I was getting ready to leave school for the day, thinking about my visit with the Reverend, when my locker was slammed for me. I looked up at the leering faces of about five guys, ganged up behind Dennis, their leader. He cocked his head, and asked me, “Where you goin’ Tennessee string-bean?â€? I lowered my head, silent. “String-bean doesn’t want to answer his superiors? That’s no good,â€? Dennis said, in the way he did whenever he was about to beat me up. “Wassa madda wit choo, String-bean? They don’ teach ya fancy manner-isms down in that thar Tennessee?â€? he asked in his horrible Southern accent, hitching up his pants in a hill-billy style. His gang roared with laughter. My face went hot, my heart pounding, ready to take off. “How’s about we teach hill-billy String-bean some manners?â€? Dennis asked his gang, beginning to reach for me. This was my cue to run for my life.

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