Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mercy, Part 3

I haven't been up to doing much new posting last few days; I'm down with the flu. So, here's Part III of Mercy

Art for Art’s Sake:

2:30 PM

Today, the class was working on an art project. Usually, art class was on Friday, but Bar-Of-Mail had decided to have it on Wednesday, so they could make get well cards for a faculty member who was in the hospital. If she waited until Friday to have the class make the cards, the teacher might be out of the hospital, or perhaps dead. It would not do to have the get well card arrive after she had already sent home or to the funeral parlor.

She patrolled the class, giving various pointers to the class. “Don’t you know how to draw clouds by now?” To another, she held up the card and exclaimed, “Why can’t you all draw like this?” The latter comment was made with regard to a student who she had put to work as her personal coffee “go-getter”. Yes, to those who knew their place, there could indeed be rewards. On seeing Jimmy Trudeau’s card, a landscape with a picture of the sun shining, she picked it up and tore it to pieces. “Your sun looks like a flower. The sun does not have petals! Only babies draw a sun that looks like a flower.” Although the class had never been given any step-by-step art instructions, the students were apparently expected to know things like this. She then proceeded to slap around Jimmy, administering what the kids called a “slap-out.” Some of the kids were horrified; some snickered

The Battle:

3:10 PM Wednesday

It was June like weather on this late September day in 1968, one of those Indian summer days that only serve to remind us of the bitter, cold days ahead. As five fifth grade boys were sauntering along Stillwell Street, coming home after their day at the St. Quentin’s School, four of them were engaging in a conversation, that not too surprisingly, concerned the upcoming World Series. “The Cardinals are gonna clobber the Tigers in faawh games! That nigger Bob Gibson’s gonna shut ‘em right down like he did the Red Sox last year! ” Willie Leclerc hollered, his voice echoing with half admiration and half raw hatred for the future Hall-of-famer. His close buddies, Ricky Narducci and Steve St.Simone muttered their agreement. Calvin Peterson, who was the third boy, had no answer for the remark. He was offended at the racism—it was wrong, stupid, and plain illogical—but he didn’t have the slightest idea of how to respond to it with out being ridiculed. Not that he really cared what the other three thought of his, because he wasn’t very close to them. He sometimes hung around with them only because they were from his immediate neighborhood, and besides, he wasn’t that good at making friends so he had to take whatever he could get. So, he bit his tongue—why give them an opportunity to make him the buffoon as they too often did.

Jimmie Trudeau shot back, “I think the Tigers can beat them. Just wait! Gibson’s a hell of a pitcher, but the Tigers will do the job. But look at McClain. 31 and 6. That means something! But whydahya hafta slur Bob Gibson. Why knock ‘em for his color. I wish he were on our team.” Jimmy was the fifth boy in this mix. He wasn’t actually walking down the street with the other four as much as he was walking near them, but being a baseball fan, he couldn’t resist getting in on the conversation. Calvin was glad that someone was speaking against the bigotry, but he had this strange feeling that Jimmie was going to pay a price for arguing with the Three Stooges.

“It figures that you’d say somethin’ like that. Who asked ya anywaaay asshole! For that matter, who even gave ya permission to walk on the street with us! Get out of our sight or we’ll give ya more of what Bar-Of-Mail gave ya a little while ago. We’ll kick yuraass good!”

Jimmie was under the impression that the Constitution gave him the right to walk the streets freely, so he defiantly and perhaps not very discretely replied, “This is a free country. I can walk anywhere that I want.” If his forum had been a courtroom, or a law school class, Jimmie’s argument would have carried the day. Unfortunately for Jimmie, he was stating his case in a far less dignified forum. Willie made a highly efficient counterpoint to Jimmie’s argument by starting to pummel Jimmie into submission.

Ricky, a few seconds later, oblivious to the meaning of the peace sign that he was wearing around his neck, followed Willie’s example, and lent his fists to the party. Steve wrestled with his conscience; he was with the safety patrol, and was supposed to break up fights, not join them. He wrestled with his conscience for a total of ten seconds, before giving in to his darker impulses. As Steve’s darker side prevailed, he threw to the wayside his sense of duty, and likewise threw to the ground his red safety patrol flag and bellowed, “Let me get a crack at Trudeau!”

Calvin was shocked by the horror movie that was playing before his eyes, but had no idea what his role in it should be; no one had given him a script. During the eternity of fifteen seconds or so that the beating was taking place, he stood stunned as the gears in Calvin’s head turned to tried in vain to logically analyze the piece of illogic at which he was a spectator. Rising to Jimmy’s defense would be an exercise in futility; two people would be beaten up instead of one, as the odds would still be stacked in favor of the bad guys. On the other hand, he certainly had no intention of siding with the Three Stooges. What was he to do? It occurred to him to do what all red-blooded Americans would do in the same situation: Get the hell out of there and not see, hear, nor speak any evil.

© Copyright 1998-2008 by AAF. Violators will be visited by Willie, Ricky, and Steve.

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