It was the middle of March in Freedomtown. Thick wet snow was on the ground, and it was too cold to stay outside very long. Everything was seemingly status quo in the house. Nobody realized that the Ides of March would have their own say in the affairs of the group.

I have always been somewhat superstitious. While I don’t believe in the supernatural, I do believe certain signs in the world should not be ignored. Whether these are signs from God or just the lessons we must never forget, these messages are too important to overlook. I never believed in tempting fate, though many would say I make a habit of it. One of these signs was about to emerge in the group and signal a tectonic shift in its affairs. I still wonder how many signs I ignored back then? Certainly, on this day, it was clear I wasn’t the only person in the group misreading signs.

I was upstairs with Dorothea when it finally happened. I heard the noise increase, and movement about the common room. Something told me to stay upstairs and stay clear of whatever was brewing downstairs. It wasn’t until the next morning that I heard the news. Patrick kicked Shagwell out of the house the previous night.

While Shagwell offered a completely different narrative of how the night unfolded, the outcome nevertheless goes undisputed. After a year and a half of moving in on my friends, positioning himself in a drug-and-food power triangle among myself and McDaggot, Shagwell was out of the group. To this day, the unusual, yet straightforward and certainly awkward circumstances that collided in Patrick’s living room revolution are still talked about by this group.

There was a mantra that passed between Mcdaggot and me regarding Shagwell’s ongoing presence in the group and its affairs. “There has always been a state of Shagwell” suggested that Shagwell achieved what few people have set out to do socially in group settings. Shagwell was omnipresent. He was always there and will always be a part of the group. After Mcdaggot recanted the night’s events and Shagwell’s ultimate departure, I quickly pointed out that the collapse of Shagwell’s influence on the affairs of the group would shift the dynamics, perhaps even split us apart. But the only splitting occurred within the bizarre weed-and-steak meal-driven triangle that existed among Mcdaggot, Shagwell, and myself. Everyone knew what was at the root of it. It was as incestuous as it was damaging to all of us, and yet, we continued the triangle long after Shagwell was ousted, meeting with him privately and taking food as payment for friendship.

Shagwell symbolized a person who could graft onto a host. He was a social parasite. Our group was the host body for a year and a half without so much as a conversation on his fate or his financial ability to bankrupt his opposition and buy friendship. But on the night of March 15, 2006, for most people interacting with Shagwell, and certainly in terms of his presence at the Beginnings street house, he was now history because of the one-man revolution spearheaded by Patrick himself. Entering the home, you could almost hear his purpose as his Nike Airwalk shoes stomped and paced across the carpeted hallways.

“Alright, get out!” Patrick issued this order to Shagwell a moment after he appeared in front of us holding a 24-pack of Labatt’s in his hands. Very little was said. In fact, according to Mcdaggot, it got very quiet very quickly. Except for Patrick, who was loud and not backing down. “Get out, now!,” said Patrick, affirming his will with tone and diction. And, so, Shagwell put down his limited edition bong and placed it in his carrying case which he swung around his shoulder for easy transport to the house.

Mcdaggot was the first to issue a statement regarding the events of that night. “It was awkward as fuck,” Mcdaggot recalled. Apparently, someone had told Patrick that Shagwell had been talking shit about

While Shagwell offered a completely different narrative of how the night unfolded, the outcome nevertheless goes undisputed. After a year and a half of moving in on my friends, positioning himself in a drug-and-food power triangle among myself and McDaggot, Shagwell was out of the group. To this day, the unusual, yet straightforward, him behind his back to the group. More specifically, Mcdaggot said Shagwell called Patrick a “simpleton.” Patrick was all too good at intercepting gossip, And that is exactly what happened, and how it played out. As it turns out, Mcdaggot, either drug-induced or out of boredom stabbed Shagwell in the back as he often did to maintain his own position in the group. Mcdaggot knew full well he needed to distance himself from the aura and negative backlash he experienced from spending so much time with Shagwell, who was now an enemy of the group, and his old roommate, Patrick. So, aligning with Patrick, McDaggot guaranteed himself steak dinners and other offerings Shagwell gifted McDaggot.


J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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