The Letter Box
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THE LETTER BOX



This incident happened about a year after my arrival at the Children‘s Home Society. I was about 6 years old.

Spring Park School called the orphanage and told them I was shaking the chain-link fence. This was near some children who were playing baseball just outside. Mrs. Castle sent word for me to report to her in the nursery. The minute I walked in, she started yelling at me. All I saw was the rage in her eyes.

“Why were you shaking the fence at the children playing on the baseball field?” she demanded.

“‘Cause they make fun of us, calling us names and stuff. They like to hurt us ‘cause we live in here.”

“Listen, you little bastard. I don’t care what they do to you! You are orphans! Nobody wants you. You do not belong with regular kids. You are a bad influence. You got that? I am going to tear your little ass up right now, to make sure you understand. If you ever do anything like that again, I will put you in a cage with no food or water and beat you senseless, every day. Stupid, just plain stupid is what you are! You’re going to pay, mister!”

She walked out of the room to get the paddle and I took off like greased lightening. I sprinted out of the room, down the hall and outside. I could hear her inside the building slamming doors and screaming my name. “Roger! You get back here right now! Roger Dean Kaiser, you hear me you little, sorry bastard? You’re really going to get it now. I mean it. How dare you run from me? Answer me this minute! You hear me? When I catch up with you, you are dead! Yes sir, dead!”

I cowered by the wall, until I heard her coming out of the building. As soon as she was outside, I charged around the corner of the building, slipped into the side door and raced down the hall to find somewhere - anywhere - to hide. I quickly opened a door and suddenly found myself in Mrs. Castle’s room.

“Oh God, what do I do now?” I thought to myself. “Of all places, why here?”

I heard her come back inside the building and I had no choice but to think fast.

“Where do I hide? Where do I hide?”

Panic was setting in and I knew that I was in deep trouble. I had shaken the fence at the kids on the baseball field, I had run from Mrs. Castle and she was really mad. She could not find me, but now I was in her room with no way out. I could hear her slamming doors again, hitting the wall hard with the paddle and screaming, “I hate little boys who run from me. You hear me. I will teach you! Yes I will and you can count on that!”

I dove under the bed. My heart was beating so fast I had a headache. I had to be really still. Petrified into motionless panic, I kept repeating silently, “DON’T MOVE.”

It was then my eyes caught sight of the old cardboard box under the bed. Although scared to move, it was more than I could stand. I slid on my belly over to the box and began to open the top. As I unfolded the cardboard top, there before my eyes were hundreds of letters. They were all squished down so tight that the top ones actually popped up out of the box. There were letters addressed to almost every kid in the orphanage. Why were they all in this box under her bed? Why didn’t we get them?

I could hear Mrs. Castle still ranting and raving out in the hallway. All at once, I saw a letter addressed to me - at least I think was meant for me. It was addressed, “Master Roger Dean Kaiser.” I was the only Roger Dean Kaiser that I knew about, but the first name “Master?” Hhhmmm! Well, I decided to open it anyway. If it was not for me, then at least I could tell Master about his letter.

I opened it and there was a birthday card, a real one and sure enough, it was for me. It was from a man named Henry R. Trusty and he claimed to be somebody called a “grandfather.” I did not have the slightest idea what a grandfather was. I had never heard of such a thing before.

Suddenly, while my hands were still on the open card and with letters littered about under the bed, Mrs. Castle flung the bedspread up and peered right into my eyes. I could tell she was madder than a wet hornet. I had done some very bad things today, but this was really bad. I was in her room, under her bed reading letters that we orphans were not to know anything about. Thank God! She could only kill me once. I was scared, but for some reason I felt good inside. I knew a secret about the letters.

“Get out from under that bed, you little devil! What do you think you’re doing, you bastard?”

I climbed out from under the bed and she spanked the daylights out of me. I thought she would never stop hitting me.

“Now, eat that damn birthday card!” she instructed.

I felt the blood drain from my face.

“What do you mean, Mrs. Castle?”

“You heard me, you damn little brat. EAT IT! And while you’re at it, eat the envelope too! Do it right now or I’ll spank you so bad you’ll never walk again, you hear me?” If you ever say one damn word to anybody, I will see to it that the mail carrier comes and puts you away in prison for opening mail that doesn’t belong to you. You had better keep your mouth shut. I will be the first to know, if you ever breathe a word to anyone. You hear me?”

“Yes ma’am.”

I started eating the birthday card. My mouth had no spit in it and I couldn’t make it go down. Mrs. Castle became infuriated and tried to shove it into my mouth. It was awful. I chewed and chewed as fast as I could; then I felt it slowly slide down my throat. I could feel the great lumps going down. She watched with curious fascination as I choked it all down. She laughed and said, “Now then, that should teach any hardheaded little bastard a lesson.”

She sent back to my room at last. My throat and windpipe hurt so badly, but it was all over now. That is all that mattered. Everything would somehow be all right. I fell asleep from exhaustion, but my sleep was restless. I tossed and turned and my dreams were fitful. I woke up feeling something was very wrong. My stomach hurt. I tried to eat breakfast, but my throat was raw and I couldn’t swallow without a lot of pain. My windpipe burned as the food went down. It felt like food would not go into my stomach.

Mrs. Castle was standing over me with a smug smile on her face. “You eat that food right now. I will not have food wasted, especially on the likes of you. Eat or you will get another spanking, you hear, you worthless, ungrateful little bastard?”

I forced myself to swallow the food, but I knew it was not going to stay down. After breakfast, I went into the restroom and threw up. After that, I kept on heaving, but nothing came up. My muscles cramped and constricted for hours. I started to pee on myself and became frantic. If Mrs. Castle saw me, she would beat me again. I walked out of the bathroom, but my stomach kept on convulsing.

By lunchtime, I hurt really badly below the stomach, like something, big, large and hard was poking me. It was kind of like somebody had stuck something up my rear end. I could hardly stand up. Walking was almost impossible. I felt really sick and needed to get to the bathroom! I was again made to eat my food, but right after I got through, I ran to the bathroom and tried to use the potty. However, I could not. What was wrong? What was happening to me?

By suppertime, I was in deep pain. I kept trying to push on my stomach to move whatever it was that hurt so badly. Pushing made it worse. I felt all sweaty and light-headed. My stomach, however, began to feel better. The food seemed to be going into my stomach.

The next morning I felt all swollen. Something was pushing down, real hard like on my rear where everything was supposed to come out. I had to go very bad or I would pop. I ran to the bathroom and strained to get it out, but it wouldn’t. I made up my mind I would not leave the bathroom, until I got it out of me. Then I grabbed a toothbrush and jammed it up inside me. I felt it hit something hard. I strained with all my might, all the while poking and prodding with the toothbrush handle. Pulling the toothbrush out of me, I found it covered with brown stuff and blood. I was bleeding inside and got scared.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, something began to come out, a piece and a chunk here and there. One large piece was a soiled red piece of paper upon which was written “Happy Birthd.” ??Birthday??

This was a rough story to write. I am much older now and I still look back on the incident with animosity toward those perpetrators of evil. I do not know how anyone could treat a child, even the worst of the worse, in such a manner. It was all so ‘unnecessary.’

I found Mr. Henry R. Trusty in Anchorage, Alaska in 1963. He was on his deathbed. It was the first and only time that I saw him. He held my hand and told me he loved me. He wanted to know why I never wrote him back. How do you tell a dying man that someone made you eat his address and that it went down the toilet with the help of a toothbrush?



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