There once was a boy named Edward. He was entering the fourth grade and was rather excited. At this point in time he had established himself as a school veteran. Like any kid entering the fourth grade, he had experienced some highs and some lows. Edward could never forget the P.E. championship his 3-on-3 basketball team won in the Fall of his first grade year. There was that friendship he extended for a little too long early in third grade with Vin, but, as he’s learned from his friend Chuck across the street, we all make mistakes. He had every reason to be excited about the 4th grade.
Then it came. It’s still a mystery, even to this storyteller, how bullies pick their victims. Edward wasn’t as popular as others but he was a loyal friend. His family wasn’t as rich as others but wasn’t as poor as others either. I guess Edward just fell through the cracks.
You couldn’t blame all of Edward’s pain on the bully at first. Edward put himself in a bad situation. He drank way too much coffee, which for some reason became a point of ridicule. He traded his baseball cards with the wrong person (don’t even get me started on the guy on the other side of the trades, Ike). He tried to stop the bullying before it began but didn’t put his whole heart into it, thinking it would just go away. Sure, he appealed to his teachers. They said to just ignore it and things would go back to normal. He appealed to his friends. They too, grew scared and didn’t invest their time anymore.
Once the bullying had taken place for a few weeks, Edward felt empty. That emptiness lasted for six months. Six long, hard months. Chuck across the street wasn’t doing well, and that didn’t help take away any of his agony. There were new guys who moved in, Pete and Paul, but they didn’t stop the bullying. They just gave very brief moments of joy when their families got together on Sunday. Six months are a long time for anyone, especially for someone who had grown so used to a pleasant life.
In that six month, something changed in Edward. A lot of the change came because of his dad’s recent promotion. This caused a big bump in Edward’s allowance. He ran for student body President and surprisingly the school got behind him, electing him and giving him power. This didn’t stop the bully, but the bully grew concerned. Edward’s confidence was growing every day.
Finally, he made a deal with the bully. He offered him money and tried to get him to back off. Edward just wanted to feel whole again. The bully would tell him he’d consider it. The bully thought, “Well, maybe I can just get that same amount of money from someone else and still push Edward around.”
See, this bully was condescending. He pushed more kids around than just Edward, although Edward was the only one he didn’t call a friend. These other kids he considered his friends, it’s hard to say if they felt the same in return. The bully’s name was Joel.
Joel made Edward swear to silence while he worked to find another deal. Joel worked closely with his friend Maurice. Maurice was making a power play. He matched the money Edward had put forward to try to climb the social structure of the fourth grade. Maurice felt like he was a bit lost and he thought he could regain his sense of self by gaining more power. No one can blame Maurice for trying. No one deserves to feel empty. Maurice did step over the line. He told classmates “Edward isn’t a loyal friend, I am.” He had a fetish for whales and was making promises that he couldn’t keep, without a minor miracle. Edward couldn’t offer a rebuttal in fear of screwing things up with Joel. He was sworn to silence.
Word eventually leaked out that Joel was going to side with Maurice. Edward was still going to be the victim.
Edward did what he had to do. He offered the bully more money. What other choice did he have? There wasn’t going to be a friend that all of a sudden moved to his neighborhood in two months to make him feel better. Edward offered a lot of money. Maurice couldn’t match that offer.
Joel still will probably choose Maurice. Edward is just trying to show him that he means business.
Joel doesn’t really care about his other friends all that much. Sure, they help him out a lot but he’s got to keep his reputation up as a tough guy. Joel needs Edward. He needs someone to pick on. Joel will move away in a few years. Until that day, he’s the bully no matter how much money Edward offers.