Honestly, I thought it was just another normal school day for being the third one at the start of the year – but it appears things well happen now and again that are way beyond our control!
I will have to admit, I was somewhat inwardly glad that this event took place early in the year, rather than later. It would have been much harder to deal with a month or two from now.
As Ben filled you in quite “basically” with his short post of yesterday, I will tell you about the events now in detail.
It is about Theo and Kees (pronounced “Key-Ace” in Dutch).
Erik and I had just gotten off the tram, but he scurried inside to meet up with Parker as they wanted to check in a new shipment of plant starters the Garden Club ordered for the Green House. So I lingered outside waiting for Ben’s tram to show up.
David came up to me and waited with me, but it wasn’t long before he had a worried look in his eyes as he looked over and past my shoulder.
“Oh, shit, Amar.” He grunted. “I think we have problem.”
“Problems can turn into solutions, David,” I half-joked, but then realized he was dead serious and his comment caught me off guard because David rarely swears openly. I then diverted my eyes to the direction behind me where he was looking.
It was Kees, at a distance down the block, running with a limp toward us. As the lad approached, Ben was just getting off his tram. There was panic and hurt in Kees’ tear-filled eyes, and his face was smudged and dirty; his school uniform dishevelled where spots of blood were visible on the once white shirt, and there was a tear in the sleeve. He didn’t have his school tote with him either, and his torn trousers at the knee showed a bit of blood.
“What happened, Kees?” I asked as the trembling lad came right up to me and burst into sobs as he hugged me tight. “Where’s Theo?”
“They beat us up, Amar!” He barely gulped from his heaving, sobbing chest.
“Who beat you up, Kees?” Ben growled, gritting his teeth and clenching his fist, as was I.
“Some jongens (lads/boys) from our old school,” Kees cried. “Theo ran away too cuz he got hurt.”
I was literally fuming by then as I looked at David.
“Go tell the Dean Master, David.” I instructed, handing him my tote to put in Base. “Kees and I are going to go find Theo.”
“Not alone, you’re not, Amar!” Ben said firmly, giving his tote to David also. “I’m going with you two!”
Kees was a bit reluctant just then at possibly facing the “thugs” once again, but he seemed to gain his confidence quickly as he looked at both Ben and I walking by his side as we hurried back to find Theo.
About four blocks from our school, Kees stopped and looked around. Ben and I noticed a few scattered notebook papers and some scatterd, broken pencils on the ground as Kees walked to the edge of the rail and looked down into the canal.
“There are some of our school books, Amar.” Kees sighed. “Theo’s tote sank and I think my just floated away.”
“Don’t worry about your books or tote, Kees.” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. “Those will be replaced. Let’s just concern ourselves in finding Theo, OK?”
Kees nodded as he led Ben and me down another block and around the corner. That’s when I saw Theo’s shadowy figure curled up in a dark entrance-way. He was sobbing quietly and he looked a mess!
There was a tear in both of his new trouser’s knees, and there was only one button left on his dirty and torn not-so-white shirt. There was also a streak of blood drops spotting the once white fabric.
It took my breath away when he looked up and saw us, and I immediately went to his side and hugged him into me. There was still a bit of wet blood dripping from his nose, and I felt it dampen my shoulder as Theo wept softly into me.
“I don’t want to be in your school anymore, Amar.” Theo looked up at me as tears crept slowly down his smudged cheeks. “This will happen again to Kees and me, I know, and I don’t want him to get hurt.”
“Shhh, Theo, don’t think like that right now, OK?” I whispered, pulling my handkerchief from my back pocket and handing it to him as he dabbed at his sore, bloody nose. “We’ll get things sorted out. I promise.”
“But my books are gone!” Theo grunted angrily. “And my assignments I worked so hard on to finish. GONE, Amar! Gone into the canal! I QUIT!”
“So do I, Amar!” Kees echoed.
“Theo! Kees! Stop this rubbish talk!” I said firmly, lifting Theo’s chin with my hand so he would look at me. “DON’T GIVE UP! I know you are better than that! So is Kees!” I added, looking at the younger lad who had knelt down next to his chum. “We’ll work something out so this doesn’t happen again – just trust me, OK?”
The two of them looked at me with quite the doubtful look as I noticed Ben step out of the entrance way and look at two thugs leaning against the railing of the canal. They were smirking, snickering and pointing hurtfully.
“That’s them,” Theo gulped as Kees hunkered down closer to his chum.
Immediately, I jumped up, but Ben stopped me cold with a firm hand on my chest. “Don’t think about it, Amar!” He hissed. “I’ll take care of this.”
I gulped for air in anger, and I felt my chest burn as I watched Ben stoically walk across the cobble street and stand firmly in front of the two thugs – who couldn’t have been any older than Theo himself. The look in their eyes turned from cocky to fearful as Ben hovered tall over the two and stared with wide, dark, angry eyes.
We couldn’t hear what Ben was saying, but whatever it was, it was to the point. I was well certain they didn’t speak much English, but I was MORE certain the tone in Ben’s voice convinced him of his message.
When one of them with tangled, greasy hair gave Ben a sour look, I gasped as my Ben grabbed the thug by the collar of his T-shirt and pushed him hard back against the rail until the lad grimaced.
Theo and Kees sucked in air as they watched, speechless as the wincing thug literally turned white in the face!
“Let them go, Ben,” I said. “Ze verdienen het niet de aandacht!” (They don’t deserve the attention!) I added in Dutch, loud enough for the two to hear me.
Still giving the two the death stare, Ben let go of the one lad and the two hurried off and disappeared around the corner. Ben went to watch, and told me later the two ran like mad and never looked back at Ben’s towering figure and angry-filled chocolate eyes!
Once back at school, David was waiting for us at the front door as he helped Ben and I lead Theo and Kees inside and down the hall to the infirmary.
The Dean Master was there waiting, and he looked at me with concern, worry, and a load of relief, as the Nurse took over the care of the two hurt lads to nurse their wounds.
“I shouldn’t have put something like this past you, Amar.” The man said. “But in your condition, you shouldn’t have gone after them like that. It was a dangerous thing, and you had no idea what you or Ben could be facing. Had it turned into an army of thugs, I would not have appreciated seeing you both at the hospital emergency room!”
“I’m sorry, Sir.” I said quietly. “I thought you knew what my heart would do better than that by now.”
“Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I thought, Amar.” He said, putting his hand tenderly on my shoulder. “Are you all right?”
“Yes Sir, thank you.” I forced a smile. “I had Ben at my side, so I knew nothing very bad could have happened.”
“After the Nurse cleans those two up, I would like to meet with the four of you in my office.” The Dean Master said. “You two carry on to class now. I’ll call you out after I have a word with Mr. Theo and Mr. Kees.”
“Sir?” I looked at the man before I left. “I can’t let either of them to give up. Theo and Kees belong at our school, and I will fight as hard as I can to keep them here.”
“I know you will, Amar.” He nodded. “That’s why I depend on you. I’ll call your father and fill him in on what I know so far.”
It didn’t take long for Ben and me to be called out of class to head to the Dean Master’s Office. Once there, we were pleased to see both Theo and Kees cleaned up a bit as they sat nervously in front of the (somewhat intimidating to them) leader of our school. They were both wearing clean T-shirts and Gyms Shorts. But I was also pleased to see them relax as Ben and I walked in and sat next to the two.
“I’ve already talked to the Head of Mr. Theo and Mr. Kees’ old school, and discipline actions are in place for the two culprits.” The Dean Master explained. “Those two were skipping school and just looking for trouble. He assured me incidents like this would not happen again.”
I glanced over at Theo and he gave his eyes a quick roll.
“If you don’t try to believe that, Theo, things like this WILL happen again.” I said to him.
“I know,” He mumbled, shrugging his shoulders. “I just don’t. . .”
I knelt down and put my hand on his knee and looked him straight in the eyes. “Don’t even think about giving up, Theo. You are far better than that! Both you and Kees belong in our school. I am NOT going to let you deny that opportunity, do you understand?”
“But I’m still scared,” Kees barely whispered.
Theo turned and looked at his chum lovingly and forced a warm smile. “Don’t worry, Kees. I’ll be there to protect you, I promise. Just like Ben protects Amar.”
I felt my heart tug just then at Theo’s profound comment, and I looked up at Ben as he winked at me.
“Ben?” The Dean Master looked at my protector. “Would you accompany these two new students of ours down to the laundry room to help them find a laundered shirt and pair of trousers, please? I’d like to have a few more words with Amar.”
Ben nodded as he winked at me before gathering Theo and Kees and heading out the door.
That’s when I looked directly at the Dean Master, and before he had a chance to say anything, I spoke with firmness in my voice.
“The two of them have to become boarders, Sir.” I said matter-of-factly. “Right now it is too easy for them to give up hope if something like this happens again.”
I watched the Dean Master intently as he ran his fingers through his slightly greying hair.
“If I have to put the money up myself, Sir, I will do it.” I added. “There are plenty of funds in the Mission of Hope Scholarship Fund to make it happen. We just need the proper permission forms signed, is all. I will NOT let those two slip away, Sir! We need lads like Theo and Kees attending our school; and forgive me, but I will stop at nothing to make sure that happens.”
The Dean Master’s silence gnawed at my very soul, but I also knew somehow his mind was racing with ways to expedite my proposal. I knew in my heart that as soon as I left his office, he would be on the phone to some of the members of the School Board of Directors, not only filling them in on these events, but hopefully fighting to help them see Theo and Kees’ side.
“Carry on to your classes, Amar.” The Dean Master said softly as he picked up the phone.
“If the Board of Directors allows either one of them to slip away and give up any more hope, Sir,” I stopped and turned at the door. “Then I have not done my job, have I?”
The man’s sigh seemed to ring in my ears for the rest of the morning.
It was a long time before dad said a word as I sat in his study while we went through the funds for the Mission of Hope Scholarship. Yes, the money was there – more than enough – but so was the apprehension in this entire matter.
“And when the next new local transit lad or two gets roughed up on his way to school, you’ll propose for them to become a boarder as well, Amar?” Dad said, stinging me hard.
“That’s not fair, Dad, and you know it.” I said, feeling my eyes glaze with tears. “You know I see hope in everyone. I can’t help it. But Theo and Kees are well different in my mind and heart. They had some of that hope dashed away today, but I’m going to make sure they bloody get that hope back even more!”
“I see I can’t stop your passion of determination in all this, Son.” Dad said.
“No, you cannot, dad.” I replied solemnly as I got up and headed to my room as the tears now were readily flowing down my cheeks.