- For Jimbo Meador and George Radcliff-who have always made a point of being kind to Forrest and his friends.
There is a pleasure sure in being mad which none but madmen know.
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.
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.