More on Me, Jerron Tables (My Story: Part III)
A continuation of My Story: Parts I and II.
After the death of my parents left me with nowhere to go. Monsignor Godot offered a hand. A shoulder. The chance to carry on. To conquer somberly. I would later blow that chance, but that’s another story.
The outlook was grim. Monsignor Godot became a father to me. He could never replace my dad, but his call to heredity was close enough. His thoughts and ideas were mine. We both gave an unwavering focus to translation, simple in everything outside this most endeared and entangled complication. It seemed that despite the circumstances, I had landed on my feet, in the most suitable of places, the one other spot in the world for me. I was comfortable, for the most part.
His wife was wifely and kind, their home homely and cheerfully unsevere, so unlike Godot himself when bent over a piece of foreign text; it must have taken very strong blood vessels to hold the man as he was “marching for Aletheia”. Their house was small and held nothing unneeded outside a mild decorum. The food was hearty, quite adequate and quite bone-bearing. There were perpetual mashed potatoes and squash, constant beef and ham. My parents did not eat much meat and for the first time I had iron in me. Whatever that meant.
After a while, I had developed a sort of confidence, especially in class. At the head of it, I could not rule on intellect alone and so I employed a new daring, a brass and bold Napoleonistic grandeur. I also employed Dennis the Janitor, who understood my plight. When some new translation smug-shot enrolled I would see his eyes, the questioning, the waiting for a punchline. Who was this kid and how bad was he going to get it when the teacher walked in? I was the clown about to give a good one. He had no idea. I was fierce. I would lay into him, make him bleed the conjugated verbiage of languages like knifes, article explosions on the perimeter, heat seeking conjunctions to suffer you your last milk-for-nothing dime and spit under your covers.
They would cry or leave the room. A few would smile like I was clever. I was, and they would spend the rest of class by the ankles, forced to smile so that it looked like a frown, beet red and sorry (this is where Dennis came in). “Sorry for nothing,” I would tell them. It was dictator defense, though my heart was of a different caliber. It was all a front, but I would rain on them like flesh-hating water, encase them like a salt-spitting fog of foreign devil-tongue. The poor students. I made them wet themselves in Italian. Defecate in Chinese. To humiliate. To weep. To shrivel. To cry out in terror. To want to die. These were the first verbs they learned.
I was eight years old, but I was not to be treated like I was even three times that. The accident didn’t help. There was that chip on my shoulder, razor sharp and a thousand pounds, taunting everything that moved.
But I was respected. I was engaging. The children and older boys and then the men would stare, follow my moves, oogle at the rapping of my ruler on the chalkboard. My students would consistently score higher on standardized and conversational tests. I was brought more lunches than the principle. Apples. Bananas. They would request time after class, these eager minds of worded wonder. There was a yearning for truth, a duty for exactitude. It was electric. There would be arguments over prepositions, bludgeoned stomachs and bleeding, and then everyone would come together like family, loving, sharing in the triumph of a particularly stubborn paragraph, dissecting foreign sentences by the lamplight.
I had found my footing and the Godots had saved me. It was a pleasure living with them. Monsigneur Godot had taken a liking to me from the start and finished to raise me with no second thought. He said I reminded him of himself, only I had the talent—“and it is truly reminiscent of God,” he said, “who knows all of the language, Jerron”. It was a wonder to hear, even outside the compliment. He said “language” with such a passion, such a tense wonder.
As lucky as I been since the accident, it was not always so easy. I could not erase the great absence. After my parent’s death I would have nightmares every night, fierce callings of Frenchmen, “Arrêt!”—they would carry me off in a bag and drop me somewhere in the ground. When the dirt began to rain I awaked.
coup de destin