This might be hard to follow.  I use three by five cards or a loose leaf binder.  I’ll begin with Syrie Nathan, my birth mother.  What little information I have comes second hand.  Much has to be inferred.  School records at Manchester Central High School in the scenic Granite State show she was not a great student.  Somewhere I picked up a tidbit that addressed her obsession with dolls and playing house when she was little.  That fits right in with her wanting marriage and a family at a very young age, her junior year of high school. 

I doubt she ever read Darwin, but she seems to have fixated on attracting the best male she could for her reproductive scheme.  There are allegations that she broke into the guidance department files and looked through student records for some key indicators—IQ, reading test scores, any hereditary or medical conditions.  She narrowed down her search for the perfect mate to three boys, one each in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades.  Why she focused on Ronnie Banks, my subsequent father, is a mystery.  Maybe she tried seducing the other two and struck out; maybe he was her first choice. 

From the only photo I have of him, he was not a bad looking.  He had dark hair, a swarthy complexion, broad shoulders, the build of a cross country runner, which he was, and a shy smile.  He was very bright, high honors in all the advanced classes, 1550 on the SAT’s, and editor of the school paper.  My guess is that he never knew what hit him when it came to Syrie’s sexual blitzkrieg.

I have several pictures of my mother.  None flatter her.  She has an oval face and is a bit chunky, especially in the chest and hips.  When and where she snagged Ronnie is anyone’s guess.  I came along in mid-October of 1987 so it had to be in late January or early February.  I’m sure being a daddy at sixteen hit him hard.  His dream of going to Bowdoin went down the drain to say nothing of what his friends and family now thought of their fair-haired boy.  I suspect that after the initial shock he might have suggested a practical, medical solution to the pregnancy problem, but Syrie continued to live in her romantic world and would have none of it but the three of them in a vine covered cottage. 

He tried to do what was best.  He never came back to school for his senior year.  She was showing big time by then, and people who knew her reported that she was sure it would be a boy because she was carrying so high. Horoscope readings also entered the picture.  He went to work full time at Radio Shack.  They still lived with their parents, and I’m not sure he ever had much contact with her, sexual or otherwise, except to drop off some money when he could. 

She went into labor on October 14.   It was a long, drawn out affair and thirty-six hours later, on the 16th, I came into the world.  There were major complications. I managed to pull through; she didn’t.  I’m not sure good old dad ever knew how difficult the birth was as, the minute he heard my mother was at the hospital, he got into his car and drove off.  Two weeks later some Halloween trick or treaters were up to no good in a cabin near Rockwood, Maine just a few miles west of Moosehead Lake.  He’d evidently broken in, rigged up a plastic hose from the car’s exhaust into the cabin and laid down on a daybed.  He’d been dead for at least ten days.  No note was found.

There was quite the controversy over the medical bills and what was to become of poor, innocent me.  The Nathans wanted nothing to do with the situation.  They were an older couple anyway, each beyond fifty.  The Banks clan felt I was more a “Nathan” anathema than anything else.  I was the grenade that destroyed their gifted son’s life.  Therefore, I was ticketed to become a ward of the county which, in New Hampshire, with no sales or state income tax, is not the best place to be when you’re in need of social services.

 Just when all seemed lost, Ronnie’s oldest sister, Leona, a black sheep if ever there was one, came to my rescue.  After a checkered career regarding minimum wage employment and transient, interpersonal relationships, she was living in trailer park sin with some married guy outside Rutland, Vermont.  He was coughing up big bucks for two kids living with their mother in Townsend, Massachusetts while waiting for his “freedom papers” to come through.  Leona was thirty-two.  Her biological clock was ticking so she swooped down and took me unto her ample cleavage and the New Hampshire state treasure heaved a sigh of relief. 

I was nothing but trouble for her at the beginning.  First off, Mr. Sort of Married Guy left her because she didn’t consult him enough on the adoption matter.  Secondly, I cried, screamed and wailed for the better part of a year.  It was a full time occupation for me.  I’d catnap for a few hours and then get right back to it.  There was no real reason.  I was well fed, diapered and certainly got plenty of attention.  I can’t say that I was grieving because my dead mother and father meant as much to me as any aborigines in the land down under.  Maybe it was to get rid of Married Guy and have Aunt Leona all to myself.  By two, however, I cut down the sob stuff to about half the day, the better to explore the mobile home park we lived in.

Enter stage right one Rebecca Marsden, Becka to my three year old tongue, who moved in with Leona and me.  Becka had a landscaping business, Ladyslippers, which employed only females.  She was non-stop energy with the rear end of a softball pitcher which she had been to much acclaim in high school.  For the next four years she was my play buddy and Leona’s live in lover.  Becka and I were addicted to sports.  I had the best equipment money could buy.  Skating lessons, hockey practice, soccer camp, tee ball—you name it, Becka and I were there.  I had little knowledge of what the relationship between these women was and still didn’t put two and two together even when, exploring under their bed looking for my pitcher’s glove, I discovered a strap-on penis.   Leona explained it all with a straight face.  She and Becka sometimes liked to play dress up, and it would embarrass them if I were to ever mention it to anyone because then Becka might have to leave.  My lips were sealed since I really didn’t care what dress up games mere girls played.

 The rest of my saga now becomes more personal observation than inference.  I was home schooled and picked up my three by five cards habit making cheat sheets to study new words as well as taking notes on the books Leona and Becka thought I should read.  Later, I grew accustomed to jotting down about most everything I observed or thought.

 I stuttered a bit when nervous and receiving an education without public school playground ridicule was a blessing.  I was an arithmetic whiz and lost myself in a world of history and adventure books quite early.  Leona felt I was the second coming of her brother Ron. It was high praise, when I accomplished something, to be compared favorably to my martyred father. 

In October, for my eighth birthday, I was given hockey tickets to see a University of Vermont Catamont’s game.   The contest was for mid-November, and I was really looking forward to it.  Leona had a four wheel drive, silver colored Subaru.  We left in the late afternoon, stopped midway to Burlington along Route 7 for hot turkey sandwiches and chocolate milk.  I was allowed to run amok in the souvenir shop before the game and came away with a green and gold, official, Vermont University hockey jersey which set Becka back $75.00.  The opponents that wonderful evening were the vaunted Boston University Terriers, perennial Big East champs, but we held our own into overtime before going down to defeat 3-2. 

There had been a cold drizzle on the way to the campus, and by ten at night it had started to freeze in spots.  Becka, ever the take charge person, decided to drive as she was more experienced at road conditions like these.  We made it to Brandon on Route 7 just ten miles north of Rutland.

I never knew what caused the accident.  I was in the back seat and had scribbled a few notes about a heated discussion Becka and Leona were having.  I was feigning sleep, but my ears were wide open as the subject of Becka’s spoiling me came up, evidently triggered by the expensive hockey shirt and a glut of concession stand junk food.  I remember the phrase “buying his affection.” This was angrily refuted and some salvos were fired back indicating that Leona’s hands were not entirely clean on the spoiling issue either.  They were quiet for a while.  I drifted off but came to when they began to discuss what I should be told about their relationship.  I remember thinking to look up, “dyke” and “puberty” when I got home and had a minute to myself.  They went silent again so Becka could concentrate on her driving as the freezing drizzle had evolved into a heavy, wet snow.  I slipped back into sleep comforted by the greenish glow of the dash and a pleasant CD version of favorite classical piano pieces.

I awoke the next day at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Rutland.  I had a concussion but no other major injuries.  The car hit an icy patch, skidded, struck the shoulder and become airborne to the degree that it flew over the guardrail and into some trees.  Leona was killed instantly.  Becka had a broken neck and other internal injuries from which she later recovered but was left paralyzed from the shoulders down for the rest of her brief life. 

Since there were no relatives, my first task, after I was able to leave the hospital, was to be driven by a social service caseworker to the mobile home park in Proctor to pack some clothes and collect whatever personal possessions might fit into a small cardboard box.   I decided to leave most of it were it was, just taking a few stacks of three by five cards I could carry, some composition notebooks and a copy of Treasure Island Becka had given me the Christmas before.

I was then transported to the Brattleboro home of Wanda Bellows.  She specialized in foster care of children with special needs.  She had been doing this for twenty-five years and proudly pointed to over one hundred pictures on her kitchen wall of kids she considered family.  She opened a hutch drawer and showered the floor with the many greeting cards she received.  I wasn’t aware of any special needs in my case, but I can see why the case supervisor might think I was retarded.  I had no school record.  My stutter notwithstanding I wasn’t in much of a speaking mode, just a shake of the head here and there to keep things interesting.  I didn’t talk because I really had nothing to say.  Yes, it was quite a blow to have two very nice people, to say nothing of not watching any more Vermont hockey games, taken from me by some inclement highway conditions.   Yet it wasn’t anything I couldn’t accept.  I was asked on many occasions by clip board toting shrinks what my feelings were and could only think about the interviews I’d seen on the TV Eyewitness News where the house is still smoking and a microphone is shoved into the owner’s face for some sort of response.  I suppose my silence was a way of not dignifying the idiotic questions I was being asked by state-appointed psychologists. 

So I was shipped off to Mother Bellows’ home for the physically and mentally challenged.  I had two other colleagues.  One was a twelve year old girl with cystic fibrosis who needed to be thumped at regular intervals to clear out her lungs.  A disgusting process if ever there was one.  A fourteen year old boy who had been born with an oversized head and had shunts in it to keep the fluid from building up was also in residence. 

I was a godsend to Mrs. Bellows.  I cleaned my room, followed orders and behaved myself.  I used my cards to communicate.  I’d write down my questions and responses.  Kenny, he of the swelled head, took delight in taking them from me or invading my secret places and ripping them up.  This led me to develop any number of codes to maintain some sense of privacy.  The only thing I ever refused to do was go to school, and I have several diary entries of some violent behavior on my part when the powers who oversaw such things wanted to force the issue.  Let me alone in my room with the books borrowed from the Brattleboro Youth Library and my beloved notebooks, and I was as happy.

Of course this could not last.  My theory was that whenever I approached a comfortable state, the gods would be sure to notice.  The culprit this time was Ben Bellows, Wanda’s husband of thirty years.  It seems he had occupied himself inappropriately with some of the females in residence over the years.  It was cystic fibrosis girl who spoke up.   Records were gone into, investigations made and young women from the past stepped forward to tell their tales.  Ben had never been a problem for me.   I rather liked the old geezer.  He was a big Red Sox fan, and I often came out of my room to sit with him as they attempted to defeat the Bambino’s Curse. 

The home was closed.  Ben was on the Channel 9 news in an orange jumpsuit looking very vague.  I was interviewed any number of times and filled out a massive number of note cards to the effect that Ben was all right in my book and please let him alone especially since it was September and the Sox were making a concentrated stretch run for the wild card slot.  None of this made a dent, and I was shipped off to DYS.

I felt I could adapt to most any place, but DYS was really a challenge.  There was no privacy.  I was escorted into a dorm of some thirty cots, a six foot high by two foot wide locker for clothing and personal possessions.  A one foot square box near the top for valuables was supposedly secure, but it was a minor inconvenience to the pros of the unit.  I was there for five months and kept no notes at all.  I did go to classes because it was easier than being disciplined.  I sat in the back row and did my work and the teachers and I soon worked out an unwritten agreement wherein I wouldn’t cause any problems if they would ignore me.  I survived. 

The next development requires some background.  Roger Sheets was a self-made man.  The upper social classes are born knowing how to select a fine merlot or shiraz, how to play a good game of tennis and when to buy or sell high tech stocks.  Roger was not one of those.  After high school there was the army for two years, then community college, then real college and finally a job managing an office temporary agency.  One thing led to another and, after ten years of experience in the “temp” racket as he called it, he opened his own agency.  Within five years he had five branches in Vermont and New Hampshire. 

At fifty-five he was a millionaire and treated himself to a physical makeover to look ten years younger.  Part of this sloughing off process was losing twenty pounds and his wife Mary.  The new exercise regimen included a daily racquet ball workout at Off the Wall in Hanover, New Hampshire and marrying his thirty year old administrative assistant, Bethany. 

The union was good for both of them.  Roger enjoyed her companionship while Beth, at a very young age, had financial security and social status.  Children were an issue.  Roger had three girls, two were married and out on their own.  His youngest lived with the first wife, Mary, over in Claremont.  He enjoyed the spontaneity of his new life, picking up and going wherever and whenever.  But Bethany wanted a family. 

A compromise was reached when Roger agreed to the foster child program.  He had been through the infant and toddler stages three times.  Therefore, the parameters were that the child be above the age of four, white and not sickly mentally or physically.

I really can’t say much for Rodman Hall, but at least it was determined during my stay that I was not mentally retarded, that I could speak but just didn’t choose to do it very much.  I was white and didn’t wet the bed.  My slate with respect to torturing small animals and burning down garages was also pretty clean.  As such I was one of five candidates selected for the Bethany Sheets to inspect. 

I think my composure got me the job.  We were brought into the day room as a group, two girls and three boys.  At ten I was the oldest.  When Bethany asked me what my favorite activity was I had the good sense to speak up and say reading.  This led to her follow up questions regarding books.  To my credit I did not show off by going beyond the general literary bounds expected of my age group.  I waxed poetic about Robert Louis Stevenson with the opinion that a nice,  rainy, Sunday afternoon would ideally be spent watching all the movie versions of Treasure Island.  I left out my compulsive note taking as I hadn’t done much of it for fear of exposure, but, when I left the visitor’s room, I said a little prayer that I would be selected, and that I might have my privacy back to pursue my secret hobby.

Well, I was the chosen one and one week later I was sitting in the back seat of Roger’s Lexus SUV as he and Beth drove me to my new home.  It would be an understatement to say that I had died and gone to heaven.  I was shown to a huge room at the rear of the house, some twenty by twenty-four, which looked out over an apple orchard.  I had my own bathroom, TV and DVD/VHS player.  Beth had a great time clothes shopping, and I had more outfits than I ever had in all my years combined.  If I’d been the least bit emotional or religious, I would have dropped to my knees, said a “thank you” prayer and cried with joy.  As it was I took the moment in and idly wondered just how long it would last before something came along to fit the life-long pattern of “one step forward, two steps back” my life usually followed. 

Having me or any child was not something Roger wanted.  He was going along with Bethany to get along with her.  I judged by some of her comments that she had taken quite a bit of abuse from relatives, the home wrecker that she was.  She knew what the gossip had been and still was.  It’s the only thing she’d ever asked for—not furs, jewelry, cars, etc.—just a child. 

The first real conversation Roger and I had was the evening of my first night.  The house had its own library which is to say that books lined the walls and made an erudite backdrop to the big screen TV and entertainment center Roger primarily watched his weekend golf tournaments on.  I had wandered into his sanctuary after a nice family meal wherein Beth valiantly fed me a steady flow of questions to keep the dinner conversation afloat, but it was like trying to keep a fire going by only using kindling.

I was excused from the table (a new concept to me) to wander the house and get my bearings as it were.   I found Roger’s library, entered and immediately headed for some very interesting, leather bound volumes.  Most were adult literature, probably first editions, but I did spot a two book set entitled Anthony Adverse.  I was ready to pass it by when I spotted the name N. C. Wyeth on the spine just below the author.  He’d illustrated the Treasure Island novel Becka gave me, and I loved it.  Becka promised that for each birthday, she’d buy me an N. C. Wyeth illustrated book.  I pulled a volume off the shelf, plunked to the floor and began leafing through it before Roger’s furious bellow jolted me out of my reverie. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” 

I was actually used to such language and could have given him an earful, the likes of which, coming from the mouth of a ten year old, would have stunned him, but I kept quiet.

He grabbed the book and held it behind his back.  Books were not toys.  This wasn’t a play room.  This was his room; the only place where he could get any peace and quiet.  I was to never, NEVER come in here unless he asked me to and, when I did, I was to keep away from the books.  To illustrate the point he pulled a John Irving novel from the shelf and shoved it into my face.

“This is worth fifteen hundred dollars easy because it’s a signed first edition.  He’s from New Hampshire!”

The tirade had Beth sprinting into the room to see him towering over me.  I think she thought he was either going to or had hit me with the book.  She came at him like a lioness defending her cub. 

When the shouting calmed down, I, knowing how to get along in the world, took Roger’s part in the matter.  It was a misunderstanding.  I wanted to look at the pretty colored picture books.  I didn’t know this was Roger’s room.  It was all a mistake and, if someone would tell me what other areas I was not allowed in, I would certainly follow the rules to the letter.  The matter ended with Roger’s statement that I had free run of the house and only this room and their bedroom was out of bounds.  Three days later, perhaps at Beth’s urging, he invited me to view the ball game on his large screen, 54 inch projection set.  I impressed him with my baseball knowledge, especially of the Red Sox history which was largely culled from my notes on Dan Shaughnessy’s The Curse of the Bambino.  Perhaps, in his mind, I wasn’t that bad after all.  He even asked if I’d ever played golf.  I repressed the snide comment that this year’s orphanage team was scaled back due to a lack of funding.  Instead, I told him I’d only heard about miniature golf. 

“Maybe we’ll go to the driving range some afternoon,” was his mumbled reply.

When I told Beth of a prospective golf date, she started to cry and hugged me.  “I knew he’d come to love you as much as I do.”

Leave it to Bethany Sheets to equate love with a number three wood.

The summer went well for me.  Roger and I did go golfing.  At first it was the driving range.  I was a leftie so instruction was a bit hard for him, but he seemed impressed that I stayed within myself (his term), concentrated on hitting the ball straight rather than going for distance.  We went to his country club a few times after that and seemed to bond, especially during the post-workout meal of hot dogs and strawberry frappes.  Beth decided that, since we liked golf, we should be a family and go mini-golfing.  We did and it was a disaster from my point of view as Roger clearly saw the event as a forced march and barely spoke to either of us.

I was enrolled in the Enfield, New Hampshire Middle School and soon soared to the top of my fifth grade class to the degree that I was bumped into the sixth after two months.  I could just as well have been in the seventh, but I was small for my age, and it was thought that adjusting to the other kids might be too much.  Roger and I enjoyed the college football and hockey season.  He was a big Dartmouth fan and we went to a few games.  I still had my Catamonts’ shirt, but I proudly sported a “Big Green” jersey he bought me.  For Christmas Roger got me my own set of golf clubs, hand made he said, for just my size.  He had to do it because finding anything for a left-handed kid was impossible.

Beth’s holiday gifts were clothes and books with the piece de résistance being Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow and Jane Porter’s The Scottish Chiefs, each illustrated by N. C. Wyeth.  Needless to say that on Christmas night as I lay on my bed (Red Sox comforter and matching sheets), reading Stevenson and looking over at my clubs, I was happier than I’ve ever been.  I picked up my diary and made some modest notes to that effect and then, as I looked over previous entries, saw that I was about due for a setback.  The formula seemed to follow the exploits of the legendary Sisyphus.  Just as I pushed my boulder to the top of the mountain and all was right in the world, some outside force would enter and give it a downward shove.  A chill went through me as I wondered what it would be this time—house fire, another car accident or the bubonic plague?  I always wrote one note card to sum up each day, a quick sentence which later was pasted into a scrapbook containing the whole year.  That night’s jotting had a biblical tone to it:  “The end is near.”

It took awhile.  I began to withdraw into myself knowing the sword of Damocles was hovering over me.  I still did well at school and in February was bumped up into the seventh anyway.  I was still a loner.  It didn’t matter who my classmates were.  I despised group projects.  I somehow got the notion that by jumping ahead a few grades kids would treat me better, but that was definitely not the case.  Since I was good at math and took excellent notes, I allowed myself to be used by my peers when they were stumped or just too lazy to do the work themselves.  I moved away from Stevenson and was hot and heavy into Jack London, Bret Harte and John Steinbeck.  My room was my sanctuary.  I ate supper, went up to do homework which I finished in less than an hour and then read myself to an uneasy sleep. I was in my cell on death row.  If only the warden would call and report that the highest court in the land, as expected, had turned down my appeal.  Just set a date and be done with it.  Was that asking so much?

Sawyer Sheets was the facilitator of my doom.  She was Roger’s youngest daughter and, as school let out for the year, she had become too much for her mother to cope with.  She was sixteen.   There were the usual symptoms.  She was cutting classes, enough to repeat the ninth grade next year.  She been caught drinking in a car with much older boys and was sent home from school twice because she was high.  Shoplifting was also part of her agenda as was twice running away from her mother’s home in Claremont.  Though Roger wanted little to do with this problem child it would be a feather in his cap if he could prove to his ex-wife that he could turn the situation around.  After all, he had lifted companies on the verge of Chapter 11 back onto the road of financial success.  You had to be firm.  Rules had to be set and consequences administered.  Tough love was the catch phrase.

I am convinced the events that happened would have occurred no matter what actions I took.  I could have run away to Alaska the moment Sawyer moved in, and my fate would have been the same.  That first night she graced the family table there were promises made, directions plotted and regulations carved onto stone tablets.  Hugs and tears were served up after dinner. 

The next morning Sawyer invited herself into my room and began a friendly inquisition.  I did not trust her, but I had little choice.  To each query I told the truth.  The shoeboxes were convenient storage for my notes.  The shelf of notebooks contained my jottings, a school project (a tiny lie).  When she took books (“Did you really read all these?”) off the shelf, I winced when they were put back out of order but said nothing as it wasn’t a daunting task to re-establish my system. 

She played upon my ego by telling me how much Beth and her father liked me.  What an easy person I was to get along with and so appreciative.  And I had great potential.  They were investing money in a college fund.  A good prep school was even a possibility when I reached high school.  On and on it went. 

For two weeks Sawyer kept to the family agreements.  She had a few peccadilloes however.  Music was played too loudly, but immediately turned down after a second request.  She clandestinely used the bathroom to smoke.  She had a girlfriend come up from Claremont to visit, and they spent an afternoon behind closed doors.  By and large dinner usually focused on her day’s activities and guarded compliments were issued.  I shuddered when suggestions were made that we might go to the library together.  Particularly since, each time it was obliquely suggested that she should be more like me, I figured it was another nail in my coffin.

And then in mid-August the death knell finally sounded.  I was invited into her bedroom early one Saturday afternoon when Roger and Beth were out.  She was still wearing a bathrobe, having just gotten up.  The ruse was for me to explain the plot of Stevenson’s The Black Arrow so she could better fake having read it since Roger had a bug up his ass about reading.  I sat in a chair while she mounted the bed Indian style.  It was more than obvious she wasn’t wearing underwear. 

At eleven, I was not quite a sexual being.  I was interested however.  Displaying her charms was something Sawyer was accustomed to.  Whether through experience or intuition she knew the male psyche.  My curiosity got the better of me. 

When she saw me staring at her she suggested a reward.  Keep her supplied with these book reviews, and I could see her naked anytime I wanted.  She previewed her body with practiced nonchalance.  She lay on the bed and invited me to inspect her and explained where girls like to be touched, allowing me the privilege.  I was asked to show her my weenie. I complied then she graphically spoke of what would happen to my body in a few years.  This led to a monologue concerning Curtis Hannah, a nineteen year old, who had made her come twice the first time they’d ever done it.

The coda to our interlude was a digital camera.  She wanted me to take pictures of her so she could send them to Curt as he was getting horny, and she feared he might be tempted by Louise Stella, her arch rival for his affections.  These shots should be candid, as if she were unaware they were being done.  From the doorway I snapped her pretending to get undressed.  I was ordered to stand outside her half opened bathroom door and take shots of her putting on makeup as she stood naked in front of the mirror.  Other pictures involved her showering, peeing, toweling off and drying her hair all from a voyeuristic photographic point of view.  An hour later I was given a copy of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and effusive thanks for being the trusted little brother she’d never had.  I went back to my room, replayed the events and got a sickening feeling in my stomach.  Then I went to work on Ernest’s magnum opus.

It took her until the week before school began to spring the trap.  She probably had it in mind to wait longer, but an acrid smell of pot led to an adult search of her room and drugs were found, her Claremont girlfriend the suspected mule.  From then on things played out like a Grade “B” Hollywood movie.  Sawyer wanted to go back to her real mom.  She didn’t feel safe here.  Someone was spying on her.  She told them I had the habit of peeping through her door and maybe taking pictures.  My room was searched and the digital camera was easily discovered.  Roger was livid and, glancing at the photos, turned them over to Beth to be viewed in their entirety.  I was caught red-handed, the pervert that I was.  Roger was in his glory regarding foster children and lorded his “I told you so’s” over Beth.  Sawyer’s pot smoking incident was lost in the scandal, but she got her wish and, after a few phone calls, her mother agreed to take her back. 

I said little.  I just went to my room to await the verdict.  To save time I began to pack, only clothes this time.  I wanted to make a clean break of it.  If there had been an opportunity, I would have burned all note cards and notebooks.  As it was they stayed were they were along with my Wyeth illustrated novels and hockey jerseys.    After supper it was Beth who delivered the news.  I was going back to Rodman Hall eventually, but there was a necessary holding pattern in another facility for a few days while some doctors asked me questions.  She was sure another family would want a bright boy like me.  I debated whether I should tell my side, but knew it was useless.  She’d have to convince Roger and hell would freeze before that would happen. 

I left.  I spent the next three days under observation.  Many questions were asked.  I answered very few, just the name, rank and serial number like army POW’s.  I ended back in Rodman Hall.  It was a smaller dorm this time with six others about my own age.  They each had interesting tales to explain why they were as segregated as I was from the regular population.

I’m seventeen now.  I’ve kept my nose clean.  I’m the star of the baseball team, but who couldn’t be as we barely have enough to run a decent practice.  I’ve learned a few dumb things at the school.  It has a vocational slant to it.  I can fix computers and have toyed around with arc welding.  I keep my notes in my head now.  I read a book long ago, Fahrenheit 451, where people in the society became novels; memorized them because books were outlawed.  Each night I go over what I would have written about the day and make sure it’s securely fastened in my brain.  When I’m eighteen I can leave here.  The first thing I want to do is go to a decent library and write lots of stuff down.  When I get done, I’ll send Beth and Roger a copy as well as my Nathan and Banks grandparents if they are still alive; maybe Sawyer also, assuming she can tear herself away from the missionary position long enough to get in some reading.   There might be others as well.  It’s enough of a project to keep me going for the short term.

Autumn/Winter Issue

Summer 2004 Issue

Winter 2004 Issue

Summer 2003 Issue

Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


D. E. Fredd lives in Townsend Harbor, Massachusetts. He teaches English at a small New Hampshire college. He has had poetry appear in The Paris Review, Café Review, and The Paumanok Review. His short fiction has or will soon appear in The Southern Humanities Review, The Transatlantic Review, Rosebud, The Armchair Aesthete, Word Riot, and The 13th Warrior Review. A novel Exiled to Moab and a short story collection await publication.

Copyright 2005, D.E. Fredd. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.