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I had a funny story for you this week, but it occurred to me as I reread it that it lacked the important details within it and left too many questions for the readers.

It’s not quite as bad as walking into the middle of a movie, but like everything else, it’s best to start at the beginning.

So, I have shelved that story until next week. But in the meantime, kick your shoes off and relax for a minute, and let’s start from the very beginning of the story.

I had been moved by social services into a temporary foster home when I was in second grade towards the end of the school year until they could find more “permanent” placement for me.

There was only a couple of months left in the school year and social services was anxious to place me in another foster home, until they could locate a more “permanent” place for me. At least that was the way it was described to me at the time.

I can close my eyes and remember the conversation with the nice lady with children’s services.

“You will be temporarily placed with a very nice family on the West End….”

I didn’t know where or what the “West End” was or where it was located but it sounded exotic to me.

I don’t remember what else the nice lady was saying because I was imagining the “West End” was somewhere far from where I was, probably near the ocean, close to some dock. That’s what it sounded like to me anyway.

I could almost see the sway of the palm trees in the breeze of my “new” temporary home until she shattered my dream.

“We can drive over there now, it won’t take too long, so gather your things…”

“IF” The West End was close enough to drive to, then my dreams of ocean breezes, swaying palms and rusty freighters docking in the night wasn’t going to happen, and it didn’t.

The “West End” was the West End of the next town over about thirteen or so miles away and although it was “In Town”, so to speak, it was on the rural side of that particular community.

The ride over to the temporary foster home was uneventful as the social worker told me that I would finish the last month or so of school before I would be placed (again) at another foster home, before the summer, because there were a lot of people that “wanted” a boy like me to “help” out on a farm.

I remember she added, with some naïve emphasis, or at least I hope it was naïve,

“I bet you would like living on a big farm, with room to run and play.”

Allow me to translate the conversation for you here.

“We can drive over there now, it won’t take too long, so gather your things…”

Translated: Get my book on Davey Crockett and the Alamo and my toothbrush and get in the car.

“A lot of people wanted a boy like me to help out on the farm….”

Translated: Free Labor and the state paid the family to take them too, that’s known as a Two-Fer.

“I bet you would like living on a big farm, with room to run and play.”

Translated: It was apparent to me even then that she and I had a diametrically opposite definition of what “running and playing” while living (working) on a farm with a foster family constituted.

Our first stop of the day was at the Midlands Valley Elementary School and Taxidermy Academy to enroll me for the last month or so of second grade before meeting my temporary foster family on the West End of town.

I took a seat in a big wooden chair outside the principal’s office while the social worker talked with the administrators and completed the necessary paperwork to get me enrolled in the school.

In what seemed like an eternity I was summoned into the principal’s office that I was soon to become all too familiar with and told to take a seat.

The principle was a stern looking man named Ralph Finley and he rose from his chair behind his desk and as he began to speak it was readily apparent that my reputation as a renowned rock thrower had preceded me.

It’s important to note here that in the mid 1960’s in the South there were two famous rock throwers.

One, perhaps the most famous, was Ernest T Bass from the Andy Griffith Show.

What Ernest T lacked in accuracy he more than made up with in volume and his famous rock throwing abilities can still be seen on black and white reruns across television screens even today.

On the other hand, I was more about accuracy than sheer volume. At my age and being undersized I didn’t have the opportunity to throw rocks at the cyclic rate like Ernest T, before a Goliath would descend upon me.

That being said, Mr. Finley had (somehow) been informed of my rock throwing reputation and even knew about me throwing the rock against the outhouse a couple of years before that stirred up some red wasps that stung Mary Sue on the taint.

EDITORS NOTE: Please see a previous story on this website for said discussion about Mary Sue getting stung on her taint by red wasps.

But that aside, Mr. Finley made it abundantly clear that “my kind of behavior” would not be tolerated under any circumstances in his school, but he would “take me in” to finish the school year before the summer. However, he added with some emphasis that he would be “watching me.”

After I got my “talking too” by the principle, the social worker and I walked to her car for the drive to meet the new temporary foster family. The walk to the parking lot allowed me the opportunity to see that the school was indeed rural, as horses a maybe a mule where grazing on the baseball field that was located adjacent to the school.

The drive took mere minutes to meet the foster family and I quicky determined that it would be a short walk to the Midland Valley Elementary School and Taxidermy Academy, and I was happy about that.

The family was nice, they had two small children of their own. One in diapers and the other was maybe two years old. They lived at the bottom of what I thought was then, a big, long hill where the road ended in a dead end.

It was suburbia, sort of, and it was nice. Maybe the nicest place I had lived up until that time in my life.

The family had a nice cot setup for me in the laundry room and it was clean and comfy. They even apologized that they didn’t have a room for me to sleep in but assured me that I would be comfortable.

The following morning was my first day at this new school and as I was indeed walking to school, which made me happy. As I was trekking up the hill, I heard somebody yell, “hey, wait up!”

It was a boy the same age as me, in the same grade, that lived across the street and we introduced ourselves as we walked up the hill, his name was Jimmy Bowden.

His Daddy had been in the army for a few years, then gotten out and came to this town to get a job and his momma worked in town too and he was an only child and much like me, needed a friend.

We became fast friends and walked to school and back every day with each other and just talked and talked and talked. We played together in the adjoining woods on the weekends and even his parents were really, really nice to me too.

I had been at the school for exactly three weeks and during recess that day I was looking for Jimmy and I saw him more or less pinned up against a fence by the biggest kid in second grade named Randy.

Randy wasn’t just the biggest kid in second grade, but Randy was perhaps the biggest human being in the school. I can’t confirm it, but it was rumored that Randy drove to school and smoked Marlboro Reds behind the dugout at the baseball field. This last detail in this description I can confirm as I saw it myself.

EDITORS NOTE: I will give you until the banjo music stops to guess what state this school was in.

But that aside, I didn’t know what was going on, but I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) let me friend get beat up.

Not without a fight anyway.

I strolled over to where Randy had Jimmy pinned against the chain link fence and calmly asked,

“What’s going on?”

Randy had one hand on Jimmy’s shoulder and the other was clinching his shirt in his fist and upon my gentle inquiry whipped his head around with his face in a scowl and with a growl told me to, “Piss Off.”

I can’t recall if I said anything dramatic like “let my friend go” or anything such as that, I am sure that I didn’t and there is no sense lying about it. My high sense of survival wouldn’t have permitted such a foolish act.

But what did happen was, I turned and walked away. Because in that brief moment, I had a plan.

I walked over to the baseball dugout and picked up a nice size rock out of the gravel, not too big, “just right.” Then I walked over to where I saw the horses and the mule grazing three weeks before and selected a dried horse turd, that was not too big, but was “just right” for what I was about to do.

I stuffed the rock I picked up into the dried horse turd.

EDITORS NOTE: In the event you are unfamiliar with the aerodynamic coefficient of a dried horse turd, let say simply that it needs “weight” to add velocity for a sufficient impact upon making contact. Thus, my adding said rock to the equation here.

Now that we are caught up, let’s move along.

I walked to within forty or so feet to where Randy, who now had Jimmy lifted off the ground by his shirt, and his face was within inches of Jimmy’s saying something in low tones that I couldn’t hear.

The horse turd flew out of my hand at a speed and velocity that even surprised me.
It landed right on or in, depending upon your perspective, Randy’s left ear.

Randy went down screaming, clutching his head.

Jimmy landed on his feet and he and I both took off running.

It was glorious.

Well, until thirty minutes later when I heard my name over the school intercom to,

“Please come to the principal’s office…”

I slowly walked to the principal’s office like it was the “Green Mile” with the only thing missing was a chorus of voices whispering, “Dead Man Walking.”

I was met at the front door of the principal’s office by the school nurse Miss Crowder and Mr. Finley.

After being quickly ushered in the office I was confronted by them both after I took a seat.

Mr. Finley leaned over me with his hands on his knees, we were nearly face to face then and he asked,

“Do you remember what I TOLD you about throwing rocks?”

During the slow walk to what I knew was going to be a confrontation about my rock throwing reputation I had formed a response or responses if you will, to my earlier deed.

So, I innocently responded with, “Yes sir, I remember.”

Miss Crowder then preceded to inform me that,

“Randy was in the infirmary with lacerations to his ear, and he may have a concussion.”

In all fairness I didn’t know what a “laceration” was, it sounded like the name of a Mexican Cowboy to me, so I just shrugged my shoulders as if to say,

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Mr. Finley was ready to get down to it, so he stated rather smugly that “other children” on the playground had “seen me” throw the rock that hurt Randy.

I looked at them both and said with some convection I might add,

“But I didn’t throw no rock.”

Miss Crowder and Mr. Finley shared a confused look between them and then Mr. Finley reiterated what he had said moments earlier,

“Other people saw you throw the rock, you might as well admit it.”

Maybe I need to explain, so I said,

“No sir, I didn’t throw no rock, I throwed a dried horse turd at Randy.”

I apparently had offended the sensitive ears of Mr. Finley because he nearly shouted,

“Don’t you use words like that in this office!”

I have never been afraid to apologize or right a perceived wrong, so I quickly responded with,

“I am sorry sir, I meant to say I didn’t throw no rock, I hit Randy with a handful of horse shit.”

I thought Miss Crowder was going to faint and Mr. Finley was going to have a stroke all within one second of each other. But ironically it was Miss Crowder who recovered from the shock first.

She looked at me like my birth mother had been drinking Budweiser and smoking Camel cigarettes before I was born. Which I suppose could be true and would explain a lot of unanswered questions I have about myself.

Be that as it may, Miss Crowder calmly informed me that she had to flush and pick “Fecal Matter” from Randy’s damaged ear for the past thirty or so minutes.

I don’t mind, more or less, admitting to things I have done, but I wasn’t going to have this pinned on me.

So, in my defense I told Miss Crowder,

“No Ma’am, I didn’t hit Randy with no fecal matter it was a handful of horse shit, is what it was.”

Clearly the three of us in that room at reached an impasse as to what had transpired that day at recess, and I was told to go back to my classroom until “They” could decide my fate.

Nothing further happened to me and I never heard another word about the “incident” either.

I guess when you have a second grader like Randy, that is old enough to get a draft notice to join the army the following week, it’s best just to leave the whole thing alone.

Well, I say nothing further happened, but that wouldn’t be true.

I was treated by the other second graders there like I had just slayed Goliath.

Which I suppose I had and just for the record Randy steered clear of me or maybe he just couldn’t hear me with that big bandage he wore on his ear, either way, there was no further problem with him.

EDITORS NOTE: I wonder now, if Randy got a deferment from having to join the army since his hearing was clearly impaired?

I got something else out of that incident too. I got a good friend in Jimmy.

You save a man (or boy’s life) with a well thrown (rock in infused) horse turd and you got a buddy for life. And now that you know the “background” of the friendship between Jimmy and me, that leads us to the story for next week.

When I convinced Jimmy a couple of weeks later, to let me borrow the brand new, gleaming metal peddle car that he got for his birthday to attempt to break the land speed record.

One last thing, I feel like I should apologize for the misleading title to this story. As you already know it doesn’t have anything to do with being a “Horse Whisperer.”

But in all fairness I didn’t want to title it “Turd Thrower” or worse yet,

“The Shit Slinger.”

Thank you for your understanding

RTR
MEB