After the continuous string of escape attempts from my previous school as well as the added weight of the ‘crux incident’, I was now 12, and at the behest of my juvenile probation officer, I was now headed directly for a small patch of farmland on the outskirts of town that was used as a residential facility for troubled youth. The same style of ‘discipline’ was being used here – ‘teachers’ who were hired to slam students upon command, classes that were way too easy, food that was horrible. However, a few things had changed.
My compatriots were now kids that had been thrown away and discarded by group homes and abusive parents. A few were there simply because they had no place to stay, and the state had shipped them off – but many of them had broken laws and were here as part of their sentencing agreement. The log cabins were equivalent to tent jails. Gone was the cushion of carpeting during restraints – the ruggedness of the woods, the gravel and dirt and the outdoors ensured that if you tried to escape, you were going to get cut, bruised, and torn up. Our sadistic captors took joy in our escape attempts, knowing that we would wind up face down on that ground at least 3-4 times every week, or maybe more.
The south wing of the campus had a facility with triple locks, designed specifically so that every resident would have an isolation cell to be thrown in if needed. A subtle guarantee that no child would ever emerge from the campus as a well-meaning, functional adult. That they could inflict permanent scarring upon their victims.
I was lucky – I had only been ordered to serve 90 days in this hellhole – which I counted down multiple times per day, every day, through the long stints of inactivity. Sitting in a cabin room for the majority of them, on a tiny bunk, doing nothing. Just wasting away, like a pet, in human storage. I tolerated the first week by just crying and staying in my room – a common theme in my life – but eventually, I realized that I wanted to go outside and do things. The teaching staff evaluated the behavior of children via a point system – naturally, this was subjective. You could do everything right, and they could still take points away from you based on their own attitude. The points were used to take away privileges from children – instead of the standard meal that their families had paid for, they could instead force them to eat a cheap cold lunch while they took the hot meal for themselves. They could take anything away that they wanted to take, for no reason at all.
The only solution was a cold, hardened silence, a complete lack of emotion – to build a shell, a wall around yourself. I wouldn’t fully learn this for many years – but I began to develop it here, in the hardest way. I would attempt to escape numerous times – at one point, even wading through the small river south of the facility, winding up covered in mud, just short of the highway that would’ve signaled my freedom.
My relationships with the other residents were naturally strained, and eventually, the other residents realized that because of my reputation as a troublemaker – they could do anything they wanted, and pin it on me. They could accuse me of anything, without even a shred of evidence or proof, and the staff would believe it. A quiet room was built into each cabin – and the difference was, as a resident, they could keep you in that room as long as they wanted to, without food or water, isolated in the darkness. I spent the majority of my stay, hour by hour, alone and in darkness, surrounded by sadists who lived to torment me and feed off of my pain. Eventually, the stress would break me down, and I would develop the first ear infection of my life.
I would cry out that I was sick, but no one would believe me. Eventually, I was sent to the isolation cell facility, shut in a room – with constant migraines and pain and stress and a high fever from the infection – 2 weeks later, I would eventually be sent to a doctor who determined that I needed antibiotics and that I was actually in danger of death. I had been almost killed by this place. I would serve the remaining week of my sentence in the isolation cell. ‘Happiness’ at this point in my life meant knowing that I wasn’t going to die in this juvenile concentration camp. Any naive idea that I would ever be free had disappeared from my head.
However, it was not really over. I would be sent to their outpatient school on the same campus for another year for evaluation. This was okay with me – I could tolerate it and fake it during school hours, as long as I was able to see my parents and have my own food and my own life, and a computer, and video games – which I loved more than anything – an escape from this fragile reality. I would tolerate the abuse from the teachers and students and move forward. Something amazing began to happen though – many of the students who were also oppressed began to champion me against the bullies and teachers who had long dictated the processes on campus. The ACTUAL teachers (not the hired, unqualified staff who were there to slam kids) respected me. My grades improved. I developed a very thick skin. At the end, I survived and I was ‘graduated’, and sent back to my ‘official’ public school. This is where my legacy as a monster would begin.
My arrival was basically announced to the entire school – they grouped me with the ‘disability’ crowd. By this point, however, I was disillusioned with public education. Now 14, I had seen the ins and outs, the cover-ups, and everything else and I knew – public education and bullying were synonymous. The school board, PTA, etc. were part of the jockocracy – if your child was an athlete, he/she could get away with anything. If your child was a nerd, he was a punching bag for the bullies. Passing the buck of guilt, shame and blame was standard procedure – the whipping boy culture that had existed for thousands of years, the hierarchy and caste system that democracy was supposed to dissolve – was alive and well.
During the year of my release, I had learned a lot of things. The internet was now widespread, as was internet access, in 1999. I had become a mallrat – spending the majority of my free time at a mall in the city – hanging out with my fellow outcasts. I picked up smoking and drinking, at age 13. Now, at 14, it was part of my daily life. I would regularly skip class to smoke and drink. I had a few girls to mess with, when I could – but no love. The idea of love was already long gone.
I was mostly left alone, ignored and shunned for the first part of the year – and then it happened. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris invaded Columbine High School, killing 15 people. Anyone who listened to a different kind of music – wore a different kind of clothing – was from a different caste – or thought/acted differently from their peers… was now a potential shooter. I was all of these things (except a potential shooter, of course).
The fights ensued – I won a great many of them. Upperclassmen began trying to jump me, sometimes in groups, any time I was in transition or in the hall. The bullies went as far as to have their sisters pretend to like me – so they could get close to me and have an excuse to pry into my personal life and hurt me. The few who tried this – I caught them alone and I made them pay dearly. Which was fine with me – for the longest time, it was part of my daily routine. I’d go to class, until I got bored of it – then I’d fight someone, then get on the bus and go home.
Until one day, when a mob of over 15 students decided that they would demand my expulsion – these were all students I had beaten in fights that they had started, so I thought nothing of it – and then I realized that the PTA was involved. These kids were the children of upper-class, rich families who ran and operated the school. Right, wrong, and the truth were now irrelevant. Eventually, my reign of rebellion as a defender of my fellow outcasts, nerds, and everyone who was like me – ended because of the jockocracy and the caste system. In hundreds of fights – I had lost only twice. Everyone I fought was bigger than me. None of that mattered – it was over. The final decision was an ‘indefinite suspension’ to protect ‘my safety’. However, I didn’t have any bruises, injuries, etc. – so I realized that ‘my safety’ was never in question. I was being sent away because I had stopped bullying and disrupted the hierarchy and the system. My parents were mortified, but I knew, deep down, that this was a victory – that I had won. That I was finally free of public education, which only exists to bully, control and indoctrinate children.
I would spend the next few months receiving home and internet tutoring – paid for by the school, as their acknowledgment that I really hadn’t done anything wrong. In-between that time, I would hit on girls, hang out at the mall, and party. I had outgrown my childhood, and I wasn’t even 15 yet. I would run away from home whenever I got the chance – drink and smoke regularly, and generally celebrate my freedom and rebellion against society. Between age 10 and age 14, I had been prescribed enough prescription drugs to tranquilize a giant bear – I cast them aside, no longer required to depend upon them by public schooling. I was free, I was alive, and they had created a monster. When someone hurt me, I would instantly retaliate. I was fearless. I was involved in multiple relationships with girls, already knowing that females were natural, born liars. I would regularly have my parents take me to Denver to spend time with my main girlfriend – a 16 year old redhead who played volleyball. I lost my virginity in the summer of 99 – a wonderful, amazing year. I met a great many girls, all of whom talked about love – almost all of them were liars, or idiots, or simply misguided. One of them decided it would be a good idea to lead me along, and then bring her boyfriend to meet me at the mall. I laughed, right in the middle of the food court, and spat in both of their faces, and ran off. I couldn’t fight him with all of the security guards around, so that was the next best thing. No one saw it, or knew… except them. I bailed out, got on my bicycle and rode home, laughing all the way. There was no guilt or shame. The monster was alive and unchained.