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.
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.
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.
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.