I’m on recycling duty. Miss Everdeen showed us this movie …what was it called? Anyway, it was hectic. Polar ice-caps melting, the works. End of the world kinda stuff. So here I am doing my bit to save the planet.
Anyway, I chuck the ten glass bottles into the glass bin, and throw all the used paper into the paper bin.
That’s when I hear this whine, like a voice begging.
Somebody is in trouble.
I go round the corner. In the area behind the recycling depot is a hidden patch of concrete, cut off from view by a wall.
Levi is on the ground. The guy from the change room – Levi. Songezo and Mdu, from my year, Grade 12, have been beating him up.
“What the hell are you doing?!” I ask, looking directly into Songezo’s eyes.
“Teaching this stabani a lesson,” he spits, his mouth turning downward in a sneer of derision.
He runs toward Levi to deliver a kick to the stomach. Levi screams in fear.
I’m fast. I play rugby, remember? I tackle Songezo. We land with a thump on the concrete. He swears at me, punches me across the mouth.
Levi is moaning, he’s terrified, and I don’t blame him. These guys are nasty. They carry knives. Their hearts are full of prejudice and hate.
I roll back, holding my hurt mouth, stand up.
Now Mdu goes for me. He tries to punch me but I swerve out of his way at the last second, and I land a fast blow, hard, into his gut.
He flies back against the wall, winded.
Songezo gets to his feet. “What you doing, David, protecting this moffie?”
“What are you doing, beating up kids smaller than you who did nothing to you?” I answer.
My voice is serious and calm. I’m a gentle person, but when I see injustice I wanna turn into The Hulk. Let’s just say that I’m quiet, but you wouldn’t wanna face me in a boxing ring. You’ll lose. Just saying.
“God hates gays,” Mdu hisses like a snake. His face is a mask of hate. He sickens me.
“How do you know? Have you met God?” I ask.
Songezo launches himself at me once more, calling me names, but I’m too fast, I’m a freaking ninja bro. I pull him into a wrestle grip and twist his arm behind his back, as if to break it.
“If you touch this boy again I will break your arm. I am serious,” I whisper into his ear. “OK?”
Silence. We’re all looking at each other in expectation, anger, fear.
“OK, OK,” says Songezo, acting chill.
I let him go. He and Mdu stand up. They ignore Levi for the moment. Their eyes are on me. Songezo licks his cracked lips.
“I see you have a crush on this little woman of a boy,” he says.
“Think what you like. You’re a stupid, violent pig, and everything you say is trash,” I say.
I can see his face change. He is furious. His mouth … he is so angry his mouth is trembling. This is how much he hates me. This is how much he hates gay people. It’s scary, when you think about it.
But I am not scared of evil people. I will beat them down, always, forever.
“This isn’t the end,” says Songezo, crackling his knuckles as he leaves, the rat Mdu following him round the corner.
“Get your filthy face out of here,” I say, going on my haunches to see if Levi is OK.
Levi is a mess. His neck is bruised; they choked him. His nose is bleeding. His eye is puffy. They beat him, hard.
“Are you OK?” I ask, touching his chest.
“I … I think so,” he answers. His voice is thin, soft.
Poor kid. He doesn’t deserve this. Nobody does. He didn’t harm anyone, he was just being himself, and these guys tried to break him. I’m angry, but more concerned that he is OK.
“Let’s get you to the nurse.”
“No!” he cries. “Just, please … walk me home?”
I think about it. I’ll have to miss rugby practice. But …
“OK,” I say, and help him stand.
Tell us: What do you think of Mdu’s statement, “God hates gays”. What would you tell Mdu in response?