~chapter eight~ ~children: the mother blood~ ~part two~ ~creative survival~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 15th May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Domestic Violence & Abuse

speaking to creativity~relative to diminished capacity~specifically sight & sound~one is afforded a unique opportunity~to see & hear perceptively what others don't~of necessity to make it a bit of one’s own~speaking to survival~relative to the above noted diminished capacities~one learns to run or stand & fight ferociously~little room for thinking between the two~backed into a corner & nowhere to run~it’s the rat thing isn’t it~creative survival~that creature reaction~under the heel of the boot

~creative survival~

~in the balance whether~
~to die fighting or not~

~chapter eight~
~children: the mother blood~
~part two~
~creative survival~

On the fourth day Daddy rested. Momma presented herself in an upbeat mood, which was unusual for her of a morning, when she came to wake me and my brothers so we could get ready for school. Any other day and I would have been up before everyone else. I was not pleased with the prospect of going to school on the fourth day and was balking, not getting out of bed.

Momma finally tired of her attempts to humor me. “Tommy, you get your ass out of bed and get ready for school. We’ve been through this a hundred times before. You know as well as I do that if you don’t go to school, they’ll take you away from me and lock you up somewhere.” She was referring to the Lookout Mountain School for Boys. School authorities had threatened to send me there a couple of times before because I missed so much school. I was on their Truant List.

I got up and Momma offered my brothers and me, guess what, oatmeal for breakfast. We had run out of sugar. There was no butter or milk. All our meager resources had been depleted bailing Daddy out of jail and paying the impound fees for his truck. Worse than that, Momma now owed Grandma and a couple of his friends money. There was also the hundred dollar advance from his employer which would be deducted in twenty-five dollar installments each time he was paid for a roof.

I flat refused to eat the oatmeal, which I could get away with because Daddy was still in bed. I just had to hope one of my siblings didn’t mention in front of Daddy that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Phillip was the main one I had to look out for. Phillip was a snitch. Phillip was a dry snitch. He might say something like, ‘How come we have t’ eat breakfast an’ Tommy don’t?’ I solved this potential problem by pretending to eat then dropping the blob of oatmeal in the garbage and covering it with other trash.

“Have it your way,” Momma whispered in an aside, “I don’t have anything to put in your lunch today. You’ll be sorry later that you didn’t eat.” She gathered up her three boys and ushered us out the door.

There was a sign posted on the front door of the school. It stated that if you hadn’t gotten a locker assignment the first day of school, or if you had forgotten your combination, you were to report to the office before morning classes. I made my way to the office while my brothers went to their respective classrooms. The lady in the office couldn’t find my name in her files. It was so busy in there, it was a God’s wonder she was able to find anything. She directed me to sit outside on the bench while she dispensed with those whose records she was able to access. She said she’d call for me as soon as she located my registration information.

I sat through a series of bells then stood and put my hand on my heart as the male voice on the public address system instructed. His real voice came from some place nearby and joined the hollow echo of itself in my hearing. I mouthed the Pledge of Allegiance, not wanting my voice to draw attention to itself. A few minutes later, the lady came out of her office and told me to come on in. The male voice droned on, welcoming students to the day and the bright prospect of learning, the scholastic wonder of broadening their horizons.

“I apologize for the delay,” the nice lady said when the voice finally stopped with its litany of morning messages. “My name is Mrs. Wentworth. I believe you are the last new student I have to register.” She chuckled a bit, a warm and soothing sound. “That’s why I couldn’t find your registration card. You were over there all by yourself.” She shuffled a few papers, glanced at them in her hand, then set them down on the desk. “Uh-huh... let’s see now…Tommy Sterner. And can you tell me why you weren’t here on Tuesday, the day after registration?”

Her question caught me off guard and I fumbled a bit. “Oh yeah, here’s a note from my Mom.” I reached in my shirt pocket and handed her the note Momma had written for me.

“Oh, my...” she exclaimed. “This must be just awful for you. Is your poor grandmother expected to recover?”

I hooked my feet behind the front legs of the chair and looked her in the eye. “She’s pretty bad, Ma’am but the doctor expects her to get better any day now.”

“My prayers will be with you and your family,” Mrs. Wentworth said kindly. She handed me a small card. “This card has your locker number and combination on it. Put it in a safe place. You may dispose of it once you have the information memorized. If you lose it, come see me and I’ll look the information up for you. That’s about it. Do you think you can find your home room and locker or would you prefer me to assign someone to assist you?”

“I’m sure I can find it, Ma’am,” I replied. I had never had a locker in my life and had little idea what one looked like. I definitely wasn’t interested in having someone assist me unless it was to break out and run away from there.

Mrs. Wentworth must have picked up on my brain waves. “We have student office attendants. It would be no trouble at all to have one escort you to your locker and home room.”

“I’m sure I can find it, Ma’am,” I repeated.

“Here’s a hall slip,” she patted me on the hand. “Just give it to your teacher and he’ll get you started. You can show that slip of paper to anyone who stops you on the way to your class.” She stood up and smiled. “Welcome to Freeland, Tommy. We’re glad to have you here.”

“Thank you, Ma’am,” I said. I got to my feet and returned her smile then backed out of her office. Had she said ‘he’ll get you started’? Funny, Jackie and Phillip hadn’t said anything about men teachers. I had attended schools, dozens of different schools, for four years and had never in my life seen a male teacher or a locker. As usual, Momma was right. I should have eaten breakfast even if it was just oatmeal. My stomach was doing flip flops, growling, reminding, hungry.

There were huge staircases at each end of the wide open and expansive entry of the building. Standing between them on the slick marble floor, I stared up at the wooden guard rails curving around the two upper floors. I didn’t remember there being two sets of stairs. The room I was searching for, my home room (whatever that meant), was two doors to the left of one of the stair cases. ‘Which one?’ I wondered. I squinted my eyes and looked at the hall pass Mrs. Wentworth had given me. ‘Room 314’ it said. My footsteps echoed loudly as I made my way to one of the stairways. At least I remembered the room being on the third floor, all the way up at the top. I had definitely ascended one of these sets of stairs the previous Monday.

I decided to walk close to the outside walls so I could make out the room numbers. That’s how I first came to find the lockers. They were equipped with tall gray metal doors with vents top and bottom and combination locks next to their handles. Most of the classrooms had two doors which were propped open. This made me uncomfortable because the numbers I needed to see were located on the wall next to the doorways. I was sure there were eyes watching me from classrooms as I squinted my way down the hall.

I forced myself to concentrate on the numbers and not the eyes watching. Number three-o-five...okay, the first digit must apply to the floor. Moving right along, number three-o-four… Oops! back the other way. I finally found number three-fourteen two doors left of the opposite stair case. As I was squinting at the room number, a man’s voice said, “Well, don’t just stand out there looking. Come on in.”

I stepped into the room and handed the hall slip to the teacher, a tall man wearing a tie. “There’s my missing duck,” he said. “Have a seat at that empty desk back there. We’re in the middle of something right at the moment. I can’t just stop teaching to take care of latecomers. I’ll get to you as soon as I can. I’ll have you caught up before you know it.”

I took a seat in the only empty desk, set my notebook paper in front of me and took the pencil from my pocket. I could hear the sound of chalk writing on the blackboard. When the sound stopped, the teacher said, “Okay, Class, what kind of problem do we have here?”

The girl seated in front of me raised her hand but the teacher didn’t call on her.

“Let’s try the new boy,” he said. “Mister uh... Mister…hmmm, there it is. Mister Sterner, what kind of problem do we have here?”

I waited a long moment, then said under my breath, “I can’t see it from here.”

“It’s a division problem,” the girl whispered back to me.

“Sorry, Mister Sterner, I didn’t hear your answer,” the teacher said. “What was that you said?”

I took a deep breath and spoke up. “I said I can’t see the writing on the blackboard from here, Sir.”

I could hear the teacher shuffling papers. “Oh, there it is. Why, Mister Sterner, why didn’t you say something about this when you first came to class? It says right here that you have poor eyesight, that you are unable to see the chalk writing on the blackboard from the back of the class. When I assigned seats on Tuesday, I might have set you right up front. I didn’t assign seating that way when you weren’t here because, in my experience as a teacher, most times latecomers turn out to be non-comers. But you’re late and that’s okay by me. Cathy, why don’t you accommodate Mister Sterner by exchanging seats with him? Who knows? Once he finds a seat he prefers, maybe he’ll allow us all to learn something today.”

I exchanged seats with Cathy, took her seat in the front row. The teacher was now standing directly in front of me. He looked to be about twelve feet tall.

“Mister Sterner, while you were standing about in the hall earlier, did you notice a name on the wall by the door?”

“No, Sir,” I replied.

“Your voice says ‘Sir’ but your face and eyes don’t,” he observed. “And, of course, you didn’t see my name posted in the hall because you aren’t able to see. Isn’t that right, Mister Sterner?”

“I wasn’t lookin’ for a name, Sir,” I replied. “I was lookin’ for a room number.”

“You was lookin’ for a number,” he repeated after me. He turned and pointed a finger. “And are you able to make out the name plate on my desk, Mister Sterner?”

I squinted my eyes and attempted to focus on the teacher’s desk.

“No, Sir, I can’t see it,” I replied.

“My name is Johnson, that’s Mister Johnson to you,” the teacher said, obviously running out of patience. “Those who were here Tuesday got a letter of introduction,” he informed me.

“I won’t forget your name,” I said.

The teacher moved toward the chalkboard. “Mister Sterner, you’ll find a textbook in the rack under your seat. Open it please and tell me what kind of a problem we have here.”

I reached for the book and said, “It’s a division problem.”

Mister Johnson strode to where I was seated and took the textbook from my hands. “So you don’t require a textbook like the other students,” he observed. “How would you prove this problem once it was solved, young man?”

“I would multiply the divisor by the answer,” I replied.

Mister Johnson set the book back on my desk and left me alone after that. By the time we wrapped up Math and moved along to Science, he seemed almost human. This might not be so bad after all, I thought with a sigh of relief. From Science the lessons moved along to Social Studies. Mister Johnson called on me to answer a number of times but the subject matter was Abraham Lincoln, a favorite of mine. After a couple of correct responses, he moved along and left me alone. I would have to watch himself with Mister Johnson, I knew that.

The bell rang for lunch. I felt like a fighter who has been knocked down in a round and is saved by the bell. It felt wonderful to leave that classroom and go in search of a neutral corner.

Inquiries: wordwulf@gmail.com
©2014 graphic artwork music & words
conceived by & property of
tom (WordWulf) sterner 2014©
~also available at Amazon ~
~chapter one~
~chapter two~
~chapter three~
~chapter four~
~chapter five~
~chapter six~
~chapter seven~
~chapter eight~
~my heaven~


1958, 1959, Alcoholism, Art, Colorado, Creative, Denver, Family, Free, Memoirs, Missouri, Mommas Rain, Money, Mothers, Parenting, Philosophy, Photography, Poverty, Religion, Saint Louis, Sons, Survival, Tom Wordwulf Sterner, Violence, Wikinut, Writer

Meet the author

author avatar WordWulf
I write novels, poetry, songs,nonsense & lies. Sometimes truth sneaks in when I ain't lookin'.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
15th May 2014 (#)

most interesting...thank you...

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