“They gone respect me after this, watch!” Derrick said with all of the teary-eyed anger his fifteen-year-old heart could muster. “This is my world too; why am I always treated like I don’t belong?” said the other side of his rage. He might as well be a floor rug the way his stepdad regularly walked on his sense of value and worth. Always over the smallest things. Derrick was sure that his stepdad’s frustration came from his own inability to keep a job; a constant source of tension between he and Derrick’s mom. Unfortunately for Derrick, home wasn’t his only source od abuse. The kids at his highschool kicked him around like an old, dirty fastfood soda cup. Derrick felt just as misused and unwanted.
Derrick’s latest problem arose with the stylishness of his new leather sport-coat with the Chicago Bears insignia on the back. His mom made sure to save her coins to get him this jacket for his birthday. He loved it, especially since it came from his mom. At school that morning Derrick couldn’t help but smile when his teacher walked past him and commented, “Nice coat Derrick.” A compliment which was quickly combatted by a student, “Yeah right, kiss ass.” Derrick knew from then on that the coat would be trouble. Heading home from school, Derrick ran into a few people who wanted to compliment him on the stylishness of his coat. Only their idea of a compliment was to take it for themselves. A flattery that ended with Derrick walking through the crisp Chicago fall air in short sleeves. When he entered the door of his family’s two-flat home minus his jacket, plus a black-eye and fat lip, he might as well had a target painted on his head. “Boy where that jacket, and what happened to you?” Frank, his stepdad yelled at him. “Some guys jumped me. I tried to fight back but . . .” Disgusted, “but you weren’t aggressive like are with your mother and me, huh tough guy?” Derrick shot back, “Get outta my face!” He really had attempted to fight back but the bullies overwhelmed his best efforts. Just the same as life always did too. Heading to his room, Derrick felt the darkness of hate and loneliness enter him like inhaled breath. It sat within him like the welcome air he breathes in. He no longer heard his stepfather’s insults. He only wished to see him hurt too.
The postered blue walls of Derrick’s room offered little comfort. They seem to urge him with provocation, “You would’ve fought harder, this wouldn’t have happened. You shouldn’t have worn that coat any way. You’re so stupid.” He reached under his bed and pulled out the rusted black .380 caliber pistol he had found a few weeks ago while emptying trash. This would be his lawyer who would fight to make them see his value, he told himself. This would be the father to protect him since his real dad was dead. This would be the friend to avenge his victimization. The ringtone on his phone sounds, but it wasn’t able to cut through the darkness. He ignored it. Seconds later the doorbell rang. “Derrick, you got company!” Frank yelled.
Derrick honed in on his stepdad’s words like an eagle to the slightest movement. Derrick aimed to change things today. “Derrick, you in here?” Rachel, a girl from his highschool, stuck her head around the door. Her words were darts that poked the air out of his inflated anger. “I saw what happened. I think we should talk.” she said taking a seat on his bed. Deflated, his anger dissipates. Somebody cares after all, Derrick thought.
Later that night Derrick looked at himself in the mirror. “Your isn’t all that black. It’s more puffy than anything,” he smiled remembering the cute way Rachel said it. Next his eyes traveled to the bed. The pistol’s rusted black metal nearly assisted in the destruction of his life. He nearly transitioned from bullying victim to murderous bully. All that stood between the two extremes were nine words, “Damn, I am glad she decided to speak up.”
Bullying occurs on a daily basis. Never underestimate the role you can play in bringing it to an end.