Pierre Fontenot Thursday, November 7, 2013 0

Where are you Deborah?  What was your story, little girl?  Where are you now?

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Deborah is on my mind, because I bullied her.

I have this thing I call The Flinches. I’d be driving and my subconscious would send a bad memory to mind, there it is, true, and truly shameful, and I’d literally flinch, jerk a shoulder in, often would bang on the steering wheel with my right hand, just furious at the idiot I had been.

Once I got reacquainted with God, The Flinches didn’t hit me anymore. That’s what Forgiven does. All wrongs are wrongs to Him. He pays the bill. If He says we’re square, we’re square.

But what about Deborah? Where do I stand with you?

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I went to a small rural school. From first grade to seniors, all in one compound, just different lunch hours and recesses.

We mixed, farmer’s kids and town kids, children of educated parents and children of illiterates, from families with two cars and families with no cars. I showed up for the first day of class with new P.F. Flyers and a big box of crayons, one down from the one with the built-in sharpener, and other kids came with an 8 pack of crayons and wearing their older brothers outgrown shoes.

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America was tougher then. War does that. Probably 3/5ths of the adult males had served in either WW1, II or Korea. America didn’t raise titty babies. We were the greatest country on Planet Earth, earned by tough stock. You start ya-yaaing and your first problem was your parents: even worse, your grandparents.

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I don’t recall ever hearing of a parent running to the teacher or principal to protect their child from a bully. It was considered a rite of passage, something you just had to figure out. You could fight, back then. It was understood by everybody – teacher, principal, school board – everybody had been a kid just-the-other-day, and nothing cured aggression like aggression getting reciprocated.

Honky Tonk bar fly mother or church piano playing mother, they all had the same advice, stand your ground, bullies are weak inside, you’ll only make it worse by letting them have their way. Many a kid went to school in total dread and came home elated after the bully went one straw too many and got popped in the nose and that cured Everything for All Time.

Done. Worked for Old Testament kids and worked for New Testament kids and worked up until recently, when America caught whateveritcaught.

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What could Deborah do?

Poor little girl. You know those awful pictures of Wal-Mart people, and you think, where do these people live, what cave do they dwell in? I think those were Deborah’s parents. She had no choice; it’s only there-but-by-the-grace that our lives weren’t swapped.

She came to school dirty. Her hair was unbrushed. Even so young, she slinked, in shame.

It started at recess. We were playing Tag and it got cruel. I really don’t know who started it, but I’m putting it out there that I was part of the mob, and I was having fun…somebody ran and touched Deborah, like you’d touch something filthy, and said, “Deborah germs!” and we all ran away from the It person…

I don’t know how long a recess was back then, but it must have felt like decades for Deborah. We were swirling around her, boys dashing by to touch the hem of her dirty garment, catching Deborah germs. The other girls stayed away, leaving Deborah alone, defenseless.

Sonofabitch, but if I could take that back…

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One day she just never came back to school.

I have no idea where she went.

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It was about this time that my little sister was born. We were at the hospital, me and Dad out looking at her through the glass walls of the nursery, when Dad said they were gonna name her Deborah.

No! I nominated Wendy. Deborah held.

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To God above, the Father of Deborah, I am sooooooo sorry for being mean to one of your children.

To Deborah, wherever you are, I Pray, that He made your wounds Strong, that the pain was for Something, something between you and He, a special Something, only arrived at through the Yea Though I Walk of the 23rd Psalm.

I wouldn’t doubt that you don’t remember me, can’t remember me, slammed that vault shut and flushed the key; I’d understand that, Deborah.

But I have not forgotten you. I think of you often, we ships in the night, you, a ship I did wrong.

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It seems an odd time to bring up basketball in this story, but here goes.

If ever I was an addict, it was to basketball. And to play basketball like I played basketball, you hadda play with The Brothuhs.

I have a specific memory. I’m the one white guy in the gym. Might be two hundred brothuhs. It’s a big game and I’m on the floor and my being there is asking for lightning strikes.

You gotta know a culture to know how they value insults. If a black dude calls you a motherf’er it ain’t no big deal. Believe that. It just ain’t. It’s nothing.

But a black man calls a white man a bitch, now we getting somewhere. And punk. There’s teeth to punk, when it’s black to black, and damn sure there’s teeth when its black to white.

And there I was, the white dude, the shooter, supposed to be raining treys, and from the stands they start on me, starts with one voice, Bitch, and I could hear the ooooh from all those voices, waiting to see how this plays out.

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I’d like to tell you a lie here. Tell you that I did what I should’ve done. The minute that first Bitch got thrown my way I should’ve gone right after the voice. Hope a bluff would work, but be prepared to get one good lick before I got my righteous ass whupped.

I didn’t. I never even looked that direction. By doing that, I asked for more.

They rained on me, just some filthy crap, everything we hate about hate, and there I was, trying to keep my shoulders up and shut ‘em down by knocking down a three.

Punk Ass Bitch. Ask a brothuh from back in the day. You got to throw down when somebody calls you that! King Kong big, don’t matter, you gotta throw down on dat!

I didn’t.

Like some sort of perverse psychological experiment, I subjected myself to a dunking in racism and hate, and bullying, and yes, Deborah crossed my mind. She took it. I can take it.

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So where do I go now with this?

There will always be bullies. There will always be strength and weakness, and as time plays out strength will often reveal itself to be weakness, and weakness will bind itself in healed wounds, blessed with time, and sometimes the best part of a person is the Broken Stuff.

I have been a bully; I have been bullied. Both ways wound.

We are not static. I report to you from Mid-Fifties. I can’t speak for Up-The-Road, but from here, I feel like I’m on my fifth life.

What is best about me now is only best because of pain. I have no particular respect for the parts of me that life hasn’t got after. I have no trust for anything about me that hasn’t been broke and had to heal.

I hope that Deborah found the love of God. I hope He used her wounds to make her super-strong. I hope that she is Big Inside, that she is washed in Forgiveness. She, like me, was given a life, a time to-be, and I so regret that I was so small as to not see us as peers before our mutual Father. Knowing God, it’d be just about His speed to make a diamond out of her.

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where you either get it or you don’t. Uncle P can be reached at