Chapter 24

One day I went out with some older kids. One of their parents had a .38 special revolver. We shot it in the woods. The loud shots from the gun awoke something dark in my spirit, like Oppenheimer after the first nuclear explosion.

There was no turning back.

As the last person fired shots into the darkness, I watched from the car with the excitement and nervousness you’d expect from watching a gun blast while you’re high at 16.

The person firing that gun was one of the nicest kids in school. Everyone loved him, a truly good guy. He was handsome but not a player. Tough but not a bully. That would be the last time I’d see him. He graduated high school shortly after. In an eerie coincidence, he was mysteriously gunned down some 12 years later, in what police say was a random unsolved attack.

I think about him sometimes. He was an example of doing everything right. He had his master’s degree and a beautiful wife. He played by the rules, and for what? To be murdered outside of a hotel lobby while he walked his dogs, and found by his wife to die in her arms?

Tomorrow isn’t promised.

That’s why I resent the idea of planning for the future. School loves to sell you tomorrow. The only problem is, they don’t have it to give. All these systems imposed on us love selling us a tomorrow.

Every year in school they kept that carrot on a stick. “Next year you’ll be in first grade, then second, then high school, then college. Your happiness is just around the corner”. But never today.

Needless to say I wasn’t doing well in school. At the time I could only assume it as because I wasn’t smart. The teachers were literally calling me a failure by giving me Fs. But they were failing me. I understood intuitively then what I’m fully aware of now. None of the shit I was “learning” mattered.

Their curriculum was doing us a terrible disservice. No education regarding debt, then they were sending us to take on thousands of debt in college. What they were doing is criminal. Sending students away to be debt slaves and indentured servants for the rest of their lives, just so they can have their summers off. It’s disgusting.

But do they understand this truth themselves? Probably not because they’re a product of the same miseducation.

Is this a conspiracy against us, or an accidental oversight? I’ll let you decide. All I know is that a strong emphasis was being placed on material success and it started in school. The desire for material success is a lower frequency emotion, and school seemed to be bringing out the worst in us.

Never once was I taught vital ideas such as mindfulness. Never once was I taught self-love. Never once was I taught compassion for others.

Those ideas could’ve saved me, but I was taught competition. Be better than your classmates and opposing teams. Beat the next town over! Destroy them!

What if instead of trying to be better than everybody, I would’ve accepted my peers for who they were, in spite of their flaws? But we were told to exploit weaknesses in order to penetrate defenses, risking CTE. What if kids from neighboring towns, instead of trying to give each other concussions, were working together on some community goal?

It’s no wonder there’s no sense of community and everyone is out for only themselves. It’s all we were ever taught.

There was a heavy-set girl who struggled with her weight so bad, I heard she cut open her stomach trying to remove the fat. This perceived weakness was exploited. She was giving everyone head. I still had never had a sexual experience. My neighbor Sal took it upon himself to change that.

He told me that if I didn’t let this girl suck my dick, then I would “come to school with bruises on my face” the next day. The choice was simple.

All three of us were in his basement after school. He told her he’d give her weed if she gave me head.

I took her in his basement bathroom and laid a pillow down for her knees. She asked me if he really had any weed. I told her I don’t know. Then I pulled my dick out. As soon as she saw it she started sucking it. I still had never even kissed a girl. I thought to myself, wow there’s a lot of spit on my dick. I didn’t like that part. Just then I started to cum so I stopped her. I don’t know why I did that. I think I felt so guilty about the whole thing. After she finished with me, she gave Sal head twice. I don’t think he ever gave her any weed.

Afterwards me and Sal walked to the freshman football game. I found myself talking to a cheerleader friend of mine. She spoke to me cheerily as she always did. The guilt made feel like Bobby Baccalieri, holding his baby after his first murder, at the end of that Soprano’s episode. The juxtaposition of innocence and evil meant one thing.

There was no turning back.