"You two, heads-in-the-clouds, noses-in-books losers will have to face the real world one day, and, I'll tell you what, that will be one sorry-ass sight," some figure of grim authority would bandy at us.
"Do you understand what I'm saying, boy?"
"Yes, I understand."
"You, show some respect for your elders, by answering, 'Yes, sir.' Do you understand me?"
"Yes," I replied, earnestly... having grown obtuse by the anxiety inflicted by attempting to appear submissive to the demands of unreasonable power.
"Look here, smart-ass. I've about had my fill of your insolence."
Nonplussed. I would have said anything to end the encounter. But some life-bestowing daemon would stir within" most likely, it was the same inner, trickster entity responsible for occluding my ability to comprehend what this authoritarian jerk-rocket was demanding of me.
"What is your problem, boy? Just what kind of a stupid animal are you?"--an inquiry that provided an opening for the daemon.
"I was raised by raccoons, sir."
"My parents were killed by your Klansman relatives. I escaped into the woods. And I was adopted by nocturnal, fur-bearing mammals. I'm untrainable. I scurry through the darkness. I bite when cornered. My destiny has been forged by fate. I am Raccoon Boy, enemy of racists and power mad freaks. I have to confess, it is my reverence for my poor, slain parents that will not allow me to address you with deference nor grant you respect, as you have demanded. In short, I can either submit to calling you sir or I can betray my destiny. But I cannot do both. Therefore, do with me what you will. But you will never again sleep easy" for my raccoon brothers and sisters will track you down and you will wish we had never met. You will never again hear a rustling in the underbrush and not be stricken with the knowledge that you are in the presence of your doom."
These sorts of responses would often end such encounters. In the south, in those days, crazy people were given a great deal of latitude.
At present, in my nighttime dreams of the time, I often find myself in the company of Chuck at the intersection of two major streets that cut through the area near our school, North Decatur and Clairmont Road. In waking life, Chuck and I, in order to avoid confrontations with neighborhood boys who viewed us as "hippie f*ggots" did not venture beyond this demarcation point. The landscape beyond was fraught with peril.
Even in adult life, Chuck never ventured far from home, and when he did, he was fortified with drink. Many times, at transition points in my life, my soul summons dreams of Chuck and me, our hearts... filled with yearning--yet we stand diffident, to the point of paralysis, at the intersection of North Decatur and Clairmont Road.