What could I say about Bellingrath Junior High? Not much, except it was named after my secret hero, Bernard Bellingrath. But Barney wasn’t the kind of hero who rescued a kid from a burning building or found a cure for a disease.
Barney dropped a big load of money on our school to build the gym, stadium, and later the library annex. As his reward, a faded portrait hung on the wall of the visitors’ area inside the main entrance. But that wasn’t the reason he was my hero.
According to legend, Barney had been born with a tail. A tail. Grand-mere Robichaud, who’d once seen such a tail on a baby’s pink bottom, said he could’ve been mistaken for the main course at a cochon de lait—a Cajun pig roast. But Barney’s parents were very religious, so they refused to have the tail removed.
In spite of that decision, Barney grew up to be the richest and most powerful man in town. But that still wasn’t the reason he was my hero. The fact that he decided to keep the tail anyway—that was the reason.
Now, all these years later, you’d think physical imperfections would be tolerated at a school practically founded by someone with a tail. But no.