Part 2: Enter Jamie
"Oh shit" were the only two words that came out of his mouth as he slid down the embankment. It was a six foot slide and a couple seconds until he reached the bottom. Jamie slowly stood up. His legs were scraped and his foot was a little sore, but he could still walk. He had made that climb a dozen times and this was the first time he lost his footing. Although, you couldn't blame him for being preoccupied considering that his life had just turned upside down.
He lost his pole about three quarters of the way down. As he climbed for the pole he noticed that the slight pain in his foot subsided. Hopefully it wouldn't come back. He grabbed the pole and went back down the embankment. After inspecting the pole, he decided to make his way to his spot. As he rounded the corner, he saw the log. He sat the pole on top of it and made his way to the water’s edge.
As he peered into the water, he noticed a single small fish, wiggling near a rock. He lightly touched his finger to the water and waited. The fish swam near and nipped at his finger. He kept still and it did it again. After several unsuccessful tries, it swam back to its rock. When Jamie removed his finger, the fish disappeared. He wondered if it knew just how close to death it was.
He gathered his pole and began to fish. It was probably nearly five o'clock and the sun would be setting in a couple of hours. He needed to catch at least two fish before then. He baited his hook with a nice sized earthworm, swung his line back and watched it hit the water. As it disappeared into the lake, his mind drifted. Soon summer would be over and school would start. He liked school. At least he liked what they taught. He could've done without some of the children in his class. In his part of the county families like his were at the bottom of the pole.
The line on the pole became taught. He got something. He slowly and surely reeled it in. It was a decent sized trout. He tossed it to the side and put his line back out into the lake. The trout wiggled fervently on the ground, but to no avail. It's life would soon be over and for a second, Jamie wished it was him.
Unfortunately, he couldn't go back to school. He was the oldest and now responsible for the family. His father was in his life until last week. He went through another drunken stint and disappeared. He usually found his way back home, but two days ago his mother got the news. The drunken bastard drowned in the lake. This lake. And now, he had to find a job to try and replace his income.
There weren't too many opportunities for a kid in the south. He might find a job on one of the plantations but that was hard to come by. Since reconstruction, many of the plantations were either destroyed or went out of business. Any negros that remained in the south, wound up working on those same plantations. It was hard for poor whites like him to compete. Yeah the niggers got paid, but not by much. The only real opportunity for a kid of his age was up north. Maybe he could find a job working in one of those factories or something. But that would mean leaving home. As much as they needed the money, he couldn't risk leaving his mother and his siblings alone. He would have to find work around here. Though his mom found some work as a seamstress, it was sparse. Time was not on their side; he needed to find work soon.
The line went taught again and Jamie reeled in a second fish. By then, the sky changed from a bright blue to an intense orange. He had to get these fish home to his mother.
The walk home was longer than usual. The sharp pain in his foot made him constantly think about the distance between him and his home. He came to a turn in the road. There was a house immediately to his right. As he began to make the turn, he heard voices. Those voices sounded familiar. He slid next the fence and peeked around the corner.
Those three figures looked familiar. As they drew closer, he knew who they were. He looked around and see an upside down wheelbarrow. He limped over to it and hid. The time marched by slowly. All he could do was think about the last day of school.
All he wanted to do was go home, but they wouldn't let him.
"I ain't no bitch!"
Another voice came in from the right, "Then fight him."
Jaime had no choice. He tossed his books to the side and squared up. His opponent was bigger than him. Tim was five foot eight and nearly two hundred pounds. He had a muscular build for a fifteen year old. He took after his dad. Jamie, on the other hand, was barely five foot six; and he only weighed a hundred thirty pounds. He was a skinny kid, not too much muscle. His father was a more impressive sight. He was six foot tall with a solid build. If Jamie were to take after his dad, it wouldn't be for awhile. The only thing he could think was, "This fat fuck."
They danced around for a bit before Jamie threw the first punch. It landed wide and completely missed Tim. As the momentum of the punch swung his whole body around, his face was at just the right distance to receive a swift and short uppercut from Tim. This completely knocked him to the ground. He somehow managed to land on all fours and scrambled to get up. That's when he saw, then felt, the impact of a brown shoe on his stomach. He clutched his stomach with both hands as he landed face down in the dirt.
"I told you, you were a bitch", Tim said as he turned to leave. The other boys were walking away to, and laughing nonstop. Jamie rolled slowly on the ground trying to get his breath back. He was alone with blood dripping down his face and dirt in his mouth.
Under the wheelbarrow, he still didn't know what caused them to do it. He figured they just liked picking with him. His dad was a hopeless alcoholic. Who could help defend him? Or at least teach him how to defend himself? No one was coming to his aide.
He peeked out from underneath the barrel. He hadn't heard the voices in awhile. When he was sure they were gone, he hurried home.