Home > Anxiety, Disturbing, Midwest, My Brother, My Mom, Neurosis, Ohio, Sad, Scary, School, Traumatic Childhood, Weird, Worry > Three Checks Walks the Deadman (Part 2)

Three Checks Walks the Deadman (Part 2)

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Click here to read Part 1

We now continue my brother’s 1980s Ohio paddling saga…


 
So, I went home that weekend and told my Mom I was going to be paddled. She’d always thought it was barbaric. She said if it ever came to that, she wouldn’t allow it. She asked what I’d done. I said, “Talking, basically.” She nodded.

Saturday, Sunday. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I had a migraine the whole time. I thought of nothing else as the hours slipped away towards Monday morning. I’d never been hit. By anyone, or anything. Never been in a fight, never been punched or slapped or beaten by my parents. I’d avoided conflict wherever I could. I suppose I knew my days were numbered; that sometime, somewhere, I’d have to take a punch like everybody else. I never imagined, though, it would come from someone I trusted and obeyed, never imagined it with a piece of wood.

My mom said she’d intervene if I wanted her to.

I thought of her charging into the front office with me in tow, stabbing her finger at the secretary, then the principal. I’d stand behind her, quiet, incapable, impotent.

I thought of Tuesday morning and the questions. “Why doesn’t he have to get paddled?” “Because Damian’s mommy won’t allow it. Because Damian can’t take it. Because Damian is special.”

I told her no.

Monday morning came. I rode the bus to school. No one brought it up. Maybe they’d forgotten. Maybe everyone had forgotten.

After the bell, the Teacher called roll. I said, “Here,” and a few kids tittered. They hadn’t forgotten.

I’d have a shot at that badge of courage after all.

After roll, the teacher looked at me, not unkindly. The rage she’d felt 48 hours ago had abated. But rules were rules and everyone knew them. Three checks walks the deadman. No waiting. No reprieve.

“Damian?” she nodded like a rancher about to put down her favorite horse.

Thirty faces lit up. They’d have their show. And on a rainy Monday, of all days, first thing.

I stood on wobbly legs.

I lifted the top of my desk, took the inhaler out of my pocket and held it a moment.

“Damian can’t take it. Damian is special,” I heard the voices.

I placed it inside the desk next to my books and fruit. Then I closed the lid.

I stepped to the open space between the tall bookshelves. The teacher and her Witness came up behind me. Then I walked around the corner.

Teacher said, “Everything out of your pockets, please.” I took out my milk money, an orange-colored eraser shaped like a Volkswagen, and a tiny Rubik’s Cube keychain and put them on the floor by my feet.

I stood again. The teacher made no speeches, no pronouncement of guilt, though she and the Witness wore the same smile as always.

“Bend over, please.”

The world inverted as I took the small bones of my ankles in each hand. The blood rushed to my head and dampened all sound. Blood throbbed in my neck. My heart counted down the seconds. I heard the engine of the entire world humming all around me. I remembered my Mom’s “A’right, then,” remembered her resigned look and the pat on my knee when I told her I’d make the walk alone.

Then the first hit came. It sounded like someone had dropped a book three rooms away. The walls around me shuddered as my body took the force, then steadied. I was still standing.

The second hit, I didn’t feel at all. There was heat, a rather cozy-feeling heat, actually. I could see the impact points perfectly in my mind, two paddle-shaped infrared slaps across my backside.

“You’re done,” she said. I stood up and smiled at her. Not a belligerent kind of smile but the kind that comes when you realize that the world is still there, and that it isn’t all that bad.

Teacher and the Witness parted and I passed between them. I turned the corner and saw the thirty faces, some grinning, some not, many confused and disappointed. I smiled at them, beaming. Immune.

I took my seat and every moment of the life I was about to resume, all the days I’d live in comfort, in safety, without fear, without war, without pain, yawned before me.

“Okay, people. Open your Reading books to page 28, please…” said Teacher.

I got out my book and, like everyone else, turned the pages.

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