Requiem for an Indigo Child—Clark Humphrey
(Ms. Livingston fiddles with Joey’s lavaliere mic until it stops popping and hissing. After prompting him to give one last series of “one two three”s, she gets back behind the home camcorder mounted on an oversized eBay-purchased used tripod. She pushes a couple of buttons simultaneously and cues Joey to begin)
I knew Dave Hoffman all the first fourteen and a half years of my life. That was also all of his life.
I’m supposed to start this with something he and I did together. Something really memorable. I guess it could be the time at camp when we were out in the woods a little too far and found this dead animal. All the way back, we talked about how it was like this thing that was so spectacular and really ugly at the same time. That and how seeing it reminded both of us that life was short and special, there on what turned out to be the last summer camp before he died.
That’s what I said at the memorial service.
His family and my family told me I had to talk at the service, and I had to say something good, about what a good person he was.
Except he really wasn’t.
(Ms. Livingston looks out at Joey, looking a bit confused. He’s not reading from the script that’s scrolling on the laptop, placed on a stool next to the camera.)
Look. Here’s how it really went.
All through the first three days of camp, starting after dinner the first day I’d been getting these texts. They were supposed to be from one of the girls in the camp, who wouldn’t give out her name. They said I was the only hot guy in the camp, and talked about different sex things the girl wanted to do with me.
On Wednesday afternoon, I got a text that said “Meet me 4:35 end of Trail 6. Your secret dear.”
You can probably guess the rest. It was really Dave. He ambushed me from behind a tree. He pulled me over off of the trail. He pushed me on about a hundred yards, to where the dead animal was. “Kissy kissy Joey! It’s YOUR SECRET DEER! HAAA!”
I got out of his grip and ran back to the camp. He followed all the way laughing that brutal laugh of his, until just before we got back into the main camp.
That was one of the last times he was mean to me. It sure wasn’t the first.
His mom and mine were best friends. Neither of them believed the things he did to me.
My mom said I was just exaggerating, that it was all just normal boy stuff. Roughhousing. Being active. She said that’s so much better for you than staying in your room with with PlayStation and the Internet like I liked to do.
Her mom said Dave was, I think this is what she called it, an “Indigo Child.” He was independent, strong willed, with little respect for authority figures. He had a strong sense of self. He always knew what he wanted, and he gave people a hard time if he didn’t get it. He hated the restrictions of being a kid; he wanted to start making a difference in the world.
She said that meant he was gifted. He was special. Maybe he was even part of the next stage of evolution.
I think just meant she thought he was as superior as he thought he was, and just as immune from the rules and the boundaries us ordinary people have to obey.
(Joey is weaving in and out of his prepared script. A resigned Ms. Livingston stops looking at the script, and just lets the camera keep recording.)
My mom just wanted me out of the house as much as possible; so a lot of afternoons, weekends, and summers, she’d just drop me off at the Hoffmans. No matter how much I asked not to be. As soon as Dave’s mom left the room, his face distorted into that horrible smirk. It still haunts me.
I saw that smirk after every mean thing he did to me; from preschool through the end of middle school.
In our early years, it was enough for him to pick fights and call me dumb names. Then came the pranks, the practical “jokes,” the “accidental” trippings and door-slamming in my face.
I think these little power trips stopped giving him the emotional high he was always after. So he kept escalating them every year.
By the fifth grade, my mom started sending me to counselors. It was because she said I had an “over active fantasy life.” That just meant I told her the truth about Dave and she never believed me.
The counselors all said the same thing that NEVER worked. They always said I should just “ignore him.” That ONLY made his attacks EVEN WORSE.
By the time I got into middle school, where you weren’t in the same class with the same people all day, I learned to plan my electives and my after school activities around things Dave wasn’t likely to want to sit through. That strategy got me into the computer lab and the jazz band. It was in the jazz band that I slowly figured something out. I learned I could do things, I could be things, and at least some people would like what I did, would support me. Maybe, I thought, one of these people would even believe me.
A few other kids did. None of the grownups. Dave was too popular among them. He was a great suckup to authorities when it served him. And he showed a lot of promise in sports. He was going to be our town’s high school’s next big star.
With girls it was always like this: A girl would be nice to me, hoping I would fix her up with my supposed best friend Dave. Then later she’d come up to me, sometimes crying, asking what she’d done wrong that had made Dave cuss her and send her away. And what she could do to get Dave to like her again.
I never told anyone what really happened the day he died. Except my counselor. But he just took it as a “story,” something I’d made up, that he could take apart and put back together to find some hidden meaning about what was wrong with me.
He’d gotten some guys together. He’d told me the name for his gang was the “Get Joey Club.” Their job was to make my every waking moment a living hell. Their goal was to drive me completely insane. Then everyone would know just how unstable I had always been, especially when I had said anything bad about him. He said if I knew what was good for me, I should just go hang myself now.
The first week of freshman class in high school, he’d planned a major humiliation stunt. I learned about all of it afterward. He was going to have his goons abduct me. Then they were going to shove me onto a stretch of road out in the country where nobody would hear me. Then he was going to drive up behind me in his mom’s car. Slowly, to make me run and stumble and plead for mercy. Then he was going to make me plead for him to spare my life. Then he was going to make me do, well, just “do things.” He was going to make videos of all of it. Every student’s email would get the videos, edited down to show the most humiliating parts.
Who knows what would have happened if he had realized, despite his total belief that he was completely perfect, that he didn’t really know how to drive. The first time he took his mom’s car, to rehearse the scheme with his gang, he crashed it.
The other guys got out alive; it’s one of them who told me what happened. He asked me to forgive him for being part of it.
I said yes. Fuck, I didn’t give a shit about settling old scores. That would have been a Dave thing to do.
(Ms. Livingston silently cues for Joey to stop. She turns the camera off. She tells him she doesn’t think this will work for the five-year anniversary memorial. He tells her he doesn’t have to lie anymore. He leaves the room.)