In grammar school. His name was Joey. He wore shit clothes. Horrible cast off clothes. Like corduroy coats. He was a foster kid. He was tiny. Smaller than other boys. He wore bad glasses. Big rimmed glasses that probably came off the cheapest ugliest conveyor line of glasses ever. He was always nice though. Polite. He smiled at me sometimes. The world handed him the ugliest set of circumstances and he was still nice and still had a nice smile and I had no idea how that worked.
And those shit logging town boys used to wait for him. On the playground. On the path. Everywhere on his way home. They’d wait and they’d outrun him and they’d beat him up.
I stopped them once. I don’t know why I was on the same route that day, but I was, and it pissed me off. Seeing them picking on this kid because he wore an ugly corduroy coat and ugly glasses. Ugly shoes too. And he was too little to fight back and there were a bunch of them and only one of him. There was nothing this kid had to wear that didn’t set him up as a target.
There is this thing that happens among kids. This preying on the weak. Joey was weak. And I was angry and I stepped in there and yelled and they let him go.
That didn’t make us friends. He was sort of humiliated a girl saved him and didn’t smile much at me after. Also I have no freaking clue why, when I yelled, people stopped and listened. It’s not like I came from the right side of the tracks either. But when I got mad? People backed off. Even a pack of over hyped we’re-about-to-give-an-ass-whooping logger town boys backed off. And they let him go that day.
They didn’t let him go other days though. I wasn’t there other days. And one day Joey was gone. It didn’t work out at his foster home.
I’m thinking about Joey because of this story my friend Kym posted. About this kid. He got picked up in Northern California. Wanted for stabbing his step father to death. The kid is the step-son in a house with three younger sons who all belong to the dad. He’s little, like Joey. And at the age of twenty, he backed into a kitchen, said don’t come any closer, and when Step Dad did, the kid stabbed him. And the step-dad died.
And the kid ran.
Really, Grampa? That’s your back up plan?
They just picked Zachary Price up in Northern California and are shipping him back to Texas. They have the death penalty in Texas. And now I am thinking about Joey.