The Boy with the Box Briefcase

Looking back

I think I was an unusual 7th grade boy.  My growth spurt had not kicked in and I was only four and a half feet tall–making me one of the smaller boys in my junior high school.  Additionally, I liked briefcases and I carried one to school.  It was a cheap little imitation leather black box that  I put all of my books and papers in.

Backpacks were not used by students in those days.  Instead, most carried a ring binder notebook in one hand and our books in the other.  Not me.  I carried my briefcase.  There were four of us who did this–that I knew of: Walter, Keith, Michael, and myself–the briefcase brigade.

I would take my case to each class, set it on top of my desk and pull the little spring-loaded latches back to release the closure mechanism.  I still remember the snapping sound that it made when I did that.  Inside, the box had a place for papers in the lid and a few places to slide a pen or pencil.  It was a very practical way of handling my school needs.

One day

I was walking down the sidewalk to my next class when a boy I did not know swooped seemingly out of nowhere and socked me in the jaw.  I dropped my little briefcase and papers flew everywhere as I crumpled to the ground.

I don’t know why he did this.  Looking back, after raising two sons of my own, I think I must have been an irresistible target.  Just some small  nerdy looking little boy in shirt, jeans and tennis shoes carrying a briefcase as he walked down the sidewalk.

Years later

I was called to jury duty for the first time.  The court clerk asked, *Does anyone here know the defendant Johnny R***?*  And to my surprise it was that boy who hit me that day I was walking down the sidewalk.

Decades later

I don’t know what became of Johnny R.  I hope his life turned around for the best.  I think he had to spend some time in prison–and that would be a hard thing for anyone to do.  I suspect he didn’t have as many of the benefits that this nerdy little boy had.  Perhaps there were two victims that day.