“Now, pick yourself up, Boy”
I was thirteen, It was the end of my Seventh grade year. I was a terrible kid. I had many trouble maker friends and many experiences with drugs. I would have my parents wait for me to come home late while they had work early in the morning. I couldn’t care less at that age. I was having fun with my friends. Every other day the principal called home to let my parents know about my behavior that day. I always expected them to flip out like they always have. Until the very last day of the school year. The principal called them to let them know that I will be suspended on the first couple days of the next school year. They didn’t seem that mad. They just shrugged their shoulders and sighed. That was only a bit concerning. It was like they just gave up on trying to make me a good kid. And that’s what they were doing. They were tired if my s**t. And I wasn’t sorry at all. It was the second week of July. My parents haven’t spoke to me since the last day of the school year. I was sitting in my room, Trying to nap. I heard something slide against the floor. A flyer for a boot camp. I picked it up.
The flyer had a man standing up straight and smiling with three boys in the background with obviously fake smiles on. The cover said “Helping you with behavior issues for a small amount.” That pissed me off. I didn’t want to go to a damn boot camp. I walked out of my room and basically demanded them not to send me. They didn’t listen and they didn’t care. They pointed to the filled in application on their nightstand. I attempted to grab it and rip it up, but my dad grabbed me and this all turned Into a huge fist fight, involving my nose being broken and my lip busted. I hated them at that moment. But I knew they were just trying to help me. My attitude at that age was very unpredictable. I was smart, but I did stupid s**t. I thought if I hurt others before they hurt me, I would be more superior. Not I know it didn’t work that way.
“Fine.. I’ll go to this stupid boot camp and come back even worse than before!” I screamed before running into my room and packing my things. I was crying. I barely ever cried before that happened. I hated my life and myself at that moment. I acted that way, Therefore, I deserved this.
I had to wait two weeks before the camp begun for the summer. The camp was far along a road through the woods. I felt my dad begin to feel guilty and that’s what I wanted. He tried starting a conversation and I would just ignore him.
“so.. Alexander.. This is quite far out.. Lovely weather though..” He would say.
He would sigh and stay quiet for a couple of minute again before saying something. It made me happy that I was treating him that way, But I wish I didn’t. I wish a was always a good kid and that I never had to come across the boot camp.
There was a small dirt parking lot in front of the small camp. Only three other cars were there. One was leaving. My dad and I left the car as a got the bags myself without his help. That really hit him. He was sad that I was leaving and I knew that just by looking at the sorrow in his face. I walked up to the registration building as the same ranger from the flyer talked to a woman with a kid that might’ve been a bit younger than me. My father and I waited as they spoke. The boy looked back at me with a snare stare. His blond hair covered his eyes but I knew he was making a rude look. His scrawny arms holding his mother’s arm. They spoke for another 6 minutes after that before my father introduced himself and I to the ranger. The ranger had huge muscles and a stern stare. His grey and brown hair stuck out under his green ranger’s hat. The whole time he just stared at me as my father spoke about the drugs I’ve done with my friends so far. Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin. There are many more that he doesn’t even know about to this day. The ranger nodded as his dark brown eyes widened.
“uh huh.. You’re gonna have fun here, boy.” He said with a chuckle and a slap on my shoulder.
His voice made me most uncomfortable. It was deep and scratchy. I received goosebumps from him and slightly moved away from him. I forgot to mention, the cabin we were in had nothing but animal head decorations and maybe 5 small wooden chairs. My father spoke to him about how much of a bully and a fighter I was at school. I just rolled my eyes and sighed. They continued to talk for another 15 minutes after that as I stayed put by my father. My father gave smiles and kisses to me before leaving in the car. I didn’t want to stay at the camp. It looked so ran down and a bit creepy. I watched my father leave as the ranger stood behind me. He grabbed my shoulder and looked me in my eyes. He told me where the sleeping cabin was and walked me there with my things. It was creepy having him walk behind me. It felt like I was being chased. Every time I walked faster, He would to. He would just tailed on me like a car chase.
The cabin I was sleeping In was old and it looked like it can just collapse at any minute. He squeezed my shoulder before letting me open the door. Five other boys were in there. They all looked at me weirdly. They all looked like trouble makers and I wasn’t looking forward to being buddies with them. The ranger shoved me inside the cabin room with the boys and stood before us. He blocked the sunlight from the room. The cabin had no windows. That was weird. He just stared at us for a couple of minutes. I felt how uncomfortable everyone was. I was uncomfortable too. He finally spoke
“You boys will behave in this camp or your asses will face the consequences..” He paused and stared again. He stared longer this time. I felt as if I were to blink, He would hurt me. He spoke again.
“And I don’t even know why you brought your clothes with you.. You going to be wearing the uniforms I give you..” He walked past the door. Back and forth before leaving and slamming the door. All the other boys spoke to each other as I called which part of the bunk beds I wanted. I called the top of the bunk closest to the farthest wall. I climbed up, laid on it, and claimed it as mine. Of course one of the other boys had a problem with it. They told me that they already called dibs on that bed, and I told them that I didn’t give a f**k. The kid had a problem with what I said and complained. I meant what I said and I didn’t care. The ranger came inside the cabin and the camp officially began.
So far, the camp just seemed like a regular boot camp. Long jogs before sunrise, Disgusting food, etc. And I tried my best to make the fun out of it. No matter what it was. My favorite thing to do was to taunt little William. He was a scrawny short little boy and an easy target. I would often pick on his freckles, but that wasn’t the worst thing I’ve said to him. I would tell him why his parents must’ve never wanted him and for him to go take his life. (Yes, I do feel bad now..). I had no actual reason why I hated Will so much. Maybe because he always got in my way during the exercise routines in the morning or that he was so innocent and basically didn’t deserve to be sent to this boot camp. I would hit him or threaten him when the ranger wasn’t looking. He was like my own personal punching bag. Until July 17th. I remember making fun of his high socks and calling him a “stupid b*****d.”. I threatened to tell the ranger when I caught William looking in his office. William always loved looking into the ranger’s office. I didn’t know whether he liked all the dead animal decorations inside or that he liked the pistol on the ranger’s desk. But on July 17th, my insults didn’t affect him at all and neither did my hits. William would just brush it off like nothing that day. He would usually cry and call me a name or threaten to tell the big man in charge. When he did that, I just didn’t know why he was in this camp. He was too nice. Too sensitive. That day it was like he could feel nothing. He just took his eyes from the office and created a deadlock between us. He would shrug and look back into the office. That stressed me out. I know exactly what I said to him after that.
“why don’t you just disappear, William?” I shoved him onto the muddy rocks. “You’re so useless.. We’re supposed to be helping each other clean the camp and all you do is stare into the office!”
William just stood and walked away. He didn’t say anything. If he were to say something, it would be along the lines of “that’s not true!” or “leave me alone!”. William was too soft for this camp and that’s what pissed me off the most about him. I was jealous that he was such a good kid. I often thought that maybe he was just dropped off at the wrong camp.
It was dinner time and everyone except William was at the food cabin. I watched the sleep cabin as William shuffled in there. He was walking back and forth. With his heavy hand on my shoulder, The ranger ordered me to fetch William for supper. I did as he said. I walked up to the porch of the old cabin and walked Into the Cabin. William faced the wooden wall while he shuffled something in his hands.
“I’m sure whatever that is can wait until after supper.. We’re all waiting for you in the supper cab-“ He interrupted me.
“Shut the f**k up, Alex!” He screamed, Still facing the wall. It shocked me. That was the first time I’ve ever heard William curse like that. I stayed quiet and sighed loud and annoyed. He spoke again, turning around and exposing the pistol to me. He stole it from the office. That’s what he was looking at the whole time. He pointed it at me. I immediately put my hands in the air. He gave me a face of remorse, A face of mercy. Before putting the gun to his own chin, He spoke.
“now the stupid b*****d will do as you always wished and take his own f*****g life..” He screamed and I screamed back, begging him not to. His face was blank as I begged. No tears at all.
“Why are you begging now? You wanted this.. You want the stupid b*****d to end it all.. My parents would’ve wanted it too..” His voice shook extremely before he pulled the trigger and shot his own brains out.
I cried. His blood was everywhere. I just stared. I knew it was all my fault. William’s body laid there awkwardly as I heard the Ranger’s heavy boots behind me. I turned and tried to explain the situation. He ignored it completely and spoke.
“Pick him up, Son.” His voice was serious. I didn’t want to pick up the body. I tried to refuse, but the Ranger just repeated himself.
“Pick him up, Son.” He looked in my eyes this time. I stared back sadly before nodding
“Yes, Sir” I spoke sadly before picking up William’s body. He was oddly lighter than I though. His eyes just stared at me as blood dripped out if his head and onto the wooden floor. The ranger ordered me to follow him and I did. He led me out I to the woods. Deep into the woods. We walked for about 15 minutes before reaching a lot of grass and a shovel, laying nonchalantly on a tree.
“Put him down and dig his grave, Boy.” The ranger watched me. I thought he was crazy, but a knew he meant it when he handed me the shovel. I got to digging. I dug for an hour or longer. The ranger only said one thing to me and repeated every couple of minutes.
“Bullying will often lead to death.. Now you know how the burials feel when they have to bury every bullied suicidal being.. Your actions will often lead to death, Boy.”
After the grave was deep enough, I dragged William’s body into the gave and covered him in dirt. I cried as the ranger stomped his foot.
“Why are you crying, Boy? You did this.. This is your consequence!” He laughed. I kept crying until I got the last shovel of dirt over William’s lifeless body. The ranger grabbed me by my shirt and walked me back to camp. I was still crying. He sent me to the sleeping cabin early, without supper. I didn’t want to eat anyways. The only thing I was thinking about was poor little William. I didn’t sleep all that night.
I was still scarred from William’s death. I thought if him every single night before bed. If it wasn’t for me, he would’ve still been alive with us. That day, Ranger said that we were going to be jogging close to the waterfall to pick up litter. It was like we were doing customer service in jail. Ranger blew his horn and off we go. Jogging in a line to this waterfall. We were given sticks for picking up litter and put to work. I remember minding my own business as the blond shaggy boy kept bumping into me. I didn’t want any trouble but he clearly wanted to. He told to go f**k myself when I asked him to stop. I would distance myself from him and he would come right back to me. I told him to f**k off and that’s when he swung first and hit me in my nose. I tried to avoid fighting him and just holding my nose and walking away. He kept hitting me and the Ranger wasn’t around to see me. I fought him back after he got a couple good hits. I hit him as the others cheered on. The boy decided to make the fight more extreme and use weapons. He began to poke and hit me with a thick stick. It hit me in my head and my face. I grabbed a weapon too.
It only takes 4 seconds to make a bad choice. My weapon was a rock. A big heavy one. The boy just kept swinging and I knew what I was doing. It only takes 4 seconds to make a bad choice. I kicked him in his knees and slammed the rock on his head angrily.
“you’ve had enough?” I said breathless as his body did not respond at all. The rock just rested on his face. His arms slightly twitched. Blood from a wound on ny forehead dripped. My face was messed up and bruised all over. I trembled as the others ran away to get the Ranger. I waited for them. I cried in fear. I lifted the rock from his face. His face was all bloody and his nose was completely pushed in. His eyes were closed as the lid were stained with blood.
The ranger stood behind me and said the same thing as before.
“Pick him up, Son” His voice spoke softly. I didn’t refuse. I just pick up his body and followed the Ranger. It began to rain as I cried hard Into the cold, Dead body. I never wanted to fight again after this. I seen him in the office with his mother at the beginning of camp. I took this boy away from his own mother. She will never see him again and that ached me the most. The ranger led me to the empty lot again. William’s grave was still there and so was the shovel. I began to dog a whole right next to William’s. I sobbed through the rain as the Ranger repeated the same words.
“It takes 4 seconds to make a wrong choice..” Over and over again. He sent me to bed without supper again. That’s all I thought about until the rest of camp.
It was the second to last day if camp. Most of the boys left that morning and I was the only one left. I know my dad would wait to the very last day to pick me up. The Ranger took me on a morning jog and told me that I’ve lost lots of weight and gained muscle. That made me feel okay. Despite the fact that I killed two people over the summer. He told me to get to the cabin because my stuff is in there waiting for me. I did as he said and walked to the cabin. I opened the door as the sunlight shined on a boy slouching against the wall and sitting on the floor. I thought everyone left today. It had something wrapped around its arm and a bloody needle beside it. The Rangers heavy boots startled me. He stared at me.
“Now, Pick yourself up, boy” His voice was sad yet angry.
The boy was me who obviously overdosed on heroin. I remember my dad telling ranger about in the beginning. I picked myself up and dropped him his eyes were open. That was me. I was dead. How is that even possible? I picked myself up again and this time I led the ranger to the lot. I dug my own grave. The ranger didn’t say anything to me. He usually did of I cried about it. He just stood in the trees and watched. The body stared up at me in despair. Why were my eyes open? I buried myself and called it a day. The ranger offered me food, But I refused. I didn’t sleep that night or a whole 5 months after that.
The next day, I waited for my father to pick me up and he arrived. The ranger waved at me and my father as we drove off the dirt road. I sat in the passenger’s seat on the verge of tears. After that summer, I never Misbehaved again.