Orphan Survival Stories Index |
WHY DON'T YOU EVER SMILE?
"Just where in the hell did you get that?" asked the house parent.
I held out my 7-year-old hand, opened my fist and exposed the tiny toy car held inside.
"It's a Christmas present from my friend in my classroom at school," I said biting the skin inside my left cheek and looking down at the checkerboard floor in the orphanage hallway.
"Kids don't give away their toys," he yelled as he slapped the car out of my hand causing it to roll down the dark hallway and stop by the second bathroom doorway.
"He gave it to me 'cause he likes me a lot. Honest. That's what he told me. That he likes me," I said to the large man, as he stared down at me.
"Give me the damn toy. PICK IT UP!" he yelled.
Slowly, I walked down the hallway and stopped in front of the small toy car, which was now upside down on it's top.
"I don't want it no more now," I said starting to cry.
He pulled off his large black belt and doubled it.
"Pick it up!" he demanded as he swung the belt, hitting the open doorway of the first bathroom.
I just stood there saying nothing, too afraid to move.
"Pick the damn thing up!" he ordered.
By then, four or five of the other orphan boys had walked up the stairs to see what was happening.
"Where did Kiser get that toy car?" he asked the boys who were now huddled together by the doorway of the large bedroom at the end of the hallway.
"He had it all day, Mr. Sir," yelled one of the boys.
"Did he steal it?" asked the house parent.
"Where's he gonna steal it, Mr. Sir? We don't go nowhere," said another one of the boys.
The man walked down the hallway toward me. He stopped, raised the belt and hit me across the shoulder with the double strap.
"Pick up the car and give it to me!" he said again.
Slowly, I bent down and reached out to pick up the small toy car, but for some reason, I just could not touch it. Slowly, I stood back up. As I turned toward the man, I noticed his open hand was coming directly at my face.
"POW!" went his open hand as it hit me across the face causing my head to smash into the wall.
"Pick up the damn toy!" he hollered.
I pushed myself away from the wall and walked over to the small toy. I took my foot and slammed it down on the car as hard as I could, crushing it flat. Pieces of the small car flew in all directions. The boys standing at the end of the hallway began yelling and screaming. Then they all ran down the back staircase. I stood knowing that I was as good as dead, but I really did not care any more.
By the time I was 8 years old, I really did not care if I lived or died. I just stood there waiting for him to start beating on me with the belt, but he never moved a muscle.
"Kiser, why don't you ever smile? he asked.
"I am smiling, sir," I said as the tears rolled down my cheeks.
"Oh, really now," said the man placing his belt back into the loops of his pants.
"I smile all the time. Just nobody can see it, but me," I said bending down on my hands and knees to rake all the pieces of the toy car into a pile.
The house parent turned around and walked back into his bedroom. I took all the pieces of the car and carried them out into the blackberry field where I dug a little hole in the ground.
"I'm sorry I had to do you like that," I told the little toy car as I placed it in the hole and covered it with dirt.
I made the cross sign on my chest, just like they did on TV and then I went to sit on the rusty, old swings till suppertime.