Gems Of Yesteryear

1. The Tragedy of Archibald Firtizwald

This is definitely one of my personal favourites. Probably because I was so wicked here. But yeah, this is a tragic story from beginning to end.

Seventeen years old. That’s how old Archibald Firtizwald (actually known as Benjamin McCann) was.

A young, turbulent, trouble-filled and ultimately sad life ended so suddenly.

It all started at birth.

He was born to young parents. He was something like the result of an unplanned pregnancy, with the father demanding he be aborted, only for his mother to refuse. Eventually, his father relented and accepted responsibility.

Poor as they were, they couldn’t afford to go to the hospital, so they blessed their stars when a friend, who happened to be a midwife, was around when his mother went into labour. So he was brought forth with no problems.

And that’s when things got really hard for Benjamin’s parents.

His father had been without a job for about two years, and his mother had never really completed high school, so her chances of being employed were close to impossible. So getting proper care and nutrition was a big issue, and the source of many fights between the young couple. His father had to sell so many of his personal items just so Benjamin could be okay.

A year later, though, he was fed up. He told his ‘wife’ he was sick and tired of giving up his livelihood for a baby. That brought about another huge fight, and despite all she did, he abandoned them.

The selfish man was found dead two weeks later. Shot to death because of a drug-related scuffle.

So now Benjamin’s poor mother was left alone to cater for her baby. Totally handicapped job-wise, she had no other option but to turn to begging.

Of course, some gave, some didn’t, but she managed to gather up enough to cater for herself and the child. But her luck shined on her one day, when some relatives, the McAdamses, came across her on the street and took her and Benjamin in.

So for the next five years, Benjamin grew up in good conditions, and was looking quite handsome as he became older. But at the age of six, tragedy struck.

His mother went out with some friends to a concert one Wednesday night, and never came back. Her untimely demise resulting from the car she sat in with her friends colliding head-on with an oncoming, speeding truck.

Losing his father hadn’t been so painful, considering he hadn’t really gotten to know him, but losing his mum was a huge, devastating blow. His smile disappeared. His countenance changed. Even at that young age, the happy Benjamin was gone, and present was a moody and unhappy little boy.

His uncle, auntie and two cousins, Robert and Victoria, did all they could to try and help the lad move on. But as time passed, and the reality that his mother was well and truly gone began to sink in, there was very little they, or anybody else, could do as he turned into a temperamental, unpleasant person.

At the age of twelve, he decided he was sick of living with the McAdamses, because being with them only conjured images of his dear mother. So one night, he packed a few belongings in his school bags, stole some of his uncle’s money, and set off while everyone was fast asleep.

He ended up leaving Scotland completely.

Through bus, ship and train, the second of which he somehow managed to board and get off without getting caught, he made his way to Ireland.

In this new and cruel world, Benjamin McCann knew he had to struggle to survive. So he tried begging for a while, then realized he might be recognized and taken back to the McAdamses, so he went into hiding. Finding some fellow street boys, he went with them to raid some houses and take whatever food they found.

But on one particular mission, disaster’s ugly head popped up.

The owner had left some soup on his gas cooker overnight, thus making it cold. Benjamin, the self-imposed leader of his new group, thought he might get the soup a little warm before they took their fill. Turning the knob, he realised there were no matches around, so he went out of the kitchen to get a box of them, forgetting to turn it off.

When he returned with the matches, telling his squad outside he’d be with them in a jiffy, he struck the matchstick against the side of the box.

The result: his face got terribly burned.

The sight of the fire and the screams of agony that followed scared some of the boys, inciting them to run away. Two of them, however, went in and recovered the badly burned Benjamin. Carrying him a few metres, they realised there was little they could do to help him, so they dumped him in a gutter.

A good Samaritan saw him and immediately sent him to the hospital. His face had been so badly damaged; he needed reconstructive surgery to repair his face. When asked for his name, Benjamin, fully aware that the hospital might know of the fact that he had been declared ‘Missing’ in Scotland, gave the name Archibald Firtizwald. That and his age, now thirteen. Nothing else.

So the surgery was done, paid for by the Samaritan, and Archibald’s face looked significantly different. He took this as a ‘blessing in disguise’. Now his relatives would never find him.

The person offered to let him stay with him, and Archibald agreed.

So he moved into Mr. McAteer’s house, had himself registered in a school, and seemed to getting back to proper life.

However, Archibald’s problems were far from over. He still wasn’t a happy person deep within; it had been seven years since his mother passed away, yet he still couldn’t get over it. And he had no friends.

At school, everybody saw him as a weird, dirty kid. The boys mocked him on a regular basis, and the girls avoided him like a tarantula. Nobody to talk to, and although Mr. McAteer was good to him, he was almost always unavailable, with business meetings and trips taking up his time.

Unfortunately for his current guardian, some guys had taken notice of his affluence, and one night, after three years of having Archibald around, they broke into his residence, and after forcing him to show them his money, they shot him right between the eyes.

Archibald saw what happened and ran away before the armed robbers took notice.

He left that city and came to a quieter town, where peace seemed to be the order of the day.

Now sixteen, yet to turn seventeen, Archibald had faced more troubles than most teenagers his age could imagine. It had all turned him into a very withdrawn person, extremely hard to reach out to. That’s what the next family to have him realised. The girl in the house, the only child, tried to get close, but once he resisted, she chose to act like he didn’t exist at all.

At his new school, it was the same. Whilst everybody had a friend he or she walked with, Archibald kept to himself. The boys dismissed him as ‘gay’, and most of the girls just saw him as plain weird. He often got pushed around by some of the bigger boys, but he just resisted the urge to fight back. Even when he thought of loosening up and participating in some extra-curricular activities, some people managed to make him look stupid. From playing football to learning to playing a musical instrument, someone had to make him mess up, thus discouraging him from doing anything.

Academically speaking, he was  poor. Very poor. His teachers constantly complained about his inability to answer the simplest of questions in class, as well as his constant failures in assignments and class tests. Archibald was even more miserable this time round, with teachers and students putting him in their bad books.

There were a few girls, however, who saw a troubled young man who needed help and love. One of them was called Golda.

One afternoon, after class, she met Archibald at his locker and tried to talk to him. Even though he tried to ignore her, one mean guy, Bill, who was known to have a thing for Golda, didn’t take kindly to seeing the ‘gay boy’ near her.

A tough, well-built guy, he beat up poor Archibald, right in front of most of the students. Archie threw a few punches here and there, but he ended up with a black eye and a broken nose. With a number of the students laughing at him, he trudged home, not only hurt, but unhappily equipped with the news that he had failed a few tests and would have to rewrite them the next week.

Typical of him, he refused to mention who beat him when his new guardians found out. They asked and asked, but he just wouldn’t answer. They threw up their hands in frustration and declared that he could do whatever he wanted. They were tired of his silence.

The next day, Archibald went to school as usual. But after being pounded by Bill the previous day, he was faced with giggles and pointing fingers wherever he passed.

Golda tried to apologize for what happened, but Archibald, eager to prevent another beat-down, avoided her completely.

He ran into one of Bill’s close pals in the washroom, however, who said to him, “I see you’re happily bustling up and down the school, right? Well, as long as you keep your poofy, arse-loving self away from Golda, you’ll remain this way. Do you understand me?”

Archibald looked at him evilly. “All I know is that you’re a pathetic, poo-eating idiot. No wonder they strangled your mum to death. She must have begged them to, just to get away from you.”

This enraged the boy, who immediately threw a punch at Archibald. They fought for a minute, before, by a strange twist of fate, Bill and a few others entered. Upon seeing Archibald overpower their friend, they threw him off and began to brutally pummel him. He was coughing blood by the time they were done.

As if that wasn’t enough, they pissed on him, and laughing, they left him in the bathroom, lying there, smelling of urine.

By the time Archibald got home, he was fed up.


Night time arrived, and Archibald was thinking of how life had been so mean and vindictive to him. Losing both parents, getting burned, losing Mr. McAteer, and being tortured and mocked by his fellow students. It was far too much for him.

The next day came. He woke up and got ready for school as usual.

At breakfast, his male guardian told him reports had come of his academic performances being terribly poor. He just acknowledged he wasn’t studying hard enough. “But that won’t happen anymore,” was what he said before leaving for school.

Classes started at eight o’ clock, but Archibald just walked about town, doing nothing.

He arrived at nine o’ clock.

He went straight to the bathroom, entered one of the booths, and locked it.

He took out a piece of paper and started writing. He paused for a moment as two boys walked in. He listened to them talk about him, and didn’t react as they labelled him ‘useless’ and ‘stupid’. When they left, he continued writing.

When he was done, he folded the paper, put it in his pocket, and opened his bag.

In it was a pistol.

He shook his head, said to himself, “Finally, I’ll be free from this bloody world,” and placed it in his mouth, twisting it to let it point up to his brain.

No hesitation within, he pulled the trigger.

The sound was quite loud, thus attracting a number of people around. The first person to find his lifeless body was Bill.

The bully was petrified, and alerted the authorities.

In a matter of minutes, classes had been abruptly cut short, with many students in a state of shock over the awful incident that had just taken place.

Now all those who had been mean to him at any point in time were feeling terrible, seeing they had only deepened some hidden wounds within that poor boy and driven him to take his own life. You can guess the worst culprits.

As the appropriate authorities came to take his body away, they searched for a suicide note. They found it. And it pretty much summed up his life and feelings.

To whoever gives a crap,

                My real name is Benjamin Dolphyne McCann and my life has been messed up since the day I was born. My father, I was told, was too much of a b**** to man up and take responsibility. He died. My mother also died when I was six. I never recovered. I left Scotland to try and put it behind me, but it didn’t work. I had my face burned trying to get something in my stomach. I was abandoned. I was helped by somebody who took me in. Armed robbers came around and killed him. So I left. And found myself here. And nothing but torture and ridicule have I had since. Is this life worth living?

                I’m fucking tired of suffering. I’m tired of having people laugh and look at me with disgust. I’m sick of being treated like s***. I’m tired of this life. I’m better off six feet under. Don’t miss me. I’m not going to miss anyone, not in this f*****-up school. Not some motherf****** kids who call me useless and stupid, like Augustine and Zack did today when they came in here. Maybe I’m going to join my mother in heaven or hell. I don’t know. But I don’t care anyway. Any of them is better than this screwed-up earth.

                P.S.: Today is my seventeenth birthday.

It drove a dagger through the hearts of all who had known him just before his death. If only some of them had pushed a little harder. They just might have been able to help him.

Archibald was buried a week later, the McAdamses around to finally know what had happened to their poor little Benjamin.

Got something to say? Go ahead and drop it down there!!