There was a shooting at a local high school today. Right down the street from my house. The tragedy struck a cord with me, and I was probably the only one who felt like the assailant's guilt, horror, and shock at what he had done, what he had been capable of, outweighed any anger he had used to fuel his anger at the time of the shooting.
The worst thing I remember about the school violence growing up was when Jack (Nameless) got jumped by at least 40 or more kids after school. That was when he was slandering another kid who had very recently committed suicide. He was talking about how the kid deserved what he got and he should have done it sooner.
Now, Warren (Nameless) was a well liked guy, the class clown, funny, likeable, memorable to all, even if you were not close with him. He had guts when he talked to teachers, which later became infamous amongst all. Everyone loved to laugh at him and he loved to make them laugh. I was never personally involved with him. I have no claim to even talking recently with him before the event. I was a bystander on the outside, watching the pain of those who loved him, somehow feeling it myself. I wept terribly for him, for his youth, for his college years, having a family, as so many of us are doing now. I felt the weight of his loss, though I had no right to. I could only witness without sharing the grief. I was a distance acquaintance, at best. A fading memory in his mind. I had no hard feelings for the guy when he died and felt a huge hole had been blown in my universe upon learning of his tragic decision to end his life: MORTALITY
In the seventh grade we had almost kissed but I never happened to like him that way. Even though I secretly felt that he shouldn't have killed himself, I felt maybe he should have reached out to someone. (Not knowing the details at the time) I thought it was stupid to kill yourself and that suicide could be seen as a selfish act in some ways, robbing your friends and family, robbing yourself. I had admitted this to another student in one of those group therapy sessions the school makes kids do after situations like that, the day after it happened. People were still torn emotionally, raw and uncomforted by empty explanations of adults, and his suicide hit my peers and me hard, not only that someone my age could actually die but that we were all left behind with no real answers. Another student having heard my comment about suicide being selfish was enraged and started screaming at me. I kept my mouth shut after that but apparently Jack was not so lucky.
Around 50 kids were waiting for him at the convenience store a block from the school that day. The sky was a shade of smoky gray, as if it had not decided on raining yet. Everybody was chattering quietly, on edge with anticipation about the blood bath that was looming. Jack, having no idea of the doom awaiting him, walked around the corner during this peak of tension. He took one look at the crowd as they all fell silent and knew beyond a doubt they were all there for him. The mob mentality was intoxicating and I was drooling for his pain just as everyone else was. I felt ready to be a cheerleader of death despite all the events. As if each of us were aching to put our inner pain into someone else's face. He turned and bolted down a dead end street, the dolt. If it had been me, which it easily could have been, I would have run straight towards the school. As it was, legally, he was off of school grounds and therefore fair game with no one to help him. The boys caught him with ease, pushing him down. Like a scared animal being tackled for a predator's feast, he knew there was no point in trying to get up after losing his balance and he curled up into the tiniest ball he could manage.
After the first few punches and dribbles of blood, always having had a weak stomach, I was thoroughly satisfied. Being just a witness, and too much of an emotional wuss to ever inflict real pain on another human being, I was content with being there to support my fellow classmates in the crime, wanting to vent my frustration anywhere, especially after being vented on. But the assailants were driven as if they had no off switch and kept beating that poor boy until he was an unrecognizable pulp, oozing blood from all available and man made sources. My stomach started to churn and I began wondering if they would ever stop. I was sickened by the crowd's lust for such violence and started to scream for them all to stop. But, my pleas were unheard because they were locked inside my mind. A mass of voices blended together and the crowd went into a frenzy after each blow screaming for more and more. An insatiable violent tapeworm had begun to be fed and I left before I had to witness this boy's death, which I was sure would happen soon.
I looked back and a wave of people quickly closed my view to the brutal beating but the sounds of that day will stay forever. Sweet sounding wet blows were still being thrown as I ran away in no particular direction feeling guilty and helpless. I felt the guilt…when I didn't even land a single blow.