Forrest Gump Chapter Three
When we git up to the university, coach Bryant he come out to the gym where we all settin in our shorts and sweatshirts an begin makin a speech. It bout the same kind of speech Coach Fellers would make, cept even a simpleton like mysef could tell this man mean bidness! His speech short an sweet, an conclude with the statement that the last man on the bus to the practice field will get a ride there not on the bus, but on Coach Bryant’s shoe instead. Yessiree. We do not doubt his word, an stack ourselfs into the bus like flapjacks.
All this was durin the month of August, which in the state of Alabama is somewhat hotter than it is elsewhere. That is to say, that if you put a egg on top of your football helmet it would be fried sunnyside up in about ten seconds. Of course nobody ever try that on account of it might get Coach Bryant angry. That was the one thing nobody wish to do, because life was almost intolerable as it was.
Coach Bryant have his own goons to show me around. They take me to where I is gonna stay, which is a nice brick building on the campus that somebody says is called the “Ape Dorm.” Them goons escort me over there in a car an lead me upstairs to my room. Unfortunately, what might of looked nice from the outside was not true for the inside. At first, it appear that nobody had lived in this building for a long time, they was so much dirt an shit aroun, an most of the doors had been torn off they hinges an bashed in, an most of the winders are busted out too.
A few of the fellers is lyin on they cots inside, wearin very little cause it about 110 degrees hot in there, an flies an things be hummin an buzzin. In the hall they is a big stack of newspapers, which at first I afraid they gonna make us read, it being college an all, but soon I learn they are for puttin down on the floor so’s you don’t have to step on all the dirt an shit when you walk aroun.
The goons take me to my room an say they be hopin to find my roomate there, whose name is Curtis somebody, but he nowhere to be foun. So they get my stuff unpacked an show me where the bathroom is, which look worse than what you might expect to find at a one-pump gasoline station, an they be on they way. But before they go, one of the goons say Curtis an me should get on fine cause both of us have about as much brains as a eggplant. I look real hard at the goon what said that, cause I be tired of hearin all that shit, but he tell me to drop down and give him fifty pushups. After that, I just be doin what I’m tole.
I went to sleep on my cot after spreadin a sheet over it to cover up the dirt, an was havin a dream bout settin down in the parlor with my mama like we use to do when it was hot, an she’d fix me a limeade an talk to me hour after hour – an then suddenly the door of the room done crashed in flat an scare me haf to death! A feller be standin there in the doorway with a wild look on his face, eyes all bugged out, no teeth in front, nose look like a yeller squash an his hair standin straight up like he done stuck his thing in a light-socket. I figger this be Curtis.
He come inside the room like he expectin somebody to pounce on him, lookin from side to side, an walk right over the door that he just caved in. Curtis ain’t very tall, but he look like an icebox otherwise. First thing he axe me is where I’m from. When I say Mobile, he say that is a “candyass” town, an informs me he’s from Opp, where they make peanut butter, an if I don’t like it, he gonna open up a jar hissef an butter my butt with it! That were the extent of our conversation for a day or so.
That afternoon at football practice it be about ten thousan degrees hot on the field, an all Coach Bryant’s goons runnin roun scowlin an yellin at us an makin us exercise. My tongue hangin down like it was a necktie or somethin, but I tryin to do the right thing. Finally they divides up everbody an puts me with backs an we start to run pass patterns.
Now before I come up to the University, they done sent me a package which contain about a million different football plays, an I done axed Coach Fellers what I’m spose to do with it an he jus shake his head sadly an say not to try to do nothin – jus to wait till I get to the University an let them figger somethin out.
I wish I had not taken Coach Fellers’ advice now, cause when I run out for my first pass I done turned the wrong way an the head goon come rushin up hollerin an shoutin at me an when he stop shoutin he axed me don’t I study the plays they send me? When I says, “Uh, uh,” he commence to jump up an down an flail his arms like hornets is upon him, an when he calm down he tell me to go run five laps aroun the field wile he consult with Coach Bryant bout me.
Coach Bryant be settin up in a great big tower lookin down on us like the Great Gawd Bud, I’m runnin the laps and watchin the goon clime up there, an when he get to the top an say his piece, Coach Bryant crane his neck forward an I feel his eyes burnin hot on my big stupid ass. Suddenly a voice come over a megaphone for everbody to hear, say, “Forrest Gump, report to the coachin tower,” an I seen Coach Bryant an the goon climin down. All the time I be runnin over there I am wishin I were runnin backwards instead.
But imagine my surprise when I see Coach Bryant smilin. He motion me over to some bleachers an we set down an he axed me again if I’d not learnt them plays they send me. I begin to splain what Coach Fellers had tole me, but Coach Bryant he stop me an say for me to git back in the line an start catchin passes, an then I tole him somethin else I guess he didn’t want to hear, which was that I had never even caught a pass at highschool, cause they figgered it hard enough to get me to remember where our own goaline is, let alone runnin aroun tryin to grap the ball outta the air too.
At this news, Coach Bryant get a real odd squint in his eyes, an he look off in the distance, as if he was lookin all the way to the moon or somethin. Then he tell the goon to go fetch a football an when the football come, Coach Bryant hissef tell me to run out a little ways an turn aroun. When I do, he thowed the football at me. I see it comin almost like slow-motion but it bounce off my fingers an fall on the ground. Coach Bryant be noddin his head up an down like he should of figgered this out earlier, but somehow I get the idea he is not pleased.
From the time I’m little, ever time I do somethin wrong, my mama, she’d say, “Forrest, you got to be careful, cause they gonna put you away.” I was so scairt of bein put in this “away” place I’d always try to be better, but I’m damned if there’s a worst place they could of sent me than this Ape Dorm thing I’m livin in.
People be doin shit they wouldn’t of tolerated even in the nut school – rippin out the toilets, for instance, so’s you’d go to the bathroom an wouldn’t fine nothin but a hole in the floor to shit in, an they’d have heaved the toilet out the winder onto the top of somebody’s car drivin past. One night some big ole goofball what played in the line got out a rifle an commence to shoot out all the winders in somebody’s fraternity house across the street. The campus cops come rushin over, but the feller drop a big outboard motor he found someplace out the winder onto the top of the cop car. Coach Bryant make him run a bunch of extra laps for doing that.
Curtis an me ain’t gettin along so hot, an I never been so lonely. I miss my mama, an wanta go back home. Trouble with Curtis is, I don’t understand him. Everthing he say got so many cusswords in it, time I get to figgerin out what they are, I miss his point. Most of the time, I gather his point is that he ain’t happy bout somethin.
Curtis had a car an he used to give me a ride to practice, but one day I go to meet him an he cussin an growlin an bent over a big drain grate in the street. Seems he’s got a flat tire an when he go to change it he put the lug nuts in his hubcap and accidentally knock em down into the drain. We fixin to be late to practice which was not real good to do, so’s I say to Curtis, “Why don’t you take one lug nut off each of them three other tires an that way you will have three nuts on each tire, which ought to be enough to get us to practice?”
Curtis stop cussin for a moment an look up at me an say, “You supposed to be a idiot, how you figure that out?” An I say, “Maybe I am a idiot, but at least I ain’t stupid,” an at this, Curtis jump up an commence chasin me with the tire tool, callin me ever terrible thing he can think up, an that pretty much ruin our relationship.
After that, I decide I got to find another place to stay, so when we git off from practice I gone down into the basement of the Ape Dorm an spen the rest of the night there. It wadn’t no dirtier than the upstairs rooms an there was an electric lightbulb. Nex day I moved my cot down there an from then on, it was where I lived.
Meantime, school is done started an they got to figger out what to do with me. They was a guy with the atheletic department that seemed to do nothin but figger out how to get dummos to where they could pass a class. Some of the classes was sposed to be easy, such as Physical Education, an they enroll me in that. But also I have got to take one English course an one science or math, an there is no gettin aroun that. What I learnt later was that there was certain teachers that would give a football player a sort of break, meanin that they’d appreciate he is consumed with playin football an cannot spend much of his time on school. They was one of these teachers in the science department, but unfortunately, the only class he taught was somethin called “Intermediate Light,” which was apparently for graduate physics majors or something. But they put me in there anyhow, even though I didn’t know physics from phys-ed.
I was not so lucky in English. They apparently did not have no sympathetic people over in that department, so’s they tole me just to go ahead an take the class an fail it, an they’d figger out somethin else later.
In Intermediate Light, they provide me with a textbook that weigh five pounds an look like a Chinaman wrote it. But ever night I take it down to the basement an set on my cot under the lightbulb, an after a wile, for some peculiar reason, it begun to make sense. What did not make sense was why we was sposed to be doin it in the first place, but figgerin out them equations was easy as pie. Professor Hooks was my teacher’s name, an after the first test, he axed me to come to his office after class. He say, “Forrest, I want you to tell me the truth, did somebody provide you the answers to these questions?” An I shake my head, an then he han me a sheet of paper with a problem written on it and says for me to set down an figger it out. When I’m thru, Professor Hooks look at what I done an shake his head an say, “Greatgodamighty.”
English class was another deal entirely. The teacher is a Mister Boone, an he a very stern person who talk a lot. At the end of the first day, he say for us to set down that night an write a short autobiography of ourselfs for him. It’s jus bout the most difficult thing I ever try to do, but I stay up most of the night, thinkin an writin, an I just say whatever come to mine on account of they tole me to fail the class anyhow.
A few days later, Mister Boone start handin back our papers an he criticism an makin fun of everbody’s autobiography. Then he come to what I done, an I figger I’m in the doghouse for sure. But he hold up my paper an start readin it out loud to everbody an he commences laughin an everbody else is too. I had tole bout bein in the nut school, an playin football for Coach Fellers an goin to the All State Football banquet, an about the daft board, an Jenny Curran an the movie an all. When he’s thru, Mr. Boone, he say, “Now here is originality! Here is what I want,” an everbody turn an look at me, an he says, “Mister Gump, you ought to think about gettin into the creative writing department – how did you think this up?” An I says, “I got to pee.”
Mister Boone kinda jump back for a secont, an then he bust out laughin an so does everbody else, an he says, “Mister Gump, you are a very amusing feller.”
An so I am surprised again.
The first football game was on a Saturday a few weeks later. Most of the time practice had been pretty bad, till Coach Bryant figgered out what to do with me, which was bout what Coach Fellers had done at highschool. They jus give me the ball an let me run. I run good that day, an score four touchdowns, an we whip the University of Georgia 35 to 3 an everbody slappin me on the back till it hurt. After I get cleaned up I phoned my mama an she done listened to the game over the radio an is so happy she can bust! That night, everbody goin to parties an shit, but nobody axed me to any, so I go on down to the basement. I’m there a wile when I hear this kind of music comin from someplace upstairs and it’s real pretty-like, an, I don’t know why, but I went on up there to find out what it was.
There was this guy, Bubba, settin in his room playin a mouth organ. He’d broke his foot in practice an couldn’t play an didn’t have nowhere to go either. He let me set on a cot an listen to him, we didn’t talk or nothing, he jus settin on one cot an me on the other, an he’s playing his harmonica. An after bout a hour I axed him if I could try it an he says, “Okay.” Little did I know that it would change my life forever.
After I’d played aroun on the thing for a wile, I got to where’s I could play pretty good, an Bubba was goin crazy, sayin he’s never heard such good shit. After it got late, Bubba says for me to take the harmonica with me, an I did, an played it a long time, till I got sleepy and went to bed.
Next day, Sunday, I went to take the harmonica back to Bubba but he say for me to keep it, cause he got another one, an I was real happy, an went for a walk an set down under a tree an played all day long, till I run out of things to play.
It was late in the afternoon, an the sun was almost gone when I begun to walk back to the Ape Dorm. I was goin across the Quadrangle when suddenly I hear this girl’s voice shout out, “Forrest!”
I turn aroun an who should be behin me but Jenny Curran.
She has a big smile on her face and she come up and took me by the han, an says she saw me play football yesterday and how good I was an all. It turns out she ain’t mad or anythin bout what happen in the movie, an says it ain’t my fault, it was jus one of them things. She axe if I want to have a Co’Cola with her.
It was too nice to believe, settin there with Jenny Curran, an she say she takin classes in music an drama an that she plannin on bein a actress or a singer. She also playin in a little band that do folk music stuff, an tells me they gonna be at the Student Union buildin tomorrow night an for me to come by. Let me tell you, I can hardly wait.