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For A Friend

By the time I was thirteen, I had endured a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse from my father. I had been beaten and hit by anything he could get his hands on, and I had watched him break my mother down until she was nearly nothing. I had come to believe that negative action was the only way I could earn my father’s attention. You’ve seen it in a million sitcoms, and I knew in my soul that I was on the wrong path, but I didn’t know anything else.

I had one bright spot in my life. I knew her for two years. That second year was one of the best of my life, but since then, there have been better ones. Towards the end of that second year, she was killed.

I got there about an hour after it happened. I held her, even as the odor of the dead began to overtake her perfume and rigor mortis began to set in. Believe me; it doesn’t take a long time at all.

Still, I held my head to her chest and cried until I had no tears left. And as I cried, something inside me finally gave, and all the years my father tortured me, this one act of someone violently robbing me of someone I loved, this proved every word my father had ever spoken true. That in the end, black people were seen as only one thing.

The one I loved died because she dared to believe differently.

I remember this feeling of utter helplessness sinking in, knowing that my father was right.

Helplessness quickly gave way to the most powerfully, all-consuming rage I have ever known. I felt it well up from deep within the core of my stomach until my hands were shaking, my grip on her was tightening as though by sheer will I could bring her back to life. But I couldn’t.

But I could make it right, or so I thought.

I’m not ready to go into publicly what happened afterwards, but I gave up two years of my life for it.

For just a single, fleeting moment, revenge is the best feeling in the world. Older now, I can tell you it solves nothing.

When I re-entered the world, my beliefs had solidified. The world preyed and picked off the weak. There was no room for dissenting opinion, the majority always ruled. Too much disagreement would cost you everything you held dear, and then your life.

What happened to me happened to millions of people around the world. We had that in common. What we didn’t have in common was that now I could do something about it. What happened to me, and to my beloved Julie, would never happen to anyone else, ever again.

That year, I started fighting back against my father.

It didn’t end there.

As publicly and as brutally as possible, I took out almost fifteen years of pure rage against anyone who dared to oppress someone weaker. It got me kicked out of school numerous times, and it eventually wound up to me graduating from adult school. It cost me a football scholarship. I didn’t care.

Only a few people knew the entire truth. It started for real in San Francisco, California, when I first started working as a Bouncer at a 24/7 fast food joint. Me and four other people, we faced off against seven and we won. It felt good.

I kept fighting. I stepped into the ring and had my left knee blown out in the third round of a fight I went on to win. I was told I would never fight, or do anything physically professional, again. I didn’t care.

I took to fighting in the street. First in California and then through the various states leading to Johnson County, Kansas. Eventually I wound up in New York City, New Jersey, and a coastal town in Maine. I brought home money and became my sons hero. I was a lousy disciplinarian, I was arrogant, selfish, foolish, and it was costing me more than I was aware of.

I take refuge in the good I did for other people, but if you ask me if it was worth it, considering the uphill battle my life has become, I couldn’t tell you. Ask me again come Christmas.

I lost my wife and two children. I didn’t care.

Only during my final bout in Bay City, Michigan, did my life come into perspective. In the bear grip of a man twice my size, crushing my ribs until they splintered, did a cold realization hit me; I don’t want to die.

I won that fight. I bowed out of “that life”. I cared then.

It’s been a few years since then.

I’ve been straight and narrow now for nearly three years. The highlight of my life, other than seeing my girlfriend, is doing my food shopping. Every two weeks, I get a little “me” time in Wal-Mart where I have the means to purchase anything I want. That is the height of my enjoyment now, aside from writing.

Billy (some of you call him knife-boy) is a lot like me, and that’s where we click. I was clueless as how I could help him. I didn’t want to force him to give up “the life” because I understand the various motivations. Tonight, he finally looked at me and told that if he could get out, he would.

I told him in all honesty; going straight is boring, but you have a longer shelf life. My career in both private security and game development is on a very high note. I’m in contact with my ex-wife and working out an arrangement where I can see my children again. I have someone who loves me.

So Billy, if you read this, I tell you from personal experience that your life is yours to do with as you wish, and none of us have a predestined fate we’re doomed to live until it calls us to cash in.

The thing is, you have to want to do it, and no one can make you. If you try to do it for someone else, then you’ll fail, because you’re not being true to yourself. In order to succeed, you have to decide that change is what’s best for you.

But if you want to, you can do it. I'm know this because I do it every day.

Good luck.

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