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THE ONE WHO CAME BACK



"Kiser, what are you doing in here?" asked the orphanage matron.

I just sat not knowing what to say to her. No one was allowed to be in the library, except while they were doing their homework. All homework was to be completed by 7 p.m.

"I, uh... I'm, uh.... Iím doing my homework," I said.

"Then where's your notebook. Let me see your homework assignment sheet?" she demanded.

"I don't have it here with me. It's upstairs in my locker," I replied.

"Don't you lie to me young man. Don't you tell me that you are working on your homework assignment when your not. Do you understand me?" she asked.

"Yes ma'am. It's not really homework. It's something that I'm writing special for my teacher," I tried to explain.

"Give it here to me" she demanded holding out her hand.

Slowly, I got up from the small wooden table and walked over to where she was standing. I held out the single piece of notebook paper and just stood looking down at the floor.

"What is this crap about the moon casting a shadow? What is this?" she asked after she read the contents of the page.

"It's just a story I am writing. Iím making it all up as I go along. I thought maybe I could be good at writing something. Maybe I could be a writer one day."

"You know the rules, young man. No paper. No pencils. No nothing, except during your homework period. Can't you get that through your beady little head?" she blurted.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Ma'am. My teacher, Mrs. Cherry told me to try to write a story using imaginations." I tried to explain.

"You can't even count without using your damn fingers. How the hell are you ever gonna write anything worth reading? You get more Fs on your report card than all the other kids combined," she stated as she pushed me toward the library door.

"But how am I ever going to learn to write, if I don't practice some?" I asked.

"When youíre stupid, you don't need to write. That will only prove you are an idiot on paper. You remember that I told you that young man," she said turning off the library light and slamming the wooden door closed behind us.

I was 9 years old when that incident occurred. That is almost 50 years ago this coming November. Gee, it seems like it was only yesterday.

Last year, I returned to my old school. Spring Park Elementary was the name of the school I attended when I lived at the Children's Home Society Orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida. The orphanage was located right next door to the school.

I stood on the steps of the school building looking over at the large steel fences that still surround the orphanage grounds. I was very nervous as I turned and walked into the school's office.

"May I help you?" asked the woman at the desk.

"Yes. My name is Roger Kiser and I attended school here some years back. I lived over at the children's home," I said as I pointed in the direction of the orphanage.

"Yes, we still have some children from the home here today," she said.

ďI have 12 books that I have authored and co-authored, and I would like to donate them to the school library, if possible.Ē

"That is just lovely of you," she stated.

I sat the two stacks of books up on the counter and watched as she began to pick through them.

"Oh, my goodness! You write for the Chicken Soup Book series?" she asked.

"Yes ma'am. I have some stories in several of their latest books - Grandparentís Soul and Horse Loverís Soul."

"Are these workbooks for children?" she asked as she picked up two large books and began thumbing through them.

"Yes ma'am. These are some of my stories, which were used in the Israeli school system last year," I responded.

"Your teachers would be so proud of you," she said.

Just about that time, the principal came walking into the office. She stopped at the counter and picked up one of the books.

"Mr. Kiser, I presume?" she asked looking out of the top of her glasses.

"Yes ma'am," I replied.

"I read your book "Orphan" several weeks ago. Quite a tragic story," she continued.

"Tragic, but true I'm afraid."

The lady behind the desk advised her that I was donating 12 books to the school library.

"Iím afraid I cannot allow the "Orphan" book to go into the children's library. However, I will allow it to go into the teachers section," she said.

"That's good enough for me," I said.

"I heard that you might be coming," the principal said.

"That does not surprise me. I wonder how they knew?" I asked.

"You are the first to come back and tell the story of what happened over there. You are the first one to have the guts to write a book about it," she stated as she looked up and smiled at me.

She asked me if I would autograph the books. Then the books were taken to the library. After I was given a tour of the school, I thanked the principal and walked out the front door. Once again, I stood on the front steps of the school and looked over at the orphanage.

I got into my vehicle and drove toward the orphanage entrance. I stopped outside the gates and looked down the small, white, rocky road. The words "when youíre stupid, you don't need to write" came flashing across my mind.

"Yeah, I know," I thought.

"But I bet you never thought that stupid little idiot would be the one who would come back and write the truth about you," I said aloud.



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