Ok, the final draft is finally up. I would appreacitate feedback. As I said, I don't like the ending very much.
It was spring of 1990. The crops were growing, school was in its last months, when the students are too excited to work while the teachers are trying with all their strength to get the children's minds into shape, to prepare them for their later years of schooling. I lived in a small town in southern Arkansas called Wetmosse, a small community of farmer's only three hundred and two people large. Wetmosse grew soybeans and rice. Just about everyone in the town had wither a soybean or rice field. Except for the rich folks, of course. Well, we weren't lucky enough to be a rich folk. We lived by the week, when the big trailers came to pick up the produce. We were paid a few dollars a pound, not enough to live a comfortable life.
In the spring of 1990, in late March, a new child came to the Wetmosse Public School: Travis Smith. There was only one public school, for there were hardly enough children to fill just it. But in late March, a new family moved to Wetmosse: the Smith's, and their son Travis. They were from St. Louis. The only child in our school not born in Wetmosse. The only child without a southern accent. His family was rich. And for that, we resented him. His parents didn't bother to send him to the private school, where only the few rich kids went, no. He came to Wetmosse Public School every day, rubbing his money in our dirty faces. Nobody talked to him. We all purposely exiled him, trying to make him as miserable as possible so he would beg his parents to the private school. It never worked. Until April, we tolerated his money, his rudeness, and his audacity to even try to put us down because of our financial situation.
One day, on April 14, 1990, Travis Smith pushed my classmates and me to the edge. We all knew what he was doing: he was testing or patience. He took joy in causing us pain and annoyance for his own entertainment.
"Hey, Timmy!" Travis said to me in class that day, while the teacher was out of the room. The twenty-two other students paid no heed to our conversation. "Timmy, me and my mom are goin' up Little Rock on Saturday? Wanna come?"
First of all: Travis needed to get it in his head that I hated being called "Timmy". Everyone knew that. I was called Tim throughout the whole eighth grade.
Second of all: Little Rock was over an hour away. He knew none of us poor kids could afford the drive up there, only he could. It was just another attempt to anger us as much as he could.
"What for?" I replied.
"We're gonna go to this special grocery store up there that has some good stuff. We shopped there a lot when we were stayin' up there 'fore comin' down here. There's bunch of cool stuff. Thought you might wanna come?"
This question cut deep. He knew, he knew! that none of us could afford that fancy stuff that the middle class buy! My patience was wearing thin.
"Naw," I said as politely as I could. "I can't afford any of that stuff."
"I'll pay for it," Travis stated in a smug voice. "I mean really. It's not that expensive. Besides, it's really fun. I'm lookin' forward to the trip." At that point, I was ready to kill the boy. For about a month, we had tried to tolerate that boy. At first, we tried to accept him, but he annoyed hell out of us, talking about his money, and his hundred thousand dollar home in St. Louis. Then we pushed him away. But the further we pushed him, the more he strived to befriend us.
On the playground that day, at recess after lunch, my friends and I were talking about the experience I had just had with Travis.
"Bastard don't know when to stop," I said. "Someone just needs ta tell 'im, 'We know ya have yer money, so shut the hell up!'" My friends agreed with me with murmuring, "Yeah"'s across the group. For a few minutes, we walked around the playground, a flat piece of land outside the main building, with one piece of equipment: a swing set. Then there was a chain link fence to keep us from escaping. But it usually didn't work. The teachers didn't keep a close eye on us; for them, the teaching job was just a paycheck. At least five or six students hopped the fence every year. After a few minutes of walking around in the dry heat, kicking rocks as far as we could, having contests, we heard a scream. All of us in my clique ran to the source of the sound. When we arrived, we found Travis on top of Jimmy Roberts, the smallest boy in the eighth grade, beating him up. I ran over to the two and ripped Travis off of Jimmy, who was bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth. Even though Travis was off of Jimmy, he was still swinging his fists.
S**t! Whad're ya doin'?" I yelled. Travis elbowed me in the stomach jumped back on Jimmy, who hadn't yet recovered. On the ground, stomach aching from the blow, I yelled at Travis, calling him a bastard. I tried to get up to tackle Travis, but my best friend, Pete Keller, beat me. By the time I got up, I saw that Pete had Travis in a headlock.
"Come on, you punk-ass rich kid!" Pete was saying. "What the hell'r'ya doin'?" The teachers took their sweet time getting over to the scene, but they finally got there.
"Break it up, you guys! Come on! Break it up!" The male teacher was pulling the two men apart. (There were always two teachers on the playground at any given recess, one male and one female.) It took about a minute, but the teacher eventually got the two separated. In the meantime, the female teacher was helping Jimmy up and escorting him to the nurse. The principal came out onto the playground, something that only happened when there was a big situation, like the one unfolding. The principal marched out in his nice pressed dark navy suit and purple and gold tie.
"Everyone get to class!" the principal yelled. "You are all going to get out a little early!" Fifteen minutes early, in fact. We got out of school fifteen minutes early that day, thanks to the short recess and early classes. The only drawback was the bells were off fifteen minutes.
After school, my friends and I collaborated and though of a scheme to get back at Travis. The rich kid was in detention, but not after a long argument with the principal.
From what I heard, Travis' story was Jimmy was making fun about Travis' family's money, calling him names. After a few minutes of verbal abuse, Travis snapped and pounced on Jimmy.
Jimmy's story was a little different. Jimmy said that he said something to Travis that he just took the wrong way. Travis made a smug remark about Jimmy's being poor. Jimmy countered with a joke and Travis sprung. Personally, I believed Jimmy's story, because, knowing Travis, attacking a small thirteen-year-old in cold blood seemed like something he would do.
So, after school, my friends and I thought up of a way to get back at Travis.
The next day, at school, I told Travis to come by my house around four after school. He agreed. I told him it was just down the road from the school, you couldn't miss it. There was a large soybean field beside it. The field was our income.
It was five past four. My friends and I had been waiting in the soybean field since three-thirty. It was hot, but the worst was yet to come in the summer. The crops were growing well. The plants were up to our knees.
"Son of b**ch probably ain't gonna show," Pete said.
"No, give 'em some more time," I replied.
After five more minutes of waiting, we finally saw a figure coming from the direction of the rich folks houses.
"Here he is," I said. We approached Travis at the edge of the field. He was slightly intimidated by the band of five boys.
"So," Travis asked, "whad'ya guys want?"
"To talk," I said right back.
"Why'd you beat up lil' Jimmy?"
"You heard my story. I don't think I'm to blame fur that."
"That's not what we heard," Pete said.
"So," Travis defended himself, "you guys know I'm right. That my story is true. Right?"
"No," I said, and punched the boy. Travis fell to the ground.
"B**ch!" he yelled as he fell. I squatted to lift the fallen boy by his shirt. I then hit him again, and Pete picked him up this time, he hit Travis. We passed him around, the rest of the boys taking turns punching Travis. When they were finished, Pete and I forced Travis to the ground and dragged him to the scarecrow in the middle of the soybean field. Two of the boys took the scarecrow off of the pole. Pete and I then tied Travis to the wooden pole.
We started taunting Travis, all five of us, calling him horrible names, beating him occasionally, or stoning him. I approached Travis, who was bleeding, trying as hard as he could to hang on to at least one thread on his consciousness.
"Well, ya bastard. How does it feel to be beaten, huh?" I said. Travis was unresponsive. It felt so good to be mean. It felt good to let out my anger that I had collected for that little prick It felt so good to beat him nearly to death. All of the five of us felt this, and none of the five of us were able to stop our anger and pleasure. I suddenly thought of a brilliant idea. I told the two boys that had tied Travis up to cut him down. They took out their switchblades and cut him loose, purposely cutting his hands as well.
We drug Travis across the field and onto the street across the concrete. We drug him past several farms until we reached a flooded rice field. I stuck my fist in the water; the water came two-thirds up my arm. I couldn't feel the bottom. It was perfect.
"Find some rocks," I commanded. It was done. We tied four rocks to Travis, one to each limb. We then all grabbed the boy and tossed him in the water. I smiled the biggest I ever had in my life when I saw Travis' face sink below the water. The shock of the water seemed to jerk Travis back into a state of awareness. He realized he was in danger. He screamed until his face disappeared and his lungs filled with water. It wasn't until it was too late when we had realized what we had done. The smile disappeared. I then started to cry, realizing that my friends and I had just killed a fourteen-year-old boy. An innocent, fourteen-year-old boy, his only crime was beating a child on the playground in cold blood. All five of us ran to our houses.
I burst into my home, tears streaming down my checks. My father saw me run through the den and into my room. When I was in my room, I jumped on my bed, and looked around at all of the things inhabiting it. They looked different, somehow. The whole room felt different. What little things I owned were from when I was just an innocent schoolchild, a stage of my life to which I could never go back. My father opened the door to my room.
"Son," he said. "Is somethin' wrong?" I sniffed.
"Yeah," I replied. I started to finger the sheet on my bed."
"Well, did somethin' happen at school."
"Well, what happened?"
"Well, what 'bout 'im."
"M-me and m-my friends, we was playin' 'round with Travis."
"And whad happened?"
"W-w-we threw 'im in Mr. Johnson's rice field. It's flooded, now."
"Well, didn' he swim back out?"
"We tied rocks to 'im."
"You did WHAT?" My dad didn't know what to think. He leaned against the wall, his face pale.
"I'm sorry, dad," I said.
"Who helped ya?" I didn't want to rat out my friends. "Who the hell helped you?" I started to cry even more. I then told the name of the four who helped me. My dad left my room and called Travis' parents. Then he called the parents of the four who helped me.
I felt horrible for years. I couldn't look at Travis' house without crying. I felt even worse when Jimmy told me the truth the next about what had happened on the playground.
"S**t!" I yelled. "Why the hell did ya lie in the first place?" I never forgave Jimmy for lying about the incident. To the day, I still dislike him. But that may be because I need someone to blame other than myself. I know I want someone to blame. I don't want to be responsible for the horrible did that I had committed with my friends.
Every time I remember back to that horrible spring of 1990, I realize that Travis Smith wasn't a bad guy. He just wanted to be friends with my group and me. He just wanted to help us with our finances. He just wanted to fit in to a new school and a new place, but we never let him.