Long blog. Yesterday we had stories of personal tragedy that are funny when I look back on them. Today I have a couple stories of personal tragedy that haven’t quite turned into funny memories yet. Well.. the getting beaten up one… kinda…
We got robbed when I was in the 5th grade. My mom picked my brother and I up as usual from the house where we’d spend a couple hours after school every day. As we pulled into the driveway, dad’s car was there already. I remember a soon as mom pulled into the driveway he came out and told mom he needed to talk to her, and asked my brother and I to stay in the car. I saw my mom start crying, and then they went into the house. I don’t think I waited, I just got out of the car and followed them in. What a mess.
Someone had broken in and absolutely trashed the place. They had taken everything out the fridge and spread it all around the house. Books were taken of bookshelves, laid open on the coffee table, and had milk poured all over them. Squeeze bottle ketchup covered the walls and ceiling, and clung to every picture and painting. My dad’s bark paintings he bought in Brazil were ruined. Powdered laundry detergent stuck to the floor where something else had been spilled. Dark lines of soy sauce stained the carpet up and down the hallway, and added a sickly sweet smell to the whole mess. To this day, the small of soy sauce still reminds me of that day.
They took my mom’s jewelry, a handgun of my dad’s, and other things. From my room they stole the few dollars I had laying on my desk, and I think a couple Nintendo games. They didn’t even touch my brother’s room, although there was a $20 bill in plain sight on his dresser. Later on we discovered they also took a spare set of keys to the house, we had to have the locks changed.
I got so upset that I had to leave the house. My folks were calling, or had already called, the police. I took off on my bike and headed up the street, I just wanted to go away from there. The smell and sight of the whole thing was just too much. I ended up riding across the road to my school. It was there that I saw Mrs. Forinash, my 4th grade teacher from the year before. She must’ve seen me crying, because she came out of the classroom and started talking with me. I’ll never forget how good she made me feel. She told me that as long as no one was hurt, we were lucky. I left there feeling a lot better.
The house was such a mess that we had to have it professionally cleaned. Insurance put us up in the Embassy Suites while the various cleaning companies took a week to undo the vandalism. When we got back, there was a little piece of carpet they missed in the hall that was still crunchy with old soy sauce. I remember that. The cops never did find anything on the kids who did it. To this day my mom thinks it was some kids who had some kinda beef with me. The most certainly had to be kids, not only would a real thief not stay long enough to trash the place, but they came in through the doggy door – so they were small. Anyway, I don’t know what kind of enemies I could’ve made, being only in the 5th grade, but stranger things have happened I suppose.
It sucks to get robbed.
Shane and I went down to the dirt tracks to go ride on Hell Hill, I think we were in 5th grade. It was this huge dirt ditch that had a track running into, and out of, it. You had to ride down one side and make it back up the other. It was very steep, and very deep, at least to a couple of 5th grade boys.. You got going really fast on the down side, and then had to peddle like crap to make it up the other side to the top. If you made it, there was another little trail that went through the woods and ended up in a field (everything there seemed to end up in a field somehow).
Anyway, that day Shane and I both made it. The patch of woods that the little trail afterward went through was sunken in the ground – the tops of the trees were at ground level ? like a little sunken copse of trees. At the beginning, you had a tiny steep hill that dropped you to the bottom of the sunken place, about 20ft or so. So, when you went down that little hill after just coming off Hell Hill, you always let out a little sarcastic yelp, like you’re supposed to be scared of this little hill when you just conquered Hell Hill! At least that’s what we did. Anyway, I led the way, and I went down the hill and yelled something, probably “Whoa” or something like that. Shane followed close behind and I heard him yell too.
The trail was skinny and twisty, and you really couldn’t ride all that fast. I came around a turn and there was another kid riding towards me, I’ll never forget that kid’s face. A short blonde kid, older than me. I put on the brakes and stopped, so did he. He asked me, “Did you call me an asshole?” I was like, “No.” Then, Shane comes tearing around the corner and has to slam on his brakes too. We’re both sitting there, and this kid is blocking our way. He asks Shane, “Why did you call me an asshole!?” I don’t remember what Shane did, but I said, “We didn’t,” or something like that. Then this kid got off his bike, and punched me in the mouth.
I’d never, ever, been hit in the face before, let alone with a closed fist. It was shock more than pain, and I just looked at him and said, “What did you do that for?” he hit me two mores times, and then got on his bike and rode away in the direction we had just come from. So, we got on our bikes and continued riding. About 40 seconds later, I came out of shock and began crying. Riding and crying, we both wanted to go home. And my face hurt.
When we got to the end of the trail, there were like 10 kids there. One of them was the kid who had already hit me. I just remember thinking how big they all were, there was a black kid there who was so tall an skinny. Anyway, the blonde kid and what looked to be his older brother approached us and started with the, “Why’d you call us assholes” thing again. We were blocked off, and we just straddled our bikes and denied saying anything.
They began hitting me, hard this time. In the face. The older stocky blonde kid was hitting me a lot, and they were just talking to Shane. Other kids started hitting me too, in the stomach and face. I was crying and asking them to stop. The whole time they’re asking why I called them assholes, I kept saying I didn’t. The big black kid hit me, and it hurt the worst.
I remember telling them, in response to the, “Why’d you..” question, “Why don’t you ask him,” pointing at Shane. I didn’t want to get Shane beat up, but I was getting pummeled. They then took up on Shane, hitting him a lot harder and a lot more than they hit me. They were still hitting me, but it wasn’t as much. They were really laying into Shane, we were both crying. I heard the big blonde kid talk about stabbing us, and he had a knife out.
Then, the black kid said to stop hitting us. The other kids ignored him, but he said, “Hit them again and I’ll hit you.” I guess they all knew how hard he could hit, because they quit. After they stopped, they just got on their bikes and rode away. The stocky kid had a red jacket on, and it had a name on the back, “Travis “Something, I couldn’t make out the last name because it was in cursive. But I remembered the first name.
When we rode out finally, there were some Mexicans working in the field, but they didn’t speak English when we asked for a phone. So, we had to ride al the way home to my house. It was a long ride. I remember my head hurting so bad, and Shane’s too, we were riding slow and we both felt dizzy and sick. I thought of riding to Jason’s house, his mom used to babysit my brother and I, and it was a lot closer than my house. We called my mom from there. I said, “Mom, can you come pick me up, we just got beat up.” Of course I was crying. Shane called his dad too. His dad was extra pissed.
I remember driving all around town with Shane’s dad in the van, just looking at every kid we saw an him asking us if that was them. We went back to the dirt tracks, we went down to the riverbed, we went everywhere that teenage kids might hang out. We finally stopped over by the park, and I saw a friend of ours outside. I asked him if he knew any kids with a red jacket that said “Travis” and he said yes, and that they lived in the apartments on the other side of the park. We drove in the direction he pointed us in, and sure enough all the kids were outside on their bikes. It must have been a couple hours since they had beat us up, but when they saw who we were – they scattered. The two brothers ran towards the apartment complex, and Shane’s dad ran right after them. When they ran into an apartment and shut the door, he ran right in after them. The kids’ dad was watching TV when Shane’s dad busted in, and they almost went at it. Shane’s dad called the cops from the kids’ own apartment.
Eventually the cops rounded up all the other kids. They questioned Shane and I about the incident, and we said all of the kids had hit us – but that the tall one had stopped them. It turned out that some of them were on probation already, and might have been be going to jail. Shane had to go to the hospital, and I went home with a sore head and neck, and a cut up mouth from getting my cheeks pounded into my teeth.
Funny how things stay with you when you’re a kid. For years I had a fear of being in relatively remote wooded areas. When we’d be hanging out in the woods, I’d jump at other kids coming. I also had a great fear of getting beat up, although I suppose that’s a pretty normal thing. I’ve always been over-worried about getting robbed too, but hopefully that childhood incident will satisfy the statistics and I won’t have to deal with it again.
In closing, I’d like to thank those of you who told me that yesterday’s blog was some of the finest blogging ever. Even though you broke the cardinal rule of not talking about the blog in person, I appreciate the praise. Pat’s comment was the clincher, helped push a kinda funny entry over the edge.