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Yesterday, I was the victim of a brutal attack. I was at work, at around ten forty-five in the morning, doing my librarian duties, when it happened.
My boss, Keisha, had just finished up a storytime for several classes from a neighbor preschool. After reading several books and competing in the Silly Dance Contest, the teachers instructed their four-year-old students to stand up, put on their coats, catch their bubbles and line up single-file in line with their walking buddy.
Oh, if only things had gone according to that simple plan.
I had been sitting at the tech desk — adjacent to the reference desk and a short walk away from the children’s section, where the storytime was taking place — going through my staff emails and working on one of my scripts, during the children’s activities.
I was notified, by a co-worker, that a customer at one of the public PCs required some assistance using the computer printing station, so I left my post at the tech desk to help him. A few minutes later, I had completely solved his problem and, after a moment or two of small talk, made my way back to the desk. And that’s when it happened.
I’m going to pause the story here. What occurs next it not for the weak of heart. If you have a heart condition, are pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult your doctor or physician before reading any further, because what follows is quite graphic and I will not censor myself.
As I was approaching the tech desk, I was stopped by one of the preschoolers. He needed help putting his jacket on and, after being offered assistance by my co-worker, Melvin, he pointed to me and said, “I want him to help me.” Mel stepped aside and the child handed me his jacket. I held it open for him and he slipped his tiny arms into the sleeves, turned around, and then had me zip it up for him. I did.
After I zipped up his jacket, the child held his open palm high above his head and said to me, “High five”, which I’m assuming is some gang slang for the marijuana. Soon after, half a dozen other children had gathered around me, shoving their hands in the air as well, shouting “high five”.
I had no idea that our war on drugs had failed this badly.
With the children surrounding me on three sides and the reference desk behind me, growing closer and closer with each step back that I took, I had no other alternative than to defend myself. I quickly threw out my own open palms, smacking theirs away.
Shake your heads in disappointment and curse my name under your breath but, had you been there, you would have resorted to the very same thing.
I smacked hand after hand away, but it did little good; their tiny arms shot right back up into the air, their chanting for “high fives” deafening. It became quickly apparent that my hand-smacking defense was doing little good and, to make matters worse, this obscene spectacle only seemed to attract more and more four-year-olds and, Christ, even a few five-year-olds.
When it became clear that I was not “Holden”, nor would I enable their drug habits if I were, the ring leader of the gang made a threat on my life and then immediately attempted to carry out that threat.
“I love you, Mr. Frank,” he yelled, and then threw open his arms and launched himself at me. He ran straight into my right leg, wrapping his appendages around it, and tried to squeeze the life out of me with his entire body.
This had taken my completely off guard. I was prepared to smack a few hands, maybe engage in a high-stressed debate of “Ya-Huh/Na-Uh”, but not for a full on assassination attempt.
I looked down at the child on my leg, kicking a little, trying to shack him off, but it was a wasted effort. He had attached himself and was not to be torn off easily.
I quickly realized that, while I had tried to dislodge the leader, I had taken my eyes off the pack, a distraction method I’m sure they had planned from the start. I looked up and realized that I was completely surrounded: from the front, the back, the sides, they had taken away every possible escape route. And all of them had their arms outstretched, ready to finish the deed.
Two of them, on either side of me, grabbed onto my arms, pulling. Another had grabbed onto my other leg, while someone was attempting to jump onto my back. As an eighth tried to wrap her tiny little arms around my neck, I realized where their fiendish plan was finally going.
They were pulling me down.
I tried to resist, but they were practically climbing over one another to get to me. It became too much, there were too many of them, and I fell to my knees.
It was over. I could feel them slowing squeezing me to death with their little bodies. It was as if they had become a single, crushing life force. As I tossed my head up, taking in one last mouthful of oxygen, I noticed the time; their entire assault, from start until bloody finish, had taken place in under four minutes.
They may have been tiny, but they were ruthless and organized and, worse, they must have had the rest of the adults in the area under their control, because no one had come to my aide. In fact, anyone over four feet or four-years-old just stood and laughed in triumph at the “children’s” victory.*
But, I decided, I was not going to go out like that.
I summoned all of my strength, rocked back from my knees onto my feet, and extended my legs with such force that at least four or five children had flown off in various directions. With still a few hangers-on, I shook my entire body, like an enormous St. Bernard after a bath, until their little grips were loosened and they fell off.
But I wasn’t free yet.
The mob of children swarmed around me like as many angry bees. A few of them tried to dart in take me on by themselves, but I was hip to their game by now. I shoved my hand out onto the first’s forehead, his lilliputian arms swinging away but never actually connecting, finally pushing him backwards into another child. Another charged me, but I simply stepped aside, tripping him. Two others rushed me: I gave a boot to the head to the first, suplexing the second. And, just as a show of force, I picked up a random child from the bunch and punted him into the nonfiction section.
It finally came down to myself and the leader of the group.
I won’t lie to you, he scared me. He was obviously the brains of the operation but, I can tell you from personal experience, he also had the brawn; not one of those kids embraced me quite as severely as he did.
But I had one thing that he didn’t have: reach.
Before he could make his first move, I scooped him up with my left arm and took his right hand in mine, repeatedly striking his cheek with it.
“Why are YOU hitting YOURSELF?!?” I chanted over and over again.
After I was sure that he, and any other lookers-on got the point that I am a force not to be trifled with, I dropped him into a pile of his crying comrades.
The library battlefield was filled with many boo-boos and owies that day. The school nurse would surely be working overtime applying band-aids and kisses to make it better.
Disgraced, the classes lined up, two by two, caught their bubbles and left the library with their teachers. But I have a feeling they’ll be back.
Next Tuesday at 10:00 AM, in fact, for another storytime. And I’ll be ready for them.
Even though I was victorious, I spent the rest of the day on edge. Maybe it was adrenaline or the fact that I didn’t know if or when I’d be attacked again, but I just couldn’t shake the fact that this was not over.
An hour later, I felt a tap on my shoulder and quickly turned around to karate chop my assailant. As it turned out, it was just an elderly woman asking directions to the restrooms. I helped her up from the floor and pointed her down to hall, take a right by the vending machines and, while you’re there, buy an ice cold Pepsi from the pop machine; it’ll help alleviate the swelling on your eye.
In the end, I got lucky.
Like those little old ladies who can lift cars off of their trapped grandchildren, I was able to summon strength that I didn’t even know I had in order to save my own life. This doesn’t mean — should you ever be walking down the street and spot a group of small children playing or robbing the elderly – that you should approach or try to fight them, unless you have back-up or some sort of weapon on you and, even then, be careful.
I believe the children are the future. And that they aren’t afraid to kill us all to get there.
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
* Anything written after this point is fabrications and lies to make to the author look like he isn’t a cuddly teddy bear.**
** This statement is a lie. The events in this story are completely true and the author could, and has, beat up plenty of four-year-olds.