New York Times, Friday August 23rd, 2007
Earlier this week three houses burnt to the ground, the house that caused the fire was owned by the widow, Cathy Wilshire. Her husband, Don Wilshire, was arrested for arson. After retrieving Mrs. Wilshire from the fire, the fire fighters were told of a young boy, only 4 years old, still trapped inside the house, Bill Wilshire. No one was injured.
Ever since the first grade, Bill Wilshire was tortured by bullies. His main bullies were three kids, always a grade ahead of him, named Justin, Nico, and Church. Sebring Grade School never listened to Bill’s cries for help.
Bill, now 10, was fed up. He thought things might change once he got to Sebring Middle School. He was wrong, the bullying continued, and he had had it.
His psyche snapped.
2014, that was the year the Sebring Event had happened.
Bill was not too excited about Middle School and the locker rooms. After all he was only ten and most certainly the youngest. His mom had put him in late.
Since he was the youngest, he was scared about being made fun of or beaten up because of his small size. He changed in the stall placed in the boys restroom. Every time he had gotten out Justin, Nico, and Church had been waiting for him. He was always the last one out, he was too busy getting punched to change.
Today was different. Probably because of his size, Bill was the first one out in knock-out, a basketball game, this day in gym. He changed as quick as he could to avoid the punching but when he was out the locker room was full. He waited about five minutes. When he opened the door, Justin, Nico, and Church towered over him. For three minutes he was kicked around the stall.
They left leaving Bill in the locker room, crouching in the fetal position. The gym teacher, Mr. Baldman, walked in.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Mr. Baldman shouted.
Mr. Baldman then saw the bruises on him. He turned around to see Justin and Nico standing there, laughing.
Locker Room Incident
Mr. Baldman was aware that Justin and Nico hung around Bill along with Church. He had always thought they were good friends. Now that he knows what was really going on, they’re in trouble.
“It was them” Bill said in a small voice, trying to hold back tears.
Mr. Baldman turned to face Justin and Nico but they were gone.Mr. Baldman looked back at Bill who was huddled in the corner. “You okay, son?” he asked?
Bill didn’t answer.
Room for Dent
Mr. Baldman walked over to Bill and crouched down next to him, he was still taller. He reached for Bill, who swatted his hand away. A lone tear ran down Bill’s cheek and across the scratch left by Church’s so called “Cow boy” boots.
Mr. Baldman laid one hand on Bill’s shoulder. “Do you wanna do to the office?”
Bill shook his head. They stood up and began to walk out of the locker room. Instantaneously, Bill toppled over. Mr. Baldman shook him trying to get him up, there was no response.
Bill’s heart began to beat faster, his lungs expanded and contracted faster than he could handle, his pupils seemed the swallow his eyes in darkness. Bill stood up and looked at Mr. Baldman. Mr. Baldman started walking backwards out the door, in fear of Bill’s dark , cloudy eyes.
Bill looked at a green locker next to him, the same on Justin would use. He put his hand in a fist and pulled his arm back. In one swift move he punched the locker door. The door collapsed in on itself, leaving a giant dent.
His heart rate slowed as did his lungs as he steadied himself on the locker. His eyes returned to normal. He looked up at the dent, then at Mr. Baldman.
Bill just stood there, “What happened?”
Cathy Wilshire was not normal. She was a perfectly fine girl until she met Don. She started acting weird and troubling. He neighbors never favored her either. After she found out she was pregnant with Don’s baby, they married. A few months after they married, Bill was born.
That night the neighbors heard screaming. They called the police because they thought Don had finally snapped. When they got there is turned out Cathy had had her son. Don was visiting friends in Miami. She named him Joseph.
Once Don came back he called him Billy. His birth name is Joesph Pennington Wilshire. His parents have always called him Billy or Bill. Until the fire started by Don in 2007 that burned three houses down, Bill was happy.
Mr. Baldman and Bill walked into the office to see to boys waiting to go into the office, Buck and Junior. The secretary, Ms. Jo was reading a book, The Mental State: The Mentality of a Sadist.
“Can I help you Mr. Baldman?” Ms. Jo asked.
“Can we see Mr. Hawk please?” He asked.
Ms. Jo looked over at Buck and Junior. “Go ahead.”
Mr. Baldman and Bill entered Mr. Hawk, the Vice Principal’s office. Mr. Hawk was reading a news paper.
“Buck, Junior. Why would you terrorize the girls in the bathroom by u********g?” He put the paper down, “Do you have any godly idea how- oh Mr. Baldman. I didn’t know that was you.”
Mr. Baldman and Bill sat in two chairs placed in front of Mr. Hawk’s desk.
“Kid’s been beat up.” Mr. Baldman said.
“I’m sorry that had to happen,” Mr. Hawk said, “What’s your name?”
Bill replied, “Bill Wilshire.”
“Who did it?” Mr. Hawk asked as he went through some files trying to find a Wilshire. He pulled out a file and wrote on it in pencil.
“Two kids,” Mr. Baldman stated, Justin Thirtyacre and Nicholas Butch.”
Mr. Hawk then looked through the files for Thirtyacre and Butch. He spent almost five minutes finding Thirtyacre.
“Thank you for reporting it.” Mr. Hawk said handing Bill a Report Slip, “I’ll take care of it.”
“Mr. Hawk,” Mr. Baldman began, “I think this has been going on for some time. Maybe we should let Bill take the day off.”
Mr. Hawk looked over at Bill. Bill was resisting tears while cuts, bruises, and the Nike swoosh were visible on his face and forearms. Mr. Hawk dug around in a cabinet for a release form.
“Thank you.” Bill said to Mr. Baldman.
Mr. Hawk found the pink slip of paper. He stamped it then wrote his signature and handed it to Bill. Bill took it and looked at it.
“Do you need a ride to your place?” Mr. Hawk asked.
“No, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?” Mr. Hawk questioned, persistently.
Bill felt that feeling again. His heart rate sky rocketed, his lungs went faster, his eyes because as black as the night. He looked up at Mr. Hawk and said, “Yes.” Mr. Hawk was stunned from Bill. Bill grabbed a pencil and whipped it across the room towards Mr. Hawk. He ducked and it struck the wall behind him, sticking in the wall. Bill fell out of his chair and placed one hand over his chest in pain. His heart and lungs slowed, and his eyes went back to normal.
He sat up and looked at the pencil sticking out of the wall behind Mr. Hawk. “How’d that pencil get there?” Bill asked.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?!” Mr. Hawk yelled.
Mr. Baldman shook his head and Mr. Hawk calmed down. “Give it Ms. Jo on the way out.” Mr. Hawk told Bill, afraid and stunned. Bill walked out of the room.
Mr. Hawk looked up at Mr. Baldman. “Did he just try and kill me?”
“I’m not sure.” Mr. Baldman said, “He did the same thing in the locker room. We need a new locker by the way.”
“So,” Mr. Hawk said, “You’ll deal with Justin and Nicholas?”
“Yes.” Mr. Baldman said. Mr. Baldman walked over to the door.
“Could you send in Buck and Junior?” Mr. Hawk asked. “Sure.” Replied Mr Baldman as he exited the room.
Buck and Junior looked up at him. “The principal wants you two.” Mr. Baldman told them. They walked in his office and closed the door.
Walk of Shame
For Bill, it might as well had been a lifetime. As he walked down the hall to the door, classes with open doors stared. Justin and Nico stared at him with a look of dis pair and hatred. When the teacher turned his back, Justin flipped him off. Bill kept walking, his spirit was already broken, it had been for the longest time. Room 2 was the last door open. Church looked up at him, sorry for what he had done. Bill passed room 1. He pushes on the door and walks out of school.
He didn’t even pick up his stuff, he just left. He didn’t want his books, he wasn’t in the mood for homework, though he was sure he’d have more than the already 37 questions in Math about Geometry. He hated Geometry. He hated Math. He hated School. He hated Sebring. He hated everything.
He walked down Boarding Street. It was only about a tenth of a mile but it felt like Bill was walking the Green Mile. Going to be executed, following the green line, down a medium size hall. He continued down Boarding Street. He passed the Miller’s brick house painted green. No one would ever think that painted bricks would look good, but it does. He had never met them but he knew they lived there.
On the corner of Bording Street was the Greene’s. They lived in a small A-frame that Bill had always wanted. It looked pretty cool. Mr. and Mrs. Greene were nice to him. They’re son, Eric, wasn’t nice to him though. He didn’t mind it since he was only about 6. All he would do was stick his tongue out.
At the interception Bill turned left onto Grand Avenue. He lived at the cal de sac, the only house there. It still wasn’t that big. The space is left over from the fire. The other two houses weren’t rebuilt. Bill remembered his dad yelling at him for chewing on his music thingy then he was locked in the dog cage. They didn’t have a dog, that was Bill’s punishment at home. The next thing he remembers is his mother crying and his Dad being put in a police car.
Bill stopped thinking about that day. He didn’t like to think about that day.
Eric Greene rode his scooter up and down the sidewalk on the other side. He stuck his tongue out, “Loser!”
Usually Eric’s small attempts to insult him made him laugh, but today anything ticked him off. He put a hand on his chest as his heart rate and lungs sped up. He closed his eyes in pain, when he opened them they were pitch black.
Then he heard Eric again, “Loser!”
Bill looked up and saw Eric stand speechless in fear. Bil jumped through the sky over the road. He bent over and grabbed the front wheel of the scooter. He flipped the scooter. Eric fell to the ground and the scooter landed on top of him with the handle hit him on the head, knocking him out.
Bil sped down the street, run faster than he ever could. He came to a hefty halt in front of the Grossman’s house. Hedi Grossman and her tewnty-two or so year old daughter Rebecca never liked his Mom. He ran towards the house. He was about to bash their window open with his shoulder when his heart slowed down as did his lungs. It took his eyes some time to go back to normal.
He laid in their yard for ten minutes recovering from the pain. He knew he blacked out as he had done twice today. This time it was longer, it was strange. He didn’t know what happened but he knew he was out longer than before.
He continued to his house which was the next house. Bill walked past the island in the middle of the cal-de-sac. He went to open his door but it was locked. He now remembered that today was a work day for his Mom. He went around to the back of the house and slipped into the kitchen window.
An Interview with Rebecca Grossman
Interviewer: Please Ms. Grossman, sit down.
Rebecca Grossman: Oh you can just called me Becca.
Interviewer: Okay Becca. You were Joesph Wilshire neighbor for how long?
Rebecca: I don’t know a Joesph Wilshire.
Interviewer: Sorry, Bill Wilshire.
Rebecca: Oh, he was sure a weird one. The whole family was.
Interviewer: Can you please elaborate?
Rebecca: Well Don was cheating on his wife, I believe. Cathy just hated my mom. And after the Sebring incident, I haven’t gone back. Is anybody even allowed to go to Sebring Florida?
Interviewer: Don was cheating?
Rebecca: I think.
Interviewer: Why did Cathy hate your Mom?
Rebecca: She just did.
Interviewer: Please Ms. Grossman.
Rebecca: Okay, thank you. We’re not in the army here are we?
Interviewer: I served in the Navy for five years.
Rebecca: Thank you for your service.
Interviewer: So why did Cathy Wilshire hate your Mom?
Rebecca:Five months before the fire, Bill was in our yard playing with our cat, Sebring. Cathy saw and grabbed her son and pulled him inside. From what I could hear she put him in a dog cage, I didn’t even know they had a dog.
Rebecca: She stormed over and literally kicked the door down! I know right! She just walked into the kitchen where my mother was doing dishes. I went outside because I thought she might try to hurt Sebring. I was eighteen then. I didn’t hear all of their conversation but one of the neighbors called the police for disturbing the peace.
Rebecca: She was insane. I have no idea why they didn’t throw her into a door-less, cushioned, white room with white box gloves.
Interviewer: Your saying she was mentally unstable?
Rebecca: She may well have been!
Interviewer: Okay Becca, can you tell me about the day of the fire?
Rebecca: I was sitting outside by my pool sun bathing in a bikini. I must have fell asleep because I closed my eyes and when I opened them Bill was in our yard playing with Sebring. He was like six I think. I don’t know. Then he walked over to me and we were talking about Sbring and how his Dad had just got this cool light up thingy that plays music. He was talking about the iMusic.
Rebecca: About five minutes later his Mom came out to water her garden and she looked over and saw me, in a bikini, talking to Bill. So she runs over and drags Bill inside and I’m guessing she beat him since I heard his screams then he was put in the dog cage of the dog I never saw.
Rebecca:After all that she ran over to me and yelled at me for talking to a young child naked. I wasn’t naked I was in a bikini. I can see how it might seen inappropriate but it really wasn’t. Then she said I should die in a fire. I think she was actually trying to set my house on fire when her house lit up.
Interviewer: Well, what about that night?
Rebecca: I was watching American Idol when I heard sirens. When I looked out the window three houses were up in a blaze including Bill’s. I was scared but it looked like the the firefighters had it under control.
Interviewer: Were you surprised when Don was arrested for arson?
Rebecca: Well, yeah! I was sure that Cathy had done that.
Interviewer: Will you tell me your role in the Sebring Event?
Rebecca: I took no part in what Bill did.
Interviewer: Okay. Will you tell me about it. What you were doing and the effect it had on you?
Bill crawled through the kitchen window onto the counter-top. He jumped off the counter and onto the blue tiled floor. He walked across it then slipped and hit his head on the stove. He looked to his feet where he had slipped on some ice that was melting.
He walked into the living room. There was a small radio. They had no television because his mother said it caused cancer. So radio was the next best thing. In front of him was the love cushion that his mom laid on while listening to NPR. It was better than the news as she always said. On the opposite end of the room was a chair covered in sut. No one was allowed to sit in it. It was his Dad’s and was the only thing salvageable from the fire.
Next to the chair was the dog cage. When Bill turned three he wanted a puppy so his parents got him one and a cage big enough for his mom, dad, and himself to fit in all at once. After a week of the puppy chewing up stuff, pooping and peeing whenever and wherever, and his annoying, high-pitched, bark he disappeared. The cage was now Bill’s punishment. When he would slip up his mother put him in the cage for the rest of the day.
After playing with Sebring and talked to what his mom called, “a naked woman” he was put in the cage. When his dad came home he let Bill out because his dad would hang out with the neighbor girl who always was in a bikini. Then he found his fathers iMusic and chewed it so he was put back in the cage.
Then he woke up next to his crying mother with his Dad being arrested outside their burnt house.
Bill walked up the steps to the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and saw that he was bleeding from his chin. He didn’t know how to clean wounds as he hadn’t gotten any that mom would take care of. Other than the bruises and cuts from Justin, ico, and Church, the only thing that hurt was his chin.
He then walked back down the hall and into his room. He sat down on his bed and began to think. He thought about Justin, Nico, and Church dying in a fire; that made him happy. He thought about his Dad in jail; he was put in a melancholy mood. Lastly he thought about his mother, how she beat him, and ignored him, and locked him in cages.
Bill hated his mother. He wanted his mother to die.
Out for a Walk
It was about 7:53 when the sky started to turn black. Church was out for a walk with his girlfriend of who he’d been dating for three months. She lived nearby Bill on the opposite end of Grand Avenue. She had watched Church at his first Basketball game of the year. Compared to other years, Church had done quite well. His girlfriend, Jordan Goldberg, wanted him to walk her home.
“It’s getting dark.” Jordan said.
“I know.” Church replied.
The walked in awkward silence for several minutes. Jordan saw a sad and sorry look on Church’s face. She let go of his hand and stood in front of him.
“What wrong Church?” she asked him.
“Bill.” He replied.
“He kinda cute!” She told him, “I think he has a small crush on me.”
“I should probably apologize to him.” Church said.
Jordan was puzzled, “Why?”
Church swallowed, “Me, Justin, and Nico beat him up today. I know we usually do it everyday but today was different. I felt sorry because usually its only Justin and Nico that beat him up but today…”
“How bad?” Jordan asked.
“I kicked him once then stood back while Justin and Nico continue. I feel sorry for him.”
“You should apologize.” Jordan boldly said, “Do you know how?”
“Too apologize?” Church asked, “I know how. I’m going to give him a present!”
“That’s super nice of you!” Jordan exclaimed, “But what are you going to give him?”
“I’ll think of something.” Church said with a smile.
The held hands on the walk to her house. Once there he kissed her good night then walked to his house three miles away on King Road.
Bill read the analog clock hanging on their wall. 10:34. Bill signed. He was sitting on top of the cage listening to NPR about there still being soldiers over in some Afghanistan place. Bill didn’t understand. His mom, on the other hand, wasn’t paying attention. She was reading the news paper.
Bill looked up at the clock again. 2:34 was when his mother got home. She was working her job as a librarian when the telephone rang and Mr. Hawk told her what happened. She finished her five hour shift, already four hours and forty-five minutes into it, then came home.
“Mom.” Bill said laying on the floor in the main hallway.
She shut the door behind her as she came home.
“Mom, they beat me up!” Bill cried.
“Do you know self defense?” his mom asked.
Bill’s voice was barley visible from the sobs, “I’m only ten!”
“No excuses!” his mother’s voice boomed, “That boy down the road is only six and he could take you down in one movement!”
She walked over to Bill, saying “It wasn’t my fault” over and over again. She grabbed his shoulder and dragged him into the living room. She kicked his b**t and Bill went forwards hitting his head against the wall. His mom walked over to the cage and opened the door, “Get in!” his mother snapped.
Bill crawled into the cage. She slammed the cage door shut, locked it, turned NPR on, grabbed today’s news paper, then sat down on the couch.
Bill looked up at the clock. He could barely tell the time through the cage’s door. 8:15.
“Mom,” Bill pleaded, “My stomach hurts. Can I get some food?”
His mother lowered her glasses onto her nose, she looked down at him and smiled a demonic-like smile, “No.”
“Mom, the fire.” Bill suddenly said.
His mom grew a look in her eye, one of fear. “How did you bust out of the cage?” his mom asked, “The cage door had a you sized hole in it.”
His mom stood up and opened the cage. Bill ran out to get some food.
10:36. That’s all what lead up to this point of Bill sitting in the cage listening to NPR, while his mother read the news paper on the couch.
The next Monday, all the boys, with the exception of Bill who was now having lunch then, were getting there gym shorts and T-Shirts on. Mr. Baldman walked in the room. They all stopped what they were doing and looked at him. He never comes into the locker room, and if he does, it’s bad news.
“Justin Thirtyacre, Nicholas Butch, and Church Conners!” Mr. Baldman demanded.
Justin, Nico, and Church stepped out from the crowds.
“You three! I thought you three were friends with Mr. Wilshire. Now that I see that you three are just bullies, I don’t want to see you guys anywhere near that kid. DO YOU HEAR ME!”
They all three shake their heads to Mr. Baldman.
“Especially from you Church! You are the nicest kid here.” Mr. Baldman told Church, “Were. Your punishment is three days detention with me!”
“I’m just not going then!” Justin said in retaliation. He put on his white gym shirt and headed for the door. Mr. Baldman grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back into the room. He pushed him back into the dented locker. Justin had a pained expression on his face.
“And if you don’t go to detention,” Mr. Baldman continued, “Three weeks suspension and you can’t come to the Spring Dance.”
“But its the last dance of the year!” Nico said.
A smirk grew across Mr. Baldman’s face, “Yes it is, isn’t.”
Credited to Shreve.weaver
Mr. Thirtyacre got out of his Luxary Sedan. He walked across the empty parking lot of the Sebring Grade School. Night was falling. Inside the the Secratary Jo was reading the book How to Kick the Can: The weirdest ways people had committed Suicide. The principal Sir Wellington sat in the office reading the file of Bill Wilshire. Sir Wellington was British and was knighted by the queen of England. He just wound up as the principal of a school in suburban Florida.
Mr. Thirthyacre walked right past Ms. Jo, who didn’t see him enter, and walked into the principals’ office without a knock.
“I believe you are Justin Thirtyacre’s father.” Sir Wellington said.
“Right.” Mr. Thirtyacre answered as he sat down in the chair placed in front of his desk, “I would like to talk to you.”
“About your son?”
“Why aren’t you the Brittish genius?”
“I’m going to ignore that.”
Mr. Thirtyacre grew a smirk across his face.
“Are you aware that my son was given detention?”
“Are you aware that your son and two other young men kicked another young man in a locker room stall?”
“I am but this detention is madness!”
“How so?” Sir Wellington asked modestly.
“He doesn’t deserve detention! Or suspension. And definitely not prohibited from going to the Spring Dance!”
“Are you aware that the gym teacher, Jorge Baldman, grabbed my son then threw him against a locker?!”
“I was not.” Sir Wellington said surprised by the lack of knowledge, “Well, he too will be punished.”
“May I ask two things?”
“Yes.” Sir Wellington knew what he wanted already.
“I would like for my son to continue his suspension, but not be prohibited from getting in the Spring Dance.”
“And this is my request,” Mr. Thirtyacre continued, “That Mr. Jorge Baldman be fired!”
(And there’s two!)
“No.” Sir Wellington said, already annoyed of the man.
Mr. Thirtyacre stood up and pushed his glasses up his nose, “Just remember, I have a good lawyer.”
Mr. Thirtyacre stormed out of the room. Sir Wellington looked behind him and looked at his Grandfathers cast iron sword he used in World War I. He wished he would have used it.