This story was inspired by the Red Dress Club prompt about a fight. My profuse apologies that it is on the long side, 925 words. We usually have a limit of 600-700 words and I’m usually good at sticking to that!
This story is different from previous prompts in that it is directly related to my WIP. The novel is set on Kingdom Come (although this scene takes place on Earth) and the character of Wes is a minor one. But this prompt really opened up a whole new facet for the character, and for the story in general. I owe a debt to TRDC for making this happen… this prompt directly and positively affected something I’m working on right now!
Wes sat in a corner of the big comfy couch, engrossed in his research. He only understood about half of the names he’d been called, and he was curious about the rest. “Space Monkey” was an obvious one, though not very accurate. He wasn’t “from” space. He was “from” a human colony called Kingdom Come. It was a planet, much like Earth, just far away. “Niggerchink” he had figured was actually two different derogatory terms, one referring to the features and skin tone that hinted he had ancestors from Africa, and the other referring to ancestors from China. Why a nationality could be an insult was beyond his understanding, but, well, there it was. According to his research, the words were particularly rude and vile, and should not be spoken at all, even when trying to explain the confrontation to his mother.
Wes was determined to participate in at least one team sport during the year he spent on Earth. It wasn’t just that his mother was pushing him; it was also something he could do that would mean a certain number of hours each week would be spent away from his sisters. Unfortunately, after it was too late his discovered that those few hours would also be spent in the company of one rather nasty bully and his wing man. Carlos’ insults had initially gone right over Wes’ head, which effectively just inspired the bully to do even worse.
The most confusing insult had been when Carlos told him “Go Sheen yourself!” That insult at least was somewhat appropriate. It was used against people who were rich and/or famous, and meant using one’s wealth and/or fame to behave so colossally stupid that one was forever a pathetic joke in the eyes of their peers. Wes wasn’t famous, but his family was quite wealthy, and he certainly did have the ability to “Sheen himself” if he ever became that desperate. Or stupid.
The least confusing insult had been “retard.” Wes had heard that one before, but he thought he was good at hiding it. All forms of Autism could be detected in utero, and although it wasn’t possible to completely fix the problems, there were a spectrum of therapies that made it not only livable, but practically invisible. Like his friend who had a bionic foot because an artificially grown appendage for some reason would not work; hardly anyone knew or noticed. The bionic foot simply needed to be attached the right way, put away neatly each night, and cleaned properly, and he was no different than anybody else.
Wes knew he sometimes smiled at inappropriate times, or misread social cues. But he was very good at covering for himself when he made a mistake, and he compensated by being excessively polite. Many people, adults in particular, found his manners endearing. Others, like Carlos, found them annoying.
Wes’ school on Earth specialized in kids like them whose parents were only going to be in the country for a few months, so Wes turned to the city’s Recreation Department to see what was offered. Back home, he loved swimming and diving. Diving in particular suited him well; he could be part of the team, but he didn’t have to compete side by side with either his team mates or his rivals. He took his turn, the judges gave him a score, and whoever got the best score won. Simple. The Rec Department had a swim & dive league, and one of the gyms in his family’s apartment building had a team. The competition fit into the family’s schedule, and he signed up.
Newly armed with knowledge, Wes faced the weekend Swim & Dive meet with courage. Carlos’ races were staggered with Wes’ dives in just a way that the only contact they had was during the team meeting before everything started, and Carlos wouldn’t do anything in front of their coaches. It wasn’t till after Wes’ dives, heading back down the long corridor to their team’s locker room that he heard Carlos’ voice behind him.
“Hey, outtie!” the bully called. Wes ignored him. That particular term made him think of belly buttons, and he had learned the hard way it wasn’t safe to laugh at Carlos’ insults.
“I’m talking to you, you xeno spug!” Those ones were easy to ignore. Generic terms for someone not born on Earth were meant to be derogatory, but they lacked the proper sting. Like when Carlos had called him a “Martian.” That term wasn’t even an insult, and it didn’t apply to him as he’d never even been to Mars.
Carlos’ voice grew more belligerent. “Hey, Asstrole…”
Wes froze. It wasn’t that the insult was particularly vile, it was the fact that it was new. He dissected the word in his head. “Ass” meaning buttocks was a common insult. “Asshole” was also a common insult, and it rhymed with “Asstrole”. Could it have something to do with asteroids?
Wes found himself on the ground long before any pain registered. His initial sensation was that of confusion; a sense of “What am I doing sprawled out on this cold, damp floor?” His next thought was “That red stuff looks a lot like blood.”
These thoughts occurred with lightning speed, and preceded the sensation of pain by what seemed like an eternity. In the instant that the pain registered, he rolled over and looked up. He screamed when he saw two feet flailing above his head, but they continued to flail, never making contact.
Wes’ dad had the bully by the horns.
My thanks to the friends who helped think up appropriate insults for 14 year old boys to use in the future! Bill Nevin, Scarlett Parrish, Grokdad, Dan Bressler, and Shane Fahrnow. I am so glad you can all be so immature lol!