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Mythomanic by Tucker Spolter 

Chapter 2



     In my room at Juvenile Hall. I remembered our mother didn’t say a single word when she picked us up at the Golden Gate Bridge. She opened the door of the car and motioned us into the back seat with a head and a glare. 

    Connor nudged me and mouthed, ‘Mom is mad. Really, really mad.’ I nodded. I hated the 

silence. I wanted her to yell. Do something. Anything.

    We were almost home when she finally spoke, ‘You’re Father will be home tomorrow 

Collin. It will be your responsibility to tell him about this whole incident. You are the oldest, in 

sixth grade, almost a man. And real men tell the truth. 

     And I was going to tell my dad the truth. First time I saw him. I didn’t think he would 

bust a gasket. Oh, he would have frowned. Given me the ‘how could you be so stupid look’.

Warned about the dangers of the Golden Gate Bridge. Told me how disappointed he was. 

Disappointed I involved Connor. But then I’m sure he would have tussled my hair, laughed and

said something like, ‘Collin, you’re a Daily. You and your brother’s behavior reflect on your 

Mom and me. Think before you act. Do not embarrass your mother, Me, or the Daily name.’ My 

Dad always brought up the Daily name. I was going to tell him. But I never got the chance. 

      In ‘my room’ in Juvenile Hall, think jail cell, I remembered the knock and opening our 

front door to two police officers. I almost wet my pants. My heart started beating like a Ringo 

Starr drum solo. I was going to prison. Before either one of the police officers said a word I 

screamed, MOM!” 

     My Mom came out of the kitchen wiping flour dough on her apron. ‘What?’  She started 

to say until she saw the two policemen. “Hello. How may . . .” I heard her gasp. “Yes?” Her 

voice cracked. Mom already knew.

     “Mrs. Daily, there has been an accident.”

      My Mom grabbed me for balance, and together we crumbled to the floor. 

      At the hospital, Dad and I only got to talk twice. Both times I was shooed away too 

quickly. There were plastic tubes going into and coming out of him. My Mom was never the same. Connor was young. He didn’t get it. For a long time, he would climb on our couch, peer through our front curtains, look out the front window and ask, “where’s Daddy?’ 

     The first big word I ever learned was diseased. A lady in the school office told me it was better to say diseased than dead when asked about my father. It took me a long time to accept that my dad was never coming home. It was much harder on my mother. Eventually too hard. 







     The following Wednesday I was back inhaling mildew in the office of Dr. Edward Allen 

Foultz’. I didn't know about the good Doctor, but I'd had a crappy week. The authorities wouldn't

let Connor visit me and some dork from Welfare said I owed them two thousand one hundred 

and fifty-five dollars. And they wanted their money back. All of it. 


     I wanted to see just one of them, with a family of three, try to live on a three hundred and

eighty-dollar a month welfare check.


    Foultz pointed to the wicker chair. I sighed. A reprieve. I wasn’t couch fodder. At least, 

not yet. I noticed the cushion was different. Same embroidered Siamese cat, but this time it was

staring out a window. I couldn’t resist. I pointed to the cushion and looked at Foultz. “Your cat?”

    Foultz’ entire demeanor changed. His eyes glassed over. Foultz liked this cat. “We called

him Thai. As in Thailand. As in Siam and Siamese. . . He passed away last year.” Foultz was 

moved. He turned a framed picture toward me. An attractive woman was holding the 

cat lovingly in her arms.  I decided not to ask him about the woman. . . I did want to ask him 

about the thick, leather-bound book on his desk. The florescent yellow bookmark had moved closer to the end. But I never got the chance. 

     Out came his folders and notebook. Foultz leaned forward, so did  his wire-rim glasses. 

The hair bristle had been plucked. And I didn't know who the patient before me was, but Foultz 

ear lobe had been tugged to crimson. 

     One of the best things about being a kid is that adults don't notice when you notice. I was 

staring at his Ubangi ear; Foultz thought I was stalling.

     Foultz tapped the dial on his wristwatch.  "Time is important, Collin." He held up his fingers. "We only have four more visits."

    “Last week you said five.” I didn’t really care. By now I was used to be lied to by adults. I just want him to know I pay attention. 

    “The Department has cut our sessions down to four.”

    “What else is new?”

     Foultz shrugged an apologetic grin. 

     I looked past his shoulder. On the wall, behind his desk were fourteen  ‘I-Did-This’ 

certificates framed in glass. In my room, before my dad died. I had a baseball award for most spirited player. Which told a lot about my lack of athletic prowess. I loved chess, maps and big words.  None of which gave certificates that you could hand on your wall. Since then, I’d added two good conduct ribbons from the traffic patrol at Saint Agnes School, but my dad never got to see those.


     “Time is of the essence,” Foultz offered. “We should begin.”

     ‘Where should ‘We’ begin?’ I thought. The Doctor asks the kid. His question was my 

carrot. Psychiatrist Edward Alan Foultz, with fourteen certificates and degrees, knew exactly 

where he wanted to begin. 

     "You explained. . . Well, covered the Golden Gate Bridge incident. Today could we begin with the school fire?" He scribbled on his note pad. 

     ‘Pyromaniac,’ I thought. He’s writing pyromaniac. He wanted to hear about the fire. But 

you can’t just jump into a story about setting your grammar school on fire. There were 

extenuating circumstances. Even if you didn’t like your school. Which I did and sometimes  didn’t. Especially, a Catholic school. You wouldn’t try to burn it down. God could be involved.  Talk about your Mortal Sin Count sky rocking. Ugh. 

      I needed to establish facts. Defend myself. Particularly since best friend and I were originally accused of arson. My mind raced into the past.



     In the seventh grade, Stan ‘The Man’ Halverson joined our class. Think of Sweetums on 

Sesame Street. Large, hairy, towering above all the other characters except Big Bird. Stan had a  bulldog lower jaw and dark, bushy eyebrows?  Picture that and bingo, you have a pretty good visual of Stan ‘The Man’. A seventh grader with a five o’clock shadow. 

     Stan ‘The Man.” gained the moniker almost immediately. Sister Berkman was our 

seventh  grade teacher, and that year she doubled as our acting principal. The second day, Stan 

walked into class Sister Berkman handed him a razor, some shaving cream and told him to go to 

the restroom and shave.

     Our class watched in awe as Stan shrugged and sauntered out the door. My mind 

wandered. Where did the razor and shaving cream come from? It was the first time I thought 

about nuns shaving. There were two of them with prominent moustaches. I knew most 

women shaved their legs and pits, but nuns? Did nuns shave those bits? Did God want women to 

shave their legs? If you’re God and that’s what you want; why give women hair on their legs in 

the first place?

     Brand new to St. Agnes. Only in seventh grade, Stan was a legend by lunch time. I remembered two stuck up girls from eight grade came over to rub one of his well shaven checks. 

     ‘Nicked yourself,’ one girl said. The other girl tittered.

     ‘Beat it,’ Stan shrugged and motioned them away. I stood in awe. No one in the seventh grade had ever told an eighth-grade girl to beat it. 

     I don’t remember how we ended up sitting together, but Stan and I talked about facial 

hair, girls and football and by the time the bell rang we were friends. And have been ever since. 

     Sister Berkman took an instant liking Stan, while at the same time she was the bane of my existence. The first time I stepped through the door to her seventh-grade classroom she pointed to my red hair.  So, you are Collin Daily the redheaded rascal.  ‘We’ll have none of your shenanigans in my classroom,’ she pinched my cheek, ‘will we now, Mister Daily.  Oh, I’ve heard all about you.’

     Oh, and I knew who she’d heard all about me from. This nun was a different woman, but they both wore the same habit and used the same tone. My mind raced still further back in time to Sister Mary Mercy. Mercy the ‘Merciless’ most of our class had dubbed her. The exceptions were Helen Porter and Joan Lebdef. They both love god, school, and all nuns in general. Both girls dreamed of spending their lives sleeping on wooden floors, eating gruel and abstaining from all worldly pleasures. In fifth grade the whole sex thing was pretty vague. It still is.  

     While the promise of an idyllic seventh year of education did not bode well, at least I knew I wouldn’t be getting routinely swatted for my behavior. My mother had taken care of that. 






      One night about a month after I’d I almost cut off my brother Connor’s  thumb with a butcher

Knife ─ We’d seen a movie called the Crimson Pirate, there was sword fighting, sea battles, and damsels in distress.  If you’re nine- and seven-year-old boys it’s always a high priority to slay a dragon and save a damsel in distress. If you’re hit by a bus and die. . . It’s straight to heaven.  No time in purgatory and probably a sizable mansion.  But it’s hard for a nine- or seven-year-old to get their hands on real swashbuckling  sabers.  But when no one’s home and one of your chores is to clean out the dishwasher and two butcher knives are resting on the top tier next to the wine glasses . . . Suddenly you’re both armed and snarling like a real pirate, saying ‘aye’ and ‘Avast and land ho! One arm behind your back you lunge and parry. Hop on a kitchen chair and yell ‘Die me hearty.’ From under the kitchen table, your brother shouts, ‘Arrr, I’ll not die yet matey.” 

     Then one brother, the younger one, decides the game is over.  ‘Okay, stop,’ he says reaching  out and grabbing the blade of  the older brother’s butcher knife. But the older brother pulls 

it back and both brothers stare at the younger brother’s thumb hanging by a hinge of skin. The 

The younger brother screams just as the mother returns home with an armload of grocery’s from Safeway. 

      Much later both parents used the incident to reinforce family loyalty. They had us kneel on the kitchen floor─ the scene of Connor’s partial dismemberment ─ and with much pomp,  and

circumstance, with the aid of a white spatula, dubbed us Sir’s Connor and Collin Daily official Knights of Queen Annette’s Square Table. 

      This would be the second to last time my dad reminded us of our responsibility to the Daily name. More than once, someone or something set my Mother’s Irish-blood-a-boil, and she’d 

don boxing gloves and into the ring for my dad, her boys, and the Daily name.






     Contrary to what was currently going on in my life, I don’t remember being a bad kid. A 

bit of mischief and mayhem, sure – though nothing mean-spirited, cruel, or evil. Up until the 

fifth grade I really liked school. I loved learning big words,  telling jokes and never minded being dubbed the ‘class clown.’  Although short, I’d had big hair, red, and curly.  Back in those days more than one stranger would run her well-manicured finger through my hair and say, ‘Oh, what I’d give to have that color. Why can’t Lady Clairol make something this shade for me? I’d just die for some of those curls.’

      Adults never got it. Kids hate these comments. Or, at least, this kid did. Many a night, 

I would kneel beside my bed and pray for baldness. I thought it would be cool. The only kid in 

San Francisco who was completely bald. Maybe with one of those Caesar hair fringes around the edge of my skull.  


     The first day of school in fifth grade was September 3. I carried the Daily name and my 

big red hair up the corridor to room 5. Room 5 was for the fifth-grade students. Room 6 was for 

sixth- grade students.  Etc. There’s always been a big trumpet blare about the high-quality of a 

of a Catholic education. But if the Catholic Church believes that a second grader cannot find 

their classroom unless it is branded with a big 2 – When numbers were taught in the first grade, apparently they didn’t trust their own methodology.  I had to slip in one of those big words now and then.  

     Our door had a big 5 above the door jam. And in case you missed that one. About fifth 

graders eye-high, there was another 5 above the doorknob. 


     I loved 4th grade. I loved our teacher  Ms. Katherine Felece. She wasn’t a nun. She was real 

person.  Every lunch hour,  I’d watched her almost dance through our school yard; blond ponytail bobbing left and right. Dark brown doe-like eyes, beautiful. I wasn’t sure if it was an impure thought that I should be confessing in confession, but I wanted to marry Ms. Felece.  I was a little shaky on impure thoughts in general. In a religion class a priest assured me that my ‘Impure Thoughts’ were just like doing the real thing. In the 4th grade, I was a bit fuzzy on the ‘Real Thing.’ But even then, I suspected with Ms. Felece, I would really enjoy it. 

     And, at the end of fourth grade our entire class of fifty-two kids said a prayer. We even 

crossed our hearts and hoped to die -- a common practice among Catholic  kids. We prayed that  

Ms. Felece would be our fifth-grade teacher too.  

    Besides, math, and English, Ms. Felece taught us about Egypt, Greece and the Roman 

Empire. When we cleaned out our desk on the last day of school, we give her models of the 

Acropolis and the Roman Coliseum we’d secretly made out of sugar cubes.  James Mills ─ Ms. 

Felece always called him James ─ gave her a hand drawn picture of the Goddess Athena with a 

spear in one hand, and her shield in the other. James framed it himself. We all wanted Ms. 

Felece to be our teacher again.  I wanted her to be my teacher forever. Twice I started a list of guests for our wedding. I even included Helen Porter and Joan Lebdef if they weren’t saving souls in some remote corner of Africa.

     We never saw Ms. Felece again. Someone heard someone say she’d been spending her evenings with Satan.  The same someone said she’d returned to Saint Agnes in before classes began five months pregnant without a wedding ring. I still loved her.





     Before I could amble into Room 5.  Before I could enjoy my gratified status of being a 

fifth grader. Before I sat in my new – really old desk -- complete with one boxes of extra 

crayons, a bright orange eraser, two number two pencils and ‘SHARPENED’ scissors, because 

“we were older and could be trusted honed scissors now.”  Before I could put one foot over the  

threshold into Room 5,  Ms. Felece’s surrogate─ Sister Mary Mercy, soon to be almost  unanimously dubbed, Sister  Merciless seized my wrist with  a strong, curved, ominous talon. “Ah, the ‘Red Head!’”  She had beautiful grey eyes which regrettably matched her severely grey pallor. “Mr. Collin Daily. I do not tolerate disruption or interruption in my classroom. I understand you think you have quite a sense of humor. A red headed clown. I do not tolerate clowns.”  Those grey eyes pierced. Zombie like. Hungry Zombie life.  Hungry for a kid.  A kid with red hair. 

     “You are not funny are you, Collin. You are not even amusing. And laughter does not contribute to education, does it?  Silence is Golden. Do we understand each other?” 

     I stood there. Frozen. Most of my ‘friends’ slipped past me silently into Room 5.  James 

and Steven Mills stood behind me for a moment. 

     “Do you gentlemen want something?” Sister Merciless asked. 

     The Mills brothers looked at me and then at Sister Merciless and decided they wanted no

part of this encounter. They scurried into Room 5.   Which gave my fifth-grade teacher the 

opportunity to turn all her attention back to me

     “Mr. Daily, are you listening?” It was a rattle snake hissssssssss.  “Do you understand 


     I stood blank. Terrified. She was tall. I was small. With freckles. I was not a fifth-grade genius or a Mensa candidate. But I got the message. She squeezed my wrist harder. It hurt. My Batman lunch pail involuntarily clanked against one knee. 

     “I do not condone nonsense at any time in my classroom, Mr. Daily.  So, we will have 

none of yours. Will we?”

     Her lips, were made of a toxic form of cellophane, wrinkled, crinkled, and cackled an inch 

from my ear. Her last salvo left a bit of cackle-spittle on my forehead.  How could I ignore 

such a sweet hello? Such a welcome to my fifth year of education.

     She put a thumb high on my left cheek and a forefinger a bit lower. Slowly she joined 

them. She pinched. Then harder. My lips puckered open, a human largemouth bass. It hurt.

     “Do you understand me?” She pulled my hair up and down in affirmation. 

     I had a sneaky suspicion fifth grade might be more difficult than fourth. How difficult 

was revealed a few weeks later when I didn’t raise my hand but shouted out the name of the 

largest lake in South America. The kids started to laugh. Sister Mary Merciless did not. She 

brought out her perforated paddle. My mind went further back in time. 




     I think my love for geography began the  Christmas I got a jig-saw puzzle of the United 

States.  I loved putting it together and taking it apart. I learned the shape of every state and 

memorized the state capitals. 

     Before my eighth birthday, my Dad gifted me a cool National Geographic Atlas.  I 

loved it. I  memorized deserts, lakes, and bays.  I traced rivers from high mountains to massive 

deltas, gulfs, and oceans. 

      A Mercator projection of a circular world grew in my brain. Soon, I could draw and 

recognize most of the outlines of most of the countries on the planet. Admittedly,  I was weak in 

math and  conjugating irregular verbs, my atlas brought me the entire world. I wanted  to swim 

it’s lakes; canoe down rivers and dive over waterfalls, crawl across the sands of the Sahara in 

search of  water, scale tall mountains, scuba seas and oceans. Surviving it all, I would 

come home to write my adventures using all the new words I’d learned in my travels. 

     About this same time, I was becoming aware of the wonders of the female anatomy I was   still squealing over an unexpected fart. When I discovered that the largest lake in South America was called ‘Titicaca,’ I was in comedic heaven.  Dumfounded.  What group of adults would 

name a lake, Lake Titicaca?  

     ‘Titicaca’  rolled off my tongue. It echoed through my brain. I practiced saying it in the shower. And when Sister Mary Merciless pulled down a map of North America, slipped her wooden pointer out of its sheath, pointed to the Great Lakes, and asked the class which was the largest.  I knew the answer.  Lake Superior was the largest. Superior, duh?  I learned the HOMES trick to memorize the Great Lakes: HOMES: Huron,  Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior from my National Geographic Atlas. 

“What is the largest lake in North America?” Sister Merciless asked. 

“Lake Titicaca,”  just spat out my mouth. A verbal spitball. Lake Titicaca and the class 

went wild. And so did Sister Mary Merciless, though admittedly, in an entirely different way.

She offered a choice of  punishment options for my verbal indiscretion.  I could take a short walk down the corridors of doom to the principal’s office where she would call my Parents. My mom would be terribly disappointed, and the Daily name dishonored well into the 24th century or I could take a swat. I chose a swat over dishonor. I’d chosen the swat before. 

     There were other swat victims but probably the most famous was Alan Olivera.  He 

sat one desk behind me. Alan was the perfect student. He was shy. Quiet. Polite, and my 

rival. He was in love with Ms. Felece too.  

     Weeks earlier Alan had become famous. For over forty minutes Alan had raised his 

hand and asked in his soft Spanish accent to be excused to go to the bathroom.

     His plea had ended with WHACK when Sister Merciless slammed the palm of her hand 

down on her desk. In her abrupt Bostonian accent, she said “Any strong man could and would 

control his bowels until recess!” 

     Just the word ‘bowels’ would usually make our class laugh. When Merciless said it we cringed.  

     Within hours, Alan Olivera’s name tidal waved through our hallways and reached heroic 

status well before lunch. James Bond-like . . . dum, tada dum tada, dum tada dum, tada dum tada 

dum . . .

     Somehow, right in the middle of our math lesson, Alan had miraculously managed to 

sneak out of his seat and avoid the Alcatraz floodlight like beams of Merciless eyes, crawl 

through a labyrinth of desks into our fifth grade cloakroom where he solved his dilemma. 

     At lunch I experienced my first taste of fame by association. Kids from upper and lower

grades badgered me at recess, in the play yard, in the hallways and the bathroom. 

     “Collin, did someone in your class really take a dump in your cloakroom?” 


     “How Cool is that.”

     “Did anyone see him? Come on, Collin someone had to see him. Did you see him?”

      “Man, I’ve always wanted to do that. I mean take a shit right in a classroom.”

      “Whoa, he did it in Merciless’s classroom?  Kid’s out of his mind.”

      “Alan’s going straight to hell.”

      “No, probably just limbo. I mean no way is that a mortal sin. When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

      Sister Merry Merciless was not Sherlock Homes, but a common garden slug could have 

solved the appearance of the deposit and the depositor.  Alan Olivera was the first kid to get a 

swat from Sister Mary Merciless.  Lake Titicaca was my second.  And my last.



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