There were a group of ruffian boys from Ymir. As Ymir was a few miles outside of Salmo, where I went to school, they arrived in busses. The whole tenor of the hallways changed when the boys from Ymir arrived. They didn't terrorize the school with violence but they managed to intimidate pretty much all of us with their swagger, their angular bodies and their aggressive chins. One of the leaders of the pack was in a grade older than me but in a class by himself. He wore tight jeans, slicked back hair and had a rat tailed comb always jutting out his pocket. He probably could speak but was way to cool to actually say anything. In short, he frightened me. They all did, those Ymir boys.
We crossed paths one day, unexpectedly.
It was gym class and the regular gym teacher was away. They didn't have a substitute in for him so the shop class teacher took over for the day. He told us that we were going to wrestle and had us pull mats out on the the floor. I refused to wrestle. The idea of wrestling bothered me. I grew up in a home with violence, I didn't need it thrust upon me at school. So I just refused. Completely. The regular gym teacher just gave up on me - which was the point of my plan. But Mr. Meyers wasn't having any of it.
When I told him, right off that I wouldn't wrestle, he told me that I would do exactly what he told me too. I had nothing to lose. I wasn't taken seriously in any aspect of my school life so when you have nothing and have learned to want less, you have a certain degree of power. What could he do? He became increasingly angry and it was clear that he wasn't used to having his authority challenged. Especially by this weak, fat, stupid boy.
Others using the gym stopped. The Ymir guy was there, I am so sorry I don't remember his name, and watching along with everyone else. I think they were interested to see how it would play out. Myers began to sweat and then grabbed me hard. Illegal hard. Brusing hard. He thrust me onto the mat. I lost my balance and fell. One of the other kids from my class, a young sociopath, was told to 'partner' me in the match.
He fell on me with glee. I didn't fight back. I refused. All I did was struggle not to be toppled or hurt. But he did hurt me. Badly. I cried out in pain for it to stop and Meyers had a glint in his eyes that wasn't healthy. Now I'm on my back and this animal/child is pummelling me. I am truly frightened now. I can't help it I start to cry. He's really hurting me. The other kids egg him on. Laughing. No surprise, I'd been bullied my whole life, hurt for no reason, taunted as easy game. It was fun for one and all.
I didn't see him coming.
The Ymir boy.
He seemed like a man then but he was only a young teen. But one year older, one grade advanced, in those days made a huge difference.
He grabbed the kid off me, flung him to the floor so hard that I could feel the floor vibrate below me. He grabbed my arm and hoisted me up. He told me to go change.
Meyers was furious. But he was also terrified. He knew that this kid was dangerous to him in a myriad of ways.
He let it go.
He let me pass.
A day later I saw that kid in the hallway and I wanted to say "Thanks." But he stopped me, looked at me angrily and said one word, "Don't."
That was it.
He protected me when he didn't have to, he put his reputation as a guy who didn't give a shit about anything or anyone at risk, he saw an injustice and acted, he didn't want thanked for it.
He's still a role model for me.
That boy from Ymir.