Body Slam

          At the Nebraska  school for the blind, though  they insisted upon
          calling it the Nebraska School For  The Visually Handicapped, the
          cardinal  rule was, when traveling the  hallways, always stick to
          the right.   We,  of course, had  a couple  of knuckle  heads who
          always insisted on  walking anywhere they wished,  swinging their
          braille writers  and knocking off  the knee caps  of any one  who
          just so happened to get in there way,  but for the most part, the
          rule worked for  everybody's benefit.  The only time,  I admit, I
          walked on  the wrong side  of the hall  was when the  hallway was
          bereft of life.  For example, late on Sunday nights, after coming
          back to school from  the weekend at home, I would  stroll down to
          the empty  school building basement,  locate my  locker  clear at
          the opposite end of the hall, and get my books for the  next day.
          No one  was in the  building normally  so I sometimes  walked the
          opposite side of the hall to find my locker.  I never  once had a
          collision.  Never, that is, until the day I body slammed  into my
          English teacher.   He is likely  dead now so  I'll use his  name.
          Mister Strader was the only blind  teacher at the school for  the
          blind in Nebraska during the few years I attended.  He  taught me
          Braille and later I had him for English and geography.  He was an
          excellent  teacher, I, less than a  good student at the time, and
          many years later, while  on a trip  through the state, I  stopped
          and spent some  time with my old  teacher both at the  school and
          later in  his home on a  visit.  At any rate,  Mister Strader was
          absolutely  notorious in  the school  in  many ways.   He  always
          carried  his cane and  lived about  ten blocks  from school.   He
          walked faster than anybody I ever saw.  Well, it seemed like such
          at  the time.   We gave him  a special award as  the state's best
          creak  jumper one  day during  a teachers  appreciation day.   He
          didn't like the  award nor the title  we gave him because  of the
          reason he was awarded.  During the winter one day, he  got nearly
          to school  and remembered he  had forgotten his  lunch.   He spun
          about,  and nearly  at a run,  headed back  the way he  had come.
          There  was a bridge he had to cross  on the way to school but the
          sidewalk  swerved inward  to accommodate  the  narrowness of  the
          bridge crossway.  Well, Mister Strader forgot to swerve on to the
          bridge and  walked straight off  the steep embankment  and rolled
          down to the  stream bed which was  frozen solid since it  was the
          middle of the  winter.  The hill  was so steep and  slippery from
          ice and  snow, he  couldn't climb out.   He  yelled until  he was
          hoarse but  no body heard him.   He began following  the hillside
          down the frozen stream calling out for  help until he was rescued
          by someone in the neighborhood.  He wasn't hurt  much, except for
          his pride  and a thump on his  noggin, and he was  back to school
          the next day.  Now for the rest of the story.  Mister Strader, as
          I said, had a notorious reputation at the school for walking very
          fast and  for carrying  his cane  in school.   I  was told,  upon
          arriving at  school for  the first time,  in no  uncertain terms,
          don't ever  get in Mister  Strader's way.   I asked, why.   I was
          told, he carries his cane and he  will strike anybody who gets in
          his way and demand you step  aside.  Well, we played some  pretty
          mean tricks  on our old blind  teacher, such as, setting  all the
          chairs up on the  desks in the room when leaving so when the next
          class arrived, they, and Mister Strader, had to hunt for them.  I
          won't mention any other tricks we played on him lest some  of our
          younger subscribers to blind-x get any big ideas but other tricks
          had something  to do  with Mister Strader  in the  mens bathroom.
          Now, back to my  story.  I had Mister Strader  for the last class
          before  lunch one  year so I  always left  all my  books, papers,
          braille  writer,  and  notebooks  on  my desk  in  his  room  and
          retrieved them following lunch.  He never knew this of course but
          it wasn't against any rules as far as I knew.  One day, following
          lunch, I strolled calmly and confidently down an empty hallway to
          Mister Straders  room to pick up my books.   I broke the school's
          rule of  staying to the right side of the hallway.  Why?  Because
          Mister Strader's  room was  on  the left  side  of the  hall  and
          besides, the  hall was totally devoid of life.   Each of the room
          doors were recessed  in the  hallway so  no door hung  out.   You
          wouldn't  want any  blind kids  bumping their  heads or  smashing
          their noses on opened doors but I digress.  Just  before reaching
          Mister  Strader's room,  I cut  across  the hall  and walked  the
          remaining feet to his normally opened  door.  Suddenly I heard  a
          noise  directly in front of  me but it  was too late.   I slammed
          into the old teacher with  such tremendous force, his false teeth
          rattled  in his  mouth.   Mister Strader  was also  notorious for
          loosing his false teeth and had even accidentally spit them right
          out on the floor of a restaurant  in town one night following his
          evening  meal.   At any  rate, it  wasn't his  false  teeth which
          worried me at the moment.  I  was scared spitless he was going to
          beat me  to death with his cane.  I  was about thirteen years old
          at the  time.  I had  read enough novels  to be quick  witted and
          thus it was I literally dove head first across the hall  into the
          opposite doorway for  protection.  Old man Strader  stood int the
          hallway  and bellowed; repeatedly  demanding whoever did  that to
          identify himself.  Amazingly enough, the old buzzard did not have
          his cane with  him for if he  had, I would likely not  be writing
          this story.   I literally held my breath  for what seemed minutes
          as Mister Strader turned every direction in the hallway trying to
          listen for  the faintest of sounds.  I  was never so scared in my
          life.  I  lay flat, my cheek against the cold tile floor, praying
          the old codger  wouldn't hear my blood flowing  through my veins.
          Finally, after what seemed to be hours, he move down the hallway,
          howbeit  cautiously, and  when  his  footsteps  faded  away  into
          silence, I tip toed into his room, grabbed my books, and  just as
          cautiously  walked  down the  hallway  to my  locker;  hoping and
          praying the old blind teacher wouldn't be coming back to his room
          as I was trying to escape.  So ends my secret of more than thirty
          years.  If you are thinking I  confessed to Mister Strader when I
          visited him many  years later, you are  dead wrong.  I  can still
          hear his false teeth rattling now.  Just think, if it  wasn't for
          that  old dedicated  blind teacher,  I wouldn't  be able  to read
          Braille today.  I love you Mister Strader.

          Phil Scovell