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Stealing the Badger

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Apr. 23rd, 2014 | 02:40 am

Stealing the Badger (by Darrick Patrick)

Back in elementary school, I was a fairly unhinged kid.  A highly energetic child who didn't quite understand the idea of self-constraint.  Always pestering the other students, being loud, doing stunts, running around, talking vulgar, bothering my teachers, partaking in occasional destructiveness, and generally making it hard for my classmates to understand what they were being taught.  This got me into a lot of trouble at school, and I saw the inside of the principal's office quite a bit.

My mother Rita was living with my great-grandmother Lora Morris back in 1987 and/or 1988.  So, I was in either second or third grade at this time.  By this point already, my favorite things to collect and read for hours were comic books.  Knowing this, Rita had a stack of comics she was going to utilize as an incentive for me to do my best to behave at school.  Each day that I came home and didn't get in trouble, I could have one of those books.

Now, it was a fairly small bundle of comic books she had in this batch.  Just enough to keep me entertained with the idea of not disturbing other humans for a few weeks.  What those books were though was awesome.  A great collection of material that I love to this day, and the first time I ever really put genuine effort into acquiring that "next one" in a series.

The first day after she told me about the comics, I came home without any problems at school.  That's when she handed me The Badger #5, by Mike Baron and Bill Reinhold.  The Badger is Nobert Sykes, a Vietnam war veteran who suffers from a multiple personality disorder.  His main identity is "The Badger", a costumed vigilante who is a martial arts expert and can talk to animals.  As the Badger, he is often arrested for punching people in the face.  His other personalities include a nine-year-old girl, a homicidal maniac, a dog, a gay architect, and a black man who is unaware of the other six personalities.

Maybe not your typical reading for kids my age at that time, but I loved it.  I did my best to keep my teachers happy at Grafton Kennedy Elementary School over those next couple weeks.  I nailed it okay, only messing up and bringing home discipline slips a few times.  The issues she had of The Badger were numbers 5 through 23, and I really wanted to read them as soon as I could.  It got all bad for me though when I got halfway there.

Since I wasn't in school on the weekends, Rita didn't count those days in my quest for Badger comics.  I hit a snag when I got my issue #15 on a Friday and it ended up being a two-part story that continued in #16.  I couldn't believe it.  I had to wait three days until I found out what happened?  I couldn't wait for three whole days.  That's like waiting for three months through the eyes of a person who is seven or eight years old.

That issue #16 was right there.  In mom's room.  Just sitting on the top of that stack in the closet.  She wouldn't notice if it was gone.  It's not like she's all into them like I am.  Mom has left for the night.  She'll be out working and partying all weekend.  All I have to do is wait until grandma is in the kitchen.

Needless to say, when the time was right, I pulled up a chair so that I could reach the top shelf of that closet.  I hid the book away under my shirt, slipped it into my backpack, and took it home with me that night to my grandmother Nancy's house.  When I got to read The Badger #16 for the first time that evening, in my head it was the greatest thing I had ever read.  I was so happy to finish the story that I had started.

A couple of days later and it's Monday.  I have a good day at school.  Stoked as can be to come home and get my copy of issue #17.  Rita pulls the first one off the top of the pile and hands it to me.  I start to run off to read it in the other room and then she tells me to wait.  She grabs the book back and says, "What's this?"  Turning around, she snags the whole stack out of the closet and flips through it.  She then gives me the ol' Rita eye.

"Where's the other one before this?" she asked.  "There was another one here."  I played stupid, thumbing through the comics myself, looking at them, trying to think of something to say.  "I don't know," I quietly respond.  I ask her if she's sure that there is one missing.  She starts to see me sweat.  I'm not making eye contact.  My fidgety behavior is acting up more so than usual.

"You're telling me you don't have it," Rita says, "that you didn't get in here and take it?"  I tell her no, and she asks again.  I say no again.  She questions me again.  She's staring at my face, grabbing my chin and making me look her in the eyes.  This goes on until I know that she knows.  And I start crying like a baby.

She adds to the tears by really grilling into me once she had me admit my guilt.  The stealing of the book was one thing, but she really didn't care about that in comparison to me lying about it.  As far as she was concerned, the comic book was mine.  I just hadn't earned it yet.  There would have been a conversation about that and a punishment, but it was nowhere near how mad I made her by telling a lie when she asked me about it.

I got tore down that day by Rita, both verbally and physically.  I don't need to get into the details of all that, but she definitely made sure that I felt like a piece of shit for my actions.  And of course, I didn't see a new Badger comic book anytime soon afterward.  It worked out to be what it was meant to be though.  I can't really think of any other time after that when I lied to Rita, for better or worse.  We were always fairly straight up with each other from that point on.

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Older story involving my mother Rita Patrick (R.I.P.)

For the growing list: http://darrickpatrick.livejournal.com/120723.html

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