Chapter 42


Tuesday, A Very Bad Day,

So, um, I like, apologize or whatever because I had some stuff written about Sunday and yesterday and things were just normal and there was a Billy thing . . . it just didn’t seem right, you know?

No, of course you couldn’t know. I’ll start over.

I was going to put down the stuff from the last couple of days, but they just seem so . . . trivial right now. Really!  Even the fact that I got Billy’s number seems like a small thing.  It’s not, I know, but compared to this it is.  I decided to just blog this because it is just too important and too . . . terrible to even think about!  But, I have to put this down somewhere.  My Dad talked it out with me, but that only helped a little.  I have an appointment with Dr. Klein on Friday.  He’s my ‘crazy doctor’ or at least that’s easier to spell than psychiatrist (< spell-checked).  I might tell him or my psych therapist about the dream I had a couple of days ago.  The one where I was in a coffin and stuff, if you can remember that one. It’s a couple of entries back. You can reread if you want.  I don’t know why you would want to.  I wouldn’t want to.

Ok, I’m babbling because I really just . . . don’t want to think about this anymore. It hurts far too much and hits too close to where I live in my mind sometimes.

So, ok . . .

I was in History Class this morning getting results from our paper.  I did good, whatever, when Mr. Russel, the Principal, came in and looked really concerned.  I was afraid it might be a school shooter or something.  The class went dead silent when he walked in unannounced and Mr. West looked worried too which didn’t make any of us feel better about things.

He stood in front of the class with his hands folded in front of him like me when I’m waiting in line to go to Confession and cop to screwing my pillow.  He looked us over and cleared his throat and told us in a shaky voice:
“Class, I regret to inform all of you that one of your classmates attempted suicide over the weekend.  His attempt didn’t work, thank goodness, but he is in the hospital right now.”

I tell you what: my blood went ice cold in my veins right there sitting in my seat!  I already knew the name I was going to hear, but Mr. Russel’s saying it just made what I knew already a truth.  A truth I just knew was coming.  A truth from which nightmares come . . . even before they happen!

“His mother gave us permission to tell everyone who it was that we nearly lost this weekend.  It was James LaPlane who made the attempt.  I believe everyone that knows him calls him ‘Jimmy’ so I will also, if that’s ok with you.”  We didn’t answer him. We were all too shocked. I was actually the only one to make a noise because I couldn’t hold it back.  I was the first to start crying and the force of trying to hold it back made me gag out a sob.  I couldn’t help it.  I knew something was wrong! I knew something bad was going to happen!  But, I didn’t do anything!  I didn’t . . . do anything at all to stop this.

Mr. West was kind, he came over and hugged my shoulder and patted me on the back.  The girls then started the waterworks and most of the boys, other than me, just hung their heads to hide their feelings.

“Your counselors are available if you need to talk about this.  We’ll also have some folks in later in the week from the Crisis Team to help out too.  Please, don’t be ashamed to talk to them, your teachers, or us about your feelings about this.  It has been a shock to us all!  Now, this was the first class on my roster to tell this to so I have to be busy for a while, um, (shaky voice) to inform the others in his classes.”  Then Mr. Russel bowed his head and walked out of the room as quickly as he could as he held his eyes with his fingers possibly pinching off his own tears.

Apparently, he was having a hard time keeping it together too.

Mr. West, always being open with his feelings, allowed a few tears to fall as he told the class: “You all go on break now. Class is dismissed today.  You all did real good on your papers so don’t worry about that. We can talk tomorrow and remember Class . . . there is ALWAYS a tomorrow! D-don’t ever forget that, guys! No matter what happens today there will be a tomorrow that’s different and usually better! It is almost a law of History that way!  Just remember that . . . m’kay?”  We all said ‘Yes Mr. West’ like we were supposed to.  I’m glad he said it and I know why he did, but, for Jimmy . . . that was the thing.  Would it ever have gotten better for him and will it now that he’s survived this?  I had to wonder how the Goon Squad would take the news about, basically, what THEY had done to bring this on!  Why do I think that they’ll be high-fiving each other later?  If they do, how will Jamie respond?  Will he chicken out like usual and just ‘go along to get along?’  I am hoping he wouldn’t, but Jamie has a lot invested with those idiots.  I’d like to think that what Jimmy has done will wake this School up to what has been going on here under their noses for far too long!

But, I doubt it.  Nothing ever seems to change no matter what Mr. West says.  We all hide and run away from problems when we’re faced with them. Especially when they are someone else’s problems.  I should have been there. I should have been a friend to Jimmy.  I should have been a shoulder to cry on because I know what it is like to be picked on all the time.  I’d have been able to take him to see my Sensei just like my Dad did for me.  Maybe, my Dad would have been able to say or do something for Jimmy too!  Given him a ‘Marine’ pep talk or something?  He told me, after I’d told him some of my feelings about this, that I could never be to blame for the decisions another person makes especially the decision to kill themselves.  There is only so much we can do for such people and we have to protect ourselves so that we don’t get pulled in with them if they are self-destructing.

It seemed like an awful cold thing for my Dad to say and I made a remark to him to that effect, but he assured me he knew what he was talking about. Apparently, during Basic Training, a recruit who hadn’t been screened well for mental problems ‘cracked’ as I guess they call it in the Marines.  He actually tried to shoot himself with his own rifle, but was stopped before he could do it!  They sent him home after that.  His Drill Instructor used that as an object lesson in survival.  “Gentlemen, sometimes, men go down and there’s nothing more you can do about it other than to make sure you don’t go down with them. You owe that to yourself, your platoon, and the Marines! You owe it even to the one that goes down!  You have to be strong because people depend on you!”

If only I’d been able to show Jimmy that kind of wisdom.  He’s still alive, maybe there’s a chance that I can someday.


I thought about calling Billy to talk, but, I really didn’t want to make my first phone call to him be about Jimmy’s issues.  I’m sure Billy is sad about it too, but I’m also sure he’s probably not that involved with Jimmy at all so why bring my messed up feelings about him to Billy.  That wouldn’t be fair to either of us, really.

Interesting, though, Marie called me about it.  I guess she heard something from Jamie.

“You doin’ ok out there, Punkin?” She asked with a sweet concern that made me smile despite myself.  God I wish it would come!  I wish the crush she deserves would come from me!

“Yeah.  I talked it out with my Dad and stuff.  I’m getting less weird about it as I get farther away from it, I think.” I tried to say reassuringly.

“Yeah.  Jamie is, kind of, upset about it.  Though I would have anyway, he thought I should call in on you to see if you were ok about it.  He said he was ‘sorry’ for some reason. Why would he say that? What did he have to do with this Jimmy kid?”  Apparently, Jamie hasn’t been very talkative at home about what his Goon Squad gets up to at school and elsewhere.  Somehow, I don’t think his folks would be very happy about it.

“Jimmy was just another victim of the bullying that goes on at our High School, Marie.  Jamie’s probably feeling guilty for not doing anything more to stop his friends from tormenting Jimmy as they did.  I feel guilty too that I didn’t do more to help him out.  I felt that if I interfered it would only make things worse for Jimmy.  Well, in the end, it didn’t seem to matter what either me or Jamie might have been able to do.  I understand better Jamie’s issues with his team and I understand better that, even if I could have stepped in more on Jimmy’s behalf a couple of times, I wouldn’t have been able to be there for him all the time.”  Typical of me, I tried to make things sound better using logic, or whatever.

“Well, I don’t understand.  What could you or Jamie have done different to possibly make things better for this kid?  You two are just kids yourselves!  Where were the adults when all this was going down?”  Marie really is smarter than the rest of us!

“Nowhere to be seen, usually.  One even manhandled Jimmy when Karl started shit with him.  The teachers and admins at school aren’t really interested in stopping bullying as much as they just want quiet and less trouble for them.  They make me sick, to be honest.”  I think that was the first time Marie ever heard the edge that could get into my voice when I think about cruel things like this.

“That’s not right!  Someone should hold those guys accountable for their violence!  If the school won’t do it then maybe the cops should!”  Marie was getting upset at that point so I wanted to change the subject a little.

“It’s ok, Marie.  It’s best just to keep a low profile and get through High School and out the other side, I think.  Nothing is going to change there.  It’s been that way for years and it will probably be that way for years to come.  I wish I had better news for your next four years of school, but it’s kind of a struggle, sometimes.  Jimmy just got caught on the bad side of things.  Hopefully, after this, they’ll move him out of this school and somewhere safer for him. I hope so anyway.”

“Yeah . . . I guess.” Marie sounded very down after that which made me sad. This Jimmy thing can only bring us all down a little.  It seems that suicides and suicide attempts seem to hurt more than just the person who commits them and their family and friends.  It causes, like, a ripple effect that goes out and spreads that pain around.  Everyone touched by it is hurt by it somehow.  Maybe it’s like that Karma thing I keep hearing about.  What you put out into the universe comes back to you, very much like waves in the water.  When the wave can’t come back because the cause of the wave is gone then the wave just crashes around and knocks into everybody!

Anyway, we made plans to get together this coming Sunday to get our minds off things.  I think we’ll do a picnic down by the lake at Peregrine Park.  I think that’ll be the best I’ll be up for this weekend.  I don’t think movies or the Mall will keep my attention for a while.

Well, I think I’ll wrap this one up for tonight.  I don’t know what more to say on the Jimmy thing.  It hits so close to home, you know?  I think I’ll listen to his CD one more time and then put it away for a while.

The lyrics to one of the songs in there goes: ‘Blessed love, the love I need. Rolling drums, the Loveless bleed.’ It’s no coincidence that this song is called ‘Loveless’ and that it is the first song on Jimmy’s playlist.

I hope someone, someday, can give Jimmy the love he needs!  I’ll say a prayer for him tonight in hopes he might find that person.

This is Brandon crying for the Loveless

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