“Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 2 There is a pleasure sure in being mad which none but madmen know . Dryden 1 Let me say this: bein a idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, treat you shabby. Now they says folks sposed to be kind to the afflicted, but let me tell you—it ain’t always that way. Even so, I got no complaints, cause I reckon I done live a pretty interestin life, so to speak. I been a idiot since I was born. My IQ is near 70, which qualifies me, so they say.
Probly, tho, I’m closer to bein a imbecile or maybe even a moron, but personally, I’d rather think of mysef as like a halfwit, or somethin—an not no idiot—cause when people think of a idiot, more’n likely they be thinkin of one of them Mongolian idiots–the ones with they eyes too close together what look like Chinamen an drool a lot an play with theyselfs. Now I’m slow—I’ll grant you that, but I’m probly a lot brighter than folks think, cause what goes on in my mind is a sight different than what folks see.
For instance, I can think things pretty good, but when I got to try sayin or writin them, it kinda come out like jello or somethin. I’ll show you what I mean. The other day, I’m walkin down the street an this man was out workin in his yard. He’d got hissef a bunch of shrubs to plant an he say to me, “Forrest, you wanna earn some money? ” an I says, “Uh-huh,” an so he sets me to movin dirt. Damn near ten or twelve wheelbarrows of dirt, in the heat of the day, truckin it all over creation. When I’m thru he reach in his pocket for a dollar.
What I shoulda done was raised Cain about the low wages, but instead, I took the damn dollar an all I could say was “thanks” or somethin dumb-soundin like that, an I went on down the street, waddin an unwaddin that dollar in my hand, feelin like a idiot. You see what I mean? Now I know somethin bout idiots. Probly the only thing I do know bout, but I done read up on em—all the way from that Doy-chee-eveskie guy’s idiot, to King Lear’s fool, an Faulkner’s idiot, Benjie, an even ole Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird–now he was a serious idiot.
The one I like best tho is ole Lennie in Of Mice an Men. Mos of them writer fellers got it straight—cause their idiots always smarter than people give em credit for. Hell, I’d agree with that. Any idiot would. Hee Hee. When I was born, my mama name me Forrest, cause of General Nathan Bedford Forrest who fought in the Civil War. Mama always said we was kin to General Forrest’s fambly someways. An he was a great man, she say, cept’n he started up the Ku Klux Klan after the war was over an even my grandmama say they’s a bunch of no-goods.
Which I would tend to agree with, cause down here, the Grand Exalted Pishposh, or whatever he calls hissef, he operate a gun store in town an once, when I was maybe twelve year ole, I were walkin by there and lookin in the winder an he got a big hangman’s noose strung up inside. When he seen me watchin, he done thowed it around his own neck an jerk it up like he was hanged an let his tongue stick out an all so’s to scare me. I done run off and hid in a parkin lot behin some cars til somebody call the police an they come an take me home to my mama.
So whatever else ole General Forrest done, startin up that Klan thing was not a good idea—any idiot could tell you that. Nonetheless, that’s how I got my name. My mama is a real fine person. Everbody says that. My daddy, he got kilt just after I’s born, so I never known him. He worked down to the docks as a longshoreman an one day a crane was takin a big net load of bananas off one of them United Fruit Company boats an somethin broke an the bananas fell down on my daddy an squashed him flat as a pancake.
One time I heard some men talkin bout the accident—say it was a helluva mess, half ton of all them bananas an my daddy squished underneath. I don’t care for bananas much myself, cept for banana puddin. I like that all right. “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 3 My mama got a little pension from the United Fruit people an she took in boarders at our house, so we got by okay. When I was little, she kep me inside a lot, so as the other kids wouldn’t bother me. In the summer afternoons, when it was real hot, she used to put me down in the parlor an pull the shades so it was dark an cool an fix me a pitcher of limeade.
Then she’d set there an talk to me, jus talk on an on bout nothin in particular, like a person’ll talk to a dog or cat, but I got used to it an liked it cause her voice made me feel real safe an nice. At first, when I’s growin up, she’d let me go out an play with everbody, but then she foun out they’s teasing me an all, an one day a boy hit me in the back with a stick wile they was chasin me an it raised some fearsome welt. After that, she tole me not to play with them boys anymore. I started tryin to play with the girls but that weren’t much better, cause they all run away from me.
Mama thought it would be good for me to go to the public school cause maybe it would hep me to be like everbody else, but after I been there a little wile they come an told Mama I ought’n to be in there with everbody else. They let me finish out first grade tho. Sometimes I’d set there wile the teacher was talkin an I don’t know what was going on in my mind, but I’d start lookin out the winder at the birds an squirrels an things that was climbin an settin in a big ole oak tree outside, an then the teacher’d come over an fuss at me.
Sometimes, I’d just get this real strange thing come over me an start shoutin an all, an then she’d make me go out an set on a bench in the hall. An the other kids, they’d never play with me or nothin, cept’n to chase me or get me to start hollerin so’s they could laugh at me—all cept Jenny Curran, who at least didn’t run away from me an sometimes she’d let me walk nex to her goin home after class. But the next year, they put me in another sort of school, an let me tell you, it was wierd.
It was like they’d gone aroun collectin all the funny fellers they coud find an put em all together, rangin from my age an younger to big ole boys bout sixteen or seventeen. They was retards of all kinds an spasmos an kids that couldn’t even eat or go to the toilet by theyselfs. I was probly the best of the lot. They was one big fat boy, musta been fourteen or so, an he was afflicted with some kinda thing made him shake like he’s in the electric chair or somethin.
Miss Margaret, our teacher, made me go in the bathroom with him when he had to go, so’s he wouldn’t do nothin wierd. He done it anyway, tho. I didn’t know no way of stoppin him, so I’d just lock mysef in one of the stalls and stay there till he’s thru, an walk him back to the class. I stayed in that school for about five or six years. It wadn’t all bad tho. They’d let us paint with our fingers an make little things, but mostly, it jus teachin us how to do stuff like tie up our shoes an not slobber food or get wild an yell an holler an thow shit aroun.
They wadn’t no book learnin to speak of—cept to show us how to read street signs an things like the difference between the Men’s an the Ladies’ rooms. With all them serious nuts in there, it woulda been impossible to conduct anythin more’n that anyway. Also, I think it was for the purpose of keepin us out of everbody else’s hair. Who the hell wants a bunch of retards runnin aroun loose? Even I could understand that. When I got to be thirteen, some pretty unusual things begun to happen. First off, I started to grow.
I grew six inches in six months, an my mama was all the time havin to let out my pants. Also, I commenced to grow out. By the time I was sixteen I was six foot six an weighed two hundrit forty-two pounds. I know that cause they took me in an weighed me. Said they jus couldn’t believe it. What happen nex caused a real change in my life. One day I’m strollin down the street on the way home from nut school, an a car stop longside of me. This guy call me over an axed my name. I tole him, an then he axed what school I go to, an how come he ain’t seen me aroun.
When I tell him bout the nut school, he axed if I’d ever played football. I shook my head. I guess I mighta tole him I’d seen kids playin it, but they’d never let me play. But like I said, I ain’t too good at long conversation, an so I jus shook my head. That was about two weeks after school begun again. Three days or so later, they come an got me outta the nut school. My mama was “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 4 there, an so was the guy in the car an two other people what look like goons—who I guess was present in case I was to start somethin.
They took all the stuff outta my desk an put it in a brown paper bag an tole me to say goodbye to Miss Margaret, an alls of a sudden she commence to start cryin an give me a big ole hug. Then I got to say goodbye to all the other nuts, an they was droolin an spasmoin an beatin on the desks with they fists. An then I was gone. Mama rode up in the front seat with the guy an I set in back in between them goons, jus like police done in them ole movies when they took you “downtown. ” Cept we didn’t go downtown. We went to the new highschool they had built.
When we got there they took me inside to the principal’s office an Mama an me an the guy went in wile the two goons waited in the hall. The principal was an ole gray-haired man with a stain on his tie an baggy pants who look like he coulda come outta the nut school hissef. We all sat down an he begun splainin things an axein me questions, an I just nodded my head, but what they wanted was for me to play football. That much I figgered out on my own. Turns out the guy in the car was the football coach, name of Fellers.
An that day I didn’t go to no class or nothin, but Coach Fellers, he took me back to the locker room an one of the goons rounded me up a football suit with all them pads an stuff an a real nice plastic helmet with a thing in front to keep my face from gettin squished in. The only thing was, they couldn’t find no shoes to fit me, so’s I had to use my sneakers till they could order the shoes. Coach Fellers an the goons got me dressed up in the football suit, an then they made me undress again, an then do it all over again, ten or twenty times, till I could do it by mysef.
One thing I had trouble with for a wile was that jockstrap thing—cause I couldn’t see no real good reason for wearing it. Well, they tried splainin it to me, an then one of the goons says to the other that I’m a “dummy” or somethin like that, an I guess he thought I wouldn’t understand him, but I did, on account of I pay special attention to that kind of shit. Not that it hurt my feelins. Hell, I been called a sight worse than that. But I took notice of it, nonetheless. After a wile a bunch of kids started comin into the locker room an takin out they football stuff and gettin into it.
Then we all went outside an Coach Fellers got everbody together an he stood me up in front of them an introduced me. He was sayin a bunch of shit that I wadn’t followin real close cause I was haf scared to death, on account of nobody had ever introduced me before to a bunch of strangers. But afterward some of the others come up an shook my hand an say they is glad I am here an all. Then Coach Fellers blowed a whistle, what like to make me leap outta my skin an everbody started jumpin around to get exercise. It’s a kind of long story what all happened nex, but anyway, I begun to play football.
Coach Fellers an one of the goons hepped me out special since I didn’t know how to play. We had this thing where you sposed to block people an they were tryin to splain it all, but when we tried it a bunch of times everbody seemed to be gettin disgusted cause I couldn’t remember what I was sposed to do. Then they tried this other thing they call the defense, where they put three guys in front of me an I am sposed to get thru them an grap the guy with the football. The first part was easier, cause I could just shove the other uys’ heads down, but they were unhappy with the way I grapped the guy with the ball, an finally they made me go an tackle a big oak tree about fifteen or twenty times—to get the feel of it, I spose. But after a wile, when they figgered I had learnt somethin from the oak tree, they put me back with the three guys an the ball carrier an then got mad I didn’t jump on him real viciouslike after I moved the others out of the way. I took a lot of abuse that afternoon, but when we quit practicin I went in to see Coach Fellers an tole him I didn’t want to jump on the ball guy cause I was afraid of hurtin him.
Coach, he say that it wouldn’t hurt him, cause he was in his football suit an was protected. The truth is, I wasn’t so much afraid of hurtin him as I was that he’d get mad at me an they’d start chasin me again if I wadn’t real nice to everbody. To make a long story short, it took me a wile to get the hang of it “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 5 all. Meantime I got to go to class. In the nut school, we really didn’t have that much to do, but here they was far more serious about things.
Somehow, they had worked it out so’s I had three homeroom classes where you jus set there an did whatever you wanted, an then three other classes where there was a lady who was teachin me how to read. Jus the two of us. She was real nice an pretty and more’n once or twice I had nasty thoughts about her. Miss Henderson was her name. About the only class I liked was lunch, but I guess you couldn’t call that a class. At the nut school, my mama would fix me a sambwich an a cookie an a piece of fruit—cept no bananas—an I’d take it to school with me.
But in this school they was a cafeteria with nine or ten different things to eat an I’d have trouble makin up my mind what I wanted. I think somebody must of said somethin, cause after a week or so Coach Fellers come up to me an say to just go ahead an eat all I wanted cause it been “taken care of. ” Hot damn! Guess who should be in my homeroom class but Jenny Curran. She come up to me in the hall an say she remember me from first grade. She was all growed up now, with pretty black hair an she was long-legged an had a beautiful face, an they was other things too, I dare ot mention. The football was not goin exactly to the likin of Coach Fellers. He seemed displeased a lot an was always shoutin at people. He shouted at me too. They tried to figger out some way for me to just stay put an keep other folks from grappin our guy carryin the ball, but that didn’t work cept when they ran the ball right up the middle of the line. Coach was not too happy with my tacklin neither, an let me tell you, I spent a lot of time at that oak tree. But I just couldn’t get to where I would thow mysef at the ball guy like they wanted me to do.
Somethin kep me from it. Then one day a event happen that changed all that too. In the cafeteria I had started gettin my food and goin over to set nex to Jenny Curran. I wouldn’t say nothin, but she was jus bout the only person in the school I knew halfways, an it felt good setting there with her. Most of the time she didn’t pay me no attention, an talked with other people. At first I’d been settin with some of the football players, but they acted like I was invisible or somethin. At least Jenny Curran acted like I was there.
But after a wile of this, I started to notice this other guy was there a lot too, an he starts makin wisecracks bout me. Sayin shit like “How’s Dumbo? ” an all. And this gone on for a week or two, an I was sayin nothin, but finally I says—I can’t hardly believe I said it even now—but I says, “I ain’t no Dumbo,” an the guy jus looked at me an starts laughin. An Jenny Curran, she say to the guy to keep quiet, but he takes a carton of milk an pours it in my lap an I jump up an run out cause it scares me. A day or so later, that guy come up to me in the hall an says he’s gonna “get” me.
All day I was afraid terribily, an later that afternoon, when I was leaving to go to the gym, there he is, with a bunch of his friends. I tried to go the other way, but he come up to me an start pushin me on the shoulders. An he’s sayin all kinds of bad things, callin me a “stupo” an all, an then he hit me in the stomach. It didn’t hurt so much, but I was startin to cry and I turned an begun to run, an heard him behind me an the others was runnin after me too. I jus run as fast as I could toward the gym, across the practice football field an suddenly I seen Coach Fellers, settin up in the bleachers watchin me.
The guys who was chasin me stop and go away, an Coach Fellers, he has got this real peculiar look on his face, an tell me to get suited up right away. A wile later, he come in the locker room with these plays drawn on a piece of paper—three of them—an say for me to memorize them best I can. That afternoon at the football practice, he line everbody up in two teams an suddenly the quarterback give me the ball an I’m sposed to run outside the right end of the line to the goalpost. When they all start chasin me, I run fast as I can—it was seven or eight of them before they could drag me down.
Coach Fellers is mighty happy; jumpin up and down an yellin an slappin everbody on the back. We’d run a lot of races before, to see “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 6 how fast we could run, but I get a lot faster when I’m bein chased, I guess. What idiot wouldn’t? Anyway, I become a lot more popular after that, an the other guys on the team started bein nicer to me. We had our first game an I was scared to death, but they give me the ball an I run over the goal line two or three times an people never been kinder to me after that. That highschool certainly begun to change things in my life.
It even got to where I liked to run with the football, cept it was mostly that they made me run aroun the sides cause I still couldn’t get to where I liked to just run over people like you do in the middle. One of the goons comments that I am the largest highschool halfback in the entire world. I do not think he mean it as a compliment. Otherwise, I was learnin to read a lot better with Miss Henderson. She give me Tom Sawyer an two other books I can’t remember, an I took them home an read em all, but then she give me a test where I don’t do so hot.
But I sure enjoyed them books. After a wile, I went back to settin nex to Jenny Curran in the cafeteria, an there weren’t no more trouble for a long time, but then one day in the springtime I was walkin home from school and who should appear but the boy that poured that milk in my lap an chased me that day. He got hissef a stick an start callin me things like “moron” and “stupo. ” Some other people was watchin an then along comes Jenny Curran, an I’m bout to take off again—but then, for no reason I know, I jus didn’t do it.
That feller take his stick an poke me in the stomach with it, an I says to mysef, the hell with this, an I grapped a holt to his arm an with my other hand I knock him upside the head an that was the end of that, more or less. That night my mama get a phone call from the boy’s parents, say if I lay a han on their son again they is goin to call the authorities an have me “put away. ” I tried to splain it to my mama an she say she understand, but I could tell she was worried. She tell me that since I am so huge now, I got to watch mysef, cause I might hurt somebody. An I nodded an promised her I wouldn’t hurt nobody else.
That night when I lyin in bed I heard her cryin to hersef in her room. But what that did for me, knockin that boy upside the head, put a definate new light on my football playin. Next day, I axed Coach Fellers to let me run the ball straight on and he say okay, an I run over maybe four or five guys till I’m in the clear an they all had to start chasin me again. That year I made the All State Football team. I couldn’t hardly believe it. My mama give me two pair of socks an a new shirt on my birthday. An she done saved up an bought me a new suit that I wore to get the All State Football award.
First suit I ever had. Mama tied my tie for me an off I went. 2 The All State Football Banquet was to be helt in a little town called Flomaton, what Coach Fellers described as a “switch up the railroad tracks. ” We was put on a bus—they was five or six of us from this area who won the prize—an we was trucked up there. It was a hour or two before we arrived, an the bus didn’t have no toilet, an I had drank two Slurpees fore we lef, so when we get to Flomaton, I really got to go bad. The thing was helt at the Flomaton Highschool auditorium, an when we git inside, me and some of the others find the toilet.
Somehow, tho, when I go to unzip my pants, the zipper is stuck in my shirttail an won’t come down. After a bit of this, a nice little guy from a rival school goes out and finds Coach Fellers an he come in with the two goons an they be tryin to get my pants open. One of the goons say the only way to git it down is jus rip it apart. At this, Coach Fellers put his hans on his hips an say, “I spose you expect me to send this boy out there with his fly unzipped an his thing hangin out—now what kind of a impression do you think that would make? Then he turn to me an say, “Forrest, you jus got to keep a lid on it till this thing’s over, an then we get it open for you—okay? ” An I nod, cause I don’t know what else to do, but I figgerin I be in for a long evenin. “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 7 When we get out to the auditorium there’s a million people all settin there at tables, smilin an clappin as we come out. We is put up at a big long table on the stage in front of everbody an my worst fears was realized about the long evenin. Seem like ever soul in the room got up to make a speech—even the waiters an janitor.
I wished my mama coulda been there, cause she’d of hepped me, but she back at home in bed with the grippe. Finally it come time to get handed our prizes, which was little gold-colored footballs, an when our names was called we was sposed to go up to the microphone an take the prize an say “thank you,” an they also tole us if anybody has anythin else he wants to say, to keep it short on account of we want to be gettin out of there before the turn of the century. Most everbody had got they prize an said “thank you,” an then it come my turn.
Somebody on the microphone call out “Forrest Gump,” which, if I hadn’t tole you before, is my last name, an I stand up an go over an they han me the prize. I lean over to the mike an say, “Thank you,” an everbody starts to cheer an clap an stand up in they seats. I spose somebody tole them aforehan I’m some kind of idiot, an they makin a special effort to be nice. But I’m so surprised by all this, I don’t know what to do, so I jus kep standin there. Then everbody hush up, an the man at the mike he lean over and axe me if I got anythin else I want to say. So I says, “I got to pee. Everbody in the audience didn’t say nothin for a few moments, an jus started lookin funny at each other, an then they begun a sort of low mumblin, an Coach Fellers come up an grap me by the arm and haul me back to my seat. Rest of the night he be glarin at me, but after the banquet is over, Coach an the goons done take me back to the bathroom an rip open my pants an I done peed a bucket! “Gump,” Coach say after I am finished, “you sure got a way with words. ” Now nex year wadn’t too eventful, cept somebody put out the word that a idiot got hissef on the All State Football team an a bunch of letters start comin in from all round the country.
Mama collect them all and start keepin a scrapbook. One day a package come from New Yawk City that contain a official baseball signed by the entire New Yawk Yankees baseball team. It was the best thing ever happen to me! I treasure that ball like a goldbrick, till one day when I was tossin it aroun in the yard, a big ole dog come up an grap it outta the air an chewed it up. Things like that always happenin to me. One day Coach Fellers call me in an take me into the principal’s office. They was a man there from up to the University who shook my han an axe me whether I ever thought bout playin football in college.
He say they been “watchin” me. I shook my head, cause I hadn’t. Everbody seemed to be in awe of this man, bowin an scrapin an callin him “Mister Bryant. ” But he say for me to call him “Bear,” which I thought was a funny name, cept he do look similar to a bear in some respects. Coach Fellers point out that I am not the brightest person, but the Bear, he say that is plenty true of most of his players, an that he figgers to get me special hep in my studies. A week later they give me a test with all sorts of screwy questions the like of which I am not familiar with.
After a wile I get bored and stop takin the test. Two days afterward, the Bear come back again and I get hauled into the principal’s office by Coach Fellers. Bear lookin distressed, but he still bein nice; he axe me have I done tried my best on that test. I nod my head, but the principal be rollin his eyes, an the Bear say, “Well, this is unfortunate then, cause the score appears to indicate that this boy is a idiot. ” The principal be noddin his head now, an Coach Fellers is standin there with his hands in his pockets lookin sour. It seem to be the end of my college football prospects.
The fact that I were too dumb to play college football did not seem to impress the United States Army none. It were my last year at highschool an in the springtime everbody else graduated. They let me set up on the stage tho, an even give me a black “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 8 robe to put on, an when it come time, the principal announce they was gonna give me a “special” diploma. I got up to go to the microphone an the two goons stan up an go with me—I spose so’s I don’t make no remarks like I did at the All State Football thing.
My mama is down in the front row cryin and wringin her hans an I really feel good, like I actually done accomplish somethin. But when we git back home, I finally realize why she bawlin an carryin on—they was a letter come from the Army say I got to report to the local daft board or somesuch. I didn’t know what the deal was, but my mama did—it was 1968 an they was all sorts of shit fixin to hoppen. Mama give me a letter from the school principal to han to the daft-board people, but somehow I lost it on the way there. It was a loony scene. They was a big colored guy in a Army suit yellin at people an dividin them up into bunches.
We was all standin there and he come up an shout, “All right, I want half of you to go over there an half of you to go over here, an the other half of you to stay put! ” Everbody millin aroun an lookin bewildered an even I could figger out this guy’s a moron. They took me in a room and line us up an tell us to remove our clothes. I ain’t much for that, but everbody else done it an so I did too. They lookin at us everplace—eyes, noses, mouths, ears—even our private parts. At one point they tell me, “Bend over,” an when I do, somebody jam his finger up my ass. That’s it!
I turn an grapped that bastid an knock him upside the head. They was suddenly a big commotion an a bunch of people run up an jump on top of me. However, I am used to that treatment. I thowed them off an run out the door. When I get home an tell my mama what happen, she all upset, but she say, “Don’t worry, Forrest—everthin gonna be okay. ” It ain’t. Next week, a van pull up at our house and a number of men in Army suits an shiny black helmets come up to the door be axin for me. I’m hidin up in my room, but Mama come up an say they jus wanta give me a ride back down to the daft board.
All the way there, they be watchin me real close, like I’m some kinda maniac. They was a door that lead to a big office where there’s a older man all dressed up in a shiny uniform an he eyein me pretty careful too. They set me down an shove another test in front of me, an wile it’s one hell of a lot easier than the college football test, it still ain’t no piece of cake. When I’m done, they take me to another room where they’s four or five guys settin at a long table what start axin me questions an passin around what looked like the test I took.
Then they all git into a huddle and when they finish one of em sign a paper an han it to me. When I take it home, Mama read it an begin pullin at her hair an weepin an praisin the Lord, cause it say I am “Temporarily Deferred,” on account of I am a numbnuts. Somethin else occurred durin that week that was a major event in my life. There was this lady boarder livin with us that worked down to the telephone company as a operator. Miss French was her name. She was a real nice lady, what kep mostly to hersef, but one night when it was terribily hot, an they was thunderstorms, she stuck her head out the door to er room as I was walkin by an say, “Forrest, I just got a box of nice divinity this afternoon—would you like a piece? ” An I say “yes,” an she bring me into her room an there on the dresser is the divinity. She give me a piece of it, then she axe if I want another, an she points for me to set down on the bed. I must of ate ten or fifteen pieces of the divinity an lightnin was flashin outside an thunder an the curtains was blowin an Miss French kinda pushes me an makes me lie back on the bed. She commences to start strokin me in a personal way. Jus keep your eyes closed,” she say, “an everthing will be all right. ” Nex thing you know there is somethin happenin that had not happen before. I cannot say what it was, because I was keepin my eyes closed, an also because my mama woulda kilt me, but let me tell you this—it give me an entirely new outlook on things for the future. “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 9 The problem was that wile Miss French was a nice kind lady, the things that she done to me that night was the kinds of things I’d have preferred to have done to me by Jenny Curran.
An yet, there was no way I could see to even begin gettin that accomplished cause what with the way I am, it is not so easy to ask anyone for a date. That is to put it mildly. But on account of my new experience, I got up the courage to axe my mama what to do about Jenny, tho I certainly didn’t say nothin bout me an Miss French. Mama said she’ll take care of it for me, an she call up Jenny Curran’s mama an splain the situation to her, an the nex evenin, lo an behole, who should appear at our door but Jenny Curran hersef!
She is all dressed up in a white dress an a pink flower in her hair an she look like nothin I have ever dreamt of. She come inside an Mama took her to the parlor an give her a ice-cream float an call for me to come down from my room, where I had run to as soon as I seen Jenny Curran comin up the walk. I’d of rather had five thousand people chasin me than to come out of my room jus then, but Mama come up an take me by the han an lead me down an give me a ice-cream float too. That made it better. Mama said we can go to the movies an she give Jenny three dollars as we walk out of the house.
Jenny ain’t never been nicer, talkin an laughin an I am noddin an grinnin like a idiot. The movie was jus four or five blocks from our house, an Jenny went up an got some tickets an we went in an set down. She axed me if I want some popcorn an when she come back from gettin it, the picture done started. It is a movie about two people, a man an a lady called Bonnie an Clyde that robbed banks an they was some interestin other people in it also. But it was a lot of killin an shootin an shit like that, too.
It seemed to me funny that folks would be shootin an killin one another that way, so’s I laughed a lot when that went on, an whenever I did, Jenny Curran seemed to squnch down in her seat a lot. Halfway thru the movie, she was almost squnched down to the floor. I suddenly saw this an figgered she had somehow felled out of her seat, so I reached over an grapped her by the shoulder to lif her up again. As I did this, I heard somethin tear, an I look down an Jenny Curran’s dress is ripped completely open an everthing is hangin out.
I took my other han to try to cover her up, but she start makin noises an flail about wild-like, an me, I’m tryin to hole onto her so’s she don’t fall down again or come undone an there’s people around us lookin back tryin to see what all the commotion is about. Suddenly a fellow come down the aisle an shine a bright light right on Jenny an me, but bein exposed an all, she commenced to shriek an wail an then she jump up an run out of the show. Nex thing I know, two men come an tell me to get up an I follow them to a office. A few minutes later, four policemen arrive an axe me to come with them.
They show me to a police car an two get in front an two get in back with me, jus like it was with Coach Fellers’ goons, cept’n this time we do go “downtown,” an they escort me to a room an jab my fingers onto a pad an I get my picture taken an they thowed me in jail. It was a horrible experience. I was worried all the time bout Jenny, but after a bit my mama showed up an come in wipin her eyes with a handkerchief an twistin her fingers an I knowed I’m in the doghouse again. There was some kind of ceremony a few days later down to the courthouse.
My mama dressed me in my suit an took me there, an we met a nice man with a moustache carrying a big purse who tole the judge a bunch of things an then some other people, includin my mama, say some other shit an finally it was my turn. The man with the moustache took me by the arm so’s I’d stand up, an the judge axed me how all this done happen? I couldn’t figger out what to say, so I jus shrugged my shoulders an then he axes if there’s anything else I want to add, an so I says, “I got to pee,” cause we’d been settin there almost haf a day an I’m about to bust!
The judge, he lean forward from behind his big ole desk an peer at me like I am a Marsman or somethin. Then the feller with the moustache speaks up and followin this the judge tells him to take me to the toilet, which he does. I look back as we leavin the room an see po “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 10 ole Mama holdin her head an daubin at her eyes with the handkerchief. Anyhow, when I get back, the judge be scratchin his chin an he say the whole deal is “very peculiar,” but that he think I ought to go in the Army or somethin which might hep straighten me out.
My mama inform him that the United States Army won’t have me, account of I am a idiot, but that this very mornin a letter done come from up to the University sayin that if I will play football for them, I can go to school there scot free. The judge say that sounds kinda peculiar too, but it’s okay with him so long as I get my big ass out of town. The nex mornin I am all packed up an Mama, she take me to the bus station an put me on the bus. I is lookin out the winder an there is Mama, cryin an wipin her eyes with her handkerchief. That is gettin to be a scene I know too well. It is stamped permanant into my memory.
Anyhow, they started up the bus, an away I went. 3 When we git up to the university, coach Bryant he come out to the gym where we all settin in our shorts and sweatshirts an begin makin a speech. It bout the same kind of speech Coach Fellers would make, cept even a simpleton like mysef could tell this man mean bidness! His speech short an sweet, an conclude with the statement that the last man on the bus to the practice field will get a ride there not on the bus, but on Coach Bryant’s shoe instead. Yessiree. We do not doubt his word, an stack ourselfs into the bus like flapjacks.
All this was durin the month of August, which in the state of Alabama is somewhat hotter than it is elsewhere. That is to say, that if you put a egg on top of your football helmet it would be fried sunnyside up in about ten seconds. Of course nobody ever try that on account of it might get Coach Bryant angry. That was the one thing nobody wish to do, because life was almost intolerable as it was. Coach Bryant have his own goons to show me around. They take me to where I is gonna stay, which is a nice brick building on the campus that somebody says is called the “Ape Dorm. Them goons escort me over there in a car an lead me upstairs to my room. Unfortunately, what might of looked nice from the outside was not true for the inside. At first, it appear that nobody had lived in this building for a long time, they was so much dirt an shit aroun, an most of the doors had been torn off they hinges an bashed in, an most of the winders are busted out too. A few of the fellers is lyin on they cots inside, wearin very little cause it about 110 degrees hot in there, an flies an things be hummin an buzzin.
In the hall they is a big stack of newspapers, which at first I afraid they gonna make us read, it being college an all, but soon I learn they are for puttin down on the floor so’s you don’t have to step on all the dirt an shit when you walk aroun. The goons take me to my room an say they be hopin to find my roomate there, whose name is Curtis somebody, but he nowhere to be foun. So they get my stuff unpacked an show me where the bathroom is, which look worse than what you might expect to find at a one-pump gasoline station, an they be on they way.
But before they go, one of the goons say Curtis an me should get on fine cause both of us have about as much brains as a eggplant. I look real hard at the goon what said that, cause I be tired of hearin all that shit, but he tell me to drop down and give him fifty pushups. After that, I just be doin what I’m tole. I went to sleep on my cot after spreadin a sheet over it to cover up the dirt, an was havin a dream bout settin down in the parlor with my mama like we use to do when it was hot, an she’d fix me a limeade an talk to me hour after hour—an then suddenly the door of the room done crashed in flat an scare me haf to death!
A feller be standin there in the doorway with a wild look on his face, eyes all bugged out, no teeth in front, nose look like a yeller squash an his hair standin straight up like he done stuck his thing in a light-socket. I figger this be Curtis. “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 11 He come inside the room like he expectin somebody to pounce on him, lookin from side to side, an walk right over the door that he just caved in. Curtis ain’t very tall, but he look like an icebox otherwise. First thing he axe me is where I’m from. When I say Mobile, he say that is a “candyass” town, an nforms me he’s from Opp, where they make peanut butter, an if I don’t like it, he gonna open up a jar hissef an butter my butt with it! That were the extent of our conversation for a day or so. That afternoon at football practice it be about ten thousan degrees hot on the field, an all Coach Bryant’s goons runnin roun scowlin an yellin at us an makin us exercise. My tongue hangin down like it was a necktie or somethin, but I tryin to do the right thing. Finally they divides up everbody an puts me with backs an we start to run pass patterns.
Now before I come up to the University, they done sent me a package which contain about a million different football plays, an I done axed Coach Fellers what I’m spose to do with it an he jus shake his head sadly an say not to try to do nothin—jus to wait till I get to the University an let them figger somethin out. I wish I had not taken Coach Fellers’ advice now, cause when I run out for my first pass I done turned the wrong way an the head goon come rushin up hollerin an shoutin at me an when he stop shoutin he axed me don’t I study the plays they send me?
When I says, “Uh, uh,” he commence to jump up an down an flail his arms like hornets is upon him, an when he calm down he tell me to go run five laps aroun the field wile he consult with Coach Bryant bout me. Coach Bryant be settin up in a great big tower lookin down on us like the Great Gawd Bud, I’m runnin the laps and watchin the goon clime up there, an when he get to the top an say his piece, Coach Bryant crane his neck forward an I feel his eyes burnin hot on my big stupid ass.
Suddenly a voice come over a megaphone for everbody to hear, say, “Forrest Gump, report to the coachin tower,” an I seen Coach Bryant an the goon climin down. All the time I be runnin over there I am wishin I were runnin backwards instead. But imagine my surprise when I see Coach Bryant smilin. He motion me over to some bleachers an we set down an he axed me again if I’d not learnt them plays they send me.
I begin to splain what Coach Fellers had tole me, but Coach Bryant he stop me an say for me to git back in the line an start catchin passes, an then I tole him somethin else I guess he didn’t want to hear, which was that I had never even caught a pass at highschool, cause they figgered it hard enough to get me to remember where our own goaline is, let alone runnin aroun tryin to grap the ball outta the air too. At this news, Coach Bryant get a real odd squint in his eyes, an he look off in the distance, as if he was lookin all the way to the moon or somethin.
Then he tell the goon to go fetch a football an when the football come, Coach Bryant hissef tell me to run out a little ways an turn aroun. When I do, he thowed the football at me. I see it comin almost like slow-motion but it bounce off my fingers an fall on the ground. Coach Bryant be noddin his head up an down like he should of figgered this out earlier, but somehow I get the idea he is not pleased. From the time I’m little, ever time I do somethin wrong, my mama, she’d say, “Forrest, you got to be careful, cause they gonna put you away. I was so scairt of bein put in this “away” place I’d always try to be better, but I’m damned if there’s a worst place they could of sent me than this Ape Dorm thing I’m livin in. People be doin shit they wouldn’t of tolerated even in the nut school—rippin out the toilets, for instance, so’s you’d go to the bathroom an wouldn’t fine nothin but a hole in the floor to shit in, an they’d have heaved the toilet out the winder onto the top of somebody’s car drivin past. One night some big ole goofball what played in the line got out a rifle an commence to shoot out all the winders in somebody’s fraternity house across the street.
The campus cops come rushin over, but the feller drop a big outboard motor he found someplace out the winder onto the top of the cop car. Coach Bryant make him run a bunch of extra laps for doing that. Curtis an me ain’t gettin along so hot, an I never been so lonely. I miss my mama, an wanta go back home. Trouble with Curtis is, I don’t understand him. Everthing he say “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 12 got so many cusswords in it, time I get to figgerin out what they are, I miss his point. Most of the time, I gather his point is that he ain’t happy bout somethin.
Curtis had a car an he used to give me a ride to practice, but one day I go to meet him an he cussin an growlin an bent over a big drain grate in the street. Seems he’s got a flat tire an when he go to change it he put the lug nuts in his hubcap and accidentally knock em down into the drain. We fixin to be late to practice which was not real good to do, so’s I say to Curtis, “Why don’t you take one lug nut off each of them three other tires an that way you will have three nuts on each tire, which ought to be enough to get us to practice? Curtis stop cussin for a moment an look up at me an say, “You supposed to be a idiot, how you figure that out? ” An I say, “Maybe I am a idiot, but at least I ain’t stupid,” an at this, Curtis jump up an commence chasin me with the tire tool, callin me ever terrible thing he can think up, an that pretty much ruin our relationship. After that, I decide I got to find another place to stay, so when we git off from practice I gone down into the basement of the Ape Dorm an spen the rest of the night there.
It wadn’t no dirtier than the upstairs rooms an there was an electric lightbulb. Nex day I moved my cot down there an from then on, it was where I lived. Meantime, school is done started an they got to figger out what to do with me. They was a guy with the atheletic department that seemed to do nothin but figger out how to get dummos to where they could pass a class. Some of the classes was sposed to be easy, such as Physical Education, an they enroll me in that. But also I have got to take one English course an one science or math, an there is no gettin aroun that.
What I learnt later was that there was certain teachers that would give a football player a sort of break, meanin that they’d appreciate he is consumed with playin football an cannot spend much of his time on school. They was one of these teachers in the science department, but unfortunately, the only class he taught was somethin called “Intermediate Light,” which was apparently for graduate physics majors or something. But they put me in there anyhow, even though I didn’t know physics from phys-ed. I was not so lucky in English.
They apparently did not have no sympathetic people over in that department, so’s they tole me just to go ahead an take the class an fail it, an they’d figger out somethin else later. In Intermediate Light, they provide me with a textbook that weigh five pounds an look like a Chinaman wrote it. But ever night I take it down to the basement an set on my cot under the lightbulb, an after a wile, for some peculiar reason, it begun to make sense. What did not make sense was why we was sposed to be doin it in the first place, but figgerin out them equations was easy as pie.
Professor Hooks was my teacher’s name, an after the first test, he axed me to come to his office after class. He say, “Forrest, I want you to tell me the truth, did somebody provide you the answers to these questions? ” An I shake my head, an then he han me a sheet of paper with a problem written on it and says for me to set down an figger it out. When I’m thru, Professor Hooks look at what I done an shake his head an say, “Greatgodamighty. ” English class was another deal entirely. The teacher is a Mister Boone, an he a very stern person who talk lot. At the end of the first day, he say for us to set down that night an write a short autobiography of ourselfs for him. It’s jus bout the most difficult thing I ever try to do, but I stay up most of the night, thinkin an writin, an I just say whatever come to mine on account of they tole me to fail the class anyhow. A few days later, Mister Boone start handin back our papers an he criticism an makin fun of everbody’s autobiography. Then he come to what I done, an I figger I’m in the doghouse for sure.
But he hold up my paper an start readin it out loud to everbody an he commences laughin an everbody else is too. I had tole bout bein in the nut school, an playin football for Coach Fellers an goin to the All State Football banquet, an about the daft board, an Jenny Curran an the movie an all. When he’s thru, Mr. Boone, he say, “Now here is originality! Here is what I want,” an everbody turn an look at me, an he says, “Mister Gump, you ought to think about gettin into the creative writing department—how did you think this up? ” An I says, “I got to pee. ” “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 13
Mister Boone kinda jump back for a secont, an then he bust out laughin an so does everbody else, an he says, “Mister Gump, you are a very amusing feller. ” An so I am surprised again. The first football game was on a Saturday a few weeks later. Most of the time practice had been pretty bad, till Coach Bryant figgered out what to do with me, which was bout what Coach Fellers had done at highschool. They jus give me the ball an let me run. I run good that day, an score four touchdowns, an we whip the University of Georgia 35 to 3 an everbody slappin me on the back till it hurt.
After I get cleaned up I phoned my mama an she done listened to the game over the radio an is so happy she can bust! That night, everbody goin to parties an shit, but nobody axed me to any, so I go on down to the basement. I’m there a wile when I hear this kind of music comin from someplace upstairs and it’s real pretty-like, an, I don’t know why, but I went on up there to find out what it was. There was this guy, Bubba, settin in his room playin a mouth organ. He’d broke his foot in practice an couldn’t play an didn’t have nowhere to go either.
He let me set on a cot an listen to him, we didn’t talk or nothing, he jus settin on one cot an me on the other, an he’s playing his harmonica. An after bout a hour I axed him if I could try it an he says, “Okay. ” Little did I know that it would change my life forever. After I’d played aroun on the thing for a wile, I got to where’s I could play pretty good, an Bubba was goin crazy, sayin he’s never heard such good shit. After it got late, Bubba says for me to take the harmonica with me, an I did, an played it a long time, till I got sleepy and went to bed.
Next day, Sunday, I went to take the harmonica back to Bubba but he say for me to keep it, cause he got another one, an I was real happy, an went for a walk an set down under a tree an played all day long, till I run out of things to play. It was late in the afternoon, an the sun was almost gone when I begun to walk back to the Ape Dorm. I was goin across the Quadrangle when suddenly I hear this girl’s voice shout out, “Forrest! ” I turn aroun an who should be behin me but Jenny Curran. She has a big smile on her face and she come up and took me by the han, an says she saw me play football yesterday and how good I was an all.
It turns out she ain’t mad or anythin bout what happen in the movie, an says it ain’t my fault, it was jus one of them things. She axe if I want to have a Co’Cola with her. It was too nice to believe, settin there with Jenny Curran, an she say she takin classes in music an drama an that she plannin on bein a actress or a singer. She also playin in a little band that do folk music stuff, an tells me they gonna be at the Student Union buildin tomorrow night an for me to come by. Let me tell you, I can hardly wait. 4 Now there is a secret thing that coach Bryant an them done figgered out, an nobody sposed to mention it, even to ourselfs.
They been teachin me how to catch a football pass. Ever day after practice I been workin with two goons an a quarterback, runnin out an catchin passes, runnin out an catchin passes, till I’m so exhausted my tongue hangin down to my navel. But I gettin to where I can catch em, an Coach Bryant, he say this gonna be our “secret weapon”—like a “Adam Bomb,” or somethin, cause after a wile them other teams gonna figger out they ain’t thowin me the ball an will not be watchin for it. “Then,” Coach Bryant say, “we is gonna turn your big ass loose—six foot six, two hundrit forty pounds—an run the hundrit yards in 9. seconds flat. It is gonna be a sight! ” Bubba an me is real good friends by now, an he heped me learn some new songs on the harmonica. Sometimes he come down to the basement and we set aroun an play along together, but Bubba say I am far better than he ever will be. I got to tell you, that if “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 14 it weren’t for that harmonica music, I might of jus packed up an gone home, but it made me feel so good, I can hardly describe it. Sort of like my whole body is the harmonica an the music give me goosebumps when I play it.
Mostly the trick is in the tongue, lips, fingers and how you move your neck. I think perhaps runnin after all them passes has caused my tongue to hang out longer, which is a hell of a note, so to speak. Nex Friday, I git all slicked up an Bubba lend me some hair tonic an shavin lotion an I go on over to the Student Union building. They is a big crowd there an sure enough, Jenny Curran an three or four other people is up on stage. Jenny is wearin a long dress an playin the guitar, an somebody else has a banjo an there is a guy with a bull fiddle, pluckin it with his fingers.
They sound real good, an Jenny seen me back in the crowd, an smiles an points with her eyes for me to come up an set in the front. It is just beautiful, settin there on the floor listenin an watchin Jenny Curran. I was kinda thinkin that later, I would buy some divinity an see if she wanted some too. They had played for an hour or so, an everbody seemed happy an feelin good. They was playin Joan Baez music, an Bob Dylan an Peter, Paul an Mary. I was lying back with my eyes closed, listenin, an all of a sudden, I ain’t sure what happen, but I had pulled out my harmonica an was jus playin along with them.
It was the strangest thing. Jenny was singin “Blowin in the Wind” an when I begun to play, she stopped for a secont, an the banjo player, he stopped too, an they get this very suprised looks on they faces, an then Jenny give a big grin an she commence to pick up the song again, an the banjo player, he stop an give me a chance to ride my harmonica for a wile, an everbody in the crowd begun to clap an cheer when I was done. Jenny come down from the stage after that an the band take a break an she say, “Forrest, what in the world? Where you learn to play that thing? ” Anyhow, after that, Jenny got me to play with their band.
It was ever Friday, an when there wasn’t an out of town game, I made twenty-five bucks a night. It were jus like heaven till I foun out Jenny Curran been screwin the banjo player. Unfortunately, it was not goin so good in English class. Mister Boone had called me in bout a week or so after he read my autobiography to the class and he say, “Mister Gump, I believe it is time for you to stop tryin to be amusin and start gettin serious. ” He han me back an assignment I had writ on the poet Wordsworth. “The Romantic Period,” he say, “did not follow a bunch of ‘classic bullshit. Nor were the poets Pope and Dryden a couple of ‘turds. ’ “ He tell me to do the thing over again, an I’m beginnin to realize Mister Boone don’t understand I’m a idiot, but he was bout to find out. Meantime, somebody must of said somethin to somebody, cause one day my guidance counselor at the atheletic department call me in an tells me I’m excused from other classes an to report the next mornin to a Doctor Mills at the University Medical Center. Bright an early I go over there an Doctor Mills got a big stack of papers in front of him, lookin through them, an he tell me to sit down and start axin me questions.
When he finished, he tell me to take off my clothes—all but my undershorts, which I breathed easier after hearin cause of what happen the last time with the Army doctors—an he commenced to studyin me real hard, lookin in my eyes an all, an bongin me on the kneecaps with a little rubber hammer. Afterward, Doctor Mills axed if I would mine comin back that afternoon an axed if I would bring my harmonica with me, cause he had heard bout it, an would I mine playin a tune for one of his medical classes? I said I would, although it seemed peculiar, even to somebody dumb as me.
They was about a hundrit people in the medical class all wearin green aprons an takin notes. Doctor Mills put me up on the stage in a chair with a pitcher an a glass of water in front of me. He’s sayin a whole bunch of crap I don’t follow, but after a wile I get the feelin he’s talkin bout me. “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 15 “Idiot savant,” he say loudly, an everbody be starin my way. “A person who cannot tie a necktie, who can barely lace up his shoes, who has the mental capacity of perhaps a six– to ten-year-old, and—in this case—the body of, well, an Adonis. Doctor Mills be smilin at me in a way I don’t like, but I’m stuck, I guess. “But the mind,” he says, “the mind of the idiot savant has rare pockets of brilliance, so that Forrest here can solve advanced mathematical equations that would stump any of you, and he can pick up complex musical themes with the ease of Liszt or Beethoven. Idiot savant,” he says again, sweepin his han in my direction. I ain’t sure what I’m sposed to do, but he had said for me to play somethin, so I pull out the harmonica an start playin “Puff, the Magic Dragon. Everbody settin there watchin me like I’m a bug or somethin, an when the song’s over they still jus settin there lookin at me—don’t even clap or nothin. I figgered they don’t like it, so I stood up an said, “Thanks,” an I lef. Shit on them people. They is only two more things the rest of that school term that was even halfway important. The first was when we won the National College Football Championship an went to the Orange Bowl, an the second was when I found out Jenny Curran was screwin the banjo player. It was the night we was sposed to play at a fraternity house party at the University.
We had had a terribily hard practice that afternoon, an I was so thirsty I coulda drank out of the toilet like a dog. But they was this little stow five or six blocks from the Ape Dorm an after practice I walked on up there fixin to git me some limes and some sugar an fix me a limeade like my mama used to make for me. They is a ole cross-eyed woman behin the counter an she look at me like I’m a holdup man or somethin. I’m lookin for the limes an after a wile she says, “Kin I hep you? ” an I says, “I want some limes,” an she tells me they ain’t got no limes.
So I axed her if they got any lemons, cause I’s thinkin a lemonade would do, but they ain’t got none of them either, or oranges or nothin. It ain’t that kind of stow. I musta look aroun maybe an hour or mo, an the woman be gettin nervous, an finally she say, “Ain’t you gonna buy nothin? ” so I get a can of peaches off the shef, an some sugar, thinkin if I can’t have anythin else I can maybe make me a peachade–or somethin, I bout dyin of thirst. When I git back to my basement I open the can with a knife an squash the peaches up inside one of my socks an strain it into a jar.
Then I put in some water an sugar an get it stirred up, but I’ll tell you what—it don’t taste nothin like a limeade—matter of fact, it taste more than anythin else like hot socks. Anyhow, I sposed to be at the fraternity house at seven o’clock an when I get there some of the fellers is settin up the stuff an all, but Jenny and the banjo guy are nowhere to be found. I assed aroun for a wile, an then I went out to get mysef some fresh air in the parkin lot. I saw Jenny’s car, an thought maybe she just get here. All the winders in the car is steamed up, so’s you can’t see inside.
Well, all of a sudden I think maybe she’s in there an can’t git out, an maybe gettin that exhaust poison or somethin, so I open the door an look in. When I do, the light come on. There she is, lying on the back seat, the top of her dress pulled down an the bottom pulled up. Banjo player there too, on top of her. Jenny seen me an start screamin an flailin jus like she done in the pitcher show, an it suddenly occur to me that maybe she bein molested, so’s I grapped the banjo player by his shirt, which was all he’s got on anyhow, an snatched his ass off her. Well, it did not take no idiot to figger out that I gone an done the wrong thing again.
Jesus Christ, you can’t imagine such carryin on. He cussin me, she cussin me an tryin to git her dress pulled up an down, an finally Jenny say, “Oh Forrest—how could you! ” an walk off. Banjo player pick up his banjo an leave too. Anyhow, after that, it were apparent I was not welcome to play in the little band no more, an I went on back to the basement. I still couldn’t understan exactly what had been goin on, but later that night Bubba seen my light on an he stop down an when I tell him bout the thing, he say, “Good grief, Forrest, them people was makin love! Well, I reckon I might have figgered that out mysef, but to be honest, it was not somethin I “Forrest Gump” By Winston Groom 16 wanted to know. Sometimes, however, a man got to look at the facts. It is probly a good thing I was kep busy playin football, cause it was such a awful feelin, realizin Jenny was doin that with the banjo player, an that she probly hadn’t even a thought bout me in that regard. But by this time we was undefeated the entire season an was goin to play for the National Championship at the Orange Bowl against them corn shuckers from Nebraska.
It was always a big thing when we played a team from up North cause for sure they would have colored on their side, an that be a reason for a lot of consternation from some of the guys—like my ex-roomate Curtis, for example—altho I never worried bout it mysef, on account of most of the colored I ever met be nicer to me than white people. Anyhow, we gone on down to the Orange Bowl in Miami, an come game time, we is some kind of stirred up. Coach Bryant come in the locker room an don’t say much, cept that if we want to win, we got to play hard, or somesuch, an then we be out on the field an they kicked off to us.
The ball come directly to me an I grap it outta the air an run straight into a pile of Nebraska corn shucker niggers an big ole white boys that weigh about 500 pounds apiece. It were that way the whole afternoon. At halftime, they was ahead 28 to 7 an we was a forelorn an sorry lot of guys. Coach Bryant come into the dressing room an he be shakin his head like he expected all along that we was goin to let him down. Then he start drawin on the chalk board and talkin to Snake, the quarterback, an some of the others, an then he call out my name an axe me to come with him into the hallway. Forrest,” he says, “this shit has got to stop. ” His face right up against mine, an I feel his breath hot on my cheeks. “Forrest,” he say, “all year long we been runnin them pass patterns to you in secret, an you been doin great. Now we is gonna do it against them Nebraska corn jackoffs this second half, an they will be so faked out, they jockstraps gonna be danglin roun they ankles. But it is up to you, boy—so go out there an run like a wild animal is after you. ” I nod my head, an then it be time to get back on the field. Everbody be hollerin an cheerin, but I sort of feel they is a unfair burden on my shoulders.
What the hell, tho— that’s jus the way it is sometimes. First play when we git the ball, Snake, the quarterback, say in the huddle, “Okay, we gonna run the Forrest Series now,” an he says to me, “You jus run out twenty yards an look back, an the ball be there. ” An damn if it wadn’t! Score is 28 to 14 all of a sudden. We play real good after that, cept them Nebraska corn jerkoff niggers an big ole dumb white boys, they ain’t jus settin there observin the scene. They has got some tricks of they own—mainly like runnin all over us as if we was made of cardboard or somethin.
But they is still somewhat suprised that I can catch the ball, an after I catch it four or five more times, an the score is 28 to 21, they begin to put two fellers to chasin after me. However, that leave Gwinn, the end, with nobody much to chase him aroun, an he catch Snake’s pass an put us on the fifteen yard line. Weasel, the place kicker, get a field goal an the score now be 28 to 24. On the sideline, Coach Bryant come up to me an say, “Forrest, you may be a shit-forbrains, but you has got to pull this thing out for us.
I will personally see that you are made President of the United States or whatever else you want, if you can jus haul that football over the goal line one more time. ” He pat me on the head then, like I was a dog, an back in the game I go. The Snake, he get caught behin the line right at the first play, an the clock is runnin out fast. On the second play, he try to fake em out by handin me the ball, sted of thowin it, but bout two tons of Nebraska corn jackoff beef, black an white, fall on top of me right away.
I lying there, flat on my back, thinkin what it must of been like when that netload of bananas fall on my daddy, an then I gone back in the huddle again. “Forrest,”