Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Craft Store Killer
I was ten years old when my great-grandmother took my younger brother and I to a kids art class at this craft store in Oklahoma City. Honestly, we did not want to be there. It was a beautiful summer day and we would have much rather been outside doing the things that boys are supposed to be doing during the summer. Things like climbing tress, playing baseball, or throwing rocks at cars as they drive by.
But my great-grandmother was a college art professor so there was no way we were going to be able to talk her out of this one. She dropped us off in the classroom in the back of the store and disappeared around a stack of watercolors. My brother and I sat down in the circle of kids on the floor and joined the class that was already in session.
The teacher looked about as qualified be alone with children as a goat was to teach piano lessons(Have you ever seen a goat play piano? There is a reason for that.) but he looked like he knew art and parents were a lot more pragmatic back then. He was a heavy set guy with dirty overalls, a smokers cough and a 5 o'clock shadow that was 6 hours early. I'm not sure what his name was but for the sake of the story we'll call him Pete. He looked like a Pete... and smelled like a Pete too. Yet the most intriguing characteristic of this guy was that he wore an eye patch. We hung on every word this overweight Picasso had to say, after all he had an eye patch. And eye patches are cool.
The class went on and I found myself enjoying the activities, forgetting all about playing outside. Until it happened. I was sitting in the circle with the rest of the students when Pete came out with a lump of clay about the size of a softball. He was tossing it back and forth in his hands as he formed it into a earthen ball. We watched this one-eyed Rembrandt as he walked around the circle giving us a discourse about all the different colors of the rainbow, he introduced us to some guy named ROY G. BIV as well. Then came time for participation. He handed the red headed kid in the circle the ball of clay and asked him what his favorite color was. He replied “Blue” and was then instructed by Pete to toss the piece of clay to someone else. The cute girl with a side pony tail caught it and shouted “Purple”. The game continued like this until everyone had a chance to testify on behalf of their color of choice. And as fate would have it I was the last in the circle to catch the clay. I said my favorite color (which is red) and then the game ended. The rest of the kids turned to talk to each other as Pete began getting ready for the next activity. But there I was with the clay. No one mentioned anything about the clay. I motioned for Pete that I still had the clay but he didn't see me. No surprise really, after all he was wearing an eye patch.
Then it struck me that it might be funny if I threw the clay at Pete. I mean, it would be harmless right it's just clay after all. But what I didn't know at the time is that clay, if left out for a period of time, hardens. So I stood up and in front of a room full of witnesses, threw a rock at Pete's head. It turns out that I had pretty good aim, because I hit Pete... right in the eye patch. He didn't even see it coming. Like Goliath he feel to the ground and rolled around in pain grabbing his face. He said some four letter words that I assumed were art terms and kicked his feet in the air. When he finally regained his composure he lifted himself off the ground and said the phrase I was afraid he would say, “Who threw that?!?” With that the other 15 kids in the circle pointed at me, even my own brother sold me out. Pete stumbled across the room and looked me eye to um... eye and yelled at me, “What were you thinking?!? I don't have an eye! That piece of clay ricocheted off of my skull! And I was sorry I did it.