When I was in junior high school my family moved to a new city, which of course meant going to a new school and not knowing anyone. I don’t remember the circumstances, but I ended up in the lobby with two other people in the same boat as me – new transfers to the school. I befriended a boy by the name of Ed, who I found out later was named Coy Edward, but hated the name Coy.
We hit it off very well though we were far from peas in a pod. He was athletic, had gorgeous blond locks and a smile that would make anyone of any sex melt. I was the geek that got straight As, had two huge front teeth with a big gap between them and a shock of hair that splayed from the back of my head, no matter how much Aqua Net I put on it. We’d hang out and just talk through a whole period of class in the upstairs bathroom at the school. He’d mostly talked of his younger brother and why everyone around us was stupid. I’d just kind of listen, happy to have a new friend — one I just thought was too cool for me to have in any other circumstance.
Summer break came and went, and I never heard from him. I don’t even think we knew each other’s numbers or where the other lived. I didn’t see him for several weeks when we both entered our first year of high school, but then passed him in the hall. It was awkward – we just kind of grinned at each other as we simply walked by. I made new friends through choir and drama club (I’m such a stereotype). I’d see him in the lunch room sitting alone, but never approached him. The distance seemed to be insurmountable.
My senior year came and I was sitting in home room when I heard people talking about a classmate who had strangled his younger brother and was caught by his father before killing the rest of his family — ropes were found draped over every bedroom door in the house. I’d heard about tragedies such as this, but had never been as close as this. It was a punch in the gut.
Two days later in home room, we were told during morning announcements over the PA that Coy Edward Potter had hung himself in jail and was dead. My world spun around me — it couldn’t be happening. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt. Maybe if I’d not lost touch his life would be different. I find myself holding onto this to this day.
It was my first lesson in the fact that “news” doesn’t only happen to other people. Sometimes it happens to you or someone very close to you.
Last year, this all came rushing back to me when I turned on the television and saw my good friends, bloodied and one charged with kidnapping. It was outrageous to think that either could happen — that they could have been bashed or that DJ could be charged with kidnapping. That same “punched in the gut” feeling came over me.
I watched as photos were shown — Dan with a face and eye so swollen he was unrecognizable, DJ with cuts about his face and, I found out later, deaf in one ear.
And now the moment of truth approaches as they go to trial later this month — unlike their attackers. DJ faces a potential harsh sentence that none of his friends can fathom.
DJ wrote a poem a while back, which I’ll finish this column with. Please cross your fingers, pray or whatever else you might do to wish this couple luck.
It couldn’t have been us.
It’s the kind of thing you hear about. It couldn’t have been me.
You see it in the papers and sometimes on your TV.
Never in my wildest thoughts could this thing have occurred.
The line between reality and nightmares has been blurred.
We may hear of a bashing, and think “Gosh, that’s such a shame.”
It’s quite a different feeling when the headlines tout your name.
Can it be such ignorance and hate plague people’s minds
Enough to render one man deaf, another nearly blind?
There’s nothing that tortures your soul quite like the shocking sight
Of the one you love mobbed by crazed men trying to end his light.
I trusted those, whose chosen life is to protect and serve,
Would see to it these depraved oafs would get what they deserved.
Adding insult to injury, once beat and left to die,
My assailants got away scot-free, aided by fear and lies.
Was it a joke that I was jailed and charged with crimes not done
Without a stitch of evidence; Just hearsay from a Hun?
I never imagined my life without its better side.
Torn from his arms I spent each night hiding my tortured cries.
I prayed so hard each day apart that we’d be reunited
When that day came we vowed never again to be divided.
You think it won’t happen to you. You could be wrong, I fear.
I pray you never know my pain, nor any you hold dear.
I know you don’t want to believe this happens, but you must.
I still find it hard to believe. It couldn’t have been us.