In “He Was Weird,” Mike Sigfried is the opposite of Joe Gerbwitz with his bullying of Mark. Mike is in the same class as him and Joe but Mike is happy to take a back seat and let Joe and others bully Mark. He does engage in low level teasing but most as a joiner rather than an instigator although he did like to call Mark by his former name because he thought it was funny. However, throughout all of sixth grade, Mark never felt threatened or bullied by Mike.
That all changes when the two boys are again in the same class in seventh grade, at least towards the end of the year. The first major incident happens in the April during a baseball game in PE class. First, Mark’s momentary loss of concentration due to his DAMP causes him to miss a ball in center field and because Mike is only obsessed with winning, threatens harm upon Mark if he does it again. Then when batting in the final inning, Mike tries to change the batting order to get the better batters up first to which Mark protests because he will miss his bat. The other team catch on and call foul forcing Mike and Mark’s team back into the original batting order. Because Mike doesn’t get his way, he begins punching Mark who eventually defends himself by grabbing a baseball bat and threatening to use it. The appearance to the PE teacher dissolves the situation.
After that, the bullying becomes actual. Mike gets great delight in punching Mark in the back whenever he can get away with it. But the biggest incident happens near the very end. Mark becomes visibly upset at the school awards assembly when he is expecting an award for being on the winning basketball team but instead, they all up his friend in error. His upset is there for all to see and once the assembly is over and everyone is back in the classroom, the teasing begins. When Mike makes crying gestures towards Mark, Mark gives back the one finger salute. Naturally, Mike responds by physically attacking Mark. (Typical trait of a bully, using the slightest perceived irritation to justify an assault on a victim.) The ironic thing was that before this incident happened, Mark was actually planning to abandon his idea of revenge.
To add insult to injury, when they meet in school next, it is Mike who again attacks Mark, twisting his arm behind his back, demanding an apology for everything he did. A bit rich isn’t it? That was the day before Mark finally gets his revenge and when he does, Mike Sigfried is clearly in his sights. First, Mike is shot in both legs and while lying on the ground, Mark goes up to him and demands that Mike take back everything he did to Mark. When he tries to play the innocent, Mark’s response is a pistol round through a non lethal part of the body, several times. When Mike finally does take it all back, Mark spares his life.
Mike Sigfried might not have died on that fateful day but later in the book we learn that he often wishes he did. In spite of all the psychiatrists, he never mentally recovers. His life becomes marred by the trauma and he can’t hold down a full time job because the metal anguish is just too great. Maybe it might have been kinder if Mark had killed him.
Mark Sigmund was the inspiration behind the Mike Sigfried character. All of the mentioned incidents happened and pretty much in the way I describe them here and in the book although there may have been some creative license. Oh, I never shot him or anyone but it was because of bullying like this that, whenever I hear or read about a school shooting, my first thoughts are “This could have been me.” Fortunately, it wasn’t me and that is why the olive branch of forgiveness will always be out there.
Next post: Joe Kellerman
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=1436903248&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird