Orphan Survival Stories
SO THE DUMB-ASS
WANTS TO BE A WRITER
There were more than a million tears that were waiting to explode from behind that fake smile, which I had worn on my face for at least the last 45 years. A very large hidden bucket of sorrow that I never knew lived inside me, until one day when it all came crashing down upon me with a vengeance that I never knew existed.
Over the past 30 years or so and as best I could remember, I had written down bits and pieces of what happened to us kids when we were hung, burnt, kicked and beaten while living in that abusive Jacksonville, Florida orphanage.
Then one day, I sat down at this ridiculous looking box called a Web TV unit, which several friends of mine talked me into purchasing and began to fit all the small pieces of my life together. I realized within hours that the pieces were fitting together like a puzzle without any outer edges. I worked non-stop, day and night for weeks trying to make sense of what was appearing to me to be some sort of odd, invisible picture trying to take shape right before my very eyes.
Now came the hardest part of all. Trying to learn and understand how to express one's self and put something into words. I mean I only had a Grade 6 education under my belt. I really don't understand words and never did. Words are just plain old words. They are just a bunch of stupid old letters all put together and I told that to my teacher when I was in Grade 5, but she would not listen to me. She told me that some words are verbs and things like that. But when I looked at them on the blackboard, they did not do anything, like "action" things at all. They just lied there on the board just being words, just like I said they were. Most of the time, I just started crying because I didn't know how to "think right" like the other children and I got laughed at most of the time, and was made to sit in the corner for almost the whole year.
Over the next several months, I threw away hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of paper because I could not spell or express myself. I bought three dictionaries, but could not find many of the words that I wanted because I did not know how to spell them correctly to look them up.
One night, I was home alone because my wife was working the evening shift at the restaurant. I got up from the keyboard, walked over and turned on the radio. The song "What a wonderful world" by Louis Armstrong was playing. I sat back down at the keyboard and wrote:
"DUMBO, THE ORPHAN I was seven years old when someone first made a comment about how ugly I was and how big my ears were and how they stuck out. I could have lived with those words, but the fact that I had to carry a brown paper bag lunch to school everyday--that was a sign that I was from the orphanage and that I had no mommy and daddy and that no one in the world wanted me. That was a very tough road for this little boy to travel.
One day I could take no more teasing, so I threw down my brown paper bag lunch and I just flapped my big ears until they flew my little heart away."
I dropped my hands down to my sides and I just sat there reading what I had written. I wiped my nose, which was starting to run and started the print mode on the printer so I could actually hold in my hands what I had just written. I then realized that the song I had been listening to had just ended, which meant that without thinking, I had written the story in less than three minutes.
I read the printed page, laid it down on the desk, got up and walked into the bathroom. I looked at myself in the large mirror over the sink, rubbed my balding head and then reached up and pushed my 53-year-old big ears out as far as I could get them. Then I pressed my lips together as hard as I could, closed my eyes and just stood there remembering that terrible day when I was told how ugly I was.
I returned to my desk and picked up the story, which I had written. When I looked at the paper, I immediately lowered my head onto the desk and buckets of tears streamed from my eyes. I cried like a baby for more than 30 minutes.
When I finally pulled myself together, I once again looked down at the wet paper. Evidently, while the song had been playing I had unknowingly underlined all the verbs in the story in red ink just like my old teacher use to do. At the very top of the page where the teacher always use to place, not just an "F" but an "F-", I had given myself a very large, red 4 inch "A+."
I guess the ugly, big eared, dumb-ass kid who couldn't understand why he was the only idiot in the world who could not see words "move like action" had finally learned how to make just a few words "stir" by using the sadness in his heart. And now after 30 something years, he has finally become somewhat of a writer.