Once, when the Policeman was about nine years old, he’d gone to his classroom during recess to stash away a new stick for his collection. As he carefully wrapped it in his spare sweater, two older boys rushed in. One was attacking the other viciously, punching his head and face. They hadn’t noticed the younger boy and were both at least a head taller, though the attacker was heavier and more muscular. He demanded money and hurled foul insults.
Outraged, the small witness rushed forward, pushed the thief hard against the wall, and managed to stun him. He hurried out of the room to find an adult, but was knocked to the floor by a running girl. She was desperately barreling down the hall to escape a pair of bullies. Now he was overwhelmed by the events multiplying around him, and doubly furious. Thin, but tough and wiry, he reared up to face the bullies with his fists ready. Their advantage lost, they cut and ran.
The bell rang to end recess, and the disheveled older boy he had defended walked out of the classroom. Wiping blood from his mouth, he inclined a brief, dazed smile at his rescuer, and disappeared down the hallway. The girl had gotten to her feet behind him. She pressed closed eyes against his shoulder and gave him a shaky hug before hurrying away in the other direction.
. . .
Looking down at the tiny creature perched on the tips of his fingers, the Policeman whispered to himself, “This is not a butterfly.”
The colors of its slowly-fanning wings were strangely vivid, and somehow not there at all, clear as crystal.
“This man,” he decided, “can make things right.”