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A BRAVE LITTLE BOY



The room fell totally silent. Sixty little boys and girls all ranging from 5 to 11 years of age were now staring directly at me. Each and every eye was open as wide as a saucer and each of them were in fear of making a single sound. I sat motionless, feeling every eye upon me.

"Pick up the little son-of-a-bitch and put it in your mouth. NOW!" screamed Mrs. Winters, the head matron.

Three minutes previous, I had been sitting at my assigned position for more than 15 minutes, trying constantly to shoo away several flies that were landing on my food. The matron had constantly screamed at me to stop "fidgeting around."

"I've had enough of this shit," she yelled as she got up from her seat at the head table in the dining room.

As she got up, she grabbed the metal fly swatter off the wall and walk over to my position.

"Splat," went the food in my plate as she swatted a fly that had landed on my boiled okra.

I picked up my napkin and began to wipe up the food, which had splattered onto my shirt.

"Pick up the son-of-a-bitch and eat it!" she said again.

When I looked down to my plate, I saw a dead fly lying on the edge of the platter.

"You mean eat a dead bug?" I asked.

"EAT IT!" she screamed as she reached out and hit my on the side of my face with the fly swatter.

I looked around the table and saw nothing but terror on the faces of each and every one of the children. Each one of them sat motionless. Nothing in the room was moving except for their eyes - innocent little eyes. All of them were sharply moving back and forth in their sockets, looking first at the matron and then at me.

Slowly, I picked up my spoon and pushed the large fly off my plate, and onto the green, fake marble-style table.

"Can I wash some pots and pans after dinner instead?" I asked the matron as I began to cry.

My little hand began to shake as I used my finger to force the fly onto my spoon. Slowly, I raised the spoon up to my lips and then stopped. Again, I looked around the room to see if anyone might be laughing at me. The entire dining room was still totally silent. Not one eye was blinking or one muscle moving.

"Do it or I'll do it for you," she said in a low whisper.

"You'll eat it for me?" I asked.

“BAM!” went the fly swatter as it hit the edge of the table. Mrs. Winters looked up at the other children.

"Eat you damn meals," she yelled at them.

When she looked back at me, I took the spoon and flicked the dead fly onto the floor.

”BAM! BAM!” went the fly swatter as it hit me across the top of my head.

"Get down on your damn knees and pick up that fly," she ordered.

I just sat with my hands holding beneath the edge of my chair so she could not move me.

"Bam!" went the fly swatter again as she hit me across the middle of my face. I started to cry, but still I did not let go of the chair.

Finally, she turned around and walked back to her seat. I sat there for another 30 minutes without moving a muscle. The matron never took her eyes off me the entire time. Finally, the little dinner bell rang and we children were excused.

I watched each and every face as the children exited the dining room. Each had a look of happiness on it. I was one of the few who had many, many times stood up to the matron. I was one of the few who had many, many times taken a beating, rather than allow myself to be disgraced in front of the other kids.

I have been asked many times why I was sent away to the Florida School for Boys Reform School in Marianna, Florida. I was sent there, because I was a brave little boy. That is the truth the matter.



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