Sunday, April 17, 2016

Old Man - fiction

Charlie Boger came into my classroom. He was 15 and the rest of the class was 11.  The schoolyard dramas had no interest to him.

One day, there was a huge fight in the playground; I headed out as hard as I could to break it up. It was only about 50 yards away but thank goodness, Charlie had stopped it. He did not like seeing someone beat up. Eric Lawson was bleeding from his nose and lip. Paul Smoker’s eyes were blazing.

I sent Eric to the office first so they could doctor his wounds and call his mother. I walked Paul there as I took the class in from the playground. About an hour after recess, 10 minutes before the day was over, they called Charlie Boger to the office.

I sat at my desk and graded a set of spelling tests. I wrote pedantic work across Charlie Boger’s paper. He would find the word in the dictionary every time. I knew he was putting in his time.

As I drove home, there was Charlie Boger walking down the highway about four miles from the school. I pulled over.

” Charlie, why aren’t you on the bus?”

“Miz Rogers, Eric turned me over for hitting him in the face.”

“You didn’t hit him in the face. I saw the whole thing. It was Paul Smoker.”

“That’s what they say. Anyway, I got to get home.”

“Let me give you a ride.”

“I live on a dirt road. Your car won’t stay clean, all that dust and such”.

“They should have gotten you out for the bus.”

“Expelled.”

“Expelled?”

“It’s a good thing.”

“Get in the car.”

He gave me directions as we wound down a narrow dirt road that followed the path of Sabbath Creek.  He got out of the car and several younger children were waiting on him.

Charlie, I plan to get things fixed tomorrow.

He gave me a regretful look.

“It doesn’t matter Miz Rogers. I’ll be 16 next month. My last day of school was due. We got to get the garden in so we can eat. I’m so tired of collard greens. The taters did sorry this year.”

I knew his father had died several years ago. I did get the story straight that next Monday. The school sent a letter to Charlie Boger’s home. He stopped by my room when he returned his books.  He said they did not usually get mail so no one had checked the mailbox.  He asked me if my family was well.   

I would like to say he grew up, prospered and lived a fine life. He drove a log truck for a while and I taught his younger siblings. Two of them graduated from high school.  Charlie fell asleep driving a truck they say. He was only nineteen. I wondered how many people besides me knew he was old man at the funeral.

26 comments:

  1. "Old man, look at my life. I'm a lot like you were." (Neil Young) I weep. Excellent, my friend.
    Annie from ~McGuffy's Reader~

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  2. Oh that is so sad! Such a short life he lived, but he obviously made an impact on you!

    betty

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    1. The story is fiction. I did have a student drop out my first year of teaching and was killed driving a log truck a week later. I also had children who were functioning adults with their responsibilities.

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  3. so sad - I think so true of many children

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    1. Childhood is not so idyllic for many unfortunately.

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  4. Hi Ann - I've come over from Alex Cavanagh's blog ... and thought I might enjoy your take on life ... Wonderfully written story ... so sad, but I guess so often quite true - people never get a chance to fulfil their potential.

    I had to pull out of the A-Z this year ... but I'm vaguely around ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you for visiting. A to Z is a lot of fun and plenty to do. I debated as to whether I was up for the challenge.

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  5. That's a sad story. Tragic when young people have to grow up fast like that and then don't even get to live to enjoy it.

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    1. It is usually a weird combination of childhood and adulthood and you never know quite what you are dealing with. But I have seen the somber adult walking around as a child a few times.

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  6. I like this story. You tell it without telling it. Nice writing and I hope to return to read more.

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  7. When childhood has to be skipped sad indeed. Especially when they can't enjoy life further down the road

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    1. Life is a mystery. Why some people have short miserable lives?

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  8. Beautifully written and touchingly sad. Hopping over from the A to Z Challenge. Thanks for visiting my blog...

    Take care,

    Donna L Martin
    www.donnalmartin.com

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  9. What a well-imagined vivid character and setting. Very moving!

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  10. Oh my heart goes out to Charlie. And to you as well, sweet Ann, for befriending him.

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    1. I'm going to start labeling my fiction. Using first person in a story is confusing on a blog. I would hope I would have been that kind.

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  11. A sad tale well told.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  12. What a sad, sad tale. I hope his younger siblings appreciated what he did for them. We talk about social safety nets but where were they for that family? Teachers see so many stories similar to this one.

    Susan Says

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    1. I've seen these old souls. There are safety nets but they are certainly ratty.

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  13. Great story
    Popped over from http://cazgreenham.blogspot.com

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