The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Stories
Uncle Pringle and the Bully
It had been a pleasant afternoon, up to that point. It was a warm autumn day and we were having cold drinks on the patio, my wife Ellen, Ellen’s Uncle Pringle, our four-year old daughter Stephanie, who was sitting on Uncle Pringle’s lap intent on her coloring book, and myself.
I should mention that I’m a sci-fi writer and Uncle Pringle had just asked me about my next book and I’d told him I had no idea yet. We heard the front door, our 10-year old son David coming home from school, and Ellen called out, “We’re on the patio, dear. Your Uncle Pringle is visiting.
Ellen’s Uncle Pringle was a small white-haired man who bore an uncanny resemblance to the old English actor Claude Rains, whose first name he shared. He’d worked in several governmental agencies although just what these were we never found out and was now a consultant, although what he consulted about was also a mystery. One thing for sure was that everything Uncle Pringle did was top secret. Also, he had contacts everywhere. Over the years, he’d helped us and a number of our friends in difficult circumstances and had always found a way to handle them.
David appeared and said hello to Uncle Pringle. He had a nasty bruise on one side of his face and the beginnings of a black eye. “What happened?” exclaimed Ellen. “Did you get into a fight?”
“Well, kind of.”
“What do you mean?”
“It was that big kid, Junior Mancuso. He’s a sixth-grader and a bully. He makes the smaller kids give him their lunch money.”
“But you take your lunch.”
“Right. Actually, it was my friend Barry. Junior was picking on him and I kind of tried to help him. I guess I should have kept my nose out of it.”
“Loyalty to friends is a valuable attribute,” said Uncle Pringle. “Did you get in the first punch?”
“Well, no, I never got a chance to. I tried to talk to Junior and, well, he hit me and shoved me to the ground.”
“Hmmm,” said Uncle Pringle. From previous experience, I knew that Uncle Pringle was a great believer in getting in the first blow.
“You say this kid Junior is the schoolyard bully,” I put in. “Has anyone tried to talk to his parents?”
David laughed. “Oh, sure. His father is this big tough guy. I think he belongs to the Mafia.”
“Really?” said Uncle Pringle. “And his last name is Mancuso. Do you know his first name?”
“How about talking to your teacher?” I asked.
David laughed again. “Yeah, that’s all I need. Then everyone in school will know I’m a squealer.”
“The code of the schoolyard,” said Uncle Pringle. “And bullies like Junior take advantage of it. But I think I may be of assistance in this matter. I have a friend I’d like you to meet.”
At this point, Uncle Pringle’s cell phone rang. “Yes. Oh, hello, Madame Secretary.” Uncle Pringle listened for a few minutes, then said, “I agree. It’s a matter that has to be taken seriously. No, no boots on the ground; everyone agrees on that. Yes, I’ll be there on Monday.” Uncle Pringle hung up. “If I hear that phrase ‘no boots on the ground’ once more I think I’ll throw up. I shall be busy next week, but the following week I’ll be here with my friend. In the meantime, David, try to avoid contact with this Junior person. If you can’t, hold your arm like this and strike him in the face with your elbow. It’s surprising what a little bloody nose will do to a bully.”
“Yes,” put in Stephanie. “Give that bad boy a bloody nose.”
The week after next Uncle Pringle visited again, bringing with him a young Asian man he introduced as Kwan. Kwan was only of medium size but looked fit. Uncle Pringle said, “Kwan is a master of Tai Phen Hang.”
“What’s that?” asked David.
“It’s an ancient form of martial arts, even more effective than judo. It’s good to know when confronted with a larger opponent. Why don’t you go out back with Kwan and he’ll show you the basic moves.”
“Sure,” said David.
When they’d gone, I asked, “Do you think this Tai Phen whatever will really work against this kid Junior. He is in sixth grade.”
“We shall see,” said Uncle Pringle. “In any case, it will give David confidence and that is a valuable thing to have in any circumstance.”
We didn’t have long to see the consequences of David’s training. The next week Uncle Pringle was again visiting, to see about David and also, I suspect, to spend more time with Stephanie. In the afternoon David came home from school with his clothes mussed up and blood on his shirt. “Oh, honey,” cried Ellen. “What did that bully do to you?”
“Don’t worry, Ma. That’s not my blood; that’s Junior’s.”
“Then the Tai Phen Hang was effective?” said Uncle Pringle.
“I don’t know. I never had a chance to find out. Junior was picking on Barry again. I did what you said, Uncle Pringle. I tapped him on the back and when he turned I smashed him in the face with my elbow. His nose began to bleed all over the place. Then one of the teachers came over. I’m afraid I’m going to have to see the principal tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry about that,” I said. “We’ll take care of it.”
“I’m glad you hit that bad boy,” said Stephanie.
There was a loud knock at the door. Ellen went to see who it was. We heard loud voices, then Ellen said, “You’d better come in.” A big pudgy boy entered, followed by a large angry pudgy man.
The large angry pudgy man looked me and said, “Your kid gave my boy a bloody nose. What are you going to do about it? Or do I have to give you a bloody nose?”
I started to answer when Uncle Pringle spoke. “Hello, Frankie,” he said.
The large man looked at Uncle Pringle and gasped. “Is that you, Pringle?”
“Yes, it is, Frankie.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m part of the family.”
“He’s my uncle,” said Stephanie.
“Jeez.” Frankie turned to his son. “You were fighting with a kid from Pringle’s family? Are you crazy?”
“He gave me a bloody nose.”
“You probably deserved it.” He turned toward Uncle Pringle. “Are you investigating for, I don’t know, that secret outfit? I’m clean. I swear it.”
“I hope so, Frankie. But you’ll have to do something about your son. He’s following in your family’s tradition, extorting money from smaller boys.”
“I’ll take care of that. Wait’ll I get him home.”
“You’ll talk to him, explain why that’s wrong.”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. You’re sure you’re not looking into organized crime or anything?”
“Not at the moment, but I can in the future.”
“Like I said, I’m clean.”
“That I’ll have someone look into.”
“Okay, okay. Junior, say you’re sorry to these people.”
“But I’m the one who got hit.”
“All right. I’m sorry.”
“I’m sure we’ll hear no more reports of bullying then,” said Uncle Pringle.
“No, we’re good. Let’s go, Junior.”
After they’d gone, Stephanie said, “He’s a bad man.”
“Yes, he is,” said Uncle Pringle.
“I gather you’ve crossed paths with Frankie Mancuso before,” I said.
“Not directly. He’s a bad man but a small fish. At any rate, I don’t think you’ll have any more trouble with either junior or senior Mancuso any more.”
“Thanks, Uncle Pringle,” said David.
“It’s a beautiful day,” said Uncle Pringle. “Why don’t we have drinks on the patio?”
We were all seated and Stephanie was as usual perched on Uncle Pringle’s lap when his cell phone rang. “Yes, Madame Secretary,” he said. But that’s another story.
© Martin Green November 2014