[NOTE: This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to characters alive or dead is purely coincidental.]
“Children, let’s all clap our hands together. We want to congratulate Marcy for winning a Blue Ribbon for winning the Spelling Bee.”
Donnie rolled his eyes. He had never liked Marcy. Her skin was dark, for one thing. Not as dark as a N——- but too dark to be a real person. Maybe she was “Port of a Rico” or something. Who cares, thought Donnie. Stupid spelling bee anyway.
The teacher, Miss Galore, noticed that while most of the kids in her third grade class were clapping, Donnie was grinding his teeth and pounding the table and rolling his eyes.
“Is everything all right, Donnie? You seem upset.”
Donnie made himself smile pleasantly. “Oh, I’m fine, Miss Galore. Thanks for asking. I’m so pleased as punch for Marcy. What could be better than winning a Blue Ribbon for a Spelling Bee?”
“Oh, good. I’m glad you’re okay. But since you brought it up, there is another contest coming up. This month will be a Science Fair. Let me see the hands. How many of you would like to enter the Science Fair?”
Everyone’s hand shot up, even Donnie’s.
Then, the bell rang. But Miss Galore ran a tight ship. The children knew that even though school was basically over when the bell rang, it would be impolite to leave until they were dismissed by Miss Galore.
“All right, class. I’ll tell you more about the Science Fair tomorrow. For now, Class Dismissed.”
The kids all began chattering with their friends, and walking out toward the place were parents were lined up in their air conditioned cars.
Donnie grabbed his books and walked over to Marcy. “Hi, Marcy! That’s really swell that you won the Spelling Bee! That Blue Ribbon looks very cool! Can I see it?”
Marcy didn’t really trust Donnie, but his voice sounded sweet, so she handed him the ribbon.
Donnie’s teeny hand shot out like a striking snake and he snatched the ribbon. He turned and dashed out of the room as fast as he could. He skidded around the corner and slapped into the door to the boy’s bathroom. He dashed over to the nearest stall, threw the ribbon into the toilet, and closed the stall door. Then, he flushed the toilet. He gathered his books back up, and opened the stall door slowly. He peered out. Only one other boy, Billy, was in the bathroom. Most of the kids were outside lining up to get picked up by their parents or chauffeurs, he thought. Billy, like an idiot, thought Donnie, is looking down at his thingie to make sure he doesn’t pee on the floor. Who gives a damn? So, Donnie pushed open the door to the boy’s bathroom. On the far side of the hall, only about ten feet away, Miss Galore and Marcy were both staring at him.
Marcy’s bottom lip was trembling and there were tears on her cheeks. A big smile lit up Donnie’s face. That won’t do. He pushed his fingernails into his palms and forced himself to create a look of concern on his face instead. He had practiced for hours in front of a mirror, so that his look of concern was remarkably genuine looking. Now, he needed the voice to match.
“What’s wrong, Miss Galore? You look troubled.”
Miss Galore took a few steps closer. “Marcy tells me that you took her Blue Ribbon.”
“Oh, yes, I did look at it. It’s wonderful. You should feel very proud, Marcy!”
Marcy tried to make her voice sound strong, but at that, she failed. “You took my ribbon though! Give it back! I didn’t even get to show my Mom and Dad yet!”
Donnie looked over. She was on the brink of squirting out more tears. Sort of like peeing on your own face, when you thought about it. I’ll never do that. What an idiot she was. If she didn’t want me to take her ribbon, why hand it to me, he asked himself. Stupid bitch deserved to lose her ribbon.
“Miss Galore, I did look at Marcy’s ribbon for a moment. I gave it right back to her. What’s wrong? Did you lose it, Marcy?”
“NO! I didn’t lose it! You took it!”
“Oh, Marcy, I’m so sorry you lost it. We all lose things some times. As I’m sure Miss Galore will tell you — you have to be careful not to lose things —- especially things you like a lot.”
Marcy was now screaming: “YOU TOOK IT! GIVE IT BACK! IT’S MINE!”
Miss Galore noticed more kids were gathering round to see what was causing the commotion. She said calmly, “Donnie, can you please give me the ribbon?”
Donnie looked affronted. “Oh, I don’t have it. I just had it for maybe — one minute — not even a minute — maybe fifteen seconds. And then, I handed it right back.”
Marcy held back her tears, but barely. “Why did you take it in the bathroom?”
Donnie put a look of puzzlement on his face. “Why did I go to the bathroom? I had to use the toilet, Marcy. Isn’t that why you go to the bathroom too?”
Now, Miss Galore looked back and forth between the two children. Donnie didn’t look upset at all. But Marcy certainly did. She wondered whether Marcy could have simply misplaced it. “Do you think it might still be back in the classroom, Marcy? Maybe we should take a look?”
“NO!” Marcy screamed. “I didn’t lose it. Donnie asked if he could see it and then he snatched and he ran out of the room and into the boy’s bathroom. I don’t have it. He has it.” She pointed at Donnie.
“Well, I don’t have it. I will swear on a whole stack of Bibles. You can search me. Search me good. I don’t have your blue ribbon Marcy. I’m sorry you’re upset. I know it makes me angry too when I lose things. But you shouldn’t go blaming other kids when you lose something.”
“ARGH!” said Marcy. “I did not lose it! You took it! Make him empty his pockets, Miss Galore. I know he has it!”
Miss Galore frowned. She couldn’t really do a thorough search of him. Maybe she could get one of the boy counselor’s to do it. She glanced around. Luckily, the teachers still stood out among the students. “Oh, Mr. Graham! Mr. Graham! Can you please come here a moment?”
Miss Galore explained the situation quickly. Mr. Graham frowned. “I’m not doing a strip search of the boy! How about this: write a note and ask the parents to search him when he gets home. Donnie, turn your pockets out.”
“But Mr. Graham, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t steal her stupid ribbon. I looked at it. It’s — I have to tell you, it doesn’t look that nice up close. Her little medal isn’t even real gold. I don’t have anything bad in my pockets.”
“Donnie. Do it now! Turn your pockets out,” said Mr. Graham who could pretend to be genuinely outraged over nothing and he genuinely didn’t like back-talk from students.
Donnie shook his head and appeared very reluctant, but he turned out all four pants pockets Except for a pack of Kleenex, and what appeared to be the wings of a dragonfly, his pants pockets were empty. Mr Graham nodded. “Thank you, Donnie. Hand me your backpack.”
Donnie shifted from one foot to the other. “Mr. Graham, my driver, Pom-Pom is going to be mad that I’m so late. It’s just books mostly.” He handed the backpack to Mr. Graham who searched the inside and turned each book upside down to see whether there was a ribbon hidden between the pages. He turned to Miss Galore. “Nothing.”
“You see?” said Donnie. “I told you I didn’t steal her stupid ribbon! She’s such a liar! She probably cheated to win the ribbon in the first place!”
Miss Galore wanted this to be over. “Okay. Okay. You two get over here. I want you to apologize and shake hands. Marcy, you apologize for accusing Donnie. And Donnie, you apologize for … not making sure that when you handed the ribbon back to Marcy, that she didn’t drop it. I don’t know. Anyway, just shake hands and I don’t want to hear any more about it. I’m sure your ribbon will turn up, Marcy.”
That evening at dinner, when he had eaten his fill and Fred Senior seemed to be in a reasonably decent mood, and not yet drunk, Donnie casually said, “Say, Sir, did you know that there are N——-s at my school?”
Fred Senior, sputtered through his mashed potatoes. “WHAT? Are you sure?”
Donnie looked at the ceiling and pretended to think. “No, but I think so. She might only be half N——. I don’t really know. She has dark skin though. I never paid much attention but today she told a lie to try to get me in trouble at school.”
“What the F*** are N****s doing at your school? I’ll talk to the Principal tomorrow and get this straightened out. Are they teaching you kids anything useful at that school?”
Fred Junior said, “Yes, Father. I am learning algebra. That’s useful.”
Fred Senior smirked and snorted. “Doesn’t sound like it, but the main thing is you’ll get into a good college.”
Donnie added, “I’m going to win a Blue Ribbon in the Science Fair. I’ll find out more about it tomorrow.”
Fred shook his head. “Christ! What rot. Anyway, how about desert?”
Mary brought over a large dish and placed it proudly into the middle of the table. In it were little scoops of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. There were slices of apple and banana as well as some ripe strawberries all arranged quite artistically to Mary’s eye.
Fred Senior grimaced and shouted, “What the F### is that? Seriously, Mary, have you gone nuts? I asked for desert! Not a f###ing salad!”
Mary swallowed hard. The A/C was out. It was hot as hell on this day in mid May. She had remembered that fruits were so much better for you than pies, cakes, and cookies. She thought maybe it would nice to have a cool fruit salad on a warm and sultry night. She had thought. That was her problem. She should never think. She should just do whatever Fred tells her too. Her mind raced. What could she get to assuage her husband quickly.
Fred Senior glared at her. He had stopped yelling though, thought Mary. His voice instead had that soft, sweet, syrupy sound that it made…whenever things were going to go terribly badly for her.
Fred Senior did indeed speak in a soft, controlled voice. “Children. Go upstairs now and do your homework. I need to have a little chat with your Mother. You know. Big People stuff. You wouldn’t be interested. Boring really. So upstairs. Go on. Up. Now.”
The children pushed their chairs back and looked straight down at the ground. They had been taught that, even a glance at each other or at Mom or Dad could — would — be considered as a reproach to their Father. So, they all tip-toed up to bed and immersed themselves in a book; they learned that if they did it well enough, they could ignore the noises — whatever they were — that would be coming from the kitchen and dining room.
All, but Donnie, that is. His procedure, was to go up with the other kids and then sneak back down and watch. It was one of the biggest risks he ever took in his entire life. But he couldn’t help himself. He loved the way Daddy made Mommy so weak and pathetic. It made his Daddy so much bigger and stronger and manlier. He would be that way some day. He would be just like Daddy! And, next week, I’ll win a Blue Ribbon in Science!
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