What I Didn’t Do for Sam

Nonfiction by Kevin Rabas

Spindly Billy, with his black leather and chains, had me up and pinned to the top lockers. He was about six foot in seventh grade. They had Sam, his head bobbing in the toilet, as they hung onto his head and hair and dunked him. When he was up for air, Sam yelled, “Help, Kevin.”

I kneed Billy in the chest, and he spit in my face and dropped me. I looked towards where they held Sam, and there were a lot of them huddled around him, their faces red and taut. They shouted, and some of them had that angry smile. Poo, from the Philippines, said, “Do nothing. You can do nothing for him now.” And Chandler, a class gambler, a knower of odds, said, “It will only hurt him more, if you go in there. Stay back. Stay here.” It was like consulting with Socrates’ band, each one had an answer, and none of their advice seemed quite right.

Billy did not join the red crowd. He stood there. He looked at me. He let me pass.

By the time I got there, Sam’s head was out of the toilet, and there was no one to fight. But I took Sam’s hand, and I helped him through the crowd and into the gymnasium. No one said anything. The guys in the gym looked down at their sneaks, and Sam ran a hand through his wet hair.

kevinrabas-smaller-112707013Kevin Rabas co-directs the Creative Writing Program at Emporia State University, co-edits Flint Hills Review, and writes regularly for Jazz Ambassador Magazine (JAM). He has two books, Bird’s Horn and Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Nelson Poetry Book Award Winner and a Kansas Notable Book.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);

1 comment for “What I Didn’t Do for Sam

  1. Christine Simokaitis
    July 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for writing this, Kevin. I enjoyed reading it in a queasy and painful kind of way. cheers!

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