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We children from the orphanage had very few friends while attending Spring Park Elementary School. Even to this day, I cannot understand why they were so cruel to those of us from the orphanage. The few friends we did have, had an affliction of sort.

I can recall my friendship with one such student. His name was Larry Evans. He lived just a block or so from the front gate of the orphanage. He was one of the nicest boys I knew. I cannot recall one single time when Larry ever made fun of us kids. Most kids at school laughed at us because we did not have a mother and father, but not Larry.

Larry developed Polio at an early age and one of his arms was much shorter than the other. As I think back in time, I can recall several incidents where the girls made fun of him. I remember the look on his face and I know that it hurt him deeply. That might have been the reason why Larry understood how we, as orphans felt.

I can recall one incident in particular. One of the larger bullies from our school had me cornered in the bathroom. He had his hand around my neck and was pressing me up against the wall. I remember starting to panic as I tried to breathe and began choking. The next thing I remember, the bully's weight was pressing up against me and then he fell to the floor. Larry had run at him as fast as he could and threw his entire weight into the bully, causing him to fall to the floor.

I sat there breathing in and out as fast as I could, trying to catch my breath. I watched Larry raise his one good arm, his hand made into a fist, facing the bully.

"Your dead, creep," said the bully as he got up off the floor.

Larry moved not a muscle as the bully came toward him. Quickly, I jumped to my feet. I reached into my shirt pocket and I took out a steel-tipped dart that I had found on the schoolyard. I drew back and threw it at the bully as hard as I could. By then, the bully had grabbed Larry by the shoulders and had spun him around. The dart hit my friend Larry in the middle of his back and stuck with full force.

The bully immediately let go of Larry and came after me. I jumped into one of the toilet stalls and began climbing to the top of the metal fixture. The bully tried over and over to grab hold of my legs, but I was just too fast. I must have kicked him in the face three or four times before he decided to turn and run out of the bathroom.

I hung onto the top of the metal booths for about a minute before coming down. I looked at Larry, who was still sitting on the floor with the metal dart sticking out of his back.

"You sure are brave," I said.

Slowly, he got to his feet.

"We had better get to class," he replied.

I watched as he walked toward the bathroom door.

"Larry. You got this mental dart thing stuck in your back," I noted.

Larry reached behind him and pulled down on the back of his shirt. The dart fell to the floor. I reached down, picked up the dart and held it out to Larry.

"Itís got your blood on it," I said.

"Throw it in the garbage," he instructed.

Larry and I left the bathroom and went to our classroom. The incident was never mentioned, ever again.

I was in Jacksonville, Florida two weeks ago. I went by to visit Larry's mother who still lives several blocks from the orphanage. I found out that Larry now lives in Tallahassee, Florida and has become somewhat of a noted architect. I also met Larry's son while I was having coffee with Larry's mother. I sat there wondering if Larry's son had any idea how brave a man his father really is.

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