Monday, December 15, 2014


I value free will.  The power to choose.  The power to not be controlled.  I wonder why I feel so strongly about this.

Danny, was my friend as a kid.  We played soccer together and always hung out together.  I knew Danny's father as just present.  Whenever I would visit, he wouldnt say much to me so I didnt think about him much.

Later, I would learn that Danny's father was an alcoholic who drank way too much.

Danny was the youngest of four boys, which is probably why I got along with him so well.

One day, when I was about eight years old, Danny and I were playing Sorry.  We were playing in the room on the laminate wooden floor, next to his bunk beds.

His older brothers were all wrestling around outside.  One of them came into the room and another was at the door.  The one who came in was Michael, if I remember correctly. I can't remember the names of the oldest two.

Michael was staring at his older brother and seemed to be completely ignoring us.  He was moving from side to side and I was trying to avoid getting trampled.  Danny was getting annoyed but didnt say anything.  Finally, Michael kicked the board, which seemed to be an accident because his focus was on his older brother.

Danny, immediately blurted out, "Get out you jerk!"  It was immediate.  It just came out through frustration.

"What did you say?", asked the older brother at the door.  "I said, 'Get out'"

"No, what did you call Michael?"

"I didn't call him anything."

Michael said, "He called me a jerk."

The older brother stepped in the room.  He had that stern look as if he was calculating some mastermind plot.  "Michael, are you going to let him talk to you like that?  Grab him", he said.  He looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Dont interfere or you are next."

He was much older than me.  So part of me believed I should respect him.  I was more just stunned than anything, as what happened next just shocked me.

Michael grabbed Danny by the arms.  Danny tried to struggle free.  He was somewhat successful until Michaels older brother coached him further.  "Pin him on the ground."

It all happened so fast, but the next thing I knew, Danny's two older brothers were kneeling right next to Danny who was pinned on the floor by Michael.  I was standing at the point, retreated into the bunk beds.

Michaels older brother coached, "Put your knees on his shoulders."  At this point I was watching Michael kneeling on Danny, who started to scream for help and was crying.

I dont know why I just stood there.  Thinking back I could have ran out and gotten help or at least fought and sufferred whatever torment was to come together.

Before he could scream, Michael's older brother cupped his hands on his mouth.  I watched silently as tears streamed down Danny's face.  He was completely immobolized.  I watched as one older brother just sat and observed and as another older brother coached, "Cover his mouth."

I watched as Danny tried to bite Michaels hand.  It seemed he could only move his neck and the rest of him was paralyzed.

Michael did as he was told and quickly has his mouth capped.  He complained, "He licked me."  His older brother said, "Slap the spit on his face."

I watched as Michael would repeatedly slap Danny in the face and cover his mouth and slap him.  As tears continued to fall, he started turning red from the slapping.

Now I was scared.  It looked like Danny was choking amd he started coughing.  I blurted out, "He cant breath!"

Michaels older brother wisely replied, "If he can cry, he can breath."

He ordered Michael, "Cover just his mouth."

He ordered Danny, "Breath through your nose."

I cant even remember what was said.  There must have been taunting or instruction.  Eventually Danny was just still.  The fight in him had left.  He looked completely subdued.  His tears had stopped and all you could hear was a constant almost silent subtle whine.  I actually think he had no more tears in his eyes.  He had dried out completely.

Michaels older brother taunted, "Stop fake crying.  He's not really crying since he has no tears."

At that moment, we all heard the front door to the house open.  Michaels older brother commanded, "Lets go" and "You better not say anything or this will happen again."

And with that, they were gone.  As quickly as they had come, they had vanished.  All I could do was pretend that didnt happen.

Danny and I remained friends over the years but he was never the same after that.  I imagine that must have continued to happen, on the whim of his older brothers but I never asked him.  I didnt know what to say.

And as we hit high school, I would walk through the halls and see the lonely faces.  And I would say, "Hello."  It put a smile on peoples faces.  And every time I would pass Danny, he seemed to be sitting on the floor, by himself.  I didnt join him because I thought he enjoyed the solitude, but I would always smile and say, "Hello."

Scott Izu, PhD
© October 2014

This post was reposted from, originally written on October 27th, 2014.

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