While I played tough in school, I really got into only a couple of fights and those were over quickly and without much to-do. There was one time however when I seriously wanted to killed someone.
My favorite class in school was Gym. I loved it. I was tomboy and a natural athlete. Tall for my age, skinny but strong and fast. My eye-hand coordination was good and I would try anything, and give it my all. I could beat all the girls and most of the boys in sports.
In 5th grade I was at Wyatt and there was only one person who could run faster than me in the whole school. Randy Randolph. We were in the same class and none of the other students could outrun us, including the 6th graders. I had an on again/off again crush on him my entire time at Wyatt. Randy was tall for his age, taller than all of the students and most of the teachers. At 10 years old he was 5’5’’ and had the longest legs you ever saw. I was sure his long legs were the reason I wasn’t the fastest runner in school.
Our class was lucky, we had Gym in the afternoon which made the last half of the day go faster. One sunny afternoon when softball was the curriculum, I was standing on first base waiting to run. I really wasn’t paying that close of attention to the batter since it was one of the kids that didn't hit that well and I was expecting him to strike out. I was looking around knowing that if I heard the crack of the bat I would have plenty of time to run. A car slowly drove by the school, music blasting and I looked up to see if it was my brother or one of his friends so I could wave but it wasn't. As I was turning to look at the batter I felt a huge explosion of pain in my chest and an instant later heard a thump at my feet. I looked down confused by both the pain and the sound and saw a softball at my feet. In an instant I knew two things.
One: That the pitcher, Orlando Hall, had just hit me in the chest with the softball. Orlando Hall who I also had an on again/off again crush on had HIT ME WITH A SOFTBALL!
Two: I was going to kill him.
I looked up from the ball to the pitcher's mound just as all the the students started a choir of "Oooooo..".
Orlando and I looked at each other. What I saw was his shocked face, mouth hanging open. What he saw was my anger. We looked at each other for half a second before he turned and started running and I gave chase. He ran toward the corner of the field, where the exit from the school grounds was. I figured he was running for home but I knew I could catch him before he got there, I could always catch Orlando, he was fast, but no Randy. He didn't go out the gate but made a sharp right turn. Bad move, that would allow me to cut to the right and close the distance more quickly and he would be trapped on one side by the fence.
There was a symphony of sounds. My blood pounding in my ears, sneakers in the gravel, Orlando yelling he was sorry, all the boys yelling for Orlando to run faster, all the girls yelling for me to run faster. Then through all of that, just as I was closing in on him, I heard the gym teacher's voice clearly and forcefully telling me to stop or I would would be sent to the Principle. I realized that she was giving chase too, as was the rest of the class. Orlando also heard the teacher's voice and started making his way around toward her. I was about to catch him but it would be just as he reached her. Orland ran behind the teacher grabbing her arms intending to use her as a human shield if needed.
There was much confusion during the next few minutes. All the kids yelling and laughing, Orlando yelling at me he was sorry he didn't mean to hit me, me yelling at Orlando of course he meant it since he hit me in the chest, the teacher yelling for Orlando to let go of her and yelling at the the rest of us to stop yelling and calm down.
The end result? I let Orlando live.
Apparently he though I was going to steal second base, something I had never done (something we didn't do in 5th grade softball) and turned and threw the ball to the boy covering first base who was not only behind me but paying even less attention to the game than I was.
No one was sent to the Principle.
After the swelling and redness went away I ended up with a small bruise under my collarbone and I have always been grateful that the ball didn't hit my face.
I think that in those few moments running for his life, Orlando was the fastest runner in the school.