The Franklin Files

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I told you earlier that I had an incident with my fifth grade teacher in which I acted out very much out of character for me.

     I told you I already hated the teacher for the nasty comments she made about the special education children and the nasty comments she made about me for helping them.

     But, I had more reason to hate her than just this and so I have to tell you something else that happened first.

     I was sitting in the middle of her class one afternoon, and I think her name was Mrs. Herndon or something like that. I could be wrong.

     I was sitting at my desk minding my own business, when another kid in the isle to the right of me and like one seat in front of me; a kid named Danny, got up came to my desk and asked me to put my hand on my desk palm up.

     I thought he was going to show me a magic trick of some kind and so I did.

     I soon as I had my palm up, this kid Danny, stabbed me with a pencil. It was a full down stroke stab from above shoulder height, and the pencil broke the skin and penetrated about a half inch, I would say. He broke the pencil after he stabbed me with it, leaving the broken piece of led inside my hand.

     This crazy, psycho-path Danny, did this in front of all the kids in class and in front of the teacher.

     It was a totally unprovoked aggravated assault. I think hitting someone with your fist is an aggravated assault, but definitely using a weapon to stab someone with; as far as I was concerned, this kid should have been charged with aggravated assault and sent to Juvenal hall.

     The teacher made light of the whole situation, and acted like this kind of thing happens all the time.

     I was bleeding, and she sent me to the nurse, who basically just put a Band-aid on the wound, and sent me back to class.

     I was really put off how the teacher; Mrs. Herndon, just kind of dismissed the seriousness of the whole situation. She acted annoyed at the both of us and intimated that I must have provoked the kid in some kind of way, which even if I had, which I didn't would not have excused using a weapon to stab someone with.

     I was never taken to a nurse or a doctor to have this piece of led removed. As a matter of fact, this quarter inch piece of led, about a half inch deep inside my hand, would remain there forever. As far as I know its still there. I had been able to clearly see it, until I was thirty years old and since then, its either dissolved or moved so I can no longer see it.

     I know I used to worry a lot about the piece of led moving and getting into my cardiovascular system where it could literally cause a heart-attack or a stroke.

     I was sick to death. I told you before, that I had been beat up more times than I could count in the fourth grade. Sometimes by white kids, mostly by black kids, and the reasons are complicated and were political.

     But at the time, The Mayor of L.A. had initiated something that was called "Busing" which was very controversial at the time.

     What the Mayor was supposedly trying to do was comply with a federal law, from what I understand, that simply stated that all schools should reflect the same minority percentages as their surrounding neighborhoods.

     So, for example, the neighborhood around LaTijera at the time was about thirty percent black and about seventy percent white. The school reflected that percentage, and so really nothing needed to be done to comply with this federal law.

     But what the Mayor did, is he bussed in black kids from the inner city, and changed the demographics of the school, so that it was at this time about seventy percent black and only about thirty percent white.

     Exactly what the mayor was trying to do, is really up for speculation but he definitely wasn't simply trying to comply with this federal law. He was using this federal law as an excuse to try to bus inner city black kids into high percentage white neighborhood schools and change the demographics of those schools so that the white kids suddenly became the minority.

     Also, a lot of these kids being bussed in from the inner city held strong prejudices that they picked up from their parents in all black areas, who had previously gone to all black schools, and held opinions like "white people are evil" and that kind of thing.

     What happened at LaTiJera, is that the minority of white kids going to school there (although the surrounding neighborhood was seventy percent white) found themselves in a very hostile environment where a white kid could be assaulted simply for being white, and if you were a white kid that was perceived as being non-violent you would be perceived as weak and get pounced on.

     So, I don't know what this Danny kid's story was, but it's easy to understand how a white kid going to that school could become paranoid and psychotic.

     Really, I have no idea why he did that. I didn't know the kid. I never did anything to the kid, and I didn't provoke him. And just to set the record straight, he was a white kid, I think the only other white kid in my fifth grade class.

     I was sick to death of the fact that I realized that as far as these assaults went, I couldn't count on the teacher's to do anything about it, nor could I rely on my parents.

     The school's policy was if an altercation happened off campus, they basically didn't do anything about it, and if you claimed you were assaulted, such as in the bathroom and there were no witnesses, they basically didn't do anything about it. Even if you had a black eye or some kind of physical evidence you'd been assaulted, you kind of had to prove to them what happened. And I was just sick of it.

     And here was a situation where I had been assaulted, not off campus, but right in the middle of class right in front of twenty students and the teacher, and it was an aggravated assault (that is involving a weapon and an injury resulting from the use of that weapon)

     And it became quickly clear to me upon coming back to class that this teacher was not going to do anything about it. She didn't send the kid to the office, she didn't recommend he be suspended, nothing-- he was going to get away with it, and I was in a rage.

     I had already come to the conclusion that if I didn't want to be constantly terrorized and bullied during this school year I was going to have to do something different.

     And before, I had relied on the protection of the teachers and staff and I had relied on the protection of my parents and that didn't work.

     And I'll tell you what else didn't work. When I was assaulted, not retaliating in any way and just trying to avoid that kid, was a recipe for almost certain continued terrorism from that kid and bullying that could last weeks or even months.

     And when I realized all this coming back from the nurses office, I knew I had to do something, and I also knew this kid was a psycho to assault me like that right in the middle of class, so what I decided was I had to show this kid that I could be every bit a psycho as he, and even more so. I had to send this kid a very clear message, to get the idea out of his head that he might like to continue to assault me, terrorize me and bully me. I had to do something that would shock him, scare him, and let him know that he was targeting the wrong f-ing kid, because this kid wasn't going to just take this **** anymore.

     So I got up, while Danny was sitting at his desk and I used the element of surprise and without giving any warning, I used my feet and arms to completely knock over his desk with him sitting in it, and if you remember the kind of student desks they had back then, they weren't really designed so that you could get up out of them quickly in the event they were being knocked over.

     So Danny went over and the desk went on top of him with him being kind of stuck and entangled all inside the desk, and then I said to him so everyone could hear including the teacher, "You ever touch me again and I'll kill you."

     Amazingly, the teacher took light of this situation also and I felt I won in a way, because atleast now an incident report would be filed and I don't think one would have been if this hadn't have happened.

     We both had to go to the office, and an official incident report was made describing Danny stabbing me with the pencil, causing an injury, and then describing me pushing him over in class.

     In addition, the teacher called my parents and told my parents that she thought I was a trouble maker, and that I must have provoked Danny in some way for him to have assaulted me in the first place. She made light of the stabbing, saying that she thought we got into some kind of mutual altercation and Danny just happened to have a pencil in his hand that somehow accidentally during the fight ended up causing the injury even though this story was patently false and didn't agree with about twenty eye-witness who were there and saw the whole event.

     To give my parents some credit, they didn't believe I deserved to be punished because for once they believed me, and they thought that I had been the one that had been provoked, and they could clearly see that I had been stabbed in the hand.

     This didn't seem to satisfy Mrs. Herndon much, who thought I was the trouble maker. She was always giving me attitude. I might have been giving her some attitude back but I basically tried to be a good kid. I was non-violent, and usually turned the other cheek, the result though was a broken nose and being terrorized all through the fourth grade, Turning the other cheek may have worked for Jesus but then again Jesus had magical powers, I didn't. 

     In the real world, where I was living, turning the other cheek was perceived as a sign of weakness and I knew that if I didn't respond to this situation that not only could I have been terrorized and assaulted more from Danny, but other kids in the class might perceive me as an easy target as well, and I definitely WAS NOT going to have a repeat of grade four.

     All in all, I just hated that teacher. I remember she thought I was faking my supposed "headaches" just as an excuse to get out of class to go see the nurse, and I also heard her say once that she thought the only reason I was volunteering to help the "retarded" kids was because I was anti-social and didn't want to play with the other kids.

     Besides that, and I know this is going to sound prejudicial, but she was a big fat black lady, about 400 pounds, and she was a lazy ass.

     I remember every day we kids would come into class and she would have written on every available space on every chalk board in the entire room, math problems for us all to immediately copy and solve.

     She knew that this would occupy at least an hour of our time so she could sit at her desk and read a novel.

     I kid you not. She would do this every day, demand absolute silence, and sit at her damn desk that she could barely fit into she was so damn fat, and read a novel, and get irritated if any kid asked a question or anything that interrupted her from her reading.

     I don't even know how this lady became a teacher. I didn't feel like she was actually teaching anything. 

     So one day, not too long after this incident, I'm out in the garage at my house on a Saturday and I see my dad is building something, so I inquired what it was he was building.

     It turns out he was constructing a wooden paddle with a mean grip for a handle, and he told me that he hoped he wouldn't have to use it on me.

     Turns out this teacher was making my parents to think that I might be developing disciplinary problems, although I'd been a good kid up till now.

     I admit I probably was showing this teacher a little bit of attitude, because I hated her guts. When I'd get to class I'd see the chalk boards full of math problems and I would make a loud sigh. These were all easy math problems, all this was was a way to occupy the kids so she could sit on her fat ass and read her damn novel.

     So on this one particular day, I come into class and I see all the math problems. No big surprise-- happens every day and will probably keep happening until this teacher finally finishes whatever book she's reading. It must have been a real page turner.

     So I didn't complain, but I was real good at math, and I copied all the problems very systematically, solved them quickly, and decided to do a little reading of my own, out of our official school reading book. I was interested in the next story that we were going to read next, and so I opened the book and had gotten engrossed in this story, when suddenly some kids talking (not me) repeatedly while she was trying to read her novel had annoyed her to the point where she stood up and told everyone to stop what they were doing.

     And she had decided to punish the whole class and also ensure that she could finish that damn novel.

     She went up to one of the black boards, erased the math problems off of it, and wrote "I pledge allegiance.... 100 x"

     And then she said to all of us, "I want you all to write the pledge of allegence one hundred times," and then she very calmly and very glibly sat her fat ass back into her desk chair which was always an effort for her, and proceeded to continue reading her novel.

     Being irritated myself that I was happily reading a story of my own that was actually out of our reading books, and absolutely despising this woman who had the gall to call herself a teacher, I wrote on a piece of paper, "I pledge allegence.... 100 x" and then opened my book back up and continued reading just like her.

     I read for a few minutes and then she asked me what I thought I was doing, and I told her that I wrote 'I pledge allegence... 100 x"

     She said that was impossible and I ensured her that it was not, that I actually had done it, and then she told me to stop reading my book and get back to work.

     I then told her that I would stop reading my book if she would stop reading her book.

     At this point, she told me that if I didn't do it that she would call my parents, and I stood up and proceeded to say the following:

     "Good, and I will tell my parents that you are a fat ass lazy bitch who just wants quiet all day long so you can read a damn novel and not teach anybody anything!"

     This was very much not like me, but all the emotions I was stuffing suddenly just came flying out of me and I had never ever confronted a teacher like this before. But I figured I was in trouble already so I might as well make it nice and good.

     I also refused to write the pledge of allegiance one hundred times, and continued to read my story, and she ignored me.

     She got her revenge though. Later she called my parent's and my parent's although listening to my side of the story, still thought that my actions showed a complete lack of respect for the teacher, and even though they agreed with me that they didn't particularly like this teacher and they told me so, they believed that I needed to be taught a lesson.

     So my dad had my lay down across my bed and got to break in that new paddle that he made, and it hurt and it hurt like hell, and it didn't really improve my feelings about my fifth grade teacher that much.

     But, the reason I tell you this story, isn't because I still have a resentment against this woman after all these years, who is more than likely dead now, considering how overweight she was at the time, and it being nearly 35 years later. 

     No, the reason that I relay this story, is that this incident led to my dad for the first time ever paddling me which led to something more significant.

     Up to this point in time I can say that when I was a little kid and I did something wrong, my mom or my dad would give me a swift slap or two or three on the butt with the palm of their hand. They were never the kind to put me over their knee and pull my pants down or anything like that.

     And when I got to be about eight years old, they really stopped even doing that, thinking that I was too old to be spanked anymore.

     Until my dad thought that maybe I needed paddling.

     And this was the first time that my dad had ever used a paddle on me or anyone else for that matter.

     I told Scott about it the next day, while I was benched at recess, being made to write the pledge of allegiance one hundred times, and that is when Scott suggested that I run away.

     And, at that moment, my butt still sore from the beating I just got with a wooden paddle that had been basically a 2x4 with a handle, my hatred for this teacher, the assault that happened, and everything else, his suggestion came at a very vulnerable moment.

     "Really?" I said.

     "Really," Scott said.

     "Where would I go?" I asked.

     "You can stay at my house," he said.


-- Edited by The Phantom on Monday 8th of March 2010 03:35:58 PM


"Sometimes when you open your mind to the impossible,
  you discover the truth." Walter from Fringe.

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