Think back to your high school days and your best friend? Think of one of the best times you had together. How did you feel? Don’t just read this, stop and really take the time to see and feel the experience. Do not read on until you have allowed enough time to experience it. If you are unable to so, or do not like to be told what to do then stop reading this. Really!
Okay, for those of you that really did it and those that don’t like being told what to do and are still reading now I will share with you my best memory. It was a beautiful summer day with the sun’s rays matching the warmth we had for one another. Schmaltzy? No, I just really liked my friend a lot.
Walking home from school we are discussing our dreams for the future after graduating high school. I want to be an actor and move to New York City, my best friend a lawyer.
We continue discussing the details of our dreams and how we promise to maintain the friendship long after graduating. I say, “Well when I make it big you can come and visit me in New Yo ….” My sentence is cut short as we approach a gang of eight menacing teenager with chips on their shoulders and attitudes to match. On an individual basis these twerps would not be a problem, but we are outnumbered.
We tense up. “Don’t worry it’s the middle of the day and there are people around,” I mumble under my breath. Nearing the eight they are now in a line across the sidewalk creating a barrier. Unsure of what to do, my wanna-be lawyer friend breaks ranks with me and forces his way through the gauntlet creating just enough space for me to pass as well.
Danger not quite averted we begin walking faster. Looking over our shoulder simultaneously, three of them are closing in and within striking distance. Struck dumb with fear we look at one another wondering what to do next. Run, stand your ground or scream. My friend chooses to run. Never being good at multiple choice questions I get caught up in the answers and unable to make a split second decision. Shit! Run was the answer.
Without warning I am grabbed violently by the shoulder and shoved to the ground slamming the back of my head matching the white cracked cement now slowly turning red. It’s true what they say, getting hit in the head does cause you to see stars. I saw the Milky Way. The mad dash gives my friend a safe distance and a clear enough view to bear witness.
Writhing on the ground from the violent grab I feel a swift kick to my stomach. I double over in pain and protection. This is quickly followed by another to my arms wrapped around my stomach. No pain. This gives me a split second to look up and see who it is connected to those metal toed boots. This twerp is a skinhead about the same age as me. I expected more anger on his face considering the violent kicks I just received. He seemed to be enjoying it. In a strange moment I think, “I wonder if I can use this experience in an acting class.” The wind from the speed of his leg passing by my head snaps me out of this ludicrous thought.
the lower back near my spinal cord sends out signals to the brain. More pain. Brace yourself. But how?
I do just as the remaining five show up and circle around taking turns seeing who can inflict the most pain and cause the loudest scream. The fat skinhead with tree trunk legs wins. At this point my body goes into shock and pain simply becomes nothing more than nerve ending signals to the brain. It doesn’t matter how hard as long as it’s in the same general vicinity of the body.
Then one of them decides to change it up and cross the line going for the back of the head. “Now that really hurt,” I tell myself. Followed by a thought, “Please not the face. I’m an actor.” Unsure if I said that out loud letting them in on that secret,
a boot straight into my nose shattering those sensitive bones like a dime store teacup. The welling of blood in my nose cavity causes a tsunami of blood to rush down my face. Now a male version of Carrie, a scream of such depth causes the eight to back up in surprise.
This allows me a glimpse beyond the surrounding boots. I spy my friend in the distance along with a few other people who are now guilty of bearing witness. Too far to be able to see an expression it doesn’t matter, they are doing nothing but standing there and watching, while a few others are going about their business unwilling to let this violent act impede upon their life.
another boot just below the eye. “Well there goes my acting career.” Another kick to the ear, “Thank God I’m not a musician.” The kicking suddenly stops. With a broken eardrum at this point, all I hear is, “blah blah blah.” Moving my head to get my good ear in on the action, in the distance I hear sirens. Unsure what to do next I put my arms up to protect my head and that remaining good ear.
Hoping against hope there will be no more kicks I try not to breath and feign death. Maybe closer than I think. I lie as still as possible for what feels like an eternity. Still no kicks. Then a hand on my shoulder and the only unaffected part of my body. I recoil and reel from the possibility of what a hand can do, I scream. Then a soothing voice., “It’s okay, an ambulance is on its way.” “They’re just playing nice so I open up my body to new places to induce pain and injury,” I think to myself. In shock I have no idea what to do next. Bloody and nearly unboweled the sirens stop nearby as far as I can tell.
Kudos for reading this far and playing along. If you have an active imagination like me to going to dark places can be easy and difficult. Here’s the thing, while this did come from the dark recesses, it is a story inspired (not the best word choice) by a true story I recently read in the New York Times about a Japanese jazz pianist who moved to New York City to pursue his dream. Married with a newborn child and playing with some of the more recent jazz greats, his life was on track until that fateful night. I’ll not go into details, you can read it here.
Shattered Dreams – Read it here: NY Times
HERE Japan Today
After reading this and other similar stories over the last few years, I can no longer hold back my disdain. I know many will say this beating of the jazz pianist was an isolated incident. How many isolated incidents need to happen for it to no longer to be isolated?
I was making progress at one point coming to terms with all that defines America. One step forward, two back. I have friends and family that still live there and worry about the future.
Right now I dis-p-eyes.