Trigger Warning: This story contains offensive language, misgendering, and descriptions of anti-LGBT violence.
I had trouble understanding the third look. The first look was easy. It came shortly after Stan blocked his path.
It all started when Mitts saw the guy coming round the corner. The guy was weird. Had long silky hair, like he was a girl. Had a chest too. Wearing a bright pink scarf and hoop earrings, and from all that you’d think he was a she, but if you looked at his face, you could tell he was man. Don’t know how, but something about that face was obviously male.
“Hey, look at the faggot,” Mitts said, as if we could look anywhere else. He took a few steps toward the guy, and the rest of us followed.
He spotted us and I could tell by that first look what he was thinking. He was afraid. Not terrified, but a bit nervous. But he was already coming our way and didn’t want to show us he was afraid, so he had to keep walking.
As he drew closer, Mitts was ahead of us, with Stan at his side. Stan is short for some long Polish name, but no one tries to pronounce it. We all just call him Stan. He’s bigger than the rest of us, a good six three, naturally hulking. It wouldn’t occur to Stan to visit a gym. He already has everything he needs on that large frame.
As the faggot approached the four of us, Stan deliberately placed himself in his direct path. Mitts moved so he was a step ahead of Stan and closer to the street. Shakes and and I knew what Mitts was up to, so we moved shoulder-to-shoulder to Mitts’ right so we effectively walled the faggot off from going around Stan on that side. He would either have to go all the way around us into the street, or try to pass the narrow area between Stan and the building.
Mitts grinned when he saw the uncertainty in the guy’s face. What to do? Ask Stan to kindly step out of the way? Or try to get by him?
He opted to pass between Stan and the building. Stan wasn’t going to let him by. As he brushed past Stan, Stan pivoted toward him and shoved him against the side of the building. Mitt’s moved around to Stan’s right, now, so the guy couldn’t go back the way he came, and Shakes and I stood on the other side of Stan, cutting off his only escape. We were going to have some fun.
Things started moving fast once Stan shoved him against the wall. I don’t know how the guy moved so fast, but suddenly he was behind Stan, and instead of being shoved, he was using Stan’s weight and balance to smash his face against the bricks. There was a sickening smacking sound and Stan was on his knees, holding his bloody face in his hands. I had only a second to register the dark red liquid flowing over Stan’s fingers and wonder what sort of scars Stan would have, before I saw the faggot’s second look.
I had a momentary feeling of elation. The look reminded me of the one on a skinny kid that Shakes had pushed down on the playground about ten years ago when it was just him and me in grade school, and we hadn’t yet met Mitts, and Stan probably wasn’t even in the country yet. The kid had gotten furious as he’d windmilled his arms, trying in vain to punch Shakes, even though he was way too skinny to ever hurt him, and it gave us both a sort of high knowing we could arouse that sort of reaction.
In this case, though the elation was short-lived, because the fury was fixed straight at me. I don’t know why he was focusing on me, because it was Mitt’s idea to hassle him and Stan was the one who shoved him, and I’d really done nothing at all, but I knew just a second or two before he moved, that he was coming after me. I really didn’t think. My instincts took over, and I turned and ran.
It was a good thing, too, because the guy had taken off after me, though luckily I had a couple seconds head start. After about a half block I looked over my shoulder, expecting to see him giving up, but the creep was gaining on me! He was wickedly fast, and I willed my legs to go faster, pumping into a full on sprint.
Even if Mitts or Shakes was going to try to help me, which I doubted, there’s no way they were going to catch us, because I was faster than any of them, and this guy was catching up to me. Either his rage gave him some superhuman speed, or the guy was mad fit, because there was no way for me to put distance between him and me. I picked up a few yards by suddenly turning down High Street when I got to the corner, but halfway down the block I looked back and he’d already picked up all the distance I’d gained and then some.
I pumped my legs even harder, so hard that I was beginning to feel the burn in my chest, but I couldn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t know what the guy would do when he caught me, but I didn’t even let my imagination go there. Anyone who could deck Stan with such ease, would find no match in me.
As I gasped for air, the thought struck me what a bunch of stupid kids we were to think it would have been easy to push the faggot around. I guess just because the guy wears girl’s clothes, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to fight. Maybe it’s even more likely, since a guy like that, he’s probably got to defend himself a lot.
I could hear his footsteps behind me now and hear his breath, and he didn’t sound in the least bit winded. He obviously had a lot more in his tank than I did, and I had to do something or he was going to grab me.
There was a car coming the other way down the next block, and I quickly sliced across the street passing just in front of it. The guy had to slow down and wait for it to pass, because he obviously didn’t want to get hit, while I kept running at full speed.
That gave me about a half block on him, though I was gulping air eagerly into my lungs, and it was not clear how much longer I could go. I realized I’d now come to the corner of Linden, which is my street.
I made a sudden cut down Linden trying to sustain another burst of speed. I looked behind me, though, and the guy was gaining on me again. Once again, I cut across the street, this time in front of a delivery van, whose screeching brakes pierced the street. I lived a few blocks further.
Once again he had fallen back, but was in a full-on sprint now too, and I wasn’t going to stay ahead of him for long. I worked my protesting thighs into one last burst of speed, hoping at least to keep the same distance between him and me.
My keys were in my hand now – I must have yanked them out of my pocket without thinking. But would I be able to get both the locks on my front door open before the guy caught me? As I came onto my block, I realize it wouldn’t work. He’d track me down long before I got the first lock open.
Instead, when I came up to the door, I pounded on it hard and called out for help. Mom ought to be home. I turned to face the faggot as he came for me, and I tried to stare him down. Just as he came to my front step, I cut sharply to my right, going back across the sidewalk into the street.
I was hoping he’d come for me again and I could elude him again in a similar fashion. He didn’t. He just stared at me, his back to my door, trying to decide what to do next. The standoff lasted a few seconds.
Luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic on our street at that time in the afternoon, or I would have had to move, but as it was, while he was deciding what to do, my front door flung open and my mother’s stocky frame appeared in the doorway.
The guy moved so he could see both of us in his peripheral vision. My mother took in the scene quickly.
“You!” she called loudly to him. “You and your kind will all go to hell! You leave the children alone!”
That’s when he gave me the third look. It puzzled me, because I couldn’t immediately tell what he was thinking. I tried to read his face but it just wouldn’t come to me. What I did know that the look gave me a mysterious sickening feeling that I couldn’t explain, but couldn’t put aside.
He looked back toward my mother who was staring at him about as meanly as a person could. He shot one more glance my way, before he walked resolutely back in the direction he came.
“Did you see that,” my mother declared, triumphant. “I gave him the Evil Eye and I sent him away. Always works with servants of the devil. They can’t abide the Evil Eye.”
I followed her back in the house. My body was still eagerly drinking air into my thirsty lungs, but my mind was working on deciphering that last look.
It was only long after that I figured out the feeling behind it.
It was pity.