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Don’t Mess With My Brother!

Written by:  Kevin Jackson
I want to let everyone know how special my brother, Tracy , is to me. We have been together all our sentient lives and have been like most brothers in that we fought, we laughed, and we learned early on that no matter what, we were brothers. We were separated only by 14 months by birth so we experienced most everything in life together. We even had chicken pox at virtually the same time.
When we first moved to Yarbro, just outside of Blytheville Ar. Tracy and I were out looking for something to entertain ourselves with on a cold, late fall morning. A strange teenager ( it turned out to be one of our new neighbors ) was out behind our house in what would later be our garden. Being the pair we were, promptly told him to get off our property. We were only 10 and 11 and he was wearing a toboggan face mask that made him appear ominous. He declined and told us he goes were he wants, or something like that. I’m not sure I remember exactly how this played out, but it wound up with Tracy locked in Kens’ arms. That was his name. As we later found, Ken was a rather unscrupulous character, but harmless. Anyway, I’m not sure what to do and pick up a half brick that was lying about and threatened to smash his head with it. I was a little scared but was not sure how far this situation was going. I remember Tracy saying “Don’t”. Ken was agreeing with him but continued to hold my brother hostage. In a split second decision, I let the brick fly right at Kens face. Well, that was my intended target. I’ll never forget how I felt when I saw the blood running from Tracys’ head. Ken immediately released him, (mission accomplished). Tracy ran inside and all I could think was, I’m in trouble, It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t supposed to happen, I’m supposed to be the hero. Meanwhile, Tracy was driven to the hospital where he would get his head stitched and as I remember, nobody ever said a cross word to me. I think I would have preferred a punishment of some kind. Instead, I got a little, short-lived resentment from Tracy. A reminder that he did tell me not to throw the brick. I was left with my own guilt.
Some years later, when I was in a fight with a much larger boy, I was thrilled to see my little brother jump up and whack this man-child in the ear. He was my little brother, he took up for me, the torturous, overbearing, manipulating, older brother that I thought he hated, was jumping in the air to slap this goliath of a 6th grader in the head. That fight was diffused, in part because of Tracy.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my brother. I don’t call him little anymore. He’s bigger than I am, not just physically. He’s my brother…don’t mess with him, or you’ll have to answer to, well, if there’s anything left of you…me!

Mr. Wiley

Written by: Kevin Jackson

     It must have been in the first month of school when I got my first lesson in how unfair and unjust the world can be for a naïve trusting boy. I only attended half of my first year in school at Dell elementary school. Our teacher was out of the classroom and some of the kids were sharpening pencils and talking. I really had no friends, so I grabbed my pencil and headed to the back of the room. Some kids were standing around laughing. I approached them and they parted to let me in. I think his name was Randy, he had his hand on the crank of the sharpener. He said, in what I thought was a warm and inviting tone, “put your finger in here”. I knew what could happen, I wasn’t stupid in that way. So as bravely as I could, showing Randy that I trusted him, inserted my pinky finger into the pencil hole. Well, the obvious outcome commenced. As I screamed, another teacher came in and demanded to know what happened. I promptly told her…”Randy sharpened my finger”! Not knowing what else to do, she escorted Randy and I to Mr. Wileys’ room, where who would be there but my older sister, Lisa. He asked me what happened, I repeated what I had told our escort. A hushed chuckle came over the room, which added humiliation to my pain. When I thought the worst was over, Mr. Wiley, being the disciplinary teacher he was, paddled me with three hard licks. (for those who don’t know, corporal punishment was widely practiced then.) Randy, in turn received a much lighter three licks. You may think my memory tarnished here, but I assure you, I’m not distorting the truth. Remember, Lisa witnessed the rounds with the wooden paddle. I’m happy to say, I still have a fully functional pinky ( it just got slightly skinned). I didn’t learn to self advocate that day, but I took from it what I could.
     It was in the sixth grade that I encountered the infamous Mr. Wiley again. He taught math in Central middle school in Blytheville. Still being the strong, and sometimes abusive, discipline over his class. He had a kind of “spock grip” he used on the guys of the class. Never the girls, even Mr. Wiley had some self restriction. Time after time I watched as he dug his thumb into that tender pressure point on the shoulder, close to the neck, as they all squirmed as if to go… to their knees, but were held up by the iron grip. I knew my turn would come. Mr. Wiley did remember me. He looked up from the role call and slowly called my name on the first day of school. All the memories were obviously coming to him as he checked me present. I thought if I do my work and keep my head down, I’ll get a pass. Afterall he had shown me who the boss is already, right? Wrong. My day came. He stood in front of the class a summoned me forward. I had a great resentment for him and I steeled my nerves as I did what I was told to do. I refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing me squirm at his death grip. The pain was intense. I don’t remember what he said to me then, it took all my focus to stand there and ignore my burning neck as he looked at a paper that I think was mine, seeming oblivious to any discomfort he might cause. When he finally looked at me, puzzled, looked where his hand was as if it might be misplaced. He released me and said “Are we clear.” I responded and took my seat. That was all anyone could talked about the rest of the day. “That had to hurt,  “How’d you do that?” “Are you numb there?” On and on. I enjoyed the attention but I really hope Mr. Wiley never forgot, I won’t break! It is something I’ll never forget, I just hope that he saw in me the rebellion against his abuse. What else can a sixth grader do? My dad could have broken him, although he would have never handled it that way. A look might have been enough to make him wet his pants. I have prayed for him. Maybe he found some love after all.

Singing From My Heart

Written by:  Kevin Jackson

I cant remember a whole lot of things from too early on, but I do remember the first time I knew we were different than most. As you know, I was so smart they had me skip the first grade. Not really, my birthday was a factor when I was registered for school. They saw fit to put me in 1st grade rather than kindergarten. The only class I liked was choir. I remember when we sang ” she’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain”, I was the only one in class that could hold on to the end of the verse without running out of breath. For a otherwise miserable elementary school existence, this was the kind of thing I held onto when I didn’t measure up to other kids. There was a revival that dad was speaking in when I was in about the third grade. I always loved to shout out hymn numbers when the opportunity was given. When the music director offered to take request, I had certain hymns pages memorized so I could sing the songs I liked best. After this particular instance, I was praised for not looking at the hymnbook at any time during the typical 1st, 2nd, and 3rd verse, and everyone should take note that I could sing from my heart. Little did I know that this would define a huge part of my life. I still pick and choose songs of praise to perform with my friends in worship, But only If I really feel them in my heart, do I even do justice to them. Otherwise, I’m just singing. The satisfaction does not come from My performance, but rather when I know that God felt It as I did.