She awoke with the sound of sobbing. She knew instantly who it was. Oliva hated it when he cried, and it had been happening more and more.
To Oliva, her Grandpa was the greatest man who ever lived, it wasn’t only her who thought so, her Grandpa did too.
“Ain’t I the greatest man who ever lived?” He’d ask, then he’d spit as far as he could.
“You sure are, Grandpa, you sure are,” Olivia would agree, then spit as far as she could – which was pretty far considering she didn’t practise as much as her grandfather.
She quickly got dressed and without cleaning her teeth, she headed to the barn which was situated below her window.
The door always squeaked when you opened it, and so her grandfather was able to quickly wipe his eyes and paint a smile on his face by the time Olivia was inside.
“What cha doin’ there, Grandpa?” She asked.
“Hello little one, I didn’t hear you come in there. What am I doin’ you ask? Why – what I do most days. I just sits and cogitates.”
“Why sugar, it just means I sits and wastes the day away,” her grandfather said, sadly.
The problem with Olivia’s grandfather and some of the other men in the valley was that work had grown scarcer and scarcer. These were men who worked with their hands, who built thing, great things. Now those things were not made in barns and sheds but manufactured in some city in a far off place.
“Can I getcha some coffee, Grandpa?”
That brought a real smile to her grandfather’s face.
“You sure can, sugar.”
Normally on a Saturday, Olivia went walking in the woods with her grandfather, but he just didn’t feel like it today. It was just then that she heard a call from the garden:
“How are you, Missy?”
Sometimes it was good to see Joe. He was in Olivia’s class in school and Joe felt that school was just a waste of his time, because as he said, he already knew all he needed to know to make it in the world. What stopped him was that he was eleven years of age. ’Can’t wait till I’m 16’, he’d tell folks.
She smiled at Joe.
“I’m just sittin’, Joe. My Grandpa don’t want to go walking today,” she told her pal.
“Same here, my Pa is just starin’ outta the window but my Ma says that opportunity is coming up the road real soon and that it’ll be followed by a big marching band. Now, I can’t stand here chewin’ over things all day. I gotta go to the Big Hole, to try and catch me another big fella. I hear there’s a mighty fish down there with my name on it,” and with that Joe was gone.
Olivia had never seen a big marching band and so she decided to do what she always did, and that was to head to Old Creek Road and wait for things to fall into place.
When she got up to Old Creek it was its usual empty self, so she did what she always did and sat and waited.
Every now and again, she stood and held a hand to her ear to see if she could hear the big marching band.
“What cha doin’?” It was Herbert the dog from Asker’s farm just doing what he always did on a Saturday, walk around being real nosey.
“I’m waiting on a big marching band coming up the road.”
“Mind if I wait?” He asked, Olivia.
“Don’t mind if you do,” said his pal.
So Herbert sat and waited with Olivia.
“How will we know when it’s comin’?” He asked.
Olivia told Herbert, her pal, that they’d probably see opportunity coming up the road first, followed by a big marching band.
Herbert tried not to look excited, but he had to admit that he was.
With nothing much happening, Herbert and Olivia started singing songs that they thought marching bands might paly. Suddenly another voice joined in, and as they looked around, they saw it was Scrimpy The Ass.
“What cha doing?” Asked Scrimpy The Ass.
“Well we’re waiting on opportunity coming marching right up Old Creek Road,” said Herbert.
“Followed by a big marching band,” added Olivia.
“Mind if I join you guys?” Asked Scrimpy.
“Don’t mind at all,” said his pals.
So they sat and they sat, but to be honest they were just as happy enjoying a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine.
It was Scrimpy who spotted him first. He could see Sammy, the mailman, on his real old bike coming up the road.
“Hiya sweetpea,” Said Sammy to Olivia.” Is yer grandpa at home?”
“Sure is,” said Olivia.
“Can you give him this envelope? It’s a letter from Jake Brother over in Shotts County. He gave it to me yesterday and I plum forgot. Says it’s a request for your grandpa to do some work for him.”
Sammy handed Olivia the letter then peddled back down the really bumpy road. You could hear Sammy shouting out every time he hit a bump.
Herbert then said what they were all thinking.
“That sure sounds like an opportunity, but there ain’t no marching band.”
They all agreed that it sounded like an opportunity, but how could it be if there were no band following?
“I’ll take my letter home to my Grandpa and ask my Grandma just exactly when the big marching band is due.”
“Maybe we could meet up next Saturday and see if it turns up,” suggested Scrimpy.
And do you know what? All the pals agreed that it was the best idea ever, and promised to meet up the following week.
It was good to have friends.
bobby stevenson 2017