An Excerpt from the Novel Sammie & Budgie by Scott Semegran
I discovered that my boy, Sammie--my son, my first child, my spawn, a chip off my ol' block, my heart and my soul--could see the future, that he could tell me what was going to happen before it happened, when he was in the third grade. I discovered this by dumb luck. Now, what I'm about to tell you, I'm telling you in the strictest of confidence. I mean, I'm telling you because I feel you need to know and I just don't go around telling everyone in the goddamn world my business because, well, it's my business; but I like you and that's all that matters. My boy, Sammie, was considered special by all accounts, not just special because I learned he could see the future, but special for two reasons: 1) he went through intensive testing and was designated as a child with special education needs by the State of Texas and 2) he's special because I said he's special. A father knows what a father knows, and I knew, without a doubt, that my boy was special. It's true.
Even before Sammie Boy was born, I had a feeling he was special (I call him Sammie Boy all the time--even now--because that's what I like to call him). When he was still living in the cramped efficiency apartment that was his mother's womb, he would kick and punch all over the place in a manner that made me feel like he was communicating with me in some type of fetal Morse Code. His mother would always tell me, 'Play our baby some music because I've read that playing our baby music while it is still in utero helps its intelligence.' So, I would do that. I'd get a Walkman or iPod or whatever was around, I'd put some classical music on, and place the headphones around his mother's overgrown stomach, and play the music loud so Sammie Boy could hear it. And whenever I would start the music, he would start kicking and punching all over the goddamn place, more punching when he disliked the music and less punching when he seemed to like it. Whenever I played any pop music, good ol' Sammie Boy seemed to hate it. He'd start punching and kicking and jabbing and stomping at such a furious rate that I thought he'd bust out of his mother's stomach like one of those hideous alien babies in the Alien movies. I played him all kinds of music to see what he would like: classical music, rock music, hip-hop music, country music, and even movie soundtracks. But the type of music that I discovered that he liked the most was jazz music, particularly John Coltrane songs and albums. He loved the shit out of some John Coltrane music--all the punching and kicking and stomping and jabbing and head-butting would cease the minute this music started. It really did, especially when I played the album Blue Train.
But what really made me aware of the fact that my boy Sammie was special was the day I picked him up from elementary school and he told me his after-school counselor was going to hurt herself in a serious way. I thought that to be a very strange thing for him to say, since Sammie didn't particularly have a malicious bone in his body, but was unsettling even more since my boy wasn't known to tell lies. Outside the school, out in the back where the playground and basketball court stretched beyond the portable buildings, I watched all the kids run and play while his counselor stood alone, keeping an eye on the children. It was a warm, humid day and the kids swarmed around the counselor like excited bees circling a sunflower.
I knelt next to my boy, placing my hands on his arms, and braced him gently, when I said, "What do you mean she will hurt herself?" Now, you have to understand, my boy Sammie was the cutest kid you will ever lay your eyes on, with big, round, brown eyes and a round face, tussled brown hair that never seemed to keep the style it started with in the morning, and a smile that would make a serial killer renounce his depravity and perform cartwheels in a field of daisies. Even in this serious situation, where I would have to compose myself to find answers, I had to fight the urge to pinch his cheeks and giggle. He was just that cute. "She looks fine to me," I said.
Sammie Boy looked over where the counselor stood, his sparkling, brown eyes examining her, the lids closing slightly as he peered at her, as if making out what her next move might be, and resolute sadness appeared on his cute, little face. "Daddy, can I ask you a question?" he said.
"Of course, my boy. You can ask me a question."
"Will you be mad at me if I tell you the truth?"