A fictional short story © 12-10-99
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Jeffrey stuttered terribly. In high school he’d been shy and retiring, delving into his books rather than facing the world like other students. But when I saw him at college, things had changed a lot. He still stuttered, but he tried to be part of everything.
One day, as I sat on the bench in front of Anderson Hall, waiting for the afternoon bus downtown, I saw him with a group of students. They were all peacefully demonstrating the rise in student sporting event fees, with placards waving about, standing in a large group near the entrance.
I watched a studious looking man walk out onto the vestibule of the building and begin to address them. The mass of people surged forward. I lost track of Jeffrey in the mob as more students raced across the lawn and into the throng.
Suddenly, at some point near the building, hidden by the crowd, a placard began to wave and bob wildly and just as suddenly, others began to thrash about. The speaking man pulled his extended hands back against his body protectively and spun to re-enter the building quickly.
I could see a fight was starting. Signs flew through the air as some people scattered and others joined the fray. Moments later squad cars and uniformed police surrounded the group and began to disburse the remaining picketers.
I was afraid for Jeffrey and kept looking for him among those that walked away. It surprised me then to see that it was him who violently thrashed about on the ground as the police officers tried to get the students to leave. He was so violent they couldn’t even catch his hands to cuff him.
College sure had changed him! He literally writhed as they dragged him to the car. It was clear he was resisting arrest!
I’d known him a long time, and college or no college, this just wasn’t Jeffrey! I leaped off the bench and raced to the car to try to talk the officers out of arresting him. Before I got to it, I heard him screaming.
“S! S! S! ST…! St…!”
Poor Jeffrey! I thought. He couldn’t even tell them what happened! The arresting officer turned to stop me from going near the car, but was too late.
“Jeffrey!” I called as I peered down through the window at him, twisting and clawing in the back seat. He was thrashing about wildly.
“You with him?” The officer bellowed.
“No, sir! I just know he stutters really bad and can’t always talk!”
“Well, it wouldn’t do him any good if he could! We’re arresting him for Inciting a Riot!”
When Jeffrey heard that, he looked up at us with one of those “Who? Me?” looks on his face. And that face told the whole story!
He was a mass of welts! There must have been two dozen huge bumps on the visible part of his face, each with a little red center. His eyes were swelling shut and his lip protruded an inch farther than I’d ever seen it! He was still thrashing about, and gyrating as he looked at us.
“Jeezzzz! Kid!” The officer said as he reached past me for the door handle! “What bit you?”
“S! S! S! S!” was all he could say.
“Looks like bee stings to me!” I volunteered. Jeffrey nodded vehement agreement.
The officer knelt on the seat and uncuffed him. “Did they start the melee?” he asked. Jeff nodded that they had.
“You want to go with him, Miss?” the officer asked. “I’m taking him to the hospital. He could use some help from an interpreter.”
“Sure.” I said, as I scooted in beside him in the back seat. “I’ll help!”
As I turned to Jeff to smile, I felt his inflated lip press against my cheek and smack. It was his way of saying “Thank You!” I figured, since he couldn’t say the words right then. At least that’s the version I tell our kids when they ask about our first kiss!