Two maybe three previous posts have focused or at least included the subject of females bullying males. One instance was included when I reviewed literary bullies, in Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes.” In that story, the inter-gender bullying is more subtle and indirect. The girl involved manipulates others in her bullying. However, in the case I am going to outline in this post, the bullying is in fact direct.
Cue Liz Clover. She makes her presence known on Mark’s second day at school in the new town. Liz and her friend Judy follow him home from school, pushing him in the back the entire way and trying to goad him into a fight. Liz also makes several unsuccessful attempts to separate his books from him. When Mark ignores this because he is not allowed to hit girls, they do it even more and only stop when they reach the street they need to turn down. The only positive to come out of it was when Mark reports the incident to his mother, she gives him permission to hit girls if they are bothering him.
It is another year before he has another major bullying incident with Liz although she does carry out lots of low level teasing. Furthermore, she constantly calls him by his former name. At the next incident, she actually pushes Mark over several times. This time, Mark simply runs because he realises that if he tries to fight back, Liz’s brother Joe is there to intervene.
Another major incident happens a month later when Mark and his friend decide to go roller skating one day. Liz and her friends are there and they spend the entire time harassing Mark and trying to make him fall. When he tries to tell the rink officials, they are uninterested. Worse, Liz and her friends tell another official that it is Mark harassing them who orders him off the floor for fifteen minutes. To add insult to injury they also falsely tell the official that Mark swore at them. In the end, that would be the last time he would ever roller skating.
The last occurrence happens later that summer when Mark has a paper route. His route includes the street Liz lives on. One evening, as he is carrying out his collecting, she immediately starts on him by sticking her ice cream cone in his face and then throwing it at him. Then she goads the others to join in and a direct result of this is that some of the boys, including the bully I am saving for second from the end, let the air out of both of his bicycle tyres. After that, his mother comes with him when he collects on that street.
In the time which elapses between the last major incident and when Mark finally gets his revenge, there are no major incidents, only the odd word out of Liz’s mouth. That is why Mark doesn’t name her as one of his prime targets when he plots his revenge. Still the painful memories are enough that when he sees her whilst carrying out his revenge, he puts several rounds into her, killing her instantly. We only learn a little about Liz’s family background at the funeral. Her father had left a long time earlier, forcing her mother to work two jobs to support the family. As a result, Liz and her brother are pretty much left to fend for themselves.
I don’t know if that was the case of the person who influenced my creation of the character but to figure out the name, simply drop the “l” from the surname. I only met the mother once but I know that the Liz in real life hung out with the “tough crowd.” She smoked at age eleven, which was more of a big thing back in the early 70s. I could stereotype here but she also seemed the type and I’m sure that others who knew her might have agreed with me back then, who might have become a mother at 16. Again, at that time, it would have been a major event. Like practically everyone who bullied me when I lived in the town, I know nothing of what became of her. My speculation about early motherhood could be as unlikely as it was likely. All, I know was that for two of the three years I lived in the town, she contributed to the hell I lived under. But like all who had contributed, my forgiveness is waiting should anyone come forward and show penitence.
Next post: Joe Gerberwitz
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435778576&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird