He is aware of the stares. Some smile defiantly but most show envy with eyes wide open. Veins snake up his neck and pound at his temples as he grits teeth, bobs, weaves and hammers his make-believe assailant, a gust of air whistling from his nostrils with every blow.
Snap Snap, Crack!
Samuel ignores fellow trainees. He is not here to showcase his skills but to hone them. He wasn't always like this, stuck in his private world, but that was before the break-in.
Snap! Three hooded men burst through their door.Samuel is pinned to the wall and John is lying on the bed when his assailant straddles him.
Snap! John's cries are frightened whimpers as he attempts to block the thrusts of a long screwdriver.
Crack! John screams as the weapon pierces his body. The screwdriver turns dark. His yells turn to feeble pleas, then silence.
"Now it's your turn, faggot." The man with the screwdriver moves toward Samuel, his florescent-white teeth shining through a slit in his balaclava.
Snap Snap, Crack!
The punching bag slows to a stop. Samuel removes his gloves and sweatshirt and with his fingers, he traces the wounds that adorn his abdomen. He resumes a light bounce then executes roundhouse kicks, causing the bag to bend in half. With each kick he yells. At first they are sharp, high-pitched yelps, then they turn to longer, menacing growls.
It is dusk when Samuel strolls through the park. He visits this place every evening. His gait is nonchalant and his pace slow as he watches. Two shadows approach from the bushes that straddle the pathway. The taller man tries to conceal a baseball bat. The other is short and stocky and his right hand is hidden in his leather jacket.
Samuel smells alcohol from under their hoods. "Are you a faggot, boy?" the shorter one says.
Samuel stops walking and tries not to smile. "Yes, I am."