Courtney Ball

Throwing Rocks at Ralph

I walked out the back door of my friend David’s house the other day—we always go in and out the back door; I don’t know why—and his big dog Ralph started barking at me like he always does. I think David says he’s a German Shepper or something like that. All I know is he has a lot of teeth and a scary bark, and if he ever got off his chain I’d be dead meat.

One day my other friend Ben got so sick of Ralph barking at him that he threw a rock at him. When Ralph saw that rock coming at him he dodged it pretty easy, but at least he stopped barking. I didn’t think it was very nice of Ben to throw rocks at a dog, but I was glad when Ralph shut up at least.

So, anyway, that gave me an idea when I came out the back door like I said and Ralph started barking at me. I bent down like I was picking up a rock, except I didn’t really pick up a rock. I just made it look like I did. Then I did a wind up like a major league pitcher and threw that fake rock as hard as I could at Ralph. It was the funniest thing. That stupid dog jumped back and got scared like I was throwing a real rock at him. It’s like he thought he could actually see a rock coming at him. Plus, he shut up with all that barking.

I smiled and started walking back out the yard toward the alley. Sometimes I can be pretty smart, I thought. I figured I’d have to tell Ben about it next time I saw him. Then he’d stop throwing real rocks at Ralph. Even if he’s a mean dog, I don’t think it’s right to throw real rocks at him.

Before I made it to the back gate, Ralph must have realized that he was okay and he was also letting me get away, so he ran to the end of his chain and started barking again like he was ready to tear my head off. Worked once, I thought, I might as well try again. So I bent down again and picked up another fake rock, and sure enough, when I pretended to throw it at him, he ducked away and quit barking.

It was getting close to supper time, and I was supposed to head home, but I decided to have a little fun with Ralph before I left. I stood in the alley and waited for him to start barking again. Then I’d act like I was picking up a piece of gravel and zing it at him as hard as I could. The big idiot fell for it every time! I had to laugh. Just for fun, I even tossed my imaginary rocks up in the air and caught them again like I was testing their weight before I threw them. I tried to make it look as real as possible. I even pretended to throw side-arm or left-handed or girly style like my sister. Old Ralph must have thought he was pretty good at dodging rocks by the end of it, because he kept right along jumping out of the way every single time.

I was having a good time, laughing my head off at that stupid dog. I laughed so hard my eyes started watering, and then, right when I was bending over to pick up another pretend rock, WHAM! Something hit me from behind and knocked me onto the ground. The first thing to hit the gravel was my right elbow, but my shoulder and the side of my head came pretty quick after that. It happened so fast I didn’t even feel much at first, but those little rocks in my skin hurt like crazy later on.

When I rolled over I looked up and saw David’s big brother Kenny standing over me. He must have been walking home from football practice, because he still had his gear on except for the helmet and shoulder pads.

“Stop throwing rocks at my dog, you little son of a bitch!”

“I wasn’t! I wasn’t throwing rocks, I swear!”

He kicked me in the leg with one of his cleats. “Liar! I saw you do it like three times when I was coming up the alley! I frickin’ saw you!”

“No! I was just pretending! I didn’t really throw anything at him. I just made it look like I was throwing rocks so he’d stop barking.”

“Are you kidding me?” Kenny grabbed my hair with one hand and my right ear with the other. He used them to pull me up to standing position. Then he held me there and asked, “How dumb do you think I am, little Jakey? I saw you pick up the rock and test its weight before you chucked it at him. I saw the rock go up in the air and land in your hand. Stop lying to me or you’re going to be in even more pain.” With that he twisted my ear and used the hand that was holding my hair to smack my cheek.

It hurt a lot, but for some reason, all I could think to say was, “Well, then, you’re just as dumb as Ralph, because there was no rock.”

Kenny smiled and, with no warning, smashed his knee right into my nuts. He let me go, and I dropped to the ground. My eyes squeezed shut, and my vision went all sparkly. The pain was unbelievable, and it didn’t stay between my legs. I could feel it shooting out into the rest of my body. I rolled to one side because I thought I might throw up, but nothing came out.

“You know I can’t let you talk back to me like that, little Jakey.”

I didn’t have any sass left in me. And even if I did, I couldn’t talk. Tears and snot were coming out of my eyes and nose, and the only sound I could make was a sort of squeaky moan.

I don’t know how much later, I was able to stand up. I dusted myself off while Ralph barked at me, and I walked home. When Mom saw me, she looked worried and asked me what happened. I said I crashed my bike, so then she just rolled her eyes and told me for the thousandth time to be more careful.

When I saw David again the next day, he didn’t say anything about it, so I guess Kenny didn’t tell him what happened. The really weird thing was, about two weeks later when I went over to David’s house to ask him if he wanted to ride bikes with me in the woods, Kenny answered the door, and he acted like everything was A-okay. If anything, he was even nicer and more polite than usual. I don’t know why, but that freaked me out more than anything else he could have done, actually. Now I don’t know what to think.

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Courtney Ball

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