Just as the ‘new kid’ nerves seemed behind me, though, I came into contact with Tyler. Though he was also in my year, up until that point we hadn’t had any interaction with one another.
Seen as the bad boys, the brothers would boost their primary school notoriety by boasting about their various out-of-school activities, which (if they were to be believed) ranged from spraying cars with graffiti and selling drugs to conducting the odd drive-by shooting.
Any adult who walked past whilst these boys were bragging about their exploits would probably have just laughed and dismissed their tales as bravado-laced bullshit, but as a child I was both scared and fascinated.
James (far right) with his two younger brothers. Image supplied.
To me, these guys were serious business and not to be messed with.
On one particular afternoon, with the school bell having just signaled to us that it was time to go home and watch some cartoons before getting stuck into our homework, I had just made my way outside of the classroom and was in the process of getting my school bag on to my back when I felt a tap on my right shoulder. I turned around and came face to face with Tyler.
Maybe he was looking for someone to kick the ball around with before our parents picked us up, I said to myself. Or was he was wanting to know if he could come over for a play date at my house soon?
With a level of cunning and callousness that no child of his eight years of age should ever been able to demonstrate, though, he then leaned in closer, and once he looked around to make sure no one was in earshot, calmly said in a hushed tone, ‘I don’t like you. I am going to kill you. Have a nice night.’
Watch this beautiful kids explain bullying. (Post continues after video.)
Being a small kid, it was normal for us to repeat lines we had heard in the movies or cartoons, so although I was shocked with what he had to say to me, I didn’t really take it all that seriously, dismissing it as some kind of play acting that we all engaged at in time to time, though perhaps not with such threats of violence.
He was probably just trying to impress me, I figured. Even if he did mean it, we eight-year-olds rarely could hold on to a grudge, regardless of how angry we may have seemed. Heck, at our age friendships could be destroyed and then completely rekindled, all within the space of a lunch-hour.
Besides, when I went back to school the next day, Tyler didn’t approach me once. Surely this was not the behaviour of someone who wanted to kill me, right? He was obviously just full of hot air the day before.
That Fry Boy by James Fry.
So like the day before, when the bell rang, I rushed outside and started to put my school bag on. As on the day before, I felt a tap on my right shoulder. As I turned around, it was Tyler. Before I could even open my mouth to greet him and ask what he wanted, I was met with one of his fists to my nose.
The force was such that I was knocked against a nearby brick wall, and blood immediately started to pour from my nose. Having never been hit in anger before, the shock also caused me to wet my pants, adding to my humiliation.
With me now a wet, shaking mess of tears, blood and my own piss, Tyler surveyed the damage he had just inflicted, and seemingly impressed with his efforts, let out a loud laugh before turning and walking calmly away.
“One of the common responses I have heard from almost everyone from young kids through to the elderly when they first hear that someone was bullied has been to ask why the victim didn’t fight back. Looking back, with the clear 20/20 vision that hindsight now affords, though I generally wouldn’t ever condone violence as a solution to anything, in my particular case with Tyler, a couple of return punches his way, at least initially, might have saved me a lot of trauma later on.
If I returned a couple of punches, maybe it could have saved me some trauma. Image via iStock.
My own experience with bullies, along with that of many who have shared their stories with me, leads me to believe firmly that when a bully has his or her initial action met with an equal amount of aggression in return, the tough façade quickly crumbles.
Then, knowing that you won’t stand for any of their crap, the bully attempts to find someone different who might more easily fall under the control of fear and intimidation tactics. Such knowledge, though, was still years away for me at the time. The truth was, I was an easy target.
Not only had I never been in any sort of physical confrontation up until that time, but the reputation of Tyler’s elder brothers was such that I was in constant fear of what they might do to me as well as what they would do to my younger brothers who were also at the school. Even if I had been able to take a stand against Tyler, it would have been a short-lived victory with his brothers surely being quick to exact their revenge upon me.
As I walked from the classrooms and out the front gate, not one teacher or parent bothered even to ask if this boy covered in blood was all right.
This is an excerpt from: That Fry Boy by James Fry
Pages 48- 52
Published 2015 through New Holland Publishing Australia.
Available from all good bookstores and online via iBooks.
Contact: [email protected]