James, like many frail children from a broken home, was bullied through school and into his working life. Despite learning skills and becoming successful, he is haunted by his memories. He would prefer his tormentors to apologize to him, but if not, he is prepared to take his revenge.
Bullying is a huge problem, in school, the workplace, and the home. Many victims are hurt so deeply they never really recover, and the onset of social media bullying has only made it worse. Teachers only report 4% of the bullying they witness, and bullies in the workplace are generally rewarded with promotions. The bullied have few places to turn to as they rightfully believe that complaining will only make matters worse. James asked for help, but he never got any.
He’d been festering for years, building his list and preparing himself physically and mentally for all the wrongs done to him during his thirty years. He was ready now to exact his revenge. Turn the tables on them all and if they didn’t apologize then he would ensure they would never think about doing it again. To anybody.
His whole school life he felt he’d been bullied, ridiculed, and shunned. It had been okay in class if the teacher was there, but at all other times he was chased, hit, picked on or thrown at. He would have preferred to have been home schooled, but his mother was single and had to work while his estranged father rarely saw him. When he did he just told him to fight back.
Only trouble was, he was a frail kid with bad eyes and spotty skin and his mother kept his hair close to the scalp after he got hair lice at Elementary School. Never letting him grow it out. He wasn’t strong enough to play sports and his eyesight didn’t help even though he would have liked to play, so he stuck to studying and trying to keep out of everyone’s way.
He and his mother lived in an old farmhouse with no neighboring kids for him to play with, but at least he’d been able to have pets. He preferred their company, they never judged him on his looks or weaknesses. They were as unconditional as his mother with their love.
One of the animals was wild and he called him Johnny. He thought Johnny Deer had a nice ring to it. Johnny and his mother and siblings would wander around the farmhouse and for some reason Johnny took a liking to him and would let him pet him from an early age, to even when he’d grown and his antlers got in the way. He was a very handsome buck and he loved to watch him run and graze.
Then Tommy Hilditch came with his gun.
Tommy was fourteen and he’d hated him all through school. He was always picking on him and thought he was quite the big shot because his dad took him hunting and he played football. Tommy was a little overweight, double chinned, thought he was good looking, and apart from being a bully he thought he could also touch all the girls wherever and whenever he wanted. Then he came over to the farmhouse one day and shot Johnny. Leaving the body but taking his antlers.
He didn’t know it was Tommy until he bragged about it at school, telling everyone how good the antlers looked on his wall.
Tommy had moved away from home after school and he found him in a double wide trailer in Fresno. He was a slob now, his beer belly cascaded over the belted shorts that could barely get over his hips. A sleeveless vest revealed his flabby arms, various tattoos and hairy armpits. Short greasy brown hair hung limply over his forehead and unshaven skin. Outside his scruffy home was his truck, a Ford, dirty and as well kept as its owner. Stickers on the back window stated his love of hunting, guns, and the Raiders.
He knew he was working sometimes as a mechanic, and his two grubby kids and similar wife were out, the kids in school and the wife at the café cooking fries and burgers.
Tommy was a man of habit. Every day he would drive practically across the street to a strip mall, park his truck at the side of the liquor store, and buy a twelve pack of beer which he would consume outside his trailer. The only change to that routine was when his wife was home and he’d send her, or for some reason he had some work to do and couldn’t stick to his routine.
He didn’t have any work today and he’d also put gas in the truck just a few days prior, which was a huge help except to Tommy.
Watching the time, he took out a bicycle and a blanket from the trunk then made his way over to the side of the liquor store. A deserted area with just the service doors to the shops on the strip, and he waited quite nonchalantly for Tommy to arrive and pull up in the usual place.
He didn’t disappoint. Now wearing his normal dirty light blue baseball cap and its obscured logo, he pulled up and left the truck unlocked while he went into the store, emerging two minutes later with his box of cans and opened the passenger door to put them on the seat. As he was straightening up to close the door, James stepped behind him and hit him heavily on the back of the head with his weighted cosh. Tommy’s face fell forward on to the seat and he bundled the rest of him into the truck, thankful now for all his training as Tommy was a heavy lump.
Finding the keys in one of his pockets, he closed the door on Tommy and casually put his bike in the truck’s bed, then opened the driver’s door and got in, looking in the mirrors and out the window for any sign of witnesses. Not that it would matter, he was disguised, but he didn’t want a cop car to start following him, or worse, a witness.
He didn’t drive long before stopping in a lay by with lots of cover. There he secured Tommy’s wrists and ankles with plastic zip straps and covered him with the blanket that Tommy would have seen if he’d looked in the back of the truck. Then he drove away again with Tommy still out cold.
He knew the place he was taking Tommy was unmanned at the moment and would be for many more hours. It was remote and private which was very important. It didn’t even have a paved road to it, just a dusty dirt track and all visitors were by appointment.
After he pulled up he utilized one of his various skills and opened the lock on the main gate, driving the truck through but leaving the lock looking secure after he closed the gate behind them.
He was able to drive within yards of his destination, where he manhandled Tommy out of the truck and cut off the ankle binds leaving Tommy balanced with his back on the hood. He didn’t bother taking off his disguise, Tommy wouldn’t recognize him even if he did, and finding a hosepipe he turned on the faucet and sprayed Tommy’s ugly face.
Tommy came to with a lot of swearing and threats, and he was scared.
“What the fuck do you want? Where the fuck am I? You’re going to die you mother fucker. What’s going on?”
“Hi Tommy. I want you to apologize”
“Apologize? What the fuck for? Who the fuck are you?” bellowed the truly outraged Tommy whose face was slowly going purple.
“Don’t you recognize my voice Tommy? I’m James Wrigley.”
“Who? I’ve never fuckin heard of you. What do you want? Where are we?”
“Oh come on Tommy boy, we went to school together, were in the same class. Don’t you remember beating me up virtually every week, tripping me up, calling me names, dunking me in the toilet, throwing things at me? Oh yes, not to mention killing my deer and taking its antlers that you hung up on your wall. You don’t remember me Tommy?” he mocked.
Tommy looked at him more closely, struggling with his hands behind his back.
“The pathetic kid from school? You look nothing like him, now let me go before I kick your sorry ass again.”
“Times change Tommy. I am rich and successful and you’re what? Oh yes, you’re a bum and your family is as sorry as you are. You still hunt defenseless animals?”
“I hunt and I’m going to kill you. Is this what this is all about? Your pet deer?” I hunted that deer and shot it. I did nothing wrong now let me go!”
“Hunted? My deer would have walked right up to you and you pretend that you hunt. Then you bragged about it and persecuted me throughout my school years. Now I want you to say sorry for everything you did to me.”
“What? Apologize to you? Go fuck yourself and let me go before I do something really bad to you.”
“You know something Tommy? I had a feeling that would be your response. I just wanted you to show remorse and to give you a chance”
“I’m not sorry for anything.” Was the defiant reply.
James walked up to him and avoiding his legs he punched him hard on the nose, breaking it , and Tommy screamed as his nostrils spurted blood.
“You are so going to die mother fucker!” Tommy yelled as the blood poured down over his chin, neck and chest.
James turned him around and forced him to walk to the nearby bars where he threw him down on the ground as he opened the padlocked door. He left it open as he lifted Tommy and pushed him through, closing the door behind him and locking it. Tommy struggled to his feet and turned back to James, still cursing and threatening.
“So what’s this you sniveling bastard? You lock me in a cage? Oh how scary you little pussy.”
“Turn around Tommy and I’ll cut off your wrist straps.”
Tommy turned around and let him cut the plastic. “So you’re getting scared now? You are going to die” and he turned threateningly to James who had stepped back from the bars.
“Actually Tommy, I wanted to see how good of a hunter you actually are, but on an equal footing. You have company in there, hungry company that hasn’t eaten for a couple of days. He won’t just take your teeth for a trophy, he will eat you piece by piece and I am going to watch. I think you’d better turn around Tommy, someone is wondering who you are.”
Tommy turned around and almost fainted at the sight of the grizzly that was lumbering forward.
“Get my gun out of the truck!” Tommy screamed.
“The bear doesn’t have a gun Tommy so let me see you hunt him fairly. You can always pick up a rock and hit him with that. But as he has sharp claws you can have my knife. Unlike the animals you normally kill from a safe distance after you’ve been feeding them like a pet for months on end, this bear isn’t a pet. He’s had to hunt for his food to live so I’m giving him an equal chance with you. Are you ready to say sorry now?” He threw the knife down next to Tommy.
“Yes, I’m sorry, now get me the fuck out of here you son of a bitch!” Tommy was panicking but picked up the knife.
“Thank you for your apology Tommy, I really wanted to hear you say that. If you’d only said that when I gave you the opportunity earlier then you wouldn’t now be in the cage. Now it’s too late. These are the consequences of your actions when we were younger. But if you can defeat the bear or he’s disgusted with your taste and would rather starve then I will let you go.”
”Let me out of here you bastard. I have a wife and two boys, you can’t do this”
“They’ll be better off without you Tommy, you make everyone miserable. You’d better watch out, he’s coming!”
Tommy turned around to see the huge bear’s paw swiping down on him, and he went down quickly with the bear swatting at him, cutting him to ribbons and screaming as James watched, feeling no sympathy whatsoever toward one of his early tormenters as the bear tore him to bits.
“This one is for you Johnny.”