Watching

I feel their eyes following me wherever I go. I will be walking down the street, not thinking about anything in particular, and suddenly I'll get that crawly feeling on the back of my neck. I turn around, but the street is empty except for a small orange candy wrapper blowing about in the wind. I hurry home, my jacket collar pulled up to my neck to fight off the bitter chill.

It's worse when I'm alone in the house. Then I feel their eyes through the walls, and no matter what I do that feeling of being watched never fully leaves. I turn on the television, hoping that some cartoons will distract me.

Bugs Bunny is on, and I laugh as he once again makes a fool out of Elmer Fudd. But then I remember that people treat me like a fool all the time. They look down on me and call me names. Names like 'Shorty', and 'Four-eyes', and 'that freaky psycho.' But I've learned to tune out the names. Names can only hurt you if you let them. "Don't show a reaction." That's what Mother always said. "Don't show a reaction, Howard. That's what they want."

And it had worked, for a while. Until George Marriott and some of his cronies cornered me behind the gym six months ago. When I finally came to, I was in a hospital bed with two arms broken. Father told me the custodian had found me trying to crawl into the locker room. It took me forever to heal, and when I did, I went looking for George.

I found him alone behind the gym, and at first he laughed at me. But when I plunged the butcher knife I'd taken from the knife rack into his jugular, he stopped laughing and made a strange gurgling sound. I laughed, twisting the knife, then yanked it out, and George fell on his face with a 'clunk' sound that made me think of Sylvester getting malleted by Tweety. He jerked a few times, then went still, and I tossed the knife in my backpack and ran to class. I didn't want to be late.

When I got home, there was a police man there. He asked me all sorts of boring questions, like when I had last seen George, where was I that morning, blah, blah, blah. I told him I didn't know anything, and he left. Father was giving me a funny look-I could tell that he didn't believe me. "What did you do, Howard?"

I grinned, then turned to face him, my eyes shining with tears. "I stood up to him, Father. He'll never hurt me again. Never, never, NEVER!" I shrieked the last 'never', and Father's eyes widened at the bloody knife in my hand.

I don't remember much after that. There was shouting, and crying, and funny sounds like a knife makes when it cuts through a melon.

Mother and Father are in the dining room. They haven't moved in a long time.

But at least no one's watching me now.