Please start with Part I and read in sequence.
“Hey look everyone. Little Bellah’s in a fight. Why he’s captured a Hacker!”
I knew the voice. It belonged to Brent Johnson (another made-up name), a friend of my big brother Craig. If you’ve seen “Happy Days” on TV, think of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli.
In 1965 Brent was the Fonz of Canyon High School. He was the coolest kid on campus, loved by all the girls, admired by all the boys. I don’t remember ever seeing Brent fight. He didn’t have to. Everyone knew he was the best. No one was stupid enough to challenge him.
“Little Bellah, you want to fight this guy?” Brent queried.
“I just want to go to the dance.” It was partly the truth. But I didn’t want to get my face kicked in either.
“Hacker, he doesn’t want to fight you.”
I felt Petey relax so I let go of his arms, stood up and moved away. He leapt up, clenched his fists and looked to Billy Mac and Frank for orders.
“I said he doesn’t want to fight – any of you.” Brent glared at the Hackers.
And that was it. The Hackers left the dance, I went to the dance, and, for the rest of my high school days, I wasn’t afraid of getting in fights. Guess I thought Brent will show up to rescue me.
45 years later:
Although Petey had picked the fight, the Hackers were not bullies. They didn’t persecute the weak and disadvantaged. Just the opposite. They stood up for economic and social outcasts, which sometimes meant challenging those who – because they were born into a certain family – seemed entitled.
I guess that made me a target, but, in retrospect, can’t say I blame them.
A couple of years ago I read Frank Hackers’ obituary in the newspaper. Sounded like he had accumulated a large group of friends and family who loved him. I was glad, and, also, not surprised.