Johnny‘s heart thumped deeply in his chest. The time had come. He had pondered on the plan for weeks, trying to fine-tune every detail. Now it was time to act.
He walked into the bathroom two doors down from his classroom. He slipped in quickly, went to the first stall and shut the door behind him, trying to avoid detection. His arms shook. A cold sweat threatened to break out all over his body. He fought the urge. Any sign of nervousness might expose his carefully schemed design.
The bell rang. Everything was silent except the occupied stall next to his. He needed complete solitude to be successful. Detection would ensure his immediate failure and social suicide. The stakes were high. He waited fitfully.
He silently unzipped his backpack and shuffled through its contents. Pushing a few books aside and a single blue binder, he located the items he needed. He pulled out a permanent marker, belt, and brass knuckles and re-zipped the bag.
Sweat began perspiring on his forehead. The armpits of his shirt dampened. It seemed his heart might rip from his chest from the intensity of its rhythm. If the unknown occupant in the stall next door did not finish quickly, he might spook from the entire ordeal.
Johnny mounted an internal defense, trying to retain his original resolve. He reflected on figures of persecution; civil rights martyrs, LGBT heroes, and persecuted minorities.
‘They were all revered,’ he told himself. ‘Whether in the news or private conversation, they were all recognized for their bravery and respected. They were important. People listen to them, even the dead ones.’
The toilet flushed and door to the stall squeaked open. Johnny listened to the footsteps as they exited the restroom and disappeared down the hall. He breathed through his mouth, so he could hear the faintest clicking of shoes against the white tiled floors. Waiting only a moment for complete silence, he emerged from his own stall. He was anxious to carry out the plan.
‘You want to be loved and respected like them, have a voice like them, then you need to be persecuted like them,’ he reassured himself.
He stood in front of the mirror and stared at himself as he continued to stoke his enthusiasm.
‘I would stand up and endure this kind of thing,’ he continued. ‘All I am doing is showing what I would be willing to do. All I am doing is showing I could be just like all those guys in the news who stood up against bigotry. That’s all this is. It’s a demonstration.’
He uncapped the permanent marker, focused in the mirror, and carefully wrote the word across his face: “CUCK”.
‘No turning back now,’ he said to himself, putting the marker down and wrapping his hand around the brass knuckles.
Closing his hand around the brass knuckles and shutting his eyes tightly, he thrust the clenched fist toward his right eye. Upon contact, the darkness behind his eyelid brightened into a combination of red, yellow, and orange. Pain shot from his eye and reverberated around his skull. He opened his unaffected eye and looked in the mirror. He noticed swelling began immediately.
He released the brass knuckles and slapped the wounded spot again for good measure. He tried not to shout as he did, placing a hand over his mouth and grunting. Next was the belt. He slapped it across his back, calves, and thighs several times. He banged his head against the stall a few times and became pleased to notice blood spring from his nose. He carefully smeared some on the front of his shirt for good measure.
In pain and deeming the task sufficiently complete, he placed all the items in the bottom of his backpack. He, then, leaned against the wall and waited.
‘Now, I just need to wait,’ he thought. ‘Soon I will have a martyr’s crown.’