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THE APPLE



This was my lucky day at the orphanage or so I thought. At breakfast, I got to eat 11 whole pieces of toast all by myself. For the first time in a long time, I was full. I liked the orphanage toast. They made it in a big, metal oven and it was really good and tasty.

I did not like most of the food at the orphanage, especially at breakfast. The little boxes of cereal they gave us had tiny black and brown bugs in them. The milk was made from a white powder kind of stuff and it made me feel sort of sick. Besides, the milk was always very warm and that made it taste even worse.

The next morning, I got in line with the rest of the boys and we marched to the dining room for breakfast. Mrs. Winters, the head matron, pointed at me and told me: “Get your little 7-year-old bastard ass" back to the boy's building. She said that I was not going to get any breakfast that morning, because I did not drink my powered milk the day before. I got up and started walking back to the dormitory. I walked up the stairs, sat down in my room and looked out the window as I thought about what the other kids were eating.

Later that morning, I was called to the office and told to report to the nursery building. When I arrived, there was a man sitting in a chair on one of the side room and he was holding a great big, red apple. He told me to sit down in the chair and he began to talk to me about why I looked so sad all the time. I told him I was sad today, because I was hungry.

"Would you like this big red apple?" he asked.

"It sure would taste good," I told him.

"If I give you this apple, you will have to do something special for me."

"Okay," I told him shaking my head back and forth.

The man got up off his chair, walked over to the door and closed it. Then he returned to where I was sitting, he stood directly in front of me. He reached down, started unbuttoning his pants and then he took out "his thing.”

"Can you touch this for me?

"I can't do that. That would be a bad thing to do," I stammered.

"Do you want this big red apple?”

"Yes, sir!

"Then you have to touch it."

"I can't touch that 'cause that's a wrong thing to do and you can’t make me," I said looking away from him.

He raised me by the arms and lifted me out of my chair. Then he laid me down on the hard tile floor. He lay on top of me with all my clothes on. One time, he even pulled my hair and squeezed my face, and it hurt really badly.

I told him, "Don't do that no more or I’m gonna’ tell."

He got up, fixed his pants and told me to get back in the chair. He took a great big bite out of the side of the big, red apple, handed it to me and said I could have it. I got up, reached out, took the apple from his hand and left the room. When I got back to the dormitory, I told all the other boys that he was a really bad man and that he gave me a disease.

Later that evening, Mrs. Winters called me to her office. She asked me why I was telling all the other kids that the old man had given me a disease. I told her the man was bad, because he promised to give me the big, red apple, but he took a great big bite out of the side, before giving it to me. My schoolteacher had told us that eating after other people would give you a bad disease.

She asked me what I had done with the apple. I told her that I had thrown it over the chain-link fence and it had rolled way out into the schoolyard. I told her that I was really hungry and I really wanted that apple. Mrs. Winters took me into the big kitchen pantry, gave me some dried prunes and apricots and then she told me I had best forget about the man who came to see to me that day. I was not to say anything more to anyone or I would never get any more dried fruit.

Little did I know, the disease that man was spreading throughout the Jacksonville, Florida orphanage had very little to do with that big, red apple.



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