Just Some Kid
I'll be perfectly honest with all of you. I had absolutely no idea where I was going with this.
The opening sentence "What can I say..." popped into my head and I began to write...from there the character just directed the story. I got a brief idea of what went on towards about halfway through, but even I was surprised at the way it turned out.
What can I say about Frederick Rollen? He was a punk, a snot-faced little brat who made my life a living nightmare. Am I glad he’s dead? No, of course not; no sane human being would be. But am I glad he’s finally out of my hair? You’d better believe it.
Fred first entered my life ten years ago, just as much a punk then as on the day he died. I remember the reaction I gave him, the first words I ever said to him…heh, I told him I had no money for bums. He laughed at that, can you believe it? He, some punk teen of seventeen in his torn jeans and stained jacket; with his dirty hair and greasy skin, he laughed.
“Man, I ain’t here for your money,” he said, drawlingly, rubbing his dark hands on his torn jeans. “I’m new to the neighborhood. Name’s Fred.” And with that he extended his hand, his dark, grease-stained hand. Surely you can’t blame me for shutting the door in his face?
But I still remember what happened next, I remember it with a clarity that surprises even me. I shut the door on that young man, but I watched him through the peephole…I rationalized this to myself by saying it was to make sure he didn’t become violent, but nevertheless I watched. For a moment the young man seemed taken aback by having the door slammed in his face, then a grin crept to his dark face and he turned his back, raising a hand in a half wave.
I don’t know what it was about that motion, but it broke my heart. I still remember the unfamiliar pain, which even now remains as a dull ache. I still remember the fact that I turned away a young man who simply wanted to be accepted. Albeit he was a punk, and he certainly didn’t belong—but nevertheless a man of my upbringing was taught never to turn away someone.
I suppose it should come as no surprise that after I led the charge, the rest of the neighborhood was also reluctant to accept this dark stranger; and one by one doors slammed in his face. Nevertheless, young Fred still smiled.
He was a mechanic in those days, can you imagine? Someone on a mechanic’s salary living in our neighborhood? Preposterous! Or at least that’s what I and the others told ourselves. We told ourselves it wasn’t the young man that we had issue with, it wasn’t the colour of his skin, or his hair. It wasn’t even the fact that he was constantly covered in grime and filth…it was the fact that he was a mechanic. Even in those days our words sounded hollow, even to ourselves.
Now admittedly, Fred wasn’t exactly a saint—nor did he earn many friends on our block. He had the frustrating habit of playing his music too loud…even in the late hours. He also scandalized the women of the neighborhood (and shamed their husbands) by frequently walking around sans shirt. Heh, I suppose it was a simpler time.
He did his best to fit in, he really did. But try as he might he simply wasn’t one of us. He didn’t have our upbringing, our education—he just didn’t belong. He was a punk…a punk living like a king, but nothing more than a punk.
It came as no surprise, really, when it happened.
I can only suppose it happened over money…maybe women. I couldn’t really tell you. All I do know is that Fred had been working late at the shop when a group of hooded men entered and demanded something of him. Fred didn’t know what they were talking about, he tried to calm them down—but they wouldn’t be sated. He tried to run…but they caught up. Two held him tight as one of them administered a savage beating to him…
It…it wasn’t supposed to end the way it did. They were supposed to scare him, to show him that he was a punk! That he didn’t belong!
I know I said that I didn’t know what happened…but unfortunately I wasn’t being truthful. I saw it all. They beat Fred until he was close to losing consciousness and then turned to leave.
Fred was stronger than they expected, more resistant. He struggled to his feet and grabbed a wrench. He charged towards his assailants, knocking two of them to the ground with the wrench…he wrestled with the third before finally being taken off balance and losing control of the wrench.
He looked at me with pleading eyes as I raised the wrench.
I’m….I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. He needed to understand, he needed to see that there was a difference between us…I never meant to kill him…He was just some punk. Just some kid.
And I was a monster.