Strauss Part Two
January, 1987. My last year at Glenwood, though I didn’t know it at the time.
I was dreaming…what was I dreaming about…I was cold. I was frightened. I felt held back, trapped. Drowning. So much water, covering me, choking me, squeezing me under it’s pressure. The weight was enormous.
A sharp pain, and yelling. Stinging…stinging on my cheek. In the distance, almost an echo…”MIKE! Mikemikemikemikemike….” And again, but closer “MIKE! Mikemikemikemikemike….”
My eyes shot open, and the scene in front me stunned me even as it gripped me with fear. The air left my lungs; I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.
I was standing. Why was I standing? I was standing in front of the water fountain in the vestibule in front of the cottage. What the fuck? Mr. Pros was to my side, shouting. “MIKE! WAKE UP!” I looked at him in shock “MIKE! WAKE! UP!”
“I’m…I’m awake, I’M AWAKE!” I was terrified as I took in the scene.
“WHAT…why am I…”
Mr. Pros was looking down at the water fountain “STOP IT, STOP PISSING ON IT!”
I looked down and sure enough, I was holding my cock outside of my boxer shorts, and I was pissing on the water fountain. I tried to turn off my stream and cover myself at the same time.
“WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!?!” I looked at my dick, then back up to Mr. Pros, eyes saucer wide, I was panicked.
“OK, it’s OK, calm down, you’re ok now.” I’d managed to stop pissing but the combination of fear and grogginess from just waking up made me stumble backwards against the wall.
“What’s going on? How did I…” I was looking at Mr. Pros pleadingly, looking for answers.
Back to his perfectly measured voice. He was trying to calm me with his voice, trying to get me to match his tone. Really brilliant the way he was able to do that now that I look back. “Remember when your feet were wet? This is why.”
Earlier in the month, I’d woken up three times on different mornings, with wet feet. The bottom of my pajama’s were soaked as well. I went to Mr. Pros each time and told him that Tom Padgett was putting my feet in water in the night and trying to get me to piss the bed. I didn’t know why he was doing it to my feet, instead of my hand, but it had to be him. I fucking hated Tom Padgett; I hated the secret that I know about him, that he started the fire in Mr. Pros car that led to Pinter being beaten. I hated his snyde fucking comments every morning and every night; his “Two for flinching” bits where he’d pretend to hit someone smaller than him, then punch them twice if the flinched. I fucking hated him so much. I knew it was him, I just knew it.
Mr. Pros waved off my concerns, saying don’t worry about it. I pleaded with him. I was terrified that Tom’s ploy would work, I’d wet the bed and I’d be next for a blanket party. Mr. Pros told me that it was all in my head. This wasn’t like him, and I feared that a rift had been created between us when I refused to tell on those boys in December. Without Mr. Pros protection, I feared the worst. I was nervous all the time and stayed up late into the night most nights, cowering at every sound thinking it was the sound of a blanket party coming for me.
So what did THIS have to do with that?
It was two AM. Mr. Pros gave me a bucket of hot water, a few rags and a mop to clean my piss from the water fountain and floor. When I was done, he asked me to sit down with him at the dining room table.
“Three times this month, you’ve come out here at around this time, walked PAST the water fountain to the front door and gone outside barefoot in the snow. I called to you the first time and you didn’t answer, so I followed you outside. You walked over to the big tree in front, pee’d on it; then you came back in, walked right past me, and went back to your bed.”
“What? Noooooo. How? Why didn’t you…” It was hard for me to believe that was even possible.
“Your eyes were wide open, but it was like you were in a different world. The expression on your face…it was like you were someone else. I knew you weren’t awake. The next morning I called Mrs. Crawly in the nursing office and told her. She talked to Mr. Jagoda. The two of them told me not to try to wake you up because you could hurt yourself. I guess you’re not supposed to wake a sleepwalker. So I just followed you outside when you did it to make sure you didn’t wander past the tree.”
Holy shit, I was a sleepwalker? That sounded kinda cool actually.
“Mr. Jagoda thinks you’re doing this because of what happened to Pinter. He said it might be a psychological flight or fight response, brought on by a perceived guilt.” He looked at me sympathetically.
“You know that wasn’t your fault, right Mike? I don’t…NO body blames you for that. You know that, right?” I didn’t even know that I needed to hear that, and I became choked up without realizing that was coming.
“I only woke you up tonight because you decided to pee inside…on the water fountain no less, this time. Good job.” He half smiled and chuckled at the absurdity of it.
“Now go to bed. Maybe now that you know, you’ll stop doing it.”
I went to bed feeling better than I had in a while. I really thought that Mr. Pros was mad or disappointed in me and him more than anyone, I didn’t want to disappoint.
The next night, without telling anyone, I decided to tie myself to the bed. We had a ball of twine in the art supply box at the front of the cottage. I snuck it out and put it under my mattress. After lights out that night, I tied the twine around my wrist, then around the bottom of the bed frame.
I woke up the next morning, untied the twine and repeated this process nightly….for two weeks.
One night in February, Tom was being a particular douche bag. As I sat at the edge of my bed trying to read a book, he put his face directly in front of me and sung in a spooky cadence “NOoOoOoOobody liiiiiiiiiikes yooooooou; YOoOoOoOoOUUUU don’t have any friiiiiiiiiends!” over and over and over. He’d dance around, in front of me, bent down repeating that cadence. He’d pretend to hit me, and then say “TWO FOR FLINCHING!” and punch my arm hard even though I hadn’t moved.
I ignored him and kept reading, which only infuriated him more. Shipley walked past our dorm room and looked in. “Whatcha doin’ Tom? This little asshole bothering you?”
“Rich, Hempen here was talking about your mama, man. Said she’s ugly and wear’s combat boots.” I looked up a Shipley with a deadpan expression, as if to say “really?”
“That TRUE Hempen? You talkin’ bout my fucking mama?” Tom laughed. Now I had the two of them hovering over me. I continued to ignore them both. I’d learned over the years to ignore the bullies.
Tom smacked me in the back of my head hard. I felt my teeth clink together. Ignore them, I thought to myself. Don’t rise to it, that’s what they want.
“Smart, Hempen. Your time will come.” Shipley threw his towel over his shoulder and pranced out of the room. Tom followed him, giving one final “What a PUSSY.” As he left.
That night I tied the twine to my wrist.
I dreamt I was trapped again. Held under water, searching desperately for the surface. I was suffocating, blind, crushed by an unseen pressure. I desperately sought relief, comfort…off in the distance was a light. I felt a pinprick of warmth from that light and I had to reach it. I swam desperately toward it, but was pulled back…back…back. Never forward, something was holding me. The pressure rose and crushed me; I cursed at it, the hands holding me, keeping me from that piece of hope…
Then I woke up.
I was standing, pulling at the string tied to my wrist. I had to pee worse than I’d ever had to pee before in my life. Releif washed over me at the same time as desperation. IT WORKED! I thought, I’m a genious…but I’ve GOT to piss, right now. I moved back toward my bed, to give slack to the twine that held me, and bent down desperately to untie the knot. I’d use a standard shoe tie with a bow to tie, but somehow when I pulled at it in my dream state, I’d pulled so hard that it was now just a tight knot. I couldn’t get it undone, it was TOO tight. I pawed at it as the pressure built in my bladder. I looked around for something anything to cut the rope. I never thought of hiding scizzors under my mattress as well as the rope.
I tried to untie it from the bed frame, but it was the same thing, the knot was too tight. I stood up…it was now or never. I either had to piss in my pants, or on the floor. I pulled out my dick and saw Tom…lying in the bed next to me. A smile danced across my face.
“NOOOOOOO! What the fuck are you doing?” echoed through the cottage and woke everyone up. When the lights came on my dorm room, I was under my covers. The twine tied around my wrist hidden under the blankets. Tom was standing up looking at his midsection where a huge dark wet circle permeated his pajama bottoms.
As other kids began to fill up our door way, peeking inside at Tom’s back, I pretended to just be waking up.
“I’ll FUCKING KILL YOU HEMPEN!” He made a mad dash around his bed towards me, and I didn’t move. I’d seen Mr. Pros push his way in behind Tom, and as Tom began to rush towards me, Mr. Pros grabbed him by the collar of his pajama top and spun him around.
“oh, SNAP!”, “DAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYM” and laugher came from the crowd in the door way. Kids pointed at the giant wet spot on the front of Tom Padgett’s pajamas.
“It wasn’t me Mr. Pros, Hempen did it, I woke up and he was standing…” Mr. Pros cut him off.
“You’re saying that Hempen….who just woke up….pissed YOUR pants? Nice try. Clean this mess up.”
Mr. Pros let Tom go. “Go on, clean it up.” Then he stepped out into the hallway.
“Ok everyone back to bed. Shows over.” Sean Murphy stood his ground as everyone else left, laughing and chortling. Sean had an almost surprised look on his face as he looked at me past Mr. Pros in the doorway. I smiled and his look turned to frozen hatred.
Tom glowered at me, as he collected his bedding, but I could see the fear in his face and it felt damned good.
Tom was shunned. Even if Sean believed him when he desperately tried to tell everyone that I peed on him, nobody else did. His pleas of innocence only made him sound more guilty. The thought I would pee on someone wasn’t even a consideration in the minds of everyone else in the cottage. If Sean and Richard continued to accept Tom, they’d be seen as piss harborers and they couldn’t very well have that. Without the strength of Richard and Sean behind him, Tom became meek as a field mouse. He no longer bothered me, or anyone for that matter and nobody would talk to him. He was ostrisized. One down, two to go.
I never walked in my sleep again. As far as I know, anyway.
Winter turned to spring, and spring to summer, without incident.
It was a Sunday afternoon in May. I’d been out walking around campus all morning. It was hot out, so hot. The cottage was hot too. I had both windows open in my dorm room, but the air was stagnant; no breeze, nothing. The windows were nearly floor to ceiling, but I wished that the whole wall could be opened to let in the air. It was stuffy and I was floating in fire. Sweat dripped from my brow and into my eyes. I took off my shirt and wiped my brow with it. The only relief I could see was in a nap.
It was around 1PM, and I lay down. I was only wearing shorts. The starched rough blanket of my bed was like a hot towel on my stomach and chest, but there was slightly more comfort to my exposed back facing up. I drifted…
The sound of quiet snickering off in the distance. Secret laughter danced on the edge of perception.
A thousand tiny hands touched me roughly. Their touch, pressed hard against relaxed muscles, and violated the intense heat within my skin.
The fog of sleep permeated my senses. It held me firm in it’s grasp, begging me to find comfort within it. “Don’t go, Mike…Don’t. Go.” It trailed off and….
FLASH: VIOLENCE! PAIN!
I woke up immediately and tried to turn over. I couldn’t. My eyes wide, I could see Richard Shipley’s face in front of mine, staring at me with an evil grin. I could hear other’s laughing in the room. The pain was incredible, I inhaled to scream, and Shipley quickly covered my mouth and started laughing hysterically. I shook my head and turned it to the other side. Shipley pushed my head hard into the pillow to muffle me, and I could feel him put his knee on my back to hold me down. He laughed quietly and with malice. Someone was holding my legs. I could hear Sean Murphy giggling now. “Hold him down you pussies, HOLD HIM DOWN” he whispered, annoyed. That pain again. It was coming from my ass. I could feel something wet between my legs, but it was as hot as my skin. I struggled and screamed helplessly into my pillow. The pain made my eyes water. I felt Shipley’s hot breath in my ear as he whisptered manically, “What’s a matter, the faggot doesn’t like things in his ass now?” I heard the room erupt in laughter.
Sean’s voice again “Alright, alright, let him up. That’s enough for now.” I shot up as fast as I could. My shorts were around my ankles and I was naked. I reached behind me, fumbled and felt cold rubber in my palm. I pulled it out of my ass, fast. The pain was intense.
I was in shock as I looked at the two headed dildo, and then up to Sean Murphy. Shipley and Alvin Green were in the room; Alvin had been holding my legs as Sean put the dildo in and out of my ass. Alvin was a high schooler. I didn’t understand why he was here, laughing at me. He was bigger than the three of us, and was on the high school football team. Dark skinned, his white teeth almost glowed in contrast to his complexion. They were all laughing. I blacked out.
I woke up in the infirmary. Pain shot through every pour of my body as I tried to sit up. A dull throbbing coursed through every muscle. I was sore everywhere. My hands felt as if they were on fire. My asshole felt as if I’d taken the biggest shit of my life. That’s when the shame hit me, and I looked around to catch my bearings. There was no laughter; just the sound of the air conditioning unit on the wall. It creaked loudly within as it cooled the hot air. At least that was a relief.
I looked down and my hands were bandaged. Thick bruises littered my arms like abandoned cars in a forgotten wasteland. Everything hurt. I remembered pulling the dildo out of my ass, but why was I here? They must have beaten me, I thought; that’s why I was in so much pain.
Just then, Mrs. Crawly walked into the room from her office. “Oh, Michael” she said genuinely surprised, “You’re up.”
“What happened Mrs. Crawly, why am I here?” I said, beginning to cry. I think it was the shame of what happened. I didn’t want Mrs. Crawly or anyone to know, but if I was here, I figured she must. Then I thought of Sean Murphy bragging to everyone about what he did. A flurry of scenario’s that all ended with everyone knowing what happened, battered and broke me.
Mrs. Crawly came to me and put her hand on my shoulder. “You don’t remember what happened, Michael?”
I looked up at her with a mixture of fear and shame…”I….do YOU know what happened?”
“What’s the last thing you remember Michael?” she asked with sympathy.
“Sean…him and the others…” I looked away; I couldn’t say it. “They…”
“It’s Ok Michael; what happened after?”
“I…I woke up just now. Did I pass out? I don’t know what happened after. Did they do it again?” I put my head in my hands and began sobbing.
Just then the door to the nursing office slammed open; Mr. Borgia came in with Mr. Pros behind him. Mr. Borgia looked around the room and his eyes fell on me. His anger was a presence. Mrs. Crawley saw it.
“HEMPEN! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE! DO YOU KNOW….” He began as he made a beeline for me, his finger pointed at me like a bullet. I cowered and pushed back as far as I could on the bed, my asshole was on fire, and my muscles ached as I tried to move away from Mr. Borgia.
Mrs. Crawly stepped in front of him and matched his scream ‘MR. BORGIA! RAY! I don’t think you know the entire situation. Step away from Michael and come into my office please!”
I’d never heard anyone ever…talk to Mr. Borgia like that. It was shocking. I could see that Mr. Pros was shocked as well. His normally calm and measured demeanor was replaced by wide eyed disbelief. He inhaled deeply, expecting the worst. If you weren’t there daily, it’s hard for me to express to you the amazement of that moment. Literally, NOBODY, and I mean nobody, talked to Ray Borgia like that.
“Mrs. Crawly…” Mr. Borgia began with respect and wide eyes. I think he was in just as much shock as Mr. Pros and I.
“IN.MY.OFFICE.” Mrs. Crawly shot back before he could finish his sentence.
Mr. Borgia silently followed her into her office, but not before shooting me a reproachful glance.
Mr. Pros, as he always did, spoke to me with compassion. “Mike, are you Ok?”
I was calm, but frightened and still sobbing “Mr. Pros, what happened? Why is everyone mad at ME? I didn’t do anything.” That was a bluff; surely by allowing them to violate me like that, I was in the wrong here. Why else would everyone be so mad at me? But I was operating under the assumption that maybe he didn’t know. Everything I was thinking was wrong.
“It’s Ok Mike, It’s Ok. You’re going to be just fine.” Mr. Pros held me to his chest as I cried.
Mr. Borgia emerged from Mrs. Crawley’s office a few minutes later; his body language, demeanor, everything about him seemed to have changed. He held his hat in front of himself in both hands. “Mike…I didn’t know.” He walked up to me as I sat up in the bed. Mr. Pros held me protectively. “It’s OK Richard, I didn’t know. Go talk to Mrs. Crawly and she’ll fill you in. Mr. Pros got up and went into Mrs. Crawly’s office. I cowered, waiting for a blow. Mr. Borgia leaned down and gently hugged me.
“I’m sorry Mike; we’re going to figure this out…”
Surprised, I said “Mr. Borgia, what happened?”
After I was told, it came back to me over the years in drips and drabs. To this day, I sometimes find an image from that afternoon floating in front of me, and I hate it. Things I might see in life, words I hear, feelings with in me, will sometimes pluck a memory of that day from my mind, seemingly from out of nowhere. The violence of it tears at me, the sheer passion of the violence. I hate knowing that I have that inside of me, some gene that lies dormant; a gift from a father who had nothing but hate to give. I hate how much I liked exacting that violence most of all.
I pulled the dildo out of my ass and looked at it in shock. Without saying a word, I bent down, still holding it, and pulled my shorts up as blood dripped down the back of my legs. I began shuffling toward the door, eyes saucer wide, staring at the soft rubber sex toy in my hand. It was filthy, covered in dirt; there was even a wet leaf stuck to it midway along the shaft. And It was long, with a dick head on each side. I held it firmly, from the bottom of one end, and it wobbled back and forth, comically, as I staggered forward.
Someone had brought up the subject of two headed dildos in the past; I believe Joe might have found one in his mother’s nightstand. The picture my young mind formed was that of a football goal post with a dick head on the tips. Not rounded, but squared, just like a goal post. As I stared at the two headed dildo in my hand, without segue, the realization of how wrong I was, washed over me in a chill.
Something struck me in the head…hard, and I turned. I grabbed at the piercing pain with my free hand. This brought me around to the present again. Shipley had thrown a metal Hot Wheels car at me; the three of them laughed. I looked at them each in turn; Richard, Alvin…my gaze landed on Sean Murphy, standing in front of the open window. The light from the afternoon sun nearly silhouetting him against it. He was dark, except for that smile…that crooked toothy fucking smile. His eyes didn’t laugh with his mouth like everyone else; they were out of sync on his oblong, pill shaped head. There was something wrong with this boy, and I wanted to kill him. I’d never wanted anything so bad in all my life.
Fear, pain, indecision, shame, helplessness, it all melted way in that instance. There was nothing left but hatred and instinct.
I took a step back and ran at Sean like a freight train. Full speed, everything I had. I crossed the room almost instantly, and threw the full force of my body into Sean’s midsection. I felt the wind violently escape his body and heard the crash as the two of us went through the bedroom window and landed in a bush outside and below it.
There was a loud “CRACK!” and the sound of shattered glass and twisting metal. The back of Sean’s head broke the old wood frame on the bottom of the open window. The three panes of glass shattered and the screen tore as the metal frame of it bent.
There was no slow motion, or feeling of tumbling, tumbling, tumbling down from the window and into the bush below. I was in the moment and the moment happened instanteaneously. We landed in the bush with me on top of Sean, which is exactly where I wanted to be. Although a foot taller than me, I weighed more than Sean. I immediately began punching him in the face with both hands, one after the other. My left fist still clenching the dildo. I wanted to wipe that toothy smirk off of his face forever. I distinctly remember the smell of body odor from my sweating armpits as my fists went up before each blow I rained down on Sean Murphy.
Sean had an almost groggy look on his face when we first landed, presumably the blow to the back of his head stunned him, but when he looked up…when he looked up I saw the fear in his eyes and it filled me with such joy. Euphoria. It was almost orgasmic. I felt free, liberated, and the overwhelming pleasure that I took in that look, haunts me to this day. I smiled and punched him, gritting my teeth. His hands grabbed and pushed at first as he screamed in terror. “That’s right…scream, scream like a little girl you fucking faggot!” I thought. His pushing became weaker as I pummeled him, until his hands were only waving comically before my eyes, until they fell and lay still. His screams turned to muffled gurgles, then silence. Violence consumed me.
I felt his nose crack, I saw his face turn red with blood; his eyes swelled and his jaw lay slack. When I couldn’t punch anymore from sheer exhaustion, I began beating him in the face with the dildo. Richard and Alvin ran through the cottage and outside, but it was too late for them to help Sean by the time they reached me. I held the dildo to Sean’s bloody face with one hand and pushed it down onto his skin with the other, showing him! Violently shoving my shame into his face! I was standing now, and all my weight was behind me as I pressed the dildo into Sean’s skin and screamed like a wild beast: “DO YOU SEE!?! SEE! THIS?! SEE IT!!!!”
Alvin, leaned in to grab me from one side as Shipley started punching my arm on the other. My attention immediately broke from Sean. I left the dildo on his face, and stood up straight, quick as an arrow. I shoved Alvin with all of my might, he was the biggest threat. He wasn’t ready for it and was off balance trying to pull at me; he went down hard. As Richard punched me, I grabbed his shirt by his arm and pulled him violently towards me while at the same time punching him in the gut as hard as I could. My fist sank into him. When he doubled over, I got him in a headlock and looked to my right. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew it when I saw it. I dragged Richard as he struggled to gain his breath and walk, hunched over at the same time. I squeezed his neck with everything I had. I wanted to pop his head off like a zit. I lined up to the big tree in front of the cottage. As I pulled him forward, Shipley stumbled and I used his weight to build momentum. I ran us forward and screamed in delight as Tom’s head bounced off the tree, and he fell backwards on to the ground unconscious. I can remember thinking it odd that, as hard as his head hit the old thick tree, no sound was made.
I shot a predatory look at Alvin Green lying on the ground who only stared back in shock. I clenched my fists and screamed at him. The cords in my neck popped and veins pulsed in my forehead. Blood dripped from my fists. Alvin ran away towards the Administration Building, falling clumsily into the dirt as he went. I fell to my knees, and screamed into the sky.
Of the bits and pieces that came back to me, the thing I remember most of all was how red my skin was. I looked down as the thundering of my heart began to slow, and took in myself. My arms, belly, legs, were beet red. I was told later that that was because the blood was pumping so furiously within me that it made my skin flush, as if my body felt embarrassment all over. That memory came back to me after watching an episode of The Incredible Hulk. When Hulk turns from Lou Ferrigno back to Bill Bixby, that’s the best analogy for what I felt in that moment. I slumped to my side and passed out.
I was told that some of the other kids in the cottage were outside playing when Sean and I crashed through the window. As Richard and Alvin ran outside, other’s ran out with them from inside the cottage. I didn’t notice any of them. Mr. Pros ran out shortly after I passed out; he was taking a nap and some of the kids had ran in to wake him. After seeing Sean and Tom, he called Ms. Crawly, who told him to call 911.
I’d later learn that after their parents dropped them off, Sean Murphy and Richard Shipley and a few others went to the woods to play. That’s where they found the two headed dildo. Sean’s intent was apparently to chase me around and hit me with it. When they came back to the cottage, Tim Green, who lived in our cottage was being dropped off when Sean and Richard came back. Sean told Tim what he planned to do, and asked Tim if he wanted in on the fun. Tim refused, but his brother Alvin was there and he wanted in.
Alvin was always a shit starter, and was one of the NCO’s that was feared the most, as he’d beat anyone smaller than him, no matter the provocation.
When he got the dean’s office, Mr. Borgia was on-duty. Alvin lied to Mr. Borgia and told him that I just attacked the three of them out of nowhere. He never mentioned the two headed dildo which was later found in the bush below my dorm window. As the kids outside didn’t see what happened before we came through the window, all they could do is corroborate what Alvin told Mr. Borgia. That’s why Mr. Borgia was so hot when he first came into the infirmary. Mrs. Crawly didn’t have to be told that I was assaulted, though she didn’t know with what, she could see trauma to my asshole, and she was empathetic enough to recognize what might have happened. Later, I recounted the entire event to Mr. Borgia, up to the moment I blacked out. He was the only human being I’ve ever told this story to, until now.
Because the dildo was found in the woods, I had to have my first STD test…at 13 years old, and later an AIDs test, as apparently it takes time for that to show up in your blood.
Sean Murphy was expelled. I was told that I broke his jaw, and cracked the bone in his cheek. Two of his teeth had to be pulled and he had to have stitches on the back of his head where he hit the window, as well as on his shoulder where a large piece of glass punctured his skin. Both he and Richard suffered concussions, but only Richard came back to campus a few days later with a bandage around his head. Although I didn’t remember doing it, I took pride in that bandage. When I saw Richard, all I could see was that smirk as he held me down. Fuck Richard Shipley, I thought.
Some of the kids who were there, told me later that Richard had the imprint of a bloody fist in the middle of his shirt.
Though Sean tried denying the dildo part of the story, Richard and Alvin copped to it almost immediately when pressed by Mr. Borgia. Sean’s parents threatened to sue Glenwood over the incident, as Sean’s mother vehemently denied that her son could have sexually assaulted me. But with three kids against Sean, Mr. Borgia and Mr. Dunleavy threatened to have Sean arrested and assured his parents that he’d spend the next four years of his life in a juvenile institute should they continue to press. No lawsuit occurred.
For eventually telling the truth of the incident, Richard and Alvin were suspended for two weeks, and put on restriction for six months. The longest restriction ever handed out at Glenwood, to that point. I received two weeks of suspension as well, for fighting.
Mr. Borgia was very sympathetic when telling me I was suspended. He knew my mother, and from the way he was talking to me, I had to assume he’d already talked to her and she was less than thrilled. Mr. Borgia even apologized and explained that the school couldn’t be seen as letting that kind of violence go unpunished. He also wanted me to know that although he understood, there was no justification for that kind of violence. He stood up from his desk and walked around to where I sat, looking down at my bandaged hands.
I looked up at him. “I just told you what I’m supposed to say, but now I’m going to tell you what I want to say. I’m proud of you Mike. You stood up for yourself and that was a long time coming. But now you have to decide what kind of man you’re going to be. Don’t let what happened define you, but rather use it as a tool to define yourself. You’re a good kid, and you’re going to make a good man.”
No man had ever told me they were proud of me before in my life. There’s a point in life, an age up to which a boy needs to hear that from a man. As a boy, a man being proud of you can set the stage for how your whole life will play out. I’m grateful to Mr. Borgia everyday for giving me that. It was one of the very few pieces of goodness that I remember from my childhood.
That was the first and last time I’ve ever punched a human being. Not to say that I haven’t come close a few times, but as I said. I abhorred the violence of that incident. Even as I took pride in the results of that day, my stomach churned at the thought of the means with which those results were realized.
Everything changed after that. Kids stopped fucking with me after that incident. There was no making fun of me, there was no punching me, no ‘faggot’ jokes, nothing. Even the high school NCO’s didn’t mess with me anymore during formations. Richard looked away when he saw me and quickly went a different direction, and good fucking riddance. But with that notoriety came a different feeling of isolation. People were afraid of me, not just because of what I did, but because of what was done to me. Of course, that news spread like wildfire around the campus, and kids don’t know how to process that kind of information. Since they couldn’t make fun of me, everyone just kept their distance.
I wanted to revel in my newfound campus celebrity, but at the same time I realized that boasting of my foes defeat, only brought back the feeling of shame from the incident that led to it. I think back now, about how I could have easily used the infamy I gained, to become a bully myself. But for the kind words of Mr. Borgia, and the guidance of Mr. Pros, I did not. I tried to remain humble and become an example of what might happen to other’s who tried to bully.
Although there was distance caused by the unknown, the younger kids on campus began to look up to me, especially those who had been victims of Sean Murphy. I became more outgoing, more talkative as I tried to convince others that I wasn’t a threat. Even the friends I had before the incident kept their distance. I think they just didn’t know what to say to me, and I feared that I’d spend the rest of my time at Glenwood alone.
But just when things seemed to be going downhill again, as my mind slid toward the surety of solitude…an unlikely magazine caught my eye and shaped the course of my life from that day forward.
Not before I returned from my two week suspension, and found that I was moved to a different cottage: Rathje.