Many of us were either bullied or the bully in some way. Or maybe even both at different times. At any rate, we are marked by it. At this late stage, we should forgive ourselves for the way we treated others, or stop re-living the shame of being a wimp. There may be nothing we can do to address the actions in our past, but we can change the balance of the universe in the way we treat others.
GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE.
The lot was packed. I knew I should have left earlier to find a good parking place. Now, I’d have to look in the back row.
St Michael’s Catholic Church and School held this arts and crafts fair annually. It had become a wonderful outlet for local artists to profit as well as snag up all kinds of cool original art. I had a little shop downstate and it was imperative that I score some new product.
Finally, in the far corner of the lot I found a spot. I didn’t much like the looks of the small gang of boys hanging out there drinking beer. They turned to watch me park. I figured that humor would defuse any situation, so as I got out I flipped them a quarter and asked them to watch my car.
They stepped back, and the smile died on my face. They were surrounding a young boy laying on the ground.
I saw red.
“Oh hell no! Ya’ll step back immediately, I’m calling 911!”
They all stepped back and calmly watched me call the po-po on their butts.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
I explained the situation to her as quickly as I could, and instead of righteousness, I heard the dispatcher sigh.
“Ma’am, I don’t know how to tell you this -- but the boy is a ghost. This happens every year on this day. Why don’t you talk to the boys there and I will send an officer right over.”
My mouth dropped. I gave the hoodlums an incredulous look and knelt by the boy. He looked to be in great pain, and couldn’t speak. His eyes beseeched me. I would have given anything to end his pain. My face dripped crocodile tears.
The ringleader, a great hulk of a brute, stepped behind me.
“His name’s Mikey… he’s my little brother.”
I turned so quickly that I lost my balance, and sat hard next to the boy. I reached for his little hand as the spokesman told his tale.
“He was beat up at recess and left out here all day. He was dead when they found him at the end of the day, 10 years ago. He was 9 years old.”
My mouth twisted up in bitterness.
“And I suppose you are the ones who did it, huh?” I cried out. I tried to gather the boy in my arms, but couldn’t move him. He was glued to the ground.
I heard feet shuffling, and looked up at a circle of shame. The only one who would meet my eyes was the brother.
“It was them.” He motioned to the other boys. “But I’m just as guilty. I bullied them and planted the seed. Also I wasn’t the best brother in the world either. Forgive us. Forgive yourself.”
I shook my head in disbelief.
“What! Are you crazy? I didn’t do anything!”
Giving the evil eye is hard to do when you are blinded by tears. I couldn’t even see them. Instead, I saw another face.
And cried my heart out.
“There was this girl…” I started, “in 7th grade… I used to trip her, and call her names. I don’t know why.”
I cried harder.
“I don’t even know why!”
The big guy held out his hand to me, and I took it. Any port in a storm.
“Look at Mikey,” he said.
I wiped my eyes and looked.
He was gone.
A crunch of tires drew our attention to the cop car creeping up. They didn’t even get out, just nodded as I waved them on.
One of the others handed me a beer. I accepted gratefully.
It was going to be a long night.
--by Shayla Kwiatkowski, 2013