Godzilla, a short story by Dawn DeBraal at Spillwords.com
Ralph Nas



written by: Dawn DeBraal


Brick Sullivan was aptly named because, in second grade, he towered over all of us. Tad Busser’s dad once said he was built bigger than a brick outhouse, only he didn’t use that word, and I’m not allowed to swear.

Sometimes, a kid is so different from the rest they are picked on. When Brick came back to school after the summer break, he had had another growth spurt and looked as if he should be a fifth grader. Because of his size and age, people thought he wasn’t smart, but Brick was brilliant, having the best math scores in the class. Some kids thought he was held back, which was why he was so big—but his birthday in early December resulted in him turning seven like the rest of us.

I always suspected he was stolen at birth, and his mother made up a birthday. That was another thing that most set Brick apart from us, his mom was divorced. In 1956, it wasn’t common, and people whispered this about her as if it were a dirty word. For some reason, Mrs. Sullivan didn’t have many friends either because she was raising Brick alone. I never knew the details, but she had a good job as a nurse and could buy the house next door to provide for her son.

My mother made me befriend Brick; he was a nice person for a freak of nature. I nicknamed him Godzilla, and he called me Little Squirt, and the names stuck. At first, our exchange of nicknames was lighthearted ribbing, but then some mean kids used it to taunt him with the handle, and I felt sorry I’d given him the nickname.

The school was dismissed for winter break. There were several of us on the cul-du-sac who sledded or skated on Walker’s Pond. A well-worn path continued where the sidewalk ended, leading us across a field to this magical body of water. Technically, we were trespassing on Mr. Walker’s property, but with such a draw as a pond where you could gig frogs in the summer, ice skate, or sled down Walker’s Hill, which we dubbed “Suicide Hill,” because it emptied into the water, we were grateful he put up with us. The neighborhood kids spent every opportunity on the weekends or after school doing something fun on his property. Mr. Walker was decent about it; he turned a blind eye to us unless there was a fight or something, and then he kicked us off his property. We’d be back the following day and were allowed to return as long as we behaved.

It seemed to take forever for the pond to freeze over, and when it finally did, we were shoveling snow off the ice, making a skating area. Tad Busser’s dad helped us by clearing a huge area of snow for us to skate every year. He was a good dad, even if he swore out loud.

“Hey Ricky, wanna go sledding? My grandma said it’s okay.” Godzilla asked me on the second day of winter break. I agreed to go with him after he said he would pull me over on the toboggan. There were some advantages to having a huge friend like that. Brick was as strong as he was tall. We crossed the yard with me sitting like a prince on the sled when Tad Busser, who was building a snowman, asked.

“Where are you guys going?”

“Suicide Hill,” I shouted.

“Wait!” Tad ran inside to tell his mom he was going sledding on Suicide Hill and then jumped on the sled behind me. Poor Brick now had two kids to pull. We mushed him like he was a sled dog and made it across the field when Brick said he wouldn’t pull us up the hill, that we had to take the sled up. Grudgingly, we did his bidding, and he followed behind us.

The snow was deep, and our legs broke through the crust, trying to blaze a trail. The temperature had been unusually warm the last few days. At the top of the hill, a breathless Tad got in front of the toboggan; I sat in the middle, straddling Tad with my legs. Brick ran behind the sled to the hill’s edge and jumped on just in time. We hit a track made by others that had iced over that night, and we flew down the hill screaming at the top of our lungs. The sled sailed over Busser’s snow pile, slamming us down on the ice, where we continued to sail across the frozen water.

When we came to a stop, we whooped and hollered. It was the longest run we’d ever had. Tad got off the sled, I followed, and then Brick turned it around to pull it back up the hill. We were not about to quit now that we’d broken the world record. That’s when we heard the ice cracking.

I turned in time to see Tad go through the ice. I was going to run to the hole, but Brick stopped me.

“Wait, you’ll go through the ice too.” His gloved hand wouldn’t let me move forward another step.

“Help!” Tad shouted, and Brick called to calm him.

“Tad, I’m coming to get you. Hang on. Ricky, I’m taking the toboggan out. Hang onto the rope.” Tad grabbed a solid chunk of ice but struggled to stay afloat because his wet clothes and water-filled boots weighed him down. I grabbed the sled, praying I could hold both friends. Brick sat on the sled and pushed himself slowly toward Tad. We heard more cracking. Brick shouted at me.

“Ricky, hold the toboggan with all your strength; I will slide off the sled and go for Tad. The ice can’t hold me and the sled all at once. Tad, grab my legs when I get out to you.” Brick slid off the toboggan hanging onto the back of the sled, stretched out over the ice toward the hole, while I anchored myself on what I hoped was solid ground by digging my heels into the snowbank.

Brick reached the hole, and Tad jumped on him, using him as a ladder, and climbed over him onto the sled. I didn’t have enough weight to pull Brick out of the ice once the toboggan sank into the slush, and I screamed at the top of my lungs.

“What’s going on out there!” Mr. Walker shouted from his porch.

“Help, Brick is in the water. Thin ice!” I shouted. Tad, who was shaking, jumped off the front of the sled, grabbing the rope with me. Together, we pulled with all our might, but Tad was so weak from the cold water that he could only add some weight, and I prayed the rope was secure. Mr. Walker came across the ice, grabbed the rope from me, and pulled with all his might. Slowly, Brick came out of the water.

“Brick!” I patted his cheeks. His lips were blue, and his body shook uncontrollably. Mr. Walker ran to the house, calling for an ambulance, coming back with blankets, wrapping one around Brick and the other around Tad. That’s when Mr. Busser came tearing across the field.

“Tad, are you alright?” Tad said he was. We waited for the ambulance. There was no one to go to the hospital with Brick. I ran home to tell my mom, following Mr. Busser, who carried Tad in his arms.

“Brick’s mom is working at the hospital,” Mom told me and called Mrs. Sullivan at work.

We sat up late that night, but no news came from Mrs. Sullivan. Mom made me go to bed feeling terrible; my friend could die, and I was responsible for nicknaming him Godzilla. How brave Brick was to risk his life for Tad, who wasn’t even that nice to him. Tad called me the next day.

“Do you think he’ll be alright?”

“He’s got to be. He risked his life for ours.” Tad agreed and promised never to make Brick feel bad again because he owed him his life. The newspaper got ahold of the story. They interviewed Brick’s mom, crying and asking for thoughts and prayers for her boy. The reporter told how brave Brick had been to help the boy who had fallen through the ice. They mentioned how clever he’d been because he pushed himself out on a toboggan and how Tad climbed over Brick to make it to safe ice, but the sled sank into the water, too. Mr. Walker was said to be a hero but wouldn’t answer the door to be interviewed.

Mrs. Sullivan didn’t come home for another day, choosing to stay at the hospital, and called Mom, asking her to bring a change of clothes. I got to go along when Mom packed a little overnight bag for her, and we went to the hospital. It was Christmas Eve. Carolers stood just inside the front door of the hospital, singing nostalgic songs; we went to the second floor and walked down the hall.

Mom tapped on the door jamb, and Mrs. Sullivan asked us to come in. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see. Brick looked tiny in that hospital bed. He had tubes and all kinds of equipment to monitor him.

“Oh, thank you!” Mrs. Sullivan hugged my mom and said hello to me.

“Is Brick going to be alright?” I asked his mother.

“We hope so, honey. Brick is very sick.” She turned to my mother and whispered, “There’s been no change. They think he had a heart attack from hypothermia.” Mom hugged our neighbor. I stood beside Brick, looking at the medical equipment keeping him alive, and realized how much danger my friend was in.

“Mrs. Sullivan, he saved Tad’s life. I’m so sorry I gave him Godzilla as a nickname. I did it for fun. He called me Little Squirt.” And then the crocodile tears came running down my face. I couldn’t stop myself. Mrs. Sullivan put her hand under my chin.

“You are Brick’s best friend. He’s told me that at least one hundred times. He likes the nickname.” A nurse came in, and upon seeing me, she scolded my mother that I shouldn’t be there and said we needed to leave. We walked through the lobby, listening to the carols that rose throughout the main area and carried through the halls. It was a time for miracles, and I prayed that Brick would wake up soon, swearing I would be his best friend forever.

“Please, God, I promise.” It was hard to sleep that night with the illness of my friend and the excitement of Christmas, and I felt ashamed that I was still thinking about myself.

On Christmas morning, I came downstairs to see the presents around the tree and immediately opened what I suspected was my BB gun. I was not disappointed by my guess. Brick and I talked about shooting cans in the backyard filled with water. I was excited to get the gun, but thinking about my sick friend cast a pall over Christmas.

The phone rang, and Mom went to answer it. “Ricky, phone!” I knew it was my grandma, and she was calling to find out how I liked the ugly Christmas sweater she bought me every year. I climbed up the stool next to the cabinets.


“Little Squirt! Merry Christmas!” It was Brick, weak but alive.

“Godzilla? It’s you! Are you alright?”

“Of course, you know it would take more than a drowning to stop me. I’m Godzilla!” I cry-laughed, and when I could finally stop crying, I told Brick about getting a BB gun for Christmas and how we would take turns shooting it. After all, was my best friend.

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