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It was a long time ago, from what I remember. Yes, indeed. It was a very long time. It was longer than what I could have imagined. Actually, it wasn’t, but that is beside the point. It was not that long ago, for that would be exaggerating. But, it was still a while ago. It was about nine years ago, from what I remember. Yes, nine years. And, the story is remarkable. It was remarkable and noteworthy. The story, that took place in my life, taught me a very valuable life lesson. A lesson that I still hold true. It helped me turn into the person I am today. And, I am glad that it happened to me. I do not know what I would do without this occurrence, for life may have been rough. And, now, my purpose is to tell you this story, this story that you may find extremely noteworthy, as well.
This story I am about to tell you happened nine years ago, during a time that I call the “Depression Decade.” It was a time that was fairly rough, and it was a time that I still remember to this day. This story I am about to tell you is an unforgettable one.
It was the year 2002. At this time, I was eight years old, and I was in the second grade. It was a couple months after the 9/11 incident. It was January, and things were a little tough. At this time, I was suffering internally. Aunt Gail had died two years before, and it had left the Webers, my extended family, devastated. My dad had finally left, and I never saw him again. Mom was crying her eyes out every time I saw her in the evening. She would hold her emotions in during the day, and then she would cry every time I saw her. And, my siblings were all in confusion. Elyse was utterly depressed; thus, she became taciturn. Sean was in a great confusion; he knew not what happened to Dad. Stef was still a small baby; she was only about one or two. She did not have the slightest idea of what happened to her father. I was fairly reticent, depressed, quiet, and shy. I was afraid to talk to anyone. My good friend, Erin Beachum from first grade, had moved the year before. So, I was utterly quiet. And, thus my day began in a never-ending cycle—the cycle that could not be stopped unless I was dead.
I remember dreaming that night. I was dreaming vividly. My dream was frightening, horrid. I was walking down the stairs when I saw Dad, with big red eyes, holding a knife—a Bowie knife. He was holding a butcher’s knife, and he was looking directly at me. There was a fresh corpse on the floor, maimed, slaughtered, and cut. And there was blood on his knife. I looked at the corpse, and my eyes went wide. That corpse had belonged to Elyse. It was Elyse’s body. Dad had killed her. And Dad continued to look at me, looking as if he were possessed, with the big red eyes glaring at me, seeing right through my soul.
Dad then smiled demonically at me, his red eyes letting off an ominous luminescence, completely unnatural, if anything. “Hello, son,” Dad said, with a dark gravelly voice completely unlike him. “I did not expect to see you here. What are you doing up so early? I thought you would have been in bed, as I had told you many times before.”
I looked at Dad and said, “Daddy, it’s okay. Please don’t hurt anybody. Please leave. Please don’t hurt anyone.”
Dad leered at me. “Oh, Justy,” he said so soothingly, “I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not going to hurt anyone. I just came here to visit.”
I started to shake. “Daddy, what are you doing here?”
Dad then smiled. “I just came here to visit, son. Is there a problem?”
I shook my head. “No, sir. There’s no problem. But, what do you want?” I was scared. I did not know what else to say.
“I just want to see your mother,” Dad said. “May I see her?”
“No, Daddy,” I said. “Please don’t bother Mom. She would not be very happy. Has she not been through enough already? Will you please leave her alone?”
Dad shook his head. “No, Justy, I can see your mother if I want to. Now please tell her wear she is.”
I was scared. Elyse was dead on the floor, and my father was carrying a knife. He was going to kill Mom, too. Dad knew I was an insomniac, and I was going to be in trouble.
“Please don’t wake her up, Dad,” I said timidly. “Please don’t. It wouldn’t be nice.”
Dad laughed. “It doesn’t matter if it’s nice or not; I just want to see your mother. I have some business to settle with her.”
“No, Dad,” I said. “I won’t let you see her.”
Dad then grimaced, his eyes going to a shade of maroon. “I’m sorry, son. But, you have gotten in my way. And, you know what I do to people who get in my way. I will have to punish you.”
Then I saw Dad turn even more grotesque. He was not in his human form anymore. He was not a human at all. Dad’s eyes turned into a brighter red. They were almost scarlet. It looked like there was fire kindling in his irises. However, his body began to transform. It transformed from the usual body I had been so accustomed to.
His eyes grew into a scarlet, where a bonfire seemed to be kindling in his irises. His head transformed into a reptilian head of some sort. His mouth and nose extruded into a snout. The snout became toothy and fanged. His knife dropped from his hand, for he would not need it anymore. Horns grew out of his head, and his ears turned into something elf-like. His goatee started to grow in frenzy, where hair began to cover his face. His arms grew bigger, and muscular, ripping the sleeves on his shirt. His chest grew much larger, ripping his button down shirt and breaking all the buttons he wore. His waste grew bigger, ripping the fly and the stitches that had been tailored on his pants. His arms grew into large legs, covered with fur. His hands grew into large paws, with claws about four feet long. His feet grew large that his shoes ripped, and they grew into paws with large claws, as well. Wings stretched out of his back, and they looked big and scaly. A tail grew out of his buttock, and it looked big and bushy. In the end, he looked like a feline-like creature with large wings, claws, horns, and a hooked tail. His red eyes were burning wildly.
I looked up and started to cry. “No, daddy! No! Don’t hurt me!”
“You asked for this, you little imp!” he shouted at me. “I’m going to hurt you, and you will never forget the lesson I taught you.”
Dad picked me up with one of his giant paws, and he brought me to his face. I looked at him, and I cried. Tears were streaming down my face. I did not want to get hurt. I did not want to die. My dad was insane.
“I’m going to teach you a lesson, son,” he said. “I’m going to teach you a lesson you were never able to learn because of your stupid incompetence. I’m going to teach you the meaning of your tomfoolery, and I’m going to make sure you never forget what your stupidity did to me. Your head injury will forever be a mark on your soul. I am going to teach you a lesson, son. And, you will live with it for the rest of your life.”
I cried. “Daddy, no! Daddy, please! Please! Please don’t hurt me!”
Dad laughed, and he took me into his mouth, and he chewed me, giving me excruciating pain. Then he spat me out. I fell against the floor, breaking my shoulder blades, collarbone, arms, and legs. I could not get up. However, I had a clear view of my father, looming over me. He inhaled, and he lit me afire.
I woke up when Amy Howard turned on the lights. They were bright for a second, hurting my pupils suddenly, and then she dimmed them, allowing my pupils some adjustment.
“Time to wake up, Justin, Sean,” she said. “Time to wake up. Chop-chop!”
I woke up from my pillow, and Sean woke up underneath me. Sean and I shared a bedroom. We slept in a bunkbed. I slept on the top, and Sean slept beneath me. As I looked down at the floor, my little brother, only five years old, came from under the bed and said, “Wow! It’s Monday. It’s time to get up again.”
I nodded and said, “Yeah, Sean. It was after a long weekend. It’s time to go to school again.”
Sean looked up at me. He was a small boy of only 4’3”. He had a large head, which made him “cute” in Mom’s eyes. He had blond hair cropped short, which made his hair look different than it is today. He had big brown eyes that every one of our relatives adored. His nose was rather small, and he had a big smile on his face. His body was stout, as with all little dudes, and he had diminutive hands and feet with miniscule fingers and toes. He was wearing his Hotwheels pajamas, for he had loved cars at the time. And, the little kindergartener was ready to go to school again.
“Hey, Just!” he said loudly. “It’s time to go to school. It’s time to go to school.”
I got out of my sheets and blankets, and I climbed down the ladder. “Yup,” I said, “it’s time to go to school, for sure.”
Sean looked at me and squinted. “Hey, Just,” he said, “have you seen my glasses?”
“Yup,” I said. “They’re right here.” I handed him his glasses. He grabbed them, and he put them on.
“Thanks, Just,” he said.
“You’re welcome, Sean,” I said.
I went out of my bedroom and into the bathroom. It was time to get dressed. I put on my uniform. Then I went out of the door, and I headed downstairs for breakfast. Amy had gotten some dishes out—a bowl, a spoon, and a glass—and had filled my glass with milk. As I approached the kitchen table, Amy came forth and said, “Good morning, Justin. How are you?”
I looked up and said, “I am fine. Thanks.”
“All right,” she said. “It is time for your medication.”
She gave me my meds, which included Adderall XR and Risperdal. I took them and swallowed them whole.
“Thanks, Amy,” I said.
“You’re welcome,” she said. “So, what would you like to eat?”
“I’ll eat Cap’n Crunch. Will you please get it for me?”
Amy got the box from the La-Z Susan and poured it into my cereal bowl. She then filled the bowl up with milk. I looked at it hungrily.
“Thanks, Amy,” I said.
“You’re welcome,” she said.
I took my spoon in hand, and I started to eat it. I ate it down in a matter of 50 seconds, and then I drank down the milk in four seconds. I had been starved. I then put the bowl on the floor, and Hollyfield, my dog, licked up the milk.
“All right, Justin,” Amy said. “Go upstairs and clean yourself up. Don’t forget to brush your teeth.”
“All right,” I said. I went upstairs, and I brushed my teeth. Then Sean and I went downstairs, and we were going to board the bus. We boarded the bus, and we were on our way to school. Sean and I sat in the back of the bus, where Kyle Bush, Sean’s “enemy,” and Jon Seif sat. Katie Bush and Matthew Bush, Kyle’s older siblings, also sat there. Other older kids sat back there, as well, including Paige Hutzel, Vanessa Martinez, Stephanie Post, Tim Drummond, and Rosie Headley. As soon as we sat down, Kyle Bush immediately saw us, and he started saying, “Hey, guys! Look, it’s Seen Beaver and his brother, Juice-ton!”
I looked up at him and rolled my eyes. Kyle, like Sean, was an instigator. However, Kyle was more of an instigator than my brother was.
The older kids looked at Kyle and rolled their eyes. I heard Tim mumble, “Kyle’s an idiot, I swear.”
Sean looked at Kyle and said, “Hey, Kyle. How’s it going?”
Kyle looked at Sean with his big blue eyes. He was about Sean’s height, but he was lanky like me. (However, he was lankier than I was.) He had an angular chin—like that of a 30° angle. He had a large rounded head on top. His hair was short, and it looked like a buzz-do. His had big bushy blond eyebrows, and he had a big nose. His mouth was slim and idiotic. He had buckteeth, in a way. His ears stuck out like stumps on the side of his head. He was utterly skinny—skinny to the point where Danny Drummond called him a beanpole. His neck had the circumference and diameter of a flagpole. His shoulders were rather slim, and he had skinny limbs. He wore a uniform, just like the rest of us. And, he had a blue sweater jacket that he wore every day to school.
“Hey, Seen!” Kyle said, addressing Sean. “Would you like some cherry bombs again?” At this, he uttered his stupid little laugh. It was completely stupid.
“Nah, Kyle,” Sean said, “I could do completely fine without them. Thank you.”
“Ah, Say-awn! You’re so stupid, aren’t you? You sure you don’t want to swallow some cherry bombs? Heh-heh.”
“Nah, Kyle, I’m fine.”
“Man, Shuno, you’re dumb. You never know when the opportunity is right, don’tcha? You crack me up, you punkhead.”
“I’d say the same thing about you, Kyle,” Sean said.
“Hey,” Kyle said, “you can’t say things like that! Dang, Shoebox, I’m tired of you.”
Sean looked at Kyle and laughed. “Kyle, you’re so stupid! You just try to make fun of me for no reason. You look like an absolute idiot.”
Kyle frowned. “Hey, at least I don’t pick my nose all the time, Shunxboy. At least I don’t run around and put boogers on people.”
Sean only laughed. “At least I don’t have to look like an idiot just to make myself look cool,” he said, laughing. “You should see how much anger you’re restraining. It’s hilarious!”
Kyle reddened. “Shanks, I’ve had enough of you! I’m tired of you making fun of me. I am going to ask everyone. Am I an idiot?”
Sean only laughed harder, and I, admittedly, started to laugh. Kyle only reddened more. “Hey, Jon,” Kyle said, “am I an idiot?”
Jon looked at Kyle and said, “Well, you’d look more efficient if you didn’t try to make fun of people all the time.”
And everyone laughed. Kyle then looked at Sean and said, “Shay-awn, I’m getting you. I’m getting you.”
At this time, Sean started singing “Kyle’s Bag,” which he had arbitrarily made up on his own. He started singing the lyrics:
Kyle has a big bag of poop, poop, poop, poop,
He’s got a big bag of poop, poop, poop, poop,
Kyle and his big bag of poop,
Kyle and his big bag of poop,
Have you ever seen Kyle,
Come across the lawn?
Have you ever seen him,
Carry a bag on his back?
For when he has to go,
You know he is sidetracked,
And he goes clippily clop,
The runs again,
And all the way onto dawn.
Kyle and his bag of poop, poop, poop, poop,
Kyle’s bag of poop, poop, poop, poop,
Kyle’s bag of poop, poop, poop, poop,
Kyle’s bag of poop.
Kyle carries it around with him,
Everywhere he goes,
He cannot rid himself of it,
And he surely knows,
It’s like a million tons,
Even when it snows,
For he cannot lose it,
For his life is on the go.
Kyle’s bag of poop…
At this, Kyle became mad, and everyone was laughing. He was red and very red. He was about as red as a tomato. The kid who made fun of people to feel good had the tables turned on him. It was part of psychology. The big cheese lost his gun. The top dog, the Alpha Male, had been in charge and had been in control, but the pack had rebelled, and his world went upside down. He had lost his cool. It was utterly chaotic. People were laughing, Kyle was screaming, and a cacophony filled the bus.
Finally, someone yelled, “SHUT UP!” The cacophony immediately went silent. Everyone looked at where the noise came from. It was Katie, and she was awake and angry. She had been asleep, and she did not want to be disturbed. And, she had been wished ill will.
“Dang it!” Kate said. “Why do you idiots have to be so noisy? Why can’t you be quiet? You have to be so loud! You are all so stupid! All I wanted was some shuteye, and I can’t have it because you idiots have to scream and cry like a bunch of banshees. What is wrong with you people? Seriously, what is wrong with you? Do you not have any brains? Geez.”
“Sorry, Kate,” Matt mumbled.
“Yeah, uh, sorry, Kate,” Kyle said to her.
“Shut up, Kyle,” she said. “You’re an idiot. You’re the cause of all this ruckus, after all. You’re the one who started all this hoopla. Now, shut up, or you’ll get a knuckle sandwich.”
“Sorry, Kate,” he said. “Silence sequence starting…now.”
“Good,” Kate said to herself, “with his mouth shut, I can finally go back to sleep. Stupid idiot. Now, it will be peace and quiet.”
The bus arrived at school fifteen minutes later. As soon as it stopped, I departed the bus, and I went to Mrs. Noonan’s room. Mrs. Noonan was my teacher. She had an interesting class because she taught second and third grade at the same time. So, there was a mixture of both grades in the classroom. As soon as I arrived there, Mrs. Noonan took us to chapel. There, we started with prayer, and we made our spiritual vows. Then we went back to the classroom, and I sat in my seat. I sat in the bully hotspot. And, this was not good.
In second grade, David and his cronies picked on me. David was a year older than I was, and he was a ruthless little git. However, among his cronies was Steven, an ex-friend of mine. They all picked on me constantly. David and his cronies consisted of Drew, Steven (as aforementioned), Alex, Zach, Zeke, Matthew, Nathan, etc. I was extremely shy, and I had no friends whatsoever. The creeps always made fun of me for some odd reason. For example, they would make fun of my “yellow teeth,” my “thinness,” my not-willing-to-talk, etc. It really hurt. And, I was in for a doosie.
As Mrs. Noonan was going to teach English to the second and third grade, the people at my table, David, Steven, and Drew, were all reaching out for me, ready to strike. I knew I was in for trouble. As Mrs. Noonan was about to teach, David smiled and let his minions start talking to me. Steven and Drew started asking me weird questions in order to distract me from Mrs. Noonan’s lecture. They started doing weird things, as well. Mrs. Noonan, who was a very nice teacher, completely ignored my humiliation. However, the class was looking at us now, and it became humiliating. Every single face was on me – every boy and every girl. Every girl from Rachel Schulist to Erin Hongsermeier was looking at me. Every boy from Alex Johnson to Jon Seif was looking at me, as well. I shrank in my seat. I could not stand being watched. Mrs. Noonan, who was distracted for the first time, approached me and asked, “Justin, are you okay?”
I looked up and said, “I’m fine, Mrs. Noonan; thanks.”
“All right, Justin. Thanks.”
She then looked at the class. “All right, class, please pay attention, and please don’t get distracted. It’s not a good thing to do. Now, please pay attention. Now, as I was saying, a noun is…”
She continued to talk, and the nonsense continued until lunch, where I could sit away from those who picked on me, even if I was by myself. It was a lot better than sitting next to the clowns who picked on me all the time. I ate lunch, and then I went out for recess. As soon as I left the gymnasium and approached the playground, David and his cronies were back again. They were approaching, and David had a big smile on his face.
“Hey, guys,” he said. “Look who wanted to join the party.”
“Actually,” I said, “I was planning on leaving as soon as I came.”
“Well, apparently you stopped by,” David said, “so we came to do you a favor. We don’t want to do you a disservice, now, do we boys?”
His cronies nodded in consent.
“Now, if you don’t mind,” he said, “Steven will be hosting our show.”
David stepped back as I looked at him. Steven then approached the front.
“Hello, Justin,” Steven said. “How are you in the world of stupids?”
“Uh, guys,” I said, “I was just planning on leaving. Will you mind leaving me alone? It would be really nice.”
“Well, guess who’s a chicken?” Steven asked. “You’re a chicken, Justin. Chicken! Chicken! Buck-buck-bidahk!”
David and his cronies laughed.
“So are you going to be a real man, huh?” Steven asked. “Or are you going to pick your nose just like your big-bummed mother?”
Everyone laughed again.
“Uh, will you please leave me alone,” I said. “It would be nice.”
“Well, Justin, you will pick your nose like your big-bummed mother. I guess you will. You know, your momma’s fat. Your daddy is fat. Your sister is fat. Your brother is superfat. Your sister is going to be fat just like the rest of them. Are you going to be a fatso, too?”
“Steven, will you please stop? It kind of hurts.”
“And your family is dumb, too. They dropped out of school in the third grade. You’re Grandpa and Grandma are dumbos, too. You think stupid just like the rest of them. Are you a birdbrain? Huh, Justin? Are you?”
“Uh, no, Steven. I’m not a birdbrain, and will you please leave me alone?”
“Ah-ha-ha-ha! Justin’s a chicken! He goes squawkity-squawk all day long. He never knows when to be brave. He flaps his wings, and he bats his beak, and he runs away like a pure, stupid chicken.”
Then I looked downward, and Steven and the rest of his “gang” started laughing. Then a voice said something.
“He’s not a chicken!” a boy’s voice said. “He’s not a chicken, and he is very brave. And, you clowns are a bunch of fools.”
Steven looked up and noticed it was Anthony Byrne, someone sticking up for me. He walked over to them and said, “Stop it, Steven. Leave poor Justin alone. Can’t you see he’s hurt? Leave him alone. He doesn’t deserve the treatment you give him.”
Steven looked at him and said, “Yeah, Anthony? What are you gonna do about it? Be his mother?”
“No. I’m not his mother. I’m merely standing up for him. I’m helping him. Now, leave him alone, or I’ll get Mrs. Koepnick involved.”
“Oh, no!” Steven yelled. “Not Mrs. Koepnick! I’ve had enough of her.”
Steven and his cronies left. That was a good thing, I guess. Then Anthony bent down and comforted me.
“Hey, man,” he said, “it’s okay. I know how you feel. I know how it hurts to be made fun of all the time. It’s unbearable, I know. But, don’t worry, it will all come to an end.”
I looked at Anthony and said, “Thanks, Anthony. Thanks for standing up for me.”
He nodded. “You’re welcome. It’s okay, man. They’ll leave you alone soon enough. Believe me. They will.”
With that, we walked to Mrs. Koepnick’s office, where Steven would again face another ordeal. And, Anthony Byrne became my friend for that year.
In a time of desperation and need, Anthony helped me out when I needed him most. I had ten long years of depression, but I managed to get through it until now. But, what Anthony taught me as that the best gift you can give is the gift of life itself. Life being one’s own life being given to another person. And, Anthony did that. He gave his a part of his life in order to help me through the bullying. He was like a shield to me. He blocked projectiles, arrows, missiles, and the like. He was a true friend, and true friends do things such as that.
What I learned is that one cannot have a friend without being a friend. And, Anthony nine years ago had been a friend. He acted like one. He stuck up for me in my time of need. And, I have applied this philosophy throughout my life. I have always been there for my friends when they needed me most. I was with Peter Triezenberg, my best friend, in times of happiness and sadness. I consoled Enjolie-Rose Trinh when she had suffered heartbreak. I tried to counsel Sean when he was angry at the world. And, I tried to help my sister when she was hurt. And, this life lesson became one of my sole philosophies. It turned me into who I am today.
However, we should all try to go out of our way when one of our friends is hurt. If one of your friends has a bad day or a bad situation, the best action you can take is simply to listen. Listen to what your friend has to say. Listen to his or her story. Listen without interruption. Don’t interrupt, for that will lead to more discomfort. But simply being there will help your friend a lot more. After listening to his or her story, give advice; counsel your friend. You can make a difference in your friend’s life just by being there.
Whenever someone is down, you can do all you can to help him or her back up. You can be the change in his or her life. You can be the enlightenment. You can make his or her life all the better. Don’t forget that this is a major life lesson. I have learned it from Anthony and many other people, as well. You do not have to be a psychologist, but if someone needs your help, you can make a difference. Believe me; it makes all the difference in the world.