The Dude With a Chick Name

"Excuse me, can you help me?"

Sherry halted in mid-step on her way to the school parking lot and turned to face a tall slim boy smiling shyly at her.

"Are you talking to me:"

"Yes. I'm new here at Rome High and I'm trying to find out about getting into a car pool. Or maybe I could start one myself."

"Oh. Well, there's a bulletin board in the Library. You could put a note on it with your phone number."

"Thanks. Where is the Library?"

"It's just over --"

"Hey, dickhead! You trying to score with my chick?"

Sherry turned her head at Brock's commanding voice. He was approaching with his trademark swagger and imitation Elvis scowl. Danny was at his side and she wondered where Pepper was. The three of them were usually inseparable.

"It's all right, Brock," she said. "We were just --"

"Put a sock in it," Brock snapped. "This is dude business."

The slim boy looked uncertainly from Sherry to Brock. "I didn't mean to interfere with anything, if that's what I'm doing."

"You zip it, too, fairy hair. Don't you know better than to talk to a Centurion without permission?"

"What's a Centurion?"

Brock was incredulous. "You never heard of the coolest crew on campus?"

"Hey, I know him," Danny said. "The new kid with a girl's name -- Janice. Like A Boy Named Sue. "

"Not quite."

"I told you to shut up!" Brock added a contemptuous sneer to his scowl. "So you got a pussy name to go with your pussy looks. 'Specially those long golden curls down your back. They ought to be in pigtails."

"Since he's got a pussy name, maybe he is a pussy. Let's pull down his pants and see."

"Yeah." Brock's sneer got meaner. "Drop trou and show us what you got."

"We seem to be getting off on the wrong foot," the new boy said. "So I'll just go"

"You're not going anyplace until I say so!"

Sherry watched nervously, wondering if she should try to break the mounting tension. The slim boy didn't seem to be afraid, but Brock was more muscular and had the reputation of being a dirty fighter. His behavior strengthened her recent doubts about having agreed to hook up with him. At first it had seemed cool to be the girlfriend of the toughest guy in school. But his jealousy and obnoxious attitude were getting to be a drag.

Suddenly she saw Pepper come around a nearby building and quietly advance behind the slim boy. Brock made a slight gesture with his head and Pepper grinned, his fingers flexing like jaws eager to close around an unsuspecting throat. She was about to cry a warning when things happed so swiftly that she could only watch in stunned silence.

Just as Pepper was about to spring, the slim boy spun around on his left foot and delivered a hard kick to his midsection. Brock moved forward swinging and the boy turned back in time to fend off his blows and punch him squarely on the jaw. They grappled and Danny came up behind him reaching into his backpack.

His hand came out holding a wooden ruler, which he broke into two sharply pointed sticks. That was a clever ploy worthy of the Centurions. The school administration had banned guns and knives, so tough dudes had learned to improvise weapons from innocent-looking objects.

Danny lunged with a backstabbing motion. But the slim boy dodged and whirled around, grasped Danny's wrist and flipped him in a somersault that slammed his back hard on the ground. Brock again came on swinging, and again the new boy broke his attack with swift punches and a sharp karate chop to the side of his neck.

Then he stepped back to see if the Centurions had had enough. They had. Brock helped Danny and Pepper to their feet and the three of them made a stumbling retreat.

"How the hell did he do that?" Danny mumbled in awe-stricken tones.

"I don't know," Brock answered. "It's like he had eyes in the back of his head."

Sherry stared at the slim boy, finally able to speak again. "My God!"

Janus smiled at her. "You got that right,"

The End