Bullying is a distinctive pattern of repeatedly and deliberately harming and humiliating others, specifically those who are smaller, weaker, younger or in any way more vulnerable than the bully.
You must be? She said my surname. Her voice, low and sweet. I answered, Yes, and thought … she looks just like him.
Jimmy Mackey was my brother, she told me. You know that he died? I know, I heard, I mumbled. So sorry for your loss.
He thought the world of you, she told me with a smile. This damn school brought him so much grief but you saved him from the worst of it. He really was in awe of you: his truest friend ... her words tailed off.
I pictured him: the crooked specs and wounded stare, the pallid, vulnerable skin, already marked for victimhood. Fourteen years old with four more years of hell stretching out before him. Wee Mackey. A kid with Hurt Me printed on his puny chest.
I bullied him. We all did that. I was less harsh than most and once even intervened to save him from the worst of it, but I was never friend to him: lads like that were soft as shite and no one ever chose them as a friend.
We stood together in the old Assembly Hall, his sister and I. Waiters flickered to and fro, like white bats, navigating among the crowd of Old Boys and their families by means of high, inaudible squeaks.
I bet you two had some great times? She said and looked at me expectantly. I almost answered, but held my tongue instead.