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November 9

The Cherokees were now the only Indians left in Georgia.  Some of them were as nearly civilized as Indians could be, possessing farms and owning slaves.

First Lessons in Georgia History, 1913


Dear Dixie,

Here I am about to jump out of my skin to read the Cherokee memorial to President Andrew Jackson … and then Old Hickory’s response to the Cherokee Nation … and the Cherokee Nation’s response right back to our big-haired seventh chief executive.  Eloquent arguments by eloquent men destined not to be good friends. 

But Tempest is over there looking out of the window on her tip-toes for some reason … and since I like letting The Cozy Room of Learning happen ... well ... sometimes good things happen and sometimes bizarre things happen.  The most.

So I don’t say anything.  And guess what happens when a student looking out of the window says … What’s he doing lying on the ground out there? 

Right, they all jump up from their desks and knock things over to go run over there to the window to see who’s lying on the ground out there.  Just like in that scene from A Christmas Story when everybody runs over to the window to see Flick still out there with his wiggly lingua still stuck to the frozen flag pole.

I ask Tempest who in the heck is lying on the ground out there.


Oh, boy, I'm thinking.  Homer.

She says he lying on the ground … right under the window.

So I get up about as slowly as I can and open my outside door and there's Homer, over to the left of me, just like Tempest said, laying on the ground.  Break was over a few minutes ago and we’re starting class and there’s no one else outside.  No one.  Expect Homer.  Laying on the ground.

But to be fair to Homer, he’s lying on the ground … sure … but he’s technically lying in the flower bed under the window and he’s warped—fetal position style­—around the bottom of a type of bush you see a lot in landscape scenarios at schools and commercial office buildings and places of worship.  It’s not a Cherokee Rose, if you were wondering.  That’s our state flower which comes with a bush and I wouldn’t let anybody die under our state flower bush.

The rest of the class is pushing out the door behind me but I say in my special Satan voice used for certain occasions like this to get back in the room and sit down and hush up … and then I shut the door with some authority.  I looked for fingers.  I swear.

Sit down and hush up.  Right.  I can see all the wooden blinds separate and go in all different directions.  I also heard giggling.

I go to my training.  I let it take over and interfering emotion goes away instantly and efficient thinking and action takes its place.  It feels good.  I took first aid resuscitation electro shock training by the local fire department and I have a little card in my wallet that certifies that I know how to blow stale cigar and black coffee air and life back into you.  Maybe.  Anyhow, I first check to see if Homer’s awake and responsive.  I poke him with a finger.

Homer opens his eyes. 

I ask Homer why he’s lying under the bush there.  You know.  All alone.

He says he ran into the side of the building.

For some reason I look up at the building.  He’s a big eighth grader.  He could have knocked a couple of bricks loose and crushed the gutter downspout maybe.  I asked him what hurts.

He says his left leg and his back and his head.  He says he thinks his left leg might be broken.

I reach into my pocket for my cell phone.  I was going to call the school’s main number and get the school nurse down here.

Homer’s eyeballing me … and then he says don’t call anybody.

I said okay.  I put my phone back into my pocket.  I asked Homer an honest question.  I asked him, with a big wave of my arm, how come you ran into the building here when the building has been here the whole school year ... actually for two years … and the building is real big and has always been real big.  I did my arm wave again.

He said he was running to class at the end of the break and he was looking the other way and ran into the building.  He said his left leg really hurt.

I’m also thinking he was pushed into the side of the building.  I said I’ll help you get on up and if your left leg snaps we’ll go from there.  I reached out with my right hand and he grabbed it … and I sort of yanked him up.  His back and pants legs and the back of his hair were covered with pine straw and grass and leaves and old mulch.  I brushed some of it off as he started limping down the sidewalk.  I asked him what his next class was.

He said Helena's.

Perfect, I said.  We’re right here.  Helena’s outside door was unlocked and I opened the door for Homer.

Helena looked up from her desk for less than a half of a trillionth of a second and back down again.  She didn’t say a word.  Here’s Homer being escorted into her classroom by a teacher.  Homer is covered with a wide range of school yard botanicals and he’s late for class and he’s limping and his shirt’s untucked and I can’t see it but Homer’s probably got a certain expression on his face. 

Helena knows Homer, too.

On my way back to The Cozy Room of Learning I stopped at my door before I went in and looked at where Homer had been recuperating.  I could hear them inside The Cozy Room of Learning scurrying to their desks.  It occurred to me that Homer really had run into the side of the building and he really had been hurt.  And he’d been out there for several minutes.  Alone.  Curled up under a bush.

At the end of the morning break they all run toward the front door of the school building in a wild wad.  Many wild boys.  All elbows and knees.  With unbridled furiousness and intent.

Then a heavy thought occurred to me: they left Homer for dead.  Then another heavy thought occurred to me: William Golding’s famous 1954 book wasn’t a novel.  It was nonfiction.  And the movie version of his book wasn’t a movie.  Just like Deliverance, Lord of the Flies was a dang documentary.



Next Entry ... November 18: Teachers Enjoy Cussing, Too