by Ed Coet
part 1 of 2
David watched her walk down the hall, first from the front as she entered the school building and then from behind as she passed his wall locker. Her name was Janet. She took David’s breath way. Her hair was shiny and soft. It was dark brown and shoulder length. It bounced off her shoulders as she walked. Her sky blue eyes radiated against her tanned olive complexion.
Janet’s skin was as smooth as silk. Her teeth were perfect and pearly white. Her smile captivated all on-lookers. Her figure was total perfection. She walked with a gait that resembled professional fashion models. Janet wasn’t just beautiful; she was the essence of beauty. David fantasized about her warm embrace. He visualized sharing a warm kiss of passion from her soft shapely lips.
Fantasizing was all that David could do because Janet wouldn’t have anything to do with him. She wouldn’t even offer him the simple kindness of a friendly nod; not even the courtesy of sharing the time of day with him.
Unfortunately, Janet’s personality didn’t match her spectacular looks. She may have been the most beautiful girl in school, but she was also the most conceited and one of the cruelest students imaginable. She was very selective in whom she dated. If a fellow wasn’t a handsome jock athlete with finely toned hard body muscles, and who drove a spectacular car and had plenty of cash to spend, he could just forget about ever dating Janet. In fact, he could forget about her even acknowledging him unless he was the targeted recipient of one of her many put downs.
David didn’t understand this situation when he arrived at Cove High School. He rightfully considered himself to be a good, decent, honest, and hard working individual. As such, he felt somewhat comfortable in asking a pretty girl like Janet out on a date.
In the back of his mind David was aware of his noticeable blemishes — his pimpled face and his chubby physique. He was self-conscious about this. Still, he viewed his recent move to Texas, a new school, and making new friends as the new beginning he sought. David was much more upbeat and confident then he had ever been before. His intentions were honorable.
David just wanted the pleasure of enjoying Janet’s company. He was hopeful that he might gain the comfort of getting to know a popular girl in his new school. He figured it would be worth the risk of rejection to ask Janet out on a date. Perhaps, he thought, she could help him to be accepted by the other students who didn’t easily welcome newcomers in to their ranks.
David arrived at Cove High just in time for the school prom. His father was in the Army. They had just returned from a tour of duty in Germany. David was really excited and happy to be back in the good ol’ USA. This was his home and he had missed it.
David had been harassed and bullied by his peers in Germany. He was anxious to get away from that situation. Most tragic of all, David was still mourning the death of Becky, his twin sister. She had died two years before. A drunk driver ran in to her when she was walking home from school. Her death devastated David. Becky wasn’t only his sister; she was his best friend and confidant. They loved each other unconditionally.
David didn’t know a soul in his new central Texas home. He desperately wanted to make friends and to be accepted in his new school. It took considerable courage for David to ask Janet to be his prom date. However, after several days he was finally able to summon up the courage to ask her. David approached Janet at her wall locker just after lunch. It was a week before the prom.
After David asked her to the prom Janet smiled at David with a devilish grin. Then she said, “Hey girls, come over here. I want you all to witness this prom date offer.”
Janet was the captain of the cheer leading squad and all the cheerleaders came running over on her command. When all the cheerleaders had gathered around, Janet said, “O.K., Dude, ask me in front of witnesses.”
With a clear mind David ordinarily would have been able to figure out that something unpleasant was about to happen. However, his mind was anything but clear at this emotional moment. Not understanding, David smiled at Janet and said, “Janet, I find you to be more than attractive. I think you are absolutely beautiful. I would be honored if you would accept my invitation. Please be my date to the school prom.”
Led by Janet, all the cheerleaders and everyone else within hearing distance burst into uproarious laughter. Once they had quieted down Janet said, “Are you completely nuts? How dare you ask me out on a date you pimple-faced, fat, pudgy midget! When God was handing out good looks to the babies in pregnant women your mother must have been on a drunken binge. She probably did a belly flop into a mud hole. Get real you ugly jerk! Not only would I never go out with you, you’re going to have to answer to Ralph. Ralph is my boyfriend. He’s not going to be happy when he finds out you tried to hit on me.”
David was shattered, devastated, and heart broken. He had suffered embarrassment before but never with such public humiliation. It was hard enough being the new kid, not knowing a soul, and not having any friends; but for this to happen, for someone to be so totally mean just because he dared to ask her to the prom was — well, it was hurtful beyond expression.
David walked briskly away from Janet and the crowd of onlookers. He turned his head in his best effort to conceal the tears that were now welling up in his eyes. He didn’t want anyone to see him cry. He knew they would ridicule him if they caught a glimpse of his tears.
David got on his bike. He began pedaling as fast as he could. David’s father was a junior enlisted soldier and his family couldn’t afford much. They had a single inexpensive second-hand car. David hadn’t even learned how to drive yet. He figured, “why bother?” He knew it would be years before he could afford a car of his own. His bicycle was a Christmas present from his grandparents. He cherished it. David was trying to get home and out of sight as fast as he possibly could. He lived four miles from school. He rode his bike back and forth to school every day.
David rounded a curve pedaling at a fast rate of speed. He was on the down hill side of a steep street. Suddenly a flashy hemi-powered quad-cab Ram 1500 truck pulled up behind him. It began honking its horn.
David pulled to the right side of the road. He wanted to make sure the truck had plenty of room to pass. The truck did not pass. It stayed right behind David. The driver continued to honk his horn. The other occupants joined the driver in laughing and shouting obscenities at David.
Finally, as if out of nowhere and for no reason, the truck nudged David’s bike with its bumper. At these high speeds, that is all that it took to send David flying through the air. He landed head first, in the gravel at the roadside.
The truck stopped and Ralph, Janet’s boyfriend, emerged from the drivers’ seat. He and the other hooligan occupants walked over to David. David, nearly unconscious, was lying in severe pain in the gravel and dirt.
Ralph was an all-state linebacker on the high school football team. He stood towering over David. He grinned as he looked down at David. David was a pitiful site. He was bruised and scratched everywhere on his body. His right arm and leg and several ribs were broken. His skull was fractured and he had internal bleeding. Half dazed, it was all David could do just to look up at Ralph. He had a helpless look of bewilderment that was evident even in his swollen and disfigured face.
The six-foot five-inch and 275-pound linebacker Ralph was carrying a tire iron. Ralph said, “I’ll teach you to hit on my woman — you freaking little wimp.”
Before David had the opportunity to say that he had no way of knowing that Janet even had a boyfriend, Ralph began to club David with the tire iron. He did this in a mad frenzy. Ralph’s football buddies who, like Ralph, were supposed to be positive role models, instead joined in on the beating. They kicked David in every part of his body.
When it was clear that David was fully unconscious and appeared lifeless, Ralph and his buddies got back in the truck and drove away. David was left bleeding profusely. He was totally unrecognizable. His face was completely disfigured. David just lay there, nearly dead, until a passerby noticed him. The passerby called the 911 emergency line on his cell phone. Within minutes an ambulance and the police arrived.
David’s mother was the first to arrive at the hospital emergency room. His father was out of state on a field training exercise. He couldn’t be reached. Medical personnel were working frantically to stabilize David. His condition had been labeled critical.
David slowly turned his head to look at his mother. His eyes were sad and tear filled. In a weak and whispered voice David asked, “Why Mom? Why am I so ugly?” He was gasping between words.
David’s mother tried to compose herself and appear brave for her son. Inside, she was trembling with fear. It was obvious to her that David’s condition was extremely serious. It was a struggle for her to hold back her tears.
“Why am I short and fat? Why can’t I make friends Mom? Why doesn’t anyone like me?”
David’s mother clenched his hand. She tried to think of a comforting response but her mind was confused. She was overcome by sorrow and grief. No mother should ever have to see her child in this condition. It was almost unbearable.
With an even weaker whisper, David asked, “Why did God take Becky away? She is the only one who ever talked to me. She cared about me. I miss her Mom. I need her. I want to be with Becky. I’m sorry Mom; I don’t care anymore. I’ve had enough heartache.”
David’s mother, half demanding and half begging, cried out, “You hold on David! Don’t you dare die on me.”
In little more then a weak whisper David said, “Mom, maybe I will finally find peace and happiness in death.”
No longer able to control her emotions and wholly succumbing to tears, David’s mother fully embraced her son in a nurturing embrace.
“David, in God’s eyes and in mine, you are a beautiful person. He knows how good a person you have grown to be. He knows that you did nothing wrong. You did not deserve to have this happen to you. God loves you David. So do Dad and me. Please David, be strong. Hold on my son.”
Wiping tears from her eyes, she stoked David’s hair and gently kissed his forehead.
“Now please son, talk no more. You’re very weak. You need to save your strength. Please rest while the doctors attend to you.”
“But Mom, maawuum.” David gasped. Suddenly his eyes went blurry. Then they rolled back in his head. His whole body went limp.
David’s mother cried out, “Dear God — please help my son!! Doctors, hurry! You’ve just got to save him!”
The nurses quickly ushered David’s mother out of the emergency room. The doctors hurriedly went in to all manner of life saving procedures. Then, a buzzing sound came from the machine that David was attached to. The same sound that indicates heart failure.
As a nurse pulled a sheet over David’s head, a doctor went out to his mother. With heartfelt compassion he told her, “Ma’am, I’m so very sorry. We did all we could do.”
David’s mother collapsed into the doctor’s arms. The shock; the despair and grief were too agonizing for her to endure.
David was the nicest and kindest son that any parent could hope to have. He was a good student. He did his chores without complaining. He volunteered at church and for other community projects. David would give anyone the shirt off his back if he thought they needed it. He would even do it if they just wanted it and he believed that giving it to them would make them happy.
Although nobody wanted to be his friend, David never stopped trying to be friendly to everyone that he met. David loved everyone. He was just a loving kind of guy. He even loved those who ridiculed and harmed him. He would occasionally get angry, like everyone else, but he didn’t know how to hold a grudge. He couldn’t be vindictive or vengeful. He didn’t want to learn how to either. One had to wonder how this could happen to a wonderful person like David.
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Copyright © 2007 by Ed Coet