“I carry a metal cross with me sometimes, when I think I’m going to have a bad day.”
Seth Isaac Matthew Coogle, Age 8; Harlan, Kentucky:
“I build homemade spears, and trucks, bear traps, wolf traps, anything you can imagine. [I like] building things, doing experiments with science, and God and church. I carry a metal cross with me sometimes when I think I’m going to have a bad day.
I have a little brother, and I have a big sister. My little brother is my same age, but I’m two minutes, fifty-three seconds older than him. We are twins, but there’s nothing about us that is alike. He is a basketball geek. He will never stop playing basketball. If he has homework, he’ll do half of it and skip the hard part.
You already know about my brother, but you don’t know about my sister. She’s in high school. Harlan County Black Bears, but she doesn’t play. She is only a freshman. She picks on me too much. My mom says to keep my crazy at home, so I can’t say it.
My mom is a tourism worker. She works for Harlan County Tourism at the Harlan Center. They do bartending, proms, weddings, and birthday parties. They have to stay late sometimes, sometimes really, really late. They had to stay there for the whole night once, and she got there at 5:00! My stepmom, Leslie Bledsoe, they both work at the Harlan Center. They do the same thing, but my mom, Ashley Bledsoe, is the janitor of it.
I am a protector. I bodyguard kids at my school that are really weak, because I’m the toughest one at school. Every eighth grader now just runs away from me. I’m not kidding, because I kicked one of their buddies in the nuts and made him cry. They call me ‘the mean kid.’ I play skill games. My brother and me, we play military, because I’m going to join the military when I’m eighteen. I’m going to choose the safest one. The safest one is the one where you make the bridges and blow them up. When your troops get across, you just blow [the bridge] up and kill all the soldiers. I want to serve and then get a job, because I need to do everything complete, being a citizen. I’m going to work up until I’m a general. I’m going to be one year as a General, and then I’m going to quit.
It’s very peaceful living in the mountains. My community isn’t that bad, because it’s Tremont. In the winter, just like two or three people are on drugs, and they’re walking out in the snow with only their only pajamas or shirts and sweat pants on. [I won’t use drugs] because I learned this in Science class today; one day my Science teacher’s friends, when he was growing up in school, said, ‘We’re going to watch a movie. Do you wanna come?’ They were actually going to trick him into smoking dope. His other friends were talking him into it, and the biggest one and the alpha of the group said, ‘Guys, just leave him alone. If he doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t have to do it.’ There’s one called Zombie, and the street name is Devil’s Breath, ‘cause it makes you kill people. And rob them.
I love living here because our community isn’t that popular, and I don’t have to deal with all these protests and everything…but I am scared. Here’s one thing; I wish Harlan County was bigger, ‘cause they need a lot of law enforcement if ISIS doesn’t get took down. If they are like in Georgia or something, I’m going to be packing my bags and having them ready right out the door, so we can just drive up to my Aunt Sue’s in Berea which they won’t attack, cause it’s a very, very big city. It’s huge. So they wouldn’t even dare.
They’re sending their terrorists, just like three or four terrorists at a time to each state, but they ain’t getting here. They ain’t getting us though, not me and my family. If they’re like anywhere close to us, really close, like they could just travel in like one or two hours, I’ll be packing my bags and heading up to Berea. And I’m going to hide in my Aunt Sue’s bathroom ‘cause it’s kind of bulletproof. It’s tile.”