Everyone knew him as just plain Smith. He had no friends. He was excessively violent in a random manner. He missed more than three months of school because of suspension after suspension. He is the only human being that I personally knew who was truly incorrigible.

I was the victim of Smith's wrath once. I was standing in the lunch line in 5th grade, and he came over and just socked me in the eye. We didn't know each other, I just happened to be in the spot where he wanted to swing a clenched fist. He was rather strong for his age, and his kinetic energy knocked me backwards into my friend, who dropped his lunch tray and caught me before my head bounced off of the concrete floor.

I knew that once he found a convenient target, he tended to return every so often to make sure you didn't forget the hardness of his knuckles. Since I was more brain than brawn, I had to find a way to remove myself from the "best hits" list. I ended up becoming friends with his older brother Dave, the only person who could beat the crap out of Smith on cue.

Through Dave, I found what life was like at their house. Their mother was an alcoholic who was servicing most of the married men in her building. They paid in alcohol, and regularly smacked Smith around for his mother's entertainment. I began to appreciate what life was like for Smith, and the hell that he returned to every night. I didn't condone his outbursts, but I could understand why he did them.

Dave and I would be hanging out together when Smith stopped by in the school yard. I knew he didn't like the white Italian kid hanging out with his brother, but the fear of Dave's reprisal kept him from testing my bone density with his frustration. I made it a point to always say hello to Smith, and it eventually made him stop trying to kill me with his stare.

When Smith broke the vice-principal's nose, he was finally ejected from the school. He was killed within six months at the age of 13. He attacked an armed drug dealer in his housing complex because they were in the spot where he wanted to swing his clenched fist. I attended the burial with Dave. His mother never showed.