Near 500 words: Frank’s Day

Frank was excited. His mother was taking him to the fair. He was seven years old and he had heard a lot about the fair from his friend Gina. His friend, Roger, too. Now it was his turn. His mother was excited for him as well.

The first thing Frank discovered about the fair. It was alive with noises, and they were happiness noises. Then there were the colors that filled his eyes with brightness and variety. And the smells of popcorn.

Gina told him about the horses and he just knew he wanted to ride them and there they were, on the carousel. And they made music. Frank loved the music.

He pulled at his mother’s dress. “Can I? Can I?”

“We have to buy a ticket,” his mother answered him.

He could hardly wait. He was so excited. It was like the times he needed to piss in his pants and thought he would die if he had to wait. Of course, he didn’t die, and he didn’t die waiting on the ticket.

His mother lifted him onto the white stallion and she got on the black mare beside him. Then the carousel took off. Up and down it went. And it went up and down some more. And the music played. Frank was in heaven. But like most things Frank loved, such as chocolate cake and hot cocoa, heaven came to an end.

It was such a short ride. Frank wanted to ride for a thousand miles like Genghis Khan and his mongol hordes he had read about. But his mother insisted they try something else.

She insisted, “You’re going to love cotton candy as much as I do.”

He did love cotton candy as soon as he had some. It was like eating a cloud.

“Now we’re going to ride the ducks,” his mother said, as she grabbed her son’s hand.

“You can ride ducks?” Frank asked. Then he saw it. Giant white ducks at the pier of a lake.

And then it was the biggest surprise of his birthday. Gina and Roger ran past him, yelling, “Frank, Frank.”

Frank joined his two best friends in one of the ducks. The moms of Gina and Roger joined Frank’s mother and got into the duck with their kids. The gondolier guided the duck away from the dock as his passengers jabbered away. Then he sang at the top of his lungs “The Quack Song”. Soon his passengers joined him with their singing.

Across the lake the duck and its gondolier carried the six. As they pulled up to the dock, a young man grabbed each of their hands and said, “Welcome to the Land of the Unicorns”.

The six stepped onto the dock. The kids were all excited. “Unicorns, unicorns,” they sang in unison. Into a large tent they went. On the sides of the tent, a movie projected. It was the Unicorn Story. Everybody went “ahhhh” when they saw the giant white creatures with their large orange horn running like the great steeds they were once upon a time.

When the day was done, Frank kneeled at the side of his bed. His dad kneeling on one side and his mom on the other. Frank prayed, “Thank you, God, for the best day ever.”

His parents tucked their son into bed and snapped off the light and said, “Good night, Son. We love you.”

That night Frank dreamed of friends and unicorns and horses and giant ducks with gondoliers singing “The Quack Song”.

Advertisements

Mr. Reynolds and the lighthouse

Nora loved the lighthouse some few miles away from the town. She loved to go down and share a picnic with the lighthouse keeper, Reynolds Reynolds. He had tended the lighthouse since before Nora was born. Her landlady knew him. Said he had come back from the war and taken over the lighthouse.

Now he was in want for an apprentice. No one was interested in the job. It was a lonely seven-day-a week job and there were no days off. Finally he asked Nora.

“What?” she asked. “A woman?”

“Why not?” Mr. Reynolds said. I”t’s been done before. Sandy Sarah was the lighthouse keeper off the cape back before you and I were even thought of. She is a legend. Once when the light went out, she stood out on the rocks and waved a lantern all night during a storm. She died on those rocks. But she saved the lives of a hundred men. She did what lighthousemen have always done. She served the ships.”

Nora gave the thing a think and decided she was up to the offer. The next time she came out to the lighthouse she told Mr. Reynolds. In her late twenties, she had not found the love of her life. So she concluded the solitary life was for her. And the lighthouse would be the first home she had ever had. She had grown up in an orphanage, then taken a room in the local boarding house and earned her living as a typist.

The next time she came out to the lighthouse Mr. Reynolds told her that the Lighthouse League had approved her appointment as an apprentice lightsman. The next day she moved into the extra room at the cottage. The day after that Mr. Reynolds began her schooling of the finer points of lightsmanship. Teaching her how to clean the lens and how often. How to order supplies for the lighthouse. Those kind of things.

In the morning he fixed their late breakfast. In the evenings she made their dinners. In the afternoon after the chores were done, they walked out on the beach.

As time went on, Nora began her love affair with the sea. More and more she thought of it as home. There was a comfort in that. Mr. Reynolds whom she took to calling Reynolds was the father she had never had. And she was the daughter he never had.

Occasionally a visitor would come out to admire the lighthouse or to deliver supplies. They saw these two walking along the shore, two companions who had somehow found each other because of the light.

Twenty years went by and the old man came to the time of his death. His last words to Norah, “I have had only two loves in my life. The light and the light that is you. Thank you for all the happiness you have given me.”

Tears formed in Nora’s eyes. “And I have had only two loves in my life. The light and the light that is you.”

There was peace on the old man’s face as he went off to be a lightsman in another world.

Mr. Reynolds body was cremated. Nora threw his ashes into the sea. Now she was alone. But there were times when visitors would see Nora walking the beach. At her side was an old man.

Near 500 words: Yin and Yang

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Chet looked into Tessa’s eyes. He saw the city reflected in her clear blue eyes. Her smile filled him with joy.

Tessa looked into Chet’s eyes. She saw the countryside. His smile filled her with joy.

Tessa wore city. Chet was clothed in country. Tessa spoke city. Chet spoke countryese. Chet was progressive. Tessa a conservative. Chet was into cats. Tessa had a German shepherd. It wasn’t an argument they had. It was a conversation.

It had been a blind date when they met. They had resisted. They had had blind dates before. Neither was up for another one. But their best friends insisted. They saw something of the other in each one. And they felt that Tessa and Chet would  make a great pair.

They met on neutral territory. A crowded restaurant. Immediately they liked each other. Though they had nothing in common, they had everything in common. They both were gentle, kind souls. They were both creative. Though Chet was an optimist, Tessa was a pessimist. They balanced each other out, and their glass as a couple always held a half glass of wine.

In memory of those who stopped along their way

As 2017 closes, I’ve been thinking of all those who stopped along their way and reached out to me. Those outside of family who made an impact of me.

Of those teachers who gave me a little extra. My fourth-grade-speech teacher, Mrs. Hennis, who saw potential in me when no one else did. Mrs. Duke who sold me on the Greeks. The conservative Mr. Norton who believed that democracy required honest debate and that no one side had all the answers. Mr. Hickman, who gave me a chance to read books that stretched my imagination.

Of my high school friends, David Ruhlman, Dave Dupuy, Bobbie Ann Ward, Warren Walter, who came to my rescue when I needed it most. Of Kay Hines who taught me what it meant to be gay. Of Wendell and Ruth Rieck who were the very image of hospitality. Of Ray Armstrong and Mary Ellen Barret whose lives were examples of faith and wisdom.  And of George Rieck, the best of friends.

These are folks that cared for me enough to touch my life in a special way. I’m sure each of you have someones who stopped for you. For just a few moments, close your eyes and remember them as you listen to Greg Lake’s “Footprints in the Snow”:

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Friendship

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of All Hallow’s Eve, this week’s Spotlight Creator is the celebration of friendship between the great horror actors, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price:

Vincent Price was to Boris Karloff as Gene Kelly was to Fred Astaire. Peter Cushing was the Abbott to Christopher Lee’s Costello in the Hammer Horror films.

And here’s Vincent Price honoring his good friend, Christopher Lee:

And here’s Peter Cushing:

And one final time for Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing:

It does seem an odd time to celebrate friendship, and yet why not? These three were such wonderful entertainers. Not only that. They were gentlemen (in the old fashion term) as well.

It is rare to find a friend with whom you can be your complete self. With whom you can let down your mask and let them whole heartedly into your heart. Maybe their gift was friendship. I would like to think so.

So, remember them for all the joy they brought us. And remember them for the role models of friendship they were.