(Sometime last year...)
The night was ending predictably. The movie had been awesome (another random action flick) and everyone had parted with laughter ringing in the air. I had offered to drive two coworkers home and was about to drop off the first. We chatted about the movie, dropped quotes to responding guffaws, and listened to the radio. The night had a warm hazy feel to it. The light from the street lamps blurred and stretched against the car windows. Pregnant clouds hung low in the sky, promising a rain that hadn't quite come yet. I stared down the empty streets with curiosity, eagerly peeking into the paths and passageways of suburbia. Almost to our destination, we came upon a secondary school. Unremarkable in structure, the only distinguishing characteristic was what could be found in front of it. The stately serenity of the streets had been broken by a large group of teens.
I peered closer as they milled about, following the trail until my gaze reached the front of this unseemly pack. Several boys were striding menacingly towards one boy who retreated backwards, hands held in front and above his head open and facing forward. Simultaneously a sign of submission and a defensive position, I realized this boy was in trouble and slowed down to observe more closely. He was larger than the other boys, heavy-set and tall with brawny arms. His hair was un-kept, sticking out from his head in a curly mess.
From out of the milling pack sprang an incredibly odd object, moving quickly toward their prey. My eyes tracked quickly to catch up to it as I stopped the car. I realized this odd contraption was some form of go-cart, complete with a roll-cage, and that it was heading at top speed on a collision course with its victim. At this point I had passed the group, and had a decision to make. My first thought was to jump from the car and rush to his aide, getting the teens to back off through words, physical intimidation, or (as a last resort) physical violence. Simultaneously, I realized that playing to my 'strengths' would probably end with no small amount of bloodshed. With a surge of adrenaline, I barked orders to my coworkers.
"Paul, roll down the passenger window, NOW!"
Paul's eyes widened and he paused a moment with questioning eyes, noticeably trying to catch up with the situation. With a screeching of brakes, the car stopped so suddenly it fish-tailed a bit to the left. I slammed it into reverse. The wheel protested under such strain, but I managed to straighten the car out as I sped in reverse. Paul began frantically turning the lever that opened the passenger window. I watched as the victim narrowly dodged the go-cart, jumping aside at the last second. I moved closer to the curb, careful not to scrape it but knowing that each inch counted.
"Tim, open that door and shift to your LEFT!"
As Tim reached for the door handle, we came alongside the boy again. By this time the entire crowd was staring, mouths agape, at my car. This, obviously, was not in the plan. Somehow, amidst all this furious action, I managed to make eye-contact with the boy across all that distance. I stared intently back and cocked my head toward the rear-passenger door.
Everything seemed to move in slow-motion. My gaze panned across the crowd, looks of bewilderment on many faces, others painted with a furrowed brow. I watched as the boy dropped slightly, shifting his weight, turning to the left and bending that leg at the knee. A sprinting stance. His movement seemed achingly slow. One of the lead aggressors started turning his head, just noticing the movement right in front of him. But it was too late. The boy already had an insurmountable lead on them all. Several feet away, he practically dove through the car door, rocking the vehicle heavily when he landed.
"GO, GO, GO!" he yelled.
I stomped the accelerator to the floor and would have smoked the tires badly had my car not been a gutless Cavalier. As it was they squealed loudly, piercing the calm night.
"Are you all right, dude?" I asked, to which he replied, breathless, "Oh my god, THANK you!"
As I sped away from the school, a water-bottle arced in front of the windshield. I glanced to my right to see a young girl, mouth angrily moving, forming unheard obscenities.
"You're welcome. What's your name?"
He went on to explain that he was a small-time pot-head and tough-guy, explaining the appropriately scruffy nick-name. Now that his breath had calmed somewhat, I noticed the slight hesitation his speech. A sort of pause as he formed scrambled words into coherent thought. He obviously didn't have full control of his faculties, possibly some disorder or another. Either way, it was probably the reason that he'd been antagonized; high school kids are notoriously cruel, and the slow or handicapped are favored targets.
"Where do you live, man? I'll drive you home." He gave me the directions interspersed with "thank you" and "I can't believe that freaking happened". As we drove, I inquired as to why the situation arose. He replied stoically, "They're always doin' stuff like that. Assholes, man." I glanced in the rear-view mirror and caught his expression turn dark, "Shit, just drop me off at home. I'll grab my machete and teach those fuckers a lesson." He was mad enough to do it too.
"Don't be an idiot." Obviously not the response he expected. "Hard cold facts, dude. There were twenty guys back there, and I don't care if you're Chuck-friggin'-Norris, you can't take them all." The boy tried to protest, but I cut him off. "Do they know where you live?"
"Okay then." I raised my voice slightly in order to really get this through to him. "I'm going to drop you off, you're going to go inside, lock the doors and call 9-1-1. And then STAY there. You got that?"
I raised my voice a bit more. "What're you gonna do?"
"I'll go home and call the cops. All-right, dude." He sounded sheepish, and I didn't want to make him feel antagonized while coming off of the adrenaline rush, so I added, "Good man, it's the right thing to do. We've gotta be smart about this thing, I don't want anyone to get hurt here."
He seemed calmer as he replied, "Okay you got it."
The short drive passed uneventfully (he was only a block away) and he left the car with a thankful goodbye and a promise to pay me back some day. I wished him well and drove off. The car's silence was palpable.
I turned to Tim and Paul with a wicked grin, "Well... that was fun!"