When I was a little kid, once I passed eight years old, I was short and fat. Generally, I was smarter than most kids that I encountered, so I had that. But that still left me short and fat. So, you would assume, I would be picked on, the target of bullies. Well, no. Another thing about me--even when I was just a little kid--is that I was what I can only describe as a berserker. Go look it up.
Yeah, big kids would pick on me. This generally only happened once with each kid. I had no patience for such bullshit and these encounters would inevitably end with me dancing on their prone bodies. As soon as I'd reckoned that the shitass bothering me was out for blood, I would, quite literally, see red. It was as if the entire world had just had an opaque sheet of red plastic pulled over it. My mind would cloud over with only an overriding urge to kill the target in front of me.
Afterward, I would almost always be upset. My emotions would run wild and even though I'd just beaten the shit out of this or that bully, I'd generally find myself in tears. Go figure.
These acts of violence would go on until I'd beaten the crap out of the local complement of resident bullies. There usually weren't very many of them, and stupid as they were, they didn't seem to want to tempt fate more than once. But then my parents would move, or I'd go to a new school. Repeat as necessary.
Junior high school in Macon Georgia was the worst, though. The school was cavernous. Huge. The student body was gigantic and I soon learned that there was always a daily supply of at least one new bully who had to have his ass kicked. Because of then-new civil rights laws, the public schools were all recently racially integrated. So I found myself one of a very few white kids in an almost all-black enrollment. Now, not only was I still short and fat; I was also white, which made me quite the obvious target. I continued to kick lots of ass. The only difference was that I was kicking tons of black ass. My right shoe was permanently shined because it spent so much time in the butt cracks of bullies.
My grades suffered. I went from a bright, straight-A student to a straight-F student. Every moment at school was spent watching my back, punching someone's face, or thinking about punching someone's face, or preparing to punch someone's face. I tell people how every single day I was either in a fist fight, or under constant threat of a fist fight, and almost no one believes me. When I hear stories of what it's like to be in prison, these tales are familiar to me. I lived the same violent life between the ages of thirteen and fourteen.
This particular nightmare ceased when I ended up in a very small high school in the mountains of north Georgia. The student body was quite small and I only had to beat up a handful of morons before the message got through: Don't fuck with Bob Smith.
I spent the tenth through the twelfth grades making excellent grades, participating in sports (football, wrestling, track) and having a good time. I very rarely fought. Never, really after the tenth grade. (But I do have some good stories about the guys I did beat the shit out of in the tenth grade.)
Later, though, as an adult, I would sometimes encounter the good old archetypal bully. Ass kicking would ensue. The familiar old red rage would draw down like a crimson sheet over the planet and I would find myself soon standing over some fucker begging for his life. This went on for some time. Luckily, I was only ever arrested three times.
More years passed. As I got older, I slowly learned not to beat the shit out of people. Most often I would just smile or frown and turn the other freaking cheek. But I'd grind my teeth and get heartburn and feel like an idiot for not killing them.
Then, a few years ago this one fellow got my goat. I won't go into the particulars, except to say that I chased him down and punched him in the face. Again and again. And in the middle of smashing his face in, as I felt my knuckles meeting his stubbled skin, the red cloak seemed to lift. And I realized that I was beating the shit out of a kid no more than nineteen or twenty years old. About the same age as my son. So I stopped beating him. And I walked away, got in my truck, and drove home.
The next morning I made an appointment to see my physician and asked him if he could prescribe some medicine that would help to contain my rages. I was just tired of beating the crap out of idiots, no matter if they deserved it or not. He gave me Zoloft. It works.
Oh, I still get angry, don't get me wrong. But I don't beat the crap out of bullies and jerks any more. I just let them ride.
I just let them live.