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John's Story

Poor poor John

John held perfectly still as he leaned against the tree. The deer moved cautiously out of the trees onto the meadow. First, a doe with her fawn stepped out. Looking all around, walking sort of jerk, jerk, look. Finally, the rest followed, last of all came the buck. Still cautious, he stepped forward with authority, like when Dad came in for supper.

Holding his breath, afraid anything might spook them john watched in wonder at this family. The fawns grazed some but mostly played. The does watched for danger and grazed rapidly. The buck watched his family satisfied that all were there and all was well.

“If only I had a family like that,” John sighed. The deer froze and stared at him and the tree. “Aw go on! Get out of here!” he shouted. The deer bolted for the tree-line, tail flags waving. The buck paused for just a moment to look again, then turned and was gone.

There wasn’t much chance of getting a family like that thought John. It was always one family after another. There was never a chance to stay, just on to the next. “I wonder when Dad will send me off from here.” John liked this family. Mom was kind and caring. She always had time for a hug, or to ask what was wrong. She really listened; that made it even better. Here he had a brother and a sister, so there was room for him without squishing in together. Not like that house built for four but there were eight of us crammed in together.

Dad was a puzzle. Too much like all the rest. No time for the family, gone to work or someplace all the time. He made sure everyone knew who ruled the roost. "There’s nothing new about that!" At least he didn't get beaten each night as some so-called fathers had. John thought, "He's fair anyway. He treats the whole family that way." Still, there was this aching, empty feeling and john often daydreamed of going fishing, maybe just a walk together. “I wonder what that would be like, to just be together and talk about guy stuff?”

Suddenly, "Oh crap! It's supper time, and I’m out here in the woods!” Running full tilt: Ouch “Damn log! Now I’m really going to get it. I think I need stitches but do I dare ask?” As John stood to walk on home, the mossy hillside magically slid out from under his feet, and the waiting briar brambles did for his shirt what the log did for his blue jeans.

"Well hell," thought John. "I guess I know when the trouble will start now!" John limped slowly home, blood slowly soaking through his pants leg. Sure enough, as he tried to sneak in through the back door "Just where have you been!?" bellowed his father. "You know when supper is and I'll bet your homework is still in your backpack!"

OMG! The backpack he had left up by the tree! "Well, where is it? I want to see every assignment right now!" Dad held out his imperial hand and waited, tapping his foot for emphasis. "I must have lost it when I fell," mumbled John to the floor. He didn't dare look up into yet another pair of hell's fire eyes.

"So you lost the whole thing!" Now I'll have to buy not just new clothes, but a whole new set of school books too! I'll tell you what, you just drop those britches, and when I get tired of whupping you with my belt you had better have come up with a good reason for all this, or you get no supper or breakfast. Now assume the position, you know, prayer style!”

John dropped his pants and dropped to the floor Muslim prayer style. Dad took off his wide leather belt and commenced to raise welt after welt on his bare buttocks. No whimpering or crying. John knew from past experience not to do that. "Oh, a tough guy huh!" Dad redoubled his efforts until bruises started to show. Breathing hard and sweat rolling down his face, Dad finished with one final comment, "I see now why all those other places got rid of you. Just another clumsy lolly-gaggin' nerd! Now git up to your room!"

Upstairs, John slipped into the bathroom and slowly undressed. He didn’t dare put his pajamas on and ruin them with blood stains. He got a nice dark washcloth and dabbed at the worst spots. That knee sure looked like a stitch job, but after that reception, he knew better than ask for a visit to the emergency room. A soft knock came on the door and mother stage-whispered, "Johnny? Can I come in?" John opened the door, and mother came in. She had a pan of warm water and a bottle of Betadine. John knew that smell; he had been virtually bathed in it before.

"Now hold still while I wash you up. You do know all this is your fault. Why are you always off wandering around the woods anyway? Hold still! I'll fix your clothes until we can get some new ones. It won't hurt you to wear patched clothes for a while after this stunt. John thought “I wonder how you would like wearing a patched dress outside the house!” Mother was famous for her verbal tirades with Dad to have the very best and latest fashions. John winced and gritted his teeth as his leg wound was cleansed. Taking no care to be gentle Mom scraped out the debris left by the fall. “It serves you right for running around like that!”

John refused to cry; he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. “I never get a break. Anybody could have fallen on that log! Not only that but if they had got me those good kicks, I never would have fallen into the briars. Boy am I ever buggin out of here as soon as I can!"John thought on through a simmering anger; "I won't go easy though. I've got a few tricks to play when I go."

“Well Hun, do you have your homework to turn in come morning?” John just shook his head “No.” “Oh well that’s OK I’ll help you out this one time.” “What a bogus liar!” thought John. “It just goes to prove you can’t trust anybody!” Mom finished washing wounds and gathered up his clothes. As she left, she tossed one last remark over her shoulder. “Sorry about the mess today, hope you have a better day tomorrow. I love you.” John got up, put his PJ’s on, and went to bed. So tired. So tired. So pissed. John drifted off into dreamland.

Amy Trammell, John's foster mother, went down the hallway to the twin’s rooms. Jerry and Tammy were still up texting as usual. “Alright you know it’s past lights out time. Put ‘em up I’ve got a job for you. What were your homework assignments today?” Jerry and Tammy were both in the same school and grade as John."Geeze Mom I can't remember. Why you wanna know?" "Because you're going to do John's homework so he stays out of trouble at school."Tammy exclaimed, "That's not fair. We didn't miss supper, ruin our clothes, and back talk Dad! Why should we help him? He's not even our real brother!" "It doesn't matter, I told you so. Now get busy!"

Tammy and Jerry knew they had no choice so they got out their homework to start copying. Suddenly, Tammy said, "We have to do John's homework but it doesn't have to be perfect, not even right does it!" "Hey that's right, we should really mess him up!" Jerry answered. And so they set to work. They rolled dice for the math answers, one of which actually came out right. The Earth changed geography overnight. The coup-de-grace was the essay that was to read in English class. Between the baby talk, the totally politically incorrect, and even blatant racial slurs, it was a real piece of work. Jerry gloated "Just wait till he reads this! Of course, we'll cheer him on too!"

Meanwhile, Amy was downstairs patching up John's clothes. "Hmm, the only heavy cloth I have is this old drapery fabric. It is a nice floral print too!" Soon the huge patch was in place. "Now for his shirt. What a mess!" Rummaging through her rag bag, she found various odd, hodge-podge pieces of cloth. Bright red checkers, deep purple velvet, bright pink and a number of other garish patches were rapidly sewn haphazardly into place. “There, at least he won’t be wearing rags to school.”

John tossed and turned all night long. His whole body stung, burned, or ached. A fitful nap now and then was the only sleep he got. “Oh God! How can you let this happen? Why don’t you help me? I don’t think you even care. You’re probably just some fairy tale.” How was he going to explain all the scratches and bruises? How about his clothes? “OMG my homework! If I get a zero, I’ll never pass. Oh no, we have to read essays tomorrow!” Maybe he should run-away. “Serve them all right! But it can’t be tonight; I hurt too bad to run anywhere.”

At last, he heard Mother's call to get up. "m I must have fallen asleep after all.” John looked over at his chair, and there were his clothes laid out for school. “Holy Shit! I can’t wear those! The kids will never let go of me in that clown suit.” Putting on each piece like it was chemically contaminated John reluctantly got dressed. Could it get any worse? What about his homework? Then he noticed a manila folder on the chair seat. On the cover, it said "Glad to help. Jerry and Tammy" A quick look inside and there was the entire day's homework! "What a relief! Now at least I'll be ok with my teachers."

At breakfast, Dad was stone silent. He read the paper, gulped his coffee, and headed out the door for work. Mom was all sweetness and joy. "How sickening! What a bitch dressing me up like this."John thought as he picked at his food. He smiled at the twins and bid them a pleasant good morning. They both broke out into choked back giggles. "Now what is that all about?" wondered John. "Oh well, time to face the first round of being the fool. I'll be the laugh of the bus! Hey, maybe I can pass it off as a joke."

Sure enough, the moment he stepped on the bus, a wave of sniggers and stifled laughs rippled through the bus. The driver looked at him, rolled his eyes, and finally hollered, “That’s enough! Everybody sit down!” As the bus took off an entire seat opened up for John as the kids started whispering and giggling. Silent tears began to trickle down John’s face stinging and burning as they flowed into the scratches and bruises.

Arriving at school just made things worse of course. Now he had a whole chorus of catcalls. "Look it's the Dancin' Fool" "Naw that there is a scarecrow come to learn. Too bad all he has is straw for brains!” John’s face burned bright red, and he felt a familiar gut kick feeling. “Someday I’ll get them!. Every last one!” He gripped the folder hard to keep his cool, “At least Jerry and Tammy were on his side.

Math was the first class. Everyone filed into class and all giggling and cutting up stopped. Mr. Greg was no-nonsense, and more than one hand had felt his ruler. The day's lesson went ok; John didn't even have to give an answer. At last came the call "Hand in your homework. Study pages 45 to 50 while I grade them." John relaxed, "Jerry is a dead whiz at math, and Tammy has the best handwriting in school" John smiled with a new confidence. Mr. Greg let them study until the bell rang. As they filed out, each received his paper back with its grade. As John turned his paper confidently over, there it was a huge "F" with a note. "I can't give you a zero but you can expect a parent-teacher conference tomorrow" That old familiar kick in the balls feeling started, he could even taste blood as they walked into English.

Ms. Swanson announced “I have drawn names at random to see who goes first. John Trammell, you are first” Less confident now, John pulled the essay out of his folder and walked up to the front of the class. "The title of my essay is Dress for Success." The whole class exploded! Ms. Swanson scolded them "Let John finish." "When I was a lil baby, my mammy, she done all our duds. We un's was the best-dressed niggers in town!" John looked ahead and it only got worse. Turning beet red he screamed “Thanks a lot!” as he turned Tammy’s desk over with her in it. He turned and ran out down the hall. As he passed the trophy case on the way out, He paused just long enough to smash the glass with a trash can. Flinging trophies into the brick walls he took satisfaction in having destroyed something as badly as he had been today.

Well if he didn't want this day to be worse he had better hide quick. He ran, but he could hear the sirens coming already. Out of desperation, he crawled back into a twelve-inch culvert. He held his breath as he heard searcher after searcher looking for him. Finally, all he heard was quiet. Creeping forward to scope out the situation: nobody! He slunk along the bar ditch to where it dropped off into the creek. Squeezing under the chain-link fence, He felt confident enough to stand up and start walking toward home. He would need food, and there were those tricks to play before he left.

John hid in a thicket by the house, watching for the house to empty out. Soon all was quiet. He walked around to the back and let himself in with the hidden key. “First I’ll fix the refrigerator. Here is the dish soap, won’t be long until toilet paper is worth its weight in gold.” As he thought this he put a teaspoon of soap in all the salad dressings, sauces, even the milk. Sifting some clothes detergent into the flour and sugar served the same purpose. “Now to stink things up just a little bit.” Rigging his homemade smoke grenade to blow when you sat on the toilet, he was ready. Taking a wrench in hand he loosened up the faucets so that they would pop off and flood as soon as you turned them on. He gathered up a bag of marbles and spread them on the stairs. On the basement stairs, he smeared lard on each step. A little super glue in each keyhole after they were locked helped even more. Some more super glue to hold the crystal goblets down to the tabletop. Then he drizzled "Fuck this place" on the living room carpet with nail polish. "That ought to do it!" "Have a blast, people!" John gloated as he grabbed a few cans of beans. Heading out it was dark already so he pulled the main circuit bar and broke it in half before throwing it as far as he could.

Hitching along the highway, John was silhouetted and blinded by headlights. As he put his thumb out the blue lights came on. John thought "If I run they'll chase me down. If I play it cool maybe I can bluff my way out." The officer hit the siren once, and John stopped. "Aren't you that Trammell boy?" John didn't say anything. "Well speak up! Are you or aren't you?" John bolted! The officer ordered "Halt, or I'll shoot" John started zig-zagging. ZAP, the taser hit him at the waist and John went down hard. "Wait till he gets here!" thought John. "I'll teach him to hit me like that!"

Pow! John hit Officer Smith as hard as he could. “Boy, you’re gonna regret that!" ZAP this time the taser hit his privates. Instant agony and John rolled over to vomit. Officer Smith dragged him over to the patrol car and tossed him in. "We'll get you straightened out downtown!" Snap, click, click. The cuffs went on. Slowly as his feeling came back, John started to try to escape. He kicked out the side windows, but the cuffs kept him from crawling out. "Just keep it up it'll cost you!" John kicked out the rear window and then discovered he was cuffed to a low bar and couldn't get out.

It took four husky Officers to wrestle John into the holding cell. The cell was full of big burly men. "Well boy how would you like to have some fun?" "Leave me alone." snarled John. As they closed in on him, John went down punching kicking and biting. Though the fight was loud, no guard came, and John was beaten slowly into the blissful black of unconsciousness.

"It's him again!" I'll need some help. "Aw Joe, he's in the jacket can't you do it alone?" whined Juan. "I've got a hot hand here." "You get your lazy butt up and help me! The damn kid got his arms loose and it’s going to be all the two of us can do just to get him back down again!” Joe spun on his heel and headed for the ward floor.

John was on full alert and thrashing wildly trying to get his arms fully free. Just then he spotted the two big orderlies coming with another sedation shot. "Let me go! Let me go! I didn't do anything" John screamed. The wrestling match started to get him down and still in order to administer the sedative. Flailing his arms and thrashing around, John head-butted Juan as hard as he could. "Hold him down!" barked Joe. "I'm trying, I'm trying!" "Well get the needle in, and make it quick, just don’t break it off.” A quick stab and John’s threshing slowly subsided. The blackness overwhelmed him once again.

“Oh, hi Dad, my homework’s all done. Can I go up onto the hill now?” John beamed with the glow of a job well done. “Well just be back before dark. You know how easy it is to slip and fall or get tangled up in the briars. You know I’m proud of you son.” replied Joel Trammell. Joel turned and left as John gathered his backpack and went out the back door.

 

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2016 by Vernon Fawcett

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the copyright owner, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

Vern Fawcett
710 Charter Place
Charlotte NC. 28211

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