Who knows where it all came from or why? Who knows if we were just kids looking to fit in or if our need to belong outweighed our need to be decent to one another. The truth is I believe that regardless of our age and no matter where we are in life, deep down, we are all just kids trying to find our place in the sand box.
Inside of me is that kid that never wanted to be picked on because I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to be pointed at because I stuttered when I read out loud. In fact, I could read a page, a paragraph, and even a sentence and yet, I had no idea what I read.
This is why this little piece of me right here and my writings, my thoughts and my journals are huge victories for me because keep in mind, to be able to write this and let the universe take it wherever it may go is a victory for me. This disproves all the crazy myths about me in my head and only goes to show that no, I was never stupid.
I don’t know why crazy ideas make sense sometimes. I don’t know why I punched a kid named Billy in the face on the way home from school one day. I did this just to make him bleed. In fact, wait. In fairness, this is not true. I do know why. I know what happened.
I was on my way home from school. This was the last day for the year and summer was upon us. Of course, one would think kids like me would be happy to be away from the pressures of the classroom and the crowd. One could think someone like me would understand what it feels like to be picked on, so therefore, one would think that I would never bully anyone the same as I was bullied.
Then again, there is a science to our behavior. There was a pathology to mine, which would explain what happened that day. And I get that we were just kids. And I get that kids do stupid things sometimes.
I get why too. In fact, the truth is I knew what I was going home to that day.
I knew that I was left back in school. I knew that I was about to face the fact that I failed. I knew that my parents would not understand why. I knew they would see this a certain way, which in fairness, the answer is no. I did not apply myself.
I seldom went to class. I never did my homework. My extracurricular activities were mainly illegal and certainly far from scholarly. I was not a student. I was not popular or cool or any of the things which I so desperately wanted to be. I was bullied by the worst bully of them all. In fact, I was bullied by me.
There was this idea I had, which was worse than being alone. There was this thought about not being anybody. I was afraid to be a nobody. I was afraid to be the faceless, socially undesirable kid. I was so painfully insecure and warped by my own inaccurate version of self that I gave way to the deceptions of my perception.
On the last day of school, I was riding home on the handlebars of some kids’ bicycle. I was with two others. Both of them were laughing and being crazy. Of course they were happy. School was over for them. There was no summer school for them. There was no punishment for them because they passed.
They might not have passed with high grades but still, at least they passed. And me, I failed nearly every class. I would have failed lunch if there was a grade for this.
I was left back and ashamed. I was ashamed of how little I did to change my life. Deep down, I knew that I quit on myself. I knew that I had to face my parents.
I knew that I had to face all the times I didn’t want to do my work because I hated school. I hated the effort it took to learn. I hated my teachers that publicly shamed me in front of the class for not understanding the material.
I hated myself because ideas like math or remembering anything I read was so goddamn punishing to me that fuck it! Why bother? And now I had to face the music and pay the price. There was no hiding. There was only Billy, a chubby kid from school who was in the wrong place at the wring time.
We rode by and I said something to Billy. He answered back but he was no threat. My two so-called friends dared me to fight him. And of course, I took the bait.
He was something to hit. In fact, this was the first time I can remember what it felt like to successfully punch someone and draw blood. I felt his nose crunch.
I call this blood smell.
Blood smell is something a wild animal gets when it learns how to hunt for food. This is when an animal learns about its killer instinct. And here it was, I learned that I found mine.
I was able to taste this like a victory. I was able to feel this like a rush; as if this were a special brand of some speedy narcotic. And I heard him scream. He squealed. And I hit him again and again because I hated him perfectly. I hated him because to me, Billy look the way I felt.
He was a straight kid. He was good. He was kind. Billy was also picked on and mainly square. He wasn’t a knockaround guy or a troublemaker. No, he was an honor student. He was goodhearted. He was everything that I hated.
Billy was the so-called socially unwanted. Billy was never at any of the parties. He was just a random, faceless kid that I happened to know. More to the point, he was the person I was terribly afraid to be; to be unincluded, unmemorable, unremarkable and undesirable. I saw him this way and what did I do? I took glory in punishing him for looking the way I felt.
Eventually this ended. And Billy went home. His older brother saw what happened to Billy’s face. His older brother was not like Billy at all. He was tough. He drove a tough car. And he sped up to us out of nowhere. My friends, or should I say my so-called friends were laughing about this. The older brother smacked me around and what did Billy do? He cried and pleaded for his brother to leave me alone. “Don’t hurt him,” Billy cried.
In that little whimper of his, Billy showed more manhood than I could ever describe in the written word.
I suppose I needed this. I needed the beating. I needed something to make sense of my personal failure. Now of course, there are people that say hey, kids do stupid things. But I have news. High school does not end after high school.
One night, I was on the losing end of several different things. I lost this thing I had gained called trust. I had recently went back on a promise to stay clean and after a 24 hour binge on the streets of Brooklyn, I lost the last shred of internal dignity.
I had this sense of failure with me. I had this overwhelming sense of shame. I was driving around with a .357 beneath the driver’s seat in my car. And one night, someone dared to say something. Someone dared me. And what did I do?
I put this man to his knees. The steely glare from my silvery pistol gleaming in the nighttime air. So romantic. The barrel glared at him like a source of evil power. I saw his face. I watched his spirit sink. I watched this man nearly soil himself and in return, I basked in the perverted glory of hurting someone to feel the same level of shame as me. I punished him with words and made him plea for his life.
God, I hate bullies.
If I could grab me and punch my yesterdays in the face, I would beat this repeatedly. I think of me and the way I was. I think of the feelings I have and the need for accountability.
There are things that I can never say out loud or in print. There will be a time when I have to answer for what I’ve done. But until then, I do my best to make up for them.
I say this because of you, a friend, a person who like me has things in the past that sometimes creates turmoil. I figured I would share this little segment of my tragic heart, even if for no other reason than this: I don’t ever want anyone to feel so lost about themselves. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like Billy did either. I don’t ever want to see this in anyone because this only serves as a reminder of who I used to be.
I want to heal too. And sometimes it’s hard. The past creeps in. And dreams pop up of old times and memories. In fact, I have dreams where I am trying to run away but I have dream feet and I can’t seem to lift my legs.
I suppose more than anything, I want to find a sense of peace inside of me; to let go of what happened, to make amends, and to feel as if I paid my dues and squared up with the house. I want to do this because on the day when I face my creator (if there is such a thing) I know I’ll have to answer. And I want to have more things to say about me, aside from the fact that I’m sorry.
I believe that everyone pays for their dance at the end. I just want to try and avoid any interest if I can help it. Know what I mean?