Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Tale of Fudgie

Once upon a time the doorbell rang. When I opened the door there stood a boy who wore a smile on his face and carried a listless, vacant look in his eyes. Yes? I inquired. In broken English the boy asked if he could mow my lawn. No, I just mowed it yesterday, I said. "Can give me money?" he asked. I don't even know your name, I said. I asked him his name. He said it was Fudgie. Fudgie? I thought. As in fudge? Fudgie had beautiful dark skin, the same hue as the brownies my mother used to make at Christmas time. How old are you? I asked. He was eleven. I was surprised because he was almost as tall as I was. What do you like to do? I asked. He enjoyed playing soccer and spending time with his cousins. He painstakingly explained that he had immigrated from Africa recently. Do you go to school? I asked. Fudgie responded that he didn't like school. He was teased, bullied, and didn't understand his teacher. I put my hand on Fudgie's shoulder and expressed my sympathies. Fudgie put his head down and without saying a word, tried to scoot past me into my apartment. Where are you going Fudgie? I asked as I blocked his way. "In," he said. No, you can't go inside, I said. "Why?" he said. Because I didn't invite you in, I said. "Will you invite me in?" he asked. Not right now, because I don't know you very well, I said. Then Fudgie expressed that he wanted to see a movie, but didn't have any money. I gave him two dollars and told him to go see one of the cheap movies that played down the street. He thanked me and hurried away.

A few weeks later I was out trimming some of my neighbor's bushes. Fudgie walked up to me and asked if he could help. Certainly! I said. We cut the bushes together, working in the hot sun, side by side. Fudgie had good humor. I ascertained through our conversation that perhaps Fudgie had a learning disability. This wasn't apparent in our first conversation, due to the language barrier, but I was almost sure of it now. I am familiar with learning disabilities. Fudgie told me that it was hard at home. He told me that his father was mean to him. He said that his friends were mean to him too. I told him that if they were mean to him then they weren't really his friends. We had a good talk. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that I liked him. He smiled. We walked home and I paid him some money for helping me.

A few weeks later my wife Christy and I had just come home from church. The doorbell rang. When we opened the door we saw Fudgie, and what looked to be a whole slough of smaller Fudgies. "They are my cousins!" he said. They spoke English well. They were excited to be visiting Fudgie for the day and said he wanted to introduce them to me. We all laughed. They said they wanted some money to go buy some pennie candies. I told them that they needed to earn the money by helping us do something. Christy said they could help pick up the fallen pears from our gigantic green pear tree. They were marvelous help. Because there were so many of us it went quickly. When all of the pears were picked up I paid the young workers. They were very jubilant, and stooped to the pavement carefully divying out their earnings. There would be plenty for all to have some candy.

A week later I moved away. I hope Fudgie is okay. I hope he continues to find employment. I hope that English is coming easier. I hope that he has found some new friends.

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