The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 7
Picking Your Battles
by Greg Wright
Salty sweat rolled down Daniel's forehead, into his eyes, causing them to burn. He impatiently stood in line behind Bobby, along with the other kids, in the hall beside the water fountain. It was hot that day, even for northern Florida, but the boys had wanted to play soccer, anyway. Now, they were tired and desired nothing more than a cool drink. Bobby was next in line at the fountain.
Suddenly, Reggie burst into line ahead of him, practically pushing Bobby out of the way. He drank sloppily, like a pig. Then, when we he was done, he spat into the water fountain and turned abruptly to face Bobby, as if to say, what are you going to do about it. But, Reggie didn't say anything; he only glared.
Bobby ignored him, and redirected the water with his hand in order to wash the spit down the drain. Then, he calmly took a drink.
Daniel burned with rage as he thought, "Why did Bobby let Reggie get away with this? How could he ignore such a flagrant insult and indignity, especially when everyone knew that Bobby was stronger than Reggie." So, he sulked for the rest of the afternoon.
"Why didnít you hit him?" Daniel asked Bobby after school was dismissed.
"Daniel, do you know what happens if you get caught fighting?"
"I guess you get sent to the principal's office," Daniel replied.
"There's more," Bobby added. "The first time you get in a fight, you get expelled from school for a week. The second time, you get expelled for two weeks. After the third time, you get expelled for the rest of the year."
"What if you didn't start it?" Daniel asked.
"That doesn't matter, here. The principal doesn't care who started it. You get the same treatment, unless you don't hit back. If you don't hit back, you don't get expelled."
"You're not allowed to defend yourself; that's not fair!"
"No, these kinds of rules aren't designed to be fair. Their sole purpose is to keep order and discourage fighting."
"So, is that why you didn't flatten Reggie when he broke in line?"
"That's part of the reason. I can't afford to get expelled from school. The teachers have to give you an F for any schoolwork that you miss, even if they're sympathetic. My grades aren't as high as yours are, but I do okay. Someday I hope to go to college. So, I don't want to have bad grades."
"I guess you took a big risk the day you rescued me from Ross."
"Yes, I guess so. But, at that point, your safety was more important to me than my grades. Plus, Ross had already started on you by pushing you into your desk. In God's providence, I didn't get caught fighting."
"Well, I guess I never told you, but I really appreciate what you did."
"I would do it again," Bobby smiled, "because it was worth it. It was the right thing to do."
"That's the secret," Bobby continued, "you have to pick your battles. I will risk being expelled to save a new kid from being bullied. And, I will risk being expelled in order to defend myself, if there is no other reasonable way out. But I won't risk being expelled over a place in line at the water fountain."
"But it looked so bad in front of the other kids," Daniel commented. "Weren't you embarrassed? It made you look weak when you didn't put Reggie in his place."
"Actually, I showed myself strong. Daniel, there are two kinds of muscles, physical and spiritual. God has blessed me by making me physically big and strong. But I desire to have big spiritual muscles."
"What do you do for that, some kind of New Age, Eastern meditation."
"No, not at all. I take the teachings in the Bible and by faith, work them into my life. Each time I do what is right, my spiritual muscles get bigger. For each time I obey, it's easier for me to obey the next time."
"Does the Bible talk about fighting?"
"Oh yes, the Bible has a lot to say about fighting. For example, in Proverbs 16:2, it says 'Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.'"
"I control my temper, but it's so I won't get the stuffing beat out of me."
Bobby laughed. "The Bible also says, in Proverbs 12:16, 'a fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.' Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. A lot of things just blow over if you don't hang on to them, if you don't respond 'tit for tat'. I'm not going to get into a fight over name calling, pushing, insults, and excessively rough play. Hebrews 12:14 says to make every effort to live in peace with all men."
"Okay, I guess you know your Bible pretty well. But what about when we got ambushed walking home from school, last week. We both got pretty beaten up.
"We had to defend ourselves; we had no choice. In cases like that, I look at Psalm 18:34, 'He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.' I have no qualms about asking God to make me strong enough to take care of business in those situations."
Suddenly, Daniel and Bobby turned around.
"Hey weirdoes, get out of the way."
Reggie raced down the wooded patch, on his mountain bike, towards Daniel and Bobby. Daniel and Bobby moved aside in time to avoid him, but the bike went right through the middle of a large puddle, sending mud and water spraying all the way up to their faces.
Then, Reggie laughed wickedly as he turned the bike to go down a trail, off the path, to jump a ramp he had built over a creek.
"So what about this," Daniel yelled at Bobby, "are you going to grow some more of those spiritual muscles."
Bobby was disgusted. Muddy water covered his favorite shirt, the drag racing shirt he had bought at the FRAM races in Commerce, Georgia.
Suddenly, they both heard a crash, followed by intense cries of pain.
"Sounds like the jerk wrecked; it serves him right!" Daniel muttered.
Bobby listened. Suddenly he bolted. "Come on Daniel, we've got to get down there."
"What, are you crazy! So what if he's hurt; who cares!"
"We've got to get down there, now!" Bobby yelled. Then he ran towards the creek. Loudly protesting, Daniel reluctantly followed.
Neither boy was prepared for what they saw. Reggie lay on his back, writhing in pain. Broken glass and empty bottles surrounded the area. Glass had sliced across the inside of Reggie's upper right arm.
"Oh no, get out of here! Leave me alone!" Reggie yelled.
"Let's go!" Daniel pleaded.
Bobby walked towards Reggie and tried to calm him down. "Relax, I'll help you if I can. It looks like the rain washed part of the ramp away."
Reggie was surprised to be treated gently by a boy he considered his enemy. "It hurts to move." He complained.
Bobby took off his shirt, turned it inside out (now the least muddy side), rolled it up and applied pressure to the gash in Reggie's right arm. "Let's get this bleeding stopped," Bobby suggested.
But, the shirt quickly filled with blood. Then Bobby noticed something funny about the bleeding; it didn't flow, it spurted. It seemed to shoot in intervals like a heart beat.
"Daniel," Bobby yelled, "run up the hill and flag down a car. Get someone with a cell phone, and ask him to call for an ambulance. I think he's cut an artery."
Daniel raced up the hill and began waving his arms to the cars going by.
Reggie began to turn pale. "Cut an artery, what does that mean. Am I going to die."
"Not if I can help it;" Bobby responded, "I know what to do for this. We need to stop your bleeding at a pressure point. I'm going to have to press your brachial artery against the bone. It's not going to feel good, but it won't be excruciating pain, either."
It wasn't easy to find the artery. But, Bobby finally found a spot where he could make the blood quit spurting, although the wound still bled heavily. He applied pressure just under the armpit, on the inside of the arm, right at the groove between the triceps and biceps.
"Iím forgetting something," Bobby thought to himself. Then remembering, he elevated Reggieís arm so that it was above his heart. This used gravity to further reduce the bleeding.
Bobby heard a car door slam, and to his relief, Daniel ran down the hill with Mrs. Randall, one of Bobby's neighbors. An ambulance is on the way," She said.
"Daniel, run back up the hill and stay there, so the ambulance will know where to find us," Bobby yelled.
"Mrs. Randall, " Bobby continued, "would you hold this bandage in place. I know itís really bloody, but itís hard to put pressure on a bandage and hold a pressure point at the same time."
"Sure," Mrs. Randall responded looking at Reggie, "youíre going to be okay fellow; help is on the way."
Daniel ran back up the hill. When he saw the ambulance, he waved his arms. One of the attendants jumped out, and Daniel led him to Reggie. Reggie was barely conscious. The attendants stabilized Reggie's bleeding by piling more gauze around Bobbyís shirt. Then, they took him to a hospital.
"Do you think he'll be all right?" Bobby asked Mrs. Randall.
"I think he'll be fine," Mrs. Randall answered. "I'm proud of you guys. The EMTs said that if you had not known to use pressure points to stop bleeding, the kid might have died."
"He might have died." The condemning words rang through Daniel's head. His stomach felt sick as he realized, that if he and Bobby had ignored Reggie and left him there, like he wanted to do, he would have shared responsibility for Reggieís death. "Thank goodness Bobby didnít listen to me," He sighed.
"Would you guys like a ride home?" Mrs. Randall asked, after cleaning the blood off her hands in the creek.
"No thanks," Bobby answered. "I have to take my bike home."
"What bike, you didnít bring a bike!" Daniel exclaimed.
"This one," Bobby answered shaking his head, "this is my bike; it was stolen from me last year."