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SNAKES CAN'T READ. CAN THEY?
It was late in the afternoon when I pulled into Cedartown, Georgia. I knew very well I had no business being in this small town. If there was anyone that was not wanted in these parts, it was I.
I parked my car to the side of the small store and walked into the Mini-Mart. I carefully looked around to see if I would be recognized, but there was no response from anyone. I walked back to the cooler, took out a bottle of Sprite, carried it to the front counter and sat it down.
"Is that it?" asked the clerk.
"That's it," I said as I pulled out my wallet. “By chance, do you know any ‘Hutto’s’ around here?"
"As a matter of fact, I do. Two of them walked out the door just a minute ago. That's them crossing the street right there," he said pointing his finger out the window.
I picked up my drink and walked out the front door. I stood there looking at the two young men laughing and joking as they walked across the street into Hut's Garage. It was strange looking at someone who you knew was a part of you, yet they did not even know that you existed on this earth. I had heard that I had four half-brothers and a half-sister living in the Cedartown area. However, I do not think they knew about me.
I took the small paper pad out of my shirt pocket and looked at the address. “Hut's Garage, 9970 Rockmart Highway, Cedartown, Georgia, 30125" it read. My heart was beating faster and faster as I thought about dialing 770-748-5911. It had been about 30 years since I’d heard my mother’s voice. I looked across the street and knew that just a few 100 feet away was the woman who had given birth to me. The same woman who ran off when I was just a little boy, maybe 3 or 4, causing me to live nearly all of my childhood years in the horrible, abusive Jacksonville, Florida orphanage.
I placed the paper back into my pocket and leaned against the wall finishing my cold drink. I screwed the top back on the bottle and threw it into the overflowing trashcan. It fell out and started rolling down the small hill toward the highway. I looked up and did not see anyone, so I just let the damn thing roll down the hill. "BAM" went the bottle as a car turned into the driveway and rolled over it. The driver pulled up to the small store, got out of his car and walked around the vehicle looking at all four of his tires.
I lit a cigarette and started walking toward Rockmart Highway. I stopped at the edge of the roadway, took a deep draw of the filtered cigarette and stared as hard as I could at a woman who had just walked out of the front door of the garage.
"Is that her? Is that my mother?" I said aloud. I watched without blinking, in hopes I would get some sign that this might be my mother, the woman who worked in the office at the garage.
She walked up the hill next to the garage and entered an old house. I knew right then that I had seen my mother. The house belonged to Grover Hutto (my step-grandmother). I had heard earlier that she lived on the property next to the garage.
"What's up doc?" said a strange voice coming from behind me.
I turned and saw the clerk who had just gotten off duty at the Mini-Mart. We talked for about half an hour and I told him the entire story.
"Well, can I say something without pissing you off?" he asked.
"Your mother deserted you when you were a small boy. Now you stand here wanting something that can never be. You have missed what you really needed from a mother. So I'm going to ask you this: Why would you want a snake in your life?"
I stood there for several seconds and thought about what he said.
"I don't want a snake in my life."
"Then what is it you want?" he asked.
"I guess I just don't want to turn into a snake myself, by deserting my mother."
I turned around and walked back to my car without saying a word. Then I drove away and never looked back.
Since that time, I have written and published four books, and operate the largest short story child abuse web site in the world. I mailed a copy of each of my books to my mother, but never heard anything back.
I see now that snakes cannot learn to read. I guess I had forgotten that part.