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My heart was beating 90 miles per hour and I was walking as fast as a 6-year-old orphan boy could possibly walk. It was 2,000 yards from the boy's dormitory to the head matron, Mrs. Winters', office at the orphanage. That was a very long distance to travel when one thought he was in serious trouble and going to get another beating.

We boys had worked hard all day long, raking bundles of pine straw and hauling armload after armload of leaves into the azalea bushes. We didnít even stop for a drink of water, in hopes that we would be allowed to watch the little black and white television set, which sat in the room next to the small kitchen.

When I arrived, I opened the white door to the screened breezeway porch leading into the dining room area. From there, I had to walk through a long, dark hallway going to the very secret place where Mrs. Winters lived, all by herself. As I slowly closed the screened door behind me, I heard a noise that made me jump a little. As I turned around, I saw Nancy, the colored house cleaner for Mrs. Winters, come walking out of the infirmary and slam the door.

"How are you today, Mr. Roger?"

"I am fine, Mrs. Nancy," I said back to her.

I smiled at her and continued walking toward the dining room door. As I opened it, I listened really close to see if I could hear anyone breathing, before entering the dining room. We always listened before we entered a doorway, because that is generally when they would knock us down before they beat us. I entered and stood for a moment, looking down the long, dark hallway leading to the room with the large piano in it.

"Mother Winters, itís me, Roger. Mrs. Winters, itís me Roger," I said softly.

However, no one answered. I walked toward the dark hallway and stopped by the entrance that led into the small bathroom we used when we were eating in the dining hall.

"Mother Winters, Iím here. Itís Roger," I said again a little louder.

Still, there was no answer. I walked, using little bitty steps, down the long, unlighted hallway. I stopped at the large doorway leading into the room with the large, shiny piano.

"Hello," I said.

My eyes were open as wide as I could get them. Still, no one answered. I looked up to the far wall and saw a large framed picture of a man they called "Daddy Fagg." He was the man who started the orphanage many years before. He was looking right at me with a funny look on his face. I moved very slowly to the right, but his eyes followed me. I then moved back to the left and his eyes followed me again.

Then I walked on into the room to see if Mother Winters might be sitting in the large soft chair. However, she was not in there. As I started to turn around, I heard something crunch underneath my foot. I looked down and saw that I had stepped on a Christmas tree light and it had broken. I bent down, started picking up the broken glass and began putting the little pieces into my shirt pocket, when all of a sudden, something knocked me to the floor.

"Just what the damn hell do you think you are doing?" yelled Mother Winters as she hit me in the head with a wooden polo paddle.

Over and over and over, she hit me in the face and head. I scrambled to get beneath the large piano, so she could not hit me any more.

"Get your little ass out here right now!" she demanded shaking the paddle at me.

I climbed out from under the piano and stood before her.

"BOINK," went the paddle as she hit me on the top of the head again.

"BOINK, BOINK," it went as she hit me two more times.

"Just what are you doing in the piano room?"

"Nothing. I was just looking for you, Mother Winters.Ē

"BOINK, BOINK," went the paddle again as it hit the top of my head.

"I am not your damn mother, you little fart. I am Mother Winters.Ē

I just stood there not saying a word and was too afraid to speak.

ďDo you understand that?"

"BOINK," went the paddle again.

"Do you understand me, Roger?"

"Yes, Mother Winters," I told her.

Mother Winters told me to stand right where I was. She turned around, walked down the long hallway and went into the secret closet at the end of the hallway. Several minutes later, she came back out and walked back down the hallway to where I was standing. She held out a large, blue Christmas tree bulb and told me to place it in my mouth, which I did. She slapped me across the face with her hand and told me to spit it out into her hand. She took the bulb, wiped it off on my shirtsleeve and placed the screwed-in part of the bulb into my mouth. She told me to hold it between my teeth. With the bulb in my mouth, I followed her back down the long, dark hallway to the dining room. Then she told me to wait for her on the screened in porch. I walked out on the porch where Miss Nancy was still sweeping and cleaning. Miss Nancy turned around and looked at me holding the blue Christmas bulb in my mouth and started laughing.

"What or should I say, who are we, the blue nosed reindeer?"

I started laughing and could not stop. The next thing I knew, Mother Winters shoved Nancy against the infirmary doors, snatched the dustpan from her hand and hit me in the face knocking the bulb into my throat. When I fell to the floor, the bulb came out of my mouth and broke into pieces all over the floor.

"You clean up that damn mess and then you get your black ass back to the infirmary!" Mother Winters said to Miss Nancy.

She jerked herself around and walked back down the long, dark hallway.

"It's okay, Mr. Roger. You'll be grown and outs of here one day," said Miss Nancy.

Miss Nancy and I cleaned up the blue Christmas bulb together and then I got my white ass back to the boysí dormitory as fast as I could. After that incident, I helped Miss Nancy clean every chance I got, until they finally sent me away to reform school.

I never saw Miss Nancy again after that. I hope my white ass runs into her black ass one day. I sure would like to give that wonderful woman a great big hug.

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