While walking the half mile home from the bus stop, you sped by and pointed a gun at me.

I’m not sure who you were – not that I’ve forgotten. You were several years older, I recognized you from the halls but never learned your name. I’m sure I could dig out an old year book and find you – but I’d rather live without you.

A few friends were with you, though I never saw their faces. The only clear image I got was you in the passenger seat, window rolled down as your arm rested on the door, gun in your hand. I’m not even sure if the gun was real or not.

Why were you following me of all people?

You turned around at the end of the street and came back. I wasn’t sure what to do; I had just moved to my step-dad’s place, didn’t know the neighbors. Did I sneak into backyards and explain what was happening if someone caught me lurking?

You drove by a fourth time and I noticed a chunk of the road that had broken off through wear. I stopped and looked ahead.

You must have turned off of a side road and left. This was some stupid game for bored high school boys in a small town; intimidate some kid you didn’t know just because there was nothing better to do.

Am I wrong for wishing you turned back one last time, just so I could throw that slab of street through your windshield? Even my weak throw would have done some real damage with the speed you were going. Maybe I could have even lobbed it through the passenger window, bust open your ugly face.

I don’t like to have violent thoughts, but I had never felt more willing to hurt someone in that moment. I never told anyone what happened – I had reported lighter encounters to the principal’s office and been asked for proof, and why would they believe something like this? Maybe that’s why I wanted to hurt you – that would be proof something happened. I wanted to be believed.

Maybe I would have tossed that chunk and you would have retaliated with an actual shot. We could have both lost so much that day, and we were nothing to each other.

Looking back, I probably should have reported this. Even if you did nothing that day, who knows what you were capable of – I can’t imagine you got better with age. Who have you actually hurt by this point?

I think that’s the worst thing you’ve left me with – this feeling that I couldn’t do anything to bring punishment upon you. You gave me all the warning signs of a psychopath in a world where I felt powerless to speak up. No one was around to help, either as you drove by or in the places that were supposed to be safe.

How did anyone convince me to go outside?


Back in high school we played this vaguely baseball-like game with a big red rubber ball, the kind I have to assume was used in dodge ball before some poor kid got his teeth knocked out, ultimately replaced with dissatisfying foamy orbs that a few kids could still peg you with anyway.

I have two distinct memories of this game for whatever reason. The first is when some girl just absolutely nailed me in the face. Just watched it come straight at me, figured it would hurt but it really just left me dazed for a moment. There was that quiet gasp, and the poor girl apologized as if she was somehow at fault.

The one that left a bigger mark was when I heard you chatting with a new girl while waiting in line to bat. I was on defense, in the right range for me to hear you without you realizing that was the case.

You were always kind of a dick – the one other vivid memory I have of you is when you heard I was afraid of worms and decided to shove one in my face during dissection day – so I didn’t expect much from you when I flubbed an easy catch and the girl asked if I was, “like, retarded or something.”

But you corrected her – no, I was one of the smarter kids in our class, I just sucked at sports. And, god, I can’t put into words how that kind of validation feels. Nothing’s better than overhearing someone you hate defending you. Parental praise, that’s expected. Friends will sugar coat. The praise of an enemy, that’s how you know where you excel.