By the time I was seven years old, I’d already encountered my fair share of bullies. They were my peers, my classmates, kids in the neighborhood. They’d push me, shove me, calm me names, make fun of me. Tear up my shit on the bus on the way home from school. No big deal, really. I survived.
An adult bullying a child, however, that’s an entirely different animal.
A traveling missionary who had visited the church we attended in Michigan somehow ended up in Oklahoma. Don’t remember all the details, don’t care, not relevant.
My parents loved the guy, and since he needed a place to stay, they gladly volunteered to let him live with us as long as he needed.
He took them up on their offer, and soon we had our very own live-in comedian.
Or so everyone thought. They couldn’t get enough of this fat, ugly turd of a human being. So charming, so hysterical…just an all-around solid, Godly man.
I knew better. I knew he was a piece of shit from the get-go and I told my parents that I didn’t like him. Told them he was mean to me. They brushed it off as me just being difficult, which I admittedly was.
Now, I should clarify, my parents are very hospitable people, and this sociopath not only had them fooled, but people in churches of Christ across the nation. Don’t judge them for any perceived lack of judgment on their part. Remember, different time, nobody locked their doors, yada yada yada, all the shit people say.
His name was M.R. Teeters. (Hell yes I’ll put that motherfucker on blast. I don’t give a fuck.)That’s what he called himself, and that’s what people called him. I don’t know what the initials stood for. Weird fucking name and next to impossible to locate him online because of it.
Anyway, he lived with us for probably a few months. I’m not really clear on the timeframe, I’m afraid.
When he was in mixed company, i.e. My parents and other church members, he was always on. Making people laugh with his corny jokes, telling stories that enthralled them, inspiring them to grow in their relationships with Christ. He was essentially a poor man’s Mike Warnke. He’d even been in the army at some point, too.
When he and I were left alone, however, things were different. His eyes became dark, and all traces of joviality vanished. He was evil, and I knew he was evil. I could smell it.
He did things to me that I don’t really wish to go into yet, but suffice it to say he left scars. Not physical, but psychological. Deep ones that I wasn’t even aware of until recently.
I’ll tell you this much; he was a raging asshole with an anger problem. No one else recognized this and it frustrated me to no end that they didn’t.
He’d break my toys or toss them into the street right in front of me. He’d say awful things to me and make threats and tell me that no one would believe me if I told. I’d get mad and scream and him and call him Miss Piggy or “fatso” which just served to egg him on.
One day he pulled a hunting knife out of the big green army duffel bag he kept all of his shit in. He held it to my neck and told me, in an eerily calm, measured tone, “I’m going to cut your throat open.” He pinned me against a wall and pressed the flat part of the blade to my neck. I was paralyzed at first, but then I screamed, wriggled away and ran outside where my parents were to tell them what happened.
He charmed his way out of any repercussions by explaining that we were just playing and I’d suddenly just gotten scared, you know how kids are, yada yada yada, etc etc etc. They told him to be more careful because I was easily disturbed and sensitive. True enough, and I’m sure the things he said were very convincing. That was the end of it.
That kind of abuse comtinued until he left. I was glad he was gone. Life went back to normal. M.R. Teeters had left the building. I wished he’d fucking died, but this was good enough. I’d never see him again.
Until late one night several months later when he called my parents from a bus station and told them that he was passing through town and needed a place to stay for a few weeks.
They gladly took him in, and while he pretty much left me alone this time, he took something else besides my innocence when he departed: my parents’ checkbook, which he immediately used to write thousands of dollars worth of hot checks.
The church, to their credit, gave my parents the amount of money that had been stolen because it was going to take awhile to get everything squared away with the bank.
No one ever heard from M.R. again, as far as I know. We once visited the quail springs church of Christ in Oklahoma City, which M.R. had attended at some point, and my parents told several people about the incident.
They were shocked and saddened, of course, but when I chimed in and said “yeah, I knew he was a bad guy because he pulled a knife on me,” a deacon at the church chuckled, patted me on the head and said something to indicate he thought I had quite an imagination and he was sure that wasn’t true.
I still remember feeling so enraged, yet so small and powerless. I thought I’d finally been vindicated, but even in the face of damning evidence that this guy was a scumbag, he was still being defended, and my claims were still being met with disbelief because I was just a child.
I found a pocket knife on the ground one day, when I was 8 or 9. It was old and tarnished, but pretty nice, regardless. I took it home, sharpened it, and carried it with me everywhere I went.
That cold piece of steel in my pocket served as a reminder I was in control. Anyone who fucked with me, they did so because I allowed it. Because at any point I could pull that knife out and cut their fucking throats. That was my mindset at eight years old. Stab them in the chest if they mess with me.
I never did, if course, but it gave me a nice false sense of security to carry that fucking thing around. I never intended to use it, but I knew it was there and that helped.
Of course, now I’m a man, supposedly, and I don’t look like someone you’d want to fuck with, frankly.
Why are you always scowling in pics? Why do you always seem so defensive? Why do you want to project such a hardass image?
Well, now you know the answers to those questions, dear friends and acquaintances. I faced a lot of bullies growing up, and this one was, by far, the worst of the lot. I don’t like people fucking with me and I will never allow it again.
I’d love to meet him now, if he’s still alive. I’d love to have a little chat with him. No hostility, no violence…I’m long past that point. Just answers.
Why’d you do the things you did to a vulnerable young child? Why are you the way you are? What made you that way? Do you even know what you did to me?
This isn’t something I think of often, and when I do, it isn’t some kind of emotionally upsetting experience. At this point it’s clinical detachment. Maybe some momentary flashes of anger but I think that’s perfectly understandable.
But whether I consciously acknowledge it or not, his despicable actions shaped me. I learned something from the experience.
People are often not who they appear to be, and people are often easily fooled if one has enough charm to lull them into a docile, complacent state.
I learned how to manipulate.