Criminal Brief and more recently SleuthSayers discussed bullies and the havoc their trail of tears wreak. I was weighing national stories that made the news, when I stumbled upon terrible, untold instances of bullying of people close to me, stories that never made the light of day.
Virtually all states now carry explicit laws that can be construed as anti-bullying. Most also require school policies of one sort or another. A majority of states outright outlaw cyberbullying and more than a dozen states criminalize other aspects of child bullying.
Denial of the problem has become harder to defend as are the ‘right of passage’ claims, Darwinist ‘It toughens you if it doesn’t kill you’ theory, and the related aphorism, ‘We survived, what’s wrong with you?’ A pocket of Central Northwest States– Montana and the Dakotas, have lagged behind the rest of the country, but the notion it’s strictly a political issue is fading in the realization that bullying policies and legislation can save lives.
Up Close and Personal
Nearly as bad as bullying is the imputation targets are cowards. Taller, older, more massive tormentors typically travel in packs. The unspoken irony of intimidation reduces to one question:
How cowardly is a gang of bigger, thicker, towering bullies compared to a victim a fraction of their size?Today I bring you a unique sketch of an abused kid about to blaze headlines in all the wrong ways.
One Less School Shooter
Focus… focus…If he couldn’t save himself, maybe he could save others. That’s how Marty planned it a hundred times. ‘Ideate’ shrinks called it.
No bombs, no Columbine.
Marty’s not furious with the whole school, just the tormentors, big bastards they. The boy folds an air rifle under his trenchcoat followed by a machete.
The knot in his gut, not anger, not rage, but agony and despair, accretions packed and rolled like an iceball. Layer by layer, it’s basted like a poisonous black pearl. Like rings in a tree trunk– that one the kick that dropped him to his knees, here the slug that blackened his left eye, there the kidney punch that left him gasping on the restroom floor.
Him or them, he feels no choice, survival, he can take no more.
Book bag, glasses, look normal. Nothing to see here folks, move along. No parents on deck, no one sees him leave the house, no folks kiss him good morning and goodbye. No mother, no father spots the bulges under his duster. Win or lose, on his own, it comes down to him.
School hall. The boy nods to his two friends in the world, Chip, Dale, never mind the jokes. At the lockers, they try to converse, small talk, trash talk– girls, cars, sports, rat prick jocks, Old Lady Tucker’s Eng lit class, screw it, and damn, the girl with the cute butt– she’s hot.
Not today, please, Marty’s not having it. Not rude, but distracted, focused, Marty blows them off, intent on the task at hand. He touches the blade under his coat, confidence, he’s not powerless now.
The big one, Ogre, strides down the hall. Him, bring him down first, element of surprise. The machete, cut him down to size, sever hamstrings, drop him to his knees, on his god damn knees like he forced Marty half his size. Cut his throat, hack, sever, decapitate, slice ‘n’ dice the ’tard.
Then Hoss, he stares at the rifle, sunken barrel shotgun wide, doesn’t grasp it’s only a .177, the calibre growing bigger along with his eyes. Control him at a distance, once up close, the machete, sabre slash, hack the cretin, moments count before Marty’s arrested or killed by cops, the Hoss won’t die, damn him, épée stab, cutlass kill.
Then police. Weapons down. He’s not upset with cops. Prosecutors try him as an adult, maybe life, sick-o but not too mental for the death penalty, say authorities, send a message, say authorities… violence won’t be tolerated in schools.
Except for bullies.
The boy meticulously worked his way through the first few steps, but he hadn’t counted on friends he could count on. Dale spotted the rifle under his coat, then the machete.
“Oh shit. Chip! Grab him.”
They hustled Marty into the restroom, kicked open doors to make sure they’re alone. They refused to let go of their friend. Machete, then rifle, they disarmed him.
“Marty, what the hell are you thinking?” asked Chip.
Dale said, “I know what you’re up to and it’s not going to work.”
“Leave me alone. Let me go, let me at them. Now or never, I can’t take one minute more.”
Chip leaned close. “Your head’s not on straight, man. You can’t win this, not this way.”
“Listen to us,” Dale said. “Their karma will come, but you can’t bring it on.”
“Marty, you idiot. You think prison’s any better? Eternity with Bubba Butts and the lifers? Forget it, man.”
Gradually his friends coached the kid back to reality. They hurried him away, smuggling the weapons out, aware they’d helped Marty and the bullies dodge a bullet.
Over time as Marty grew muscular, bullies backed off. The boy and his friends graduated. He worked hard, often teaching himself. He married a wonderful woman, fathered three kids, children now much older than he was that long ago day. He put into practice the best revenge– living well.
Years after the near-fatal confrontation, he heard his name called in a store. Instantly he recognized Ogre. Marty’s nails bit into the palms of his hand. The pain, the anger, the frustration came rushing back.
“Marty? Hey, how are you doing? Where are you working? You married now?” Ogre hesitated. “Listen, man. I’m sorry for treating you like crap. We took things too far, I was an ass. I’m sorry, so damn sorry.”
Thoughts jousted– old hurt, torments, and anger, and yet Ogre had the guts to apologize. He hadn’t expected that. He nodded.
“I, uh, heard you planned to kill me. Is that true?”
Marty nodded. “Absolutely planned to. I would have done it, if I hadn’t been stopped at the last moment.”
“Oh Jesus. I never realized how much I hurt you. Christ, I feel awful what we did to you. I’m sorry, really, really sorry.”
Marty accepted his apology. He understood he had one asset other school shooters didn’t have– two best friends.
Lifelong friends, you don’t forget an experience like that. Decades later, the boys still get together, shoot the breeze– girls, cars, sports, rat-prick jocks. Not the girl with the cute butt… Marty married her.
The boys, they chat and sometimes pontificate, but they never talk about the day they stopped a school killing.