Alex the Bully


By Zipman

The summer was going pretty well for me, considering the awful way it started. I hadn’t even had a nightmare about Alex in a couple of weeks, although I think my little brother Kenny still woke up in a cold sweat every now and then. Dad and I didn’t tell him what happened when we visited Alex at his house. We tried to hide our bruises and limps for a few days, but I think Kenny could tell something bad had happened. I never talked about it with him, and he never asked. It was better we all just forgot about that terrible morning.

I was just goofin’ around, shootin’ baskets in our driveway, when Andy and Judd rode up on their bikes. Judd was a good friend of mine. Andy was Judd’s friend, but I knew him a little bit. He kind of got on my nerves, because he was always hyper and easily excited. We were all fifteen years old and would be starting the tenth grade in the fall.

“Hey, Paul — did you hear about what happened to Jared’s dog?” Andy’s eyes were big and he was practically breathless.

“First let me tell him about what happened to us down by the creek,” Judd interrupted. “Andy had this bag of dried walnuts, so we took ’em down to the creek so we could crack them on the rocks. Pretty soon we saw this kid running down the creek bed. The temperature was in the eighties and he’s wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants. We thought he was crazy! He stopped and asked us what we were doing. The kid looked about twelve and the sweat was just dripping down his face. He wasn’t very tall but his body looked kinda bulky so I figured maybe he’s trying to lose weight or something. Anyway, he asked us why we’re using rocks to crack the nuts and we asked him how he would do it. Then he pulled his sleeves up to his elbows and grabbed a walnut in each hand. He started to squeeze ’em and the muscles in his forearms jumped out like this big!” Judd put his hand on his forearm and raised it up a couple of inches.

“It was unbelievable!” Andy interrupted.

I suddenly got very interested. My heart was starting to beat faster.

“You could see the veins bulging out on his forearms and everything even though he was just a little kid,” Judd said, “and he was squeezing so hard his knuckles turned white! Then there was this loud double crack and he opened his hands and the pieces of shell just fell to the ground. The kid stood there holding the cracked nuts with this little smile on his face, and he told us to try it. So Andy and I each picked up a nut and we started squeezing as hard as we could but there was no way we could do it, even using both hands. And this little kid called us wimps and he asked us if we wanted to see what real muscle looked like and he pulled off his sweatshirt and started flexing his muscles and you wouldn’t believe the way this kid was built!”

“Was he about this tall — with dark hair?” I asked. My voice was almost trembling. I couldn’t help it.

“Yeah — you seen him before? Man, I’ve never seen muscles like that on a kid! His shoulders were at least this wide and his chest was way out to here! And everything was solid, too — I mean, this kid was built like a brick! His abs were like a perfect six-pack — you know, all muscle — and his arms were just freakin’ huge, man! I never seen anything like it on such a young kid! When he stopped flexing he just stood there with his body all drenched with sweat. You could see the trickles of sweat run down his big-muscled chest until it formed drops at the bottom of his thick pecs and dripped down to the ground.”

“I bet his arms were as big as Mike Reynolds’!” Andy said. Mike was the quarterback of our high school football team, and a real stud.

“Yeah, they looked that big,” Judd said, “but they probably weren’t — y’know, because he was smaller and just a kid. But man, I would love to have arms like that — I’m not kidding!” Judd wrapped his hand around his skinny upper arm and was almost able to touch his thumb to his middle finger.

“Was the kid’s name Alex?” I said, trying to stay calm. I had that funny feeling in my stomach that I get whenever I think about Alex.

“Yeah, how’d you know?” Judd said. “Well, actually, we found out later his name was Alex — do you know him? We didn’t know who he was. He was just some freak muscle kid who showed up out of nowhere. Anyway, when we couldn’t crack the nuts in our hands Alex called us wimps and said, ‘Watch this!’ and he picked up a walnut and put it in the bend of his elbow and flexed his arm around it. He held his arm up and flexed real hard and his biceps bulged up and we heard this crunching sound. In about one second the kid crushed the nut completely with his biceps! When he unflexed his arm tiny little pieces of shell and nut fell out. I mean, he just pulverized the walnut with his muscle!”

“Yeah, and he didn’t just crack it — he totally crushed it, man!” Andy said, getting very excited. “I mean, even the nut inside was totally smashed to bits — the whole thing was flat as a pancake! His muscle just pounded it like a hammer — WHAM!”

“You shoulda seen this kid’s biceps, dude!” Judd said. “You wouldn’t believe it. It was about this big around and that thing had a wicked peak on it, man — I’m not lyin’! It looked just like a rock! I wanted to feel it and see if it was as hard as it looked!”

“Yeah, it is,” I said softly. “I’ve felt it.” Without thinking, I put my hand up to my throat and started rubbing.

“Yeah, we both got to feel it later,” Judd said. “So you know this kid, huh? How come I never heard you say anything about him? Well, anyway, Andy and me had never seen anything like it. This Alex kid asked us how old we thought he was and we said we didn’t know. I mean, he looked so young but we thought maybe he was our age or even older and just short for his age or something. But he still had this high voice like a little kid, y’know? And when he told us he was only twelve years old you almost had to believe him because his face was so young-looking, like my little brother. And there wasn’t any hair under his arms or anything. But his body was totally muscular! It was unreal!”

“He was telling the truth — he’s twelve years old, all right,” I said. “His father’s a bodybuilder and probably had him lifting weights as soon as he could walk. I guess Alex is just some kind of genetic freak. His muscles are huge and hard and he’s unbelievably strong. He’s also a conceited brat and a total bully. He beats up people just because he can. He does it to show ’em how strong he is.”

“Yeah, now you tell us!” Andy said. “You shoulda warned us about this kid. We didn’t know anything about him!”

I looked down at the ground and shuffled my feet. “I don’t like to talk about him,” I said.

“Well, Andy and I were pretty impressed with this kid’s muscles, but we didn’t think he was mean or anything. Even when he called us wimps I thought he was just bragging a little. After he crushed the walnut with his biceps, Alex wanted both of us to try it just like before. Andy and me said no thanks, but Alex told us not to be so wussy and give it a try. So we just shrugged at each other and held up our arms and put a nut in there and tried to flex as hard as we could. I knew we couldn’t do it, but Alex said, ‘Come on, you’re not flexing hard enough,’ and he reached up and felt both of our arms. I was trying my best, but the hard nut kinda hurt where it was pressing into my biceps. Alex gave our arms a little squeeze and said, ‘Is that as hard as you guys can flex? I could totally crush your muscles right now!’ I thought he was just joking but then he squeezed real hard and his fingers tore right into my flesh and the pain was unbelievable! I tried to pull my arm away but the kid wouldn’t let go! I saw his forearms bulge again like they did when he crushed the nut and his fingers felt like steel claws ripping into my biceps! His fingertips went right down to the bone and it hurt like hell! Andy and I were both howling for him to let go and when he did I felt like my arm had been crushed in a vice, it was throbbing so bad!”

“Yeah, look, my arm still hurts!” Andy said. He pulled up the sleeve of his tee shirt and showed me the purple bruise marks on his biceps left by Alex’s fingers. I recognized the marks.

“Andy and me were both pretty mad rubbing our sore arms and we said, ‘What did you do that for?’ but Alex shrugged and said he was just seeing how hard our biceps were and if we wanted we could do the same thing to him. He promised he would let us squeeze as hard as we could. So Alex flexed his arms like a bodybuilder and told us to try and crush his biceps. I couldn’t believe how big his arms were! They were peaking up huge and looked really solid! I put my hand on the kid’s right biceps and Andy grabbed his left and we both squeezed as hard as we could. The kid’s muscle was so hard it was just like squeezing a rock! Andy and I were both grunting and squeezing as hard as we could and Alex was just laughing and telling us we were weak like girls and stuff. Then he told us to go ahead and use both hands so I grabbed his upper arm from both sides with my thumbs on top of his bulging biceps and I squeezed down as hard as I could but I couldn’t press my thumbs into his muscle at all! It was like trying to crush a coconut or somethin’! And I could see Andy trying on his side and he couldn’t make a dent in this kid’s arm either! We were both freakin’ out at how rock solid this kid’s muscles were!”

“He had like this mountain of pure muscle stickin’ up on his arm,” Andy said, “and I was trying to crush it with both hands. I pressed down on that peak until I got a cramp in my fingers and he said he could hardly even feel it! It was unreal!”

I felt a shiver go up my spine. Thinking about Alex’s muscles had that effect on me. I closed my eyes and I could picture Alex’s bulging bicep muscle. He had flexed it in my face so often it was permanently burned into my memory. At first your brain tells you that it’s much too large for a boy’s bicep, but at the same time you wouldn’t mistake it for a man’s arm. It was strange to see the smooth softness of his youthful skin being distorted so grotesquely by the huge mountain of muscle pushing up from beneath. When Alex flexed his pre-pubescent muscles they swelled powerfully and kept growing beyond what you would think was possible. His flexed arm always seemed to be bursting with energy, as if his bicep could hardly contain the intense strength flowing into it and making it bulge. I’ll never forget how shocked I was when I felt the dense hardness of Alex’s massive young bicep for the first time. I wondered if Judd and Andy had felt the same shiver when they felt Alex’s arm.

“We gave up trying to squeeze his arm and the kid just laughed at us,” Judd continued. “He said he knew we wouldn’t be able to crush his muscles ’cuz no one could. Alex told us he was gonna be at the state bodybuilding contest this weekend. He said they wouldn’t let him enter the contest because he wasn’t even a teenager yet, but his dad was trying to talk them into letting him guest pose.”

“That was why he was running down the creek bed in his sweats,” Andy said. “He told us he was getting into his final super-ripped contest-hard shape.”

I tried to imagine Alex’s muscles even more developed and harder than they were the last time I saw him. The thought caused a involuntary twitch in my groin. I couldn’t help it — Alex triggered this mixture of admiration and fear in me.

“Then he said he wanted to try something and he picked up a walnut and put it in the center of his chest and flexed his pecs. He had this deep groove there, where the muscles met at the breastbone. He took his hand away and his muscles were so thick that the nut was just held there between his bulging pecs. Andy said, ‘That’s a pretty good trick,’ and Alex said, ‘That’s not the trick — watch this!’ and he held his arms up and pressed his hands together in front of his chest and flexed his pecs as hard as he could. The muscles bulged out even more and you could see the striations in his pecs as they surrounded the nut. Then Alex squeezed his pecs together as tight as he could and you could hear the walnut start to crack. He got all red in the face and grit his teeth and gave his thick pecs a final squeeze together and the shell just exploded open! Andy and me were so freaked that we started laughing.”

“We weren’t laughing at him or anything,” Andy said. “You know how you get when you see something completely unbelievable and all you can do is laugh?”

“Well, Alex didn’t like that,” Judd said. “He got all mad and asked what we were laughing at. And before I could say anything he started shoving us and saying things like, ‘You better not laugh at me — I could whip both your asses at once ’cuz I’m stronger than both you guys put together!’ Right away he got all red in the face and totally blew his cool. Then he ran at us like a charging bull with his arms spread out wide and he tackled both of us to the ground. Before we knew what was going on Andy and I went sprawling flat on our butts.”

“I remember thinking what a temper this kid had!” Andy said. “In about two seconds his face went, like, pure rage and the next thing I knew I felt like I had been hit by a truck!”

“Me too!” Judd agreed. “Before we could even start to get up Alex got behind and put us in a double headlock. He squeezed down tight and said, ‘I’ll teach you pussies not to laugh at me!’ And I swear this kid was so strong that I got an instant headache from his hard biceps crushing my skull. We couldn’t get up because Alex was leaning his body over us and bending us in half — forcing our heads down toward our knees and squeezing so hard that I was seeing stars! I guess it was embarrassing to let a kid do that to us, but all I knew was that I couldn’t move and the pain was getting worse and worse. So we started screaming at him to let us go and he made us say we give up, then he made us say that we were wimps and he was a stud.”

“Yeah,” Andy said, “he made us say that about four or five times and even then he kept bending us in half just to hurt us and make us howl some more before he finally let us go. I was freaked out by the way this kid had both of us totally under his control. I rolled away from him and then just took off running without looking back and Judd followed. We both wanted to get away before Alex could think of something else to do to us. I heard him laughing at us and he shouted something — calling us ‘babies’ I think. We scrambled up the bank and I kept looking back to see if the kid was following. When I was sure he wasn’t coming after us, I pulled Judd behind a tree and we watched. Alex put his sweatshirt back on and continued jogging down the creek bed. I wanted to leave but Judd wanted to follow him. We were having trouble keeping up with his pace, but he didn’t have far to go. When Alex got near the railroad bridge he ran up the bank and we saw him go into his house. So we found out where he lives.”

“I’ve been there,” I said. “I met his dad. He’s a bully too, just like his son. You guys better stay away from there.”

“Well, yeah, we know that now, but it’s too late for Jared,” Andy said. “Wait ’til you hear what happened to him!”

I feel a special bond with anyone who has an encounter with Alex. I didn’t really know Jared very well, but I dreaded to hear what happened to him. “You said something about his dog?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Andy said, “Jared has this big German Shepherd mix — I forget the dog’s name — anyway, we told him the story about this strong muscle kid and he was curious so the next day he decided to take his dog out for a walk to Alex’s house. He wanted to see this kid for himself, if he could. We told Jared not to make him mad but he wasn’t worried because he just wanted to look and anyway he had his dog with him. Jared found the little dead-end street down by the tracks and when he got to the end he saw a kid doing something strange in his front yard.”

“Strange?” I asked.

“Jared said he thought the kid was trying to start and old lawn mower. He was cursing and jerking his arm back. But get this — the kid wasn’t trying to start it, he was ripping it apart with his bare hands! He was just tearing off pieces of metal and tossing ’em aside! He wasn’t even wearing gloves or anything, all he had on was a pair of cut-offs.”

“Sounds like something Alex would do,” I said. “Using his muscles to destroy something. I bet that’s what he does for fun. His dad probably gives him old machinery to tear apart so he won’t wreck everything in the house.” I was getting that funny feeling again.

“Well, Jared said at first he thought it was just a little kid but as he got closer he knew it must be the one Judd and I met because this boy had rippling muscles all over his body! He said the kid was all tan and he was pretty sweaty so his muscles were really glistening in the sun. Jared said it was freaky and he couldn’t believe a young kid could have built big muscles like that, just like we told him. Anyway, the kid hadn’t seen him yet and Jared wanted to get a little closer, but as soon as the dog saw Alex it started going crazy — barking and tugging at its leash and stuff. Jared said he’d never seen his dog act like that before. He was trying to hold his dog back when Alex started walking toward Jared with his fists clenched and shouting ‘Shut up!’ at the dog over and over.”

“The dog screwed Jared up,” Judd said. “He should have left it at home, but he thought it would protect him. Instead, it made Alex mad. And you don’t want to get Alex mad.”

“Anyway,” Andy continued, “Alex came right up to the dog shouting ‘Shut up!’ with this real angry look on his face and Jared didn’t know what to do. He was tugging on the leash with all his strength but the dog was pretty strong and it was still going nuts and barking like crazy. Jared said the dog hardly ever barks at anybody, but it was acting like it wanted to tear this kid apart. So Jared couldn’t hold his dog and he lost his grip on the leash and the dog lunged at Alex and bit him on the forearm. But — get this —instead of running away, Alex just slapped the dog on the side of the head with his free hand and kind of stunned it. I mean, one whack with his open hand and the dog instantly let go and stopped barking and growling. Then Alex grabbed the dog’s muzzle with both hands and just clamped its mouth shut, and the dog was trying to pull back and get away but the kid held on tight and then he just raised his arms and picked the dog up off the ground.”

“Yeah, just like this!” Judd said, demonstrating. “Straight arms and everything! Just lifting the dog up off the ground by the muzzle! The dog was dangling in the air and kicking his legs and whimpering, and Jared could see the kid was squeezing down hard on the dog’s mouth, with an angry look on his face like he wanted to break all its teeth or something.”

“I bet the dog weighed almost as much as Jared,” Andy said, “and Alex held it up by the mouth, struggling and kicking, like it weighed nothin’!”

“I’m not sure I want to hear the rest of this story,” I said. My hands were trembling a little.

“Wait, we haven’t even got to the best part yet!” Andy continued. “Jared said the little muscle kid was holding up his big German Shepherd by the muzzle and squeezing the mouth so hard the dog was whining like it’s really being hurt, so Jared ran up and grabbed the leash and started tugging on it, yelling, ‘Don’t hurt my dog!’ and stuff. Then Alex dropped the dog and it yelped and ran behind Jared like it was scared of the kid. And Alex pointed at the marks on his forearm and said ‘Your dog bit me he’s gonna die!’ and Jared didn’t know what to do. He was staring at this twelve-year-old boy who is a head shorter than Jared but has a thick, muscular body that looks hard as a brick! Jared started backing up into the dead-end street but Alex wanted to get the dog so he just shoved Jared aside and jumped on the dog’s back like he was gonna ride it or something. Then Jared heard his dog squeal and he saw that Alex was squeezing the dog between his legs! The dog was thrashing from side to side, trying to bite the kid’s legs, but he couldn’t reach them. Jared saw Alex’s big thighs flexing hard and he couldn’t believe the way the muscles in his legs were bulging! He said the kid had just about the most muscular legs he had ever seen! And he could see his dog was just being crushed between this kid’s huge thighs. Alex’s legs were moving closer and closer together and the dog was yelping and freaking out. So Jared tried to push the kid off his dog by giving him a hard shove in the chest, but Alex just flexed his pecs and Jared said it was like hitting a brick wall! Alex didn’t move an inch. Then he grabbed Jared by the wrists and just squeezed. Jared couldn’t move his arms or anything because the kid was so strong! Alex just kept crushing the dog with his legs and at the same time he squeezed Jared’s wrists so hard that he had tears in his eyes.”

“Jared’s not exactly a shrimp,” Judd said. “He’s taller than me and he thinks he’s a pretty good jock ’cuz he always beats me one-on-one at basketball.”

“Well, Alex’s arms were so strong he could twist Jared’s forearms and there wasn’t anything Jared could do about it. Then Alex poured on the pressure and forced Jared down to his knees. Alex just said, ‘Down on your knees, wimp!’ and Jared felt his legs buckle and he skinned his knees on the pavement. Alex just held him there while he kept crushing the dog between his thighs. Jared tried to get up but he couldn’t and he said the kid was squeezing his wrists so tight that his fingers got all numb and tingly like they were asleep. And he said the kid was talkin’ trash and saying, ‘How do you like watchin’ your dog die?’ and stuff like that.”

“Jared said the boy was flexing just about every muscle in his body,” Judd said. “He was using his upper body — his arms, shoulders, and chest — to hold Jared pinned on his knees. And he was using his legs to crush the dog and Jared said he could see every muscle in the kid’s thighs bulging like crazy! He knew the dog was getting weaker because its movements were getting less frantic. Jared couldn’t even move ’cause Alex’s arms were so strong they just held him down. Alex said, ‘What’s the matter, wimp? Having trouble helping your dog? Well, you’re not gonna save him!’ And Jared started to cry but Alex just smiled and said, ‘Look at my legs, man! Lookit all them bulging muscles! I’m killing your dog and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it! How does that make you feel, huh?’”

I began to feel light-headed, like I was getting sick. I closed my eyes and could see Alex laughing as he used his awesome leg muscles to kill the dog. I could even hear Alex’s voice inside my head as Judd continued to recite the things Alex said as he squeezed Jared’s dog tighter and tighter in that deadly vice.

“Your dog’s a gonner, dude. I can feel my big muscles squishin’ all his innards into mush! Once his ribs start crackin’ it’s all over, man! Say goodbye to your best friend, sucker! You thought you could have your dog attack me, huh? Well, I’ll show you what happens to dogs who attack me!”

I pictured Alex in my mind as he crushed this dog and held poor Jared down on his knees and forced him to watch. I could see Alex’s massive thigh muscles bulging with terrible power — rippling into amazing definition as they flexed. I wondered if his legs began to tremble as he willed them to flex even harder — forcing his muscular thighs into maximum contraction. I bet Alex had an evil smile on his face — enjoying how it felt to unleash the full destructive force of his muscles and crush the life out of that animal. I knew Alex would make it happen slowly so that Jared had to watch those huge unstoppable thighs come together inch-by-inch while his dog continued to suffer. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest. “So — so what happened?” I asked Andy.

“Jared watched this Alex kid’s face screw up like he’s squeezing real hard on his legs and the boy’s bulging thighs started to vibrate like muscles do when they flex real hard for a long time. All of a sudden Jared heard this loud crack like a rib breaking and his dog squealed so loud it made his ears hurt. That’s when he knew this kid was totally serious and he was really gonna kill his dog. So Jared started cryin’ and beggin’ him to stop but Alex just kept squeezing and pretty soon there was another crack and the dog yelped again but not as loud because it couldn’t breathe very well. Jared said the tears were running down his face because he hurt so bad and he couldn’t do anything to help his poor dog. Then he saw Alex start jerking his legs together like ‘wham!-wham!-wham!’ about ten times in a row — the muscles rippling rock hard every time he flexed — and the dog wasn’t yelping and squealing any more, it would just grunt a little each time and the grunts kept getting weaker and weaker. Finally, its head just dropped down and Jared could tell it was passing out. Then the kid said, ‘Your dog’s a wimp just like you are,’ and he put the final squeeze on by gritting his teeth and flexing his thighs as hard as he could for about thirty seconds. Jared said he could hear this squishy sound of his dog’s innards being mashed together by Alex’s legs. He said veins were bulging out all over the kid’s thigh muscles and the skin was turning red from all the blood pumping into the muscles as they flexed tight. Jared knew this was the end for his dog so he just let it out and started bawling, but this seemed to make Alex enjoy what he was doing even more. The kid laughed out loud while the tears streamed down Jared’s face. Jared said the kid’s leg muscles were more defined than he’d ever seen. When they bulged out full hard Alex’s thighs finally clamped together so tight that you could hardly see any space between them where the dog’s middle used to be. And he just held his flexing legs together like that for another minute to make sure the dog was dead while Jared kept crying. When Alex finally relaxed his legs and pulled them apart, the dog just fell to the ground completely lifeless. The middle was all crushed and deformed and blood was coming out of the dog’s mouth and where the broken ribs had punctured the skin. Alex threw Jared down on top of his dead dog and said, ‘Look at these legs that just killed your dog, asshole!’ and he flexed his thighs again and rubbed them with his hands. Then he bent down and scooped up some of the blood on his fingers and rubbed it all over his leg muscles. He even smeared some of the blood on Jared’s face and called him a weak little crybaby. Jared said he wanted to hit him but he couldn’t even make a fist with his hands because they were completely numb. Alex had squeezed his wrists so hard there were bruises where his fingers had pressed into the skin. Then Alex let out a big growl and struck a most-muscular pose. He said, ‘That’ll teach you not to sic your dog on people, asshole!’ and he just turned around and walked back into his house.”

“So, was the dog really dead?” I asked. “I mean — they couldn’t rush him to the vet or anything?”

“Duh! — it was dead all right!” Andy said. “That big dog was crushed between the super-strong kid’s thighs like a car in a compactor. Jared couldn’t believe it — he was like, stunned or something. He didn’t know what to do. He ran home to tell his dad and they called the police and they all met at Alex’s house but the officers wouldn’t do anything because Alex had bloody teeth marks on his forearm so they said it was self-defense. And they told Jared’s dad that he should probably see a lawyer in case the kid’s dad tried to sue him! Alex’s dad told Jared’s dad that he would sue him if he tried to file any charges against Alex. So they all just went home, but Jared was real upset and he was mad at the kid so he went back the next day, which was a big mistake!”

“You mean he went to see Alex again?” I asked. At this point my mouth was dry and I felt like I could hardly breathe. It was like living my experiences with Alex all over again.

“Yeah, he went out there alone. Pretty stupid, huh? Anyway, Jared rode out to the kid’s house on his bike and Alex wasn’t outside so he started yelling at the house ’cuz he’s mad that Alex killed his dog. He knew Alex’s name now so he shouted it out and hollered, ‘dog killer!’ and pretty soon Alex came out of the house. The kid was just wearing his cut-offs again and Jared got kinda nervous ’cuz the kid really does look like a little bodybuilder with all his muscles ’n stuff. Plus, he looks real mean and he’s not afraid of anything. Jared kept riding in circles in the street and yelling at Alex and the kid was yelling back at him and they were saying some pretty nasty stuff ’cuz they were both real mad. Alex kept walking closer and then suddenly he lunged at Jared and almost grabbed the bike so Jared decided it was time to get out of there. He started pedaling down the street on his bike, and he looked back and saw Alex running after him. So he stood up and really started pumping hard on the pedals and after about twenty yards he turned around and saw Alex was gaining on him! He couldn’t believe it! He said there was no way the kid should be able to run that fast. Alex had this angry look on his face and his strong legs were pumping so hard he was practically flying down the street! Jared tried to shift gears and the chain stuttered a little and that was all Alex needed. Alex caught up to him in a flash and grabbed the back of his bike seat with both hands. Jared was freaking out and he kept pumping on the pedals, but Alex pulled on the bike and slowed it down. In a couple of seconds Alex had stopped him cold and the muscle boy lifted up on the bike a little so that the rear wheel was just spinning on the street — barely making contact. Jared heard Alex laughing as he held his bike, but Jared kept pedaling and trying to pull away even though his spinning tire was starting to smoke and wearing the tread off. Finally, he was all exhausted from pedaling so hard and he stopped. Alex ran up to the front of the bike and grabbed the handlebars with an underhand grip and he said to Jared, ‘You better not come around here again ’cuz look what I could do to you,’ and then he flexed his arms and all the muscles in his forearms popped and the veins stood out and then his big biceps bulged and the handlebars started to bend! Jared said his eyes just about popped out of his head! Alex was grunting a little but he kept flexing harder and forcing the handlebars up, and Jared couldn’t believe what was happening. The kid didn’t quit until the bars were bent up into a U-shape. Well, at that point Jared totally freaked out and he jumped off the bike and started running for his life. He looked over his shoulder and saw Alex pick up the bike and hold it over his head. Jared said he looked like a little bodybuilder with his thick legs and V-shaped lats and pumped-up arms. Then Alex threw the bike at Jared — just heaving it with his arms as hard as he could — and Jared said it flew through the air about twenty yards and even though Jared was running away as fast as he could the bike actually hit him on the back and shoulders and knocked him to the ground.”

I shook my head slowly. “Unbelievable!” I muttered. Andy misunderstood me.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, too, but why would Jared lie about this? I mean, it makes him look weak and stupid and everything, letting a twelve-year-old do this to him, so why would he tell the story if it wasn’t true? Anyway, Jared was lying on the street kinda stunned and out of breath with his bike on top of him and this kid Alex ran up to Jared and put one foot on the bike and crushed Jared’s body into the ground. Alex flexed his leg as he poured on the pressure, and Jared felt the gravel on the street ripping into his face. The kid warned him to stay away or next time will be really bad and Jared started to cry. Then Alex spat on him and called him a wuss. Jared said Alex jumped up and down on the bike a few times and Jared thought he was going to die, but Alex suddenly stopped and walked away. When he was sure Alex was gone, Jared crawled out from under his bike and walked home with it ’cuz it was too bent out of shape to ride. And Jared swears it’s all true and now he believes everything we said about this kid Alex being a super-strong and mean twelve-year-old.”

After Andy finished his story there was a long pause. I felt sorry for them, especially Jared, but I didn’t know what to say. Judd gave me a smile and slapped me lightly on the shoulder. “So — are you coming with us?”

“What — where?” I said.

“I told Jared to meet us here and I’d try to talk you into coming with us, but since you already know who this Alex kid is and what a mean little sonofabich he is, you’ll be perfect! There will be four of us against him. This time we’ll really teach him a lesson!”

My blood ran cold. I couldn’t believe these guys were actually talking about going after Alex. “Are you crazy? After all he’s done to you?”

“Hell, we know he’s a strong kid, but he’s still just a kid, right? I mean, the three of us could probably take him easy, but with you along he’s got no chance. We’ll have fun making him suffer a little as we work over that overpumped body he’s so damn proud of.” Judd looked past me over my shoulder. “Here comes Jared now! Look at him, riding his sister’s bike, poor guy! Come on, Paul, grab your bike and come with us. I can’t wait to give that little kid what’s coming to him! We’ll teach him a lesson he’ll never forget! It’ll be fun!”

“No way!” I said. “Count me out! I never want to see Alex again. He’s like the kid from hell or something. It doesn’t matter if we take a hundred guys to get him, he’d somehow find a way to beat us all. Alex always wins. Always!”

Judd looked at me like I was crazy. “You’re kidding, right?” he said. He waited for an answer, but I just looked at the ground and took a step backward. “I don’t believe it!” Judd said. “You’re really scared of this kid, aren’t you? You really believe this twelve-year-old could take on the four of us all by himself? Man, I didn’t think you were such a chicken, Paul! Okay, you can stay here with Mommy and we’ll take care of little Alex for you.”

Judd gave me a condescending pat on the head and turned to greet Jared. I felt about two feet tall. I looked at Andy. His eyes were sympathetic, but I could tell he was disappointed that I wouldn’t be coming along. He was clearly nervous about this, but I knew he trusted Judd. I didn’t.

When the guys left on their bikes I hesitated, but my stomach was going to be tied up in knots anyway even if I stayed home, so I grabbed my bike and pedaled hard to catch up with them.

I knew I was going to regret this. •

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