Tommy Ashburn was the kind of kid that other kids loved to pick on. It was easy because he was what his mother lovingly referred to as “chunky.” He also wore glasses and always had a respirator in his hand. Even worse, his name rhymed with Ass Burn, which made him the perfect target for the simple-minded and dysfunctional.
That was until he met Virgil, who lived in the beat-up old lunch pail Tommy carried with him everywhere he went. Virgil had originally lived in the haunted house on Willow Drive, until a group of bullies locked Tommy in the old house, thinking the monster that lived inside would eat him, or at least make him piss his pants, which would have been hilarious.
Instead, Virgil befriended Tommy and gave him the lunch pail. After that, the bullies who had locked Tommy in the haunted house were undone. The other bullies who had tormented Tommy were also undone. As were a few teachers, including Coach Willis who had it coming, if the others really didn’t.
Tommy wasn’t a victim anymore. He became respected. Then feared. Then fearful, himself. He would try many times over the years to rid himself of Virgil and the lunch pail. He couldn’t have known, when he was 12-years-old, that Virgil was a friend for life.
Or until Tommy came undone. Whichever came first.