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Tommy, the Terror of Ninth-Grade

Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.

A True and Very sad Introduction

to this narrative, which I did put in the work, drink several cups of delicious black coffee, and edited my piece with the tender care that a doctor gives his patient. Maybe not that much, but close enough--since ours is but a game of horseshoes.

During those 12 years of schooling, you and I met a lot of colorful characters. The bully, the know-it-all, the vandal and some said later a convict for stealing a car. This is all true. I won't reveal my friend, "Tommy's" real name, not that I have anything to apologize to him for, it's just that I am afraid that when he served his sentence, he went on the straight and narrow for years and when he read this, he went back into a life of crime.

Happy reading. Kenneth

Tommy, if you are reading this, I hope you are happy and doing well.

Tommy, if you are reading this, I hope you are happy and doing well.

The First Time

that I met "Tommy," I hated his guts. Even after we spoke to each other and he said something nice to me, I still hated him. And for me to act that spontaneously, was something I got to worry about for an entire school year: 1969, Ninth-grade. Junior High, when boys and girls learn about boys, girls, and a few honeybees. Talk about stinging.

There are people who have to work at being irresponsible and those who were born this way. I believe this. Some who knew "Tommy"our new student, said that his parents were nice and great neighbors. And at the same time, I'm sure that some of these same people said virtually the same thing about Charles Manson's parents. It's a genes and chromosomes type of thing.

"Tommy," when he walked, slumped. Even his lower lip slumped. Pure laziness with two legs. But he had "that" devilish-attitude and choice curse words already loaded. With "Tommy," no nice students had a chance to excel while he was around. He knew how to cheat, steal, and yes, lie like the nicest lap dog in the pet shop and misled our teachers into believing that he had a serious disease--that made him go such mean things.

I asked him one where I might find "that" serious disease, but he lied about the disease being sold out, cursed, and slumped away. I just stood and watched his shoulders slumping in a weird rhythm that made me wonder if he had watched a lot of PBS documentaries about Strange Dances in Foreign Lands. With "Tommy," who knew.

During my eight-year run with HubPages, I have touched on the personal Class Struggle that my friends and I endured for the 12 years of our schooling. B--R--U--T--A--L! The preps and prissies ruled the day, and told the sun and planets how to turn. I suppose (but cannot prove) that it's this way across America. That's why, really, I am writing this narrative about "Tommy" because he fit in with the preps and prissies like a calf's hide glove. "Tommy" went with whatever prissy girl that he wanted and dumped her on the same night. This guy had nerve. Even the prep guys feared him and he was not that tall or muscular. It had to be his evil spirit. That's it. When a prep would spout out something that "Tommy" didn't like, he smashed the prep's head--with the teachers watching, but they only looked sad and forgot about it.

"Tommy," if anything, was "the exception to the rule" about "if someone is in good with the preps and prissies, they have a rose-covered walkway without any trouble. In years, even right now, I wonder (while I'm watching GoodFellas) if "Tommy"s" parents were not "made" and went by glamorous, tough names, "Franky, The Fist," and his wife, "Margie, The Mouth."

It's amazing at the things that we have stored up over the years and when the time is right, they come tumbling out of our memory banks. That has to be the reason that "Tommy" got away with every rule that he broke. He was so mean that if he were to make a rule, he would break it just for kicks. (I'm beginning to sound like Martin Scorsese for talking about "Tommy" and his obscure parents.

Maestro, you can start the music, "Don't You Forget About Me," by Simple Minds that this song will go perfect with the two tales about "Tommy" below.

Among every tale about "Tommy," I am only going to share two tales. The two Best Tales about "Tommy" and what I witnessed him do while we were in the ninth grade. By way of explanation, every one of "Tommy's" tales and adventures are great in my opinion, but you do not have time to read "every" tale about my friend-from-a-distance, that is why I am going to share the two that I remember as being the best.

"Tommy," although he slumped, cursed, and pushed people around, loved the females. I told you earlier about him loving prissy girls, well, he did. And even the girls who would have punched out the Mona Lisa to be a Prissy Girl. With "Tommy," it didn't matter. If she wore a skirt and make-up, he had eyes for her.

"Tommy" did love (for a week or two) a girl named, "Jan," and to be honest, "Jan" was one more knock-out. She had the prettiest blond hair and had those sky blue eyes that twinkled at the right time. I had to hand it to "Tommy" for falling for such a gorgeous girl. And as Junior High Romances go, it went fast. Oh, they would meet at break time, lunch, and walk down the hallway holding hands and "Tommy" would be winking to the other girls who were watching "Jan" with jealousy fuming all over their faces. "Tommy" didn't care. He was cool.

I remember sitting in my English class and over two next rows of desks, sat "Ronnie" (not his real name), a real thug, but he did obey the school's rules. And what I am going to tell you right now, you may want to read it, respond, and then forget it. To this day, Jan. 20, 2018, I still wonder what happened.

"Tommy" and his (current) "squeeze," "Jan" walked by the English class to where I was sitting and then "Tommy" and "Jan" waltzed back directly in front of me, Mrs. Young, my friends, including "Ronnie," who didn't know what was about to unfold. Oh, man. I wished many times that in that day and time, I would have taken my video camera with me to film this happening--in a lot of ways, it was better than GoodFellas and now that I think about it, the way that "Tommy" handled the happening now convinces me that his folks were in the Witness Protection Program before there was a program like this.

It was time for English class to begin. Mrs. Young opened her book and greeted us, those who took her class, "Ronnie" too. And at the perfect time, "Tommy" blew through the door and he hit the door so hard that he almost broke the glass--and stood where "Ronnie" was sitting and just glared at him. "Ronnie" ignored him and that in itself took guts. Real guts.

"You been talking to 'Jan?' Huh? You been talking to 'Jan?'" "Tommy" said in a low, angry tone of voice.

And "Ronnie" just shook his head no, and never returned a word. Mrs. Young was a very conservative lady and said, "Now listen, whoever you are. I am not going to put up with this . . .oops, sorry, 'Tommy.'"

"Tommy" slung his head back to "Ronnie" and we, the innocent bystanders knew that there would be bloodshed, "Ronnie's."

"Asking you one more time . . .have you talked to 'Jan?'" "Tommy" said getting in "Ronnie's" face. Our room was so silent that we could hear the ants crawling.

"No, 'Tommy," I've not talked to 'Jan,' so leave me alone," "Ronnie" said in a very secure manner.

"Tell you something, 'Jack,' after school . . .well, we'll see about you," "Tommy" said, cursed and walked out of the room. And Mrs. Young went on about teaching us about Verbs and Adverbs.

That was around 1 p.m. and school dismissed at 2:55 p.m., so we waited. And waited. Some of us staked-out both entrances to the school building to have a ringside seat to see what "Tommy" was going to do with "Ronnie."

Out walked "Ronnie" who was walking extra slow and had that far-away look on his face as if he did not have a care in the world. Maybe he didn't, but "Ronnie" was like us, none of us really knew that much about "Tommy," and frankly, I wanted "Ronnie" to "clean 'Tommy's' clock," because "Ronnie" had always been the underdog and to me, I wanted him to be in the spotlight and not "Tommy."

Out walked "Tommy" slumping just as slow as "Ronnie." We were stunned. Either the two had come to an agreement in the school building and just left for wherever when school dismissed--for we knew that "Tommy" did see "Ronnie" walking so slowly toward the parking lot and it looked like "Tommy" didn't care.

Then came the aftermath, the next day. Rumors were flying like kites. One group was telling one story about "Ronnie" and "Tommy" and other groups were telling even more exciting stories--it was a good time for me to be in the ninth-grade, in 1969, and to have such good friends, all three of them.

Okay. Over the course of my life, I have engineered a few foolish things--some that I did myself and some I helped someone to do. Foolishness does have degrees of guilt. But on the afternoon of the day after the encounter with "Ronnie" and "Tommy" that never materialized, I just had to ask "Tommy" as he slumped down the hallway. "Tommy," are you and "Ronnie" okay?" There it was. "That" devilish look, a few used curse words and he replied, "Oh, that with "Ronnie?" (he laughed), I just did that to scare that 'Jack' so 'Jan' would think I was bad."

So now, it was "Tommy," the devilish, cursing con-artist, of sorts, but that episode was over and now I want to share with you the last tale about "Tommy" that has to be, to me, the funniest prank that I had ever seen a student pull on a teacher. I am completely honest.

Okay, maestro. Would you fire-up one of those classic Jazz piano soundtracks that accompanied the Great Charlie Chaplin during one of his many police chases.

Every high school in America had (and still does) Friday Night Football. My high school loved the sport, and yes, the preps and prissies had this event covered from the preps who made-up the football team, to the cheerleaders and majorettes. It was all about "them" every day of the week--now it was all about "them" on Friday nights at home or away games.

And when you have Friday night football games, you have fans who love to spend money and eat. Some of the fans just skipped dinner (supper to us rural kids) and ate at the game for the food there was like a feast and hey, for the cost of a huge cheeseburger, fries, a soda or coffee, the price was less than our local restaurants and these monies all went to the band for new music, uniforms and incidentals. Yes even the preps and prissies had their sticky hands into the band with their members and the band boosters as well. It was a racket, but a legal racket.

Guess what Monday morning was? "Clean-up From the Football Game" on Friday nights and guess who worked like dogs to clean up the stadium? Me! And my few friends along with our Agriculture teacher, Mr. M.F. Moore. No one ever knew what the M.F. stood for, so please don't ask. Moore would take us in his morning Ag class to Sargent Stadium behind our high school building and would pick-up the empty popcorn boxes, coffee cups, drink cans, cheeseburger wrapping, and cigarette butts. It was hard work. But it got us out of Mr. Moore's class, so we didn't gripe.

"Tommy" was in our Ag class on the night of the best prank that I've ever seen and I wish that I had a tape of this for you to enjoy. There we were all walking, picking-up trash, some offered up some mild complaining about us not being janitors, and I sure wish that the bell would ring and just being guys. And there were those taboo items we were told by our teachers to never discuss: SEX. I bet you were going to say Communism. Nope.

Mr. Moore was about 20 yards ahead of the group and we were doing a pretty good job. Then "Tommy" let out a yell that any Comanche warrior in any TV western could yell and honestly, I thought that somone had died or fainted from seeing a dead body. It was "Tommy," yelling, "Missssteeerrrrr Moooore! Heyyyyy! Come over heeeree . . .Now!"

Everyone knew that Moore had a nervous condition because when the tension and stress got to him, if he were in class, he would let out an angry roll of curse words and stamping the wooden speaker's podium to a point that the principal, Mr. Joe L. Sargent never walked to his room to find out why the yelling because we had gotten used to it. Moore's antics were all a part of the High School Process in 1969.

Some even said that Moore had saw action in WWII and was almost killed, but thanks to a sharp-thinking surgeon, his life was spared, but his nerves were awful. Moore's tales would have made a better narrative, but it's too late now.

When Moore got to where "Tommy" was yelling, he ("Tommy") was holding up a huge condom and "Tommy" was yelling, "look what I found! Mr. Moore's party equipment!" And then he would let out a loud laugh like a crazed jackass and the entire class would laugh making the prank all the more hysterical.

I will now give you a "Tommy" Bonus Tale. On the very next morning, Moore took me and my friends to his house to clean-up some roofing that he had done and once again, "Tommy" had his A-Game on for he had somehow took Moore's outside water hose and stuck up the nozzle into the shrubbery.

"Mr. Mooooreee, come here!" "Tommy" yelled. And we couldn't believe that now Mr. Moore was going to be duped again by "Tommy."

At the perfect moment, "Tommy" caused the water hose to look as if a King Cobra had hid in Moore's shrubbery and was going to bite him. No one would own up to "Tommy" not knowing about Moore's WWII action, but it did not take much for Moore to let out a breath of cursing that would have rivaled that of any Navy sailor on leave. Even "Tommy" was stunned and tried to apologize to Moore, but he continued to curse, point his finger at "Tommy" and stomp the ground. I thought that any minute, it was going to rain.

After that day, "Tommy" disappeared. No one and I mean no one knew where he went or what happened to him. Oh sure. There were questions and rumors filling the air, but still, no one knew where he went. Our school was sad. I couldn't believe what I was seeing unfold: sadness about a con artist, thief, prankster and one who cursed as smoothly as Mr. Moore.

No. I'd bet money on Mr. Moore being the Best.

This photo should give you an idea on how Tommy looked--but he didn't carry a club.

This photo should give you an idea on how Tommy looked--but he didn't carry a club.

© 2018 Kenneth Avery

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