Around the age of 11, I left the circle of friends I had in elementary school, namely Russell Dennis, Stewart Howard, and Rodney Michelson. I had been hanging out with those individuals from kindergarten to fifth grade. Then, an I.Q. test was given to the entire school and my score came out as second-highest in the school The score was 162. That was a ratio IQ score. The deviation IQ equivalent is 151. Still, pretty high. Bryan Butler had the highest score, a point or two above mine. I can’t remember his exact score, but I do know that he went on to become a successful scientist, whilst I drifted from one interest to another. That goes to show you that it doesn’t matter what your potential is, the important thing is that you strive to meet it, maintaining focus throughout. Sadly, I have not been able to do that in my life.
My elementary school guidance counselor, Mr. Covington, saw the results of the I.Q. test and felt that I should be with friends who were of the same “caliber” as i, not the “lowlifes” I was hanging out with. So, he managed to change my schedule and that of some others in the school that he hand-picked. There were about half a dozen boys in the group. I can only remember two of them by name, Bryan Butler and Del Espinosa. I don’t think Del scored high on the IQ test. He was just a popular student at the school and a friend of Bryan’s. In fact, all the members of the group were already friends, except for me.
What Mr. Covington did was put us together to do some activities. He hoped this would spawn a friendship between us. I remember one of the activities was playing basketball, (a sport for which I was horrible at, yet loved to watch). The guys were amicable. (Of course, who wouldn’t be!? They were getting out of classes to spend time playing.) However, the bonds of friendship didn’t really take hold. Once the sessions were over, we all went our separate ways.
Mr. Covington wasn’t a total failure at this experiment, though. He did spark something inside of me that made me see a greater potential for myself. I started to see my older friends as undesirable. I felt they were going down a path that would end in their demise. In fact, they felt the same and actually desired it. I didn’t share in their sentiments.
After the sessions with Mr. Covington’s proposed friends, I returned to find Dennis, Rodney, and Stewart utterly possessed with a desire to die. I don’t really know how it came about, as I wasn’t with them during this period, but I remember they talked about it constantly. They would contemplate what would be the best way to die.
Dennis began wearing strictly black clothes and talking about things of an arcane nature. Stewart didn’t take part in that behavior, but did join in the talks about suicide. Rodney seemed to follow whatever course Dennis was going on, merely for the sake of their friendship. In fact, Dennis began idolizing things of a satanic nature and Rodney followed suit. Stewart, again, seemed more hesitant to go down that path with them. I, on the other hand, thought the whole thing was preposterous. I cannot remember ever thinking along those same lines at that time, not even for an instant.
The experience I had with the boys Mr. Covington put me with left me feeling that I could do better than Dennis, Stewart, and Rodney. The talking about evil and death became mind-numbing to me. Eventually, I just wished for them to be out of my life. I remember feeling that if they want to die they should go ahead and die.
One day at school, Stewart came running up to me and said that Dennis and Rodney had swallowed ink from a pen, trying to kill themselves. I remember my reaction was not one that I should have had, but one of acceptance. Strangely, I was elated that they had finally put forth the effort to do something that they had been talking about for a long time. I should have felt empathy for them, but all I felt was disdain. I blamed them for my inability to rise up and meet my potential. I didn’t realize that it was only I who was to blame.
Well, they didn’t die. In fact, I don’t remember if they even got sick from the pen ink. I’m sure if they did, I would have remembered it. But, what I do remember was one of the most loathsome memories of my entire life, what transpired after the pen ink drinking. It is something that I can never forget and something that I will always be ashamed of. This memory haunts me to this day.
Having failed in their suicide attempt by drinking pen ink, the boys discussed alternative methods. One option gave rise above all the rest, hanging. It was felt by the three boys that they could assist one another in their expedited journey toward death, by hanging each other from a tree. In turn, each of them would pull down on a rope that was branched over a tree limb and wrapped around another one’s neck. This was a silly idea from the beginning, because who was going to pull down on the last one’s rope, once all the others were dead? They didn’t think about that, and I certainly wasn’t volunteering.
Shortly after this discussion, I was enjoying a school recess by trying to collect iron with a magnet from the sand in the playground. A classmate came running past me, yelling that Rodney was being hung on a tree at the side of the school. I ran with several other students around the corner of the school to see Rodney with a rope around his neck that was slung over a tree branch and held by Dennis and Stewart. Then, the two boys began pulling on the rope, which grew taut around Rodney’s neck and then suspended him in the air.
Rodney remained motionless for a brief period of time. Then, he began to convulse and thrash about. His hands or legs had not been tied together, as would have been the manner of thinking individuals (which these guys were not at that time). He started clawing at the tree, tearing off its outer bark.
Just then, one of the students came running around the corner, yelling, “Here comes the Principal!” The small crowd that had gathered there quickly dispersed. Dennis and Stewart began lowering Rodney. Something suddenly jumped inside of me, something that I don’t understand to this day. I yelled, “NO!” and ran to the rope, pulling down on it. I really wanted Rodney to die and I wasn’t about to let Dennis and Stewart give up in their efforts. I have no idea why I did that.
Maybe it was out of pity for them, knowing that they had failed at everything they attempted before that. Or, maybe it was out of sadness for myself, feeling this was a way to get rid of one of my many problems. Or, maybe it was out of hatred toward them, feeling that they had caused my many problems. Whatever the case was, it wasn’t a good action on my part – probably the worst thing I have ever done. As I recall, Russell and Stewart gave up altogether as the students scrambled to avoid the Principal’s wrath, while I held in there until just before he came around the corner.
As I took off running from the scene, I could hear Rodney cough and gasp as he took the rope from around his neck. A deep shame came over me instantly. I knew at that moment that I had done something very wrong. I will forever feel the guilt of that occurrence. I feel sorry for having reacted the way I did and have never done anything even remotely close to that since. It was wrong. There is no excuse for what I did, only plausible reasons.
I lost contact with Russell and Rodney later on in junior high school, as they got involved with drugs at an early age and quit attending school. Stewart also took a seedy path, becoming a heavy drug user, but I did have some dealings with him later on in high school. We were members of the same rock band for a brief period of time, both of us playing rhythm guitar.