by super sleuth
A left handed child, forced to write with his right hand, develops Graphobia.
|SECOND PLACE WINNER of Round Two of:
THE LEFT HAND OF GOD
by E C Wesch
Jamie fidgeted in his chair, anxious for the bell to ring. It was almost time to leave and he was dying to escape from this prison. Jamie hated school...no, what he really hated... was his teacher. He had always loved school until he entered third grade and got Mrs. Kenny for a teacher. She was pure evil. In just three short months Jamie's life had become a nightmare. He couldn't wait to get outside and breathe in some fresh, clean air and get away from her constant nagging.
"RINNGGG, RINNGGG," went the school bell.
"Finally!" Jamie whispered, as he slammed his book closed and stood to leave.
"SIT down James. I haven't dismissed the class yet."
Jamie gave Mrs. Kenny a hateful glare before he turned and sat back down.
"Your homework tonight class, is to write about what you did during your summer vacation. I want everyone's best and neatest handwriting, especially you James."
Jamie hated when she called him James. She made it sound so demeaning.
"James, before you leave, I have something for you to give to your father. Be SURE he GETS IT! Have a good weekend James. See you on Monday everyone."
Jamie reached for the note as he walked out the door.
"Now what does that old witch want?" he said. While trying to read the note, he was jostled by the other students rushing toward the exit doors. Jamie finally gave up trying to read it, so he folded the paper and put it away in his school bag.
"Hey Jamie, got a minute?"
"Yeah, what's up Cal?"
"Geoff, Robbie and me are going swimming in Alum Creek after school, wanna come?"
"Wish I could, but my dad gets home early on Fridays and he makes me do my homework as soon as I get home."
"That's too bad. Well, I got to go and meet the guys. See ya."
"Bye," Jamie said sadly, wishing he could go.
He didn't want to go home and see his father. Why couldn't he let me do my homework myself? Jamie thought. It would be a lot less aggravating for both of us.
Jamie climbed on the school bus and walked toward the back. Recently this had become his favorite part of the day. He would sit all the way in the rear of the bus, so he could watch what everyone else was doing. He liked to observe other people's behavior...people were interesting. Jamie wanted to be an actor and he figured he needed to learn as much as he could about human behavior and what makes people act the way they do.
Charlie Foxwood liked to tease the girls, especially Helen Cooper. He would pull her braids every day and when she turned around to yell at him he would lean forward and kiss her on the lips. She would turn red as a beet and try to ignore him the rest of the way home. Jamie thought Helen really liked Charlie and wanted him to kiss her, that's why she would turn around every time he pulled her hair. Helen was cute, REALLY CUTE. She could have her pick of any boy in the school but she never bothered with any of them, except for Charlie. Jamie wished she would bother with him.
Marilyn and Maureen Woods were twins. Although they looked alike, Jamie could still tell them apart, but only if they were standing next to each other. Marilyn was two minutes older and one inch taller than Maureen, otherwise they were identical, even their birthmarks were the same.
"Jamie, you got any gum?"
"No Bobby, sorry."
"Hey Peter, you got any gum?" Jamie heard Bobby yell as he turned away.
Bobby was a fanatic about chewing gum. He chewed gum all the time. His favorite was Bazooka Bubble Gum. They made the biggest and best bubbles. One day he watched Bobby blow a bubble bigger than his head. Bobby wanted to be famous for blowing the biggest bubble in the world. Jamie just shook his head and laughed because no one ever let Bobby's bubbles stay big for very long. Someone always popped it before Bobby finished blowing it, and gum would be stuck all over his face and in his hair.
As the bus pulled up in front of Jamie's house, his jaw clenched and his muscles tensed.
"Shit! Dad's home already," Jamie mumbled. Standing up quickly, he shouldered his bag and slowly walked to the front of the bus trying to prolong his confrontation with his dad. After saying good-bye to all his friends, Jamie hesitated before he stepped down from the bus.
"What you waitin' for Jamie? I ain't got all day. Go on now. Git."
Jamie stepped down and took a deep breath to steady his nerves. His hands were beginning to tremble. He could feel the veins in his head start to throb with each step he took that brought him closer to his front door. Jamie took a deep breath and closed his eyes as he turned the knob and opened the door. His heart felt like it was trying to escape from his chest and he prayed his father wouldn't notice that he was home. He tried to get to his room as quietly as possible, but as Jamie turned the corner and headed toward his room, his father appeared in front of him as if by magic. Startled, Jamie stopped short and dropped his book bag on the floor.
"I see you brought your bag home, that means you have homework, doesn't it?"
"I bring it home every day Dad. There's no place to leave it at school."
"Well, do you?"
"Do I what?"
"Have any homework?"
Jamie looked at the floor and mumbled, "Yeah."
"What did you say?"
Jamie's head snapped up sharply and said loudly, much more loudly then he intended to, "YES DAD."
"Don't you get flip with me boy," shouted his father. "Now get to the kitchen table and let's see what you got. Give me your bag."
Jamie handed over his bag and turned toward the kitchen. His hands clenched and unclenched under the table in nervous anger as he sat waiting for his father to look in his bag.
"What's this?" His father shouted as he unfolded the note from Jamie's teacher.
"I don't know? I didn't read it."
"LIAR!" shouted his father. "You damned well know what it's about. You've been writing with your left hand in school again, haven't you? How many times do I have to tell you to only write with your right hand? It goes against God's will."
"It's difficult to write with my right hand. I can't do it," cried Jamie.
"YES you CAN, and you WILL," screamed his father grabbing Jamie's left hand and squeezing his fingers causing tears to fall from Jamie's eyes.
Jamie tried to pull his hand away but his father just gripped it tighter.
"Let go Dad, please...you're hurting me."
"That's the idea. Next time I'll break your damn fingers if I catch you using your left hand to write. This note is from Mrs. Kenny, she said you insist on using your left hand in school and she wants me to do something about it. Well, I guess I WILL do something about it. Don't you understand it's not natural to write that way. If God wanted you to write with your left hand He would have made everyone write with their left hand. The devil is inside you making you do it and there is only one way to exorcise him."
"Beat him out of you. Put your hand on the table, NOW!"
"No Dad. Please...I promise I'll never use it again...Dad NooooOW."
Jamie's father grabbed and twisted Jamie's hand and slammed it hard down on the table.
"Now, leave it there until I come back."
"What...what are you going to do d-dad?'
"Just shut up and do as you're told."
Jamie's hand stung so bad he wanted to rub it, but he was too afraid of what his father might do if he caught him with his hand off the table, so he kept it there and rubbed where he could. Jamie began to shake in fear. He felt a cold chill inside him and small bumps appeared on his arms. When Jamie's father came back he brought with him a thick heavy leather belt.
"Now hold your hand there and don't move it, or I'll double the punishment."
Jamie pleaded with his father, his tears flowed freely as he watched his father swing the belt high over his head and bring it down five times with a powerful smack across Jamie's knuckles. He then told Jamie to turn his hand over. The lashing seemed to go on forever but his father had stopped after ten strokes. Jamie's hand felt like it was on fire and as he covered it with his right hand he winced in pain. His knuckles were bleeding and huge welts streaked across the back and underside of his hand. He tried to raise it off the table but it felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. His fingers were red and swollen and Jamie could barely move them.
"Stop that sniveling and go get yourself cleaned up. You still have homework to do and I ain't got all day to wait on you."
Jamie put his right hand under his left forearm and gently lifted it off the table and ran out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. He placed his aching, burning hand into the sink and ran cold water over it. The cold water helped ease the burning but it did not stop the pain. His tears flowed more freely now that he was out of sight of his father.
Jamie wondered what had happened to his dad. He would never have hit him for any reason while Jamie's mother was still alive. His dad had always been so happy and loving and it wasn't until Mrs. Kenny started teaching him that his father had changed. The witch must have bewitched him. She sends a note home to him every week, sometimes more often. These notes always set his father off into a rage and Jamie is the recipient of his anger. Each time it gets worse and worse and this was the worst ever. Jamie hoped his fingers weren't broken.
"JAMIE, get out here, NOW!"
Jamie wiped his eyes and tried to dry his hand. The roughness of the towel against his tender skin was excruciating. As Jamie left the bathroom his hand throbbed as it dangled by his side. All the blood in his body seemed to have settled in his aching palm and fingers; the pressure was unbearable. Jamie struggled to unbutton one of his shirt buttons with his right hand and then very carefully tried to slide his aching hand inside his shirt. This relieved some of the pressure but not enough.
Jamie hurried into the kitchen and sat at the table. He hoped, if his father didn't see his hand his temper would improve. He picked up his pencil with his right hand and attempted to write his story. The pencil felt awkward in his fingers and his brain kept trying to tell them what to do but his fingers wouldn't co-operate. Everything he wrote looked like a mess, even Jamie found it difficult to read.
"What do you call this garbage? It's nothing but scribble. Do it again."
Jamie must have rewritten his story at least ten times before his father was satisfied.
"It's still not right but it's getting late and I have to go out, now get to bed."
Jamie packed up his things with one hand and went to his room. He flopped down on his bed and began to cry.
I hate you, he thought, I hate you both.
Six months later Mrs. Kenny became Jamie's step-mother.
The day Jamie graduated High School he moved away from home and never went back. Nine years of misery was enough torture. He moved in with Geoff, Cal and Robbie, his three best friends. They shared a two bedroom apartment on the other side of town. They had no beds. So they slept on the floor in sleeping bags.
With the little money they had, they bought bean bag chairs, dishes, glasses, and silverware. They had Geoff's father's old tape deck and radio combination and enough eight track tapes between them, to play a different song all day and night without hearing the same song twice in a month's time. Jamie thought he had died and gone to music heaven. He had never been so happy in his life...except for when his mother was still alive.
After a week in their new abode and the boys were comfortably settled in, they decided it was time to get serious about what they wanted to do with their lives. In order to keep their palatial estate they must all find a job. So Monday morning they went to the unemployment office to see what was available. The place was packed. They stood for at least one hour waiting for their turn to get applications. While standing in line they met Bobby still chewing his gum.
"Hey Bobby. Are you in the Guinness Book of World Records yet?" they teased.
"No. But I came close."
"Keep tryin', you might make it yet."
"Bobby, did you hear about Charlie and Helen?" Cal asked.
"What about 'em?"
"They got married yesterday."
"You're kiddin', right?"
"It's true. Scouts honor," Jamie added to the conversation, holding up three fingers.
"Don't make me laugh Jamie. You were never a scout. I didn't even know they were engaged. Did you go to the wedding?"
"Nah, It was all done quick and quiet. I think Helen is pregnant," sneered Robbie.
"No way! How did you find that out?"
"The twins told us. They stood up for them as witnesses."
"Next...I said NEXT! Excuse me young man, do you intend to stand there all day or would you like some help?"
"Oh, I'm sorry ma'am." Jamie said as his face blushed.
"What can I help you with?"
"I'm looking for a job."
"Yes, I'm sure you are, so is everyone else that's here. What I need to know is what kind of a job are you looking for?"
"It doesn't matter, anything that you have available would be fine, I need the money."
"That certainly narrows it down. Have you looked over the bulletin board? Was there anything that interested you?"
"Yes I did, and no."
"No, there wasn't anything there that interested me."
"Are you trying to be funny, young man?"
"No ma'am. I just want a job."
"What are your qualifications? What kind of work have you done before?"
"Well, I delivered newspapers for three years, watched my neighbor's kids when they went out, and washed cars as a fund raiser for the football team."
"I see. Very admirable. But what are your aptitudes? What are you good at?"
"Oh, I see now. I'm an actor."
"I've had the lead in every school play for the last four years. You have any acting jobs?"
"No, this is not a talent agency."
"Here take this application over there and fill it out. When you're done stand on that line over there, Line C, and give it to that gentleman. Have a good day."
Jamie took his application and stood at the table against the wall. With his left hand he picked up one of the pens attached to the table with a long string and started to fill out his name. Suddenly his hand began to shake violently. Beads of sweat started to accumulate on his forehead. His heart rate doubled and he felt like he was going to pass out. A wave of nausea swept over him and the room seemed to be spinning. He grabbed at his throat and started to claw at it in an attempt to open his airway which seemed to have become constricted. Jamie stumbled and started to fall. He released the pencil to grab the table, but his arm slipped and he struck his head on the table's sharp edge barely missing his eye. As he collapsed to the floor, Cal was the first to reach him.
"Hey buddy, you all-right?"
Jamie's heart rate started to decrease and his breathing was getting back to normal.
"Yeah, I think so?"
"What happened Jamie? When I looked over here you turned white as a sheet. Then I saw you start to fall. Can you get up?"
Jamie took in several deep breaths and said, "I'm not sure?"
"I'll help you. Lean on me. Let's go outside for some air. I think we been in here long enough for one day."
As Cal and Jamie walked out into the air, Jamie's head began to clear.
"I'd better get you to a hospital. That's a nasty gash you got there. It might need stitches."
"I'll be OK, I've had worse."
"That's true. You always seemed to be hurting your hand. I remember that time you slammed it in the car door. What a mess that was. It was swollen for a month.
You didn't go to the doctor then either. Are you afraid of doctors, is that it?"
"No, nothing like that."
"What's wrong with you Jamie? Is it something we should be concerned about?
You're not desperately ill are you? You're not going to die on us?"
"I'm fine, I just needed some air."
After a while Robbie and Geoff came outside.
"Jamie, you forgot your application."
"Thanks guys. I'll fill it out back at the apartment. I bring it back tomorrow."
"Yeah, I think we all will. I know I've had enough of this place for one day."
Back at the apartment, Jamie took out his trusty old typewriter he bought when he was in sixth grade. His teachers let him use it because his handwriting was so bad. It was almost impossible to read anything he wrote. At first they resisted him using it but they soon relented when they saw how much his grades improved and he was absent from school less frequently because of injuries to his hand.
Jamie soon became very proficient with the typewriter and was able to complete all his assignments in school. He never again brought any books home other then reading assignments. His father and stepmother couldn't complain because his report cards always indicated he was an A student with no missing assignments.
He graduated in the top ten percent of class and made the Dean's List every year.
The next day Jamie brought back his application neatly typed and turned it in to the man waiting behind the counter on Line C. The man was very impressed by the neatness of the application and asked, "Did you type this by yourself?"
"Yes I did."
"How fast are you?"
"UH...I don't know. Pretty fast."
"Would you come with me please?"
"What's the matter, did I do something wrong?"
"No nothing like that. I would just like to give you a test."
"What kind of test?"
"A typing test to find out how many words-per-minute you can type. If you pass I think I have a job for you."
"OK, I'm game."
After the test the man was so impressed by the speed and accuracy of Jamie's typing ability that he was offered a job at the employment office inserting files into their new computer system.
"Great, when do I start?"
The man handed Jamie a pen and said, "As soon as you sign your application."
As Jamie's fingers gripped the pen his hand began to tremble and beads of sweat appeared on his forehead....