Excerpt From "Trapped In A Beautiful Hell"
A Brutal Point
There was a new boy that came in, I think his name was Steve. He was not as big as some of the boys but well
muscled and definitely crazy. One of the bully boys decided to let him know where his place was in the pecking
order by hitting him in the face hard with a basketball. Steve just wiped the blood off his nose and gave him a big
smile. He went to the locker room and took off his combination lock and put it over his finger like a brass knuckle.
I had followed him in thinking I might have to walk him to the hospital. He drew me over and told me to go get the
boy that hit him and bring him into the locker room. I don't remember what ruse I used to get the other boy into
the locker room but Steve was waiting in ambush and the minute he walked in Steve hit him so hard it tore off his
ear from his head down about a half inch. This was a fairly serious wound so I was sent off with him to the
hospital, him crying all the way. I guess he was better at dishing out pain than being on the receiving end. I didn't
like him anyway. But he had not ratted Steve, he told the cottage father he had fallen against the parallel bars
edge and they had no reason to disbelieve that as injuries with the gym equipment were common. He never got
back to his place in the pecking order and everyone avoided Steve like the plague.
It was just a few days later on a Saturday that I was setting in the front room reading a book while the cottage
father read the paper. Steve came in silent as a panther, a horseshoe stake in his hand. He looked at me with
his crazy blue eyes and put his finger to his lips, signaling me to be quiet. He calmly walked over to the cottage
father, came up behind him and hit him hard in the head. He threw the iron stake down and ran out of the
cottage towards the woods. I was out of there like lightning and hid in the bathroom.
Almost immediately there was a commotion and people yelling. Everyone was ordered into the dormitory by
Hatton who looked like he was ready to kill us all. He left and one of the men that worked in the administration
building came to watch us. Lunch came and went, then the march again to the dining hall for supper. The was so
much tension in the air you could feel it. Everyone was whispering. Running was one thing but hitting a cottage
father in the head with an iron stake was something altogether different. We knew there was going to be a reign
of terror for weeks.
Just after supper Hatton, Tidwell, Tidwell Senior, Hess and two men I did not recognize ordered us all to stand in
a double line on the basketball court. Hess, who was a big man, well over six feet to I think, did much of the
talking. He read us our rights in no uncertain terms. Steve had been apprehended and was on his way to Raiford
State Prison for an assault on a State employee. He said we would never see him again and we didn't, although
there was a rumor that went around for weeks that when they caught him they pistol whipped him. While Hess
was talking a new boy came out of the back door with a coffee cup on a tray. The minute he got within striking
range as he walked up to Hess's side, Hess backhanded him as hard as he could, the boy was lifted off his feet
and sent flying backward and onto the concrete. Hess pointed at us and told us that was what would happen if
anyone even thought about coming up behind a cottage father or any of them. The new boy had been set up
just so Hess could make a brutal point and for the shock factor. It worked as we all collectively jumped in reflex
and stepped back when he struck that unfortunate boy. The new boy had flow through the air for at least
between eight to ten feet. He was knocked cold, his nose was broken, I know because I helped put a plaster cast
on it. He had been used like a milk bottle at a carnival game, Hess could have cared less how bad the boy was
hurt, I don't think anything would have been done if the boy had died.
There was a reign of terror, boys were going down right and left and the beating were fearsome. Something
happened in the locker room one after noon, something about a shirt that had ended up in my locker, I know I
didn't steal it as that would be stupid as what would be the point? It couldn't have been worn without being
recognized. I was protesting that I had no idea where it came from and was scared to death as this was a going
down offense and I had seen what shape the boys that were being beaten were in and there were at least two or
three in isolation because they had been beaten too badly for the other boys to see. Suddenly Mike stepped in
front of me and told the cottage father he had put it in my locker as a joke. I couldn't believe my ears and the
cottage father didn't think at this point it was funny. So there went Mike and I knew full well he was taking a
beating for me. Nobody ever had a better friend.