I am hoping that "The Whale Sound" can be made into a short film some day.
him alone!" I yelled, as I walked out of the orphanage gate, where several
of the Spring Park School bullies pushed a deaf kid around. I did not know
the boy at all, but because of his size, I figured we were about the same
lived in the old white house across the street from the orphanage where
I lived. I had seen him on his front porch several times. He’d just sit
there and make funny hand movements.
the summer time we didn't get much to eat for Sunday supper, except watermelon.
We had to eat it outside behind the dining room, so we would not make a
mess on the tables inside. It was those times I would see him was through
the high, chain-link fence that surrounded the orphanage.
deaf kid started making all kind of hand signals, real fast like as I approached.
are a stupid idiot," said the bigger of the two bullies, as he pushed the
boy down. The other bully ran around behind the boy and kicked him in the
deaf boy's body started shaking all over, and he curled up in a ball, trying
to shield his face. He looked like he was trying to cry, or something.
But he just couldn't make any sounds, I don't think.
as fast as I could back through the orphanage gate and into the thick azalea
bushes. I uncovered my homemade bow, which I had constructed out of bamboo
and string. I grabbed four arrows that were also made of bamboo, with coca
cola tops bent around the ends to make real sharp tips. Then I ran back
out the gate with an arrow cocked in the bow. I stood there quiet like,
breathing real hard, just daring either one of them to kick or touch the
a dumb freak just like him you big eared creep!" said one of the boys,
as he grabbed his friend and backed off far enough so that the arrow would
not hit them.
you're so brave, kick him again, now!" I said, shaking like a leaf.
bigger of the two bullies ran up and kicked the deaf boy in the middle
of his back, then he ran out of arrow range again.
boy jerked about and made a sound that I will never forget for as long
as I live. It was the sound like a whale makes when it has been harpooned
and knows that it is about to die. I fired all four of my arrows at the
two bullies as they ran away, laughing about what they had done.
the boy up off the ground and helped him back to his house. When we reached
his home, his sister told me that her brother was deaf, but that he was
not dumb like the two bullies said. She said that he was very smart, but
could not say or hear anything.
her that he did make a sound when the bully kicked him. She told me that
I must be mistaken because all her brother's vocal cords had been removed
during an experimental surgery, which had failed.
boy made one of those hand signs at me as I was about to leave. I asked
his sister, "If your brother is so smart, then why is he doing things like
that with his hands?"
told me that he was saying that he loved me with his hands. I didn't say
anything back to her at all because I didn't believe her. People can't
talk with their hands, and everybody knows that. People can only talk with
every Sunday, during the summer time for the next year or two, I could
see the boy through the chain-link fence as we ate watermelon outside.
He always made that same funny hand sign at me, and I would just wave back
at him, not knowing what else to do.
my very last day in the orphanage, I was being chased by the police. They
told me that I was being sent off to the Florida School for Boys Reform
School, at Marianna, so I ran to get away from them.
chased me around the dining room building several times, and finally I
made a dash for the chain-link fence and tried to climb over it. I saw
the deaf boy sitting on his porch, looking at me as they pulled me down
from the fence and handcuffed me. The boy, now about twelve, jumped up
and ran across San Diego Road, placed his fingers through the chain-link
fence and stood there looking at us.
they dragged me by my legs, I screamed for more than several hundred yards
through the dirt and pine-straw to the waiting police car. All I could
hear the entire time was the high pitched sound of that whale being harpooned
we pulled away in the police car, I saw the deaf boy loosen his grip on
the fence and slide very slowly to the ground, lowering his head into the
leaves and pine straw. That is when I realized, for the first time, that
he probably really did love me. He wanted to save me because he thought
that I too was making the whale sound.
from The Life and Times of Chicken Soup for the Soul Author, Roger Dean