Mikey Levin

Mikey Levin was a kid I knew in junior high school. He was like the smallest guy in the seventh grade. You know how every seventh grade has this one really small kid? That was Mikey. He was pretty smart and everybody dug him for a million reasons, especially because he was little. Everybody’s baby brother.
Anyways, one day me and Mikey were playing ping pong during our lunch break. Ping pong was the big activity at our school and he and I were both known to be pretty good. Not the best in school, but certainly we both ranked in the top ten.
We were playing like three out of five or so and were down to the last game. We were in a dead heat and this was gonna be the final point. Very tense there in the seventh grade lunch room at a small town school, Somewhere, U.S.A.
Mikey won the final point much to my dismay and I began to playfully chase him through the hallway. Just before he pulled out of my reach for about the tenth time, I kicked out my foot to intentionally knock his feet out from under him. Wow, he went nearly all the way upside down through the air and landed awfully, on his head.
Little Mikey, everyone’s kid brother, lie face down on the hallway floor. The over waxed coating of the floor mixing horribly with the blood running from his temple. The entire school seemed to get suddenly and totally quiet. Everyone turned to look, sadly at first, at Mikey lying on the floor, then angrily, hatefully, at me.
Soon after, summer break came, and I forgot about the incident for the most part. I mean, after all, I was just a kid, and it was an accident. Right?
The following year was eighth grade, we were finally the big cheese here. Top Dogs of our school. The air was crackling with excitement, the old hallways almost deafening with raucous laughter. Then Mikey walked in, barely. His right arm was twisted badly upwards in an ugly curly shape. His right leg seemed much longer than his left, as he had to kind of swing it around to put it in front of himself. His neck was bent to the side and his face was twisted upwards so that he may look forward.
Mikey then walked as well as he could, very slowly right up to me and looked me in the eye. With his face so twisted that I couldn’t tell whether he was laughing or crying, he stared into my face and that’s when I understood. That trip I’d given him last year at lunch time had destroyed Mikey’s life, as simple as that. Didn’t matter that it was an accident. Didn’t matter that I felt awful. I felt the tears burn in my eyes as I realized what our horseplay had become to Mikey. Today, over thirty years later I still grieve for him, I still kind of feel that.

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