Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Stray Dogs, Whoopings and Peace Man

He had a scruffy little head, which he tossed to the left when he wanted to get his dirty blond hair out of his eyes.
He loved to play soccer, as did I... but unlike me, he considered himself to play very well.
We both wore corduroy Levi's and faded t-shirts.
Not Bobbie or Robbie. Those names were to laid back for him.
A formal full name for an informal guy.
We had been friends in the years before...
Sometimes riding bikes or throwing the football, walking the creek or feeding stray dogs.
But Field Day came & saw a change between Robert & I.
We bounced on balloons tacked to chairs and made long jumps as far as we could. We ran in sprints and played tug-of-war. A thousand kids with a hundred things to do. Surely a place where there was room for everyone to be winner and for everyone to be a loser.
The line of kids to do pull-ups was short, perhaps the shortest of all the lines.
I got in it, along with Helena.
The boys, including Robert, heckled us as we stood in line.
We put our hands on hips, popped some hi-shine flavored cherry gloss on our lips & rolled our eyes.
When my time came, I pulled up on the bar and did as many as I could in my 60 seconds and then I moved on to the next activity.
When Friday came and all of us sixth graders were due to get our awards and honorable mentions for our physical efforts on Wednesday, I anticipated enjoying the 'free time.' Time spent at school...not doing school work.
What I did not anticipate was getting the award for the most pull-ups achieved in the 6th grade. Nor did I anticipate that Robert would be the runner up and, as our teacher, Mr. Dooley, pointed out... falling 'double-digits behind a skinny little thing.'
That was it.
War was on.
Robert now despised me.
He saw everything I did as competition.
When we played soccer, he'd rather lose the game than share the ball with me. If I scored, he cursed me. After the games, he'd want to argue with me about what I did or didn't do.
At first I tried my rolling of the eyes trick, but that didn't last too many days.
Mom said 'Sometimes a lady just lets a boy win.'
So I gave wise ole Momma's trick a try.
This led to Robert just giving me an increasing hard time. Finally, after one particular game, I had had enough of his laughing, shoving and name-calling.
Before I had time to think about what I was going to say, I was speaking in a flat, low and very grave voice...
'You dumb ass. I freakin' gave you the ball and when you fumbled, I got it back...ran with it, then gave it back to YOU could score! So YOU could feel better about yourself! Not so that you could give me crap.... you're such a loser!'
I saw my words sink in. I saw his eyes level. And then I saw a fire inside of them of the likes that I had never seen before.
'You bitch! I ought to kick your ass!'
'Go For It!'
Tangled in a whirlwind of sandspurs and sand, spit and fire...Robert and I were in a rolling ball of adrenaline, intent on the moment until our coach finally broke us up.
Afterwards, the boys were laughing & the girls were appalled.
Robert & I both were taken to the office.
The principal said he could either call our parents or give us a paddling.
I got six licks across the bottom with the paddle of my choice and Robert got eight.
Before the school year was over, I ended up getting paddled many more times.
But the last time I got paddled, I got paddled alone.
The dew was still wet on the grass and I stood in the quasi-daybreak outside of my classroom door. I was at school early, in fact even before the teachers and buses arrived.
There had been a stray dog, seemingly starving, that I had been feeding and taking water to for a couple of weeks. He'd meet me in the field just off the sixth grade wing. I would sit indian style in the grass and watch him eat and drink, then let him curl up in my lap until the bell sounded. But this morning he was no where to be I stood alone with my paper bag of stolen morsels and metal bowl from home waiting for the day.
I heard the sound of people and knew that the first buses had arrived. There was laughter. I heard it all, but really couldn't be bothered to turn around. I was too intent, looking into the woods that lined the field, hoping to spot my stray dog.
All of a sudden SLAM! I stumbled downwards and forwards, all along having my shoulder ground into the rough, brick wall.
Before I had time to register what had happened, I heard Robert's sarcastic voice.
'Oh, excuse me.'
I was able to keep myself from falling, but my paper bag and books went flying.
Dog food scattered across the walkway.
The howling began....'Look! Skinny brought her lunch today!'
The heckling continued and I said nothing.
As I picked my books up, I looked across the field.
There he was! On the edge of the woods! Sheepishly looking out! Looking for me!
I gathered all the morsels of dog food and threw them in my bag. I stacked my books by the door. I filled my bowl from the water fountain and walked out across the field.
The first bell rang, then the second and there I sat, indian style with a peaceful little bag of bones in my lap.
Finally, Mr Dooley came out to beckon me in.
I watched as the mutt slowly meandered his way, tail tucked between his legs, back to the edge of the woods. Poor little fellow didn't seem like he was doing too good.
At lunch time, I opted for the 'paper bag' lunch, which usually had a peanut butter sandwich and some fruit, and white milk.
I took my bag to the sixth grade wing and looked to the woodline. There he was, just barely in the shade of the trees. I ate some fruit and he had a sandwich and milk.
Seeing the kids pile up in front of my classroom door, I knew that lunch time was drawing near it's end & having been late in the morning, I ran across the way.
When I got there, Mr Dooley had yet to return.
I tapped Robert on the shoulder.
When he turned around, I kicked him in the shin with all the might I had in me.
As I watched him crumble to the ground, I said 'Oh, Excuse Me'.
No sooner had the words sliced their way out of my mouth, then I felt Mr Dooley's hand grab me by the back of my neck.
I showed the principal my scabby shoulder and arm.
He apologized, but stated that no-one had witnessed it.
And that was the day that I got my whippings alone.
A couple days later, I was out in the field with my peaceful stray dog, as was our morning ritual.
Robert snuck up on me & he was alone.
'What do you want?'
'Nothing.... sorry you got whooped alone. I should have been whooped too.'
'It's Ok. I deserved it as much as you deserved getting kicked.'
'That hurt!' and he showed my the yellow green egg on his shin.
I looked down towards my scraped shoulder and arm. 'Well, I found out we're moving on Friday. You won't have me to fight with anymore.'
Robert just looked at me, then at the nameless pooch and finally back again...'Skinny?'
'I promise, I'll come early everyday, even on the weekends...I only live a block away, and feed your stray dog.'
'Yeah. Promise. Swear.'
'Ok. Thanks.'
'What's his name?'
'I call him Peace-man, but I guess he really doesn't have a name.'
The next morning, Robert was there before me.
'I saw him, but he took off into the woods.'
I sat down, indian-style, and motioned for Robert to join me.
'Come on Peace-man. Hungry?'
After several minutes, he came. And over the course of the next couple of days he warmed up to Robert.
Lost and Found.


eric1313 said...

Skinny--you wrote a parable! And a damn fine one, at that. Yep, I know it was fact over fiction, but still, good eye for a story. It's like the parable of Cain and Abel from the Book of Genesis, only without the gruesome ending.

If you want another good modern parable to read, check out "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles. (yep, right up you alley by the name of it) I read it back in the spring--it was so good, but I can't tell you what it was about. Gotta read it. Just say that it's about two friends and the heartbreaking trouble between them.

Peace out, my friend. Glad you are still around.

Shimmerrings said...

... what is it about the nature of people that can make them so competative, to the point of "loss of love"... in this case, however, there seemed to have been no love lost, only misplaced love... nice :)

Deeis4Dana said...


singleton said...

Lost and Found....
Yeah, that is peace, man.....

KarmaLennon said...

Reminds me of a boy I know 'cept he and I aren't in the sixth grade. I think sometimes people who care fight that caring the most. Cause it scares them, cause it's a pride thing? I don't know. If that makes sense. Lovely as always, Skinny. :) P&L

kj said...

stunning, beautiful writing. it touched my heart.

Maithri said...


I'm finding myself in these beautiful words...

What an example of compassion, peace and strength you set that guy.

Peace and love, M

Orhan Kahn said...

I always seem to be listening to the perfect song when reading your stuff, Paiger.

I hope you know you're an angel. You truly are :)

Mel said...

Yup.......definitely an angel....

Pride is foolish sometimes, eh?

(((((((( SLB )))))))))))

I do hope life is treating you well. Goshdarnit that summer is winding down.....

skinnylittleblonde said...

Eric...I can tell you are a true literary artist...parable? I had to google the word to be sure of what it meant! Really, it's just another rambling, but you can call it a parable ;) P&L

Shimmerings...Hmmm, maybe because so many times one is so busy comparing oneself to others, as opposed to comparing oneself to themselves? Good question Little Wing. Although, I believe competition is ultimately a good long as you compete in the things that are right for you.

SiNg...You got it, of course. Peace, man, easily lost & easily found. Robert could have run up & down the wood line for an hour screamin' for him, but all we had to was sit down & ask him to come...

skinnylittleblonde said...

Dee ... Oops! Hey there Girlee! Before the summers you wanna tube?

kj... Awww, Thank you. A midnight rambling...random memory thrown to the keyboards. I hope he really did feed Peace-man...and have always chosen to believe he did...

Karma....In this case, and maybe yours too, it probably was pride. Pride can be a dangerous thing, but can also be a strength. Pride made us fight. Integrity gave us peace.

Maithri....I have 3 emails I have drafted for you. Your words have had me chewing on some things. As far as Robert goes, we went around and around...but he just never expected that kick to the shin. ;)Peace & love sometimes takes some spit & fire?

skinnylittleblonde said...

Orhan...Lol, I am curious now...what were you listening to?

Mel...You are so wise...yes, pride can be foolish at times, but pride can also be a positive and powerful thing. I look at the families at the women & childrens shelter & I can see how 'pride' gives these mother's the bawls to break free and start anew from ground zero. Much love to you & may we embrace each moment of the warm days we have. xoxox

Deeis4Dana said...

Yes, I do. Call me when you can.
P.S. I want to tell you about Lake Arrowhead.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Lol...beautiful. An invitation greets an invitation. IMY!

Lynette said...

Aww you can really write Skinny, I still have goosebumps from reading this post! Awesome writing skills and I'm so happy that Robert kept that little stray dog fed. I love happy endings :)

skinnylittleblonde said...

Lynette...TY. In the world of 'I Believe' Robert took great care of that dog and one day, his mom allowed him to bring that baby home.