"Thomas Gommal Learns about Bullying"

Chapter 1
Thomas Gomel Learns About Bullying

By Shirley McLain

 Thomas's body tried its best to keep him in bed. I don't want to get up. Mom doesn't realize what was beginning. 

Emily yelled at him twice trying to urge him out of bed. Today was the first day of school. Thomas can't make himself move <b>due to fear and anxiety filling his body. He couldn't show it. No one to see his real feelings. He'd convinced himself he was an excellent actor at twelve years of age. He believed his mother never recognized his stress. Thomas was rather proud of himself. 

Thomas and his family live in Gomelton were he was born along with every other Gomel since the town was founded. His mother frequently showed how proud she was to be the wife of the Great-Great Grandson of the founding Gomel.

A large picture hung over the fireplace of Great-Great Grandfather, Silas Gomel. The painting's appearance was awkward because of its size and the down lighting that made it the only thing which stood out in the room. Visitors and family thought Thomas and his fourth Great Grandfather resembled one another. It's hard to understand how two relatives so far apart in years could mirror each other so closely in looks. 

Thomas's dad, Charles, told everyone they were identical twins except, one of them was 100 years older, give or take a few years. Everyone laughed at his overused joke. Thomas never laughed. He tried his best to smile, so he didn't hurt his father's feelings.

Thomas heard his mother call his entire name for the third time, he no longer had a choice, he got out of bed. Straight to the bathroom, he went to brush his teeth and dress.

A twelve-year-old boy doesn't care what he wore, as long as it resembled jeans and a tee-shirt. Thomas observed himselfin the mirror and he saw a geeky, dark-haired, boy who wore glasses, with a body like a stick and no muscles. No wonder I'm the one Crusher picks on the most. Thomas, you're the biggest nerd in school. 

The school put restrictions on what shirts the boys wear because of all the gang violence going on in the bigger cities. Gomelton never had a real gang problem with violence, but they wanted to prevent it if they could.

Every Monday morning during school, she handed him lunch money and told him not to spend it all in one place and laughed like it was the greatest joke in the world. Thomas thought it was corny but did his best to show her how much he loved her for what she did for him. He stepped in front of her and placed his arms around her middle and hugged her for a long time. Tears sprung to her eyes because of the tenderness her son demonstrated.

Thomas' heart pounded in his chest due to his anxiety over school. Crusher was a secret his parents knew nothing about. The one boy in school who made life hell for any kid he <b>encountered.
The closer Thomas got to the school the slower he walked, thanks to Peter Cusher.

Everyone at school called him the same name, <b>teachers included, "Crusher." He looked fourteen or fifteen years old instead of the same age as Thomas. His was muscled more than Thomas had seen on a 12-year-old. Crusher had a work out gym he frequently used at home.

Crusher's build filled Thomas with self-loathing and fear when he was around. The teachers thought him the perfect student because his family had money and his speech was polite around them. Out of the teachers' sight, every kid younger than Crusher was a potential target.

Bookbag in hand Thomas walked down the street towards the school. He observed what a pretty street he lived on with the roadside full of trees and flower gardens. The sweet scent almost made him forget his fears. You're a nerd again, Thomas's mind told him. He cringed and felt his shoulders tighten. Relax, you haven't even reached the school yet, Thomas told himself. 

Occasionally, his mind flashed back to Crusher and the year before. I want Crusher out of my mind. He forced his mind back to the neighborhood with the birds in the trees singing, the amazing smelling rose hedge. Anything to keep Crusher out of his head. This year will be the same as the last and the one before. Life at school is total misery. Thomas spends a lot of time beating himself up with his inner dialogue.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 2
Lunch Money

By Shirley McLain

Chapter 2
A group of boys hung out with Crusher. He's never alone. They are his cheerleaders. You know the types always telling him how tough he is, and how whatever he says or does is right. Once you are on the school grounds it doesn't take long to figure out his word is law. If he says, "don't talk," everyone around him didn’t make a sound.
Thomas remembered back last spring when a new kid came to the school. Crusher groomed him for the group. Crusher told everyone to be quiet so he could think. The noise stopped immediately around his table. The new kid mistakenly asked Crusher a question. Crusher turned, not saying a word and hit the boy in the nose. Before the new kid could register his thoughts, he's on the ground with blood running over his chin. "I told you to be quiet, didn't I?"
The kid nodded his head, never said a word because he knew the rules because others in the group told him what they were, within fifteen minutes of joining. Crusher's first rule, "Tell newcomers the rules."
If a teacher noticed the kids swollen nose and asked what happened, the kid made up a story as if he were playing and ran into a tree. What the kid said the teacher accepted without asking questions.
Thomas got to the school grounds and prayed his friends were out front. He wasn’t that lucky. There Crusher stood by the front door. Thomas looked around for a teacher, but as usual, there wasn’t one. He ducked his head, pressing his chin to his chest and attempted to walk past Crusher and his gang.
"Oh, look, boys, it's Four Eyes Gobbler. Glad you're at school today. Did you bring your lunch money for the week?" Thomas reached for the door. One of the gang stopped him.
"Leave me alone, Crusher. I don't want any problems with you." Thomas kept his head down and spoke almost in a whisper.
"Well, I have a problem with you, Mr. Four Eyes. You think you're better than everyone else because the town got its name after your family. Isn't that right Mr. Gobbler?" Crusher said as he looked around to make sure there weren't any teachers around.
"No, I don't. I'm like everyone else here," Thomas said in a soft-spoken voice.
Crusher smiled his best smile and said, "Oh no, Mr. Four Eyes Gobbler, you aren't like everyone else, and you're going to pay for it. I want your lunch money."
"Well, you can't have it. It's mine, not yours. Leave me alone," Thomas said, in an agitated voice.
"Hey Fellows, guess what? Mr. Four Eyes said the lunch money is his. It looks like we'll be seeing him later."
"What do you mean, Crusher?" Thomas asked.
"I mean you're going to pay for not handing over your money. Me and the boys will take a pound of flesh instead of the money. You'll leave this school when the classes are over. We'll be waiting for you somewhere on your way home. Is my meaning clear enough, Mr. Gobbler?" The other boys laughed, and Crusher put a big grin on his face. His intense black eyes let Thomas know he meant every word.
Thomas's brain flashed a big red "trouble" before his eyes. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the money his mom gave him for his meals. All the while his mind screamed, "besides being a geek, you’re a coward!" He shoved the money at Crusher and said, "here, now leave me alone."
"Thanks, buddy, I'll see you around. Come on fellas we got someone to visit." Crusher and his boys walked away laughing.
Thomas opened the door to the school and went inside before Crusher could think of anything else to do to him. He didn't know how often Crusher took his money over the past two years, but he knew in his heart once was to many.
"Hi Mom, is there anything to eat?" Thomas asked.
"There's some chocolate chip cookies on the counter. Pour yourself a glass of milk. How was school today? Do you like your new teacher?"
Always a thousand questions. I wish Mom wouldn't ask so many. Everything remains the same. "School is fine and so is the teacher. We didn't do much today except get our books and find out what we’ll be doing all year. Oh, of course, we found out about all of the rules the school put in place."
"Anything new happening?"
Thomas thought about telling his mother about Crusher, but couldn't bring his self to do it, so he said: "No, there is nothing new."
"Mom, can I go over to Andy's after dinner? I want to tell him about school."
"No, you can't. Andy is still running a fever, and Noreen told me today he isn't feeling well at all."
"Please Mom, you told me I couldn't get the pox since I've already had it."
"Thomas, I said no, and don't ask me again. Get your homework done."
"I need to talk to him about something," Thomas said in his most imploring voice.
"I'm not too busy now to talk; can I help you with something?"
"No, but thanks, mom. We want to talk boy stuff. But I do need some more lunch money."
Thomas's mother stopped what she was doing and walked over and sat down at the table. "Thomas, come and sit with me."
Thomas pulled out his usual chair and sat down. "Now tell me what's going on and why do you need more lunch money?" His mother asked in a concerned voice.
"Nothin's going on Mom; I need more money because I lost mine. I didn't eat lunch today. I went to pay for it this morning, and it wasn't in my pocket. I must have lost it on the way to school."
"You are usually incredibly careful with your money, but I do remember a few times you lost your lunch money last school year. You need to learn to be more careful. I'll give it to you in the morning before you leave for school and don't lose it."
"I won't Mom. Thanks, and I'm sorry. I'm going to do my homework now. Are you sure I can't go to Andy's house?"
A mischievous grin spread across his face as his mother drew back to throw the dishcloth at him. He made a mad dash for the door ducking so the wet rag wouldn’t hit him.

His mother smiled as she puts her arm down from the intended throw. She realized Thomas volunteered to do his homework without being told for two hours to do it. "Something is going on for sure," speaking out loud as if someone else were in the kitchen.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 3
A Plan is Started

By Shirley McLain

Chapter 3

Thomas's mother continued to walk around the kitchen doing little odd jobs and worry about what went on with her son. She needed to talk to Charles.
"I'm home," Charles yelled, heading for the kitchen. He never entered the house without seeking out his wife to show her how much he missed her by giving her a kiss and a hug.

"Hi darlin', I'm glad you're home. Supper will be ready soon. How was your day?"

"A usual day of work. Nothing big happened. I can't complain."

"I need to talk to you about Thomas. He volunteered to do his homework."

"Charles' eyes open wide. Is he sick?"

"No, he's not sick. I think something happened at school. He won't talk to me about what's gone on. I know both of you very well, and you two tend to be abrasive to each other when you talk. I think I there's a way for him to talk to someone."

"Why do you think exists a problem with school?"
"Because he won't talk anything about what has gone on at school and he asked me for more lunch money today. He told me he lost the money on the way to school. I can always tell when Thomas isn't telling the truth. It shows in his face when he is trying to lie."

"What's your idea?"

Emily looked at her husband in the eyes as she spoke. "I want you to ask Mike, to talk to him. Thomas thinks Mike does no wrongs and knows everything."

"True," Charles said. "Mike would find out about the problem. When Thomas goes to bed I'll call."

Emily hugged and kissed her husband again. "Wonderful. We at least have a place to start. Go wash up for supper and tell Thomas suppers on the table."

Thomas made the week. He dodged Crusher and his gang by ducking around corners and walls and flat out hiding, but he is their chosen victim. They will take advantage of any situation to be able to do their bullying. Crusher and his gang followed him around so often that sometimes he can't go into the boys' bathroom all day. That made him rush home and barely make the bathroom in time. Sometimes he wet himself which caused him total mortification.
He tried to sneak around with his clothes so his mom wouldn't see them. He put them in the closet until his Mom ran an errand and was gone long enough to wash them and hung in the closet. Thomas didn't realize his mom understood what he was doing. She didn't want to embarrass him or cause him increased stress.

Friday afternoon there was a car sitting in front of his house he recognized immediately. Great my Uncle Mike is here. Maybe we can go to the batting cages or something. He entered the house and yelled, "Where are you, Uncle Mike?" He went straight to the kitchen because he knew Mike would be with his mom. At this time of day, she's always in the kitchen.

When Thomas saw Mike, he took a running jump and tackled him. Thomas and Mike hugged each other as Mike continued his conversation with Emily. "Uncle Mike I didn't know you were coming. Mom or Dad never said a word. Sure, been a long time and I'm so glad you're here.

Mike smiled, "they found out I was coming when Emily answered the door and observed my handsome face. I didn't tell anyone. I packed some clothes and drove here because I wanted to spend the weekend with you. We need bonding time together. Don't you agree, Mike laughed, I'll be here all weekend. Right now, I'm visiting with your Mom. Is there any homework you need to do? Now would be a great time to work on it. Nothing should interfere with anything we want to do. I'll be here until Monday morning. I'll go to work as you go to school."

"That's great, Uncle Mike, and I'll do my homework right now," Thomas said. He let out an excited yell running up the stairs two at a time to his room.
"I'm so glad you're here, Mike. We're worried about Thomas. He's acted depressed. He doesn't talk about school at all. He stays in his room most of the time and he acts like he's scared. I even called the school and spoke with his teacher. She told me he doesn't participate in class. He's also changed his desk to the back of the room.

If your brother or I ask him any questions, he only says everything is all right. He considers parents necessary to provide everything for him, but at the same time, we're not to realize anything that happens outside of the house. I hoped you could help," Emily said.
"I'll give my best try. Since you said you thought it might be bullying, I was bullied in middle school also, and I remember the episodes as if it were yesterday. You don't forget being traumatized.

"This is the first time I've heard anything about you being bullied," Emily commented
"It was a long time ago, and it tends to get pushed to the back of the mind. I don't think of it often, but it never goes away. Mine happened because I was the new kid in the class. I wore glasses and didn't participate in sports activities. Guys think if you'd rather read a book than play football there has to be something strange about you. Kids that are bullies tend to attack people they think are different."

"When you told me, you thought Thomas was being bullied, I did some studying on Bullying in schools and picked up a few pointers. Getting him to talk is the initial problem to overcome. It's quite common for kids to try and deal with it themselves instead of talking to an adult about it. Isolation is one of the strongest emotions they experience."

"We'd appreciate any help you can give Thomas and us. He's our world and the thought of him hurting causes your brother, and I pain," Emily's face.
"Don't worry, Emily all of us working together will work this situation out and help Thomas."

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 4
The Batting Cage

By Shirley McLain

Chapter 4

Thomas screamed from the kitchen, "Uncle Mike are you ready to go?"

"I'll be down in a minute," Mike yelled back.

"Mom, have you got our drinks and snacks ready to go?" Thomas yelled as he headed to the front door turned and came back into the kitchen.

"Young man stop yelling. There are none of us deaf in this household. I know you're anxious to get going, but you have lots of time."

Thomas said nothing back to his mother because he knew he'd be in trouble if he did. He paced around the kitchen picking up items on the counters. His mother looked at him and shook her head.

"You'd think you are heading somewhere important instead of the batting cages with your Uncle."

"I don't want to get there too late. The cages fill up fast and I know which one is the best one to use. Uncle Mike come on." Thomas yelled again.

"Wow boy, I'm right here. We're not on any kind of a timeline," Mike said.

"Yes, we are. Come on please," Thomas said.

Mike laughed as he hugged Emily. "I guess we're leaving now."

"You both have a good time." Emily waved as they drove away in Mike's car.

"Why are you in such a rush, Road Runner?" Mike asked as they pulled into the parking area of the batting cages.

"You haven't called me that in a long time. I've missed you, Uncle Mike. I'm in a hurry because everyone gets here early so you can lose the cage you want. If you get here late you can't get the lucky cage which also happens to be the best one at the park."

"Now I understand your rush. You should've told me last night. It's hard to read your mind about what I'm supposed to be doing." Mike laughed and roughed up Thomas's hair. Thomas jerked his head sideways and put a hat on and didn't say a word.

The two got out of the car and headed to cage #3 which was empty. Thomas ran to get his things into the cage so no one could claim it.

"Uncle Mike, you need to go to the park office and get us signed in. You know which one it is, don't you?" Thomas says teasingly.

"Yes, I know, I've only lived here my entire life. Nothing like being a wisecracker." Mike said, laughing as he walked away.

The batting cage was a long rectangular net enclosure. It has chain-link fencing on the outside of the netting to help prevent vandalism. It also has a pitching machine which was shoot loaded.

Thomas was busy loading balls into the shoot and wasn't paying attention to what's going on around him. He heard a voice that sent shivers down his spine. No, it can't be, not today.

"Hey boys, look who's here. It the four-eyed gobbler." Crusher exclaimed.

Everyone is having a good hardy laugh and they didn't see Mike standing behind them.

"Hi, fellas, is there something I can help you with?"

Crusher stopped laughing instantly along with his cronies. "No, sir, we are fine. Just laughing at a joke one of the guys told. Bye, Thomas, see you at school, Monday."

Crusher and his gang walked on down the sidewalk, but Thomas's demeanor isn't the same as when Mike left him. "You ready to hit some balls, Thomas?"

"You go first, Uncle Mike. The machine is loaded and ready to go." Thomas says.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 5

By Shirley McLain

Chapter 5

Mike saw the demeanor change in Thomas. The fact that Thomas didn't want to bat first was the first sign, and he was way too quiet. It's as if Thomas's sadness saturated the air.

"Thomas, are you doing okay?" Mike asked.

"Yeah, I'm okay."

"Are you ready to hit some balls? I'll bet I hit more balls than you do."

"That's not a fair bet, Uncle Mike, because you've been hitting balls a lot longer than I have."

Mike started the machine and waited for the first ball to come out. He took a swing and misses. The same happened with the second ball. He turned the auto pitcher off and walked back to Thomas.

"You should've made that bet. I couldn't hit two balls. Now let's see what you can do?" Mike said.

"Hey Thomas, what's going on with you? You're not the same kid I drove down here." Mike put the bat in the rack and walked back over to the table where Thomas was sitting. "You want to talk, Buddy? You know you can trust me, don't you?"

"Sure, I know Uncle Mike, but this is hard to talk about."

"How about I walk over to the vending machines and get us a snack and something to drink, and then we can do some talking. We can talk about what you are comfortable with. How does that sound?"

"It sounds okay." Thomas looked down at his shoes while Mike was talking.

Mike took off for the vending machines, leaving Thomas waiting at the table. Thomas kept his eyes searching around the park to make sure Crusher and his gang were not close.

When Mike returned with their snacks and drinks He stood watching Thomas for a minute or so. I have to do something to get him out of this funk. "We have a couple of choices, "Thomas. Do you want the chips or popcorn? Which do you want, Rootbeer or Orange Soda? Do you want the drink right now?" Thomas looked around and pointed at the chips and Rootbeer. Mike didn't say a word, just handed Thomas his snacks.

Thomas took a drink and raised his eyes to Mike, "This is so cold and tastes so good. Thanks, Uncle Mike.   

"Any time kid.  Your my most favorite nephew," Mike said.

"Oh, that does make me feel special since I'm the only nephew you have." Thomas and Mike both had a good hearty laugh lightening Thomas's spirit.

  "Uncle Mike,  I have a big problem, and you've met him."

" I have?" Mike asked, "Tell me more."

"You remember the guy and his gang who was here a little bit ago?"

"Yeah, I remember."

"That was Crusher and the gang that runs with him. He bullies me. Besides me, it happens to other kids at school."

"Thomas, explain bullying to me, so I understand what you're telling me."

Wiping his hands on his jeans Thomas began to tell Mike his about being bullied. He tried to start talking twice but couldn't get the words to come out.

"Take your time, Thomas. We have as long as you need. I told your mom to expect us back when she saw our eyes," Mike said.

  On the third try, Thomas finally began to explain about Crusher and his gang.

"Crusher is the main one who does it. He's the leader and the other boys do what he tells them."

"Does what, Thomas?"

"He shoves me around, throws my books in the dumpster, calls me names and takes my lunch money, makes sure that I never get to play on teams. He even hits other boys even some girls hurting them."

"Have you told your teacher?"

"Sure, but no one believes us. Crusher never does anything if he thinks there will be a witness. And he's always polite and kind when someone is around. The kids who got hurt made up stories, so it's never Crushers fault. The grownups think he's too nice a boy to do something like that. they need to know what he's really like. I think we're all scared of him."

"What is this kid's name?"

"His real name is Peter Cusher, but he only goes by Crusher at school. Even the teachers call him Crusher instead of his real name."

"Thomas, do you know what his dad's name is? I'm wondering if I know him."

"I think his name is Paul, yes Paul Cusher. He owns those two big car sales places on the freeway. I think they sell Cadillacs and Jaguars. Do you know him?"

"I sure do," Mike said. "He graduated high school with your Dad."

"Uncle Mike, thanks for talking with me. I do feel better," Thomas said. "Can we still hit balls?"

"Sure, We have a few minutes left before our time is up on the cage. Do you want to go first?"

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 6
Carl Cusher

By Shirley McLain

Thomas and Mike had a great time at the batting cage and went to the snack machines and got themselves a cold drink and chips.

“Thomas do you know why you are bullied at school?” Mike asked.

“No, I don’t. I’ve never understood it,” Thomas said.

“It makes the one doing the bullying feel better about themselves. Have you ever seen Crusher around his father?”

“No, I haven’t,” Thomas said.

“Well, I think this afternoon you and I will go car shopping at the Jaguar Dealership and do some people watching.  What do you think of that idea?”

“Uncle Mike, I’m not sure I want to go down there. I know Crusher works there on Saturday afternoons helping his dad.”

“That’s the best time to go and watch how they interact. We may learn a great deal about why Crusher behaves the way he does,” Mike said.

Within an hour Mike and Thomas were at Cusher Jaguar looking at the cars on the lot. It didn’t take two minutes before Carl Cusher arrived at their side.

“Looking to buy a new car today?  You can’t beat this Jaguar.  Has all the power anyone could want beneath them. Take a look at this motor.” Carl lifted the hood to show Mike the bright shining motor. “This baby can fly down the road. With this 5.0 Liter V8 575 HP Supercharged Engine, it has a Top Speed of 174 mph and can do 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. You wouldn’t think that a car with this kind of power would get Highway Fuel Economy: 23 mpg.”

“You’re right, this is an impressive car.  You don’t remember me do you, Carl?”

“I can’t say that I do,” Carl said.

“I’m Charles Gomel’s younger brother, Mike.”

“You don’t say. What has it been 15 years?” Carl said. “I wouldn’t have guessed it.  How is Charles doing these days?”

“He’s doing good. This is his son, Thomas.” Mike said.

Thomas squeaked out a “hello.” And then backed behind Mike. Mr. Cusher didn’t speak to Thomas but did attempt a smile.

“I have a son who is 12, even though he doesn’t look like it. He’s a big fellow. The twerp is around here somewhere.  Do you know him, Thomas?” Carl asked.

“Yes sir, we are in the same grade,” Thomas said.

“Peter told me he works here on Saturdays to help you out, Mr. Cusher." Thomas didn’t look at Mr. Cusher when he spoke.

“Help me, oh yeah, right. Peter is one lazy kid but his mother makes me bring him down here. He’s got a bunch of boys hanging around here with him. He’s more worried about his reputation and popularity than learning about the car business. Sorry, I went off on a tangent.”

Changing the subject, he went back to car selling mode.  “Well Mike, want to take this baby for a test drive? It’s an experience you won’t forget,” Carl asked.

“I’m sure, Carl, but I’m going to take a rain check. We wanted to make a quick trip to see what the cars are like this year, and we’ve accomplished that.

We’ll be back and it’s been great seeing you again,” Mike said
They hurried back to the car and left for home. As soon as they were on the road Mike asked Thomas, “What did you think of Mr. Crusher?

“He sure didn’t like the fact Crusher was at the car lot with him. He really didn’t have one nice thing to say” Thomas said.

“Did you notice anything else?” Mike asked.

“One other thing, I guess. He called him a name. Dad never calls me names, even when he’s mad at me. I don’t think he should have done that.”

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 7
Thomas Has a Decision To Make

By Shirley McLain

Chapter 7
Mike was quiet for a few minutes as he drove back to Thomas’s house. He couldn’t look at Thomas since he had to keep his eyes on the road. Thomas watched the houses they drove 
past, not paying attention to anything.

“Thomas,” Mike said, “you told me a lot of things today you haven’t shared with your Mom and Dad. What do you think about all four of us sitting down to talk about this problem with Crusher?   Maybe we can work a plan out.”

“I don’t know, Uncle Mike. I’m afraid I might get into trouble because of the lunch money.” 

“They love you very much, little boy. You can trust them just as you do me.  They will never do anything to hurt you. Think about it for a while and then let me know. Deal?" 

Thomas sat silently for a couple of minutes deep in thought. He turned to his Uncle Mike; his face showed a mixture of dread and determination" as he said, "Deal, I’ll let you know.”

Within a few minutes, they were home. Mike and Thomas unloaded the car in silence. Thomas was deep in thought, and Mike didn’t want to interrupt his thinking.
we're home," Mike yelled out as they came through the door. They hadn’t even made it into the room before Emily was hugging each of them.

“How was the batting cage? Did you have a good time?”

“Yes, to both of your questions, Mom. I’m going to take my stuff upstairs and lie down for a little while. Is that okay?”

“Are you sick, son?”

“No, just tired.”

“All right, I'll call you when lunch is ready.”

“Emily, do you still have some lemonade made?  I sure would like a glass of it if you do.  I’m thirsty, and the lemonade sounds so good.”

“Come with me to the kitchen, Mike, and I’ll get you fixed up.  Can’t have you thirsty.”

Mike went to the garage first to put his things away and then came into the kitchen.  A glass of lemonade was sitting on the table. Mike grabbed it up and took a big drink and let out a satisfying “AH.”

"Do you want to tell me what is going on with my son?" 

“I don’t want you angry with me, Emily, but I have to hear from Thomas first before I say anything.  It’s a matter of trust.  You can believe what I say when I tell you he is doing fine right now. Let’s give him a little time. I am hoping that the four of us can sit down this evening and have a conversation.”

“Then he did open up and talk to you.”

“Yes, he did, and he wants to do some thinking about what he wants to do.  Just give him some time.”

“Thanks, Mike.  I knew he’d open up to you.  You’re the best uncle he has.”

“Yes, Emily, you are so right since I’m his only uncle.” Mike and Emily both laughed.


Thomas went straight to his room and put his gear away and laid down on his bed. He had some serious thinking to do. He'd made up his mind he would decide before he went back downstairs for lunch. As soon as Thomas got comfortable his eyes became heavy and he drifted off to sleep thinking of Crusher and his parents.


Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 8
Thomas Thinks About the Future

By Shirley McLain

Thomas’s eyes popped open after experiencing a fitful afternoon nap. He knew he’d been dreaming about Crusher but could remember none of the details. This fear has to stop. I don’t know what I’ll do, but I know where to start.

Mike stood at the door when Thomas opened it. Startled he jumped back and laughed.

 “Woah fella, it’s only me.  Your mom sent me up to tell you lunch is ready.”

A grin slowly spread across Thomas’s face. “You scared the pee out of me, Uncle Mike. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be at the door. Oh, something else. I want to let you know that I came to my decision about talking to Mom and Dad.”

“What did you decide?”

“I’ve decided to tell them what has been happening with Crusher.  I don’t want to go through this anymore.”

“That’s great, Thomas. Let’s get back downstairs; I’m hungry.”

They were met at the top of the stairs by Emily. "Here you two are. I was beginning to think I'd lost both of you to the monster under the stairs.".

Mike’s eyes widened and he stuttered out “monster.”

Thomas and his mother both laughed. “Uncle Mike we don’t have a monster. Mom used to tell me that if I did something she didn’t like. She would threaten to let the monster under the stairs get me. As you can see, I’m still here.”

“Yes, you are, my darling son. That shows how good you are,” Emily said.

Mike looked at Thomas with a smile and winked at him. He ate the sandwich in front of him. “Thank you for lunch, Emily. I was hungry.”

“Mom,” Thomas said between bites. “I want to talk to you and dad tonight after supper. Oh, and Uncle Mike also. Is that okay?”

"We have nothing planned tonight so we can talk. I’ll tell your father when he gets home from work that we will have a family discussion after dinner."

Mike kept Thomas busy all afternoon constructing model airplanes. Uncle and Nephew shared a passion for building models of anything, long as they were building.  “Uncle Mike, why did you become a mechanical engineer?”

“What brought that question on?”

“I was just thinking about how much we both like to build models and wondered if your job had anything to do with it.”

“It has everything to do with it.  When I was a boy, I spent all my time building model airplanes, cars, ships and even built a hotel once. When I grew up, I knew I wanted a job where I could design and build things, and that’s what I do as a mechanical engineer.”

“Did you have to go to school a long time to learn to be one?” Thomas asked.

“I went to college six years and got my master’s in mechanical engineering.”

“I think that’s what I want to do when I grow up is build things.”

“You have lots of time to decide what you want to do in life. Right now,  enjoy being a 12-year-old and the rest will take care of itself.”

They both heard the front door open, and Thomas’s father called out he was home. The two stayed upstairs for a while so Emily would have time to tell her husband about the family meeting.

Thomas felt his anxiety rise realizing again he would be telling his parents about Crusher. I have to stay calm because I’m doing the right thing. I know I am.


Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 9
The family Meeting

By Shirley McLain

The evening went by fast for Thomas.  Before he knew it, supper was over, and everyone went into the living room. The three adults sat in various chairs around the room.  The couch was left vacant so that Thomas could sit there. 

“Son, your mom told me you needed to have a family meeting tonight, including Mike. Can you tell me what this is about?”

Thomas felt as if he'd be sick. He looked at Mike who smiled and gave him a thumbs-up and said “You can do this. Just take a deep breath and start.”

Thomas took a deep breath but couldn’t lift his head to look at his parents. “Mom, Dad, I've been having some problems at school for the past couple of years that I haven’t told you about.”

“Problems for two years and you said nothing, and I couldn’t tell anything was wrong?” Emily couldn’t believe what she heard.

“Son, what kind of problems?”

“There is this boy at school who goes by the name of Crusher. He's been bullying a bunch of other kids and me.”

Mike saw his brother stiffen and redness moving up his neck.

“Thomas, why didn’t you pick up something and hit him upside the head?" His dad asked.

“Dad, I couldn’t do that because the school has a no tolerance fighting policy. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. The school suspends both students for a week. Then longer if it happens again.  The third time they put you out, and you have to go to a special school for bad kids.”

“I don’t believe this,” Emily said.

“What has this kid done to you?” Charles asked.

“He shoved me around a lot, knocked my books out of my hands, threw me and my books in the dumpster and took my lunch money. He runs around with a gang of boys who help him. Everyone is afraid of him.”

“This is ridiculous,” Charles shouted as he stood.

Emily cried softly, and Mike couldn't believe what was going on. “Wait a minute you two; we are supposed to be here listening to Thomas and figuring out a plan to help him. Let’s pull ourselves back together and start again.”

The parents got themselves under control. Mike told them of meeting Crusher and discovering who he was.

“Charles, the bully is the son of Carl Cusher.  His real name is Paul. He’s big and muscled up for a 12-year-old.  Thomas and I went down and looked at cars today at Cusher Jaguar. Carl is the one who helped us. He seemed proud of the name Crusher.”

“Dad, he even called Crusher names. I don't think he likes him very much. I told Uncle Mike you'd never say anything like that to me.”

“No, no, I wouldn’t call you names. Carl was always a pushy kid in school, but I don’t remember him being a bully.  Maybe I should go down and talk to him and let him know what’s going on,” Charles said.

Emily got up out of her chair and went to her son. She took Thomas in her arms.  “Honey, we love you very much, and we’re going to do what it takes to stop your pain.  Even if that means changing schools.”

“Please Mom, I don’t want to change schools.  Andy is here, and I would never get to see him.”

“I have an idea,” Mike said. “Why don’t we meet tomorrow night. Over the next 24 hours, we can each come up with what we think might help Thomas handle the bullying that’s going on.”

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 10
Family Meeting II

By Shirley McLain

Sunday morning the family looked as if no one has slept. They could’ve been extras on the Walking Dead from the way they looked. Dark circles were present around their eyes, They each was pallid with lots of yawning taking place. Everyone spent the night thinking of Thomas and his problem with Crusher. It was going to be a long day.

That evening, Thomas, his parents, and Mike met again after dinner in the living room. This meeting was to discuss the bullying being done by Crusher.
Mike began the conversation. “Okay, we left this room last night with the notion we were going to come up with ways to help Thomas with his bullying problem with Crusher. Thomas, did you think of anything that might do to help yourself with Crusher?”

“Yeah, I thought about it. That’s why I didn’t sleep well last night. I guess the most important thing is to tell my parents and not try to hide it for so long. I didn't want to get into trouble because of my lunch money and everything that happened because of the bullying."

“Oh, honey, you will never get into trouble for telling us about a problem you’re having," Emily said.

“Well, since you spoke up Emily what is your suggestion for Thomas? Mike asked.

“Act proud, and confident and tell the kid to stop trying to bully you in a strong, clear voice because it’s not going to work. Then turn around and walk off to the nearest adult and let them know what’s happening.”

Charles spoke up, “sometimes it’s hard to do but walk away before you ever put yourself into the situation. Go into a different door or walk in with a bunch of kids. Bullies don’t like to draw attention to themselves from adults.”

“Crusher is that way. He won’t do anything if he thinks one of the teachers will see him,” Thomas said.

Mike sighed, "Let me think. Stay away from the places where Crusher usually bullies you. Always be aware of your environment. That alone can save you some problems. If you’re not there, he can’t say or do anything.”

Thomas showed a sad, worried look on his face which made his father ask “son, what’s wrong?”

“I’m afraid if I tell a teacher about Crusher and they talk to him he will make it harder on the other kids and me.”

“Thomas, your mother and I will be here to help you. You have to remember to tell us if he does anything. We are going to make an appointment to talk to your teacher. You don’t have to be in the room.  We want to make sure she knows exactly what is going on.”

Emily spoke up, “and if that doesn’t work, we'll go to the principal. Your dad and I spoke about talking to Crushers parents about his bullying.  We came to the decision we really don’t want to involve his dad if we don’t have to.  We both think that Carl Cusher could cause his son some bad problems. If I have to, I'll talk to his mom first and get a feel for the situation.”

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 11
Thomas Goes To School

By Shirley McLain

Monday morning Thomas got out of bed and got ready for school without having all the anxiousness he’d had before. He now had a plan in place to deal with Crusher thanks to his parents and Uncle Mike.

Emily placed Thomas’s scrambled eggs and bacon on the table and then yelled up the stairs. “Thomas, breakfast is on the table. Hurry up I don’t want you late for school.”

“I’ll be right down Mom. Just give me another minute,” Thomas yelled back. He finished what he had to do and went to the table.

“Good morning, son,” Emily said as she grabbed Thomas when he ran by, hugging and kissing him on the head. “Are you all prepared for school today?”

“Mom, if you're talking about Crusher, yes I am.”

“Honey don’t think this is going to change overnight because it isn’t. You have to remember when he’s not picking on you; he is harassing someone else. You have to stand up to him then also. Locate the nearest adult before you go up to him. That way you don’t have to waste time looking for the teacher.”

“Okay, I’ll do that. I almost feel like I’m going to war.”

“In a sense you are. You are battling what is wrong with what is right. Your dad and I were talking after you went to bed and we think you should start calling him by his first name instead of Crusher. It will take a while for him to get used to it. If you can get your friends to do it, so much the better.  You can expect him to scream a lot.”

“That’s going to make him very mad, Mom, but I’ll do it.”

“If you need me, go to the office and call me. I'll be right there.  It’s time for you to leave. Have a good day, Son. I love you.”

“I love you too.” Thomas grabbed his books, and out the door, he went.

As soon as Thomas walked onto the school grounds, he looked around putting everyone in their place in his mind. A teacher was standing by the bus unloading area and another out on the schoolyard.

He spotted Crusher, no, I mean Paul. I have to use his real name. He was standing at the corner of the building with some boy backed up to the wall.

Here goes, “Hello Paul, how are you this morning?” Thomas asked.

Paul instantly stopped harassing the boy and turned to Thomas. “What did you call me?”

“I called you by your name. Please stop bothering Harry. What you're doing is not right, and I will tell the teachers.”

“Well aren’t you the big talker now. Harry, you can leave. Thomas and I are going to talk.” Harry took off running like a scared rabbit.

Thomas looked him directly in the eyes. “No, Paul, we’re not. Leave me alone.” Thomas turned around and walked to the playground towards the teacher.  “Mrs. Johnson, can I talk to you a minute," Thomas asked.”

Paul walked close to Thomas trying to intimidate him, but when Thomas called out to the teacher, Paul turned and went the other direction. Thomas walked up to Mrs. Johnson. “Mrs. Johnson, a bunch of the kids and myself are having a problem with being bullied.”

“What? I mean who is bullying you?”

“It’s Paul Cusher and the group of boys he hangs around with.”

“I’m sure you just misunderstood his actions, but I will talk to Mr. Smith about it in the morning at our teacher's conference. You do remember there’s no school tomorrow?”

“No, I didn’t but thanks for telling me and for telling Mr. Smith about the bullying.”

Thomas was smiling thinking about not having to go to school the next day and wasn’t paying attention. When he was almost at the door, he heard Paul.

“Hey, four-eyes,” Paul called out. “You're a dead kid,  you wait. I'm going to make you pay.”

Thomas acted as if he hadn’t heard him and went straight into the school. He knew the real trouble was about to start.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 12
Attention is Paid

By Shirley McLain

By lunchtime, Thomas was feeling intimidated by Paul because of his continual staring. When class dismissed, Thomas made sure he stayed in a group of kids when they left the classroom. When he got close to the Principal's office, he left the other kids and went to the office.

“Mrs. Chambers, may I make a phone call home?” Thomas asked.

“Certainly, Thomas.  You can sit there at the empty desk to make your call.”

Thomas sat down and dialed the number for home. Emily picked up the phone after the second ring. “What’s wrong, Thomas?"

 “There is nothing wrong but, can you come after me when school is out?”

“Sure, I can. I'll be there at 3:15 PM,” Emily said.

“Bye Mom.”

“Bye, son.  See you soon."

Thomas hung up the phone and thanked Mrs. Chambers. He walked out in the hall making sure he didn’t see Paul lurking around and then went on to the cafeteria to eat his lunch.

Thomas looked around for Andy to spot where he was sitting since this was the first day Andy had returned to school after having chicken pox.  After getting his tray, he sat down at the table with his best friend. Thomas was catching Andy up on what had been happening at school when he heard Paul’s voice behind him.

“Hey four-eyes, remember what I said. You are dead meat, and I can’t wait to get a hold of you.”

Thomas turned towards Paul. “Leave me alone, Paul. I'm not playing your game anymore.” Thomas raised his hand and called out, “Mr. Edwards, would you please come here?”

“You are a stinking coward!" Paul said as he walked away.

Mr. Edwards came up to the table.  "What do you need, Thomas?”

Thomas looked at Mr. Edwards and then at his friend Andy and then spoke. “I am having a problem with bullying here in the cafeteria. I don’t think I’m the only one.”

“Who is bullying you?” Mr. Edwards asked.

“It’s Paul Cusher. He just told me I was dead meat and it’s not the first time. Andy has heard and witnessed Paul shoving me around.”

Mr. Edwards looked across the table, “Is that true, Andy?”

“Yes, Sir, it is. He and his gang are all the time harassing someone,” Andy replied.

“Finish your lunch, boys and I will take care of this for you,” Mr. Edward said.

 “Wow,” Andy said, as they headed out of the cafeteria. “You’re not messing around anymore. What’s with calling Crusher, Paul?”

Thomas looked at Andy and asked, “Don’t you remember anything you're told? His nickname is bad. It makes people afraid of hearing it, so I’m not using it. You shouldn’t use it either, Andy.”

“I won’t anymore; that is if I can remember." Both the boys laughed and went into their next class.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 13
The Parent/Teacher Conference

By Shirley McLain

Sitting in the back of the classroom Thomas didn’t have to deal with Paul’s stares, but he knew after class dismissed there would be another confrontation. I have to stay determined for me and everyone else. Paul will continue to push us around as he wants.

The bell rang, and the class was over, and Thomas dreaded going into the hall. His teacher, Mrs. McAlester, gathered her papers and placed them in her briefcase.

“Thomas,” Mrs. McAlester called out.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Please stay in the classroom and come to my desk in a few minutes.”

Thomas couldn’t imagine why his teacher kept him after class. He carried his books to the first row and left them on a desk and stood by Mrs. McAlester.

“You wanted to see me, Mrs. McAlester?”

“Your mother and I set an appointment for after school, and she requested you wait in the classroom,”

“I’ll sit here in the front until she gets here.  Thank you for telling me.” Thomas was relieved he didn’t have to go out in the hall. Since his mother walked him to the car, Paul would leave without causing trouble.

Ten minutes later, Thomas heard his mother knock on the door.

“Mrs. McAlester, I'm Emily Gomel. We had a meeting set for this afternoon.”

“Of course, Mrs. Gomel. Please have a seat in this chair by my desk. It may only be a folding chair, but at least it will be more comfortable than a desk.”

Both ladies talked a few pleasantries, and then Mrs. McAlester asked, “How can I help you? I do have Thomas’s grades; I can show you.”

“Wonderful,” Emily said, but Thomas’s grades aren’t why I’m here.”

“Oh, is there a problem?”

“Mrs. McAlester, for the last two years my son has been bullied by another member of his class and nothing has been done.  My husband and I haven’t heard a word from this school. I want to know what can stop this lack of supervision by the school staff.”

“Mrs. Gomel, I am sorry, but this is the first I have heard of this. Please, who is the other student involved?”

“It’s Paul Cusher.  He runs with a group of boys and randomly picks on who they want. They are incredibly careful not to be seen by the teachers on hall or yard duty.  It’s gone as far as taking my son’s lunch money, and from what Thomas says it happens to others as well.”

Mrs. McAlester looked at Thomas, “Did your mother understand the story correctly, Thomas?”

“Yes, ma’am, she did. It’s been terrible for a long time. We’ve gone to teachers in the past, and no one will believe us because Paul acts so nice when the adults are around.”

“I understand why you would be upset, Mrs. Gomel and I promise you when we have our meeting tomorrow, this will be brought up to the Superintendent. This behavior will stop. Thank you for meeting with me and telling me.”

“Thank you; I’m glad this will be taken care of. The next step will be the school board,” Emily said.

“I’m sure that won’t be necessary, Mrs. Gomel. It was a pleasure meeting you.

“Thank you, for your time, Mrs. McAlester. Come on, Thomas, let’s go home.”

“Gosh mom, you certainly told her what was happening. I thought you were getting mad there for a few minutes.”

“No, son, I wanted her to understand I meant business and your father, and I won’t mess around with the situation.”

Thomas looked around for Paul and was relieved he didn’t see him on the way to the car.  At the moment there wasn’t fear and wanted it to remain that way.

When Thomas’s dad got home, and they were at the table eating supper, Emily told Charles about meeting with the teacher and her response. “I also have something else I need to tell both of you.  I spoke with Natalie Cusher today.”

“You spoke with Crusher’s mom?” Thomas asked in a raised voice.

“What are you supposed to call him?” Charles asked.

“I mean Paul’s mom.  Sorry dad, I’ll be more careful. I guess I got excited.”

“That’s okay let your mom finish what she was going to say,” Charles said.

“I called Natalie on her cell because I figured she'd be at work.  I wanted to set up a time for her and me to get together. To talk about Paul, but I certainly got a big surprise.  After we talked for a while and got caught up on what I’ve been doing, she told me she and Carl have been going through a divorce for almost eight months now. That might explain a lot more of Paul’s behavior besides his father.”

“It’s good to know more of the story, but it doesn’t change anything, this process will still be one step at a time,” Charles said.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 14
The Teacher's Meeting

By Shirley McLain

Mr. Cummings, the School Principal, with his robust, deep voice announced, “Ladies and gentlemen please take your seats. It’s time to get things started.”  No one wanted to be at this meeting because of the boring information they received at most other meetings that didn’t pertain to their classroom. It was about cutting costs statewide and what the State Superintendent thought about what was going on with the government or changes from the State Dietician for the cafeteria food. The teachers endured throughout the day without griping or going to sleep after lunch.

After a ten-minute break, everyone was back at their seats. The teachers were expecting this to be an early day and they would get to leave early. Mr. Cummings asked, “Is there any new business or topics we need to discuss before we call it a day?”
Mrs. McAlester, Thomas’s teacher, raised her hand. She stood and spoke. A few of the other teachers made an audible moan.
“Edith, please come to the microphone so everyone can hear you,” Mr. Edwards said.

Mrs. McAlester walked to the microphone, cleared her throat and talked. “Hello everyone, this is a difficult topic, but it needs to be brought up before everyone.  Yesterday, right after school I had a parent-teacher conference with Thomas Gomel’s mother. She was distraught over the fact her son was bullied for two years, and we haven’t done anything about it.”

Mr.Cummings stood, “We’ve never had bullying at this school since I’ve been superintendent.” 

“Thomas told me about being bullied in the cafeteria yesterday, and witnessed by another student, Mr. Edwards said. “He told me it had been going on for some time by Crusher.”

Mrs. Johnson stood, “He came up to me in the schoolyard a couple of days ago telling me about being bullied.  He also said he is not the only one it is happening to.”

“Edith, what type of bullying has Crusher been doing?” Mr. Cummings asked.

“From what he and his mother told me, there has been shoving, books taken or knocked out of his hands. He has also been thrown in the dumpster and name calling.  It’s a continual threat of some kind, even in class.”

“How could he threaten Thomas in class?” Mr. Cummings asked.

“First, I should say Crusher is not doing this alone. He has a group of boys he runs around with, but Crusher is the leader.  When the school session first began, Thomas sat in the front row. He has always been very attentive. Within the first week, Thomas changed his desk to the back of the room. He told me yesterday Crusher and his gang were constantly staring at him and sending him threatening notes. So, he moved and stopped some of the activity. Crusher took his lunch money several times.”

Mr. Cummings heard the other teachers mumbling among themselves. “Ladies and gentlemen please refrain from talking right now.  This bullying is a challenging event we must deal with.  I can’t believe it’s happening, but it is.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 15
Teachers Meeting II

By Shirley McLain

Chapter 15
Mr. Cummings stepped closer to the microphone. "Edith, I want you to chair a five-person committee to come up with suggestions on how the school can deal with the bullying issue. You'll pick the other four people and meet with me in two weeks to give me your recommendations."

"In the meantime, I don't want Paul Cusher or Thomas Gomel to be unsupervised. Eyes are to be on them at all times but don't make it obvious. Any teacher on duty who fails to follow through will receive a written reprimand on their record. Any other questions or comments before we adjourn?"

"Yes sir," Edith McAlester stood. "I'd like Elaine Johnson, John Edwards, Margaret Leply and the school counselor, Michelle Jones to please stay behind and meet with me."

"Did everyone hear Edith?" Heads bobbed up and down around the room and an audible "yes." "In that case, this meeting is over. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your attention today. Tomorrow is a new day in our school and classrooms," Mr. Cummings said.
The four people named made their way to where Mrs. McAlester's table. Once everyone sat in chairs around her, she said, "I wanted to meet with you to set up a time for our first planning meeting. What about tomorrow right after the last bell/ We will meet in my classroom and put the two tables together. When the meeting is over, we can set up times accommodating each of us for the next meeting." 

"Suits me fine," Mr. Edwards said.

The other three members agreed, but Ms. Jones said."I have an appointment at 5:00 I can't miss. Do you think we will finish before then?"

"School lets out at 3:00 so if we meet here at 3:15 and done by 4:30. Would that give you enough time to get to your appointment, Michelle?"

"Yes, that will be plenty of time."

"All right, start thinking of some things we can do. Bye, everyone." Edith McAlester gathered her belongings as did the others and they left the school together.

The next morning Thomas sat at the table with his mother having breakfast. "Mom, would you continue to pick me up at school for a while. I'm afraid Paul and his gang will wait for me somewhere on my way home. I don't want to be beaten, and I know that's what will happen."

"Alright," Emily said, "if I'm not there your father or Uncle Mike will be. We won't give Paul any opportunities."

"Thanks Mom, you made me feel a lot better."

"Good, I'm glad. Now pick up your bag, and I'll take you to school.”

Once Thomas got to the school grounds, he walked directly to the school door. He thought it odd Paul wasn't at the door as usual, but he was in the hallway. Mr. Edwards stood not far away talking with Mrs. Johnson. Other kids were walking around headed for class. Thomas walked by Paul and Paul mouthed, "you're mine."

Thomas stopped on the spot and spoke in a loud voice. "Paul leave me alone. I'm not yours."

Mr. Edwards immediately walked to where Paul stood, leaning against the wall. "Is there a problem, Paul?"

"No, Sir. I just said hello to Thomas."

"I see, why don't you go on to class," Mr. Edwards said.
"Yes, Sir," Paul said, as he turned away and headed to his classroom.

Thomas ended the day with the morning confrontation being the only one he had with Paul. It was an unusual day, but it felt good, especially when his mother picked him up at the door.

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 16

By Shirley McLain

Over the next two weeks, the committee met four times and came up with a plan for the school Superintendent. Everyone agreed to schedule the meeting on Friday after school. The committee was eager to attend and give their recommendations. They felt the quicker their plan went into effect, the better it would be for all.

Mr. Cummings kept a close eye on his staff to make sure they followed the guidelines. He was confident his initial plan would work.

Paul felt there was a change, but he couldn't figure it out. "Hey Thomas, come over here," Paul yelled. He sat outside on one of the tables with his gang around him.

When Paul yelled, Thomas looked around for the closest teacher who happened to be Mrs. McAlester.

"If you don't come to me, Thomas, me and my boys are coming to you." Paul and his group left the table and walked over to Thomas.

"Do you got money, Four-Eyes? Me and the boys want a soft drink.

Thomas observed Mrs. McAlester walking towards him and Paul. "No Paul, I don't have money. Even if I did, I wouldn't give it to you."

"Hi, boys, are you having a great day? Isn't it nice out here in the sunshine? What a shame it's almost time for class again. I don't want to go inside. Thomas, I think you're in my class now, aren't you?"

"Yes, ma'am. I was on my way to my locker."

"Alright, see you in class."

Thomas said bye as he turned and headed towards the door. Paul seethed but had to control himself in front of the teacher. He did call out, "See you later, Thomas."

Mrs. McAlester turned with a smile on her face. "Bye boys." She slowly walked back into the school knowing she had stopped Paul from doing something to Thomas.

Paul spoke to the group of boys around him, "You guys talked to any of our regulars?"
Every boy there voiced a "no."

"Something happened we've got to figure out, or our paydays are going to stop. A teacher always seems to interrupt my conversations, especially in the past couple of weeks. I never saw teachers when I was outside before. Keep your ears open and let me know if you've heard anything." The boys all agreed to pay close attention to what's going on.

School dismissed for the day. Thomas walked out to his mother's car in the middle of a group of kids.

Paul had every intention of confronting him but didn't get the opportunity before Thomas was in the car and gone. Paul cursed and kicked up dirt demonstrating his frustration. Four-eyes better keep clear of me because at the first chance I'll kick his ass.

At 3:30 the door was locked, and Mr. Cummings joined the five members of the team in Mrs. McAlester's room. "All right, I've anxiously awaited this meeting," Mr. Cummings said.

Mrs. McAlester regarded each person around the table before she spoke. "We were anxious also. We've worked hard to obtain ideas. We called other State Boards of Education to check what some other schools might be using. Who wants to start?"

Michelle Jones, spoke up, "As I'm the school counselor, I decided on finding a plan to go school-wide, all grades, staff included. The best program I found was called STAC which stands for stealing the show, turning it over, accompanying others and coaching compassion. Each one of these steps can start very easily." Michelle handed each person five double-sided printed papers. "What you have is an article out of Counseling Today by Aida Midgett. I'll go over a few highlights and you can read the complete article." The best plan to deal with bullying is to start a school-wide program, from the Superintendent to the school cooks and maintenance personnel. If after you read this article and have specific questions, I think we should meet again then all six of us can hear questions and answers."

"That sounds good Michelle," Mr. Cummings said.

"This program teaches all levels in a school system strategies they can use as a defense with bullies. This program depends on bystanders getting involved," Michelle said.

"John, would you like to go over the other five points we've come up with?" Edith McAlester asked.

"Sure, I can do that. These are primary and can begin immediately.

. First, we decided the staff should not use nicknames. For example, we talk about Crusher, and his name is Paul. We've contributed to intimidating students by continuing to use his nickname.

· Recognize there is a problem. This step is mostly for the staff. Kids are smart, and they
  know when someone is trying to push them around.

· Talk to the kids about character development

 . Continue what we've already started by keeping students under observation when

 . Require counseling for bullying. That's both the bully and the victim. Not simultaneously.

· Treat the bully as a student who needs special help.

These ideas were first brought up by a Mr. Joel Waldron so we can do more research on him to follow up on these ideas."

"You five did an outstanding job with this. We'll get things arranged tomorrow for a school-wide assembly. These last five recommendations can be implemented without school board approval and will start at the assembly. In the meantime, I'll give the Superintendent of Schools at the state a call. Thank you for your hard work." Mr. Edwards said.


Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 17
The Ambush

By Shirley McLain

Thomas wanted to walk home, but he was concerned that Paul and his gang had not given up on their vendetta. Before lunch, Thomas called his mother and asked if she'd let him walk home. 

Edith said, "Honey, your Uncle Mike is supposed to pick you up this afternoon. Are you sure you want to walk?"

"Yep, I'm sure. There's been no problems for the past couple of weeks, and I want to walk home. Besides, me and Andy haven't walked home together in a while.

"Okay, I'll give Mike a call and leave you a message at the office. Check before you go to your last class."

"Thanks, Mom, and tell Uncle Mike I'll be fine."

"All right, Sweetie, hugs until tonight when I come home from my Neighborhood Watch meeting. Love you. Bye."

"Love you, too." Thomas walked out of the office having no idea two of Paul's gang stood just inside the door of the next room out of sight.

The phone area for the students was not private, so Paul's boys heard Thomas's end of the conversation without difficulty. One quickly pulled out his cell phone, so he wasted no time telling Paul what was going on with Thomas. The information made Paul's day. Four-Eyes was in his grasp. Today would be the day I've been looking forward to.

Thomas got the message at 2:00 he could walk home. He hurried to tell Andy they would walk home together.

"I'm sorry, Bro," Andy said. "My mom's picking me up because I'm going to the dentist after school. It has been a long time since we've got to walk home together, but maybe we can do it tomorrow. That'll at least give us one day before the weekend."

"Sure, sounds good. I'll ask mom again, and I'm sure she'll say yes."

When the three o'clock bell rang, Thomas walked out with a bunch of kids, laughing and telling jokes. Thomas wasn't in a hurry. What he didn't notice were Paul and his gang when they went out another door and ran to the location on Thomas's route, they planned to spring their trap.

Leaving the schoolyard, Thomas looked around just as a precaution and Paul nor any of his group was around. Today is the day Paul decided I'm not worth his time.

He enjoyed his walk letting his mind wander through thoughts of what to do over the weekend. Passing a long row of boxwood hedging on his right, he stopped and looked in the hedge at the birds that fluttered about. He even spotted a sparrow nest.
When he got to the end of the row, out stepped Paul and then his gang one at a time. Thomas tried to go around them, but Paul pushed him back. "Look here; boys look what we've caught. Are you surprised, Four-eyes?"

"Leave me alone, Paul. I don't have money for you. My pockets are empty. My mom is paying for my lunch now by credit card, so I never carry any cash."

"I don't care about your money anymore; I just want you stomped in the ground."

A car screeched to a stop right beside the group of boys. Mike Gomel jumped out and slammed the door.

"Uncle Mike, what are you doing here! I thought Mom called you."

"She did, but I decided I wanted to see you anyway. Hello boys, how wonderful you're here. I've wanted a chance to chat with you."

Paul and his gang stood there and didn't open their mouths. Mike kept on with his talking as if a normal conversation. "Paul, my little friend, if you or one of your buddies lays a finger on my nephew, I'm going to give your tail end a beating. Then I'm taking you to your father's dealership, and in front of his customers I'm going to explain to him what you've been doing."
"You can't do anything to me. My dad will put you in jail."

Paul cringed when he thought about his dad. He knew if a word got back to his dad about anything that might affect his business the results would be terrible. No one understood what Carl Cusher was capable of except Paul and his mother. Carl Cushner's temper was frightening, and Paul didn't want his mother paying for something he did.

"Maybe so, but you remember, it will be after I've already kicked your butt. How will he like being embarrassed in front of the town when it goes to court? Do you think that’ll help his business?" Mike became angry but kept his control. He clinched and unclenched his fist. These sniveling little cowards kept repeating over and over in his brain.

Mike turned his attention to the gang, "If you think you're getting away, you're not. The same will happen to you. I know every one of you. I'd think about changing my ways because trying to bully your way through school and your life will only create problems for you. Do you understand what I said, fella's?"
All the boy's except Thomas hung their heads and whispered "yes."

"Now, get out of here, and I don't want to see you harassing anyone again. Go!"

"Wow, Uncle Mike you sure told them."
"Get in the car Thomas, and I'll take you home. I let myself become angry at those boys, and that shouldn't happen. I hope they take my message to heart. It will save them so much trouble in the future. Let's go home."

Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

Chapter 18
The Assembly

By Shirley McLain

Monday morning as everyone settled down in their classroom, the overhead speakers pinged a few times. The Superintendent's voice announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention, please? Today at 10:00 in the gymnasium will be an attendance required meeting. Please take all books and personal belongings to your locker. Once again, this meeting is mandatory at 10:00 in the gym. Thank you for your attention and see you there.
Everyone in Thomas's room was talking and asking questions about what was going on. The teacher had difficulty getting everyone settled down. They didn't call assemblies first thing in the mornings unless a problem happened.
The entire class had a difficult time keeping their minds on their work while they waited for the Assembly. The time arrived and everyone loaded into the auditorium trying for the best seats or a seat next to their friends.
"Everyone quiet down and take your seats. Time to get started." Mr. Cummings said. "Ladies and gentlemen, today is the beginning of a new school life for you. The school reformed how we are doing some things and started new projects. These changes are for everyone from the cooks, janitors, teachers and of course the students."

"Your heads must be ready to explode right now with curiosity because you want to learn what happened. Michelle Jones, the school counselor, will explain the program. Ms. Jones, it is all yours."
"Thank you, Mr. Cummings. How wonderful to observe all your happy faces here this morning. We've been notified by the State Superintendent, due to a rash of bullying events around the state we are to initiate a program to combat this problem. The administration and I met for the past two weeks and came up with a program we're going to use at this school. The best program I found was called STAC which stands for stealing the show, turning it over, accompanying others and coaching compassion. We can implement each of these steps easily."
'First, let me ask you a question, and you may answer by your raised hand. How many of you understand bullying?"
Every student raised their hand. Thomas sat close to Paul and his boys, but he had to turn to look at them. They kept their eyes downcast and their hands raised.
"Everyone knows the term. Packets of papers are being handed to the end row person. Please pass them on down. These are for your parents and you to read."
"The STAC training lasts approximately 90 minutes. Scheduled sessions are available over the next month to accommodate everyone. We want to encourage your parents to participate in this training. They can call the school to set up a time or ask questions."
Ms. Jones explained the program to the students, the education classes on motivation, self-awareness, low self-esteem and generally how to deal with bullies.
"This Thursday we are starting "Bullying Awareness Thursday" in which we'll have a contest of the best-created slogan and emblem. Details for the competition are in your packet."
"I want to reinforce how important it is for you to tell an adult you trust if you witness someone being bullied or bullied yourself. Counseling for every student is available when and if you need it. Now I'm turning the microphone back to Mr. Cummings. Thank You."
"All right everyone, what do you think of this new initiative of ours?" Mr. Cummings asked.
The entire auditorium clapped except for Paul and his boys. They understood their time in the bullying business ended today and started a new school world for them.
Six Months Later
Emily yelled upstairs for the third time as usual, "Thomas get out of the bed. You have to go to school. Hurry, or you won't eat."
"I'll be right there, Mom. Andy's supposed to be here so we can walk together."
Andy stood at the door simultaneously as Thomas told his mother. The doorbell sounded, and Emily yelled, "Come in Andy. The door is open."
"Hi Mrs. Gomel, Thomas ready?"
"Andy, you know what he's like in the mornings. Cold molasses moves faster than he does."
Thomas bounded down the stairs. "You ready to go, Andy?" Thomas asked.
"Wait a minute you haven't had breakfast yet, young man," Emily said. "Besides I wanted to ask how the Bully Program at school is working?"
"I'll grab a Power Bar on the way out, and as far as the program goes, it works great. Paul and his guys are different kids at school. Paul tries hard to make new friends, so he's now nice and polite to everyone. Mom, we've got to go. See you after school. Bye."
Thomas grabbed two Power Bars. He gave one to Andy, and out the door, they went.
They made it to the door of the school, and Thomas heard Paul's voice call out. "Thomas, can we talk a minute?"
Andy shook his head, but Thomas turned around and said, "Sure, we'll talk." Andy went inside the school and left Thomas and Paul together.
They sat at an outside table across from each other. Paul looked Thomas in the eyes and spoke, "Thomas, I'm sorry for what I've done to you and the others. It was bad, but I've tried hard to be different. My mom and I had a good talk. Things are still hard for me sometimes but, I'll make it."
"I know you will, Paul and your hard work shows."
"Do you think we can be friends, Thomas, after how I tormented you?'"
Thomas sat there for a moment and thought what his dad would do. He put a smile on his face, "Yes, we can be friends." Both boys reached across the table and shook hands.


Author Notes Bullying is a nationwide and possibly a worldwide epidemic in schools among male and females. This book is appropriate for ages 10 and above to help them understand and learn ways to deal with bullying. Please feel free to make any suggestions. I want this short book to be a learning tool as well as a fictional story to enjoy.

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