Cool Water
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COOL WATER



"I'm thirsty," said Emmett, with a dry crackle in his voice as he felt along the wall of the dark closet trying to find me.

"Shhh, the matron is not asleep yet." I told him holding my finger to my lips.

"But I'm really thirsty," he whispered.

It was very late on a Saturday night. Emmett and I had been locked in the closet by the orphanage television room, since Friday afternoon when we got home from school.

About 15 of us smaller boys, ranging in ages from 5 to 10, were sent out into the yard to rake up the pine straw, which had fallen from the 50-foot pine trees that covered the grounds. One of the boys came across a grass snake. He picked it up on his rake and tried to throw it onto Emmett, who was totally terrified and yelling at the top of his lungs.

I took my leaf rake and tried to keep the larger boy's rake away from Emmett. The bigger boy hit my rake and it broke the handle off at the head. I continued to sword fight with the boy, using my rake handle as a weapon.

"What the damn hell is going on out here?" hollered Mr. Henderson as he ran toward us.

"Nothing, sir," said the big boy.

Mr. Henderson grabbed the handle from my hand and yelled, "You want to stick somebody, you little bastard?"

He thrust the broken handle toward me and stuck me in the right leg. I fell to the ground, but knew better than to cry, so I just sat there holding my leg.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked, looking down at me.

"Nothing, sir," I told him.

As I started to get up from the ground, I felt the warm blood running down my leg inside my pants. Immediately, I started to cry and he hit me across the back as hard as he could with the large tan colored handle.

"Get your damn ass in the television room. RIGHT NOW!" he hollered.

"It wasn't him, Pop Henderson!" yelled Emmett.

"You get your little ass in there also," shouted the tall, thin man as he tried to jab Emmett with the handle.

Emmett ran away from him as fast as he could, passing me by and crying as hard as a little 5-year-old boy could possibly cry. Well, we stayed in that dark closet and didn’t have anything to eat or drink for almost 30 hours.

"I'm thirsty, Roger. Can we drink our pee pee?" he asked.

"NO! I replied in a loud whisper. I think its poison to drink pee pee.”

"I gotta have something to drink, ‘cause I'm all dizzy like," said Emmett.

It was decided that we would try to pee in my shoe. Then we could strain the warm liquid through my tee shirt to see if we could make fresh drinking water. After about an hour of trying to use the bathroom in my shoe, we finally decided that there was nothing inside of us to strain.

Several hours later, I decided to push open the trap door located in the top of the closet ceiling. That door led up into the attic. I climbed onto a shelf and pulled myself up into the small attic space. Then I slowly crawled around in the dark trying to find my way to the opposite side of the building, where I knew there was another small exit. It led into the bathroom on the other side of the two-story dormitory building.

After about half an hour, I found the other escape hatch and pulled it open. It was dark and I knew it was a long way down to the floor. Then I returned to the closet where Emmett was waiting and hoping that I had found something to drink. I told him to take off his pants and shirt, and to hand them to me up in the attic. Then I slid, inch-by-inch, back over to the opening above the bathroom. Taking off my own pants and shirt, I tied them all together and then tied them to the rafter in the attic. Slowly, I tried to lower myself down onto the toilet below. The knots I tied would slip loose, so I had to grab onto the ceiling and pull myself back up into the attic.

I laid there for the longest time trying to figure out a way to get down to the bathroom sink. I just had to get water for us. Finally, I realized there was no way it could be done. I once again tied both pairs of pants and both shirts together, with the tee shirt on the end. Then I lowered the clothing down, until I heard the water in the toilet splash. I raised the line of clothes up and down many times. When I figured the T-shirt was good and wet, I pulled it back up as fast as I could and crawled back to the closet. Emmett and I sat on the dark closet floor for hours drinking the cold water we squeezed from the T-shirt into our mouths.

I never told Emmett Gillman where I got that water. He always thought that I got it from the sink. He died of cancer last year at age 49. Therefore, I guess he knows by now.



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