Journal 4- Chapter 17 of Stuck in Neutral

We have been reading a book in Morah Eta’s class called Stuck in Neutral. It is about a 14-year old boy named Shaun McDaniel who cannot control any of his muscles. He can’t even control where his eyes look! Everybody thinks he’s stupid; a test that he took showed that he was as smart as a 3-month old. In reality, however, he has a memory that is so good, he can remember everything that he saw or heard from the age of 6 and up! He can’t tell anybody that. His seizures are one time that he likes because his spirit come out of his body and he can do whatever he wants. His dad thinks that he is suffering, and Shaun thinks that his dad will kill him. Now, Shaun is alone in a house with only his dad, and a seizure hits. Here is what happens next:


My spirit slowly comes out of my body, and I am now free. I watch my dad take out the poem that he wrote about me, Shaun. He reads it, and then adds another stanza. My spirit goes over to him, just close enough so I can see what he is writing:

Shaun. He is my precious, youngest child. The person that I live for. I care for him the most, more than anybody else. I cannot bear to see him suffer. He is the jewel of my life. What can I do? The only thing I can do. End my pain of watching him suffer.

I watch my father take out a pistol. He stares at it for a second. He caresses its metal barrel. Then, he starts writing again, this time in cursive. He only writes in cursive if it is something very important. I go over to see what he is writing, but my seizure is ending. My spirit comes back to my body and I am back in my wheelchair. I hear the safety of the gun clicking off. My father is going to kill me.

I come up, quickly, with the happiest thought that I have. But I don’t have time to. At that exact moment, I look at my father and he looks at me. He says, “Goodbye Shaun.” He says it quietly, with much concern and caring, like an old weary man. My father lifts up the pistol, but instead of pointing it at me, he points it at his heart. He pushes the trigger, and I hear the bullet shoot out of the barrel and rip into my father’s heart. My eyes look and I see my father, Sydney E. McDaniel, lying dead on the floor, in his own pool of blood. I pass out from the smell of the blood.

I come to about 20 minutes later. I hear the door open, and mom comes in with Paul and Cindy. She comes in my room and, seeing my father on the floor, screams. “Paul! Cindy! Come now!” They rush into my room and see my mother on the floor, next to my dad. Paul says, “He killed himself. I can’t believe that he committed suicide.” My mother bursts into tears. Cindy says, “Look. There’s a paper on the table next to the bed.” Paul picks it up and reads it. I hear him say, “He wrote his will on here. It says, ‘Let it be known that I did not take my life in vain. I didn’t want to bear the suffering in the world, especially Shaun’s. I contribute all of my life’s savings to try to find a cure for cases like Shaun’s.'”

We are at my father’s funeral. He is being buried where he grew up, in California. He is near my grandparents, his mother and father. His epitath reads:


Caring father and poet

And the last, newest stanza of his poem Shaun is written on it. I’m sure that now in heaven, he is looking down at me and smiling. I can almost hear him say, I love you Shaun.