“Jones, you away again?”

Skeet’s voice registered but wasn’t urgent enough to pull me back. Not yet. I still had places to go.


Not yet - I’m getting close now.

The slap to the back of my head made a sound like gunfire inside my skull.

“Boy, when I talk to you, you respond!”

Skeet was bending down close to my face. His was contorted and twitching. I could smell that horrible breath too, the breath of someone who didn’t drink enough water. Skeet didn’t do enough of a lot of other things too. Like smile. Or care. But it no longer bothered me. Nor did the blows. I knew they would come whatever I did so I tried to just get as much travel time in as possible before he brought me back.

“You hear me, boy?”

“Yes sir”

Skeet suddenly stood up, lifted his nose high in the air, and sauntered back towards the front of the room.

The lesson droned on.

Billy next to me kept answering Skeet’s questions. I don’t know whether they were good answers or not. I think they must have been because I wasn’t aware of any shouting and shouting would have brought me back.


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