Forrest Gump Chapter Two
The All State Football Banquet was to be helt in a little town called Flomaton, what Coach Fellers described as a “switch up the railroad tracks.” We was put on a bus – they was five or six of us from this area who won the prize – an we was trucked up there. It was a hour or two before we arrived, an the bus didn’t have no toilet, an I had drank two Slurpees fore we lef, so when we get to Flomaton, I really got to go bad.
The thing was helt at the Flomaton Highschool auditorium, an when we git inside, me and some of the others find the toilet. Somehow, tho, when I go to unzip my pants, the zipper is stuck in my shirttail an won’t come down. After a bit of this, a nice little guy from a rival school goes out and finds Coach Fellers an he come in with the two goons an they be tryin to get my pants open. One of the goons say the only way to git it down is jus rip it apart. At this, Coach Fellers put his hans on his hips an say, “I spose you expect me to send this boy out there with his fly unzipped an his thing hangin out – now what kind of a impression do you think that would make?” Then he turn to me an say, “Forrest, you jus got to keep a lid on it till this thing’s over, an then we get it open for you – okay?” An I nod, cause I don’t know what else to do, but I figgerin I be in for a long evenin.
When we get out to the auditorium there’s a million people all settin there at tables, smilin an clappin as we come out. We is put up at a big long table on the stage in front of everbody an my worst fears was realized about the long evenin. Seem like ever soul in the room got up to make a speech – even the waiters an janitor. I wished my mama coulda been there, cause she’d of hepped me, but she back at home in bed with the grippe. Finally it come time to get handed our prizes, which was little gold-colored footballs, an when our names was called we was sposed to go up to the microphone an take the prize an say “thank you,” an they also tole us if anybody has anythin else he wants to say, to keep it short on account of we want to be gettin out of there before the turn of the century.
Most everbody had got they prize an said “thank you,” an then it come my turn. Somebody on the microphone call out “Forrest Gump,” which, if I hadn’t tole you before, is my last name, an I stand up an go over an they han me the prize. I lean over to the mike an say, “Thank you,” an everbody starts to cheer an clap an stand up in they seats. I spose somebody tole them aforehan I’m some kind of idiot, an they makin a special effort to be nice. But I’m so surprised by all this, I don’t know what to do, so I jus kep standin there. Then everbody hush up, an the man at the mike he lean over and axe me if I got anythin else I want to say. So I says, “I got to pee.”
Everbody in the audience didn’t say nothin for a few moments, an jus started lookin funny at each other, an then they begun a sort of low mumblin, an Coach Fellers come up an grap me by the arm and haul me back to my seat. Rest of the night he be glarin at me, but after the banquet is over, Coach an the goons done take me back to the bathroom an rip open my pants an I done peed a bucket!
“Gump,” Coach say after I am finished, “you sure got a way with words.”
Now nex year wadn’t too eventful, cept somebody put out the word that a idiot got hissef on the All State Football team an a bunch of letters start comin in from all round the country. Mama collect them all and start keepin a scrapbook. One day a package come from New Yawk City that contain a official baseball signed by the entire New Yawk Yankees baseball team. It was the best thing ever happen to me! I treasure that ball like a goldbrick, till one day when I was tossin it aroun in the yard, a big ole dog come up an grap it outta the air an chewed it up. Things like that always happenin to me.
One day Coach Fellers call me in an take me into the principal’s office. They was a man there from up to the University who shook my han an axe me whether I ever thought bout playin football in college. He say they been “watchin” me. I shook my head, cause I hadn’t.
Everbody seemed to be in awe of this man, bowin an scrapin an callin him “Mister Bryant.” But he say for me to call him “Bear,” which I thought was a funny name, cept he do look similar to a bear in some respects. Coach Fellers point out that I am not the brightest person, but the Bear, he say that is plenty true of most of his players, an that he figgers to get me special hep in my studies. A week later they give me a test with all sorts of screwy questions the like of which I am not familiar with. After a wile I get bored and stop takin the test.
Two days afterward, the Bear come back again and I get hauled into the principal’s office by Coach Fellers. Bear lookin distressed, but he still bein nice; he axe me have I done tried my best on that test. I nod my head, but the principal be rollin his eyes, an the Bear say, “Well, this is unfortunate then, cause the score appears to indicate that this boy is a idiot.”
The principal be noddin his head now, an Coach Fellers is standin there with his hands in his pockets lookin sour. It seem to be the end of my college football prospects.
The fact that I were too dumb to play college football did not seem to impress the United States Army none. It were my last year at highschool an in the springtime everbody else graduated. They let me set up on the stage tho, an even give me a black robe to put on, an when it come time, the principal announce they was gonna give me a “special” diploma. I got up to go to the microphone an the two goons stan up an go with me – I spose so’s I don’t make no remarks like I did at the All State Football thing. My mama is down in the front row cryin and wringin her hans an I really feel good, like I actually done accomplish somethin.
But when we git back home, I finally realize why she bawlin an carryin on – they was a letter come from the Army say I got to report to the local daft board or somesuch. I didn’t know what the deal was, but my mama did – it was 1968 an they was all sorts of shit fixin to hoppen.
Mama give me a letter from the school principal to han to the daft-board people, but somehow I lost it on the way there. It was a loony scene. They was a big colored guy in a Army suit yellin at people an dividin them up into bunches. We was all standin there and he come up an shout, “All right, I want half of you to go over there an half of you to go over here, an the other half of you to stay put!” Everbody millin aroun an lookin bewildered an even I could figger out this guy’s a moron.
They took me in a room and line us up an tell us to remove our clothes. I ain’t much for that, but everbody else done it an so I did too. They lookin at us everplace – eyes, noses, mouths, ears – even our private parts. At one point they tell me, “Bend over,” an when I do, somebody jam his finger up my ass.
I turn an grapped that bastid an knock him upside the head. They was suddenly a big commotion an a bunch of people run up an jump on top of me. However, I am used to that treatment. I thowed them off an run out the door. When I get home an tell my mama what happen, she all upset, but she say, “Don’t worry, Forrest – everthin gonna be okay.”
It ain’t. Next week, a van pull up at our house and a number of men in Army suits an shiny black helmets come up to the door be axin for me. I’m hidin up in my room, but Mama come up an say they jus wanta give me a ride back down to the daft board. All the way there, they be watchin me real close, like I’m some kinda maniac.
They was a door that lead to a big office where there’s a older man all dressed up in a shiny uniform an he eyein me pretty careful too. They set me down an shove another test in front of me, an wile it’s one hell of a lot easier than the college football test, it still ain’t no piece of cake.
When I’m done, they take me to another room where they’s four or five guys settin at a long table what start axin me questions an passin around what looked like the test I took. Then they all git into a huddle and when they finish one of em sign a paper an han it to me. When I take it home, Mama read it an begin pullin at her hair an weepin an praisin the Lord, cause it say I am “Temporarily Deferred,” on account of I am a numbnuts.
Somethin else occurred durin that week that was a major event in my life. There was this lady boarder livin with us that worked down to the telephone company as a operator. Miss French was her name. She was a real nice lady, what kep mostly to hersef, but one night when it was terribily hot, an they was thunderstorms, she stuck her head out the door to her room as I was walkin by an say, “Forrest, I just got a box of nice divinity this afternoon – would you like a piece?”
An I say “yes,” an she bring me into her room an there on the dresser is the divinity. She give me a piece of it, then she axe if I want another, an she points for me to set down on the bed. I must of ate ten or fifteen pieces of the divinity an lightnin was flashin outside an thunder an the curtains was blowin an Miss French kinda pushes me an makes me lie back on the bed. She commences to start strokin me in a personal way. “Jus keep your eyes closed,” she say, “an everthing will be all right.” Nex thing you know there is somethin happenin that had not happen before. I cannot say what it was, because I was keepin my eyes closed, an also because my mama woulda kilt me, but let me tell you this – it give me an entirely new outlook on things for the future.
The problem was that wile Miss French was a nice kind lady, the things that she done to me that night was the kinds of things I’d have preferred to have done to me by Jenny Curran. An yet, there was no way I could see to even begin gettin that accomplished cause what with the way I am, it is not so easy to ask anyone for a date. That is to put it mildly.
But on account of my new experience, I got up the courage to axe my mama what to do about Jenny, tho I certainly didn’t say nothin bout me an Miss French. Mama said she’ll take care of it for me, an she call up Jenny Curran’s mama an splain the situation to her, an the nex evenin, lo an behole, who should appear at our door but Jenny Curran hersef!
She is all dressed up in a white dress an a pink flower in her hair an she look like nothin I have ever dreamt of. She come inside an Mama took her to the parlor an give her a ice-cream float an call for me to come down from my room, where I had run to as soon as I seen Jenny Curran comin up the walk. I’d of rather had five thousand people chasin me than to come out of my room jus then, but Mama come up an take me by the han an lead me down an give me a ice-cream float too. That made it better.
Mama said we can go to the movies an she give Jenny three dollars as we walk out of the house. Jenny ain’t never been nicer, talkin an laughin an I am noddin an grinnin like a idiot. The movie was jus four or five blocks from our house, an Jenny went up an got some tickets an we went in an set down. She axed me if I want some popcorn an when she come back from gettin it, the picture done started.
It is a movie about two people, a man an a lady called Bonnie an Clyde that robbed banks an they was some interestin other people in it also. But it was a lot of killin an shootin an shit like that, too. It seemed to me funny that folks would be shootin an killin one another that way, so’s I laughed a lot when that went on, an whenever I did, Jenny Curran seemed to squnch down in her seat a lot. Halfway thru the movie, she was almost squnched down to the floor. I suddenly saw this an figgered she had somehow felled out of her seat, so I reached over an grapped her by the shoulder to lif her up again.
As I did this, I heard somethin tear, an I look down an Jenny Curran’s dress is ripped completely open an everthing is hangin out. I took my other han to try to cover her up, but she start makin noises an flail about wild-like, an me, I’m tryin to hole onto her so’s she don’t fall down again or come undone an there’s people around us lookin back tryin to see what all the commotion is about. Suddenly a fellow come down the aisle an shine a bright light right on Jenny an me, but bein exposed an all, she commenced to shriek an wail an then she jump up an run out of the show.
Nex thing I know, two men come an tell me to get up an I follow them to a office. A few minutes later, four policemen arrive an axe me to come with them. They show me to a police car an two get in front an two get in back with me, jus like it was with Coach Fellers’ goons, cept’n this time we do go “downtown,” an they escort me to a room an jab my fingers onto a pad an I get my picture taken an they thowed me in jail. It was a horrible experience. I was worried all the time bout Jenny, but after a bit my mama showed up an come in wipin her eyes with a handkerchief an twistin her fingers an I knowed I’m in the doghouse again.
There was some kind of ceremony a few days later down to the courthouse. My mama dressed me in my suit an took me there, an we met a nice man with a moustache carrying a big purse who tole the judge a bunch of things an then some other people, includin my mama, say some other shit an finally it was my turn.
The man with the moustache took me by the arm so’s I’d stand up, an the judge axed me how all this done happen? I couldn’t figger out what to say, so I jus shrugged my shoulders an then he axes if there’s anything else I want to add, an so I says, “I got to pee,” cause we’d been settin there almost haf a day an I’m about to bust! The judge, he lean forward from behind his big ole desk an peer at me like I am a Marsman or somethin. Then the feller with the moustache speaks up and followin this the judge tells him to take me to the toilet, which he does. I look back as we leavin the room an see po ole Mama holdin her head an daubin at her eyes with the handkerchief.
Anyhow, when I get back, the judge be scratchin his chin an he say the whole deal is “very peculiar,” but that he think I ought to go in the Army or somethin which might hep straighten me out. My mama inform him that the United States Army won’t have me, account of I am a idiot, but that this very mornin a letter done come from up to the University sayin that if I will play football for them, I can go to school there scot free.
The judge say that sounds kinda peculiar too, but it’s okay with him so long as I get my big ass out of town.
The nex mornin I am all packed up an Mama, she take me to the bus station an put me on the bus. I is lookin out the winder an there is Mama, cryin an wipin her eyes with her handkerchief. That is gettin to be a scene I know too well. It is stamped permanant into my memory. Anyhow, they started up the bus, an away I went.