Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Allhallowtide


 
 
As a child growing up in a Catholic family, Halloween took on an air of a religious holiday more than the traditional trick or treat.  Although we still observed this practice of going door to door, we also partook of the practices of the church. 

Allhallowtide is the days of Oct 31st known as All Hallows Eve, November 1st as All Souls Day and November 2nd was All Saints Day.  It was believed that souls who did not go straight to heaven would wander the earth until All Saints Day when the heavens would open up for them.  It is believed that these souls could seek vengeance on other living souls during this time. For this reason, people would disguise themselves to hide their identities. Others would wear the costumes of the Saints to honor those already in heaven.  If a person was considered a saint, martyr, or holy person, their souls went directly to heaven upon their deaths. 

On All Hallows Eve, in the early Christian times, people would bake soul cakes.  Children and the poor would go begging door to door to offer prayers for the families departed and were given soul cakes in exchange.  On All Souls Day, families would visit the gravesites and purify the ground.  They would also walk the streets with candles to light the way for the souls preparing to go to heaven on All Saints Day.  On this day, the parishes would pray for all departed souls.  On All Saints Day, the parish people would pray for all the saints, thanking them for their guidance, their sacrifices on earth and to ask their aid in delivering the souls of the departed still on earth into heaven. 

So although we would trick-or-treat like all the other children in the neighborhood, we would also spend a lot of time in church services and in prayer for those who had gone before us.  Unlike today, we not only received candy, but many families would bring us into their homes to share in warm cider, apples, cakes and breads.  It was a special time to remember our friends and families still with us and share in our love for each other. 

Many persons believe that Halloween is taken from a pagan holiday which it may be for some.  But I prefer our way only because it recognizes and remembers those who were part of our lives or shared in our lineage so they would not be forgotten.  It was a time to give thanks to those who laid down their lives for our religion and for world peace, and a time for those who devoted their lives to spreading the word of faith, even if it cost them their lives.  It is a time for prayer, laugher, tears, and sharing.  It is a time for those who passed and those who still surround us.

Happy Allhallowtide to my friends and family.  Prayers and thank you, to all those who have gone before me.   Love and peace to those who still share this world with me.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Old Money




The woman laid in the middle of the street, blood covered and torn clothes.  She had been knocked out of her shoes from the impact.  Police flares and lights lit up the area as detectives searched for clues.


“Hey, Sherlock what’s your take on this hit and run?”


A white haired gentleman stood outside of the barricade looking in.  White plumes of smoke rose from the pipe clenched between his teeth.  He wore a hunting jacket, opened with a gold pocket watch dangling from his pocket.  


“Funny Harry.  Are you going to play my Watson?”


“Just ragging you Bill.  Everyone knows you have a nose like a bloodhound.  Captain called you in for this one I noticed is all.”


“Well, it is a bit uncommon to find a well-dressed lady of upper crust lying on a very deserted dirt back road, obviously run over.  How did she get here?  Who hit her and why?  Just a few of the questions I’d say.”


Bill stepped under the yellow tape, crouching close to the woman’s head.  He glanced from there down along the torn red silk blouse, the linen skirt and the torn silk stockings.  She was definitely a looker . He glanced over to the woman’s heels now broke and dirty.  


“No purse Harry?”
 
“None found Bill.  You think it was a robbery gone wrong?”


“Not likely, she has over a thousand dollars in jewels hanging off her.  More likely, whoever did this didn’t want her identified too soon.  Gives them a chance to get away or establish an alibi, you see.  Check the calls on missing women within a fifty mile radius please.  I don’t think whoever killed her traveled too far.  Just out of their comfort zone most likely.”


Bill tapped then pulled on the pipe to stoke the fire.  A full bodied smoky aroma lifted into the night breeze like leaves burnt in autumn.  He glanced up the road a piece then down the other way.

“I believe there may have been an argument and she got out to walk.  You can see her high heel marks in the dirt for quite a ways.  I believe the person she left in the car became very angry with her and gunned their car.  Once she went down, they backed over her, turned the car about and left."


“A jilted lover?”


“Maybe, but I doubt it.  This looks like a crime off sudden anger.  As if the person had this building inside for a while and snapped.  I’m betting on a sibling or a near relative.  Probably a woman I would gander.  She left the jewelry but picked up the purse.  A man wouldn’t want to be caught with a purse on him but a woman could get away with it.”


“Just a moment, central calling back in. Yes Sandy.  Her husband you say. Good, send me the coordinates.”


 “Her name is Dolores Houston.  Comes from old money and married to Henry, who owns Sport’s Car International.  He called her in as missing when she failed to come home for dinner.  Let’s go have a talk with him and see what we can find out.”


Bill tapped out his pipe, crushing the embers in the gravel.  Placing it in his jacket he retrieved his watch to look at the time.  It was precisely 8:00 PM.  Most people have dinner before seven so the husband was very prompt.  This seemed quite odd to report her so quickly.


They arrived at a large estate built with solid stone and beveled glass windows.  The front door was opened by a butler who escorted them to the library.  Standing by the fireplace was a young man with his tie undone and his hair mussed from raking his fingers through.  Also in the room was a lady sitting in a large chair wringing a hankie in her hands.  She wore a light green suit with glasses hung around her neck.  Her complexion blended into the upholstery as if she dressed to hide from sight.  Her hair was gathered tightly behind her neck and not a touch of makeup anywhere.


“Detectives, thank you for coming so quickly.  I’ve been told of my wife’s demise but I can’t figure how this could have happened.  Shelby stated that Dolores went shopping this afternoon but promised to be home by five because we were to entertain this evening.  Shelby called me at six because she hadn’t heard from Dolores."


“Miss Shelby, you are?”


“I’m her sister-in-law.  It is so unlike her to be late, I just knew something must have happened to her.”  She cried into the hankie.

“Where were you this afternoon?  Were you their expected company?”


“Oh no, I live here.  I’m not married.  I went out for a bite to eat at lunchtime and came back to start the dinner plans.  Dolores always leaves the menus to me.


“Miss Shelby would you mind handing me your identification please?”  Startled by the request she reached down and pulled up a bright red bag.  She looked at Bill and then at her brother.


“That is not your purse is it Shelby.  It belongs to Dolores.  It’s the one she was carrying when you ran her down.  You picked it up and brought it back with you.”


“Shelby, why?  Haven’t we treated you fairly?  Let you live here with us and join in our gatherings?”


“It was always Dolores everyone noticed.  No one ever noticed me when she was in the room.  I used to be somebody when we were growing up but now I’m just the ugly spinster.  Today we went for a drive and she told me she wanted me to move out.  She said it was about time that you both had a life of your own.  Kicking me out of my own home.  The one I was raised in.  Never.”


With that Harry lifted her from the chair and secured the cuffs.  She looked back but her brother had already turned away.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fate is a Calamity of Miscalculations




“What numbskull claimed vacations were for relaxation and fun?” I strongly begged to differ .
Our vacation from Texas to New Mexico started out great. My one-year old son, my husband and I borrowed my mother-in-laws Cadillac, since it was a newer and more reliable car then ours.
“What do you mean you didn’t book any reservations?”
“We don’t need them at this time of year. It’s summer.”
That was the beginning of our downfall.
Half way to New Mexico our son took sick, running a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. We arrived at the halfway mark which was Amarillo and found to our dismay that a huge convention was in town. No room at the inns as they say. Carefully sidestepping I told you so; we decided to travel on to Red River.
I assumed driving once we began the trek through the mountains of New Mexico. I am not comfortable with heights nor do I like two-lane roads where our side could plummet down the mountainside. One hour of driving at a near vertical angle, the rear axle decides to drop off the car just as I am making a curve and flies off the mountain. Both hands glued to the steering wheel, I succeeded to maneuver the car to the shoulder.
“What the heck are you doing?” hubby yelled, startling the baby.
“I’m shoving you off the side of this cliff.” I retorted as I attempted to calm our son down.
At two in the morning my husband is attempting to assess the damage with a flashlight.
 “Finally”, he said, as my husband flagged down a car of drunken young men who promised to call for a wrecker. Realize this was before cell phones.
“You sure they will be able to tell them where we are even if they remember?” Hubby climbed back in and glared in my direction.
Two long hours later, a huge diesel wrecker arrives. “I can take you to the next town but the car goes with me to Angel Fire”.
We arrive in town and find there are no vacancies. The truck driver has been feeling me up the entire trip since I had to sit between him and my husband who was holding our baby. I chose not to bash him in the head since we needed to find shelter for the night, but after several attempts to find shelter, I was willing to throw ourselves at the mercy of the police and spend the night in a cell.
The very last place, nestled at the far edge of the town, was timeshare condos. A young manager, who hailed from Texas, took pity and he let us sleep in his living room and the next day located us an empty condo. I had no sooner unpacked and put my son down for his nap when the owners of the condo show up unexpectedly and we are asked to move. I cried so hard that the owners bought us steaks for moving out of their condo.
Once settled, I took our boy to the only doctor in town.
“What do you mean you can’t write prescriptions?”
“I’m a medic ma’am. Now if your son had a broken leg…”
“My son is running a temp of 104F from strep throat. Where is the doctor?”
He called a doctor in Angel Fire, who after speaking with our pediatrician in Dallas, wrote a prescription and sent it by courier. His immune system didn’t respond to oral medications so I had no choice but to bring him in twice a day for shots.
While my husband was out gallivanting with the manager, I decided to make a nice dinner for us and light a romantic fire in the fireplace. I forgot to open the flue and soon smoke filled the apartment and set off all the fire alarms. The fire department arrived with a parade of squad cars wailing sirens. Once I explained, the patrons were allowed to return to their rooms. A fireman opened the flue and another all the windows to let out the smoke, shaking their heads at what I am sure they considered a dumb blonde stunt.
I continued preparing dinner, when I noticed something small scamper through the kitchen with a duplicate in close proximity. Following virtually in their shadows was a large tabby cat in pursuit. After they collided with my son’s highchair, they set their course for the bedroom. By the time I high-tailed it after them; I realized it was two chipmunks. The romantic gauzy night gown I had laid out a on the bed was now shredded by claws and strew on the floor. The little rascals managed to climb all the way to the ceiling fan with a howling cat jumping on the bed trying hard to reach them. Hubby and the manager came back, trapping all the critters and placing them back outdoors.
The insistent ringing of the phone had my husband running for the rectangle object. Phone in hand I heard my husband exclaim, “Six hundred bucks. It won’t be ready until when?”
We started planning a flight for me. After learning I would switch planes three times, I decided to call work and explain to them I would return as soon as possible.
When the car was returned, we were charged for two tows and the imported wheel axle from Colorado. Broke and beaten, we packed and left. At the halfway point the convention was still going strong so we decided to drive straight home. Several miles out of the large city, our tire blew out. The spare in the trunk was no good so my husband had to hike to a garage and buy a used tire. Took him two hours to get back and the garage didn’t even put it on.
My husband asked me where I wanted to go on vacation next year. I glared at him and responded “My own back yard”.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Coming to America

Photo from http://immigrantnationusa.us/



     The winds blew hard, pitching the massive ship side-to-side.  The vessel tossed from the waves while sea water rushed over the sides and onto the decks.  Men scurried around the surface, grasping any object to keep themselves from being washed overboard.  The night sky gave no light to guide the way.

     People stranded in the hold slid aft and fro along with barrels or boxes not tied securely.  Children and babies cried.  Men stood, some tying themselves to beams with their belts or hemp, determined to grab anyone or anything heading in harm’s way. The smell below was rancid with sweat, vomit and other excrements as well as rotten foods and waterlogged clothing.

    Three young women sat huddled deep within the aft of the ship on the starboard side.  The oldest tied them together at their sashes to avoid separation.  They had been on this vessel for over a week and had little food left to share.  The youngest, Theresa Rose, had taken sickly the night before, with a hacking cough and high fever.  Her sisters, Lucille and Annunciacao cuddled her body between them to ward off the chill, cloaking her from the water falling from above.  The darkness shrouded the occupants and the air was stale from the lack of circulation from above. 

     Their hopes and spirits were high when the first set sail from Spain.  Although their reason for traveling was to locate their mother who stranded them in Portugal, as young women they hoped to achieve new starts in one of the endless cities.  Each girl wore a gold cross around their necks along with Saint Christopher medals for safe travel.  Being consigned to the hold was acceptable because they were free to walk the upper decks during the daylight to get a bit of air and sun.   The vast ocean stretched the horizon.  Rarely did they catch a glimpse of any other vessel.

     “Lucille, what will we do if we can’t find mama or papa?  America is so big.”  Theresa worried her rosary beads clutched in her hands.

     “Don’t fret little one.  America is large but Providence Rhode Island is not.  That is where papa lives with his new family.  If he doesn’t know where mama is, we have many family members living there who can help us.”

     “Papa made it very clear that he didn’t want us.  Why ask him?” Annunciacao said, peeved at both of their parents for abandoning them.

     “I’m sure that we can survive a week or two at his home until we find mama and move in with her.  He may not want us, but mama will welcome us.” Lucille protested.

     Theresa began to cry so the sisters stopped their squabble and talked about more pleasant things.

     After three days with no more than bread crust to share and the storm holding firm, Theresa’s health faded.  The sisters prayed that the squall would soon pass.  Theresa lapsed into a fever induced coma and nothing the girls did would awaken her.  The cough racked her small chest and she wheezed with each breath.

     “We can’t let her die, Lucille.  You saw what they did with the old woman who passed away two nights ago.  They just threw her overboard.  I don’t want the same fate for our dear sister.”

     “Hush now, Theresa is young and strong.  Once the weather clears and we can go above, I will ask for some broth for her.  The sun will assist in her healing.   You shall see.  She wants to see America so much I can’t see her giving up.”

     The next day broke through the clouds and the rains stopped.  Everyone was anxious to stretch their legs above, hurrying up the ladders as quickly as the space allowed.

     The girls grasped Theresa under her arms, carrying her thin body to the surface.  They set her near the tall, belching chimney sending smoke trailing behind the ship.  The air blew cool but the sun was warm and soon dried their moldy smelling dresses.  Lucille left to locate some food or broth, carrying with her the few coins in their possession.  Although she was successful, neither sister could get Theresa to eat.  So they dipped chucks of hard rolls into the broth and ate their meal.

     When it came time for them to go below, Theresa’s eyes opened and a glow lit her face.  “It is so beautiful.  I don’t hurt anymore.”

     Both sisters looked at the ravaged form of their beloved sister.  Her body shook from the fever and each worried that she was now delirious. 

     Theresa told them she loved them and to not be afraid.  While their journeys would take them to special places and people, her journey was beginning on another plain of existence.  Looking to the sky, her smile radiant, she took her last breath and died in her sister’s arms.

     The ship’s captain allowed for a short funeral.  A priest on board gave Theresa last rites and a rosary was said in her honor.  Each sister kissed her goodbye and then the shipmates wrapped her in a rough piece of cloth and tossed her over the side.  Annunciacao stood stoic, watching her sister sink below the waves.  Lucille cried, saddened that they hadn’t been able to save her.

     The very next day, the passengers cheered as they spotted their first site of America.  They gazed upon the Statue of Liberty which stood proud, awaiting her new guests to their new home.   The torch stood as a welcoming beacon to those who traveled to find a better life.  The two sisters paused, with arms linked about each other, and silently cried.  Each thought of Theresa and the secret she took with her when she died.  She saw where it was she was headed but could not share.  She did though share the secret that their journeys would be successful and full of hope and joy.  Walking off the plank hand in hand they faced America with their heads held high.
 
Note: This story is mostly true with a little literary license.  Hard times with truly courageous people.
 

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Tiny Little Treasure


 
 

“Krissie, what are you doing inside on such a beautiful day?  Don’t you have some friends you would like to play with outside?”  Grandmother Mae looked at her tiny granddaughter who had recently come to live with her after Mae’s daughter died.
Krissie shook her red mop of curls, sitting at the kitchen table, watching her grandmother making a roast.  She cupped her chin and swung her little legs back and forth.  Krissie was too tiny to reach the floor with her feet. 

“Why not sweetie?” Mae asked.  She sat across from her granddaughter who looked so very sad.

“They call me names, like pip-squeak and midget and things.  They push me down and run away.” Krissie mumbled.

“What about Kathy two doors down?  Won’t she play dolls with you?”

Shaking her head again, a tear slid down her cheek and dripped on the table.  “She says I’m a baby and she doesn’t play with babies.”

Mae felt so bad for the child.  She was never going to be as tall as the other children.  In fact, she would be lucky to reach five feet when she was grown.

“I tell you what.  I need to go up in the attic and bring down some boxes of clothes for the church auction.  Why don’t you follow me and you can look around up there.  I might even have an old toy or two from when your mommy was little.”

In the hallway, Mae reached up and pulled a cord that released a ladder.  She went first to turn on the light. The attic had dust swirling from the rush of air.  Krissie could see some spider webs too.

“I’m kind of scared.  Are there any ghosts up here?”

“If there are any ghosts they are friendly ones I’m sure.  See that chest over in the corner?  Why don’t you look inside of it and see what you find?”

After helping Krissie open the wooden chest, Mae grabbed the two boxes and left.  While downstairs, she received a phone call leaving Krissie in the attic alone.

Krissie noticed something pink at the bottom below some books and pulled out a small box.  When she opened it, a tiny ballerina danced in circles around and around while music played.  The dancer was beautiful and wore flowers in her hair.

“Oh I wish I could be as pretty as you.  You’re tiny but I bet no one would be mean to you.” She gently touched the ballerina.

The music became loud and the ballerina spun so fast it made Krissie dizzy.  The air swirled and the dust turned to fog.  Krissie covered her face until the attic stopped moving.  When she peaked out between her fingers she noticed a man sitting at a table writing in a book.

“Are you a ghost?”

“Oh my, where did you come from?  I didn’t even hear you open the door.”  The man stopped writing, staring over his spectacles, examining Krissie.

“You’re in my grandma’s attic.  I was playing with this box and suddenly, there you were.  So are you?”

“Am I what?”

“A ghost.”

“No, no child, I am an author.  My name is Hans Christian Anderson.  I write stories and poems mostly.  Do you like fairy tales?”

Krissie nodded her head up and down.  “My name’s Krissie.  Mommy used to read to me before she went to live with the angels.  I can’t read yet.”

“Are you sad because your mommy died?”

“Some, but I’m mostly sad because I have no friends.”  Krissie shuffled her feet.

“Why would a pretty girl like you not have any friends?”

“Because I’m so little.  They called me bad names, push me down and run away.”

“Why I have the perfect story for you that I just recently wrote.  It is about a tiny girl by the name of Thumbelina.”

Hans stared at the small cherub before him.  “Well this is the story about a mommy who wanted a little girl so badly that she helped this magic woman who gave her a seed to plant for being so nice to her.  The plant grew and when the flower opened up the woman saw an itsy-bitsy little girl lying inside the petals.  She was so excited that she named her Thumbelina.  One night a toad came into her house and stole Thumbelina to give his son.  The son didn’t like her at all and so a fish and a butterfly help her escape.  Things get worse.  A beetle steals her off a Lilly pad. He introduces her to his friends, but they call her awful names and hurt her feelings.  He runs off, leaving her to fend for herself in the winter.  A mouse takes her in and has Thumbelina clean her house to pay her back.  The mouse tries very hard to marry her off to Mr. Mole but Thumbelina refuses.”

“Oh my! Poor Thumbelina.  I know exactly how she feels.”  Krissie nodded her curls up and down making Hans smile.

“Well, Thumbelina finds an injured bird and nurses him until he is well enough to fly.  He agrees to take her with him and leaves her in a beautiful flower garden.  Thumbelina meets a tiny fairy flower-prince who falls in love with her and gives her wings so that she can fly with him and play all day together.  He even changes her name to Maia.”

“Did his fairies friends like her?”

“Oh yes, they even made her a princess.  She danced and flew around the flowers all day, happy because she had so many friends who liked her and accepted her just the way she was.  So you see, little one, don’t let those bullies bother you.  Some day you will find your place and have many friends who like you for who you are.  You just be patient and keep smiling.”

The man disappeared as quickly as he appeared.   Krissie clapped and then hugged the box to her chest.  She would remember this story forever.

 

 

 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bio-Politics


*Note: This is totally fiction and in no way should be considered accurate.



     Chaz stared beyond the third floor window to the darkened parking lot, barely noticing the storm that raged outside the glass. Thunder and lightning were but a backdrop to the turmoil inside his mind. Snapshots of the destroyed documents played back in his mind like black and whites through a mutoscope. Pages of data, names of colleagues, photo proofs of all the secrets and lies which cultivated a conspiracy of biblical proportions of death and destruction.

     True, this wasn’t the first or nor would it be the last time a country resorted to biological warfare to obtain its goal. Many of his buddies were living with diseases from exposure to Agent Orange. He felt betrayed and ashamed that he was oblivious to the devastation manufactured in his own private facility. Now that he knew, who did he dare trust?

     With the re-occurrence of hemorrhagic fever syndrome caused by Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, Chaz pulled together some of the finest and most renowned scientists in the field of virology to work on a possible vaccine. Using a process of cloning through polymerase chain reaction, they had been able to reproduce antigens from human survivors for a possible vaccine or maybe even a cure.

     “Colleagues, I come before you today to request human subjects with whom we can evaluate our serum towards thwarting and or arresting the EBOLA virus. We have tested it on chimpanzees infected with the virus and those that we placed into the same habitat. We have had astonishing success, showing antibodies adhering to the antigens of the virus and the non-infected subjects building antibodies against the virus within seven weeks. No subjects acquired the disease although they were continuously cohabitating with the infected ones. If we can duplicate this with our clinicians and the infected patients we may have found a cure and a vaccine to arrest and control this outbreak.” Expecting applause or at the least exclamation, Chaz was shocked by the silence that met his announcement. A few of the members leaned into each other, whispering in muted tones. Others just stared, waiting passively.

     “Dr. Chaz Everett, this is astounding news; however, we are forced to reconsider your request. It has been previously decided that if we were successful, the serum would be given to our troops first before trialing it out in the field. If we find it is successful, then we will reconsider your request. However, it is imperative that this information not be shared outside of this facility at this time. As of this moment, I am afraid that this has top secret clearance only.” Dr. Benjamin Stanford declared with full agreement from the room.

     Although he argued his points, the board would not be swayed. After the meeting, Chaz hastened to his favorite restaurant, disheartened and confounded. He ordered a carafe of his favorite Madeira. While eating his Caldo Verde with fresh hard rolls, he received a text requiring his presence immediately at the office. Hoping that the board had changed their decision, Chaz rushed out into the night, battling winds and sheets of rain that had started while he ate. By the time he reached the laboratory, his clothes were drenched. Taking the stairs to his office, two steps at a time, he arrived only to find the door locked and the lights out, just the way he left it. Angry that someone had pulled such a juvenile stunt, Chaz stomped into the office knowing he had a clean pair of scrubs, socks and shoes in his closet.

     Turning on the light and relocking the door, Chaz turned towards his desk noticing a file folder lying squarely on the blotter pad with a note attached. Disregarding the fact that he was dripping onto the polished parquet floor, Chaz grasped the file and read, “Destroy Immediately upon Review”, written in bold red letters across the yellow sticky note.

     Walking over to a well-worn leather chair located near an antique reading lamp, he switched on the light for better lighting and opened the file. Inside were photos of the cultures being grown for the EVD strain of antibodies but also bottles of the serum as well as the live virus lined shelves and incubators. Chaz flipped to the stacks of paperwork, so confused by what he read that he immediately reexamined the pictures again. They were grainy, as if taken with a phone and then printed on a regular printer. Going back to the pages, he could barely contain his anger and surprise to find out that his lab was being used for military and political purposes.

     “They have no plans to use this for good at all. Why, my own government plans to infect neighboring countries with the virus, while protecting our troops. Their higher purpose is to destroy those governments, blaming it on the epidemic. Who cares how many innocents need to perish for their political motives.”

     Realizing the importance but also the danger, he took photos of the documents with his phone. Chaz walked to the men’s room, flushing the paperwork down the commode.

     Deciding his course of action, Chaz packed up his computer and legal papers, driving across the Canadian border heading to Ottawa. Resting in his briefcase were the research papers and documents to the viral serum. He couldn’t trust his own country or colleagues so he would take his chances elsewhere. Maybe the Queen of Canada and the other Commonwealth realms would be interested in the plans of the United States.

     After crossing into Canada, Chaz released the breath he had been holding. He smiled. He’d made it.

     In New York, two black suits watched through binoculars as the horizon lit up on the Canada skyline. The ground shook and flames rose above the trees. Police on both sides scurried to close down the border.

     “Don’t you just love doctors with scruples?” The two men, placing black shades to conceal their eyes, stepped back into the black sedan and melted into the night.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Fishy Neighbors



The rural town they moved to had wooded areas to explore; wrinkled with creeks and small ponds. The pine reminded Wesley of Christmas year around.

Wesley watched the man next door leave every morning before the sun came up, carrying long poles and a green tackle box.

“Wesley, you are up, dressed and have eaten. I’m beginning to believe you are a vampire or something!” Mom’s comment always made him smile.

One morning, while playing with his yellow truck in the yard, he noticed the old man leaving even though the sun had been up for hours.

“Did you oversleep today?”

The old man scowled at the tyke wearing filthy blue overalls and no shirt. Ignoring the child, he kept walking down the road.

“Hey mister, are you deaf? I had a deaf dog once and he never came when I called him either.” Wesley caught up to him, imitating his stride.

“Do I look deaf to you?”

“Well people don’t exactly look deaf, they just is. You didn’t answer me when I asked you a question so I thought maybe you couldn’t hear me. My names Wesley Peters and I live next door to you. What’s your name?” Wesley stuck out his hand to shake but the man looked down at him with disgust.

“It’s not polite not to answer or shake a man’s hand when it’s offered. Didn’t your momma teach you anything?”

“My mother taught me not to stick my nose where it don’t belong. And I don’t shake filthy hands.”

“My mom says as long as I leave it outside I can get as dirty as I want. I change in the tub room and put my clothes in the washer so mom can launder them on Sunday. Then I take a bath. I’ve noticed that you leave before sun-up to go fishing.” Wesley kicked a disk-shaped rock, sending it shattering through the leafy growth.

“How do you know when I leave?”

“I can hear your front door since I’m always up when you set off. I was hoping that once we met, you would take me with you sometime.”

“You know how to fish, boy?”

“No sir, but I would like to learn.”

“Then have your father teach you.”

“My daddy went to live with my grandparents in heaven. Momma says they needed him more than we did so we can’t be selfish. If we are good, we can be with them someday.” The gruff old man didn’t see the tears. He was too busy trying to ignore the child. He regarded the boy when he heard him sniff.

“Well, you’ll have to bait your own hook and clean any fish you catch. I don’t wait on anybody.”

Wesley bobbed his head, grinning as they settled next to a flowing creek. The clear water moved slowly. Wesley saw minnows swimming by the shoreline.

“What should I call you mister?”

“Bud. You can call me Bud.”

“Well Bud, maybe I can catch some fish for the table tonight. Mom would be so happy if we didn’t have to eat only vegetables again.”

 Through the afternoon, Bud yelled at Wesley and even called him names but Wesley just smiled and kept trying. It was late when Wesley caught his first fish. Excited, Wesley bumped into the trout line, watching it float away.

“Why you clumsy oaf; look what you’ve done. There goes my dinner for tonight.” Bud yelled.

Wesley didn’t stop to think; he just jumped in the water. He came up with Bud’s line, but two of the fish were gone. Climbing onto the shore, Wesley took his fish off the pole and handed it to Bud.

“You can have mine, since I lost two of yours.” Without even a thank you, Bud packed up his fishing lines, leaving Wesley to trail behind so that he wouldn’t get lost.
When he arrived home he told his mom about his day but left out the parts where Bud was mean to him.

“How’d you get so wet?” She helped him out of his clothes and into a warm tub of water.

“I jumped in to get Mr. Bud his fish back. Sorry I didn’t bring any fish home for you mom.”
She hugged him tightly, saying he would do better next time, but Wesley knew there wouldn’t be a next time.

Summer turned to winter. Everything turned brown or was covered in white from snow. Everything, this is, but the Blue Spruce that stays green all year long. His mom decorated their house with bowls of holly and the sweet smell of pine. She stacked pine cones and strung berries with string to hang or weave through the branches they had laid inside. Tall red candles graced the table. She even made some banana-nut bread and opened a jar of her apple butter to put on the warm slices.

A thunderous knock on the door told them that someone had come to visit.
“Whoever can that be in this weather?” Mom asked.

A large man stood in the doorway, wearing a wooly coat and a hat with earmuffs that covered most of his face. In his hand, was something long and thin, covered with wrapping paper.

“Why Mr. Bud, come sit by the fire. You will catch a death of cold.” Setting him in her favorite chair close to the tiny hearth, she hung his coat and hat to dry.

“Would you care for some apple cider and slices of banana nut bread?” Mom didn’t wait for him to answer. She returned with a hefty slice covered in apple butter and a mug of spiced cider. When we finished eating, I couldn’t stop myself from inquiring about the package he held.

He didn’t answer; he just shoved the package into my hands. I tore off the paper and inside was a beautiful new fishing rod. “Maybe this summer we can try those lessons again.”

I believe they heard my whoop all the way into town.