Mediocre

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I TAKE TWO steps on each concrete square on the sidewalk. One-two, one-two, one-two... Then I hit brick.


No fun games to play on brick so I look up. There are two women walking towards me, one of them looks a bit flustered. She sees me and buttons up her jacket.
_Oh my God. I can't f***ing believe that.
_He's just a drunk ya know... nothing we can do about it. Forget it.
_I know, but—God, why would he say something like that to me?
They pass by.
I pass a bench, Bob's there. He’s talking, but I tune him out.
I come to the intersection and a red hand across the street tells me to wait. The lights were recently changed from "WALK" and "DONT WALK" to a man walking and red hand. It should do wonders for our literacy rate.
I’ve nothing better to do so I tune in.
_Oh yeah... I would—I would beat that up. I like those big-chested chicks like that. You, um, might not believe me, but I used to get action like that all the time. Yeah. Ya know—

Okay, time to tune out. Somebody needs to shut that guy up. I've come to call him Bob the Bum. He's a bum, he likes to drink and he hangs out by that bench. He used to hang out by an elementary school nearby, but after a few comments to a few little girls he was forced to relocate. He likes to talk to passerby. I guess to distract himself from the fact that he's a bum.

I GET HOME and drop everything. Why do I have such a heavy book-bag when I have such bad grades? I see my sister's report card on the table: high nineties across the board. She's the family genius. Now my mom will be demanding the report card I got from my school two days ago.
I'm not really, really stupid, but then again, really, really stupid people rarely know they are. I'm just mediocre. Unremarkably mediocre.
I open the door to the fridge and look around as my mom enters the kitchen.
_You see your sister's report card?
There's milk, orange juice (but with pulp), Pepsi (I like Coke)—
_Ed!
_What?
_Did you-
_Yeah! Of course I saw it! It's there for everybody to
see.
_Humph.
She didn't ask for my report card. My mother's given up on me, but that's okay because I've already given up on myself.
I think. Which is bad, I'm not good at it.
All I'm ever going to in school is mediocre, but I can be special. I can do something special. Where people will know who I am. I'll do something remarkable. I'll start with Bob the Bum.

I PEDAL LIGHTLY and coast. The streets are empty, but those were the people that had somewhere to go. The bat is heavy in my hand, I hold it by the barrel. My uncle got it for me a couple of years ago, but it just collected dust next to a skateboard and a basketball.
Sports aren't my thing. I don't think I have a thing.
I put on some black Spider-man mask I found in a sock drawer when I'm a block away. Can't remember where I got it. Should I be doing something where I need to wear a mask? No, this guy deserves it.
I leave the bike and walk up to Bob.
_Uh…Get up...! Now!
He's a little groggy. I keep marching. I can smell him now.
_Hey!
Bob gets up. I start running and cock the bat.
_What the—
I swing hard at his stomach. Or maybe not so hard—he grabs it. He swings at me, but I'm already on the floor.
_You thought you could just come here and beat me up. You think I'm some kinda p****!?
I get up and run for my life, back to my bike. I don't hear him chasing, but I'm not gonna look back. I feel my pulse in my head. I’ve got a headache.
I can hear him laughing as I mount the bike. I can't steer because my hands are shaking so much. I get off and run with it, holding on to the handlebars.
Three blocks away, I finally look back. No one. Still too shaky to steer.
He could've killed me. If I had stayed on the ground he might have. He's got nothing to lose. His life would probably be better in prison.

I GET HOME at about 11 o'clock. I march right past mom. No questions asked.
The mask goes right out the window as soon as I get in the room. I won’t need it anymore.
There are DVD’s full of bums getting beat up or beating each other up. I couldn’t get one hit on Bob.
Why did I do that? I thought I had already given up. Why did I think I could pull that off?
I can’t do anything right. So why try anymore?
I think about that for half an hour when I should have been doing homework.
I can’t think of a good reason. It’s official.
Now I give up.





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