Back when I was a kid, I followed the code… you didn’t break trust, you didn’t rat on your friends, and you didn’t ask questions. When you did, you got beat up. I should know…I got beat up. Before you accuse me of being a rat, let me explain….
It was back in the eleventh grade (final high school grade back then) when Thomas got caught smoking in the boys room (great title for a song). This was the third time within a two day span, so he got sent to the vice principal.
The vp back then was a squirrelly guy named Finton. I can’t remember his last name, but hey, it’s been over 30 years or so (God I am getting old). Finton seemed like he had it out for Thomas, or at least that’s what Thomas figured.
One day, after leaving detention, Thomas came up with a plan. I am not sure why he shared his plan with me, but to this day, I wish he hadn’t.
His plan was to pull a string from the carpet, and string it across the top of the stairs, thereby causing said VP to trip and plunge to his death over the stairs. Again, why did he have to tell me this?
One thing I have to explain. The spiral stairway at the high school was (and still is) a death trap. It was only a matter of time before someone actually tripped and ended up dead, so Thomas’ plan wasn’t that hard to dream up.
For me, I couldn’t let Thomas do this. All I could think of is him killing the VP, and spending the rest of his life behind bars. Also I thought of me (what kid doesn’t think of himself first), and how I didn’t want to spend my life behind bars as an accessory to murder.
For the next few days, everyone knew there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t even think. All that was on my mind was seeing the ginger haired VP tumbling to his death over the stairs and Thomas saying that I knew about it and wouldn’t try to stop him.
So I tried to stop him. I begged him not to do it. This didn’t work; it only made him move ‘death day’ (as he called it) up one more day. He was going to kill the Vice Principal of St Stephens High School on Thursday.
I lay awake all Wednesday night. When I arrived at school the next morning, I had a plan. I would sit at the top of the stairway, and warn each and every person who approached the stairs that imminent danger was right around the corner. In attempting this, I missed two classes and ended up in the Principal’s office.
It was there that I came clean. What else was I supposed to do? I couldn’t let someone die (Even if he was a complete A-hole) and live with that on my conscience for the rest of my life.
So I told the Principal everything. I told him of Thomas’ plan, and how he was going to seek revenge on the VP for giving him a hard time. Immediately the Principal called in the police (I didn’t think he needed to go that far) and together, they all climbed the stairs to find the string tied to each end of the stair casing. I watched as my ‘friend’ was hauled off to the Principal’s office, police escort and all, and ‘dealt with’. His sentence was to be suspended for two weeks, with a court date in his future.
My sentence began the day of his return. I got called a rat, and beat up four times, first by Thomas himself, and then by his ‘followers’.
Lesson learned. Choose your friends more carefully.
Still think about that situation and I know now, I would have still told on him, no matter how much I hurt after the beat downs.