The Need to Belong

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“What do you think I should do with you?”
I sigh. Not this shit again. The unanswerable question. Haven’t teachers learned by now that asking the criminal student what their punishment is going to be only results in blank stares and a mumbling of “Umm..I dunno”? I mean, how the hell do you answer a question like that? “Well sir I think it would be most excellent if you give me a piggy back and buy me my lunch today” or “Oh please give me a good spanking sir! I’ve been a very naughty boy”. Even a hearty response of “Aye my lord!” would be as good an answer as any to this ridiculous question.
But do you know the funny thing? Every time the request for my most valuable opinion on this matter has been thrown at me, I’ve always managed to somehow produce the correct answer. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done; whether I’ve just murdered a classmate with a lead pencil for stealing my ruler (The bastard deserved it), I’ve burnt down the science block because science is the worst subject in the world (Who the heck designed that syllabus?!) or I’ve just stolen the bank account details of every teacher in the school: I always manage to smooth talk out of trouble.
Hell… It must go with the name. A-Lex: “Above the law”. Just give me time to make a considered response and I’ll have the words they want to hear, presented in Iambic pentameter with a British accent to boot. But don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m ‘lying’, oh no I could never do that. Everything I say is completely truthful and sincere. It has to be! And so here I am; faced with the impossible question again. One multiple choice answer away from a million and one dollars.
What did I do this time? Well let me put it this way: This is what happens when the clockwork orange doesn’t drink his milk.

I was born with a brain to rule the world, whether by anarchy or monarchy is irrelevant; all you need is something to think about and a good dosage of ADHD to keep you from thinking about it. I grew up free of added substances, and oh what a stroppy young lad I was! Centre of the universe, as all children tend to be, and ready to fight to maintain the position. Ironically I was filled with modesty and far from spoilt, it’s kind of the case when you come from a loving, yet quite dysfunctional family. Nevertheless, from a young age I had the criminal tendencies and loved them. My teachers and carers didn’t. I found myself in trouble every second day, but managed to hang on; the fire of my wrongdoings growing ever higher. Eventually the flames flew out of control; the straw that broke the camels back; I had performed the perfect lead pencil poisoning. We were sitting there in the library, cutting and pasting, or some other tedious task designed to keep a collection of five year old kids occupied, and my ruler had gone missing. I was filled with rage, someone must have stolen it! Lo and behold, there it was, in the hands of my best friend. I drew my lead pencil, immediately confronting him and demanding to know why he was holding my ruler.
“This is my ruler…?”
That was as good as an admission of guilt for me. I wore the best mask of rage a child of that age could ask for, and plunged my pencil deep into his chest.
His failure to breathe registered in my mind as the sign of victory and I pressed the pencil in harder, grinning sadistically as all that beautiful blood gushed from the wound. The other children screamed and ran for the Librarian, the fools, my friend wasn’t complaining; I hadn’t heard a word of protest from him. Foam, phlegm and other disgusting bile of the inner body was bubbling at his throat and coating his lips, which had begun to turn blue. I didn’t recognise the signs of imminent death, if I had I would have been as horrified as the rest of my class mates; and so in ignorance I assumed I was merely providing an eye for an eye, a pencil for a ruler, and enjoyed it as much as possible.
The librarian finally parted us, and everything that occurred next happened in such a whirlwind that to describe it in this linear fashion would not do it justice. I had killed him. To this day he still has to wear nappies to compensate for the damage I did, and to be honest, when you’re wearing pants like that, that’s as good as death to me.

It had taken them a while, but they had realised something was seriously wrong with me. And so, to the best and most expensive doctor I had to go.
“He doesn’t really seem to belong”
“I don’t WANT to belong”
“You don’t want to belong? aww, that’s too bad, because you see… You ‘need’ to belong. If you don’t want to belong, we’re going to make you. We’re going to make you a good boy.”
Drugs, prescription or otherwise, ruin life. I was administered cocaine with a brand name, and that ruined my life by fixing it.
So this is what it feels like to belong huh? Not half bad… 103% on every test, teachers falling over themselves to have me in their class, give me merit awards, call me the model student. Super concentration ability, incubated natural intelligence to the point of genius. Sounds good. Lack of sleep, the inability to talk to someone’s face, headaches, the loss of my sense of taste. Sounds good?
Changing school six times, losing sight of what it means to have a best friend, losing the creative side of my brain to logical, mathematical, computerised thought processes. This is what it means to belong? Alright.
What a Dreary world… I rebelled in much the same manner as I always had, but in much more controlled doses, and always escaping punishment.

Nine years on, and I’d lost my emotions. If this is what it means to belong, I still want nothing to do with it! Why do they keep telling us all that drugs are bad, while feeding them to me as if the whole country depends on it, and then I only end up like this anyway. Hypocrisy on every level! My dosage had doubled, tripled and doubled again, and I had had enough.

I didn’t drink my milk. And here I am; facing the consequences.
It seems rather sad to me, that I truly do need to belong in order to survive in this world. Belonging is annoying, but it’s something that has to be endured. The world doesn’t need another terrorist, murderer, rapist. The world needs a good leader, not a criminal. I know this and understand it. Hate it and accept it.

But it doesn’t stop me enjoying myself every now and then.
The door of the Principals’ office clicks loudly, locking the outside world away.
The one sir to rule them all slowly moves back towards his desk, his shoes thudding loudly and echoing off the walls with every step.
He sits down at the extraneously large table, rests his arms upon it, crosses his fingers together and glares at me over his glasses.
I smile and stare right back.
“I don’t know sir; What do you think I… should do with you?”

Alex Herlihy – 2010

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