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Stacey Sidenholm's Response When Asked About Jimmy
Well, Jimmy always was a strange one. He’d do things that the other children wouldn’t normally do. He never really made any sense out of what he was doing either, but as he’d say, he really didn’t need to. I remember the first day he showed up to Mrs. Speling’s Seventh grade Science class. He was new in town, and, like we treat all the new folk here in Cotton Bridge, Alabama, he was put on display for all of us regular folk to put on a fake smile or a snicker or two. For the whole period, he just sat there breaking his pencils in half. Nobody bothered to ask him why ’cause nobody never really wanted to go near him on account of the shrapnel and all.
After class, Stacey, Stacey Stockenburg, not Stacey Shubert, tried flirting with poor Jimmy, or Seventh grade flirting anyway, which isn’t really what we older girls do now in the Eighth Grade. I’m pretty sure the conversation went like this:
“Hi! My name is Stacey, Stacey Stockenburg. I’m German! Well not really German, but of German descent! This isn’t a German accent though, it’s a southern one, ’cause this is Alabama! If you’re from the North or something, I’m sure you sound real funny.”
The first words I’d ever heard Jimmy speak were calm and cool, without any accent or intonation or nothing, “That is very interesting Stacey, Stacey Stockenburg. Unfortunately I am not German, I am not completely sure what I am. I never really thought that sort of thing mattered all that much. Now if you will excuse me, I need to head to my writing class rather briskly as I wouldn‘t want to be late.” He then smiled and walked away in a pretty fast pace.
I remember Stacy complaining about it in the girls room. “What a dirty little boy. What kind of respectable, right person like my Daddy, the Mayor, or a Policeman, doesn’t care about origins. Origins are the most important thing one can have ’cause when you are grown up right you become a uh… respectable, right person, like my Daddy, or the Mayor.”
“Or a policeman?” Someone in the bathroom asked.
“Yeah, or a policeman. That boy just ticks me off. He’s probably raised at that pig farm out on Frontier Street.” All the girls giggled and made pig squeals and some other animal noises. Stacey said she wasn’t gonna do nothing with him anyway, just make him fall in love and then break his heart. We all believed her, Stacey, Stacey Stockenburg that is, was a pretty girl and she always knew what she was talking about.
When the bell rang and we all left school for the day, I remember seeing Jimmy doing the strangest thing. He walked past the big oak that stood pretty high in front of our school, the one with the leaves that cover nearly everything, then he stopped. He slowly turned himself around and steadily walked back towards the oak. Then he kicked it, and it wasn’t a measly ol’ drunker kick like the kind Stacey Stockenburg’s dad usually did when people wouldn’t buy him more alcohol, it was a strong one. It sort of shook the tree a little. I guess I didn’t really think much of it at the time. I reckoned maybe one of the twigs from the tree fell on him and he wanted to get back at it. But that tree is a lot bigger than him, and I thought he should’ve picked more even fights.
A couple of weeks later, Jimmy sort of did the same thing again! He walked by, turned slowly, stood in front of the tree, but this time he punched it. And he punched that thing hard, I’m still certain that I saw that tree draw blood from that young boy. This time I wasn’t the only one to see it, neither. In fact Stacey, Stacey Stockenburg, not Stacey Shubert, was there too, and as you can imagine it created sort of a ruckus.
“Look what pig snout Jimmy…uh…Jimmy… I don’t even think he has a last name…but look what he’s doing anyway!” Stacey Shubert said. I mean Stacey Stockenburg, not Stacey Shubert. Stacey Shubert was home sick that day I believe. Everyone crowded around poor Jimmy sort of like the audience does ’round a clown or magician when the carnival is in town. Some people, maybe one person, asked if he was okay. I don’t know who that was. Most people just stood there and laughed. I didn’t really feel sorry for him too much ’cause he was the one that went out and punched the darn thing. Then Stacey, Stacey Stockenburg that is, on account of Stacey Shubert not being there, made a right sly crack at Jimmy, “Pig snout Jimmy doesn’t even have a last name! What sort of respectable right person doesn’t have a last name. My daddy has a last name, it’s Stockenburg! The Mayor has a last name, and I’m pretty sure most Policemen have last names too.” We were all expecting Jimmy to start crying, but he didn’t do nothing. He just turned calmly and walked through a small gap in the circle of people. He didn’t grab his hand or nothing ’cause I remember there was some blood dripping onto the grass.
I remember the teachers gettin’ real worried about poor Jimmy. I don’t blame ’em, blood all over the front lawn sure ain’t a really pretty thing to look at. I’m sure if the superintendent saw that, he’d cut our school’s budget, and then we’d all have to start having babies so we could sell them into the black market on account of us not being able to get a job without an education. That’s what Stacey said. Stacey Stockenburg I mean, not Stacey Shubert, Stacey Shubert wouldn’t ever say a thing like that. Stacey always says things that make plain sense. She’ll explain how one thing leads to another, and it all sort of works out. It’s much easier to follow than Mrs. Speling’s Science Class or trying to figure out why Jimmy was fighting trees.
As the weeks went on, Jimmy wasn’t fighting that big Oak no more. I guess he’d learned his lesson, and he’d taped up his fists for good. I remember eating lunch one day, and I decided to talk to poor Jimmy, mostly ’cause I couldn’t take the smell of cheap perfume mixed with Mr. Stockenburg’s alcohol stench, that was somehow plastered on Stacey, no more. I told Jimmy that I was glad he’d taped his fists up so he couldn’t punch no more trees. He told me, “I didn’t tape them to prevent myself from ‘punching’ trees, I taped my fists because I do not want to receive an infection.”
This certainly set me a little off and I remember myself yelling, “Now Jimmy! You hear me! You are crazy! No boy at a decent age like ourselves should be goin’ round fighting trees! Don’t you know there are more important things in this world than fighting trees? Don’t you know about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit? Don’t you know that you are some day gonna need to get a proper job, and a proper wife, and a proper house to keep your proper wife in? You could have a proper hunting dog, and a proper China set, and a proper cabinet to put your proper China set in. And you’d rather be outside fighting trees, wouldn’t you? What did them trees ever do to you, huh?”
Jimmy didn’t answer with words, but he answered with a smile, the brightest I ever seen. It’s like Jimmy had God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit locked up inside his stomach, and for a second, he let ’em all out through his mouth. And I remember, by golly, I remember he marched outside up to that oak and he started beatin’ on that thing with all sorts of foots and fists. And the way I see it, he beat that tree. That oak never stood a chance. There was a big pool of blood on the ground from poor Jimmy’s fists, but there was just as much bark and sap falling into that pool, too. In fact, the three sort of mixed together, and I couldn’t even tell the difference between ’em no more. And, well, that’s the last I ever saw of bold Jimmy. I reckon he found a job as a lumberjack up in Canada or Wisconsin or some other Northern place.