Chapter 14:

Sully the Bully

Sweet like Honey

“Victor Tang,” I said calmly, even though my heart was pounding so hard in my chest I almost felt like it was going to leap out. “How can I help you?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Victor sneered as he gestured his hired cronies forward. “By dying.”

“…huh?” I gaped at him. Victor chuckled and shook his head.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be a quick and painless death…is what I would like to say, but even I’m not that stupid. It’s one thing to beat you up black and blue to teach you a lesson, but murder is another thing entirely. Even I will find that difficult to cover up.”

“You want to beat me up?” I asked incredulously. I always knew he had a grudge against me because he was a handsome jock who looked down on a nerd like me, but this was just so out of the blue that it was baffling. “Why?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know,” Victor snapped and gesticulated toward me wildly. “You humiliated me that day at your pathetic café. Your little girlfriend splashed coffee onto me and ruined my clothes, and your boss kicked me out! Do you know how embarrassed I was? You’ll pay for making me lose face in public!”


“I’m sorry, but to be frank, that was your fault. You were the one who poured coffee on me.”

“You deserve it. You know better than me what you’ve done. Or have you forgotten about Helen already?”

“Is this what this is about?” Despite my question, I wasn’t surprised. I rubbed my forehead. “Look, I haven’t seen her in fifteen years. I’ve stayed out of her life. I’m not asking for forgiveness, but let’s move on. What more do you want?”

“After all you did to Helen? Hell, no. You’ll be paying for this for the rest of your life.”

Just what on earth did Helen Huang tell everyone? She turned everyone in high school against me, but at that time, I accepted that it was my fault. I was to be blamed, after all, after I did. But though I was certainly in the wrong back then, that didn’t justify this harassment and physical abuse.

I tried not to let my exasperation show as I backed away, only to remember that there were two goons behind me. They had me surrounded, and with the sides closed off by fences around private property, there was nowhere to run. The lights in the surrounding houses were either off or dim, and I clearly couldn’t rely on the nearby residents for help.

Shaking my head, I sighed. “Really, dude? We’re no longer in high school. Why are you still pulling this kind of shit? Like, I get that you don’t like me at all, but bullying is childish behavior.”

“Oh, but this is different from high school.” Victor grinned and held up his hand, flicking his fingers. “Now I have the cash to hire professional bullies. And there are no teachers you can snitch to.”

“You’re kidding, right? You do know this is illegal. If word gets out, you’ll get arrested by the cops. Aren’t you a newly promoted doctor at the city hospital? You’re risking your career over…a high school grudge?”

Victor threw his head back and burst out laughing. “My career? Do you really think an elite like me will get arrested? Besides, who’s going to know? Even if you report me to the cops, do you think they will believe you? There are no other witnesses here. It’s your word against mine. Who are they going to believe, a promising doctor who’s working at the city hospital and saving lives on a daily basis, or some loser dropout from graduate school who wastes his life away working a parttime job at a café even though he's already over 30?”

I was pretty sure that wasn’t how the law worked, but then again, Victor was a doctor. He could easily forge medical certificates and fake an injury, while downplaying mine. And though obviously I would get medically examined by a different doctor, it was possible that he would use his connections with the city hospital he worked in to put his friends into place.

Exhaling wearily, I sighed. “Look, we can just go our separate ways. There’s no need to obsess over something that had happened in high school so long ago. I won’t make excuses for my behavior. I fucked up, and fucked up bad. I regret what I did to Helen, but what does you beating me up achieve? We are all adults now. We’ve changed, and we’re no longer the same person. Let’s move on.”

“The only change here is you turning into a corpse,” Victor snarled. “We’ll never forgive you. What are you waiting? Crush that trash!”

The two lackeys pounced on me from behind, but I dodged them and weaved to the side. Kicking out, I hooked my foot around the ankle of one of them and tripped him up, sending him sprawling on the ground. The other spun around and threw a hook, which grazed my face and almost knocked my glasses askew. I grunted and whirled around, putting my hips into a kick that cracked the guy’s knee and sent him falling to a kneeling position.

I couldn’t capitalize on it, though. The others were almost upon me by now. Someone grabbed me from behind and wrapped his arms around me in a crushing embrace, pinning my arms to my sides. His comrades piled in, punching and pummeling me. Pain exploded across my face and my sight vanished in a red blur, my glasses spinning away from a blow. Blood dripped from my temples as another pair of knuckles broke the skin, and I coughed and gagged as a fist hammered into my chest, pounding the breath out of me.

“Cripple him,” Victor said cruelly. “Break his arms and legs. I want to see how he’ll be able to continue serving in the café after that.”

“Asshole,” I snarled, only to taste iron when someone smacked my jaw with enough force to turn my head. I spat out a mouthful of blood and glared at them defiantly, only to receive another punch for my efforts.

“Someone shut him up. Knock him out. It’s okay if he gets brain damage…no, it’s actually preferable.”

I could feel my brain rattling against my skull as the next few punches and hooks rammed against my cheek, nose and temples. They were professionals, indeed, avoiding punching my forehead because it would hurt their hands. Instead, they struck where it hurt the most. For me.

Despite that, I wasn’t idle. I hammered my elbow against the solar plexus of the guy grabbing me, causing him to grunt and double over. For good measure, I kicked him in the groin and had the satisfaction of hearing him scream. I lashed out desperately, but the rest of the cronies wisely danced out of reach. Instead, something hard smashed into the back of my head and I went down, almost blacking out.

“Good job!” Victor crowed, joining the fun. Gloating over me, he kicked me when I was down and sneered. “This is how it should be…this is where you belong, loser nerd. Crawling in the dirt like the worm you are. You’ll regret ever trying to climb up the lowly station you were born to occupy!”

As I laid on the ground helplessly, feeling them stomp on my arm in order to carry out Victor’s instructions, a single familiar voice pierced through the crimson haze of agony to provide me a small measure of hope.

“That’s enough, all of you,” Shirley Li said as she strode toward the commotion, her smartphone held up in her hand. “I’ve called the police. It won’t be long before they are here, so you either best get running or you prepare to get arrested.”

John Lee H. Wu
Steward McOy