Kittridge High School Academy was about a decade old. Newly formed and originally re-enrolled with nearly a third of the students that attended Hornby High School, and thenceforth, split the district. They also took the 8th grade graduating class of Lawrence Preparatory and a few others. Hornby High School had overpopulated classrooms, and a big problem with delinquents. Gang violence and graphitied walls from buzzed haircuts and baggy jeans. H.H.S. didn’t have a uniform policy like K.H.S.A., but the third of the students that were taken didn’t seem like delinquents anyway. They weren’t as savage looking, nor did they look like they were in gangs. Like the cliched popular high school kids in some movies. I’d even heard that K.H.S.A. had received a 20 million dollar grant for construction and education programs because one of the departments exceeded expectations and others showed tremendous promise, or something along that line. I even felt a bit fortunate to be enrolled. But it seemed like K.H.S.A was life raft of survivors rowing away from a sinking H.H.S. I liked that idea, I thought as I looked at the newly built clock tower during break period. It read two minutes til the bell. I ducked back down and quickly scarfed the rest of my lunch beneath the bleachers. Pizza in the shade. I was a survivor.
Tag Archives: lunchtime
By 8th grade graduation from Lawrence, I had successfully retained a count of zero friends. There were others that retained the same count. They had recognizable expressions cemented on their faces. Terribly pathetic mugs. I had a straight face. I was still chubby, but I’d feel better once my carnival red hair hid my face. Every now and then, a new breed of neo-bullies would utter a “faggot,” in passing. Or they’d make an insinuation of me being female. But when I would stopped in my tracks, they opted not to escalate their situation. Not once. I’d usually need the energy to give a damn to do that. I hadn’t noticed their choice of derogatory barks were a ruse for closeted sexism. I just found them boring and less than 8th grade. I never so much offended as I was annoyed. All it took to shut them up was a, “what’d you say you little bitch?”, and they’d stop barking. The dumber annoying ones always barked the loudest.
I thought they’d even decide to fight me had they known I had only ever been in a single fight (in which I had lost). I didn’t know how to fight, and I didn’t look like I knew how to fight. I just looked like I would have made it very unpleasant for the whomever I did fight. I graduated with straight A’s, no visits to the principals office. No problems, but I couldn’t walk across the stage to receive my certificate.
The entire Smolensk family had gone to the hospital to visit my grandmother that had the stroke followed by an aneurysm. I remembered little about her among the years. Recalling only tiny tidbits of unrelated moments we shared during my nascence. She’d always give me these little bits of advice that I didn’t know were illogical, but they stopped me from doing things. Mainly bad habits. Once, she convinced me to stop spitting everywhere (I had a habit of spitting everywhere and on everything as a child) by telling me it was the same as spitting out blood. I was young but already skeptical. So, to prove her claim, she exposed her bottom row of teeth and lifted the lip toward me to reveal a gathering pool of blood, claiming that had started to happen when she spat one day. I remembered it to be the most disgusting sight, that I never spat everywhere freely again. It turned out she had really bad gingivitis and had used that to convince me to start brushing many moons before the fourth grade. Incidentally, aside from exorcising a few peeving habits, she imposed a few of her own.
After my father had disappeared, his mother (my grandmother) was still there. I had started 1st grade after skipping pre-school. My mother started becoming a rarer figure. Grandma would get Morris to sleep, and manage to walk me to and from school. She did unfailingly. She also unfailingly bought pizza during every walk home with me. The pizza was our diurnal supper. I wasn’t privy to the concept of money, but it didn’t matter. I only knew I always had pizza for dinner. It showed me the concept of routine. A wheel that spun in place, never changing. I digested this sense of safety as easily as a pizza (which also added to my childhood obesity).
When snapped out of my daydream, I found my grandmother coldly staring me in the face. A routine felt like walking home from school with grandma and a pizza, I thought to myself. It felt better than having to toughen up whenever I had an urge to cry. A thousand times better. Even the urge to vomit was more inviting in lieu. Grandma was paralyzed from the left side down. Her memory had regressed, short-term memory was inaccessible. She lifted her old feeble left hand and pointed at me. The hand was wrinkly, with visibly blue veins. I felt nausea kicking in while the air around my neck thickened as though I were in a pool of water. That isn’t my grandma, I thought to myself, I have no idea who that is. I stood as still and as undisturbed as I could.
“To je, jak pozdravit svou vlastní matku?” my grandmother said. It was Czech.
“To není Sam. To je jeho syn Drobomir. Je to váš vnuk.” my mother responded as she placed her hands on my shoulder. My father sat on the empty hospital bed a spot over. There was a white curtain between my grandmother and my father. I knew they mentioned my name along with my fathers, but my father looked uncomfortable. My grandmother kept staring at me.
“To je stejný kluk jsem našel. To je Sam.” she said after a moment. She kept referring to my father’s name.
Seeing my grandmother like that, left me feeling awful. In a gravely way. I toughened up the Smolensk family way, but it wasn’t working. I looked at my father as he seemed to sigh. I don’t know why what happened next, but I let out the scream of my life. The first scream of my life. On the day of my 8th grade graduation.
I collapsed to the ground from running out of air. The world was black. It felt like everyone on the 3 hospital floors must have heard me. Even the deaf could have mistaken it for an earthquake. It felt… really fucking amazing.
When I came to, my mother was fanning me with a pamphlet. A look of worry covered her face as I thought, Finally. I sat up and focused my eyes. Everyone was staring at me, even Morris. A few nurses were there.
“Wuzzup, evra’booooooody?” I said in a surly tone.
“What?” asked me mother. She had a genuine look of confusion. Just then a doctor approached from the crowd.
“Do you feel dizzy, Daniel?”
“I dunno, I feel like I’m yawning. Like ah been yawing for a lil’ while now,” I answered as he checked my eyes, “whatcha doin’ Mista’ Docta’ Sir? That’s a tiny flashlight.”
“I’m checking your pupils to see if there’s anything wrong. There, you look fine to me.” the doctor said as he put his pen light back into his breast pocket.
“Oh, well that lady,” as I slowly pointed to a nurse across the room, “looks fu-n, fine to me, can I look up her pup-eelsss to see if they are… anything… wronggggg?” I felt dizzy for a moment, and shook my head as if I was getting the marbles to roll back into the right place. I knew I was saying very inappropriate things too, because my mouth said the things I usually thought about saying when my mother wasn’t around. It felt good to speak. The nurse giggled and my father gestured for a cup of water and left with her.
“This isn’t him, he usually doesn’t speak that way, are you sure he….” my mother asked the doctor, before he reassuringly raised his palms and cut her off. She didn’t look happy about that.
“Yes, he just needs a moment to fully come around. He’s responsive, his brain is just trying to plug back into the right sockets as he speaks. Boys will be boys, Mrs. Prochazka.”
“It’s Ms. Merriwether, and no, that isn’t like Daniel. He never even speaks in public, he’s so shy.” She said directing to me. I had been sitting perfectly still. Precociously moving only my eyeballs as though it were my first time.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine, let’s take another look,” the doctor knelt down again, “it doesn’t usually take this long… Daniel, do you know where you are?” he asked as he ran his finger to the left and the right, my eyes followed.
“My ma and pa never married, so she kept her last name, I’m here to see pa’s ma, my gram-ma. I’m sorry, I’m not sure if she kept her last name though.” I answered.
“Very good. Do you remember your dad’s last name? say AH.” I opened my mouth and answered as he checked my mouth.
“EEEE-AAAAA, CCCAAAANNNNGGG AAAAAAACCCC NNNNNGGGGGGIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG.” I finished answering as he finished.
“It’s close enough,” towards my mother still employed a look of confusion, “he just needs a little rest.” I didn’t know why he thought my mother’s last name was Prochazka though. “thank you doctor.”
The doc got up and asked, “Can you stand?”
“I did last time, I hope I still can,” I pushed myself up slowly off the floor, and sneered at my mother, “I knew you knew I could do it mom,” I saw a smirk grow on my Morris’ face, “I see you laughing, let it out brutha!”
“O.K. that’s enough, say good by to grandma, we’re leaving.” my mother said as she picked up her purse and ushered us out.
“Bye gramma-ma, thanks for the pizza wheel.” I said, stumbling to the exit.
“Bye grandma.” said Morris with a tone devoid of emotion.
My mom walked behind Morris and I, but I started to speed-walk with my hands kept stiff to my sides. I tried to get my body to mimic the gliding of a car on wheels with my walk. It felt funny, as I coasted through the hallways. I started giggling. Morris was about 10 feet behind me and my mother several more feet behind. I didn’t feel my being pedantic was so bad, even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to. But the fainting made it seem like no one was going to punish me for it. I’d be immune to any consequence. I only had a little while with this free ticket and I wanted the most from it. I started mimicking siren wails as I glided through the halls. Stiffened arms and all.
I heard my mother yell something like a cease and desist order, but I ignored it. I hit the elevator call button when I got there, but had decided to take the stairs down soon after. I wasn’t followed. The primer-white stairwell echoed triumphantly.
By the time I reached the lobby, clumps of hair had been pasted to parts of my face. Symmetrically placed round spots of sweat had visibly soaked through my shirt beneath my tits, the rolls over where my rib-cage was supposed to be, and one perched below my belly button. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the rorschach behind my shirt looked like. The shirt clung tight to my body from to the moisture that I was glazed in. On a normal day, I’d have felt embarrassed, insecure, timid, etcetera, but I didn’t have to feel like me at that moment. And it only got better.
“I’LL NEVER HAVE TO SEE ANY OF YOU FUCKERS AGAIN!!!” I proclaimed as I raised a stiff arm, and thrust the doors to the exit open. I had to squint because the light on the other side was bright. Like heaven’s hospital doors, I thought as I exited with a, “FUCK YOU TO ALL!!!!!” My head started spinning again beyond the doors. I stopped moving and kept my eyes closed as I regained my balance. Then opened my eyes to see the asphalt, and slowly directed them horizontally and stopped. Uncertain, I turned to look behind me, then all directions. “Aaaaaaah…..FUCK!!”
I realized from the absence of mountains in the horizon, I had exited the south exit and not the north exit we came from. It was a trick to find the nautical north in the Los Angeles County. North was where we parked. I started along a walking trail that was paved around the entire hospital. Panting heavily, but with a grin on my face.
Everyone was already at the car when I emerged. A smug smile pinned like a gold star to my face as I got closer. I decided to wave excitedly at one point.
“Get in the car.” my mother said coldly. Her hand was on her waist and the other pointed at the car. That image was television show cliche. I liked it. I felt the smile on my face tighten. I happily hopped into the car but with a mopey sluggishness. Also a cliched image.
I felt there was something happening, something changing. In a good way. Every connecting bone in my body felt it. Maybe it was the fact that I’d finally be a high schooler, or maybe it was the adrenalin from the hospital escape. Maybe it was because I didn’t believe something like volcanic lava would blanket the earth. Or maybe I didn’t think a finger would be pointed at me while they angrily bitched at me for something I didn’t mean to do. But I knew, and my bones knew something was happening. No one in the car was smiling. Whatever was happening made me to be the only one smiling. What was more, was that I didn’t feel the least bit like vomiting.
Back then, what little family I had left, after the exile from the other house of Smolensk, seemed as brittle as toast. Not too dark, but just right, so long as it didn’t break apart. Especially if I wanted it. Needed it. When I did, under dire circumstances, I reached. And my only concern became a reality; it crumbled. In tiny increments like the clicks you feel when wringing a wet towel, I felt in my heart. It turned on a warning in my mind and I was going to have to start taking care of things without asking for help. I was traumatized from asking help from my fellow man at 9, but I was just told not to talk to strangers, so I guess it fits.
As a kid, you’d think things were your fault if something went wrong, despite the usual consolation people normally gave, that’s the way it’s always been. Partly because it’s terrible seeing a child in silent turmoil, the child having no clue to what turmoil is, and how you know that there’s plenty more where that came from. Breaking it to a child would be like exposing Santa Claus, then explaining it’s his spirit that real in your hearts and most people emulate Christmas at least once a year, and then some. Except some people can live without Christmas, there are options and prerequisites and so on, and that’ll be dealt with when the time comes, but explaining to a child why he feels like it’s midnight during lunchtime, all the time, is several times harder, because not all families were orthodox (I reached my late teens before I discovered not all families were like the Bundy family on Married with Children, as mine was, excluding the laugh tracks and lessons learned at the end of the day.) and ultimately, turmoil ain’t an option, and everyone celebrated it multiple times a year. Tell the kid it isn’t his fault, was all the adults could do, it was the bare minimum expected after all, I wondered if they ever felt guilty when giving an absolution like that to a child, like a priest would to someone who wanted to repent. If they told me something like, say, bumble bees can’t see the color white, that would’ve helped, because after being told that, I was more confused because it actually proved my lesson with that stupid piece of toast. It was a stupid piece of bread that shared the same attributes and philosophy as living and surviving in this family.
I couldn’t entire blame the failures of adults, they were always the same, with that same rote menial philosophies, and new ones got their right their rights of passage everyday like driving permits. When a good one came along, it usually meant they were just as disappointed as a child, and found their own path, which can be any path as long as it didn’t involve crime, which was fine with me. I survived that particular phase of turmoil by inducting myself as an honorary member of the Bundy family. I couldn’t physically communicate with them, but it was no different from being an actual Smolensk. Sharing my thoughts wasn’t allowed, and encouraged not to happen, because I would ‘sound silly‘. I suppose it’s true, I don’t really listen to what most kids say today, and my parents just thought it’d be simpler just to ban it. It was easy, just follow the rules, until one November day of my 8th year. Sam Prochazka, my father, returned after a five year absence. I was not to find out exactly why, for the next nine years.
It was my mother, Janice Merriwether, she spoke broken English despite what her name suggested, raised in Brussels where Italian, German, and French, were all considered a primary language (I researched this information alone), and she was fluent in all of them as well as Czech, Slavic, Russian, and Spanish, and sign language. The wide array of languages she spoke, had always discouraged me from ever trying to learn one because it was exhausting to be disappointing as a Smolensk, and by avoiding certain attempts altogether, as I discovered, I was able to avoid a good deal of emotional battery of my upbringing, and at the same time, exercised my wit and cunning as a child. However, my baby brother Moriz, or Morri, Smolensk was not as lucky, he got the bashings. I was only a few years older as it began, but said nothing to help my brother. I didn’t know how. Even the Bundy’s couldn’t teach me how to look after my brother. Guilt and disappoint meant was all I felt when I was around my brother, and the only way I thought I could do as his big brother, was to stand with him when he was scolded. We never spoke about it or recapped any exceptional scolding, I just stood there and took it with him, and ended up receiving half my brother’s emotional beatings. I was pardoned from the physical ones earned, fortunately, but got them more often because my mind often wandered. Which gave my parents a highly inaccurate judge of my character. The verbal scoldings were like felonies, and the physically beatings were misdemeanors. They believed my brother was the felon, when I was really the mastermind that caused them to believe that. I’ve pondered a confession several times, but it was really much too terrifying to consider as it that would only mean more malcontent toward my brother. My mother and father were convinced their unorthodox approach to raising kids would raise model citizens, and that sounded like a good thing to be at the time, staying invisible was a great way to survive.
Later, when I decided to let my balls speak, I absolved myself from the guilt of my brother’s turmoil later during my years of rebellious teenage angst, which freed my brother into an explosion of artistic vision, and caused an ongoing
I wasn’t a coward by nature, I was a coward by choice and because it was the best way not to cry. The cowards I met in school were cowards by nature, so they wept often. But cowards or lions, I ran indiscriminately. Of course, at 9 years old, I had no idea that people would judge me anyway. Judgement of a person was like a weapon everyone already knew how to use. But having visited multiple courtrooms as a child on various occasions, it was already crystal clear to me that an officiated Judge in an American courtroom was the only judgement that I should give a fuck about about because their judgments actually had the potential to not only be inconvenient, but can cause me some form of distress. I’ve only seen one judge on my behalf as I write this. I wondered if God would look that scary in a black robe when he was in a courtroom. (Come to think of it, people aren’t too crazy about white robes on earth. As for the unofficial judges at school it seemed simpler than correcting their presumptions of what my world was like. I’d have to explain what to a child what it was like to feel like it was midnight, at all hours of the day. I’d have to explain the meaning of turmoil to a child of my peer, and probably have killed Santa Claus several times over in the process and become infamous among New Wellington Elementary, as the emotionless 9-year-old Son of Sam. My established connections were already rubbish. I’ve never heard my brother speak an entire paragraph to me (still to this day.), so making a friend at nine years old, seemed over-priced, and I probably had anything else to do, the most important factor resulting in my conclusion, was because we moved every two months. New faces, new stories about me I’ll never know.
I’ve always wanted to hear them, and who knows, I might might have turned out differently. Their presumptions were probably far from the actual truth, but at least somebody thought something nice about my life. I couldn’t believe anyone would imagine a worse story for me than the midnight I was actually living in. I may not have been a 9-year-old Son of Sam, aside from the obvious technicality, but I was a 9 year-old that never really got a chance to be a young, curious and stupid kid. Jan and Sam saved time by skipping all that and I was actually a 9 year old man, that skipped the second grade. Somehow, I was an accomplishment to them. I had no idea all the little problems I ran from were chasing me all along. When they caught up to me, it was a fucking bloodbath. A bloodbath that allowed me to try it all over again, with tact and finesse, and the heart of a Bundy, and the resources of a 16 year old. I no longer was the son of Sam, and really was the Son of Sam after all.
These stranger thoughts came to me when I was bored, so I had nothingbut stranger thoughts throughout my days as a legal child. I was also forced to mimic a statue when I was out in public, or my mother would slap my ear, which didn’t hurt so much as it stung and confused me, as if physically slapping my ear would improve a child’s attention span. In my youth, disciplinary action was to be taken if I acted like one. That was another thing I had to run away from. It was higher on my list because this didn’t involve a scolding. It was a cold slap, point and stare, like a puppy guilty of the urine on the rug.