Disciplinary Form: Participant
Okay, I’ll write this.
At first I wasn’t going to. I was too mad. So when you first sent me in here and told me to write about what happened, I thought, No way. You can give me detention, call my mom, kick me out of school—hell, you can strap me into the electric chair, turn it to HIGH, and roast hot dogs on the flames that are shooting out of my ears, but I will NOT—NOT, NOT, NOT!—sit in here and write some dumb thing about what happened out at lunch.
But now I will. But not because I’m afraid of you. I’m not. I’m writing this only because I want to remember it myself. I want a Xerox of this when I’m done. You have to promise me. I want to keep it with me, always. I want to take it out every now and then and read it. I don’t ever want to forget what happened today. Because today is a day when I did something right. Really right. And now I’m in trouble.
I’ll start by telling you what I bet you heard from some of the witnesses who were out at lunch and saw it. They said, I bet, that I jumped up out of my chair, walked over to that Chris Cross kid, tapped him on the shoulder, and when he turned around, I smashed him in the face, twice, once with each fist, hard as I could. (They’re right about that part.) And I bet that other kids told you that I did it for no reason. Because I didn’t say anything before I hit him, didn’t give him a chance to defend himself. (They’re right about that part, too, but they’re also wrong, as you’ll see.)
Now, I’m going to tell you that I did hit him, twice, but I didn’t hit him for any of the reasons you might think. I don’t hate him (I hardly know him). He never did anything bad to me. We don’t like the same girl. We’re not competing for anything. I didn’t do anything to any of his friends or family. He didn’t do anything to mine. There … that takes care of the usual reasons, doesn’t it?
Now … let me tell you about crows.
Crows mate for life, did you know that? The same male and the same female stay together for years and years. They help each other build their nests, though the female seems to have the final word on what goes where. (Like at my house.) Sometimes they come back to the same nest, year after year. They take turns sitting on the eggs before they hatch. If one of the crows is in trouble, it will sometimes make the sound that the mate makes, and the mate will come flying back as fast as can be.
Crows are very social. They even recognize other crows, probably by their sound. They seem to like other crows. At night, most of the year, crows gather together and roost, sometimes by the thousands. Sometimes they’ll fly as far as fifty miles to get there. I read that there are some gatherings of crows that are huge, like tens of thousands of birds, all in one place, all at one time. I’d give anything to see that.
When crows find some kind of food source, or something dead (crows eat about anything), they make a noise that brings the others. Like a black river they flow across the sky till they arrive at the place where the first crow is calling for them. What brings other birds even faster is when a crow cries out for help. It all sounds like plain old cawing to most people, but to the crows it’s music, music that’s almost like a magic language.
I love crows. In case you haven’t guessed it. At home, we have a pet crow we got when it fell out of a nest when it was little. We raised it. But I won’t say any more about that right now.
So what does this have to do with that Chris Cross kid that I punched?
I’ll tell you.
His lunch table is right near mine. Sometimes the guys at that table get so loud I can hear them, every word. And today Chris Cross was telling a story about what he did last weekend. I’m going to try to write in now just like he told it—or as close to that as I can get it. Here goes …
So last weekend I went hunting with my dad and my uncles. [The other guys said stuff like, “Where did you go?” “Do you have your own gun?” “What were you hunting?” Stuff like that.] We were over in Pennsylvania on my uncle’s farm. We all had shotguns. They give me just a .20 gauge cause they think I can’t handle a .12 or a .10—too much kick, they say. [The other guys teased him a little, said stuff about being a girl because he couldn’t hold a big shotgun. Then he went on.] You should’ve seen it. We found a place out in the woods were we could see a bunch of crows’ nests. They like to build up high, but if you know what to look for, you can find them. So anyway, my uncle, he goes out into a clearing and puts an iPod with a speaker halfway under a log. [“An iPod?” “Won’t the music scare the birds?”] Naw, we weren’t playing music on it. My uncles and my dad took me back into the trees, and we all sort of spread out, then my one uncle, who was still out in the clearing, turned on the iPod and ran for the woods. [“What was it?” “What was on it?”] Just listen, will you? Let me finish. So it’s this awful sound. It’s a file he bought from an ad in a hunting magazine. It’s sounds that are supposed to attract crows. [“I bet it’s a sex call or something.” “That’s stupid—what kind of sex call would make both boy and girl crows fly to the same place?” “Shut up!” “No, YOU shut up!”] Anyway, I couldn’t believe what happened next. It’s like all at once there was a million crows flying there. And I hear all these guns blasting away and my uncles and my dad open up. And I’m firing as fast as I can. And black feathers and chunks of bird are flying all over the clearing. One bird landed right at my feet, wounded, and just sort of flapped there. I blasted it. [“Awesome!” “Oh, man!”] And the birds kept coming for a while, until the sound effects stopped. And we just kept blasting away. When we stopped, I touched the barrel of the shotgun and it was so hot I almost burned my hand. So then we went out and started counting—we shot fifty-seven birds, and my uncles and dad were talking about how dumb the crows are, and we were all laughing like crazy—
“Crazy.” That’s the last word Chris Cross said before I tapped him on the shoulder and smashed him in the face. Gave him a little crow medicine.
So let me ask you this … why am I in trouble? I mean, I didn’t blast him with a shotgun I just smacked him a couple of good ones. A couple of really good ones.