why do you care?”
The boy shrugged. “I don’t.”
“Yeah, ya don’t,” she replied, rolling up her sleeves. “Cause you’re just trying to get a reaction in order to prove you’re better than everybody. But not me. Ya wanna hear my other nickname?”
This other nickname happened to be Napoleon, which was a bit of a misnomer. First off, Napoleon was never actually that short, but most of the students didn’t know that, and those that did didn’t care. Secondly, Clementine never lost (though she had been sent on several “exiles” in the past), even against the Russians. Seriously, there were two of them on the football team, and they learned in Freshman year to fear her.
“Nah,” said the boy in answer to her question. “I got class to get to.”
“I ain’t gym, is it? Cause I can teach you right here, right now.”
The gangster and his goons grinned. “Sure. What sport?”
“No sport. More like those examinations they do at the beginning of the year. How fast can ya get the other person in a headlock?”
“Alright. It’s on.”
They leapt at each other like a pair of snarling lions, each ready to tear the other’s heart out.
* * *
About a minute later, the principal came running down the hallway, joined by half a dozen security guards, who were also calling for backup as they ran — not necessarily because they feared her, but because they knew it would take quite a few to pin her down. They pushed through the screaming crowd in the center of the hall, to find Clementine administering a headlock to a Freshman boy. Several in the crowd were using stopwatch apps on their phones, and they were the most enthusiastic about the fight. The principal peered over one student’s shoulder to see the time on it: fourteen point six two seconds. That must be a record for her.