another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory
The Bully’s Last Slurp by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | FEB 2017
The Bully’s Last Slurp
by Mike Bozart
© 2017 Mike Bozart
Xeeb, a Hmong American, was one of only two Asian students in his 11th grade chemistry class at North Burke High School, which was ten miles (16.1 km) north of downtown Morganton (NC, USA) in a foothills community known as Worry. He often wondered who had fretted so much to get this tranquil area its uneasily anxious name.
He typically kept to himself. Though, Xeeb had some friends of every race. He was not antisocial.
His parents constantly stressed the importance of doing well academically. And, he had not disappointed: Xeeb had brought home straight-A report cards three of the four quarters in 10th grade. It took his mother a month to calm down after he received a B+ in physical education. His three-years-younger sister was just as studious.
Xeeb’s school experience in western North Carolina had gone fairly well from kindergarten through 10th grade. There were a few ethnically insensitive remarks along the way, but nothing mean-spirited. However, all that changed in early September of 2007, the beginning of his junior year at the moss-on-the-mortar-joints-between-the-bricks high school.
There was this one ultra-white-skinned kid – nearly albino – with light blonde hair, who was your classic stoner-jock (a football player who smoked marijuana). This particular Caucasian American, oddly named Looger, would tease him in the chemistry lab before the start of class. The first insult, “I bet Xeeb can make rice in his beaker,” was followed with “Don’t gook [sic] it up!” a few days later. Xeeb just looked at Looger and shook his black-haired head. What an inbred idiot.
Xeeb wasn’t the fighting type. Besides, it would probably be a bad idea to fight Looger, as he was somewhat taller and thirty pounds (13.6 kg) heavier. Thus, he just told the late-60-ish female Caucasian teacher about the harassment after class. The next day she had a curt talk with Looger before the bell rang.
All then seemed ok. The teasing and taunts ceased. That is until a mid-November Monday. That’s when Looger decided to move to Xeeb’s lab table for an experiment involving hydrogen (H) gas generation from hydrochloric acid (HCl) and zinc (Zn) metal shavings.
After the HCl was carefully poured into the flask by Xeeb, Looger strategically knocked over the unlidded bottle of acid. It spilled across Xeeb’s right wrist, just above the opening of his black neoprene glove. The immediate sensation: It burned like crazy.
“You did that on purpose, Looger!” Xeeb shouted.
“No, I didn’t; it was an accident,” Looger sheepishly retorted.
The teacher quickly neutralized the HCl on Xeeb’s tan skin. Then medic arrived ten minutes later. His chemical burn was treated at the town hospital. He would be ok, but a scar – that looked like a bracelet – would always be there to remind him of that odious day.
Xeeb’s parents weren’t convinced about the deliberate spilling of the bottle of HCl by Looger. His mom told him, “Son, accidents happen in labs sometimes.” His dad then added, “Just be glad that it wasn’t worse.” This just made him angrier. I’m going to get even with that shit-for-brains asshole. No, not even; I’m going to go one better.
Xeeb and Looger would never again partake in any chemistry experiments together. The wiser-by-the-years instructor, now somewhat suspicious of the incident in retrospect, separated them by placing Looger in the back of the room. He was now the only one at the rearmost table. There was no communication of any kind between Looger and Xeeb over the next five weeks.
On Friday afternoon, December 21st, classes recessed for the Christmas break. Over the two-week-long holiday vacation, Xeeb had plenty of time to plot his revenge. On a late December day, as sleet tinkled on his second-floor bedroom window, his mind locked onto a most pernicious, time-delayed method. Dad just got a new contract for asbestos abatement at that old mill in town. I could get some of that asbestos pipe insulation, bag it, and pulverize it. Yeah, get it into a hyper-friable state. And then, I could mix it into a bag of pot [marijuana] and give it to Looger as a peace offering. I’m sure that he would gladly smoke it. He wouldn’t die immediately, but probably within twenty years – since he aggressively inhaled those malicious microscopic fibers – the linings of his lungs would be gone, along with his dumb-ass life. Wait, hold on. What if other people smoked that pot, too? This plan is no good. And, do I really want to monitor him for two decades? Hell no! Scratch the asbestos idea. Cough. Bad pun. Dudgeon in the dungeon. Back to square one.
Soon classes recommenced. January and February passed without further incident. But then in late March, Looger started to feel emboldened once again. He mockingly asked Xeeb one Friday as class was ending, “How’s the wrist action?” That’s it! I’m getting this millet-fed hog-humper.
Xeeb just glared and walked away. That ‘Deliverance’ reject doesn’t know what’s coming … but, it’s coming alright.
The friends of Xeeb all had their advice. Juan, his Mexican American friend with parents of dubious residency status, told him to just let it go. Mark, his closest Caucasian American friend, advised him to do something to Looger’s old car, like cut the brake lines. Hien, his Vietnamese American friend, told him to send a confidential note to the principal. David, his stout African American friend, said that he would hold Looger, so that Xeeb could beat him braindead with a baseball bat. But, none of the four stratagems felt right to Xeeb. He was out for bloodless, untraceable, fast-acting, terminal revenge.
One habit that Looger had that caught Xeeb’s eye was his constant porting of a white styrofoam cup filled with Mountain Dew into the chemistry lab. He did this even though the laboratory safety rules, which all of the students had read and signed, prohibited drinks from being on the tables. However, the aging instructor, Mrs. Magnesium, had grown very lax on the enforcement.
On a warm and sunny Thursday in mid-April, the chemistry class began an experiment involving antifreeze and its inhibiting effect on ice-crystal formation. It was a brand of antifreeze in which the ethylene glycol was tinted a yellow-green color. Xeeb’s neural cogs soon started clanking away as he stared at the chartreuse fluid. This particular antifreeze is about the same color as Mountain Dew. And, it’s sweet, too. It’s readily ingestible. Hundreds of dogs die each year from licking this stuff up. If I could just get a good dose into Looger’s large-ass cup … Ah, yes, renal failure within three days. But, how to do this without detection?
And just two minutes later, Xeeb got his lucky break, as Looger stepped out to go to the bathroom. Ah, perfect. Time to act. This is my chance. Maybe my lone chance. Go!
Xeeb then wrapped a sheet of notebook paper around the vial of ethylene glycol and began walking to the trashcan, which was next to Looger’s back-of-the-room table. He discreetly popped the lid on the bully’s styrofoam cup with his nitrile-gloved right hand and let 3.3 fluid ounces (97.6 mL) of the translucent liquid stream in. It seeped through the mound of ice. He quickly recapped it and tossed the sheet of paper into the black wastebasket. Hope no one saw me.
He turned to go back to his seat. Everyone still had their backs to him, even the elderly teacher who was helping the poor black girl who could never seem to do the experiments properly. Ah, thanks, Marby.
As he walked up the aisle, he then had a frantic thought: I don’t have any antifreeze to do the experiment.
An Hispanic girl that he kind of liked, Alba, looked at him and smiled as he passed. I wish that he would ask me out. / I need to get some more antifreeze in this vial. Where is the master jug? Oh, there it is, beside the lectern.
Xeeb discreetly refilled his vial as the class continued with the experiment, all heads-down and thoroughly engrossed. Right as he sat down to get to work on the experiment, Looger re-entered the laboratory-classroom. Well, there’s no turning back now. If the asshole-doofus drinks all of it, I’ll be a murderer by Sunday afternoon. Will I be able to live with myself? What kind of terrible fate have I set in motion?
Looger poured out his vial of antifreeze to commence the experiment. Xeeb glanced back at him … and smiled.
Looger shot back a scowl. He then vacuumed up a mighty slug of the Mountain Dew coolant through his white, red-striped, plastic straw. Looger then licked his lips and drank some more, apparently loving the taste. That convenience store on [NC] 181 has the best Mountain Dew. I need to keep going there. / What a stupid dipshit. Keep drinking, Einstein. The human race will be much better off without that ignorant jerk reaching adulthood.
The lab exercise ended with Looger crunching on the ice in his poison chalice. Wow! He drank it all. Enjoy your last seventy-two, [hours] big boy.
Looger wouldn’t be in school on Friday. He would indeed be hospitalized Thursday evening.
The following Monday, it was announced during first period that Looger had died. It was ruled a suicide. Grief counselors were available. But, Xeeb didn’t feel sad. In fact, he never would.
At lunchtime Xeeb and his friends gathered at their usual cafeteria table.
“So, Looger offed himself,” Jaun posited.
“Good riddance,” Hien said.
Xeeb just nodded.
An Asian American (Hmong) male high school student in a western North Carolina (USA) chemistry lab is bullied by a mean knuckle-dragger. After carefully studying his options, Xeeb plots his revenge. Then a few months later, the window of opportunity opens. Will he execute his vengeful scheme? Approx. 1600 words. Another tale in the psecret psociety pshort pstory pseries. If this were a movie, it would probably get a PG-13 rating (foul language, marijuana mentioned).