From the time Mark first moves to Ramsgate til the day he finally exacts his revenge, he can’t escape the bullying. When it’s not any of the major bullies I have named thus far, there has been somebody there to make his life hell. The bullying by these persons may not have been as frequent as those carried out by the others, its effects were felt just as hard by Mark nevertheless.
The first of these was influenced by my last post. See, the actual person whom the Steve McGuire character is influenced by, Steve Dwyer, actually got beaten up by a sixth grader while we were in seventh grade. While I don’t mention this fight in “He Was Weird,” what has always intrigued me was even though Steve lost a fight to someone in a lower grade, it didn’t seem to dent his popularity. I don’t think it would have been the same for me, it would have been an excuse for more grief directed my way.
In the story, Steve McGuire bullies Mark through constant teasing starting with the very first lunchtime when he questions Mark, in a patronizing manner, about some things he did during the morning kickball game. This teasing goes on throughout fifth grade and sixth. One of Steve’s tactics is to get Mark to say silly stuff but because Mark, on account of his Asperger’s Syndrome and DAMP, doesn’t know went to stop, he gets the ump and threatens him. He also asks a teacher not to be allowed to sit near him because he can’t stand Mark’s antics, forgetting the fact that it was he who encouraged him in the first place. Furthermore, when Mark tries to tease back, Steve gets “insulted” and threatens he’s going to beat Mark up, which he never does. Still it’s enough to humiliate him and damage self esteem.
With the case of Curt Cadell, the bullying incident was a one off. Before that, Curt did like to tell Mark that he sucked at basketball but that was it. The incident was a case of Curt becoming “offended” at something Mark had said. Thinking he was sticking up for his friend Gene when it appears Gene is having words with Curt, Mark tells Gene to tell Curt to “blow off.” Later on that lunchtime, Curt enlists the help of two friends, one of them Joe Kellerman, who hold Mark so he can slap him in the face and threaten to kill him if he does it again. The above incident did actually happen to me and the one who inspired the Curt Cadell character, Kurt Koegle, was the perpetrator.
There was another case involving a girl named Linda Boston who was friends with some of Mark’s other bullies. In this case, Mark is the innocent victim. He and a younger friend are playing hockey near the hangout of Linda and her gang. Unknown to Mark, it turns out that the boy with Mark owes the gang a dollar. They use this as an excuse to confiscate Mark’s hockey sticks and tell the boy they’re going to beat Mark up if he doesn’t pay up. The situation is defused when the boy goes back home and tells both his and Mark’s mothers who swing into action. Fortunately, there is no confrontation.
Two months or so later, Linda and some of her gang see Mark in the street and confront him. She accuses him of bringing his mother back, which is not completely true. She then tries to force Mark to hand over money and only lets him off after he empties all of his pockets showing he has none. Again, this actually happened to me but I can’t remember if the actual surname of the person who influenced the creation of the Linda Boston character is either Foston or Botson.
A number of other minor or one off bullying events happen to Mark in “He Was Weird” and likewise happened to me. In “He Was Weird,” a girl named Carol Kray encourages her brother and his friends to throw rocks at Mark. As a sixth grader, he is confronted by a gang of eighth graders for no other reason than to bully him. Just as much as the major bullies, these instances of minor bullying contribute greatly to Mark’s state of mind when he finally gets his revenge.
Many of those named above, escape harm on Mark’s big day. It takes an official police report to know that Steve McGuire becomes a fatality of the shooting. When Mark spots Linda Boston that day, he is more interested in the bully next to her, Liz Clover. He fills Liz full of lead but only sends Linda sprawling face first into the street. She survives.
The above bullies may not have bullied me all of the time but when they did, it had its negative effects on me. In my mind, they are just as guilty as the others. They might not have as much to apologize for but they should do so nonetheless. Then I can forgive.
Next post: Gene Lancaster
To buy He Was Weird: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445280953&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird