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June 10, 2000
Sixth grade had finally ended for Leo and Harmony. It had been a rough year, but they had gotten through it together. Leo still thought the world of the Harrisons, but Harmony was getting older and they had begun to worry about the amount of time the two spent together. Leo tried to assure them that he would never do anything to hurt Harmony and Harmony would become angry with them when they suggested the two take a break from each other. In the end, the Harrisons had to back off because life with Harmony was unbearable when Leo wasn’t allowed to come over.
Life at the group home had also become increasingly difficult for Leo. He had not told Harmony about the problems he was having, because he didn’t like to see her unhappy but it would have been nice to have someone to talk to.
The other boys at the group home were getting increasingly rough and harder to keep at bay. They teased Leo constantly and on a few occasions had gotten physical. Leo still spent as much time as he could with Harmony and the Harrisons to stay out of the house, but that seemed to envolk a certain amount of jealously and animosity toward him.
The boys would go through Leo’s few belongings when he was out of the house and help themselves to anything they wanted. They would make rude and disrespectful remarks about their attraction to Harmony and the things they could teach her and what they would do to her if they had the chance.
Leo didn’t care about the boys picking on him or going through his things. He had proven time and time again that he could and would fight to defend himself if the need arose. He still kept a box of belongings at the Harrison’s house so there was nothing in the group home that mattered to him. He didn’t care if the boys took everything they found there. They were welcome to it.
The only thing Leo would not put up with was anyone disrespecting Harmony. No one knew better than him that she was a beautiful girl and so he worried that one day the older boys would make good on their threats to get her alone. He had gotten into more than one fight because of something he heard one of the boys saying about Harmony. He had easily won each of those fights, but it didn’t deter new boys who joined the home from testing him.
Norman had been placed in Leo’s group home a month ago. He was fifteen, three years older than Leo, and had experienced several run ins with the police since his arrival. He had targeted Leo from the moment he saw him walking hand in hand with Harmony. Leo had never mentioned the boy or the rude things he said about Harmony.
Leo was sitting in the common room waiting for the weekly group meeting to be over so that he could go spend the day with Harmony when Norman hit him on the back of the head. “Stop, man!” Leo said.
“You going to spend the day with that pretty little piece of yours?” Norman taunted.
“Shut up” Leo said as he tried to remain calm.
“What’s that girl doing wasting her time with you? She needs a real man. Girl like that, I could teach her some things.”
Leo ground his teeth and pinched his lips together in an attempt to remain calm. His hands automatically balled into fists and he began rocking back and forth in his seat.
Norman leaned in close to Leo’s ear and almost whispered, “I’ll take that girl and ruin her for other men. I’ll make sure that I’m her first and her last if you know what I mean.”
Leo couldn’t control himself any longer. He knew Norman had age, experience and weight on his side, but he wasn’t going to let anyone say those things about Harmony. Leo jumped up, knocking his chair over backwards as he flew into the air toward Norman. The other boys scattered and shouted in excitement as they watched the fight begin.
Leo had knocked Norman to the ground and was punching him in the face with all the force he had when he felt something crash into the back of his head. Somehow, Norman had managed to get hold of a lamp that had been knocked to the floor as a result of the fight and he used it to hit Leo. Leo was knocked off of Norman and he heard the other boys laughing as Norman stood and kicked him in the ribs.
Leo felt the pain as he rolled away in time to avoid a second kick. He managed to grab Norman’s leg, causing him to fall to the ground again. Leo pulled himself up and brought Norman with him. The two struggled as the other boys continued to yell and circle them making it hard for the counselors to get in and break up the fight.
Leo and Norman were locked arm in arm in a struggle with neither boy able to get an advantage. Leo felt someone push him from behind and lost his balance causing him to stumble forward. Norman took advantage of this and stepped to the side as he pushed Leo adding to his forward fall. Leo was unable to to recover his balance and fell into a mirror breaking it with the side of his head. He was stunned for a moment. Norman was breathing heavy and the boys who were watching cheered even louder.
Leo regained his composure and turned to face Norman. There was blood on the side of Leo’s face and head. He held his shoulders back and his body was tense. Norman watched him with a sneer on his face. Suddenly, the boys who had been cheering the fight on grew quiet and Leo returned Norman’s sneer.
Leo was standing still one moment and the next he was moving toward Norman with lightening speed. It wasn’t until Norman was on the floor with Leo on top of him that he saw the jagged glass from the broken mirror in Leo’s hand. Norman heard the screams before he felt the cutting pain on his arms, chest, neck and face. It wasn’t until right before he passed out that Norman realized he was the one screaming.