Yesterday was the first day of skkkool. We had this new kid name of Chester wearin a funny hat just like Dan’l Boone. All the kids laugh when teacher tell him that tomorrow better wear some shoes or she gonna send him back home.
My feets hurt inside my new shoes.
Chester come and sit down next to me at the back of the class. He look over at me all serious.
=We don’t wear shoes to skkkool where I come from.
=Where you come from?
=Where’s "Apple Asia?"
Chester point up to where the wall meet the ceiling.
=Its way up there and it gots lotsa trees and snakes and bears! And the sky is blue there!
=How come you come here, then?
Teacher say "shush" so we stop talking. Then she wheel out this machine in front of the class. She call it a tape laccorder.
=When I call your name I want each of you to come up here. I’m going to hand you this microphone and when I say "ready" I want you to say your name, yur age and what you want to be when you grow up. Everybody else must remain quiet. We’re going to seal the finished tape in a time capsule and bury it under the new tree in the playground with instructions not to open for fifty years. Someday, when the little tree grows up to cover the playground in shade all the children in the 21st century will get to hear your voices. Maybe some of them will be your grandchildren!
Chester lean over to me and whisper.
=What you gonna be when you grow up?
=A baseball player.
There’s lotsa doctors and nurses, mommies and daddies, some scientists and Presidents of the United States. There’s some baseball players and football players, too.
When it come to Chester’s turn he stand there in front of the whole class, take off his coonskin cap and scratch his head. He look over at me. I shake my head up and down because teacher tell us not to talk.
=My name is Chester Morton and I wanta be a…I wanta be a…a bear. I’m gonna be a bear when I grow up!
All the kids start laughing at Chester. Teacher turn off the tape laccorder and just stare at us with her hands on her hips until we stop laughing.
Chester’s the funniest kid in the whole wide world!
Next day I’m walking to skkkool and I see Chester sitting there on the curb and he’s pullin off his new shoes.
=Hey! Teacher said you have to wear shoes!
=Make my feets hurt.
=New shoes make everybody’s feets hurt. Thats just the way it is, Chester. My mom put a bandaid on my feets.
Chester takes off his last shoe and throws both of them in the bushes.
=I don’t care. They don’t feel right.
I look at Chester standin there wiggling his toes happily. My feets still hurt where the top of the shoes bend.
=Yur right. They don’t feel right.
So I take my shoes off and throw em in the bushes, too!
Dad’s not sayin a thing to me as we drive along but his face is all red. I know what that means. He had to leave work to come pick me up at the principle’s office.
He’s smokin a cigarette and drivin slow. We look at each house we go by.
I point over to the honeysuckle growing over Mr. Saenz fence.
=There! Thats where I left ’em!