My year had started well enough. The Behavior Horror Picture Show that I had heard about and envisioned and seen in movies hadn’t happened to me yet. I knew that Felicia’s home life was a colossal disaster (as well as her mental state), but so far my days had been characterized by disgusting conversations, repeated nonsense words, unexplainable stupidity, and dose after dose of flatulence. I knew it was only a matter of time until the second act would begin, however, and yesterday proved me right.

The second act’s name is Davion. There’s no need to say his last name, because as I would learn, some names are so notorious that the first name is all that matters. And his is one of them.

When I arrived at school, I had an email from my principal telling me that a student was being added to my class. His name was Davion, and he had been sent to juvenile detention ten times in the past year and a half, all for fighting. He was apparently on the brink of being taken out of his home and placed into the state’s custody, which would most likely mean being sent off to a foster home in a different city. An image floated to my mind of an African American kid (and yes, I admit that I stereotyped his name) who grew up without a father and ran with the wrong gang and whose mother didn’t know what to do with him anymore.

Instead, I walked into the office to find what was most certainly probably quite possibly definitely a reincarnated twelve-year-old Chris Farley. He was a tank. A very big, white tank with blond hair swishing below his eyes and tree trunks where his ankles should have been. Old images out, new images in.

After our intake meeting with our principal, I met with his parents alone to try and get a more honest understanding of why he was having so many problems with fighting. They told me that it was no exaggeration, that yes, he had been to juvenile ten times (though they thought it was more but had lost count when he hit double digits). It was obvious that a kid doesn’t just start punching people when he’s in the sixth-grade without justification. There is always a root. So I point blank asked his parents what they thought the root was, and this was what they told me:

Midway through Davion’s sixth-grade year, he became buddies with some older kids. They palled around together for a while, and Davion considered them some of his best friends. Then there was a misunderstanding. Apparently, one of the kids claimed he heard Davion talking trash about him and how Davion believed he could beat the kid up. The kids asked Davion to come and play one day, and being none-the-wiser, Davion followed. When they were just outside of the neighborhood, the kids jumped Davion and beat him to the ground. He covered his face and endured punch after punch, kick after kick. If it wasn’t devastating enough, amidst the terror of the blows, Davion urinated himself. His dad said that he came walking into the house that evening with his pants soaked, his eye blackened shut, and tears running down his cheeks.

His parents said that something inside him broke that day. Not physical, but emotional, which is the worst kind. Ever since then, Davion has tried to fight anything that moves. Whether out of shame, or pride, or hatred, or all three, his parents don’t know. What they do know is that his anger is a thirst that never seems to be quenched; no matter how many punches thrown or people bruised or blood drawn. It’s simply never enough.

And now, he is mine.

My act two has arrived, and the stage of my classroom is his last chance at finding peace.

-WMM

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