Ahmed is all over the news yet again today, but I have a story for you. On one front I empathize with the kid, and I’m going to tell you why. The great bomb threat of 1969. When I was in high school I had a routine of writing a book a year. I would buy one of those spiral notebooks with two hundred pages (a major investment for a white trash kid from Po-Dunk, Texas) and I’d write a book. One was just a collection of dreams. I’d have a dream and then write it down the next day. Then I’d pass it around and to my surprise the other kids liked it. There was one girl in particular, a black kid, who came over to my table in the cafeteria, with my book, and excitedly began to talk about it. I still remember her face after all these years. Perhaps if. . . well, anyway, back to the book.
In my senior year I planned another book, and this time I really planned. I actually devised a plot. Now bear in mind I knew zip about outline, through lines, plot, back story or any of that. I couldn’t spell and I was failing English, and I SPOKE English. The teacher had actually told me I would never be able to communicate in the English language. But, I could weave a tale! This particular story was innovative. It was a story of a kid who was irritated with his school. He comes up with this idea to plant a bomb in the cafeteria, set to go off at 12:20 PM while the room was full. Sounds common now, but this was 1969, yeah, I’m good. The plot was leading up to the blast, and the events after. I wrote the book. My plan was always the same. Fill up the two hundred pages. When the notebook was full I was done. I passed it to a classmate, who passed it to another, and another, and finally to my English teacher who passed it to the principal, who called the police.
Seems there was one teeny tiny little problem with my book. My bomb would work! Having been born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and growing up among the oil fields, I, like all my fellow students, was well versed in what to do when you came upon a blasting cap. We were taught what would make one of those things go off, how to get away, what not to touch, and how to get the police to come and fetch it. Well, shucks! My book bomb was simple. I don’t know why terrorists have to go to any training. I took an old fashioned alarm clock. I ran two wires from a lantern battery, you know, one of those things half as big as a pound cake, one wire to one of the bells on top of the clock, and another from the opposite pole of the battery to the striker, from there to the opposing ends of the blasting cap which was tucked conveniently into a bundle of dynamite. Set th1e alarm for 12:20, leave the device on the shelves in the lunch room among all the books and back packs, get the hell out of there, 12:20 rolls around, alarm goes off, lunch is over!
Police chief Charlie Mitchell lost his MIND! Little Ahmed is so lucky he lives in today’s Texas. The first thing Mr. Patterson, the principal did was beat my butt. He had this paddle he’d constructed out of a hardwood floor plank. Then, Charlie came in and grilled me for hours! I had one aspect of my personality that has served me well all these years. All the time these two rednecks were foaming at the mouth, screaming, all I was thinking was, “Holy smoke! I got a HIT!” The other thing I was thinking was that if I ever really did make a bomb, I’d put it under that English teacher’s desk.
I never got my book back, and I was too lazy to write another. You have to understand I was “winging” it, and by the time all hell broke loose I was more interested in Jody Tucker’s shorts than repeating another copy, and besides that, my butt was still hurting. What came out of all of this was I realized that I could communicate in the English language, lost all respect for teachers, and surprisingly I passed English! Computers and spell check came along, and well, the rest is history. Someday I may land a publishing deal, they’ll make movies, I’ll go on talk shows, the host will poke fun at my accent, and Mr. Patterson’s heirs will sell my notebook for an indescribable amount of money, whereupon I’ll hire some thugs in Vegas to fetch the notebook back, accompany them to the suite, and my book sales will go through the roof, but I don’t know nothing about all that.
The Butcher Shop