Declaimer: This story contains references to life and death, references to drug abuse and the harsh daily struggles of kids growing up in a lower second-class urban environment. Homosexuality is also implied in this story. If this is type of material offends you please don't read any further. Any simulates in this story of persons both living and dead is purely coincidental.
Prologue: A real tough guy that went to my middle school from the fall of 1998 to the summer 2001. He later became one of my bullies and worst nightmare due to a lie someone had told him, until he saw things in a new light 6 ½ years later. We officially became friends in 2007.
This is a true story that takes place in May of 2007, I was 21 back then. A month after my mother passed away from diabetes in March of 2007. God bless her soul, I did everything that I was humanly possible to help keep her alive for as long as possible but she was very stubborn and insisted on having salt and sugar on every possible thing. I've changed my name and the other character's name in the story to protect our identity. Just at the very start of the economic crisis. I moved back to the other side of my home town in April 2007 and bunked in with a close family member with whom I can get along with. It's was just the way it was for times such as these.
Alex 20 years old/ male/5'8” bulky about 160lbs
Zach (being portrayed as me) 21 years old/male/5'8” slim 120 lbs
I woke up extra early one Friday morning to prepare for school and to beat the bulk of morning rush hour those buses and commuter rail lines have those annoying ass grade-school kids and it's jammed packed and over crowded during my normal time that I leave. My aunt was still asleep I woke her up for work as I made myself a light breakfast and I was going to get a sausage, egg and cheese on a bagel and a cup of hot tea once I got to school. As I was walking the few blocks down the street toward the rail station I ran into a former classmate that was in all of my classes through out all of my life of middle school. (Beginning of flashback) He was a person that pretended to be my friend one minute during a class project that had to be presented as a group. Of course he'd pair up with me because he knew that I'd take my time out to research, study and gather all of the relevant information and spit out all of the right answers and then we both pass. Despite the fact he did very little if any work at all. When half of the class would make fun of me he'd join in with them. And furthermore his group of “so called” friends would fill his head with lies by saying I was talking about him behind his back. For example I said something disrespectful about one of his family members who had passed away. I wasn't a cold hearted jackass that would do something like that. I knew nothing about him or his family except what circulated around the school. They what buttons to push, to get him to turn against me and keep him on their side. They were the ones who were the lying, conniving jackasses. (End of flashback)
It was shortly after 7:00am on a Friday morning because the first express trains began to operate during that time. I was on a small city block getting ready to cross the street and go up stairs to board the train to the other side of town to school. Then he spoke to me and called my name in an exciting tone Zachary! How have you've been man? Long time, no see. I responded yeah it's been 6 years since our middle school graduation, (I'll call my former classmate Alex)
Alex asks me if I have a few minutes to talk? Since I was dressed like I'm going to school. I said to Alex that I'm going in for a placement test to get back into school and to get my high school diploma and it's a 45 minutes ride and I have few minutes, the trains operate every 4 to 6 minutes. I don't have to be there until 8:30am at least but 9:00am at the very latest. I just left home a half hour earlier to avoid the over crowded trains and those out of control school kids. The first few express trains are generally less crowded at this time compared to 7:30am until the end of the morning rush. What's up Alex? He asked me did I still have trouble with people and their bullshit? I replied occasionally, I just ignore their rude remarks say to my self when karma catches up with them, they'll wonder why this happened or why that happened. They don't know what I know. Alex asked has he ever picked with me back in school? I replied yes, but not you yourself directly. But when the “in crowd” did you joined in. And you gave me 1 ½ years of hell when others told you that lie. What happened next really surprised me. He apologized to me and said that he was going through some stuff back at that time and I appeared not to have any problems at all and was doing good. I then proceeded to tell Alex the dysfunctions (alcoholics and drug addicts) of my family and how I helped took care of my mother from ages 13-21 how I gave my life up to care her and how I pulled her out of that stressful environment when I was 17. And got a place for just her and I. I had a part time job and she received compensation for her deteriorating health and that covered all of our expenses. But I assured her that it wasn't her fault and I will resume school and pursue college in good time but she's first. And that I had just buried my mother 2 months ago. And back during our school days I used my family as motivation to want to do better and not make unwise choices and end up like them. “It's long story” I said sarcastically.
Then Alex told me more of his family problems and that he was very sorry and that he lost his father when he was very little. I said to Alex that I remember him saying “All of y'all mother fuckers don't know what the fuck I go through everyday!” And when my mother went it felt like I've lost everything that I ever owned. I then realized that you're the in pain and you wanted to inflict that pain or vengeance on others. Alex further explained that after middle school he hung around gangs and stuff and how he narrowly excepted death and that most of the others that picked on me aren't here today. They made a drug deal that went wrong... Alex said that he also did time in jail. (Alex was also preaching about God and the bible a little and how hard it was for some people.) During that time he thought about me and wondered how I was doing. He said that the experience bought him to consciousness and that he's trying to correct his mistakes. He then asked me what happened to my leg because I walked with a cane and I had a brace on my leg.
I told him that I was born with a rare genetic disorder of the nervous system that's similar to having Multiple Sclerosis and I fell and hyper-extended me knee in June 2007 and it healed but I have weakness in it. My genetic disorder contributed to it, and a lot of other things but not limited to: my ultra fast metabolism, my small stature, abnormal weakness in my 4 limbs, weakened immune system (caught colds a lot in the winter and it took longer than average healthy person to fight it off).
All Alex could say was damn man! Damn, I never knew that you had all of that shit going on, I'm very sorry, looking back at that time you were the coolest ones that was in the class, not those assholes that I was hanging around and roaming the halls with. I should have hung around you more and taken the time to get to know more about you instead of trying to hinder you and giving you hell when they fed me that lie. I said to him I forgive you and all that he had to do was just ask me. We were going through a lot of similar things. He then asked me if I have a girlfriend yet. I responded no. Alex then said well you're doing the right thing by waiting. He said that he has 3 kids by 2 different women. I responded that it's ok, everybody makes mistakes. The important thing is that you realized the error of your ways and you're trying to rectify them. Alex then said that he truly has my back from now on and he wishes me the best of luck in what I wanted to pursue and he knows that I'll do well because I was always smart in school. Alex then shook my hand and then embraced me in a tight hug and patted my back. (In a form that close adult brothers do when they see each other again at a reunion when they haven't seen each other in many years.) I never knew that a tough guy like him would have a soft spot. The block was empty just us two basically and that hug lasted for about 30 to 45 seconds. I held him tight also I didn't care who saw he was 20 and I was 21. 18 is the legal age in our jurisdiction I could sense the sincerity in his heart and I was somewhat enjoying the moment. I told him that I recently moved back to this part of town last month and that he'll see be me a lot and until I stand my own that I'm bunking in with my aunt. People may not like it but we all going to have to learn how to get along at some point because I believe that this economy is going to eventually fold in on it self. “That's the kind of wise man's talk that I've always liked about you man.” Alex said to me.
We departed I walked across the street and up the stairs it was 7:20am I paid my fare at the cashiers booth she then pressed the button to let my through the turnstile and walked up the final flight of stairs to the platform. The train was just pulling into the station. I lucked up, it wasn't too crowded and there were plenty of seats available. I got to my destination shortly after 8:00am and I brought me a bite to eat at the food stand and I then proceeded to the office building to meet up with the teacher.
I topped out on my placement test the instructor told me to just go on ahead and take the actual test for my diploma in 8 to 12 weeks. I was put in an accelerated program, I payed the $60 fee for the test battery and passed with flying colors and I found a college and I studied medicine.
I saw Alex quite a few times afterward we shook hands and hugged each time we saw each other and he was happy for me that I was doing better. Especially during this time of the economic crisis.
We would always ask me how was I holding up. I told him that I'm doing alright and our parents' passing is nothing more than a transfer of consciousness into a higher plane. (Heaven) And we'll see them again in good time and that they would want is to be strong. My mother was the type of person who cared for everybody. But I tried my best to tell her that she can't worrying about the people in my family that's not doing right. It's one thing to be down on your luck, but it's another thing to choose that kind of masochism. My crackhead and alcoholic uncles. My father was a functioning addict and an alcoholic but he let it got the best of him. Stressed my poor mother half to death it's a shame. My mom and I left on good terms so I have no regrets. I still see my father time to time and I pretty much tell him that it's me or the drinking. My mother's gone but I'll be damned if they drive me to my grave.
(In a comedian's voice) I said. “I don't mind helping a man when he's down but, I can't help him if he wants to sleep on the ground.“ I just better not darken my door way. If they want to see me they better show up sober or they won't get in unless it's a matter of life and death. As harsh as that sounds sometimes you just have to “come on in and close the door.” Messing around with them you'll ultimately age before your time and they'll still be a live pestering the next person. It leads me to wonder how in the hell are they still a live after they've been doing all of that “outside” activity for about 35 years? It doesn't make any sense. (In my normal voice) Other than that I'm fine.
Before parting, Alex said to me “remember what I told you, if anyone's bothering you let me know. I owe you at least that much.” I won't, I'm ok as of now. I replied.
Epilogue: I never knew that a tough guy like him could have a soft spot. I wondered what all took place with him since I last saw him in the spring of 2001. I've moved again in 2009. I hope that all is well with him, I haven't seen him in quite sometime. I'm glad that he eventually found out the truth about happened way back then. Minus the lies he was fed and the tormenting I somewhat had a liking towards him back then. I hope the next time I see him again he'll be struggling less. I never knew that bullies were capable of changing if they became deep-rooted in their bad habits. I will write another story in the near future that involves another bully during my childhood, since bullying seems to be very common nowadays.
Has anyone had any similar experiences from the perspective of being a bully or the bully's victim? Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org I love reading feedback from my readers. I'm now open for suggestions for future stories.