He was 22, tops. Probably not even that. His dyed-black hair was tied back into a respectably long ponytail. His thin mustache and wisp of a goatee gave the illusion he was just getting into his twenties. His solid physique wasn't overdone. In fact, he didn't speak highly of gyms. Was he gay? Maybe. There was something to the way he carried himself when he walked that put a "maybe" on my gaydar. If so, he would be a good addition to our side. It was just that anger thing, the desire to fight. Almost a need to fight. He could be our pit bull, I thought.
When we walked the halls in the psychiatric facility, he'd often talk about fighting, how alive he felt punching, jabbing, hitting someone, how he respected the blows that came to him. I once remarked that it looked like he didn't get hit in the face much; he was rather to quick to correct me. At least nothing left scars.
We were in several group sessions together. One featured a woman maybe in her late twenties, maybe in her early thirties, who wasn't particularly good at leading. Pretty much, she didn't have a clue. She seemed hopelessly naive in the ways of leading a group. She reminded me of a few professors I'd had in college, the ones who read their notes in a monotone and expected you to be fascinated by the information presented. It's one thing in college; it's another thing to drone on and on, reading your notes in a monotone, to a room full of medicated people. She was there to develop our coping skills. Most coped by falling asleep or leaving.
After lights out on the night before one session, one of the women went into a rage about being kept in the facility and argued loud and long with one of the staff. All of us could hear it (and were pretty much in favor of letting her go, although no vote was offered) and she was finally appeased or restrained...at least it got quiet. I didn't know at the time, but the fracas took place in front of my young friend's room. We'd talked a bit about it at breakfast and I could tell he was still very agitated. He mentioned he had given thought to breaking a chair in his room and clubbing her over the head. He was tired, however, and opted to wait it out.
That afternoon at our group, the young naif went on and on about coping skills and happy places and thoughts to distract us from doing whatever it was we were there for having done. She said something that sparked my friend's recollection of the night before. He spoke about becoming more and more angry and how he'd considered breaking the chair and hitting the woman to the floor. The group leader's eyes grew rather large as she tried mightily to maintain her placid expression. She asked, "What would you have done if she got up again?" "She wouldn't have got up again," he said matter-of-factly. I'll give her points for staying in the room, but she did have to look away. The young guy looked at me and it took all I had to keep from laughing. I knew I was supposed to be horrified, but it just struck me as being very funny.
Later in the session, she read/talked about coming up with something to think about that would keep us from attempting suicide or battering someone to the floor. I looked at him and suggested, "Maybe your mantra should be 'The chair is not the answer.'" He laughed good naturedly; the leader nodded her head and agreed in all seriousness.
He was released before I was, and we had a few conversations before then. We figured out several things we had in common. I also told him how I hated being picked on when I was young. He told me that he was the one in his school who dealt with bullies. I thanked him. We agreed that maybe an act of violence might be called for sometimes. He suggested, "The chair is sometimes the answer." Sometimes maybe.