Archive for July, 2009

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Chapter 3

July 10, 2009

by Dahni

© Copyright 7/10/09

all rights reserved

AmericanEagle_tiny

Monday July 4, 1966

It may have been a special day in history and a holiday, for most people, but to Ben, it was, ‘Independence Interrruptus.’

It was already summer and that in and of itself was a holiday for Ben. It was not that he minded so much in spending time with the family, but he was growing up and at least inside his own mind, he had already declared his independence.

If this day was a celebration of a rebellion, Ben was on his way to his own rebellion. He was after all, just a new teenager, thirteen years old to be exact. Some may view 13 as an unlucky number, marked with apostasy and rebellion, but there was once just 13 colonies at the start of the Revolutionary War and Ben was born on the 13th. This is all Ben knew about, American History. He was 13 and it sure seemed to be a lucky number to him.

He could patiently wait out time with the family. The food would be good and fireworks later would amuse him, but plans for yet an unknown adventure, were already set for later this night.

But the day’s agenda was set, for him, by his parents. They met at the home of his little-known cousins.  They lived on a farm, but it was technically in city limits. Adjacent to their property was an amusement park.

Everyone showed up around 12:30 in the afternoon and brought food and lawn chairs. The meal started around one o’clock. The food was good, but the conversation was pretty strained because, Ben did not know most of these people very well and could relate barely to  none of them. Most of the kids were younger than him so, there was not much for him to do except, eat, watch people and wait.

He waited for it to get later in the day, when fireworks were shot off. He waited for the amusement park, to shoot off their display after dark. But mostly, he waited, for this day to be over and his later planned activities, to begin.

At first, the older kids shot off their fireworks and that went pretty well. Adults helped the younger ones with their sparklers and little black pellets once lit that turned into coiling ashes that looked liked snakes. There were firecrackers and the occasional loud boom of a cherry bomb or a M80. There were some fountains and roman candles. All seemed to be shot off without a hitch; out of harms way from the rest of the party, until…

Some adult took a miniature missile launcher and was trying to steady it on a rock. The new missile launch site (the rock), was in front of everyone and closer than where the other fireworks were shot off. As the man lit the pack of 20 missiles, it started to fall from the rock. He caught it and quickly tried to balance it back on the top of the rock, before he ran away. Ben was sitting between two people and all three were in lawn chairs. Ben just happened to look up and out of the corner of his eye, as the missiles began to fire. Instead of firing straight up, they blasted off in several directions and one of them was heading straight towards Ben. The others beside him never saw it coming.

As if by instinct, Ben threw open his arms and knocked over the two chairs and those in them, on either side of him. Picking themselves up off the ground they stared at Ben and one even said, “What’s wrong with you, have you lost your mind?”

Ben heard the words, but they seemed to go in one ear and out the other, for he was running now. Call it a fluke or just his dumb luck, but one missile seemed to be honing in on him, as if he were transmitting some radar signal. It zigged and zagged as he did. Ben finally stopped trying to outsmart the missile and quit looking over his shoulder. All he could think of was to try and outrun it.

Suddenly, Ben felt a sharp stinging sensation in the back of his head. He was hit. His hair was on fire as he instinctively tried to pat it out with the back of his right hand. Most of the missile fell to the ground and Ben quickly stamped it out with his foot, not even thinking it could have blown his foot off. But, there was a hole in the back of his head, where his hair used to be, about the size of a silver dollar. The skin there had burned and his head still felt like it was on fire.

Someone threw water on the back of his head. His cousin, whose home they were visiting was, a registered nurse. She quickly ran into the house and returned with some alcohol, triple antibiotic ointment, gauze and surgical tape. As she worked on Ben, she assured his mother that was watching this scene with eyes of horror, that he would be OK. While she continued speaking to Ben’s mom, Ben’s face seemed to contort as the alcohol was poured over the back of his head. At that moment, he was not sure which was worse, his injury or the even more intense, burning sensation, he now felt.

There was no need to go to the hospital. He just needed to keep his head dry and change the bandages and reapply the ointment once a day. “He’ll be fine,” she assured Ben Mom’s. She then handed the extra bandages and the ointment to his mother and handed Ben a couple of aspirins for the pain. She never spoke to Ben.

No one ever said I’m sorry or asked if he was all right. The people he had knocked over never said thank you, for possibly saving them from what he took the blunt of. But Ben certainly seemed to display the characteristics of the kind of person, you want to be around during a crisis.

There was a little crowd standing around him as he was all patched up and sitting back in his chair. Among them was his brother that just started laughing at him. His own farther started to do the same, but covered his mouth with his hand and contained himself. Everyone went back to the party. Ben was now sitting by himself as if he, were some freak. Finally, the aspirins kicked in and he felt somewhat better. There was no way he would miss out on his plans later, even if he was in pain and despite the embarrassment he felt. But he would re-visit this embarrassment, the very next day as news of this event would spread and he would answer his own doorbell and see 5 or six little kids standing on his porch. One kid would have been at the picnic and saw what had just happened to him. This little kid would be the spokesperson for this little group, to stand in front of Ben.

“We’ll give you a quarter if we can see the hole in your head.”

Ben would stare in disbelief, never speak, and since it was there, bend over and pick up the newspaper, then turn away and walk back inside, closing the door behind him.

But this would all happen the next day. Ben was still waiting for the best of the rest of, this day!

It took for forever it seemed, for it to get dark. But right at 9:00 PM, the amusement park began, its fireworks show. The party had a fantastic view and Ben was in the middle of that view. It was a great display and though it only lasted for about 20 minutes, Ben could not wait to leave and those 20 minutes might just have well been hours.

Those twenty minutes could not compare to the nearly two hours later it would take, before Ben could make his escape to freedom.

They arrived back home around 10 o’clock in the evening. It was a work night for Ben’s father, so he would be going to sleep soon, or so Ben hoped. The Silents’ were early risers anyway, whether anyone wanted to get up early or not. When all were at home, the family always ate meals together, unless someone was really very sick or had ‘BEN,’ sent to their room.

Ben believed his brother could sleep around the clock if he could, but he had to get up early the following day, to leave for Boy Scout Camp. His younger sister was placed into her bath and she would soon be fast asleep. Mom was in the kitchen washing dishes and putting things away. His older brother had undressed and was in bed, reading his scout book. Their father was in the living room, watching the news and local weather on television.

“Jeez, will they ever go to sleep,” Ben wondered silently. Eventually, the last bit of water drained from the bathtub and his sister was quiet and sound asleep in her own bedroom. Ben had to share his room with his older brother, in a room that was built as a study off the master bedroom, where his parents slept. Two glass-paneled French doors were all that separated the two rooms. There were no curtains on the doors. The doors were closed at night, but he could see into his parent’s room and they could see into his and his brother’s. It wasn’t so close that you could hear everyone breathing, but everyone in each room could, pretty much hear ever sound between the two.

It was bad enough having to share a bedroom with his older brother, but having such an open view and right next to his parents was worse. The foot of his brother’s bed was just inside one of the French doors and against the outside wall. At least he had a window near his head. Ben had more wall space and the foot of his bed still allowed enough room to open and close the other door. His bed was placed against the side wall and his head against another outside wall.

This little corner world was the only privacy Ben had, but it was his world, complete with pictures and a collage of stuff, all – stapled, push-penned, taped, glued and nailed to the wall, next to his bed.

It was kind of hard to make the bed since it was right next to the wall, but Ben did not mind. At least his parents could not see him, unless they came into the room.

Ben undressed, put on his pajamas, got into bed and stared at the ceiling, for what seemed like forever. He waited and waited.

His brother closed the book he was reading, turned off his lamp and finally fell asleep. He could hear his mother in her room inside the closet on the other side of the wall next to his bed. She was probably getting her nightgown, he thought. After several more endless minutes, Ben could hear footsteps coming from the living room and finally, heard his dad get into bed. Ben waited and he waited and he waited.

Finally, he heard the familiar sound of night at the Silent Home. His dad was now snoring and that was how, he knew his dad was asleep.

His mother could not fall asleep hearing his Dad snore, so Ben knew she had to have already been asleep, before his Dad got into bed. Ben needed to make sure both were in a deep sleep, before he could leave.

Even though there was a separate entrance to this room from the outside, Ben knew from experience that when his brother had tried to sneak out using this door, their mother had always awakened and caught him in the act. Ben also knew that his brother tried to change his escape plan through a basement window and was still, always caught, but for some reason, never when Ben went with him. It was weird and Ben knew the only reason he ever allowed Ben to go with him was, he would probably never get caught. And they never were. This would be Ben’s first adventure on his own, but not without some careful planning, far in advance.

Ben silently rose from bed and slowly turned the door knob; carefully opening the door to his parent’s room and gently closing it behind him. He paused at the side of his parent’s bed, running several answers through his mind, should either or both parents wake up and ask him what he was doing, standing over them in the dark.

His eyes had already adjusted to the darkness of the room. It was a well lit night and there was a street light, beaming through open screened windows. Ben could see both of his parents were asleep and his father was snoring loudly. He pulled the flashlight out of his pocket to light his way through te darkened house.

Ben walked downstairs to the basement and pulled a bag of clothes he had previously stashed overhead, on top of a heating duct of the furnace. He quickly undressed in the dark and dressed from the contents of the bag, stuffing his pajamas and slippers inside and then repositioned the bag above the duct.

Slowly, quietly and carefully, Ben unlatched the basement window, climbed up on a table he had placed there directly underneath and holding the window open with one hand, he crawled out and closed the window behind him. Once outside, Ben waited just a little while, to see if he heard any sound coming from inside of the house or if any lights came on. The coast was clear and Ben was free!

But free for what?

 

Click here to: Chapter 4

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Chapter 2

July 10, 2009

by Dahni

© Copyright 6/21/09

all rights reserved

AmericanEagle_tiny

The new Jr. High school wasn’t that new, but it was brand new to Ben. And so he thought, so would life be, for him. A new school meant new classes and new faces that did not know him and maybe a new chance at not being made fun of over his name. It would not all be new, not exactly the same as before, just different. But unlike elementary school when all the subjects are taught in the same classroom by the same teacher, here he would have many teachers and many subjects, which unfortunately, for Ben, included, American History. But only American History he was interested in was, making history in America. History would be his-story.

Maybe the old “have you Ben Silent long,” thing, was just grade school; just old school? Maybe things would be different here. And so they were, just not as he would have preferred or anticipated.

This new school became necessary, to fill the need for the many young adults which were, mostly coming from the western part of town. Many of these students were from, the upper middle class and the upper class. Ben was kind of like, on the border of the district. It was like being the middle child in his family. He was too far from one school and, for some strange reason, too close to another.  But he had to go to this one in the ‘middle.’

It was modern and newer for sure, but so was he, for the most part and not too many knew him. Ben was glad that his brother was no longer at this school and was already in high school. Maybe students, staff and teachers would not connect him with his brother. Maybe he would not have to live up to his brother’s athletic and scholarly reputation that he made here? Ben was glad that so few knew him here and this was just fine and he preferred to forget about the past and many of those from it. But most of the students here knew each other. The rich kids came from homes with their own swimming pools or were part of a private pool.  Several had their own horses.  They had fine clothes and just lots of stuff. They hung out together and had been inside each others homes. They went to the same parties. Ben was an outsider and they looked at him and treated him as an outsider, like someone that came, “from the other side of the tracks.”

He was not stupid. He could see them stare and whisper behind his back when he was at the drinking fountain or his locker. They were either too stupid or just did not care that they whispered loud enough for him to hear. These people did not know him. They didn’t know anything about him. What was worse is that they didn’t even ask. Apparently, it was unnecessary, as Ben was sure that they thought they were so smart, they had him all figured out? Ben was from the wrong side of town. He didn’t come from money and certainly did not possess the proper pedigree of snobbery and social graces. So he must be one of those ‘bad boys,’ a ‘hood’ or some other unseemly character. Grade school was looking good to Ben now. At least there, he knew why people tried to take advantage of him. But here, this was something new alright. It was something unexpected and not something he was prepared to deal with. Ben now had a reputation. And it was a bad reputation, one of which, he had not earned.

There was not a few that acted like Ben was being portrayed. Some of them even came from money and the ‘right’ side of town. But the ‘cool’ people must have had an answer to this abnormality. They must have not had the right kind of breeding, the right ‘papers’ and they must not have had, the right ‘kind’ of money. Then again, sometimes trouble just courses through the veins of some people, no matter where they come from.

Ben felt with all this new pressure, it was pointless to try and defend that he was NOT one of the ‘bad boys.’ He really didn’t want to be one of ‘them’ or one of  ’those’ rich snobs either. Nothing was new in this. There he was, stuck in the middle again. Oh well, if he couldn’t beat them, he might as well join them. And the bad boys had no memberships, they just took anybody. For the first time, Ben had friends. But it would be several more years until he knew, what a friend really was.

There was still, a lot of really new stuff going on in this school.  It was the first time he would be in a school, for just three years. Sooner or later and for most, it would be the first time in becoming teenagers.  But there were a couple of students that were held back a grade or two. There was one guy in the eighth grade that already had his driver’s license and even his own car. He was one of those ‘rich ‘kids,’  but slow, dumb or never doing the work, his background offered him no favors. This place was different. They did not take crap or put up with anyone or anything. They expected you to be here on time, in your seat and do the work. Ben would have to become much more imaginative to test and beat their system.

There were new hormones moaning here. Girls were getting interesting to guys and the girls were attracted to the guys. Girls were budding and the boys were beginning to bulge. Some were slower than others to mature. One girl, lost her toilet tissue stuffing, and ran down the hall in tears with the TP streaming and trailing behind her, while others laughed. Cruelty, meanness and teasing was not new here, it was just evolving.

What’s the big deal about being different? Everyone is different anyway, so why is it necessary to brand people, elevate some and lower others? These questions had no answers for Ben. But it just seemed like eating your favorite comfort food, if you could just be in a group. Accepted not for who you were or even what your wore did not matter, just as long as, you were part of a group. Like a real family, pretty much all one had to do was just show up and you were ‘in.’

Besides all this stupid pecking order, grouping, groping, and gushing gee-whiz eyelash batting and impress the girls with some bravado, there was school to deal with too. Classes and teachers all seemed to have the same agenda, to get knowledge into heads of these emotional creatures and get them passed on to the next grade and for the next group of teachers to deal with. This school had a reputation to uphold. The whole city did. There were several colleges in town and a university. The whole town was based, built and thriving on education. The schools, colleges and the university here were, known across the country, for its educational standards.

Ben was running out of excuses. This first year of the three years he would be here, would be the last time he could use his grade school ploy of getting out of class and going home.

“I split my pants,” was just not cutting it anymore. This place was advanced. They would not put up with crap. They had ‘the enforcer’ to paddle the butts of smart-asses. They also had duct tape, which to Ben was more embarrassing than even getting his bare butt paddled. “Oh he knew the drill, “Drop your pants and bend over!” Here, if you split your pants, they would cover the hole with gray duct tape. They could also send you to the gym teacher to borrow some gym shorts. And of course, one would have to wear them over the pants that split on purpose or for real. Duct tape or shorts over your pants, everyone knew and you weren’t going home, until the end of the day.

One needed to be a much more creative here; a highly evolved and an intellectual giant, to foil the smart people in charge here. One guy got out of school after the police showed up and raided his locker, for a reported bag of ‘weed.’ No one thought that was too funny when it turned out to be just that, a plastic bag with dried weeds in it. It did get him out of school though. Ben did not have the guts or the stupidity to try something like that. It was bad enough that he was hanging around the guy, the unofficial crowned leader of the bad boys. Ben didn’t even like him. But Ben was after all, part of a group and that had to count for something.

With the lack of fortitude or just too smart to waste time on such a scheme, Ben had no choice, but to stay in school, day after boring day, unless, unless once in awhile there was something interesting or something that interested him Yes, Ben actually stayed in school longer than he was used to or desired to.  And by that fact alone, he might even learn something. WOW, what a concept, in school and learning!

There was still a lot of looking out of the window and dreaming whenever he could get away with it, but these teachers were smarter and much more aware than what he was used to.

There was art class and Ben enjoyed it and his teacher encouraged him. He aced the class.

There was English, which started out poorly, but changed after a confrontation with his teacher in class. Besides gym, this was Ben’s first male teacher. The girls went gah-gah over the blond haired, blue eyed good looking guy in his Ivy League sport coat. He wore a three piece suit or a jacket and a tie every day and he was smart. But Ben could not stand the guy.

One day, Ben was looking out the window. Then all of sudden, the room was silent. That was loud enough to catch Ben’s attention. When he turned back towards class to see what was going on, everyone was staring at him and his teacher did not look too happy.

“It is nice of you to rejoin us Ben,” was the next sarcastic thing Ben heard. And that was followed by spontaneous laughter, in unison from the whole class. Ben’s eyes must have turned red, not his face with embarrassment, but his eyes with anger. He was about to explode.

Mr. Mason raised his hands for effect. “Quiet class, perhaps Ben has a reason for his not paying attention. Ben, can you answer this question?”

Ben could see several smirks from jerks and he could feel the vein in his neck throbbing, as he waited for the shoe to fall. He it come he thought.

“Ben, can you give us a reason why, you cannot seem to afford to pay attention.”

Ben was just infuriated now and he just let loose.

“Yeh, I can give you two. I was told that public education is supposed to be free so, I don’t have to ‘pay’ attention. And even IF I had to pay attention, no one ever told me how much I’d have to pay attention!”

It was out now. Nothing Ben could do about it but wait for whatever was coming next. But he vented. He spoke up. He did not just sit there a take whatever this arrogant teacher wanted this room of mindless rats to think and do. Yes, he was glad he spoke his mind and he felt a little better. But he was still mad and nervous too, waiting on whatever was coming.

Heads turned to the front of the room and some were lowered as if they were ducking to avoid the crossfire of something being thrown from the front of the room to the back at Ben. The room was instantly and strangely silent. The pause seemed to last for an eternity.

“Ben, you have been silent, far too long! That was without a doubt, the funniest thing I have ever heard.”

Then Mr. Mason did something Ben had never seen him do before. He laughed. And Ben found himself, for perhaps the first time, not being laughed at. His teacher was just laughing. And others were too.

From that moment on, Ben and Mr. Mason bonded. Now no one ever said a word to him after class, but Ben had something from all them that day. It was something that he had never had before. Maybe just a little bit, but Ben had respect. Ben aced English. And from that day forward, no one ever made his name, the blunt of a joke, ever again. Oh, there would be some implied smiles, but never was his name used to cause him grief.

Other subjects and other teachers were not able to reach Ben. He tried football and was deemed too small for the line. He was moved to the back and actually started to both enjoy it and got better at it. But who gets kicked off the football team for smoking? And who flunks gym when, all one had to do was to show up and take a shower? If anyone could accomplish these things it would be Ben and he did. Ben picked up the nasty bad-boy group habit of smoking. He never liked it. He thought his lungs were going to explode the first time he inhaled. And cigarettes stunk and made his breath smell and his clothes. He even noticed nicotine stains on his fingers. His teeth started to yellow. He really had to be careful to hide not just this secret from his mother and father, but that he hated smoking from ‘his group.’ “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” That was a stupid line he heard and remembered, but it did apply to Ben. But speaking of stupid, how stupid is it to be caught smoking on school grounds,  right after practice and by your football coach? Ben was kicked off the team that very day. But the coach never told his parents and he was grateful for that.

Taking a shower and even showering with other guys didn’t bother Ben The problem was, it was difficult to grade a student that rarely showed up for class. No class? No need for a shower. Neither or not much of either? No passing gym class. Like before, pretty much all you have to do to pass gym is, show up and take a shower.

Ben just could not get math. Algebra might have well been a foreign language to Ben. Some referred to this branch of math as ‘algae-bra’ a tiny female sea creature with small breasts with not ‘enough’ to fill it out, like the brassiere worn by the poor girl who had lost her TP stuffing. Those were some really educated  thoughts, NOT! But, Ben was, really good at counting, especially the minutes and the seconds on the clock, before this boring class was over; school was out, for the day or the week or the summer.

Music class was cool to Ben. He loved to sing. He was quite fond of his young an attractive music teacher. All the guys seemed to love to be quite taken with her. She directed many a musical and several plays. Ben noticed that she frequently sat at lunch in the cafeteria with his English teacher, Mr. Mason. They must have talked about him and his story-telling. She once asked Ben to modify one of the scripts in a play and develop a new character and dialogue. He loved that. And on Fridays, his music teacher would often gather the whole class around a circle, dim the lights and quietly start to adlib just some soft instrumental music, strumming her guitar. “Ben, tell us a story,” she would say. He did and often. Ben loved those times. Maybe it was the low lighting? Maybe it was her strumming. Maybe both, but it was like  sitting around a campfire, just making up stories that he loved most that got him outside of himself and his ordinary shyness. Ben aced music class.

Social studies? Taught by Mrs. Warton? Most students called her, Mrs. War, not to her face, but behind her back because, she was tough. She had what seemed like, a war with Ben and Ben battled her, the whole year. If he somehow survived and made it through jr. high, her husband, Mr. ‘War,’ would be waiting, for him in high school. Little did Ben realize then, but the very first person he would meet in high school was, Mr. Warton. Ben imagined that he and his wife Mrs. Warton must have sat around the kichen table and discussed him, probably the worst student she ever had.

For the present, it was Mrs. Warton. She taught social studies. And that particular year their was a big focus on American history. Ben thought he had died and gone to hell because not only did the subject bore him, it was required to produce the dreaded, ‘presidential notebook’ as a major portion of his grade. “Oh, my God, here we go again,” Ben thought.  “Here we go again with all those dead guys and dead presidents.”

Benjamin Franklin who? Thomas Jefferson who? And his presidential notebook? Not memorable and incomplete. His boredom and utter discontent was, complete!

To this day, Ben does not understand how he ever graduated into the 8th grade, sucking at math, failing social studies and flunking out of gym. Perhaps it was a mercy passing? Maybe it was a “he’s got potential,” passing? Then again, possibly, it was because they had to pass everyone or lose their standing as one of the a top Jr. high schools in the country? Whatever the reasons or however it was done, Ben was glad to get the hell away from American History and ready to dive, headlong into summer.

What a summer it would be!

 

Click here to: Chapter 3

h1

Chapter 1

July 10, 2009

by Dahni

© Copyright 6/17/09

all rights reserved

AmericanEagle_tiny

Benjamin Thomas Silent, was a small-town, home-grown guy from the Midwest. He grew up in a good home environment with love, affection and nurturing, for whatever talents and abilities he might have or develop. But it was his name that brought him so many troubles and would be a catalyst for the future.

His mother was a high school English teacher and his father was a truck driver. Education was important to his mother and to his father that only went as far as the 11th grade. His dad had to leave school to care for his own health-failing parents.

Ben grew up without grandparents, so he neither knew them or what it was like to have grandparents.

His world was, his immediate family and he was living in a pro-education home. Although neither his mother or his father openly expressed that he was somehow a disappointment to them, he always felt like they thought this about him His mother of course a teacher, put pressure on him, even if it was unintentional and his dad, always regretted not being able to finish school. So to Ben, average or  just ‘squeaking by,’ he never seemed to gain any special attention or favor.

His spelling was terrible and his handwriting was horrible. His mother often told him he should grow up to become a doctor since, at the time, doctors were writing their own prescriptions in Latin and almost no one could read their handwriting either.

Both his mother and father were busy people and perhaps, they just wanted to conserve time and just simply called him, Ben. He wished they had given him some other name and maybe even a different last name. Even as a kid, people made fun of him. “Ben silent long,” was usually the sarcastic question asked.  Ben considered either not answering or just making up something, whenever he was asked what his name was. Making up stuff after all, was what he was good at, really good!  Perhaps, writing stories was, just his way of escaping (even if just for a little while), the teasing by others over his stupid name. Then too, Ben was naturally curios and had a vivid imagination, but ‘going some place else,’ instead of being where he was, seemed to help the frustration over his name, “those names.”

What’s in a name? Yes he was named after a great statesman and a president, both spoken of as, “founding fathers.”

Ben could relate to them only in the sense that each were writers and he too, had been writing stories for as long as he could remember. But sharing the names of dead people; names not very common now and whatever they did of importance in their lives, put a lot of pressure on him. Who were they and what did they do anyway? Ben had no clue and could care even less.

A young boy and often a young man, usually prefers not to be called by his birth name. His abbreviated name, ‘Ben,’ seemed to be an older and more grown up name, than Benjamin. Being named after some famous and long dead people did not help matters, in finding his place in the world. But he was grateful that no one called him ‘Bennie’ or ‘Little Ben.’ And as he grew older, he was thankful that no one ever connected that famous clock in London, England and never called him, ‘Big Ben.’

His parents were not neglectful of him, they were just busy people. His mother’s work as a teacher was not finished, just because school was out for the day, the week, over some break or holiday and not, even the summer. She was constantly involved in something or another that related to the school where she taught.

Ben’s father was gone a lot as an ‘over-the-road’ truck driver.

Life was pretty good in Ben’s world, but he had to be independent. There were not too many kids in his neighborhood to play with. They were all either too old, too young or too something. Too old or too young was almost like a mantra is his family. He had a older brother and Ben was too young to hang out with him very much. Ben was able to escape the embarrassment of having his brother’s ‘hand-me-down’ clothes, as they each were just different in size and build. His brother got the new stuff and Ben, just had to wait most of the time, until his parents’ ‘ships came in’ or there was some miraculous little extra money.  His brother was always bigger, athletic and popular, none of which were part of Ben’s gifts, talents or interests.

His younger sibling was a girl.  She was usually too young, for him to play with too.  No hand-me-downs for her and no waiting either, she was the only girl.  Being so, what she needed she received.

It was tough being the middle child, but Ben often made up for it with, his imagination.

The Silent’s were not rich, but they were not dirt-poor either. Still, Ben had to ‘make do’ with what he had. A stick, some dirt and his imagination was, pretty much all he had and all he ever needed to amuse himself, for hours.

When the weather was lousy, if he was sick or in trouble – grounded and confined to his room, Ben wrote stories or made them up in his mind. These were his places to go to, especially when and whenever he was teased by, ‘that name.’

Then, it was off to school. Ben would walk for most of his formal education and this allowed him to explore more of the world outside of, his little world.

He was not the brightest crayon in the box, but he wasn’t the dullest either. Whenever a teacher seemed excited about their subject or saw something in Ben, Ben got excited and did extremely well. But for the most part, Ben was a dreamer. He wanted something more, but he just did not always know, what that ‘more was.’

He pretty much kept to himself, not because he didn’t like people, but just to try and avoid confrontation and being teased over his name. Much of what he felt school was trying to teach him was, boring. It was either the teacher or the subject, but Ben spent much of his time in school, staring out of the window dreaming, doodling, writing stories or making them up.

American History really made his skin crawl. He had no interest in such a subject and knew even less about it.

When he finally graduated somehow, from elementary school and entered jr. high school, his opinion of American History was radically about to change!

 

Click here to:  Chapter 2