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BELIEVE IT OR NOT



"ALL RIGHT BOYS. LETS GET YOUR LITTLE ASSES OUT OF BED AND GET'EM OUT HERE IN THE HALLWAY! RIGHT NOW!" yelled Mr. Ball, the house parent at our orphanage.

Traveling from doorway to doorway, he walked down the hallway banging on each and every one of them as hard as he could with a baseball bat.

"NOW DAMN IT! NOW DAMN IT!" he kept screaming over and over.

I jumped from my bed as fast as I could. My little heart was beating 90 miles an hour inside my chest. We boys knew very well to move as fast as we could when someone yelled at us. I grabbed onto my locker trying to keep my balance. My eyes would not clear and felt as though they had sand thrown in them. Nevertheless, my reflexes continued trying to move my little 8-year-old body forward so I could make it out into the hallway without getting into trouble. All the while, my little mind tried to figure out exactly what was happening around me.

"Okay!" yelled Mr. Ball.

"Okay!" he yelled again.

He stood by the bathroom with his hands pushed up against the wall, his back toward us.

"When I turn around, every one of you little bastards had best be in this position. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?" he yelled.

"Yes, Mr. Ball, sir," said everyone as they turned around to face the wall.

"Do you know what time it is?" he asked.

"It's night time, Mr. Ball," said Billy Stroud.

"You shut your mouth, you smart Aleck little turd," said Mr. Ball to little Billy.

"It is three o'clock in the a.m. That's what time it is," said Mr. Ball.

All 25 of us boys just stood with our heads against the wall. Once in a while, one of us would look sideways to see what Mr. Ball was doing. If it is one thing that you did not do, it was to look Mr. Ball directly in the eye. If you did, you would be ‘hit upside of the head so fast it would make your head swim.’

Mr. Ball walked up and down the hallway several times, not saying a word. Once in a while, he would slam the end of the baseball bat down on the tile floor near our feet to see if one of us would flinch.

"Okay, which of you little fagots was in the library and left the Hardy Boys mystery books out on the table?" he asked.

No one said a word. Carefully and slowly, he walked up and down the hallway, still not saying a word. Two or three times, he traveled the line of boys not making a sound.

"YOU!" he yelled as he stopped in front of Billy Stroud.

Mr. Ball took the baseball bat and placed the large end of the bat underneath Billy's chin. All at once, he pushed up as hard as he could and forced Billy's head into the wall in front of him. When his head bounced off the wall, the bat hit him in the nose. Blood went all over Billy's pajamas. Several of the boys started to cry.

"SHUT UP! Look at the damn mess you made here pinhead!" yelled Mr. Ball.

Still no one said a word.

"What about you?" he asked pointing the baseball bat directly at me.

"I don't read no Hardy Boys stuff, Mr. Ball, sir. I read the magazines with the pictures in it," I told him.

"So you’re the one who’s been look'n at the naked nigger women in the bathroom," he said.

"No sir, Mr. Ball. I seen those pictures before, but I ain't never looked at them in the bathroom, sir,” I said.

All at once, he drew back the baseball bat and hit the hallway wall as hard as he could, knocking a hole in it.

"Do you know what this could do to your beady little head?" he asked.

I reached up, placed my hands over my ears and just stood too afraid to move.

"Get your little ass down those stairs and put them damn books away," he ordered.

I ran as fast as I could down the stairs to the library room. I picked up the books on the large wooden table and placed them back in the correct shelf. I could still hear him yelling and screaming at the boys upstairs. Carefully, I tiptoed into the downstairs bathroom and ran cold water over my face. I was so hot and shaky that I felt like I was going to faint. I sat down beside the toilet where the floor was cold against my body and rested my head on the toilet seat. The next thing I knew, it was morning.

I walked back to my room where I and the other boys dressed for school. Then we got in line so we could march over to eat breakfast at the dining room. Then we all walked to Spring Park Elementary School, which was located next door to the orphanage.

Believe it or not, that was a very good day for us boys, 'cause only Billy Stroud ‘got it’ that day.

Believe it or not that was a very good day for us boys. 'Cause only Billy Stroud "got it" that day.


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