Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Righteous Beating

I'm pretty sure I was in the fifth grade when I beat the stuffing out of a kid in the middle of class and got in absolutely no trouble for it.

I was in class and we were doing some kind of independent seat work and a kid came back from the school's main office. He walked up to me and said, "Chris --- they told me you need to come to the main office. Someone in your family died."

I must have gone pale; how could anyone not? I can still feel the bottom of everything dropping and shattering underneath me. I went to the teacher -- he was a young man; whom we will keep anonymous, because this little tale is as much about him as me, in the end -- and I told him that the boy had said they asked for me in the office. He let me go.

I walked into the office, with much wringing of hands and embroiled in a Herculean battle within my throat, as speaking and crying contended like the sea and wind. The secretary asked me what I wanted and I told her I heard they needed me. She told me this was not true.

"Everyone in my family is ok?" I asked.

"As far as we know... No one called us..." (She did not call me "dear" or "honey." He lip might even have curled a little as she spoke to me. She was a middle school secretary. She was not allowed to treat children like human beings. I think it was part of their contract.)

I don't remember the walk back to class, but I do remember launching myself over a desk and the sound of my fists pounding the meaty face of the kid who had lied to me. I got in a good number of punches before the teacher waded through he desks and had us both clamped and nearly hanging by the collars.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked me, no doubt astounded by my actions. I'd never gotten so much as a rebuke in school since kindergarten.

I told him what the other boy had done.

He let go of me and turned the other kid around to face him. There was some blood. The teacher stared at my victim for what seemed a full minute. "Did you, or did you not deserve what you just got?" he asked the boy. The kid nodded once. "Go clean yourself up," the teacher said, and it was back to business as usual. (My hands hurt but I knew better than not to get right back to diagramming my sentences.)

Never another word was said about it. 

You might find it ironic if I were to say that this is a story from a more civilized time, but you would be wrong. 

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