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"Alright, who left the damn soap sock in the bottom of the shower stall?" yelled the matron.

The soap sock was a long stretched out old sock that had hundreds of small pieces of soap in it. It was soap that was donated to the orphanage so we orphans could have something to clean ourselves with when we showered.

"Not me!" yelled a young boy, who was standing down near the end of the long hallway of the dormitory.

"Who took a shower last?" she asked.

"Not me!" yelled another boy.

"Me neither," said another.

I came walking around the corner with my towel draped across my arm.

"Did you leave the soap sock in the shower stall?" she asked.

"No ma'am. I took a shower in the other bathroom," I said as I pointed behind me.

"I want everyone out here in this hallway, RIGHT NOW," she screamed.

One by one, the boys appeared in the hallway.

Are we going to find out who left the soap sock in the shower?" she asked.

No one answered.

"Well, I guess all you boys can just stand in the hallway all night long," she continued.

"I think it was Billy Smith," said a boy standing near the stairwell.

"Was it you, Billy?" she asked.

"I don't remember, ma'am," answered Billy.

"Come over here," she demanded.

Slowly, Billy made his way through the large group of orphans and stopped directly in front of her. Suddenly, she reached out and grabbed him by the hair.

"Did you leave that God damn soap sock in the damn shower?" she asked.

Billy just stood there petrified like, in a state of fear.

The more the matron yelled, the closer together we boys gathered into a tight group. It was as if we were minnows gathering together into a tight ball hoping the shark would see us as a larger body than itself. I cannot count the times that we used this maneuver, but it never seemed to work. It was the only weapon we had. It was all we knew to do.

"You boys line up in a straight line right here. Right here in front of me," the matron ordered.

Within a few seconds, we boys all lined up in a single line in front of her. She reached out and grabbed little Billy by the arms and turned him toward us.

"Now, you boys walk up here one at a time and slap Billy on the face," she said.

We just stood there too afraid to move.

"I told you to get up here and slap Billy across the face. NOW!" she demanded again.

Very carefully, Eugene Corruthers slowly walked up to where Billy was standing. He slowly drew back his hand and then let little Billy have it right across his face. I will never forget that look on Eugene's face as long as I live. It was as if he had just killed his brother. He just stood there refusing to move, so the next boy could take his place.

"NEXT!" she yelled pulling Billy back into a forward position.

But nobody else moved.

"Go get me that damn soap sock," she said pointing her finger at me.

I ran as fast as I could into the shower room so I wouldn't get into any trouble with the matron. I picked up the slimly sock of soap, carried it back and handed it to her. She stood there for a second or two and then began beating Billy on the head with the sock. Soap slime was going all over the place. All the boys, including myself, started to run down the hallway to get out of the way of the flying soap.

"Now, pick some of that up and eat it for back talking me," she said to Billy.

"But Billy didn't say nothin’," said one of the boys.

"You back talking me, young man?" she asked.

"No ma'am," he replied.

Billy picked up a piece of the slimy soap and placed it in his mouth. All of a sudden, he threw up all over the place and matron started hitting him again with the soap sock. Then it all stopped just as suddenly as it started.

One at a time, we left the group and headed off to bed. Billy was real sick all night long. We didn't get any more soap to use for our showers, for more than a month. Some of the boys started using toothpaste to wash their hair for school. Some of us just used Ajax powered cleaner when we got really dirty. It sure burnt us real bad when we used it. I was really glad when we finally got our soap sock back.

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