I often wonder what the outside world looks like. I have seen pictures but I have never really experienced it for myself. These days the world has gotten itself in a big hurry, people running across the streets to get to their jobs on time, and others speeding through the streets hoping to be in by the time their boss even realizes that they were even late. Sure does sound like something I would love to check out for myself. The only thing holding me back from going outside is the sun and my sensitive skin. I would burn to a crisp in a heartbeat.
On the best of days I can hear the sweet sound of kids playing in the park and the sweet sound of skate boards going by and who can forget that most noticeable sound of a basketball bouncing off the pavement as kids walk home from playing a game. I would kill just to go outside for just one day to play ball and to ride a skateboard, even just to play in the park like a normal kid does. For me though, that is just a dream that I will never get to experience in my lifetime.
Most of the kids on my street all get to go to public school while I have to stay home and have a private school teacher come over and teach me. In my house my dad had set up our guest room as a makeshift classroom where there was a chalkboard and a couple of desks set up, one for the teacher and the other for myself.
Mr. Watkins was one of my favourite teachers. He sure beat my old teacher Ms. Akins, who was somewhat of a crazy person who believed that there was a running letter and a walking letter, which really messed with my mind. And I can’t forget that one afternoon she taped out a box on the floor, which my parents had to stand in if they wanted to talk to her about how my studies were going. The one thing I will give Ms. Akins is that she knew all about all these different place's in the world that not to many people get to visit in their life time, or even know much about. It was nice to hear stories like that.
Yes, I know my life sucks because I can't go outside like the other kids can. Most of my windows are boarded up to prevent any sunlight getting in. For the most part I found ways to keep myself entertained, by creating a cast of shadow puppets that would dance around on my bedroom wall; they always were good for a laugh or two. Every once in a while I would create a new shadow puppet that was even funnier than the last. I really do have way to much time on my hands these days but since I can't go outside and play, I might as well make some friends of my own that I can hang out with and have a good solid laugh with like all the other kids do when they are playing over at the park.
My first ever shadow puppet that I created was a bird named Bill. He was quite the little character for being a shadow puppet but he was really funny when he would fly and sing at the same time, although he would often slam into the ground because Bill couldn't do two things at once.
The next shadow puppet that I created was named Cory and he was more laid back and very quiet. When he did speak everyone would stop to listen to what he had to say. But I really don't see Cory that much any more, but back in the days when I was first creating my puppets, Cory was a mainstay in my puppet show.
Then there is Wally, a puppet who I never quite figured out. Sometimes I wonder what drugs I was on when I created this puppet, but whatever I was on it must have really good, because Wally came right out of the gate singing and dancing like no other puppet I have ever created before.
From my bed I reached over and turned off the light and shone my light onto the wall, where my puppets would come to life yet again for another puppet theater production. I was not sure what kind of dialog my puppets would have with one another, but I suspect it was going to be a fun-filled night with lots of laughs and lots of good fun.
After some two hours of fooling around with my puppets I began to focus on my studies for the next days lessons. Mr. Watkins was a vary laid back teacher but when he gave you homework you had better do it or he would turn four shades of red and one shade of bright green which would mean you had better run with everything you have because if Mr. Watkins ever caught you, you would be in some serious trouble. Mr. Watkins was quick and fast for someone his early 70's.
I sat at my desk going over everything that Mr. Watkins and I had gone through in the previous day’s lesson. I had taken a few pages of notes to help me study and prepare for whatever Mr. Watkins was going to throw at me the next day. I had always liked to be ready and Mr. Watkins was a teacher who had given me a challenge and so far I would like to think that I have kept up with the old man.
Word after word, line after line, page after page, I had gone through 12 pages of notes that I had written down from yesterday’s lessons. When I last looked at the clock it had only been like, nine-something, but when I looked back at my alarm clock again it was nearly two in the morning. It was a good thing that today's lessons wouldn’t start ‘til the afternoon or else I would have been falling asleep in class again, and I really didn't want another riot act being run over me by Mr. Watkins.
My eyes were all tired out from reading my notes and going through the pages of text that Mr. Watkins had asked me to study for the next days class. So I turned out my desk lamp and started shutting down my computer. I had reached my breaking point, where I could just fall right to sleep and not even care how my hair looked or even if I had my PJ's on- hell, I didn’t even make it in to the bathroom to brush my teeth that night. I just walked right over to my bed and lay down. My day was finally over.
But after I crawled in to my bed and laid there for a minute or two, my brain wouldn't shut off so that I could fall asleep. I just kept thinking about how I could come up with a new puppet that was different from all of the other puppets that I had created over the years. This puppet had to be funnier and bigger than any of the last three puppets I had created. I was really never happy with Bill, who was the last puppet I created but when I think about how Bill came about, it was exactly what I was doing right now - laying in bed thinking how to make my next puppet better and more unpredictable than my other puppets. But how was I going to do that when they were all so similar as the ones that came before them?
More then 45 minutes had passed since I first crawled into bed when my brain started tossing around all these possible ideas for a new puppet, one that was even better than all the others I had created over the years. There was something about this puppet that had me really excited about creating it and boy was I ever itching to get drawing this puppet out on paper to see what it would look like before I started to cast it on the wall for the first time.
I got right to work on drawing out the vision in my head.
It was like Christmas all over again for me. I was so excited about my new puppet that I was creating that I could barely hold my hand still because it was shaking. It's rare that I get a puppet that will just stick in my head like this one was doing. My hand was drawing one line after another as I began to see just what my new puppet was going to look like for the first time.
I usually got excited about creating new puppets, but this one left me with a feeling of contentment - I was going to finally have a puppet I could be so proud of and enjoy playing around with on my wall. As I came close to finishing the drawing of my latest puppet I was then starting to get all these funky names running through my head, as my hand was going a mile a minute drawing every little detail and every line was starting to fall in its place.
I had just put the final line down on the paper when there was a knock at my front door. I went to my window to see who it was but I could barely tell, so I just went back to work on creating my newest puppet. But as I was finishing drawing my final line I heard what sounded like kids walking down the front sidewalk.
"Conner, now how are we going to get our ball back from this person's back yard?" I heard one of the kids ask.
"I don't know Tiffany, maybe you should just go break a window and see who’s home and if we can get our ball back, how’s that sound?" the kid named Conner said.
“Oh really? And what if it's some creepy, smelly old guy who has never seen the light of day before? Will you come to rescue me then Conner?” asked Tiffany.
"Hell no! Why would I want to rescue you from some old creep like whoever lives in that house. It’s not worth my life,” said Conner.
I have to admit I have never been outside in broad daylight or have felt the hot burning sun. But personally I don't think I'm that creepy of a human being. Sure I create puppets but does that really make me creepy? Does it make me a monster to stay indoors all the time with little to no human interaction? Okay, maybe it is creepy that I have never really spent much time outside interacting with other humans, but hey when you're allergic to the sun and it's harmful UV rays then it becomes a matter of life or death. So basically I chose to spend most of my life in my dark room with a single beam of light that shines on one wall.
Anyway, my drawing of my new puppet was completed and boy did it ever look sharp. I couldn't wait to try it out in my puppet show to see how it would fit in with the other puppets that I had created.
I turned out the light and headed back to bed to catch some
zzz's so I could carry on with the creativity of making my puppet come to life from one single thought that I had bouncing around in my head the night before. Here I was creating my fourth puppet. It was like Christmas all over again for me, but the one thing I couldn't forget was that I still had a lot of studying to do before Mr. Watkins came over for today's lesson, which was going in English literature.
I had finally put the finishing touches on my drawing. I have to admit this puppet really took on a life of its own. With the drawing done I began the long, daunting task of trying to come up with a name that would suit it. I sat at my desk for a long time, but nothing was coming to me, and any name I came up with just did not suit my puppet’s personality.
Then it finally it hit me! I found a perfect name for my puppet, one that nobody in the world would ever think to name his or her child. That name was Quinn. With the name and the drawing now done, I could move on to the next stage which was figuring out the hand formation that would make my puppet come to life. I didn't really need to spend much time on this – Quinn seemed to come to life right there on my wall dancing around and cracking jokes like there was no tomorrow.
Suddenly, Mr. Watkins walked in to the room and Quinn was the first to speak. "Well, well… look what the cat dragged in. Some old fart from the street. Who the hell are you?” asked Quinn.
"Mr. Watkins, and who might you be?” Mr. Watkins replied.
"I'm Quinn the new puppet and I think you are a little old to be playing with my friend here, don't you think?"
"Well I'm not here to play with your friend I'm here to teach him,” replied Mr. Watkins.
“So what are you here to teach my friend and I about this time Mr. Watkins, sir?"
"Well, today I thought I would go over some history lessons, if that’s okay with you,” said Mr. Watkins.
Either way the lesson today Mr. Watkins gave was one of his more interesting ones in a long time. After Mr. Watkins had left for the day, I got right back to fooling around with my new puppet. The voice that I used when Mr. Watkins was here wasn't the voice I had pictured in my head for Quinn. So I went back to the mirror in my room and started playing around with different tones and different voices, to see which would fit my newest puppet better.
Hours later, I finally found the right voice for my puppet.
It was kind of manly but yet at the same time it was kind and gentle but with that certain joking under tone that would make anyone laugh.
Yes I guess you can say I like making puppets and also living in my dark room. With a single beam of light flashing on the wall came a team of shadow puppets like no other. Sadly though, my talent will go largely unnoticed by the world, but then again I really don't want to be in the public eye. Who would have thought that the dark room of a 12-year-old boy could become a world of puppetry and a world of laughter? I had found a way to enjoy life from inside a dark room.