Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Peter from the Woods:  
Just a Fish

By Christopher Powell

In that part of the world, the churches in those towns, many of them, are still made of brick.  There are still lots and lots of trees, and to see them in the half light of fall and evening is something that is still loved by us out here that see it. We live out here with those trees and the animals that live in ‘em.
There is a lake and it is still known for being just so big and shining in the moon or sun.  People’ve been talking about a big fish that knocked two men out of a boat when they were fishing. Thing is, he bit one of them in the leg, bit him and would’ve kept on if they hadn’t jumped back in that boat and paddled back. These stories are usually told to Peter or, if not, they are told to someone and then they tell Peter.  And then Peter usually goes to do something about it.  That’s how things usually are in town.  Peter walks through tall wet grass that gets taller then he’s walking through small puddle pockets and mud that lead to the beginnings of the lake.  Coming up behind is Tommy:
You gonna try and catch it, bruh?  You comin’ out here ta try?’

Peter kept walking and tried to ignore him as best he could. He thought it was better this way for Tommy.  This is my job. I do this and its better off if nobody else comes. Peter thought this.

The lake still shines when the sun hits it and there was that smell and that feeling of coolness that reminded him of late summer nights. Peter thought about old times and it hurt a little, still.  He set his bag down, and the stick that he carried too, before he went to the water.  He knew Tommy wouldn’t steal anything.  Tommy says,

           ‘What you doin?  Are you walkin’ quiet? Do I need to be quiet?’ 

Then Peter said,

            ‘Look. I need you to stay right here or go away. Back up the path.  Yeah I do need it quiet and…this is something I gotta do ok?  You could get hurt too so, just, I need you to stand back.’

Peter was a little mad when he said it but didn’t mean harm, part of that was true; he could have been hurt and probably was gonna.  Peter usually got hurt and he’d never done a catch or a walk in these woods with anyone else.  Didnt mean harm.  And Tommy agreed, he was nice about it too which really made Peter feel real bad. He said,

            ‘Ok..o…ok bro, Ill wait here.  Be careful out there and…and Ill pray..!’

Peter said Thank you and walked up a little farther past him and past a dirty white boat that he and the kids use sometimes. It was so ugly and heavy nobody would steal it but he wasn’t using that today.  He went up farther still and walked a good half mile to another edge of the lake; this part was elevated up a little bit with some rocks and high stumps of grass.   There was a thick tree near that edge. The thing about this fish is, he liked meat.  He liked that taste of other fish and ir seems like he had some teeth.  Peter knew he was out here, too. He had heard enough from the kids that swim and use the boat. It was a big shadow under’ there! Prob’ly a big ol fish!  Stories were enough for a while and he kept listening but then the stories were about how he was bumping boats, then they were about that man getting bit. Now Peter needed to see him.

            Peter tied a rope around that tree the best he could. He never learned real fancy knots, just keep tying around with those layers till you know its tight. He had a nice bundle of baloney wrapped tight by some rope and he heaved it in there as far as he could with his heavy hands and arms and it made a deep big splash.  Peter took a look over and Tommy was still over there looking, kneeling down.  What the heck is he doin out there?  That’s what Peter thought. Didn’t understand why anybody would wanna do this, out here with him.  They’re better off away from him.  Peter thought that too.  Sun would be going down soon. If he didn’t get a bite today, would have to try later on or maybe early tomorrow – that’s what else Peter was thinking when he got a heavy pull on that rope that almost pulled him in, cause even though the rope was tied to that tree it was in his hand and he almost toppled in there when that fish pulled.

            He was big.  The rope was pulled tight and straight down into the water just like he thought it would be.  Peter started to pull.  At first he thought he might be able to grab it with both hands and pull him in like a baby but he wasn’t strong enough or the fish was just too big or had too much room to swim down there.  He started to take the rope sideways, try to use the momentum to pull him in slowly onto land until he flopped, either way he was gonna have to pull him in.  That’s when Tommy came up and he’s pulling on the rope with him.  Peter only had time to let out a hey - ! before they were both pulling up and up until that fish began to slosh onto the land – He was a fat, mean looking, shiny and strange fish flopping on that mud. Both boys were able to get him far enough away so he couldn’t roll back in that water.  They breathed heavy cause they worked hard to pull him out there.

            ‘Is h- Is he a monster or a demon- ?’

            ‘No!’ Peter said real strong.  ‘Stand back over there!’ 

Then Peter walked over to the fish on the ground. He stopped first and looked at it, had to make sure of some things.  Then sorta quickly with a knife that was at his side but now in his hand, he sliced the fish through its middle so that it was no longer alive.  Peter was on his knees and he let out a sigh.  Didn’t always enjoy it.
Peter began cutting pieces.  Tommy walked over slowly, at first, he didn’t know what to say so he didn’t.  Then: 

‘Hes big.’

‘Just a fish. One of those kind that’ll actually bite somebody. He’s a big fish but just a regular fish! He aint no demon or no gargoyle or whatever. People don’t know what they’re talkin’ about. Just a big fish.  Don’t know why he’s so big. Just is. ‘

Peter was still cutting and throwing guts into the lake.  People call him the Demon Hunter or The Magic Man. Peter would just say: People don’t know what they’re talkin’ about. He wasn’t a Demon Hunter.  He knew people couldn’t fight demons, not with a knife anyway.  He knew that people couldn’t fight monsters or pull ghosts out of the sky, God sent him out for other reasons.
Sometimes it just gets bad in these woods. A patch of poison plants come up or wolves start crossing into where people live or a dangerous fish starts biting men.  Peter knows these woods, so God says to him: Help these people.  So he does, he tries. 

‘-And you shouldn’t have run out there like that. Coulda’ got hurt. This fish bit somebody. Here. Take some fish home if you want to.’

Peter began to pick up his rope. He threw the rest of the bologna in the lake and started walking back to where his backpack and stick were.  Tommy followed him and they walked away from the lake and back up the road to where town was.

Then, a little ways up, Peter said:
‘Thank you, for helping.’
Tommy didn’t say as much, like he did before, but he did say:
            ‘Youre welcome bruh.’  

Then Peter left Tommy and followed his path back home.  He walked and thought and looked up at the trees all over, and he still didn’t understand somebody like Tommy.  Why would anybody wanna help me?  Peter thought this.

And Tommy, he went home.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Afternoon Break Incident
Christopher Powell

                A report of the incident which happened at 1:35 on Thursday:

Mr. Richards, Kindergarten T.A.  

I will start by saying that the hour and a half after lunch was brutal.  My co worker, our head teacher fought a valiant fight.  Two parent phone calls were made. Three cryers were sent out to “wipe their faces and come back when they were ready”.  In the brash heat of the day she gave them all a spelling test and read through two decodable books; she had battled the beast of 31 but now they all roared and it was time for Afternoon Break. 
We lined the kids up and, of course, they talked and jumped around in small circles and kept whispering while bumping into each other and still talking talking talking. All this created a chaos that needed to go outside.  Two children, a boy and girl, got hurt on the way to the door to line up. They were trampled by their ecstatic classmates.  This commonly happens and this is a chaos that needed to go outside.  And so me, and the 31 kindergarteners poured outside, through the lunch room where of course, someone had to test their legs by jumping off of one of the lunch tables and up into the air.  Three copy cats tried to follow until I started the countdown, Five! I shouted.  They formed a somewhat more agreeable line but they were still talking. Talking. When we got to the end of the lunchroom they all stopped as they were supposed to but then four of them found themselves in a heated debate.
  It sounded something like this: 

NOO! I WAS!­­­-­­

This could literally go on for days if I let it.  

IM FIRST!  I yell.  I stepped out in front and that seemed to make sense to them so they followed me, though they all pushed to the front like unstable soda in a bottle. 
When I finally give the word, they run out and it’s like seeing fish set free into a cool open stream, where they can swim not just left and right but up and down, and deep down.  They run and scream and they’re finally able to put all their power to the fullest so they explode as they run out into the yard in wide circles and propel up onto the playground with gracefully awkward strength like it was Mount Everest. I have to admit it is a beautiful thing.
And it lasts for about four seconds. 




                Wood chips, which cover the bottom of the playground, begin flying violently in several directions.  Someone had fallen and was crying.  I thought there might have been blood, but that doesn’t stop two kids from jumping over him to tag each other.  Immediately another cry came from over in the corner of the asphalt yard.  Somebody tagged too hard and sent someone shooting forward onto the ground. It’s like I work with a bunch of little Bam-Bams who don’t know their own strength.  Another cry back over at the edge of the playground where the wood chips meet the asphault: Someone wouldn’t let someone else play jumprope. This led to fighting over the jumprope which led to nobody in the line being able to play which led to six girls chasing each other around violently for the jumprope. All I could do was watch them run away and pray that they survived because that one child who got hurt on the playground earlier was now in my immediate presence, and they were bleeding.  Two of his friends took it upon themselves to tell me what happened in great detail and with great volume, at the same time. And of course, it would only be fitting that as that was going on, the one who had been tagged too hard came into my presence as well, crying louder, bleeding more, and he had too friends too. 

Do you kids know who Bam-Bam is??  I asked with great seriousness.  
They all stopped crying to answer:  No.
They looked at me as if I were the strangest man on Earth. Then they started again.  

The next onslaught of voices came too quickly and violently for accurate record but it was something like this.  Someone wanted to use me as base for tag.  Another was still mad at me for calling their mother in the morning and moving their behavior clip down a peg and showed that rather effectively by glaring at me like a prison inmate and standing directly in front of me so I wouldn’t forget.  Three of them climbed the forbidden tree.  I inspected the first one that fell’s wounds and sent him with an entourage to the office.  The second started playing again before I could get to Him; I assumed this meant he was alright but I began to hear talk that he was starting to pull someone’s hair.  These rumors went unconfirmed.  Another disturbing trend was the mob (for lack of a better word, I use that one. Please accept my apologies) to form.  Apparently they were playing some untitled game that required many children to run as one violent stalking group, first in circles, then around the playground and sometimes up onto the playground.  They moved with one mind, again, as a school of fish accept this time it wasn’t beautiful. 
 It was at this point that, one, I began to hate the sound of my own name and two, I began to feel like a character in Lord of the Flies.
This day seemed harder than most usual days and yet, nothing was unfamiliar.  It was at this point that I prepared to call out KINDERGARTEN!! HAAAAVE A SEAT!!,  which meant that they would sit on the edges of the playground while we had a discussion about the importance of being calm, thinking about things before we do them and remembering that there is a line between fantasy and reality that dare not be crossed.  I planned to even explain who Bam Bam was.  I prepared to make this call, but didn’t get too because that was when the incident of which I am writing occurred.

As I started to shout KINDE- !, there appeared, I assume from the sky, a crow, roughly about the size of a German Shepherd.  I make no exaggerations about the size. If the bird were in any way normal, I assure you I wouldn’t be writing this report.

                I should begin by stating that the children, especially the girls…..No, wait all them, the boys too, all of them scream and run whenever they see a crow.  They’ll chase 12 pigeons out of the lunchroom but they scream almost instinctually when they see a crow on the roof.  So, it goes without saying, though in this case I will say it, that the sight of the 70 pound crow sent our kindergarten class into a new kind of hysterics, the likes of which I have never seen and never indeed hope to see again.  The bird at first let out one call, a CAW that was piercing and ugly. It seemed like he was trying to alert us that the beginning of a strange situation was indeed happening.  It is my guess that he was just as shocked at us as we were of him.
 Now, the direction of the class was split almost evenly: half of them leaving the playground and running away toward the yard (for the bird had landed about 10 feet to the left of the playground) and the other half (or most of the other half as we will soon see) ran to me, to tell me; they ran to tell me that a big bird had landed on the playground.  They screamed it, as I stood wondering what phenomena had brought this upon us today and trying to remember if a situation like this was dealt with in the Staff handbook. I think it is an interesting fact about these little people; that they will take it upon themselves to inform you of anything.  If a palm tree sprouted legs and began to walk up Western Avenue, even as you stood and watched it walk away, they would loudly make known to you what was going on. Well this group that had decided to tell me that a giant bird was on the playground, a few of them also decided to grab my clothes as they told me, which made it even more difficult to think; still I tried.
 At the beginning, the bird stayed relatively in one area, its motions sporadic but not immediately aggressive toward anyone.  It seemed to be wondering what was wrong with us and why we happened to be surrounding him today.  My first play was simple and I think according to the school handbook:  I would call the children to me and we would line up and go inside the school to avoid the giant bird.  This didn’t work for several reasons. Earlier, I mentioned a group that was neither in the percentage that ran away nor in the percentage that ran to me, they were a small minority.  This small band, mostly boys and one girl, took it upon themselves to try and assert dominance against the bird and ‘shoo’ it away, if you will. They had decided to become a rogue group that would fight the bird without any permission (this is one of the reasons I like having talks about the line between fantasy and reality).
 It is this group who caused, no, no they Forced me to have to take up courage and move toward the bird.  My words were something like this:




                There is a strong heated anger I feel when children attempt to help without helping and it was in this anger and concern that I found myself closer to the beast. Though he was not taller than me (though two feet is large for a bird), I could feel the fact that he had a large size and that it was unnatural, maybe even to him.  The most important fact to note was that now, the bird seemed genuinely agitated.  And yes, of course, that one child who you often hear about in your office (Yes that one), I had to literally grab him before he got to the beast’s beak.  Grab him.  He was convinced that his kung fu was enough to defeat the bird and who knows, maybe it was, but it seemed right to pick him up and run him over to the lunch tables where, Ill be honest, only about seven children had followed me.
 I should note two things: One, that the bird had pecked me at least once on my arm and that it was slightly bleeding and two, that instance I have just described may have been one of the scariest moments of my life.
 I was at this point mad as well as confused. I was mad because, because they weren’t listening.  They wouldn’t listen to my words.  I understand that there was panic and fear with most of them but, let’s be honest some of them were doing cart wheels and laughing during the whole ordeal (also, some of them had taken to climbing back up the playground to get a better view of the bird).  It was so frustrating.  Then I had this thought: Is this what Jesus feels like, when people won’t listen to Him?  When He tries to warn us of dangers of sin and we won’t listen, is this what it’s like for Him?  You know of my faith and , believe it or not, this is what was running through my head whilst 33 of our Kindergarten students ran in all different directions panicking laughing, screaming, fighting and Talking all because a 70 pound crow landed on our yard. 
                Oh yes, and don’t forget our two little friends, the sisters who aren’t really sisters, who ran into the office and alerted the office manager therefore letting the rest of the world in on our situation.  It is because of them that help was able to come but, I’ll be honest, I wanted to make the bird fly away.  All of the elements added up in my head: It was hot, the kids were noisy, the kids wouldn’t listen, some were hungry, some were crying and some were still trying to fight the thing.  And all this during our afternoon break. I thought if I could make the bird fly away then maybe, eventually, we could move on with life.  This seemed like the right thing to do. So I ran at it.  There are certain moments as a teacher’s aide where you feel great power:  When you raise your voice at someone who has clearly done wrong, when you lift a box that none of your children can lift and they look at you like you’re John Henry and moments like this, when you’re staring down an abnormally Giant Bird.  I ran at the beast and in all honesty I felt it was my duty to. Also, I was mad, and if someone had to pay I assumed it should be this seventy pound crow.
 I tried with swift kicks to send it off. It spread its wings, it cawed loudly. 
The children screamed :

GO MR. RICHARDS! GO MR RICHARDS! Like it was ancient Rome. 

 Another kick but the beast stood its ground, this time it struck at me with its beak, hopped forward then back, flapping its feathers violently. 

GO MR RICHARDS! GO MR. RICHARDS!  Something didn’t feel right.  

One last kick from me, which was with force and I admit a good kick, but the bird remained on the ground. He wasn’t budging.  Then behind me I felt our friend, waiting for me to tag him in so he could finish him off. I realized that I was wrong. I was foolish.  I made the mistake of thinking, like many of the boys do, that I was Mario.  I’m not Mario.  I need to remember the line between fantasy and reality too.  I didn’t know what to do.  Suddenly a thought within me: Something like:

‘Gather the Kids and Leave.’
Sorry God, You’re right. Help me please.

 I scooped our friend up and ran back to the tables and even farther back to the corner of the playground. Those same seven followed me.  I said:
All of you, Sit! Especially you (our friend)  Sit!
They sat.  Now for the rest of them. I stood up.


Some start to come.  FIVE!

Others now realize and start to come. There are still stragglers. FOUR!

Now the ones on the playground realize that they only have limited time. THREE!

The walkers start to run over.  I have an almost decent Kindergarten line.  TWO!

They are all mostly there except for our constant stragglers, but they are away from the bird, instead they are trying to play basketball for some reason.  ANDDDD ONE!!

I didn’t lose a one.  God didn’t lose a one. Thank You Lord.  They were still jumping around in small circles and kept whispering while bumping into each other and they still kept talking talking talking, but we didn’t lose a one.

Loook Mr Richards! The Biirrd! 

And that was when our friend the crow spread its wings and faced away from us.  At this time was when the maintenance man and the sisters who aren’t really sisters came outside.  We all watched as the beast then looked up and flapped himself up and away.  And then he was gone.
Alright Kindergarten, time to go inside! I said.
What?? Whyyyyy?? They all asked this. They all asked why we were going in.
Because a giant crow just terrorized us and it’s time to regroup.
What??  They all asked.
Because its time to go in and pack up our behavior charts. You still have reading to do.
They moaned sighs of discontent and then almost every hand went up into the air.
CAN I USE THE BATHROOM??  They all asked this and continued asking this as we went inside but I doubt you want to have that on your report. 

So that is, with perhaps more elaboration than you wanted, what essentially happened.  If there are any questions, feel free to call me on my cell phone, I will be taking a personal day tomorrow.  

-Mr. Richards.

Added note:  I felt bad afterwards for kicking the bird. I’m not sure why or if I should have but I felt I should just write that.  If you want this edited, let me know.

Monday, January 14, 2013

been a while...........

night time is the best and worst time all at once sometimes