He Doesn’t Even Have a Name

by Todd Benowitz, age 15
He Doesn’t Even Have a Name Todd Benowitz is a rising tenth grader who loves to write. When not writing, he likes to snowboard and hang out with friends.

“The boy stood up, and with a slip of his foot, he fell off the oak. The drop must have been at least fifteen feet. As soon as his back hit the ground, ominous darkness aroused.”

There was a cool spring breeze brushing up against the park trees. The branches danced with their forest-green leaves. Upon a single great oak, there was a boy. He decided that one of the tree’s limbs would be the best spot to enjoy his novel. After thirty pages, the boy looked up from Moby Dick and saw the sun was close to setting. It was time to leave. The boy stood up, and with a slip of his foot, he fell off the oak. The drop must have been at least fifteen feet. As soon as his back hit the ground, ominous darkness aroused.

The boy woke up in a hospital bed. Two doctors and a nurse were staring right at him. The child said nothing. He searched the eerie room for his foster parents, and they were nowhere to be found. His back hurt, and his head throbbed with pain. The nurse opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by one of the doctors.

“Do you remember anything that has happened in the past twenty-four hours? What was the last thing you remember?” asked the doctor. The boy tried to remember. He tried to think of the latest events that occurred but could not. He shook his head.

“The last thing I remember is going to the park to read my book,” said the boy. The doctors frowned.

“Do you know your name?” the nurse questioned. The boy nodded.

“Dick,” he answered.

“What about a last name?” asked the second doctor. “We need to file a report for everyone that comes into the ER.” Dick scanned the area again. It didn’t seem like an emergency room at all.

“I have never had a last name. Being completely truthful, I don’t think Dick is my real name either,” Dick confessed. They all seemed shocked, except for Dick.

He doesn’t even have a name, poor boy, thought the nurse.

***

The streets of New York City were cold during September. All Dick owned were sweatshirts and jeans. The school bus pulled up to his town house. Dick’s new foster parents weren’t even awake to see him go off on his first day of high school. Dick didn’t mind, he never expected much from the Torris. They were just like every family the Foster Care system put him in, no matter if they lived in Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, or New York. They never cared for Dick, so he never cared for any them. Dick didn’t know it, but deep down inside him, he felt a longing for family. It was stronger in Texas, where he first lived. But this desire for a family connection died down after he —

“Sorry, this seat is taken.”

“Oh. Alright, sorry to bother you,” Dick replied. He must have said that five more times, before he found an empty seat. Dick gazed out the bus window. He watched as townhouses passed by, but then they turned into buildings, then into skyscrapers. The massive towers hovered over the puny school bus. Dick could feel their cool shadows brushing against his window. Screech! The bus jerked into a full stop. Everyone started to unload and enter Amsterdam High School. Dick pulled out a piece of paper from his back pocket. He checked his schedule.

First period is math with Mrs. Hether. It’s in room 2037. I have four minutes and 29 seconds until the late bell rings. I should be able to get to class on time, thought Dick. He looked up to find two boys staring across the hallway at a girl. One of them seemed to be drooling. Beauty is an abstract thing that I just don’t understand, Dick thought. He grabbed the railing as he walked up a stairwell. It was cold and rusty. Dick calculated in his head it was made of mostly copper, with a small percentage of zinc and iron. As he was walking, he passed a big clump of people. Everyone in the group seemed to be centered around one person.

“Are you excited for this season, Johnny?”

“Hey, Johnny, are you in any of my classes?”

“Yo, Johnny, do you got a date to HOCO?”

While thinking about Johnny, Dick entered room 2037. Judging by his varsity football jacket, Johnny must be on the football team. He seemed like a popular kid with lots of friends.

“I would like that many friends,” Dick whispered to himself.

“Did you say something?” Mrs. Hether questioned. Dick looked up to meet her gaze and quickly shook his head. “I am Mrs. Hether, and who might you be?”

“My name is Dick,” he answered.

“Oh yes! You are the freshman in my class. I am very impressed with you. This is an honors class for juniors, and you’re taking it as a freshman. You must be a very smart, young man.” Dick forced a smile, but truth be told, he didn’t feel much happiness. Emotion wasn’t very strong in Dick. “Take a seat, class will start soon.” Dick immediately thought she wanted him to take ownership of one of her chairs. After a second of recognition, he normally sat down in the front of the room.

The school day went on, and it didn’t occur to Dick that he was excelling in all his classes. Then, the lunch bell rang, and in the hallway Dick noticed a commotion behind him. He looked back to see Johnny helping a girl pick up her books. At that moment, Dick wanted to be friends with Johnny. Johnny appeared to be a great guy. Dick thought Johnny would be nice enough to not reject him as a friend (like everyone else has). During lunch, Dick found Johnny and all his friends sitting at a table.

Dick approached them and asked, “May I sit here?” The girls looked at each other with disgusted faces. The guys were rolling their eyes and ignoring Dick. Johnny finally broke the silence.

“Get lost, freshman,” Johnny demanded. Dick turned around and walked the other way. He kept his head down and accepted the truth. Nobody wanted to be his friend. Splat! His blue hoodie was ruined by a mash potato cannon ball. Dick kept walking while Johnny and his friends laughed at him. Dick didn’t understand humor or how that was funny. He believed the correct emotion, at the time, was misery. Dick found a quiet corner near room 2037. He ate his lunch there, without any company. He sat in that corner alone during lunch, for the rest of his school year. He never cried though, most likely because he was incapable of such actions.

***

Dick didn’t realize he was excelling in his classes with ease. He has never experienced academic difficulty before. Dick would answer questions the teacher asked and get his papers back with 100 percents. He never tried to show off his intellect. He didn’t think it was a big deal. But in the third week of school, other kids really started to notice.

Mrs. Hether asked the class, “What is the answer to question three?” Naturally, a few kids raised their hands, including Dick. Dick didn’t want to give the answer, but he felt obligated to raise his hand because he had the answer. He already gave Ms. Hether the correct answer to question two. Yet, Ms. Hether chose Dick.

“The answer is 4.39 over pi,” said Dick. Ms. Hether was pleased with his answer. She smiled and wrote 4.39 over pi on the chalkboard. Johnny, on the other hand, was not pleased. After class, Johnny stopped Dick in the hallway. Neither one of them moved. They locked eyes, their toes were a foot apart from each other. Some students stopped walking to see what would happen.

“You’re a freshman taking AP Calculus. We get it, you’re smart. You don’t have to show it off to everybody though!” Johnny growled.

Dick responded, “I only answered three questions.”

“Liar! I’m sick of your $%@&, don’t you ever talk back to me!” Johnny snarled. He pushed Dick onto the floor and walked off. Dick was startled and confused. He didn’t understand what happened. Ms. Hether saw Dick getting up from the floor. She didn’t bother to go near him.

When going home that day, Dick tried to reflect. He knew he was intelligent, but he also knew he still didn’t fully comprehend the world he lived in. He grasped the railing along a staircase. He understood its purpose but didn’t know why some people slide down the railing. It seemed impractical and dangerous. The only reasoning Dick could think of was that it’s “fun.” Dick didn’t know how to define “fun.” He didn’t have much fun in his life either.

“I want to have fun,” Dick said to himself. Hesitantly, he sat on the railing. He scooched along the railing, then began to slide. Bam! Dick fell off the railing and onto the stairs. While he tried to stand up, he tripped and fell down the rest of the stairs.

Dick returned to his foster home that day, with more bruises than intended. His foster parents didn’t pay him much attention. The Torris couldn’t care less if Dick was hurt. They only cared if he needed them to pay for a hospital bill. Dick went into his room and quickly shut the door. He went under his covers and tried to fall asleep. He failed to do so.

***

The bell rang after fourth period. Dick began to make his way to his lunch corner. He scanned the hallway for any potential threats. He saw one. Dick turned and walked in the opposite direction. All of a sudden, Dick was slammed into the wall. He didn’t see Gavin coming. Johnny and Henry walked over to Gavin. They looked down on Dick, as if he were a dead mouse soon to be preyed on by vultures. Johnny cracked his knuckles. Dick looked around, the hallway was empty except for them. This was the last thing Dick wanted.

“Take this smart@$#.” Johnny sent a right jab into Dick’s nose.

“Nerd!” Gavin kicked Dick into the wall.

“Loser!” Henry pushed Dick onto the floor. The three juniors started to kick at Dick’s half-dead body. All Dick could do was lay there. His arms covered his face and his body curled up, in order to protect himself. But it was no good.

“Please stop!” Dick cried. “Leave me alone! I’ve done nothing wrong! PLEASE!” he shouted.

“Shut up, Dick-head!” Johnny ordered. He kicked Dick with enough force to push his back into the wall. Suddenly, Dick’s arms felt immense pain, as if they were sore from over usage.

“C’mon, let’s get out of here. I’m hungry,” Henry said. The boys left Dick alone in the hallway. Then, Dick’s arms felt normal again. He struggled but managed to stand up. Dick went to the nurse’s office for some ice. Dick told the nurse he fell down the stairs. Nobody in Amsterdam High School would believe their beloved quarterback was a school bully. So Dick didn’t bother telling the truth.

Dick was regularly getting bullied now. It seemed almost weekly. Johnny, and maybe a friend or two, would find Dick and verbally and physically harass him. Originally, it was because Johnny was upset about Dick being so smart. Except, after a few times, bullying Dick was just a fun thing for Johnny and his friends. Dick never understood why being smarter was why he was bullied. Dick didn’t want to believe Johnny did it for enjoyment.

The worst part about Dick’s bullies, was that he couldn’t do anything about it. He had no friends to talk to. He didn’t have any trusted adults or anyone that cared about Dick. And it was never a fair fight. He was helpless and, in a way, internally dying.

***

Gym class was also a problem for Dick. He wasn’t very athletic or good at sports. Dick got embarrassed every time he tried to play a sport in PE. The jocks would laugh at him and the other kids would smirk. Dick was always the last pick in team sports. Nobody ever passed him the ball. Dick still tried his best, but he still never played well.

One time after Physical Education, Dick was the last one to leave the locker room. He didn’t mind because it was the last period of the day. When Dick tried to leave, the exit door swung open. Johnny and Gavin barged into the boy’s locker room. Dick tried to run. He just suffered a beating two days ago, so he couldn’t take another. Dick ran into the bathroom. They followed him in and jumped into his stall. Johnny grabbed Dick by his oak-brown hair and thrashed his head into the stall wall. Dick could only see blue for a few seconds, then his vision returned. Gavin slapped Dick across the face, leaving Dick’s cheek bright red. Johnny plunged Dick’s head into the toilet. Dick closed his eyes to avoid (what he thought was) blue liquid, in the toilet. After a few seconds, Johnny yanked Dick out of the toilet water. Dick gasped for air.

“This is why you don’t make me look stupid in class!” Johnny grunted. Dick thought for a second. He recalled correcting Johnny’s answer during science class. The teacher asked for the correct answer, and after Johnny gave his, the teacher asked again. Then, Dick provided the right one.

Gavin dragged Dick back out into the locker room. He held Dick’s arms back in an uncomfortable position, twisting his weak muscles. Johnny sucker-punched Dick in the gut. Dick coughed up a little blood. He was mortified. Johnny hit him with an uppercut, straight up the jaw. An image of a syringe flashed in Dick’s mind. Johnny grabbed Dick’s shoulders. Gavin loosened his grip on Dick. Johnny pulled down Dick’s torso in order to knee Dick in the stomach. More blood. Gavin and Johnny both let go of Dick. He fell to the ground. Dick couldn’t get up. Johnny grinned while Gavin handed him Dick’s backpack. Johnny hurled the book bag at Dick’s motionless body. The impact was painful. He hit Dick in the face, pushing his head back into a locker. This woke Dick up.

“I broke my spine from the fall!” Dick exclaimed. He finally remembered what happened when he fell out of that tree. Johnny looked puzzled. He walked over to Dick and began to swing his foot backwards. Before Johnny could kick Dick, Dick was already off the ground. Pow! Dick landed a punch right in Johnny’s chest. Johnny went flying. He flew all the way into the back wall of the locker room. That wall was ten yards away from Dick. Gavin’s jaw virtually dropped to the floor. Gavin bolted out of the locker room, and so did Johnny. Dick was amazed with this new found strength of his. “Where did this come from?” Dick asked himself. He turned to the wall of lockers behind him. Dick stepped forward with his left foot. He then pushed off his right foot, pivoted on his left foot, and punched a locker. His fist went through the locker door. When Dick pulled back his hand, the door came with it. Dick almost screamed with excitement.

***

The next day, Dick didn’t run into Johnny or any of his friends. In PE, the class had to play basketball. The teacher picked team captains, and customarily Dick was drafted last. Dick’s team was playing Henry’s team. Henry knew about what Dick did to Johnny and didn’t believe it. Johnny did look hurt, and that was what drove Henry in the game. Henry would purposefully dribble near Dick and try to embarrass Dick by exposing his awful defense skills. Eventually, Dick was given the ball. Henry ran across the court to personally guard Dick. That was a mistake. Dick dribbled up to the basket, and using all the strength in his legs, he sprung up five feet to slam dunk the basketball. Dick hung onto the rim for a few seconds then dropped back down. The entire gym was silent. Everyone was in shock. Dick didn’t know what to do, so he too stood there motionless and speechless. Suddenly, the bell rang, and everyone went into the locker rooms. Nobody could speak, but their mouths were still wide open.

The next morning, Dick couldn’t get into room 2037. Johnny, Gavin, Henry, and two other upperclassmen blocked Dick’s way. As usual, there weren’t any people in the hallway. Johnny appeared madder than ever.

“Don’t you dare think you’re better than any of us, you freshman %&#@!” Johnny threatened. The two unknown students stepped forward. Dick knew there was going to be a fight, and he was ready for it. Before they could even swing their arms, Dick sent two right hooks their way. The boys flew back, unconscious. Gavin couldn’t move. He was in shock. He just stared at the unconscious bodies. Henry charged at Dick and tried to tackle him. Dick parried with a body throw. Henry was then also unconscious, but thirty feet down the hallway.

It was just Johnny left. Johnny cracked his knuckles. Dick wasn’t afraid. Dick took a step forward. Johnny threw a punch at Dick, but Dick dodged it. Dick performed a roundhouse kick, but Johnny ducked. While Johnny bounced back up, Dick kicked him in the side. Johnny fell, crying in pain. Dick most likely broke one of Johnny’s ribs.

The hallway quickly became quiet and ominous. Dick felt as if the fight wasn’t over. Except, he didn’t know of any other enemies. He looked around the hallway and found it odd that he didn’t see anyone.

Maybe everyone is in class. I should probably go to first period then, thought Dick. Dick walked by the unconscious bodies of his bullies, his conquered fears. He opened the door to Mrs. Hether’s room. A bright light turned on, blinding Dick. He heard SWAT soldiers surrounding him, yelling formation orders. Three red dots appeared on Dick’s chest. “What’s going on?” Dick yelled. He began to regain his vision.

“GOV test subject 02SHS-A is active! Confirmed bodies outside the room. Causation from 02SHS-A!” shouted a SWAT soldier. Dick was very confused and started to get scared. Then, a radio signal came in.

“Go green, neutralize target over!” The red dots on Dick’s chest turned green. Before he could flinch, Dick was shot dead.

 

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