I am the square peg that fit in a round hole. I’m the last guy anyone would expect to teach poetry, grammar, writing and literature.
In fact, I did not enjoy kindergarten through twelfth grade. In grade school, I was the puny guy bullies lined up to terrorize. In high school, I was six-foot four and weighed one-hundred-and-twenty-five pounds. If I turned sideways, I disappeared—a good way to hide.
In high school, I read an average of two paperbacks a day. During lectures, I sat in the back dressed in black wearing shades reading Andre Norton or Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury. I read a series of books about the Civil War while my history teacher talked about the Revolutionary War. When other kids played baseball, football or basketball, I was reading about Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.
When I graduated, my GPA had a decimal in front of it. After high school, I joined the Marine Corps.
Then LBJ lied about the Tonkin Gulf incident and became George W. Bush’s role model for the future invasion of Iraq. What irony, a Democrat teaching a Republican how to use false evidence to start a war. That might be the only time a Republican learned anything from a Democrat.
I came back from Vietnam with a dose of Post Traumatic Stress and almost drowned in booze. When I was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1968, I had no idea what was causing me to wake up sweaty seeing Vietcong in the room.
I slept with an eight-inch blade.
In Vietnam, a sniper came within an inch of killing me. The round caressed an ear, and I thought, “God, get me home alive in one piece, and I will go to college like my parents wanted.”
In 1973, I graduated with honors with a BA in journalism from FSU. In 1975, at thirty, I earned a teaching credential at Cal Poly Pomona. The MFA arrived later.
From 1975 to 2005, I taught English, reading and journalism in the public schools, and I didn’t torture or shoot anyone.
Discover why Substitute Teaching is not a “Tea Party”
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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