Chapters to be interleaved with chapters of Free Books, Free Love. Albert is 11 years old
A Parallel Text to Free Books, Free Love
by Alan Carl Nicoll
Copyright 2016-2017 by Alan Carl Nicoll, All Rights Reserved
Hello. My name is Alberto Gonzales but most people call me Albert. I like being called Albert because it makes me think of Albert Einstein who was a great thinker. I am eleven years old. My teacher Mrs. Avery told me I should write I mean I should be a writer becaues I write so well. She said I should write a journal. Realy she said you should write a journal but to write it that way I would need to use quotation marks but I don’t want to mess up. I looked up how to spell quotation marks. It’s easy. Granny Jan gave me this book on my birthday so now I have a good thing to write in. If it was just notebook paper it wouldn’t be special. Granny Jan in case you don’t know pushes a cart around with free books she gives to anybody. She comes by here Friday after school and that’s how I get books to keep. Mostly. She gave me all the Harry Potter books which are awesome and scarey too. I think lots of things are scarey in the real world but I like to read about them too. Mrs. Avery is my sixth grade teacher at Twenty Sixth Street Elementary School in Bakersfield California. She says don’t call me Ms. so I don’t. I asked her what I should write about and she said your life I mean my life. She said imagine that you’re thirty years old like I am and you can’t remember what it was like. So you should write what you’ll want to know about your life when you were eleven years old. I said I don’t know how to do that. Mrs. Avery got mad at that but she said okay then. That’s what she says when she’s mad. I said I would try it. I guess one thing I’ll want to know is why I wrote the book. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Albert’s Book. Chapter Two.
I showed this book to Mrs. Avery and she said not to worry about quotation marks and just keep going. She said you’ve made a good start and don’t forget to break things up into paragraphs. Another word I had to look up but not hard to spell.
Mrs. Avery is pretty and very dark skinned. She’s African American or black. I like her a lot becaues. That was a joke. Realy I like her becaues she likes me and listens to me and she reads to us and does funy voices in the story. She never yells at us I guess becaues we all like her and don’t want her to get mad and quit. Then we’d get a mean teacher like Ms. Croft. Who is real old and ugly and says she hates troublemakers. By which she means boys. I know what she means becaues the boys are mean to me about my vitiligo. You can believe that’s a word I can spell!
Vitiligo made parts of my skin so I’m all white and brown like paints poured together and some cows and horses. The boys say keep away lepper freak. Steven said I got it from playing with my you know what. Mom took me to Dr. Guinnes about it when I was little and he said I was stuck with it. My Dad called me lepper too and laughed maybe he was drunk. He’s gone now becaues Mom kicked him out. She said he’s a drunken bum and a cheater but I don’t think he’s so bad. There’s a TV show called Cheaters but we don’t watch it. The girls at school talk about it. It sounds horibble. People yelling and fighting we get plenty of that from our naybores the Xaviers. Their girl Mary hates me. She was my baby sitter until I was ten.
I wrote yesterday that I would write about why I’m writing this book. But I don’t realy know! I guess I do most things becaues I like to do it so maybe becaues I like to. I read so much it’s interesting to see how somebody might write a book. I could say you just put one word after another until you’re done. But that’s stupid.
I looked up diary and journal and I guess I’ll just call it Albert’s Book for now becaues who knows what I might write? I could write a story if I could think of one. Or I could keep a list of books I read except I do that already in a little memo book. Those wouldn’t go in a diary would they. And I might not write every day either which you’re suposed to for a diary.
I never wrote so much before but this isn’t like school work it’s more fun becaues I can write anything I want even the bad words when I want. Except I don’t want to.
Albert’s Book. Chapter Three.
I never knew any one else with vitiligo. I saw somebody with it when I was riding on the bus and he was walking. I have only one friend Bobby Kirkus but I only see him on Saturday when we watch birds. I might have more friends if I didn’t have vitiligo but Mom says it’s becaues I’m too shy. I never saw anyone with vitiligo in a movie or on TV or in a book but Mom showed me a magazine Cosmopolitan that a model named Chantelle Winnie has it. Somebody said she looked like a butterfly which is better than lepper freak.
When Mom saw the magazine she cried but said she wasn’t. She lied and I knew it but it was ok becaues it was so I wouldn’t be sad. Lie is a teribble difficult word so I studied it with Mrs. Avery until I knew it perfect. She said even adults get it wrong. Lie and Lay I mean. Granny Jan and Mrs. Avery said I’m a very good speller. They mean for a kid I guess. But I hate to get things wrong. That’s why I study and look up hard words. Ms. Frizzle in the Magic School Bus books I used to like always says to get messy and make mistakes. Is that a good idea? Granny Jan explaned it to me but I didn’t get it or maybe I forgot. But if I made mistakes in spelling they wouldn’t say I’m a good speller now would they? Are some mistakes good?
I asked Mom about it. She said “Don’t worry about mistakes.” So I used quotation marks there. I guess I get it now. It’s better to do it with mistakes than to not do it at all Mom said. So maybe I’ll do it with comas from now on too, with mistakes. I’ll blame the mistakes on Ms. Frizzle!
There’s something very weard about this. I don’t understand why people make mistakes in their words and I don’t understand why some words are so hard and weard. I keep finding new mistakes in my words and new things that don’t make sense. Like the word fiery. Why is it spelled that way when fire is spelled different? What’s bad about spelling it firey? Who decided that it was better to be stupid? Mrs. Avery said she read about a little girl who cried when she learned how once is spelled. She shouldn’t have cried, she should have screamed bloody murder!
I guess when I’m thirty I won’t be interested in such things, but when I’m eleven I think about it a lot. There is a dictionary at the library so big I can’t even lift it, I’ll never learn all that even if I never did any thing else.
But here’s the thing about words that makes my head expload. When I make a mistake it’s usually because there was some thing stupid that I didn’t know, like fiery!
Albert’s Book. Chapter Four.
I asked Mr. Pataki about why words don’t make sense. He said that was a realy complicated question and he said he didn’t know. I only had one friend but realy I have more but they are adults. It’s other kids who don’t want to be friends with me. But Mr. Pataki is a friend who likes me.
Mr. Pataki lives across the street. He’s the oldest person I know, eighty eight. He gave me a trilobite fosil out of his collection and he gives me other cool stuff and food and even money without asking. Mom said not to let him touch me and I had fun pretending I didn’t get it. He used to be an engineer, I word I looked up to spell. He built roads and bridges and San Jacinto Dam that he likes to talk about and show me pictures of. I said “They should call it Pataki Dam.” He laughed and said he realy didn’t do much. Lots of people worked on it.
Mr. Pataki taught me chess and gave me his old one but he doesn’t like to play much so mostly I play on the computer and lose. He likes to tell jokes a lot and taught me puns, his jokes mostly end with a pun. Like one time he said “I thought my nose was bleeding but it’s snot.” There’s a pun in there. Later he said “If we had some ham we could have ham and eggs if we had some eggs.” That always makes me laugh. That’s not a pun, too.
I try to get Bobby Kirkus to play chess but he doesn’t want to. He lives kind of far away on the other side of the park so mostly we meet there. He’s pretty mean some times, like to little kids, but I’m bigger than him so he doesn’t mess with me. We’re the same age. He says bad things about people so I wonder what he says when I’m not there, like maybe lepper freak. It’s possible.
We could play chess at the park but he won’t. He just wants to look at birds and drink root beer and eat fries but I like that too. He goes to a different school. If we hadn’t both been at the park looking at birds one time we wouldn’t even know each other. We both must have heard that Northern oriole and when it flew away I saw him looking at the tree where it was, so I said “Hello.” He said “It’s cool that you’re camouflaged.” I looked up how to spell it.
Anyway, as a friend he’s a disappointment. But at least now when people ask why I look funny I tell them I’m camouflaged.
Albert’s Book. Chapter Five.
Mr. Pataki is wrinkled and bald and all white which he says is becaues he never goes out, but I have seen him go out some times. He smells like talcum powder, he puts on his feet. He’s the only person I know who talks about dieing. He said “Some day I’ll put my head down and never lift it again.” He says that when he lies down on the sofa, which he does some times when he plays music on the CD player that he wants me to listen to. Some times I like the music but some times it seems boreing and he turns it off, he can tell when I’m bored. The music is kind of weard, Japanese and Indian and Lebanon and Soofi, but he plays classical too. I didn’t know there were so many kinds of music. I don’t like opera. Or ballet he shows me, very boreing and freaky with people on tippy toe. His first name is Steven, like my school enemy.
It seems like Mr. Pataki is always by himself. He says he likes books better than people, and that books are people too. But he has a dog too, Poocheeny or however it’s spelled. He said it’s a composer, so it’s another pun. Poocheeny can’t bark so he hardly seems like a dog at all, except he licks me like crazy and chases balls. Which reminds me that Mr. Pataki likes to say “You’re nuts” and I say “What about em?” Poocheeny is old so he mostly sleeps and sighs a lot. I wish I could have a dog but Mom says no. They do bark a lot around here. Mr. Pataki says Poocheeny is a mutt but he looks like a lab.
My other adult friend is Granny Jan who is not as old as Mr. Pataki but is still real old, I think she said sixty two. She wears big hats to keep the sun off and she usually smells like coconut, it’s sun block. Her name is realy Janice McCready which she wrote for me when I asked so I could get it right in my book. She’s as little as me! I said “You should marry Mr. Pataki.” But she never met him and didn’t want to, she has a boy friend. I said “You should bring him over to dinner some time.” But she didn’t say anything about that she asked about birds so I guess she won’t. I didn’t get pushy about it like I used to.
Granny Jan is funny and always hugs and kisses me, she says “You have to put up with old people.” She tells me about things I did when I was little that I can’t remember, like when I fell in a pond when I was two.
Albert’s Book. Chapter Six.
When I come home from school I sit on the front steps that Mr. Pataki calls a stoop. He’s right, I looked it up. But Bobby Kirkus calls people stupes which sounds the same but is spelled different. It means a stupid person. So maybe I’m a stupe on a stoop. Bobby Kirkus says “Don’t be a stupe” whenever he doesn’t agree with me or anyone. Realy he’s not so smart that he should call other people stupes. He doesn’t read real books, just manga that are like comic books. I tell him about Harry Potter but he won’t listen though he likes the movies.
When I got home today I went to see Mr. Pataki and he asked if I like scarey books. Well I read Goosebumps books so I guess I do. So he gave me a nice big book The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft. It has gold edges like a Bible that makes it seem extra special. It’s as thick as a Bible, too.
I don’t believe in God but I’m not sure why I don’t. Mr. Pataki is a Methodist which is easy to spell if you know method. He says I don’t have to make up my mind about God yet, he says God will wait for me. It’s a good thing he doesn’t talk much about God becaues God is boreing. A big invisible face in the sky, why does anybody believe that?
I read the first story in the H. P. Lovecraft book, called The Beast in the Cave. I found out I’ve been spelling weard wrong, it’s weird. I like my spelling better, but what can you do? The story was kind of silly but getting lost in a cave and your light going out is very scarey. HPL wrote it when he was fifteen so I guess the later stories should be better. I noticed he spelled color as colour which is British but HPL was born in the US. I asked Mom about it and she said “He’s putting on airs.” She said that’s what snobs do. I looked up snobs and air and read the dictionary for a long time. I like to do that. I guess he was trying to impress us with his spelling but that’s silly.