The Light Behind the World
Chapter 6: Buttress

Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life

There is no Middle School in the Angel's Camp school system. You attend Mark Twain Elementary School through the Eighth Grade, and then finish at Bret Harte High School. Perhaps this system explains the curious lack of attitude I'd received from the older kids in school. Unfortunately it had apparently dawned on a select few in this year's eighth grade that they would be starting over at the bottom of the ladder next year when they started High School, and that if they wanted to exercise their due authority as upperclassman, the time was now.

I became a member of an elite group, made up of Arden Anderson, Mike Weiker, Freddie Sabarte, Chet Alvarado and myself. We eventually came to call ourselves 'The Legion of the Doomed'. The handful of eighth grade boys who were our tormentors we called 'The Dim Patrol'.

Except for Chet, the rest of us were definitely the 'Braniacs' of the seventh grade boys. Chet was no dummy, but his status as a member was based on his size.'Chubby Chet' as our tormentors called him was built like a cross between the Michelin Man and that Marshmallow monster character from the movie Ghostbusters. 'The Marshmallow Man' was the moniker we all had been using for several years now for Chet, because he had also always been the tallest boy in our grade, and until recently, it had not been close. Chet had been a good head taller than anyone else our age. Chet, along with Freddie Sabarte never received anything but verbal assaults. Chet may have been built like the Michelin Man, but he was strong as an ox. Freddie was no physical specimen, but he was the youngest of seven brothers. Freddie's brothers all lived at home, the entire family worked in their father Formerio's garage. They were all very serious, hard working men, even the ones still in school. To attack one was to attack the entire family.

That left Arden, Mike and I as the eventual targets of the Dim Patrol's physical attacks. It consisted mostly of getting bumped and tripped in the halls, having our book bags knocked to the floor or ground. It was pretty low key and non-confrontational. It was something to endure, something we could endure, and enduring it we were. If anything, it had more a positive effect than a negative one. The Legion of the Doomed became a true group. We hung out, went to each others houses on the weekends. We became friends.

We officially received our name on a Saturday, late in October. We were all together at Mike's Pizza (no not OUR Mike), along with Ginny and Her best friend Alicia, and Arden's older sister Gloria. We'd all just been to the movie, and it had most of us pretty thoroughly buzzed and in a good mood. There was a lull in the various conversations at our table as the pizza was delivered to our table, and in the silence Freddie suddenly stood and raised his root beer.

Freddie's family, as everyone in Angel's Camp knew, were Basques. Freddie's Grandfather Nikola had emigrated to the the states many years ago. Ethnically, the Basques of northern Spain were separate from the rest of the Spanish peoples and a Basque separatist movement had existed in the north for centuries. Due perhaps to acts performed both by and to that group, the Basques in general had been persecuted for generations. Perhaps it was this background that caused the Sabarte family to be as sober and serious as they were. Freddie, as somber as he seemed to us, was considered the family cut-up, which, because he was the youngest, was tolerated with only mild amounts of consternation and muttering. Still, the Sabarte family seemed to be very 'old school' when it came to friendship, honor and obligation, so perhaps it was no surprise after all that it was Freddie who stood that day with his glass raised and offered a toast.

"To the Legion of the Doomed," He began, in his deep, somber voice, which so did not match his small thin frame. "We were chosen by dark forces who rose against us," He intoned, with as much seriousness and high drama as he could muster. When he realized we were all truly focused on him he began again.

"To the Legion of the Doomed. We were chosen by dark forces who rose against us. But if we are to be chosen then let us be the chosen. We are together in the halls of learning, on the fields of play, and on the road of life, and we choose to celebrate what we are forced to be.

We have brought our spirits and our hearts together into one. Together we are strong and true. Let us drink to the future and to our strength and wisdom and honor, which is greater now than it was when we were each alone. To the Legion of the Doomed!"

And damned if we didn't all raise our glasses, and with honest emotion answer back in a single voice, "To the Legion of the Doomed!"

Indeed that toast and that night did mark the true beginning of the Legion. And the Legion's true birth came none to soon, for within weeks the actions of the Dim Patrol would escalate.

The Dim Patrol's membership consisted of Kenny Blake, George Mullins, Teddy Whitaker, Bobby Shauls and Victor Maitland. To attempt to pick out the brains of the group would have been a wasted exercise. What they did have was an ego and a banker, and that was Victor Maitland. Victor was tall, good looking, rich and dumb as a post. Unfortunately he was also a mean, sadistic bully. Kenny, George, Teddy and Bobby were equally as intellectually uninspiring, and since each one was fully fit to wear the dumb-as-a-post label, collectively we often referred to them as 'an entire fence of dumb'.

A week before Christmas break, the Dim Patrol struck. Arden had a late tutoring session with the music teacher, and missed his bus. On the walk home he was cornered by Victor and his four fence posts. They beat him black and blue, breaking his nose in the process. He missed the next two days of school, and the Legion spent both days at his house as soon as school was out. We got the full story, at least as much as Arden remembered before he blacked out.

"Victor got me first." Arden huffed. He really was having problems breathing with the broken nose. "He turned his back to me, like he was asking the fence for their opinion of what to do with me, but as soon as they started to say something he spun back around and whipped the back of his fist right into my nose." A long, slow breath from Arden, followed by a sigh. "That knocked me down pretty quick, and before I could get back up, someone kicked me. George I think, cause I remember seeing those shiny black shoes he always wears. I don't remember much after that."

 
There is more of this chapter...

To read this story you need a Registration + Premier Membership
If you're already registered, then please Log In or Register (Why register?)

Close