There’s an evil inside of me, I’ve always known that its there, but it’s never really bothered me. Most of the time it lays dormant, lurking between my heart and stomach, I can feel it move when it gets aggravated or when I get angry. Sometimes it hurts me so that I know it’s still there and that it can take me over at any time.
I first noticed it in school when a kid named Johnny made fun of my shoes. My parents both worked very hard to put a roof over mine and my sibling’s heads, and we didn’t always have money to spend on lush items like Nike runners or flash jackets. Mum would alway do her best around the house and often cooked dinner with what she had in the cupboards. Sometimes that meant eating the same dish two or three days in a row. My father was a factory hand and was very humble in his poverty. He brought us kids up to have respect and manners for other people, so when Johnny started making fun of my second-hand shoes and clothes in front of the other children, I felt humiliated and ashamed.
I cried all that day and night not understanding why someone would be so cruel. During that time I felt this pit opening in my stomach like my insides were being ripped apart, the pain was unbearable at first, and my mother just said that it was due to stress. But I didn’t think that was true, not when I felt something squirm out. That night I had these very lucid dreams where I relived my humiliation, but my dream self jumped on my tormentor and blackened his face until it was an unrecognizable lump of blood and flesh.
I woke up in a cold sweat and remorse hit me like a wave. Why I felt guilt ridden was beyond my 12-year-old comprehension. I never committed any act of violence so why did I feel this way.
The next day I wasn’t looking forward to Johnny’s teasing, but thankful I didn’t have any classes with him that day, so my hopes for a regular day were high. But they were soon dashed to the wind by lunch-break. He must have been looking for me because he had a few crony by his side when he found me eating my lunch in the sunshine beside the sports hall. Johnny made a bee line for me while shouting out a torrent of abuse. There were a few people around, and the playground was full of boys playing football.
If my school knew anything, it was a good show when Johnny was around so naturally, they started to congregate around me as soon as he started his taunts.
I sat through the abuse again, wincing when he struck me and pulled at my clothes. However, this time when I felt tears coming to my eyes, the pit in my stomach started to grow restless, and soon it gripped my heart and squeezed. The pain shot through my chest like electric shocks, each wave numbing me further from his taunts. My head started to throb and my heart beat drummed in my ears, drowning out the laughter of the other children and Johnny’s vicious remarks. I fought to keep control of my mind and not black out.
When the pain finally lessened, I realized that everyone had gone and I sat alone on the brick wall. I checked my watch, and to my horror, I had lost 50 minutes to the blackness. I ran to my next class and apologized to the teacher for being 20 minutes late. I made up a feeble excuse that another teacher had me run an errand and that was why I stood before him and not in a chair. I don’t know if he bought it, but he seemed to accept it with a scrawl and a few stern words.
The rest of the day passed in a daze, and at home bell, I swung my bag over my shoulder and didn’t look back. To my surprise half way to my sanctuary, I saw Johnny walking on his own. I didn’t know that he lived in the same directions as me and dreaded that it could lead to further cruel interaction.
My fearful thoughts were pushed to one side as the evil squirmed again. Only this time calmness replaced my anxious thoughts as the evil took control. I started to run toward Johnny as he stepped off the sidewalk and into a park. Johnny was a lot bigger than me and far stronger, but that didn’t matter as I thundered into his back and pinned his face in the dirt. I picked up a rock form beside me and pummel the back of his head and shoulders. Any visible area wasn’t left untouched as I continued my assault. I don’t remember feeling anything at that moment. No joy or happiness, no guilt, fear or sorrow. No anger or hatred. But I do remember the pain as my chest seemed to explode.
When I fell of Johnny in an exhausted heap, I was shocked to see what I had done. Guilt flooded my senses and anxiety surface once again as I thought about the repercussions of what my actions would bring. The evil squirmed as if it settled back into its lair and somehow that guilt and dread went away.
Johnny was found a few hours after by some people walking their dog. The police later pleaded on TV for any witnesses to come forward but none did. Johnny eventually came out of his coma but couldn’t shed any light on his attacker either. Of course, his ego couldn’t let his assault be anything but dramatic so he started to tell people that it must have been a bunch of guys. Of could I knew the truth, and I think he did too. I caught Johnny looking at me in class a few days after his return, so I turned to face him. He adverted his eyes, but I knew that he knew, and better still I knew he was scared. Johnny never bullied me again, in fact, he never bullied anyone again. I heard sometime later that he went to college and became a founding member of some charity for kids that suffer at the hand of abusers.
That was 25 years ago, and I have made some compromises with my evil along the way. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve left some horrors in my wake because something the evil gets the better in situations and the results are shocking. I have to live with that I know, but again somehow, it takes away the guilt, so it’s reasonably easy. Othertimes I’m able to leash partial control over the evil when it squeezes my heart and wants to take control, but not always.
I have a five-year-old boy now, and I think he has an evil within him too. I’ve noticed subtle things in his behavior that make me question it. Like pulling the legs off frogs that he catches in our pond or hanging his sister dolls by their neck with string. Yesterday at the play park I watched him running around with a group of kids. At one point they all huddle up in the cubby house. I was wondering why it was so quiet when I saw them hitting my boy. Naturally, I ran to his help, but before I could get there, he pushed away from the other children and pinned down one of the boys and started to hit him with his shoe. I would put this down to kids being kids, but there was something else that confirmed it for me.
I am a nice person when the evil leaves me alone. I have a loving wife that I cherish and adore, and no, I have never laid a finger on her. I think the evil loves her too. My evil stays dormant most of the time nowadays unless someone goes out of their way to humiliate me. But at that moment I saw myself on top of Johnny and remembered the pain surging through my chest. I looked at my flesh and blood and saw the unburdened tears teething on the brink of his eye lids, the grit of his teeth, and I saw the same pain. I managed to pull my boy off the kid as I apologized to his mother. I sat my boy down in the dirt and waited for the pain to abate. When he finally looked up, it was with my brown eyes. I could see the evil lurking in there. I asked him why he had done that and he replied.
“I didn’t do it, daddy; it was this,” and he points to his chest.
There’s an evil inside of me.
Credit: Grant Hinton