Monday, January 9, 2012


The Fifth Grade Spent with the Third Army

I was thrown out of some pretty good prep schools. And I was thrown out of some prep schools and it was pretty good. I also was thrown out of some crap holes in 50's Americana South-style. The first one was laughingly called a Military Academy because they paid some bucks to the Third Army down the street to come around and shake their Johnson on campus a couple of times each year and scare the living gizzards out of little boys whose parents didn't want them at home so they sent them to West Point South. It was always confusing to me because they threatened us with Third Army discipline, but the Commandant of Cadets was a Navy officer and wore a Navy uniform. His dad owned the joint.

I got special attention because I played the piano for the Glee Club and I didn't have to carry a rifle but instead a clarinet. Big deal. I worshiped the Drum Major of the marching band mainly because he reminded me of Mary Grace, my friend who was the drum majorette at home. I guess he was a majorette, too, if you get my drift. That was long before I knew anything about sexuality of any form..

I also took piano lessons and one night was called from a dead sleep to the piano teacher's room. There were two other cadets there and we were all in our jockey shorts and we just sat around and talked. I guess they were trying to start something sexual or discover if I even knew what sex was. I was as green as a fried tomato and did not learn about sex until the next prep school. (There were lots of schools.)

I got out of this Third Army Hell Pit by setting fire to the dorm. I figured if my father wouldn't let me come home as I had begged, I would get kicked out and he would have to let me come home. I was trying to prevent his marriage to that woman and figured if I got home I could do something against it. I set fire to one little curtain in my dorm room. It burned for about 45 seconds but caused all manner of havoc. Older cadets I have never seen came running from floors in the dorm I had never visited. I convinced them the steam radiator had caused the fire. I had a reprieve on the wanting-to-go-home. They all seemed to believe me for several months.

Then one day an older cadet asked me if I had lit the curtain on fire. I trusted him and immediately said that I had done it. I was in Sandersville within 24 hours and my father was married within the week because he needed someone to take care of me. About like I needed a piano lesson at midnight.

It’s odd that children always pay for the parents’ screw ups - one way or the other. The Sink Drinkers in my case had really been at the sink for about two months when I was presented with the bill for the party. He had also been into morphine with his doctor. They shot up together while they were sink drinking. I was 9 at the time but in full knowledge of what was going on.

The night I got the bill I remember hearing someone crying and someone beating on a door. I got out of bed - they never partied, parted or presented anyone with a bill except in the middle of the night - and there he was banging on the front bedroom door which was locked tight. She was on the other side whimpering. I turned into my bathroom to find a note (the bill) which said that she had thought when they got me "things would be different" but they weren’t, so she was chucking it all and going seaside. Great. Here I am 9 years old and I’ve fucked up their marriage and she’s killing herself and he’s trying to break down a door so he can kill her. I called the doctor, the same one with the morphine. He came and somehow we got the door open. It was light outside by this time and she was fetal in a little ball on the bed shivering and moaning with a complete nervous collapse. I saw him pull a needle out of his bag and I grabbed it and threw it up against the wall. It smashed and left a spot on the wall that stayed there for seven years. No morphine for her that day. Her brother arrived from a nearby town and they carted her there and they shipped me to the Military Academy. So the total bill was I had ruined their marriage, caused him to take morphine and sink drink, given her a nervous collapse and to pay for it I was sent away to the Long Gray Line never more to return.

Odd going to a boarding school in the fifth grade. We had boarders there in the first grade because his dad ran a restaurant and it was “better”. Some bill that kid paid. I was thoroughly indoctrinated into punishment. I figured I deserved to be treated badly, so this was right with the program I was pretty alone in that shit hole but had weekends to look forward to at my uncle’s in Atlanta, or so I thought. The first weekend I went there was a disagreement between him and his son about a TV show. His son locked himself in his room and my uncle, determined the kid wasn’t going to watch a certain TV program and unable to break down the door, went to the basement and pulled the fuse box out of the wall, causing the power to go out for three days. And this was my weekend vacation, but I deserved it, see?

By November my parents came for Thanksgiving and were, apparently, together. I never asked. Christmas was normal and I returned for second semester. It was during second semester that she played a two-piano program with a friend. It had to be postponed because Daddy stabbed her in the eye with a fork during a sink drinking evening.

How do these people do this shit to each other? What motivates them to stay together?

She had no money of her own and she didn’t know anything else but what her life was. He loved her but hated her because she was infertile and I was living proof of that - an adopted kid. Purchased at great price from a young woman in Charleston, South Carolina. Abandoned at birth with papers to prove it. But no longer needed at The Long Gray Line, so I came home for the sixth grade. But the Prep School Agenda didn’t resume until a couple of years later. It would take death to send me back. Later.....

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