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The Bully Buster
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TJ has a problem. How can he stop the school bully, Terrible Timbo, from calling him names and ripping off his snack every day? TJ needs to come up with a bully buster, a plan to save his chocolate chip cookies and shut Timbo up for good!
"What the heck?" Mason mumbled as the bus rumbled to the next stop.
The kid climbing on should be his best friend; Mason squinted to get a better look.
"TJ, is that you?" Mason asked as the kid in the trench coat slumped down next to him.
"Yes, it's me!" TJ whispered.
He pushed up his sunglasses, tugged down the brim of his bucket hat.
"Ah...what's with the outfit?" Mason asked as the bus rumbled along.
TJ peeked over the top of his sunglasses and glanced around.
"I'm hiding from Terrible Timbo; I'm sick of him calling me Freaky Freckles.
Also, he rips off my snack every day."
Mason nodded. "I hear you, I'm glad I don't have freckles, and no one ever wants my carrot sticks, but it's the only snack my mother packs lately. I can't even make a decent trade with carrot sticks! I'd kill for a cookie." Mason sighed.
"Mason, do you think he'll recognize me?"
Mason frowned. "Hate to tell you, but I think our entire fourth grade class knows it's you under there."
When Timbo stomped over, TJ stared at the floor.
"Hey Freaky Freckles!" Timbo towered over him.
"Where did you get that funky hat? The bozo glasses are a nice touch too." he added.
Reaching into TJ's backpack he said "Chocolate chip cookies! Yum!"
He tore open the brown paper baggie and pulled out a cookie.
"See you tomorrow Freckles!" he shouted through his stuffed mouth.
After school TJ walked into his house and frowned.
"Why is it so dark in here?" he muttered.
On the way to the kitchen he tossed his hat and coat onto a chair.
"He wouldn't need them anymore." he sighed.
What he did need was a better plan, an awesome bully buster.
Maybe a snack would buff up his brain.
He was heading to the kitchen when he slammed into the coffee table. "Ouch!"
"TJ!" his sister shrieked. "You're such a klutz! Why don't you watch where you're going, and look at what you did to my puzzle!" Emily cried, as pieces were scattered across the carpet.
"Well, duh, Emily! Why don't you turn on the light? It's so dark I can hardly see where I'm going!" TJ squinted.
"Well genius, maybe if you weren't wearing sunglasses!" Emily snapped.
TJ did a mental head slap and pulled off the glasses.
"Right, I forgot I had them on." he muttered, glancing at the wrecked puzzle.
"I really am sorry for being a klutz Emily."
"Well, okay I guess," Emily softened, "Just watch where you're going in future."
TJ pushed through the kitchen door.
"Hey Dad," he greeted his father.
Dad was perched on a stool with his elbows propped on the counter, squinting at his laptop.
Dad's favourite hobby was Chess; he played with an online opponent almost every day.
Dad nodded toward the living room. "What was all the yelling about?"
"I'm a clumsy blockhead." TJ reached into the cabinet. "I walked into Emily's puzzle, it was an accident, but I kinda trashed it."
"And she stopped yelling at you already?"
"Yea," TJ grabbed the cookies. "She dissed me, called me a klutz. I agreed with her then I apologized."
"Clever plan." Dad praised. "A very strategic move on your part. You won the war!"
TJ paused, the cookie halfway to his mouth. "The war?"
Dad nodded. "The word war Emily started when she insulted you. Great strategy! Being strategic is forming a plan to disarm the enemy," Dad clarified. "That's how wars are won, or chess games for that matter." he tapped his monitor.
TJ frowned. "Ah...exactly how was I strategic?"
"When you agreed that you were a klutz." Dad glanced up. "It's hard to insult someone when they're agreeing with you, and if you're not insulted, what's the point?
It's like any competition." Dad added, pointing at his laptop.
"To win, you need to confuse and unnerve your opponent, understand how he plans to destroy you; and turn the tables on him. The secret to winning is easy.
Stay a step ahead of your opponent and always be nice."
"Nice?" TJ frowned.
Dad nodded. "Nice confuses them; especially the mean ones. Mean doesn't know how to handle nice."
Dad focused again on his computer screen.
"This guy thinks he can trap my queen! Well, that's not gonna happen, smart guy!"
Dad prepared to make his next move.
TJ nibbled his cookie as Dad's words echoed in his head.
Suddenly he grinned; maybe he had a bully buster after all!
The next day TJ climbed on the bus and sat next to Mason.
When Timbo stomped over, TJ looked up. "Hey Timbo, how's it going?"
"Hey Freaky Freckles!" Timbo dissed.
"Yea, I sure got freckles," TJ agreed. "Twenty-two to be exact."
"What a moron!" Timbo hooted. "Only a moron would count his freckles!"
TJ shrugged. "Well, opinions vary, like we learned in social studies, thanks to the First Amendment, in America you are free to voice yours."
"Huh?" Timbo scratched his head. "What the heck are you talking about?"
TJ shrugged. "You were probably absent that day."
"He means it's a free country," Mason supplied. "You can say what you want."
"That's exactly correct," TJ agreed, jiggling a baggie.
"So Timbo, how about some cookies? I got chocolate chunk today!"
"Hey!" Timbo scowled. "I didn't ask for any cookies."
TJ shrugged. "I just thought I'd hurry things along. I mean since you always need my cookies I figure you must have a good reason for ripping me off every day, right?
Like maybe you're financially challenged."
"Fi—what?" Timbo stammered.
"Poor," Mason supplied. "Like maybe you can't afford to buy your own."
"I ain't poor and I sure don't need your nasty cookies!" Timbo roared.
"They've probably got cootie bugs anyway!"
TJ lifted the baggie, and pretended to examine the cookies.
"Huh. I don't think they have cooties, what exactly do cooties look like?" he glanced up at Timbo.
Timbo shook his head. "TJ, you're one weird dude, you know that!"
As Timbo stomped away Mason grinned, "Looks like you're not Freaky Freckles anymore. Now you're just One Weird Dude."
TJ nodded. "I can live with that."
As the school bus rumbled along, he jiggled the baggie at Mason.
"So, want to trade a carrot stick for a chocolate chunk cookie?"
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