The bully didn’t really exist, not there, not then anyhow. Maybe you had bullies, maybe you’ve had different kinds of bullies. But we didn’t have a bully there or then. Vik Marttone didn’t know this fact about us. Probably he came from a place where they had a bully then. Or rather Vik came from a place that had a bully before his family moved into our area. Maybe Vik was the bully there, but he didn’t seem quite tough enough, other maybe in attitude. I do not believe he had a good attitude. Possibly he was friends with a bully in the area from where he came.
At the time Vik began strutting around with his bad attitude, the rest of us had begun a contest. The winner was the person who could stay longest swinging on the swingset nearest the school back doors. These doors were the closest to the classrooms. To be on a swing the longest, you had to time it so that you could make it to the doors, up to the classroom, seated and seeming as if alert just right before the teacher called class. This meant the grounds were pretty empty at the point you made your break to the door.
Vik stopped me. He told me how tough he was and how he expected me to give him part of my lunch money each day. He was a grade ahead, so I listened, but all the while thinking I wasn’t afraid of him. I was pretty sure I could knock him down in any fight. Also he apparently did not know my next door neighbor and best friend was two grades older and a foot bigger than him in every direction. I was mostly bothered by Vik wasting my time and making me late for class. I was only ever late for class at start in the morning.
I was also pretty stunned. I had heard of such things, bullies and demands for lunch money, but had never encountered it myself. I quietly went back to the school classroom thinking that well of course I would never give the kid any of my money. So when the teach asked me what happened, I told her. She could tell I was shaken up, but I didn’t cry or tremble. I’m not sure what she did, but Vik never bothered me again or even approached me.
I can guess the principal met with him in his office and explained that kind of thing didn’t happen around our area. He may also have suggested that if Vik wanted to fight me, he could try to arrange it. My mother probably would not have agreed to an arranged fight. My step-father probably would have agreed then have given me bad fighting instructions.
Gregory, apart from his lack of stamina for vodka, and apart from accidently hitting me in the head with a baseball bat, had pretty much taught me to defend myself. He also sparred with me often enough that I had gathered some strength. In my heart, I really hoped that Vik would approach me again and try to make good on his threat to hit me if I didn’t give him money. At the same I didn’t want to really try to hurt someone. As a result then, at the same time Vik did not approach me again, I also simply ignored him. I didn’t look for him, I didn’t acknowledge him, I didn’t mention him, I gave no apparent awareness of his presence.
Until three years later when the group from my neighborhood ran into the group from his neighborhood, riding mini-bikes in a long stretch of undeveloped back fields between two roads of ranch houses. The welcome Vik gave me when he was new was not mentioned by any one. He had a new name, Chickenhawk. We all joined together to make better trails with jumps along the stretches. We listened to a new band named KISS on the record player and an old band named Pure Prairie League. We made crank phone calls and Chickenhawk taught us how to hotwire a car to start it without a key and also how take the stereo out without anyone seeing you. Somewhere in there I decided this group bored me.
The knowledge gained was useful however. I needed to hotwire a car a couple times in emergency situations. Another time I took the car stereo from a college football player who told people he was going to beat me up. As it was explained to me, he’s a football player and he has a temper and you’re bothering him so you have to leave this party even though everyone knows you and no one knew him personally before today. The hundred dollars I got for the stereo was hardly full payment, but what can you do about a bully?
Last I heard about Vik/Chickenhawk is that he shot two people in his driveway in Arizona while they were attempting to collect a financial debt from him with interest owed on a supply of illegal drugs given to him by them to sell for them – marijuana and cocaine. Probably they didn’t care where Vik got the money or whether he sold the drugs, used the drugs or gave them away. Vik received a lengthy sentence, even before the war on drugs enhanced sentencing laws and he was still in prison last I knew.
Vik found Jesus and is preaching to other prisoners about the errors along his way. Jesus may have forgiven him, as Jesus does by many accounts. But I cannot help myself in finding it amusing now, however slightly. And then again, maybe if I had possessed insight into where Vik’s life was going that day at the swing set I could have influenced him towards a different direction. If I had foreseen somehow the drugs, the crime, the shooting, the prison cell maybe I would have tried to talk to him. Maybe I did possess some insight and chose not to intervene because well, fuck him. God bless him anyway. You know, in that bless him anyway way.