One Good Man
Ronnie loved to admire the paintings, images and stained-glass windows that decorated the nave, the altar, and the aisles at church. His grandmother would take him every Sunday and instead of paying attention to the priest or the liturgy, Ronnie’s eyes would wander over every saint and every niche. The homily often went over his head, and as long as Ronnie sat still and quiet, Grandma didn’t much care if he listened. His appreciation of art pleased her.
Ronnie’s favorite stained-glass window depicted Saint George and the Dragon and Grandma always sat across it so that Ronnie could enjoy it. They had once sat beneath it, but Ronnie later told her it was too difficult to look at from that spot. On sunny days, the light shone through that window in a burst of color: green dragon, gray armor, white horse, red blood, blue sky; the colors tickled Ronnie’s eyes and drew his mind to them. On those Sundays Ronnie would daydream, imagining he was the great knight fighting the dragon.
“You know the dragon represents The Devil, right?” Grandma said when Mass concluded.
“Yes,” Ronnie said.
“Have you ever heard someone say ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing’?”
Ronnie shook his head.
“Well, I can’t remember who said it, and I think people have misquoted it many times anyway, but when I see that window of Saint George, I remember that quote. I think it’s what the story means. It was only necessary was for one good man to slay the evil dragon. Don’t forget that Ronnie, I’ve always thought there’s a Saint George in all of us, and we all have the strength and the will to fight evil, we just need to look inside ourselves.”
Ronnie let the words sink in and nodded.
The next day, during recess, Ronnie heard a commotion coming from the swings. Freddy Kruger, the school bully was holding Marty Martens by the shirt collar. Marty was meek, chubby and wore thick glasses that made him look bug-eyed. Freddy raised his fist and Marty fell down with a thud.
Ronnie remembered Grandma’s words and the image of the stained-glass window flashed in his mind. Freddy’s green shirt reminded him of dragon scales and his own dark gray Batman sweatshirt felt like armor. He pulled on the hood with the bat ears; it sat low on his forehead, like a cowl.
Ronnie ran to the swings and pushed Freddy catching him by surprise so he didn’t have time to put his hands out. Freddy looked up from the ground with a bleeding lip.
“Leave him alone!” Ronnie yelled. The sun was behind him and all Freddy Kruger could see was the Batman silhouette.
Freddy hated Batman and thought DC Comics were dumb.
“Make me!” Freddy stood up in a flash and hit Ronnie.
Ronnie, dazed and scared, he would not stand down. Freddy sometimes bullied him too. If he wasn’t going after Marty, he bullied Sarah or Mike or Ronnie, and Ronnie was fed up.
“Good people only have to do something,” he thought. He stood up and wiped the blood from his nose.
“You wanna hit me again, you go ahead!” He stared Freddy down, “I’m not scared of you!”
A crowd of kids had gathered.
“Yeah, and if you hit him again, you’ll deal with me!” Mike stepped next to Ronnie.
“And me!” Marty’s timid voice rang out loud and clear over the schoolyard for the first time. He too stood by Ronnie, defiant.
“Me too!” Sarah shouted.
One by one kids huddled around Ronnie, Mike, Marty, and Sarah. They faced Freddy Kruger, the school bully. Freddy looked from one scowl to another, turned on his heel and ran towards the building.
At the door he paused, turned to the crowd and yelled, “I’ll get you for this! You’ll see!”
Ronnie snickered, “That’s what they all say!”
Everyone laughed and resumed their recess play until the bell rang.
Miss Georgios, the third grade teacher and recess monitor, stood cross-armed watching over the schoolyard and smiled to herself. She too was sick of Freddy Kruger’s bullying — every day she reprimanded and scolded him — but there was only so much she could do. Freddy’s parents weren’t affable and they’d make a big stink once they found out Ronnie pushed their “precious angel”, but Miss Georgios would defend Ronnie.