The following day, when one of The Vigils reported to Archie that Jerry casually detached his notice of chocolate sale assignment and threw it onto the waste bin, Archie sought for Jerry. Bursting with anger at such defiance but effecting a composed disposition, the bully found him at the locker room and warned him with just one sentence: “Dare, and you’ll see.” Jerry shuddered at the implication of the warning, but there was no way of backing out. He decided last night that he could not be sheepishly made to do something he did not like. That was a bad as just existing, not living: having his own life but actually having others like Archie live it for him. Why, it can take even just one man to change the universe of The Vigils, and he was certain he could muster up enough courage, as when he endured the football tryout. One man changing the universe: he felt it made tremendous sense to sustain his decision now. A public call was issued about Brother Leon ’s announcement of the chocolate sale program, and Jerry resolved to say “No” in spite of all hell breaking loose. Indeed, all hell broke loose after he said “No” to Brother Leon back in the Trinity Hall. He was waiting for a ride home later in the afternoon when Emile, the bully who siphoned off the gas from Carlson’s car’s gas tank, joined him at the waiting shed. Then, another member of The Vigil. And another. He felt terribly uneasy that the bullies of The Vigil were now crowding the area, and he wished a commuter bus would arrive. Finally, when Archie joined them all in the shed, two members held him in both arms, determined to keep him even as he desperately tried to squirm loose. The bus sped off even as he shouted for help, and the disturbing trouble which last night loomed in his imagination while weighing his go-or-no-go options, was bound to become a reality now. “Why do this to me?” he addressed Archie, images of The Vigil’s notoriety flashing before his mind. He was reminded of Brother Eugene’s crashing room, and he felt sorry that it was his turn to be unscrewed now. A punch jabbed at his stomach, and the battered feeling he got during his initial tryouts at the football varsity returned with the familiar horror. “This is what stubborn people deserve when they defy the will of The Vigil,” calmly said Archie, his characteristic coolness enveloping him. Another jab made him feel like vomiting, and it was as if he was still trapped in the football field brawl. A thrashing in his ribs made his breathing difficult, and two subsequent punches brought him back at the football ground, his coach muttering cusswords in the person of Archie and his ilk. He envisioned himself at the hospital right after this awful confrontation, bones all broken and body wrapped mercilessly in plaster, his father doubling in grief after this dreadful incident came at the heel of his mother’s demise. Jerry could not physically escape his present plight, so he might as well take his mind off the pain, the anguish he was undergoing at the moment. The routine of life merits that a person, despite the torment and the sorrow and the hardships just like this current mauling by The Vigil, has to go on living no matter what. He torturously looked away from the beating, the sun already untraceable in the horizon, darkness overpowering the last streaks of daylight. “Nobody said defiance was any easy,” Jerry thought; he could use more courage, could use being more of a man: to stand up after a fall, holding back tears, feeling stronger although weakening inside. They can’t kill me, he assured himself, what won’t kill me makes me stronger. Dare to change the universe, he repeatedly thought to himself, while all balled fists were upon him.
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