SNAP: Stories for Living

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Story #18 – A Hero A Hero from the Mute Darkness

He was my older brother’s best friend, and that made him cool. The first time I saw Lenny (a fictitious name); he was moving some of his stuff into his dorm room. His hands were full, so to greet my brother, he extended his right foot bearing his ever-present Chuck Taylor’s and my brother slapped him a low-five. That made him really cool.

My brother and I turned back toward the van which had picked him up from the airport. We grabbed some of his stereophonic equipment and followed Lenny into that fateful dormitory. Wow: I was actually helping carry his stereo! Lenny was super-cool, and I was his friend, too.

I saw very little of Lenny during his high school years as he and my brother were several years older than me. What I did hear about him was the stuff of legends. I heard that he was traveling with one of my favorite bands. A few years later, I heard he was touring and playing with one of the founding members of that band.

All the years combined, Lenny’s influence upon my fascination with that band resulted in my not being just an average fan. I taught myself to play a musical instrument and practiced with tapes of live shows. These efforts enriched my appreciation for their music and lead to rich relationships with other exceptional and accomplished “fans”.

I later formed or was a part of several original music projects as I developed my skills as a writer. I found my natural stage presence to be an outgrowth of my music appreciation inspired by Lenny, but I was uncomfortable with the haunting, existential character of many of my songs and lyrics about love and relationships. When I next met Lenny, I began to understand the causes of my discomfort…

Life doesn’t always do the way you had in mind. Lenny’s life was that kind, and the longer I live the more I realize the threads which bind our lives are not limited to those in conscious thought. Early in this century, a local newscast featured a story that mentioned Lenny and the high school we’d both attended. The story focused on Lenny’s sexual abuse, and the perpetrator mentioned had also abused me.

I next saw Lenny when I met him at the airport. Having suffered a brain tumor that precipitated the recollection of his abuse, he was in a wheelchair. He was also sporting a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor’s! The story of Lenny’s abuse is horrific, and I felt what I’d suffered to be minimal. However, Lenny taught me three important lessons.

First, the nature of sexual abuse is a far deeper thing than the physical acts themselves. For this reason and secondly, no such experience is to be minimalized. Thirdly, it is our duty as victims to speak out and to reach out – not for remuneration or even justice, but for other children – to protect against the possibilities of and opportunities for future victimization.

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