Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Victim

Pink, white and blue wads of gum cling the black metal undercarriage of the bench seats of the school bus, collecting grit in the wrinkles and creases created as they were pushed into position. Modern art or an analogy of life, my cheek drains the comforting cool out of the rubber floorboard where I lay, watching feet dangle in a morbid dance, teaching myself to breath again.

Carelessly swinging down the aisle, Mike had inadvertently on purpose caught me with his foot in that particular place that 13 boys dread a collision, for fear it will stunt your growth. Dirt and dust bunnies console me with each ragged inhalation, until their words rob the rest of my breath.

Did you hear about Ted?

Before guns became popular school accessories, there was Ted, my biology lab partner. Quiet and quirky, skinny as a pole, lost in a sea of faces, unless you were looking to clean your shoe. And many did. Few ever saw the brilliant creativity that only reared it's head in a limited audience. Mostly, he just existed.

What is the point in telling if it only encourages them more? When the only answers given at home are 'you need to learn to fend for yourself, be a man'?

Dust rose in ominous mushroom clouds, blue lights bathing the yellow school buses in their glow, as the brown patrol cars flashed into the lot. Sirens squeal in the ears of faces smudged to the window glass as flashlights, in gun belts, bounce against thighs racing toward time that had already passed.

Jangling metallic clatter echoes down the hall of lockers, a scalpel slips into the crimson pool leaking from the face of a boy, who pushed Ted, one last time.

We didn't see Ted for a few years, and then one day he was there, sitting next to me in science, again. Always something to say, but no one to listen.

Just another victim, falling on deaf ears.

45 comments:

otin said...

If You had a music player, Jeremy, by Pearl Jam would be the song of choice! This could be a script for a video of that song! Haunting stuff!

Nancy said...

Ohhhh, my heart breaks for every little boy and girl so alone and at the mercy of unkind and often brutal children. We all knew a few, didn't we?

Mango Girl said...

Pretty powerful story.

So sad but true.

Leah said...

Yes, it's powerful. Very painful to read.

Hit 40 said...

I love to make friends with the loner students. They are tough to crack!! Very suspicious of my friendliness. I like all the kids to have a fun day at school

MW said...

I got goosebumps as I read that.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Big sigh. That is very sad on many levels.
Great job.

Yodood said...

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: 'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair.' In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.
-Bertrand Russell

Stacey said...

So, so sad. I want to go hug my kids now.

An Open Heart said...

My heart breaks for the pain kids serve to other kids....

Why can't we all just get along...eh?


S

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Brian:)

A lovely narration of a gruesome incident in your inimitable style.

Even a worm when pushed too much will turn round to attack. This is what Ted did. Out of desperation. The boy who was hurt must have been troubling Ted for a long time and Ted waited for a chance to get even. Of course, he shouldn't have used a scalpel to cut the boy. But he did it probably as a last resort when he couldn't bear it any longer.

He attacked for self respect. After he came back probably from a juvenile home, none of class mates would dare meddle with him although he would like to be friendly. Thank God there was no gun culture at that time. There would have been a few dead bodies.

Beautifully written with so many graphic word pictures ending with a violent incident and its aftermath.

"Dust rose in ominous mushroom clouds, blue lights bathing the yellow school buses in their glow, as the brown patrol cars flashed into the lot. Sirens squeal in the ears of faces smudged to the window glass as flashlights, in gun belts, bounce against thighs racing toward time that had already passed." I can visualize so many pictures in these words very vividly. Just gorgeous! You have painted beautiful pictures with just words. Amazing collection of words!

Have a lovely day Brian:)
Joseph

Alan Burnett said...

As always, you make us think.

Lorraine said...

The hurt inflicted on children is heartbreaking...can't look away anymore...Never stop writing Brian

only a movie said...

Oh goodness, I know far too many of these boys. There shouldn't be this many of 'em.
ack.
Great writing, Brian. Of course.

♥ Braja said...

I hate it when people say children can be cruel. They can't: they can be brought up by cruel parents. That's all.

Protege said...

However innocent, children are amoral and can therefore be very cruel. It is not always easy to be a child.
Again, a very eloquent post.

blueviolet said...

It's really painful to see that happen to kids but yet it will always be.

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Very powerful Brian. I am so thankful that my son was never bullied or a bully himself. He is actually a member of the "safe school team", which assists to identify and stem any problems that may arise.

Brian Miller said...

travel, thats pretty cool. have not heard about the safe school team. it is great to hear they are involving other students in responding to this as well.

braja, so people are not just born evil? smiles.

Gaston Studio said...

Completely disagree with Braja on this one; it's a proven fact that some kids are just born evil; they turn into serial killers as they get older.

Like you, I didn't know some schools have a safe school team but I wish it was mandatory. Something needs to be done about bullies and yes, it should start at home, but usually one or more of the parents are usually bullies themselves.

Candie Bracci said...

Dark but sad reality.May they find a ear to listen.

Tom said...

what is we is more good kids to stick up for the ones falling through the cracks...there oughta be a movement!

Wings said...

Sad... I would never go back to those years again.

Daniel said...

I lived through a very similar story in my middle school. The odd kid was picked on my everyone. WE were all merciless. One day he brought a gun to school with the threat to kill all of us. He was taken away by a security force before anyone got hurt, well, anyone but him. I had not thought of this until now, and I finally understand how horrible WE were. He was never seen again.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

That time after the sweet innocence of childhood, when the others put their hand on the shoulder of one who is crying in class, and before the ability to see oneself more compassionately. -J

Meeko Fabulous said...

You write so vividly. I always look forward to reading your posts. No pressure or anything . . . LOL! :)

staceyjwarner said...

fabulous story and well told. there was a little boy in my son's class who is from a low income-single mom family. he's taller and older than all the kids because he was held back. my son (following the masses at 6) first wanted to make fun of him but I told my son he had to be extra kind and protect him. i reminded my son that he is blessed to have the life he has and some are not as fortunate that his life is much harder so make it better with a smile and laughter.

now they are friends and planning to go to each others b-days!

LIFE AND LOVE ARE GREAT!

Nessa said...

Childhood is such a treacherous place.

The Things We Carried said...

This takes me instantly back to being young. I remember feeling like Ted on occasion, but my heart aches for the Ted's I knew and somehow missed hearing.

Fabulous last line, Brian. I am left haunted by this story.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Having always been a loner I am very protective towards Amy, perhaps because of her extreme vulnerability but also my own.

CJ xx

Kay said...

bitterly sad, i guess we all know/knew Ted...but did anyone ever see him? (sigh) food for thought

Goofball said...

I've never seen serious bullying or violence at school, ...I hope my children will never experience it either. Or other kids of course.

Baino said...

Nobody notices the quiet ones and they're invariably the ones to look out for. How often do you hear "he was such a quiet boy" after some awful schoolyard catastrophe.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Very powerful story. You sure have a way with words.
If only the bullies would read this and take it to heart.

Not The Rockefellers said...

The loss of innocence begins when a child becomes a victim of injustice...

Powerful Brian.

Peace - Rene

lakeviewer said...

These children are there, everywhere, in need of friends and encouragement. Life can be cruel.

tori said...

Ironic, I was just reading about the mother of one of the Columbine shooters who made a statement today before I read this. So sad.

Oh My Goddess said...

People are always telling us what they need, in some very subtle ways, for sure.

We just need to listen to them. Can it be so hard?

AngelMay said...

Sometimes we look at people - but we don't see them. Loved this story.

AngelMay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AngelMay said...

Sorry for the double post above.
I deleted the offender.
Fast trigger-finger. :)

Drahdrah said...

Such a tragic story beautifully told.

rxBambi said...

My daughter was bullied a couple years ago. It was a traumatic year for all of us. And for the record, the bully's parents were good, hardworking honest people (not that it matters, but the mom was a nurse and the dad was a fireman).
The child finally FINALLY got sent to the alternative school. Luckily it ended without too much of an incident, but my daughter had to be "followed" around school by an under cover officer to keep her safe. That pissed me off, I think the bully should have been followed, but whatever. It's over now.
Beautifully written...

The Retired One said...

How tragically sad. I often wonder if when the bullies grow up if they even "get it" that they made picked on kids' life miserable? There was a child in our school who was suicidal because of being bullied. Parents have to talk to their kids to assure that they are not bullying anyone...it starts there I think.

Pat said...

Hard to read. Reminded me of my son's childhood. He was picked on a lot because of his size. :(