A Child of a Lesser God

thing

The full moon had formed over Thing’s cave 12 times when he decided that enough was enough.

He now realised that his mother and father were not coming back home.
Where ever they were, he hoped with all his heart that they were happy. That night, Thing sat at the mouth of his cave and thought about all the stuff that concerned him.

He needed to get a job since the money and tokens his parents had left in the cave were just about to run out. Thing had done okay at school, especially with counting and numbers. Perhaps he could get a job in the town’s bank. When Thing awoke the next morning he found himself still sitting at the mouth of the cave. He got washed and made his way down the mountainside, crossing the main street and into town.
Thing was used to people staring just because he was different. People didn’t like difference, it frightened them, and frightened people didn’t always behave rationally.

He loved life, and he loved the town where he had gone to school and where he had found (and sometimes lost) friends.

He went to the employment agency to see what job were available. Thing didn’t notice as he entered the office, that everyone stopped and stared. Thing wasn’t the first of his kind who have lived in the town. There had been Thing’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and of course, his parents.

All of his family had gone to the northlands where many of the Things had formed a colony. His own parents would have gone there too, was it not for the fact that his mother had taken ill and gone to hospital. The last words his father had said to him was that he was just popping out to see his mother. Neither of them returned, although Thing had spent many sleepless nights waiting and wondering.
He had many good friends in school and some enemies but that wasn’t any different from anyone else. Children learn either love or hate very early in life and rarely do they forget.

The one brave soul in the employment agency asked Thing how he was doing.
“Fine,” said Thing. “Very fine, indeed.”
Thing told the person that he was good at numbers and counting. The agency manager went through many cards, saying ‘no’, ‘no’, ‘no’ to most of them. Then he pulled out a card and exclaimed ‘a-ha’.

The job was at a café near Thing’s old school. He’d remembered the owner being a kind elderly gentleman. As was requested on the card, Thing popped along to the café for an interview.
The old man remembered when Thing’s parents had held a birthday party for him in the café. The old man was happy to give Thing a job and he was able to start immediately.

The following morning Thing almost skipped all the way to work, given that it was such a nice morning and that he enjoyed being at the café. He had company there and people to talk to.

In the middle of the morning, a middle-aged man came in and when he saw Thing, the man said he didn’t want no dirty animal serving him and he expected a human to give him a cup of coffee.
When the old man told the customer that Thing was his new server and that was that, the man said he would be taking his business elsewhere.

The old man thought that would be the end of it but it wasn’t. By the time he was ready to shut the café, the middle-aged man was standing outside with several others of his kind and all of them had flaming torches.

“If you don’t put a human behind the counter then we are going to burn the place down.”
Thing told the old man that he was sorry, it was all his fault, and that he wouldn’t return to the café the following day – but the old man just shook his head and said ‘nonsense’.
Then the old man went outside and faced the gang of men intent on burning down his café.

“You men, think that because Thing looks different that he deserves to be treated differently. In fact to be treated as a lesser being that you. Is he a child of a lesser god? I don’t think so. How many of you created yourselves? How many of you brought yourselves to Earth? None of you? I didn’t think so. We are all in this living together and all we can do is live together. It is you with your black hearts and thoughts who are different from the rest of us. The problem is you hide your evil thoughts in a body and brain that looks like everyone else. But you are not like everyone else. You are evil and most of all, stupid. So burn my café down if you want. We will only set up in another place, and yes, Thing will be there too. You people are what is wrong with the world, not Thing, not me.”

And with that the men, one by one, threw down their torches and wandered off. The middle-aged man came forward and spat at Thing. The old man wiped the spit from Thing and apologised to him.
“I cannot make an excuse for such a person. They are what they are, and we must exist beside them. Now you go home, have a rest and I will see you tomorrow. We have living to do.”

 

bobby stevenson 2017

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The Legend of Little River

road

It was always the strangest of little towns, neither being a 100 miles from somewhere or a 100 from anywhere else. Folks mostly found it by accident is what I’m saying, no one ever really went looking for it. It was like a large hole in a road on a dark night – you just kind of just fell into it.

That’s not to say that once you got there you were disappointed or anything – it was just that Little River was the last town you visited before falling off the end of the world.

The war of the north against the south had taken place a little ways down the road – neither the soldiers nor the shelling had ever really troubled the little town. In case you folks ain’t too sure where that little town resides – well it’s in South Carolina – just over the border from its northerly sister. Folks would pass it on the way to Charleston or up to Raleigh and never know, nor care, that the place existed.

It would have probably stayed that way had it not been for a family from New York state traveling back home in their huge automobile. They had been vacationing (as they say nowadays) in that great state of Georgia and had decided to take their time traveling north.

Some ways outside of Myrtle Beach, the old car started to jump and shudder like it was trying to do a dance of something. It finally gave up just outside of Little River – God bless its well-polished over-worked engine.

The father of the family, a mister Logan Berry (yep, he’d heard them all) had walked a short distance to a store to use the telephone and call for help.

“They are saying they will be here when they arrive,” said Mister Berry on his return.

“Whatever does that mean?” Asked his wife and, as usual, Logan just shrugged his shoulders, because he’d found that shrugging your shoulder never got a man misunderstood. Folks just interpreted it to mean whatever they wanted.

“Well if that’s their answer, then that’s their answer,” said his wife as if they all understood what was happening. Although to be fair to everyone concerned, Misses Berry wasn’t the happiest woman in the world. She had a frown on her that could melt cheese.

Mister Berry sat on the edge of his automobile entertaining his family with a harmonica which, I should say, he always carried with him. His darling wife thought it a common thing to play and had dearly wished that he had learned to play the violin or something that was in keeping with their station as a family of some wealth and distinction in Albany.

The family had a little girl called Amy and a boy, a year or so older, called Eugene. Now ‘Gene and Amy loved nothing better than to dance to their daddy’s music – and here they were skipping, and hollering, and jumping like the poor Albany kids would do. Misses Berry just tutted and shook her head.

The family had a little dog called Hoover (just like the dam) who also liked the sound of the harmonica as it meant he was let loose to jump and bark with the rest of his kin.  It was in the middle of a toe-tapping tune that a large truck heading north, tooted as it passed, causing little Hoover to shoot off into the woods next to the road. This pleased Misses Berry as it meant that they could call a halt to the family looking common and instead go searching for their little dog.

They all split up, even although the mother had insisted that Amy stay close to ‘Gene –  and that was why on that summer’s evening, Amy Berry found herself walking down the old dirt road to Little River.

She thought she heard a rustling from the undergrowth and shouted out ‘Hoover’ at quite a noise. “Hoover,” she shouted. “Hoover”.

It was just then that a soldier, or at least that’s what Amy thought he was, jumped out of the bushes and told her to keep quiet.

Amy asked why she should be quiet when she was looking for her little lost dog.

“’Cause they is all around, that’s ‘cause.”

“Who is all around?” Asked Amy.

“Why, the enemy,” said the soldier. “The enemy”.

And with that he ducked down and signaled to Amy to do the same.

“I will not,” said Amy. “My mom told me never to listen to boys ‘cause they is stupid”.

Amy had been on this Earth twelve summers and the soldier couldn’t have been much older than her. Except for maybe his eyes, they seemed as old as time and gave the impression they were looking out on a different world.

When the soldier was satisfied that the enemy weren’t nearby, he stood and introduced himself to the young girl.

“Ma name is Zachary James, and I bid you a hello.”

Amy gave him a strange look on account of his strange way of talking.

“How old are you?” Asked Amy.

“I ain’t too sure but I was born in Charleston on a Monday in 1848. Wettest day ever there was, my Ma said.”

“Why if you ain’t the most stupidest kid, I ever did meet. 1848? That would make you…”

And Amy started counting on her fingers but soon run out of them.

“Well I do believe the year is now 1863, at least it was the last time I was home. Ain’t nothin’ tellin’ me it’s anythin’ else,” he said, defiantly.

Amy thought he might be a bit crazy and decided not to upset him anymore. She felt she’d need to get on looking for her little ‘Hoover’ and to just ignore the stupid boy pretending to be a soldier.

“I’m just going to go on looking for my little dog, if you don’t mind,” said Amy.

“Is this him?” Asked Zach.

And sure enough when Amy looked over, there was Zach holding little Hoover.  Amy couldn’t thank Zach enough, except when it came to handing over the dog.

“I wants a kiss,” said Zach.

Amy shuddered at the thought, but decided it was a fair reward for getting the dog back.

When she’d kissed Zach, she wiped her lips with the back of her hands. Zach was grinning from ear to ear.

“Now let me grant you a wish,” he said, curiously.

Amy asked him what he meant and Zach told her that she could wish for anything in the world. She thought about this and that and then the idea sparked.

“I wish that my mother was the happiest person in the world.”

“Sure?”

“Sure,” said Amy.

“Then it’s done.”

Amy turned to shield her eyes from the sun and when she looked again, Zach had gone.

Amy held tightly onto little Hoover as she made her way back to the road. It was what she saw when she got there that she gave her the biggest of surprises. Her father was kissing a younger woman, who was most definitely not her mother.

Her father looked up and smiled at Amy.

“Hey, great you got the dog.”

Amy looked around. “Where Mom?”

Her father and the younger woman looked at each other and laughed.

“Stop with the joking.”

“I ain’t joking,” said Amy.

“You know your mother and I split up years ago and she went to live with that rich guy in New York.

From what I hear she’s mighty happy.”

I guess you got to be real careful what you wish for.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

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Zoot and Sandy and Life

elephant

As always, Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were the best of pals in the whole wide world and, as usual, they were sitting by the river – talking about this, and talking about that.

“What do you see?” Asked Sandy.

“You always ask me that,” said Zoot, his pal.

“So, what do you see?”

“What I always see…..the birds.”

“And?”

“The sea…”

“And?”

“I don’t know. The sky.”

“That’s all you can see?” Asked the elephant.

“What else is there?” Questioned Zoot, the dog.

And then the big elephant shook his head, which made his trunk swing too.

“What? What have I said? Am I wrong?” Asked Zoot.

Sandy the elephant, gave a very important cough to clear his throat because he felt that what he was going to say was very important.

“This universe is very large,”

“Even for an elephant?” Said Zoot.

“Even for an elephant. Some say it could be as much as a billion light years across. Now that’s big. There are even wise women and men who think that there may be more than one universe and that in another one, I could be President.”

“And I could be a rock star,” interrupted Zoot.

“Exactly. Now in all those billions of light years, for me to become an elephant, and you to become a dog – well the chances must be a zillion to one. And to survive and me to meet you and you to meet me, well that must be a trillion, zillion to one. “

“What are you saying?” Asked the little dog.

“That to exist is very special and should never be taken for granted.”

“Do I do that?”

“We all do that,” said Sandy.

“You see, you and I can see how special it is to exist but there are many folks out there who are blind,” said Sandy.

“They can’t see?”

“Not so much that, but they can’t see how special their existence is. How hard the universe must have worked to bring them here.”

“But it makes them feel good about themselves…..to be blind,” said Sandy thoughtfully.

“But they drag the rest of us down. They think that living in a house, and keeping your money in the bank, and working and then retiring and then dying is all there is in life. And those who don’t see it that way are wrong.”

“Do I do that?” Asked the dog.

“Look again, what do you see? This time really look,” said the elephant.

“The sky, the sea…”

“And what is between the sky and the sea?”

“The horizon?”

“Exactly my friend. The horizon. That is what the blind can’t see. As long as there is a horizon, there is always something over the horizon.”

“And what is that?” Asked Zoot.

“Why hope,” said Sandy. “Just plain and simple, hope.”

 

bobby stevenson 2017

 

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Kiss

kiss

The last time I was home I gave my mother a kiss,
And somewhere, sometime long ago, she kissed my great-grandmother,
Who kissed her brother just before he set off to fight in World War one,
And although he died a few days before the end of the war,
He had kissed a young French girl in a bar and they said that they would meet someday after the troubles,
And the French girl kissed her father and told him of the Scotsman whom she liked,
And years before her father had kissed the girl’s mother in a little hotel in London,
And that night they had gone to see Charles Dickens as he read from Great Expectations,
And the girl’s mother kissed Dickens and said thank you for the story,
And told him that her boyfriend had just asked her to be his wife,
And after that night’s reading Dickens gave his daughter a goodnight kiss,
And his daughter kissed her pillow and dreamed of her one true love.

bobby stevenson 2017

 

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Bird

His family loved him, of that you can be sure. He was, after all, from them and like them. Sometimes when his mother walked with her child along a street, he would look up at her and see the pride in her eyes. And sometimes when she was tired of dealing with the unkindness of others, and the way they stared at her little son, he could see tears in her face. She would secretly dry her eyes with her coat sleeve, smile the biggest of smiles, and encourage her boy to hurry along.

In his early years, no one told him that he was different in any way. It was only when he went out into the world – a world of half-formed people, with half-formed hearts and half-formed love, that he found the winds were just that little bit colder, and the shadows somewhat darker.

When his mother caught him staring into a mirror with his usual look of bewilderment – she would shout, ‘now ain’t you just the most beautiful creation ever’. And to her and her family he was the most beautiful of children.

She did her best to warn him of the apes who lived outside the walls of their home. Those apes all looked alike, and that made them feel that they were a tribe, that they all belonged together – but they also carried hate in their hearts – perhaps they were born with it, or it was legacy passed down from parent to child – but it was the hate which drove the tribe, and the hate which caused them to despise others who were not like them.

She told him that he should walk with the stars which filled the night sky and not be scared of them. That the universe was magnificent and vast, and that those who chose to look only at creatures near them and judge them, were only cave dwellers, who were blind in eye and heart.

In his first day at school, a little girl had read a story called the ‘Ugly Duckling’, and his new class mates had all looked at him. But he knew from his family that he had special gifts, and they weren’t going to go away or transform him into a beauty that the rest of the word could deal with.

He was beautiful, it was as simple as that. He had wings which none of his family had, and he could fly at any time. Something that any of his classmates would have wished that they could do.

He knew he was different, and he knew he was beautiful, and he knew he could soar above the clouds. He had no need to show others to be accepted. He might have to live a life with the half-formed hearts trying to break him or even, make him disappear. He would be called ugly, he would be spat upon, he would be beaten by stones, but in the end, he would always remember what his mother had whispered in his ear one birthday: ‘chase happiness’.

So, that is what he did. He decided that in order to be happy, he had to help happiness in others. That meant being a new super hero. Maybe not the first, but definitely a very different one. By day he was a mild-mannered kid, who did what he was told, and smiled at everyone. After school, it was a very different story, his hat and coat were thrown aside (he couldn’t change in a phone box) and he’d spread his wings and swoop down on anyone in need of help.

It probably all started with that kid who lived in the next street. He was a child with an imagination and therefore didn’t need much else in his life. He could build fantastic new worlds out of twigs, empty jars, and old boxes. What his world lacked in colour and structure was painted by the thoughts in his head. Now I’m not saying any of that is wrong, but sometimes this kind of behaviour scares folks who can’t keep a single thought between their ears.

It was the fattest kid in the area, and the tallest kid, who hung together and caused maximum mayhem where ever they went. Perhaps these were just two outsiders who thrust themselves into the centre of things by hurting others. If they were hurting folks, then those people couldn’t harm them.

The kid in the next street had built a castle made from glass jars, it looked clever and displayed a degree of talent, which was the kind of thing that really bothered bullies. So, one morning the fat boy and the tall boy looked over the hedge of a garden and saw the kid from the next street and his castle, and decided to kick it over, throwing the jars into the road. They would cheer every time one smashed and needless to say the kid from the next street started to cry.

It was this sad sound which first attracted our half-bird-half-boy (who at the time was feeling happy about his new hat, and kept tipping it to the side to see which angle looked better).

Our hero, threw off his human clothing and headed to the source of the crying where he saw immediately what had occurred. He started pecking at the fat boy and then the tall boy – and although they tried to swat him away, it didn’t work. The fat boy was sure that the bird would peck out his eyes, and so ran away leaving his friend to take the punishment. Once the tall boy had enough of the bird, he, too, ran off.

This was the way his life continued for a while. The boy-bird would swoop down on those being victimized and would then use his beak to put right the wrongs of this world. Sometimes he was hurt himself, when they fought back, and on other times he wasn’t.

Then one Saturday morning, he found himself sitting on the highest branch of the tallest tree in a local park. He tended to hide this way when he was outside and naked – meaning that he was without his human clothes. It did feel good but he also felt that as a bird-boy he had a responsibility not to run around without any clothes on, leastways, not when humans were watching.

As he was watching the park, he spied some children playing a game of football. He’d always wanted to play football but most birds weren’t that excited about the prospect, and he found it difficult to get a game. On the other hand, most humans weren’t too keen on birds playing football either. So as far as he was concerned it was basically a stand-off.

The kids were enjoying themselves until a taller and older looking child, tackled one of the smallest. The little boy let out a scream and seeing he was upset, the injured boy’s friends started to pick on the larger kid. It looked as if all-out war would ensue, until our little bird flew above the melee and started to shout and whistle:

“That’s enough,” he shouted in a high squeaky bird voice. He called out again but still there was no reaction. So, our little bird friend landed on the head of the tallest kid and started to peck at his head.

“Ow!” Yelled the boy.

“Behave yourself,” said the bird.

“Says who?”

“Says me,” said the high-pitched bird (although in bird circles he was known to have quite a butch voice).

“Want to be our ref?” Asked one of the younger kids.

“Sure,” said the bird.

And that was where it all started. That day in the park, our bird started on a journey that took him from fan, to referee and then to running the team.As he was the only bird in that job, he became famous, always in the newspapers and forever on television.

And now our little friend manages an English Premier League team – of course you don’t need me to tell you which one.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

photo: Alexei Petrenkov

 

Just Love

love

It’s a very short life,
And an amazing one,
Full of miracles and caring,
With a universe or two, or maybe more, thrown in,
All decked out with black holes and sunsets,
And yet you chose to spend it hating,
And loathing, and hitting and shouting,
And name calling and abusing.
Whatever this is, it’s a short life,
And in your hating,
You’ve missed the greatest
Experience of your existence,
Don’t hate, just love.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

 

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The Titanic In New York City – 3 stories

ship1  Wednesday April 17th, 1912 Pier 60. NY,NY.

After a successful maiden voyage across the North Atlantic, the Titanic berths in New York.

Annie’s Story

She was born with the name, Annie Constantine and from the age of nine, she had worked tirelessly as a kitchen maid in a large house on the south coast of England.

Annie could not settle for a life in service – she gracefully rose at 4am and fell into bed at midnight, but she told herself this was not going to be forever. She had bigger ideas, she knew was going to go to the new world one day and nothing was going to stop her.

By the time she was eighteen, she had two proposals of marriage (both rejected), and two lovers who came from the overlords who lived in the floors above.

Annie had a photo of New York City pinned to the wall of the little room she shared with two other girls.

She had heard Lord Carnforth, her employer, talk about a great ship that both he and his wife were sailing aboard to the United States: The Titanic. When that name tickled her ears she knew it was destiny, she had waited for this very moment. Annie had saved her meagre wages and at last she could afford a third class ticket – one way, of course. She got one of the footmen, whom she trusted, to purchase a ticket for her while he was on a visit to his family in Southampton.

Apart from the footman, no one else knew of her plan. So on the morning before the Titanic was due to depart for New York, she packed a small valise and headed down the back path, never to return.

For her, the voyage, although being celebrated around the world, was one of monotony; the truth was she couldn’t wait to get started in her new country, to begin her new life.

She had been in contact with an old friend, Sarah, who had met a ‘Yankee’ while she was appearing on the music hall in London’s Haymarket. Sarah had married her gentleman caller and they had both moved into a small apartment in Harlem.

Sarah was there to meet and greet her friend, and all the way on the trolley north, Sarah talked non-stop about her new life in a great city. Annie didn’t hear most of it, as she could not help herself but constantly look at the wondrous views from the window of the trolley; it was 1912 and Annie Constantine was at the centre of the new world.

The plan was for Annie to live with Sarah until she could stand on her own two feet. However this plan fell apart.  After three days Annie was working harder than ever, cooking for Sara and her ‘Yankee’. Cleaning, and fetching the groceries, she was more exhausted than she had been at the big house.

So once again, Annie got up early one morning, took several dollars from her Sarah’s saving’s box (Annie reckoned she had earned it, but swore to replace it one day) and took a train west.

Within in a month, she found herself at the end of the line, and decided that she would settle in California and see how things went. In the sun and far from the drudgery of a maid’s work, she blossomed into a beauty. This didn’t go unnoticed, especially with one, Max Sennett who had opened up the Keystone Movie Company.

Annie had to be honest, the first couple of one-reelers she made as the heroine were terrible, but Max had faith in her and it paid off. By the following year, Annie was the studio’s number one star and had started to work with a young English actor by the name of Charlie Chaplin.

Annie couldn’t see Charlie’s little tramp character having any sort of appeal and subsequently, Charlie was dismissed and returned to England to work in a factory – he never made another movie.

By 1920, Annie (now named Ann Silver) was the biggest light in the firmament and was commanding several thousand dollars a movie. She married for the fourth time in 1925, having given birth to two sons and two daughters by her previous three husbands.

In 1929, it was decided that Ann’s movie, ‘The Little Honey Girl’ would be the first talking picture – it had been a choice between her and Al Jolson’s ’The Jazz Singer’ but Ann’s looks and popularity won the day. Ann’s voice seduced the crowds once again, and in even more numbers.

When she married for a sixth time, she built a little house on the island of Catalina, a few miles off the California coast. It was while she was sailing there one afternoon, that her ship (which she had named The Titanic after the one which had brought her to a new life) sank with all hands. Her body was never recovered. 

Adel and Dirk’s Story

That Wednesday morning, the sun shone, and a gentle breeze blew in from the sea. As far as Adel was concerned, she had everything in life she wanted. She lived in Brighton Beach at the bottom end of Brooklyn, and she had a job painting decorations on the rides at Coney Island.

She had been in New York City for almost a year. A year of struggling and making a life for herself in a new country. It had been lonely at the start, but the work had allowed her to paint and express herself. She had two friends, but as she worked most of the time, it really was difficult to meet people.

On that sunny morning, her cousin Dirk was arriving from Europe on the biggest ship in the world; the Titanic. Both their families came from Stuttgart, and as a girl Adel had been close to her older cousin. Now that she felt herself more American, she was pleased that another of her tribe would experience the exciting land that was the United States.

Dirk had qualified as a doctor, and in appreciation of this achievement, his family had saved money to send him second class on the Titanic.

She knew that the ship was due within the hour and that she could watch it pass from her little apartment on the Avenue, but instead she took an elevated transit from Coney Island into Manhattan. She had heard that there was going to be a large crowd to welcome the greatest ship to the greatest city in the world.

She took a trolley across to the west side, to Pier 60 on the Hudson. There were many people trying to get to the pier, and the crowd stretched all the way to the Battery. Adel wanted to welcome her cousin personally when he stepped from the ship.

She bought a hotdog and a lemonade as she waited, listening to the bands, some of which had come up from Coney Island. She had been granted the holiday by her boss, as long as she worked the following Saturday.

After what seemed a lifetime, she saw the funnels, and then the grandeur of what was the largest ship she had ever seen. It was beautiful, so beautiful that it took her breath away. She wiped back the tears and waved with the rest of the New Yorkers to greet the Titanic.

It was several hours before she was able to walk up and hug her cousin. He had to be processed through Ellis Island, as she had been, before he was allowed to set foot on Manhattan.

She cried again, it was wonderful to see one of her family again and to be able to talk in her mother tongue. Dirk hadn’t brought much with him and so they decided to walk up Fifth Avenue and enjoy the sights of the city.

They got back to her apartment, in Brighton Beach in the early evening. The sun was already sinking on this happy April day and she had baked treats that she would have made back home. She wanted make Dirk feel really welcome.

He was excited by his new country and full of hope, he told Adel. Perhaps he could be a great doctor in America, or perhaps even the President himself. Adel told him that he would have to have been born in the United States but she loved his dreams.

Then he told stories of the crossing of the Atlantic on the Titanic, how they had been troubled by icebergs but the captain had slowed the ship a little and all was well.

Tomorrow she had to go back to work at Coney Island but she would introduce Dirk to her boss, who might be able to help in getting him work. Dirk thanked his cousin and took his little bag into the kitchen where she had made him up a bed. Adel wished him goodnight and hoped that God would be kind to him in the new land.

As Dirk settled down, he took out the code book which he had been supplied, and went over once again the instructions he had been given. Not if, but when, there was a war in Europe and the mighty armies of the Fatherland moved into France and Britain, the Kaiser wanted assurance that the US would be in no position to join the war.

Dirk had one activity and one activity only, and that was to assassinate the President of the United States when the signal came from the Fatherland.Dirk slept well that first night in his new country and dreamed of the bright new world that was to come.

Julia’s Story

Her name was simply, Julia Edinburgh – not doctor and not professor; she was a woman after all in 1912. She was probably the cleverest of all people working on the causes and treatment of cancers. Her husband was a doctor, but he had grown to admire and love his wife and her ability to see patterns and signs in medical information that most people overlooked.

She felt that after several years of investigation and begging money from family and friends, she was now able to say categorically what had been the initial cause of specific cancers. Even more exciting was the certainty she felt, that she had come up with a process to halt the cell division – in other words, a cure for some cancers.

What concerned her most was there was to be a symposium of cancer specialists in Washington DC, on Monday the 21st of April – all of them men. She also knew that the main speaker was going to present his theory of cancer as a germ that is spread throughout the body. There was a train of thought, at the time, that cancer was a small protozoa – a small creature which transported itself from cell to cell.

She knew this was so far from the truth and that it might put cancer research back many years. It was important that she got to this meeting and contradicted their thoughts by presenting what she considered a cure for the disease.

Her husband had always been a fan of ships since he was a little boy, and it was at his suggestion that Doctor Samuel Edinburgh and his wife, Julia should take a second class compartment aboard the Titanic on her maiden voyage, bound for New York City. The Edinburghs would then take the train south to Washington, in time for the meeting.

They boarded at Southampton and took pleasure in their small but comfortable cabin. Doctor Edinburgh found that his love of ships had him exploring all areas of the Titanic. This allowed his wife to spend her time writing and re-writing her presentation on the causes and cures for cancer.

It was on the evening of Sunday the 14th of April, that the doctor found himself taking a stroll on the top deck. He always found that such a walk and taking the airs helped him sleep better. It also allowed his darling wife a little extra time to consider her thoughts.

The doctor couldn’t believe it at first – but he ran towards the bow, it appeared that there was an iceberg off the starboard side of the great RMS Titanic. He ran and found a steward, whom he quickly impressed upon, that it was important that the captain should be informed immediately.

This is what actually occurred, the captain was able to make manoeuvres, which allowed the Titanic to swerve to the port side of the berg. The Captain felt that he had been lucky this time and slowed the ship’s speed for the final part of the voyage into New York.

By the time the doctor got back to his cabin, his wife was asleep. He failed to tell her in the morning of his escapade the previous evening.

Julia did, in fact, make the symposium on cancer in Washington D.C. and it was her brave work which brought about the start of cures being found for several types of cancer.

She died in 1967, in Long Island with her grandchildren by her side.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

bobby2 wee bobby

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A Notebook From A Village

When the first big war of the 21st century eventually arrived, bombs fell on other countries; ours was a different struggle.

Friday 10th July

Maybe I should start at the very beginning then perhaps if someone finds this, it will all make more sense. That is, if what has just happened can make sense – to anyone. 

I live (lived) in a beautiful village in the south-east of England. I don’t want to be any more exact than that, just in case they find this.

A week ago, we had the village fete, with all its usual sunshine, and games and I remember thinking to myself what a perfect place to live. Old misery-guts ran the whole show, moaning, as he usually did, about everything. Yet the fete always seemed to take place and, in the end, would always manage to be better than the year before.

The village has one great pub called The Winston Churchill, which supplies the drinks on the day of the fete. There’s a stall for strawberries, one selling flowers, another for support of the local drama society and one where Mrs Laud tells peoples’ fortunes for a small donation to the church. Oh, yes and there’s a church which you’ll see is very important – but I’ll get to that.

It’s a friendly little place where everyone knows everyone else, and where everyone knows secrets (or say they do) about the rest of the village. I think the village works on the premise that everyone has at least one secret they would rather keep to themselves. If people don’t know what it is, the kind folks of the village will make one up. Not much different, I would imagine, from anywhere else in this glorious land.

I think I am going to use this notebook to record two things. The first is to record what is happening right now to the place where I live and the second is to recall stories about the great, the good and the downright stupid who have lived in the place since I came to stay here – which must be about 20 years ago; time flies.

I discovered it by accident. I just happened to be driving along the high road when I saw a sign for the village and fell in love with the place immediately. It’s that type of place – the kind of village you only find once in a lifetime.

The first sign of anything unusual was the ‘phones going dead – any and every ‘phone, it seemed. Sometimes this happened in a small village. Sometimes it snowed and we’d be cut off for a day or two. I mean, it’s only 20 miles from London but you can still be isolated down here.

I had gone down to the Winston to see if anyone else had the same problem. The owner, Annie, told one of her staff to turn on the television to see if there was any news. And guess what? That was only showing a blank screen with the odd spark every so often.

“Maybe some transmitter’s down,” said Annie in her usual re-assuring way.

“What transmitter?” Asked old Jake, who questioned everyone and everything.

“How should I know, Jake, just sit there and sup your beer,” she scolded which was quickly followed by a smile.

“It’s them Russians,” scowled Jake. “Probably marched through Ukraine all the way to London, like as not. Or maybe it was them North Koreans. Never trusted them”.

The rest of us gave Jake a smile, the way we always gave Jake a smile.

It was just before seven that someone mentioned they hadn’t heard any trains that afternoon and I quickly realised they were correct, I couldn’t recall hearing the London train pass either.

“Maybe someone should ring the church bells, let the village folks know that it’s seven o’clock,” said Annie.

I mentioned that people could just look at their watches or clocks but as Jake pointed out they had all stopped, too.

So when the rest of them in the Winston looked at me, I knew I had been volunteered to go and ring the bells. I had messed about with bell-ringing once upon a time.

I walked into a beautiful summer’s evening. The village has no street lighting (although that’s common around these parts and won’t give a clue as to where we are) – and as I walked up the street I could see through windows families sitting down together, maybe for the first time without the television invading their evening meals.

As I crossed the street to go through the church gate, I noticed the last house suddenly go dark inside. At the time I didn’t think much about it, until I tried the switches in the church hall and every one of them failed to work.

I had climbed up to the church tower many a time to look at the bells (eight in all) – so accomplishing this in the dark wasn’t a hardship.

I pulled my way carefully up the iron-rung ladders and balanced my way across the narrow beam which took me to a small platform on the other side of the tower. There was only enough room for one man or woman up there. The bells were looking okay and standing up, so I thought I’d go down a start ringing down one of them.

That was when I heard the noise. I wasn’t sure who or what it was, but it sounded like a train on the rails was in trouble. Then I heard men shouting. Perhaps a train had crashed into a transmitter or something and knocked everything out.

I climbed the last ladder (which took a person up to the very top of the church tower) to have a better look. I don’t know what made me hesitate – most probably my fear of heights – but I decided not to stand but look through one of the holes in the brick which let rain water out.

I remember once, when I was making a parachute jump up in Scotland, my brain had decided to take a back seat – it’s the only way I can describe it – and it felt as I plummeted to the ground, that I was watching a movie and all this wasn’t happening to me.  

This was the same feeling, as I looked through the hole in the church tower, I could see tanks – the military sort – followed by soldiers with guns. I could just make out their shouting and it wasn’t any language I had heard before.

The village was being invaded. I could see from the tower, the same uniformed men coming in from both sides of the High Street.

As the tanks turned the corner into the street below the church, several of the soldiers broke off and ran to the doors of the houses, kicking them in.

I saw the Smith family, who lived in the first cottage, being dragged out and made to kneel in the middle of the road.

That was when I felt my world changed on its axis. The Smith’s eldest son got up to challenge one of the soldiers and another of them shot the boy dead.

I fell back on to the floor of the tower and started to shake. Maybe they were making a television programme? Something I hadn’t heard about. When I had pulled myself together a little I had another look. The rest of the Smiths were being marched at gun point down the street, Mrs Smith was being forcibly removed from the body of her dead son.

My next thought was that maybe the Smiths were terrorists but that too was cut short when I saw more families being forced onto their knees in the street.

What the hell was happening to my world? This group of people, whoever they were, were rounding up the whole village. I heard some of them kick in the church door below me. There was more shouting in this strange language as they knocked over furniture in the church.

I could hear someone try to climb the iron ladders – they were coming up for me. I made myself as small as possible and pushed my body into the corner of the tower.

It sounded as if one of the soldiers was helping the other up the ladder. I waited on them finding me.

Suddenly the soldier fell from the ladder and must have landed on the other because I could hear them argue – whatever the language was.

This must have deterred them because I saw them run out of the church and back on to the street. I stayed hidden until the sky was pitch black and only the stars above me.

I was desperate for some water and decided as I hadn’t heard anything for a long time that I might try to find something to drink.

I held my breath and lowered myself down to the middle platform – I put my ear to the floor but I could hear nothing. I descended into the church and it was totally black, although I could feel chairs and tables lying upside down.

I knew the bell ringers kept some bottled water at the back of the church and guessing where I was, I crawled towards the rear wall.

I located the cabinet and found three bottles of the stuff. I drank that first bottle in one go and it was just as I wiped the corner of my mouth that I heard the church door open. 

 

Saturday 11th July

I had slept badly in the church tower resting my head against one of the larger bells. The young girl, who couldn’t have been more than nine or ten, lay hidden in a little cove at the western end of the attic. 

Her name was Elise and she had managed to hide herself in an outhouse at her home. She had heard her family being dragged out the door by some people she couldn’t see. 

“I heard my mother call my name and then my mother shouted ‘coming Elise’,” this is what she shouts when we play hide and seek and she wants me to hide.  

“So I didn’t make a sound, or move.”

Elise had waited for several hours before she made a move. Her home, she said, had been left with furniture and books scattered all over the house. Her father had always told her that if she couldn’t find her family she was to go to the church as she would be safe there. So that is what she had indeed done. 

Elise was as mystified as me. We live in what is known as one of the most beautiful spots in the country, and possibly the quietest, and safest, and yet within a matter of hours all of that has changed.

She was a brave little soul, perhaps braver than me and here we were, the two of us lost.

Just after dawn I heard the sound of a gun being fired in the hills above the village. Normally, I would associate it with a farmer killing some vermin or other – but then the strange thought crossed my mind that it might be the vermin shooting the farmer – whoever the vermin were; I was still unclear who was actually carrying all this out.

When it became light enough to make out certain landmarks, I managed to get to a position in the church tower which let me see much of the surrounding area – without giving away my presence (I hoped). Once or twice, I heard small vehicles coming and going on the High Road. I had the thought that perhaps those responsible had considered this part of the village cleared of all people and that maybe they were no longer showing any interest in the church.

I saw a dark figure making their way along Church Street towards me, keeping mostly to the shadows. I also noticed that there was a large gap between the shadows in front of the Old Post Office and those in the car-park of the Winston Churchill. It meant whoever this was would be exposed for some amount of time.

When they ran from the safety of the first building, I saw it was that of a man – known to us as the president of the Parish Council, Thom Drey, whose family had lived in the village for generations.

As he came out into the light, a small armoured vehicle appeared from nowhere and shot him first in the legs and then in the chest. Some man in a khaki uniform jumped from the vehicle and dragged Thom by one leg – finishing off with two of them eventually throwing his body like an old dog in the back. I assumed from his motionless body that Thom was dead but as the jeep turned the corner in front of the church, Thom had one last go at upsetting the enemy and he appeared to try to hit the driver with a wrench. It was the last thing he did – I don’t want to go into too much detail here except to say, it wasn’t a pretty death.

I must have made quite a noise because it brought Elise up to the roof, and she could see I was upset. I tried to stop her looking over tower but it was in vain, and when she saw what had happened to Mr Drey, she let out a piercing scream. He had been her godfather.

As I pulled her down from view, I saw enough to know that the two soldiers had stopped what they were doing and were indeed heading towards the church.

What the hell was I going to do? Not only was I trying to look after myself but I had a young girl to protect as well. Leastways, that was how I had read the situation – but how wrong can one desperate person be?

To be continued……

painting: Edward Bawden 1949

bobby stevenson 2017

bobby2 wee bobby

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Words

words

Words can misfire, be misplaced or misused

Words can slice through a heart with love

Words can shrivel a hope,

Words can laugh, words can cry,

Words can dance, words can sing,

Words can destroy everything you are or ever will be

Words can fill an empty life with visions of another

Words can build walls or break them down

Words can pin your head to the pillow

Words can lift your eyes to the heavens

Words are beautiful and words are dangerous

Words are from you and words are from me.

 

bobby stevenson 2017

Me and Buzz and Flyin’

kids.gif

The first time that me and Buzz attempted to fly, Buzz broke his arm in two places: in the yard and on the driveway. Yeh, Buzz didn’t think that joke was funny either. Now you’re going back to read it again in case you missed something ‘cause you didn’t think it was so funny.

The truth of the matter is that Buzz’s arm was good and busted all because he tried to fly from the roof of my house to the roof of Mister Huckerby’s.

Mister H was the man who ate children or so the story went. We’d tried to have a look in his windows but he always kept all his curtains closed except for the attic windows and they were too high to get at, unless you got on to his roof.

“I know what I’ll do, I’ll fly” was Buzz’s suggestion, with a real proud look on his face. He had thought of it all by himself.

“You’ll fly to the top of Mister H’s house?”

“Yep!”

“What you gonna use, a jet pack?”

“Nope, I’ve already thought of this. I’ll find a place that’s higher than the Child-eater’s and I glide over and land on his roof.”

If Buzz really thought about this all by himself then I’m sure the world is coming to an end or he ain’t tellin’ the whole truth. He’s probably seen the whole thing on Scooby Doo or something.

There never was any proof that Mister H was actually eating any kids on account that no one had disappeared or anything but that didn’t stop the stories. You know how it is? You get the rep for eating kids and it just doesn’t go away. I mean Buzz has got a rep for being really stupid but I have to tell you, he worked really hard at that rep and deserves it.

I’m making this all sound as if Buzz had come up with an idea that was as reliable as the day is long. To be honest he had several other really bad ideas. Last Easter, he tried to climb up the pipes to Mister H’s roof but there was a bird’s nest about three-quarter ways up and those little kiddy birds started peckin’ at Buzz’s face. You know Buzz hates anyone touchin’ his face so he tried to shoo them away and that’s when he let go. Luckily he fell into a bush and didn’t do any real damage although the pipe was hanging at a weird angle.

Around June time, Buzz tried to lasso a rope around one of Mister H’s chimneys. He got the rope on to one of the corner ones – the kind that crash to the ground real hard when you pull on them, especially with a boy and a rope hanging off them.

You could say Buzz escaped with his life, which is more than can be said for Mister Huckerby’s pride and joy, his car. It was all smashed up. I think he thinks that the street was hit with a tornado that day.

I guess I never really asked Buzz until just now what he was going to do when he landed on the roof. Was he gonna rescue the kids? Or what?

“I’m gonna look in that attic window.”

“Then what?”

“Not sure.”

Buzz strapped a kite to each arm and he reckoned this was gonna let him glide from our roof and across the street.

“Even if you do make his roof Buzz, how are you gonna get down?”

“Fly.”

Ain’t it just dandy how the world and even the laws of physics belong to the really stupid?

“Fine” I said, but by which I meant so many other things.

Buzz wanted me to stand at the front of my house when he did eventually jump. I’ve no idea what he expected me to do – catch him?

“You can help me…” he shouted.

“Navigate?” I shouted back.

“Give me directions” he shouted.

Then Buzz stood at the edge of the roof and started flappin’ his arms and I tell you, I nearly let some pee out, I laughed so hard. He just looked completely stupid. Like a bird that had its behind set alight.

He counted down and shouted that I should count with him.

“10,9,8….” He was still flappin’ and I was still keeping my legs crossed in case I pee’d again.

Then we got to zero and he jumped and what do ya know? He kinda glided, not as far as Mister H’s roof but to the tree in front of his house. That was where Buzz got stuck until we called the fire engine folks over at Toolaville. I think some of them tried to stop from laughing as well. I could see tears running down the Chief’s face.

It took us about 3 hours to free him and his wings and he was fine – surprisingly.

As for the broken arm, it was as he crossed the street and into my driveway that he stood on the skateboard and that’s when it happened. He broke his arm on the drive way, got up and then stood on the skateboard again and broke his arm again in my yard.

I swear to the almighty I had to run all the way to the toilet as I nearly pee’d myself again, what with all that laughin’.

bobby stevenson 2016

bobby2 wee bobby

 

 

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The Polka Dot Comet Kid

wcd

The night that Sally was born, the comet, Hale-Bopp lit the skies above the hospital as she lay, crying. She was the most beautiful of children and her parents called her Halley after the light in the heavens.

She had a wonderful early life and then one day she cut her finger which started to bleed. That wasn’t unusual for a child or for any human, except that the blood wasn’t red. She bled a polka-dot liquid. 

Her mother, worried, rushed her to the hospital and the doctors there all hummed and hawed, and then decided that the only answer was to wash Halley’s blood.

After the blood was washed, the polka-dots disappeared and the blood was red, once again. Halley was checked every few weeks to make sure that the polka dots didn’t returned. Then one day as she left the big school for the last time, she bent over in pain as if she had been hit in the stomach.

When they x-rayed the beautiful woman they found that her insides had all changed to polka-dots. 

The polka-dots had spread while no one was looking. The doctor told Halley and her mother that it wasn’t too late, that if they removed some of the polka-dots then they shouldn’t travel any further around her body – and that is what they did.

Life went on and Halley studied at college, fell in love and decided she would be happy for ever. Then one afternoon when she was out buying food, the check-out girl stared at her.

“Sorry, is there something wrong?” Halley asked the girl.

“It’s your face, it’s covered in polka-dots,” said the girl.

Halley ran to the nearest mirror and was shocked at the state of her face.

The doctor said that he’d try to paint her face back to its original colour by using chemicals, and that is what happened. It’s just that the chemicals made her feel ill but it made the polka-dots disappear.

When she walked down the street, some people who didn’t understand why people got polka-dots would just cross the road away from her. Sometimes she could hear folks whispering – ‘she’s got polka-dots’ – and then shake their heads.

After several weeks of painting Halley’s face to make the polka-dots disappear, the doctor told her that he didn’t expect them to come back – at least not anytime soon.

That night Halley went home and decided that she wouldn’t wait any longer on things that she wanted to do – she would just do them. It was that simple. She still checked herself for polka-dots and so far, they haven’t returned.

Halley realised that polka-dots left scars and she could live with that. What she couldn’t do, was sit down and wait on the polka-dots coming back.

If you ever see Halley on the street, just say hi to the polka-dot comet kid, she likes that. 

 

bobby stevenson 2016

 

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Carry You Home

carry

A capella song written and recorded in a small room 🙂

 

YouTube – Song  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NReK2XcCRjI

 

I’ll come for you,

When the cold winds blow,

I’ll carry you home,

Across the sea,

No need to weep,

You are not alone,

Come take my hand,

And I’ll carry you home.

 

I’ll comfort you,

When the wild things call,

I’ll give you hope,

When the darkness falls,

I’ll sweep you up,

And hold you close,

Come take my arms,

And I’ll carry you home.

 

Carry you home,

I’ll carry you home,

Where the rivers run deep,

And the spirits have flown,

Don’t break your heart,

On a rolling stone,

Come to my arms,

And I’ll carry you home.

 

I’ll comfort you,

When the cold winds blow,

I’ll carry you home,

Across the sea,

No need to weep,

You are not alone,

Come take my hand,

And I’ll carry you home.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

photo: http://www.whydie.wikipedia.com

bobby2  wee bobby

songs at http://www.reverbnation.com/bobbystevenson

Footprints On A Carpet

foot
Even if it’s only footprints on a carpet
Or blades of grass crushed where I once sat
Or a muddy scar upon a garage wall
Where my hand had leaned upon
Or a thumb print on a pane of glass
On that day we talked and talked
Or a smile that made your face light up
When you thought of what I said
Or a note left out to tell you news
Now crushed and thrown away
Or a space that I once stood upon
Now emptier in the absence
Even for just one of those
That I am remembered by – then I’ll be satisfied,
I was here.
bobby stevenson 2016
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Thing of Beauty

thing

There was a lot of time to think, now that Thing had lived in the cave by himself for a while. A lot of time to wonder why he was the way he was. A lot of time to wonder why people made judgements on the way he looked, rather on the way his heart shined out.

Those kids, the ones in the town below, had always picked on him, thrown stones at him, shouted names – and for what? Because he looked different. Kids, well humans really, hated difference.

Yesterday morning as he was eating breakfast (yes, Things did that too), he heard someone calling at the mouth of the cave.
“Hello!” a voice, shouted.
“Anyone there?” The voice continued. Thing rarely had any visitors, expect the odd kid from town shouting some abuse into the cave.

He had the same thought that he always had in these circumstances – Thing thought it might be his mother and father returning home, like he knew they would one day.
Although it wasn’t them, it wasn’t a bad surprise either. It was a cousin of his who lived in the north-country and whom he had met only when the families had all got together.

His cousin told Thing that it was his cousin’s Big Birthday and Thing was to follow him north to take part in the celebrations. All Thing’s people had a Big Birthday, it was to mark them standing on their own feet in the world. Thing was still to have his, hoping that his parents would be back for that.

So Thing packed a few belongings and started on the journey north with his cousin. It was wonderful to be in the company of his own kind – not that he disliked the humans – just that his cousin understood how it felt to be the way he was.

Thing had never been confident in the way he looked, and this was heightened by the name calling that came from the kids. But that night, the night he arrived with his own kind, his aunts and uncles all told him how beautiful he was, how he was a great reflection on his parents, who would have been so proud to have been there had they not…….
Then the aunts and uncles stopped as if they were about to say something they would regret. Thing asked what they were going to say, but they all changed the direction of the conversation and wouldn’t look Thing in the face.

On the Friday night, the evening before the party, Thing went out with all his cousins and they marched up and down the main street. About half way along the road, a human kid was walking towards them and Thing hoped the kid would not be horrible to his family as he was having such a great time. What occurred surprised Thing, his cousins started to shout names and throw stones at the human kid – and although for one split second Thing felt that it was good to belong to a group (and good to not be the one picked on) Thing realised that this whole situation was wrong and he wasn’t going to become one of the bullies who had made his own life a misery.
Thing walked up to the kid and comforted him.

“What are you doing?” Asked his eldest cousin. “He is a human, an ugly little misfit of a human,” said another of his family.
“He is a soul, that is what he is,” said Thing. “He is just like you and me.”
“No he’s not,” shouted another and Thing’s cousins all started to throw stones at the boy.

Thing put himself between the gang and the boy and when the stones started to hit Thing instead of the human, his cousins stopped.

“So you’re an ugly little human lover,” shouted the tallest of his cousins.

And Thing guessed that he was. The cousins told him that he wasn’t needed at the party the next day and that he should go home. No one wanted the little orphan anyway. Thing wasn’t sure what an orphan was, but he was too tired to ask.
He walked the human kid to his own home, and then Thing returned and slept outside his aunt and uncle’s house. He would walk to his cave the next day.

When Thing woke the next morning, his aunt was sitting by his side. She said, she’d heard what had happened and that he was indeed most welcome at the party.

“My children are young, and my children are wrong. They are scared of the humans,” said his aunt. “I heard what you did and you really are a most beautiful being, Thing. Not only in looks, but in your heart,” then his aunt kissed him on the forehead.

He had not been kissed in many moons and it felt good. He attended the party that evening and danced and sang and had the best of times. His aunt and uncle offered him a place to stay permanently but Thing refused, and told them that he had to return to the cave to wait on his mother and father.

“They will return one day soon, I know it,” Thing said proudly.

Thing didn’t notice his family all dropping their eyes when he said that, but he wasn’t caring anyway – he had been told he was beautiful and he couldn’t wait to tell his parents.

bobby stevenson 2016

bobby2 wee bobby

 

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Today Is Going To Be A Great Day

great

“Today is going to be a great day,” said the little boy
Whose mother unexpectedly opened her eyes
Today is going to be a great day, smiled the old man
As the pain in his hands stopped for a time
Today is going to be a great day, laughed the young mum
As she picked up the money from the street
Today is going to be a great day, thought the doctor
As he put the diamond ring back in his pocket
Ready for the big question
Today is going to be a great day, chuckled the large man
At the bus-stop, with the sun on his face
And who was just happy to be alive,
Today was going to be a great day, after all.

bobby stevenson 2016

 

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Sleep Well My Little One

reality

There was a time, perhaps it would be more correct to say once upon a time, back in your day, when science was only starting out – when life hadn’t even begun to be understood. That was in the days when the human race thought that sleep was to nurture, and to cleanse the human mind. We knew little then of what the universe was – even calling it a universe showed how little we knew – but like all things, truth and clarity took their time (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Back then folks thought that when you fell asleep, your brain went into a temporary hibernation, when dreams and fears were polished and shined in readiness for the morning.

Now we know the truth.

When we sleep we leave this ‘universe’ and head to one of the many others where we have different lives, other truths, other loves. Some of those destinations are foreign to what we know, just as some are only minutely different. Still, in your dreams, you notice the difference, notice what is not quite right.

When you fall asleep at night – as you must – there is no one to help you, no one can follow you, you are alone. We are all alone. There is no one to pull you from that hole which will take you into another reality. When you go there – you must survive as best you can.

It was Doctor Edith Stewart, who was the first ‘sleep astronaut’ – it was she who found a method to catapult herself outside of dreaming into these other layers of reality, and to return. It was Dr Stewart who found that when we die (as it was once known) it was only the door closing on this reality and in turn, we were forbidden to travel back. That is why many people ‘died’ in their sleep – the door was closed to them while they were elsewhere.

But there are more than just benign creatures out there, more than just friendly ghosts inhabiting the other worlds. The nightmares that we have as children, are truly there. Waiting. Hoping we will return. And still we fight and claw our way back to this reality for a few more hours.

In the old days, in your time, folks would wish one another a ‘good night’ – how little they knew. It is much wiser to wish your loved one ‘all the very best of luck’, for as soon as they are asleep, they will be on their own in worlds where nothing is real and on journeys from which they may never return.Sleep well, travel well. Come home.

There is no one to call on for help, out there – remember that.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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The Man

NYC

My father was a kid when he first went to New York City. Well, not exactly a kid but this was the 1960s and if you were in your early twenties, that kind of classified you as a kid. He flew via Iceland where the ‘plane needed to refuel before flying on to JFK.

This photograph is the first he took in the city, taken on one of those instant cameras – you know the type – you had to wave the photo about in the air to let them dry, they smelled a bit, but they were still quicker than waiting a week. Younger folks would probably not know what it was like to wait days for your photos to return to you and then find most of them were useless.

The reason I’m telling you this part, is because my father only ever met two famous people on his travels; and when I say famous I mean…….well you’ll see what I mean. The first was in Spain when he met Matt Munro, a singer famous for the song, Born Free, from the film of the same name. The other was a man he met in a bar, a little joint off of Times Square. My dad, as I said, was young and on his first trip to the US of A; a country we would live in and spend many wonderful years.

I think the bar my father wandered into was called The Black Spider or something like that. He was old enough to drink but looked real young and was embarrassed when he was asked his age – something he had to prove by showing them his passport.

“Where ya from?” Asked the barman.

My dad told him, and the man replied: “Oh Scotland, sure, I’ve got a pal over there, Willie McDonald, you don’t by any chance know him?”
Of course my father didn’t, but he just agreed that he did to be friendly.

Apart from the barman there was another guy, sitting up at the far end – a seat that gave you a view of everyone and anyone who entered the place.

The man, probably in his forties, asked if a ‘Scotchman’ knew how to play pool. My father said he didn’t and so the man said he’d show him.

“Put your money away,” said the man, “you’re a visitor and guest in my city. I’m paying.”

The night went on and they both ended up pretty drunk – my father decided because he had work in the morning that he’d better leave. The man said he’d walk with him.

“What cha work at?” Asked the man and my father told him he was an engineer.

“What about you?” Asked my dad.

“Oh me, I’m going to shoot the President.”

And with that, the man said his goodbyes and disappeared down 8th Avenue.

My father took this photo in July, 1962.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

photo by Tom Stevenson, NYC 1962

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Expecting To Fly

girl

You could smell the bitter-sweet fumes carried on the warm winds long before you could see it. Then there was a ‘putt-putt-putt’ as his air machine descended towards the town. Everyone was excited, and I mean everyone, even Mrs Watson and she never got worked up about anything. Like she said, she was saving herself for Jesus when he returned to Earth.

I was thinking to myself that maybe Jesus wouldn’t make Culpepper City his first priority and perhaps Mrs Watson would have to wait some. But then what did I know?

Culpepper wasn’t really a city, in fact it took a huge stretch of the imagination to see it even as a town. We had one main street and nothing much else. The founding fathers had big plans for the settlement and had decided on calling it a city from the word go, as a signal of the things that would come to pass. To be honest, we’re still waiting.

The railroad had built their tracks about 100 miles to the north even though Culpepper had sent the great and good to convince them otherwise. There was talk that the city council had even tried bribery, but these rail folks were being bribed by bigger fish than us and so it made no difference.

When Captain J. Welbeck announced in the papers that he was going to fly from Maine to San Diego in a craft that he had designed himself, well it was all we could talk about, try as hard as we might not to.

Culpepper City was in the middle of nowhere, and we only got on the map ‘cause the Pony Express had once used it as a place to change horses. Now the Mayor felt that if the Cap’n (as he called him) proved that Culpepper City was a natural stopping off point for these here flying machines, then maybe we’d grow to be a real city in two shakes of a tail.

The Captain’s people had telegraphed ahead with instructions on what the flying machine needed in the way of landing. A flat surface, not too stony, not too grassy that ‘stretched for a good distance’. No one knew how far that was, but the whole of the town got to clearing the long field behind Dee’s farm. Every stone was lifted, every bush cut and every blade of grass tamed within an inch of its life.

Some of the better off ladies in town sent for new dresses from a catalogue that Mrs Miller kept in her store. I even heard tell that some of the women of Culpepper were hoping that the Captain might be single and ask one of them to marry him. No one had seen a picture of the Captain, but the women were willing to take their chances given that the alternative was dying an old maid and being buried in the unmarried section of the cemetery. Culpepper did all it’s sorting in the graveyard to save the Lord some time on judgement day, at least that’s what the Pastor told us at Sunday School.

So the big day arrived and all of the townsfolk had been standing beside the long field since sun-up which at that time of year was about 4.30. We didn’t see the machine until late in the afternoon and yet no one had moved an inch in case they missed the most important thing to happen to Culpepper since Billy the Kid had robbed the Culpepper City Farm Friendly Bank.

And then there it was, coming out of the sky and heading for the line of flags that the folks had put down as instructed in the telegram.

There was whooping and hollering and young Bessie asked her Mom if it was an angel. I had never been so excited in all my life and as it got closer and the noise got louder, my heart started to beat real fast. No one had ever seen a flying machine before and some folks fell to their knees and started to pray and there was a lot of ‘thank you Jesus’ as if we were witnessing a miracle – which we probably were.

It fell slowly on to the long field and as the wheels touched the ground safely, everyone started to ‘cheer’. Then the flying machine bumped back into the air and the townsfolk all went ‘ohh’ because they were thinking it was going away again. Then it landed, bumped, lifted into the air a couple of more times all followed by ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the folks until it came to a stop at the end of the field. Any further and it would have flattened Jake’s prize bull.

Captain Welbeck got out to a hero’s welcome. He was carried back to where the Mayor was standing on a box with a speech in his hand.

“Good people of Culpepper City,” he started, as the Captain remained sitting on the shoulders of the townsfolk. “It is my privilege, nay, it is my honor to welcome the brave flyer Captain J. Welbeck to our great city”, and while the Captain was sitting on the shoulders he took off his flying hat and glasses and it was then that we realized that the Captain was a woman.

“Captain Jenny Welbeck,” she told the crowd who dropped her to the ground in shock. The single ladies, tutted, shouted ‘well really’ and stormed off home.

Mrs Watson said that Jesus would get to hear about this, and if she was any judge, he wouldn’t be happy. Women weren’t meant to fly and that was an end to it.

The Mayor’s wife, who had the bedroom repainted several times until she was happy with it and one, she assumed would be fit for a flying hero suddenly changed her mind and said the Captain could stay at Culpepper City Hotel as she was expecting visitors any day now. I’m thinking that the fact that the Captain was young and pretty didn’t help her case much.

The Mayor asked if I would escort the Captain to the hotel on two accounts, I reckon. One was that the hotel belonged to my Mama and two, the Mayor’s wife had suddenly felt faint and demanded to be taken home that instant. “No ifs or buts, Jacob, take me home – now!” And that was that.

Mama gave Jenny the best room in the house, and told her that no way was she accepting any payment for the room. Jenny tried to insist but she ain’t seen my Mama when she’s in full flow. It’s her way or else.

After a good meal, Jenny said goodnight but that she might have a surprise for us in the morning. I couldn’t get to sleep that night thinking what the prize might be and then over a big plate of grits and eggs the next morning she asked if me and Mama would like to go up in the flying machine. Mama said God hadn’t given her wings. She said thank you kindly but there was no way she was getting in that contraption. I looked at Mama and she just said ‘No!’ but she knew I wouldn’t shut up until she said ‘yes’. Which is what she did, eventually.

There was an excitement in the pit of my stomach and my breathing got real hard but I was determined that I was going up. Jenny made me sit in the front seat (after she’d cleared out all her stuff) and then went to the propeller and pulled it real hard. Once it was started and whizzing around, Jenny jumped in.

She took the machine up to the end of the long field and then got out and turned the thing around then just as easily jumped in again.

Jenny shouted “Are you ready?” I stuck my thumb in the air to tell her I was and soon we were shooting down that field, fast like. Then a weird thing happened, the ground fell away and we were flying. Man it felt good. I looked over the edge to see Mama crossing herself. She’d be asking God to take care of me. If we climbed any higher, I could probably tell him myself.

Nothing in the world can get you ready for flying, it ain’t like anything you’ve ever experienced and the first time is extra special. We flew over town and I could see that Jenkers was lying on his roof without a stitch of clothes on. I always wondered what he did up on that roof. I could see the guys rounding up the cattle over on the Four Circles ranch. The wind was blowing in my face and hair and I didn’t ever want to come down. That is until Jenny said we’d need to head back on account of the fuel getting low.

That was the best day of my life, ever.Jenny left that afternoon and headed somewhere south and west and I wondered if they too, thought she was a man.

A few years later, Jenny flew across the Pacific alone and broke all kinds of records.One day – a while back – out in the middle of Arizona, she disappeared. They never found her body.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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Mole Hills and Mountains

friends

Olivia had been playing out in the yard when she’d heard a door bang in the house. As she got nearer to the porch, she could hear her Grandpa hollerin’ about this and that but mostly about Old Chief Makkawaw who lived up on Old Creek Road. Then her Grandpa slammed the door again. This kind of thing wasn’t like her Grandpa at all, so Olivia guessed he was in a real bad mood.

Olivia did what she usually did on those occasions, she crawled under the house and listened to her Grandpa and Grandma talking through the floorboards.

When her Grandparents were walking up and down she would only be able to make out some of the conversations. This time she was sure her Grandpa was upset with the Old Chief, as he was making mountains out of mole hills.

It took a lot of things to impress Olivia, who felt she was a real hard customer to fool (leastways that’s what her Daddy had told her).But she knew she couldn’t let this opportunity pass and decided that after her lunch she was going to go up to the Old Creek Road to see what the Chief was doing.

By one o’clock, Olivia was sitting real comfortable on the Old Creek Road waiting for the Chief to do his thing. It was just then that Joe, the boy from her class in school, happened to pass by.

“What cha doin’?” He asked Olivia.

“Why I’m waiting on the Old Chief, I hear he turns mole hills into mountains, and I want to see him doin’ it,” she said, excitedly.

And Joe was kinda sorry that he’d agreed to help his Pa on the farm and someone making mountains was just what a boy like him would be wanting to see. He told Olivia that she should remember everything, and that she was to tell him all about it at school the following day.

“See ya,” he shouted to Olivia.

“Not if I see you first,” replied Olivia, just like she always did.

Joe had only disappeared when Herbert, the dog from Asker’s farm turned up.

“What cha doin’?” He asked.

And Olivia told him about a man who could make mountains out of mole hills.

Herbert had to admit that this was a new one for him, but he also added that he hadn’t seen a mole in many a long day. Herbert wondered if perhaps he could make mountains out of other things too. Like when moles were real scarce.

They were just getting’ ready to eat some of the popcorn that Olivia’s Grandma had made that day when Scrimpy, the Ass from the next town over, happened to pass.

“What cha doin’?” Scrimpy asked.

And Herbert and Olivia explained all about the molehill/mountain situation.

“Mind if I sit?” Asked Scrimpy.

“Don’t mind if you do,” said Herbert and Olivia, on account of the fact that Scrimpy had always wondered how you made mountains and was real excited about finding out.

Well the three friends ate all the popcorn and then they waited, and they waited, and nothing and no one came up the Old Creek Road.

They were just about to give up when the Old Chief came staggering up towards them.

“I think he’s been at the Fire Water again,” said Olivia (something she’d heard her Grandpa say but wasn’t sure what it was).

“What you kids doin’ sitting in the middle of the road,” asked the Old Chief.

And they all told him they were waiting to see him turn a molehill into a mountain. So he asked why did they think that, and Olivia told the Old Chief that she had heard her Grandpa say it, so it must be true.

“Well it ain’t true, that old goat is always saying that about me and it ain’t true, I tells you. That Grandpappy of yours is always looking at the world through a glass that’s half empty.”

Olivia wondered if that was indeed true and that maybe she and Herbert and Scrimpy should go and investigate.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

 

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Ghosts

kingsarms

A while back he wouldn’t have been having a conversation about all of this, but a while back the world was a different place.

All his life he’d been an eccentric little kid and for that read – he’d done his own thing. Sometimes being that way meant folks either took longer to catch up with you, never managed to catch up with you, or couldn’t be bothered to try. That was fair enough; aren’t we are all only living a life ruled by what we know and see.

He had studied sciences and so was more pragmatic (look the word up J) than just believing in the unknown – or whatever it’s called these days.

One sleepless night his mind went back to those initial three days in that house in Surrey. A place he had rented because of work – in those days he was working on a drug to help with prostate cancer – a drug, by the way that his father was now taking due to his own ill-health – ‘the circle of life’, he thought.

The house had several floors and five bedrooms and he had only rented it because there was a full-size set of goal posts in the back garden. The firm he had worked for, had given him the money to rent the place.

He remembered it all, as if it was yesterday. That first night in the front bedroom, the place had grown ice-cold, then at 1am the telephone in the bedroom had rung. When he eventually got up to answer it, there was no one there. As he returned to bed, a smoke detector in the hall began to beep – he lay for a while, ready to get up and fix it, but the next thing he knew it was morning.

On the second night, all those things happened again – the telephone ringing, the coldness, the smoke detector (he meant to check the thing but went to work instead).

After a third night of the ice-cold room, the calls and the beeping, he decided to check the smoke detector. It was lying underneath a radiator and he imagined this is what had caused the beeping to begin – it didn’t explain why it happened at the hour it did. He lifted the small smoke alarm only to find that it was missing a battery. In a split-second he felt as if perhaps the house didn’t want him in that room, and for the rest of the stay in the rented house, he lived out of a small side bedroom.

Everything stopped. All the weird stuff.

He’d once, as a sort of joke, attended a psychic night at a friend’s house – but then due to illness someone couldn’t attend that night and he’d been asked to make up the numbers. When the woman arrived, she just let out a scream and left the building. Her husband (who was her sort of support) apologized to everyone and went on his way. Although (and it’s only put in without suggesting anything) – the couple, the man and wife, who were responsible for holding the night both died relatively young.

So now he was where we was. He was working the odd occasional shift in a bar for reasons too long to explain.

He hadn’t really noticed anything, not at first. Then one day when the pub was empty and the last lunchtime customer had gone, he saw a man walk up to the side bar.

“How can I help you?” He asked, but was surprised to find that there was no one there. ‘They must have gone to the toilet’, he thought to himself. Soon some walkers came in and distracted him from his thoughts.

A few weeks later he noticed a customer sliding around to the back bar and so he hurried up to help – but when he got there, once again, no one was there.

The visitations grew in number, but mostly when the pub was quiet. The figure always headed to the same corner of the room. To him, it was either a sign that he was growing old and losing his marbles, or something benign was inhabiting the bar.

He asked around and several of the staff and customers had all said they’d seen something, always in the same area of the bar. The figure would end up sitting in the corner of the pub.

It was just before Christmas, one Saturday afternoon when the snow was heavy, that it happened. He’d gone outside to clear up some glasses – yes, some people loved to sit outside in this nose-clearing, sharp air.

He didn’t see the car skidding across the bridge and slide into the seats in front of the pub.

The car hit him hard in his back and mowed him down. Yet he seemed fine when he came around. He stood up, brushed the snow from himself and checked everything was intact.

Some of the regular drinkers ran past him and out to the car. He was about to tell them that he was okay, when he turned around.

There, lying under the car was a body. His body – with his face – and the village folks were trying to revive him.

He wanted to tell them there must be some kind of mistake. Wasn’t he standing here, beside them, feeling brilliant?

He felt a little shaky with it all, and so headed into the pub to sit in the corner and try to work out what had happened.

“He’s dead,” was what he heard from outside the door.

“He’s dead.”

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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The Miracle of West Culpepper

blue

In those days, the Blue Ridge Mountains was another world. Very few folks had automobiles back then and the trains didn’t go anywhere near.

The little town was called West Culpepper, and if you had just clambered up from the Shenandoah Valley then you hadn’t gone far enough and if you got all the way to Blacksburg, then you’d gone too far.

It was such a beautiful little place. You know, one of those towns that burrowed into your heart and would stay there for ever. We had gone one summer to visit an aunt just after the war (the Great one that is). My aunt Jemima had moved to West Culpepper when her husband had got a job to help build a road that could take folks all the way into West Virginia; right over the tops of the mountains. Some said that from up there you could see all the way to California.

The troubles all started back in the ‘Twenties. Up until then, the old town had a run of good luck all the way back to when it was started by an Englishman – who went by the name of Samuel Huntingdon. He had heard of stories of magical creatures which roamed the Appalachians – he never found any but died a peaceful death after a real happy life.

So how did all those troubles get to showing themselves? Well, it began with Jasper Howridge’s farm, his cattle seemed to catch some disease and all of them died real quick. Some folks said that maybe Jasper had brought something back from Europe, on account of fighting in the war over there. Others said it was a curse brought in by the new people who’d moved to Culpepper. Whatever the reason, the cattle were stone cold dead. Some of the other farmers and friends helped burn the carcases – that’s what folks did up there, help each other.

Jasper didn’t have the heart to start again and took to drinking Hooch most days. The Reverend Jack wanted to help Jasper and his family, but the tired farmer seemed have put himself on a runaway train and nothing, and no one, was going to stop him.

There was also a good guy in the midst of all this chaos. His name was Slim Jim Cook: ‘Slim Jim’ on account that he liked to eat anything and everything and it showed on his belly.

You see Jim had come to the area to write a book about George Washington and the years he spent surveying in those hills. But the place had got to him and he had settled, never actually writing the book. Something he was always going to do when the weather got better. And yes, the weather got better but that didn’t bother Jim, he just said that since the weather was so nice and the hills so pretty, it seemed a waste to spend in indoors writing. So he read, and read, read everything that he could get his hands on and one of the folks who did catch his eye was that Englishman, Samuel Huntingdon. Jim decided that after his Washington book, he’d write one on that man.

People didn’t need to hear about the Wall Street Crash in West Culpepper ‘cause things had been going downhill for a long time now. Folks helped each other out with slimmest of pickings, but to be truthful the town was dying on its feet. There was only one real doctor and he lived a day’s ride away. In those days, Mother Hitchens saw to births, and deaths – bathing the newly arrived and washing the newly departed. She would only take from the families what they could afford and sometimes that was nothing.

People started talking about leaving and heading south to say, The Carolinas to see what was happening down there. Some families packed up and left and said they’d come back when things were good. To be real honest we never laid our eyes on any of them ever again.

So Slim Jim sat up nights thinking about what to do with regard to the dying of West Culpepper and no matter what came to his mind, there was always a flaw in all of it.

It was just as he was looking out at the moon one night that he asked the good Lord to help him find a way. And that was when (least ways that’s the way he tells it) his notes about that old Englishman Huntingdon fell from his bookshelf – right in front of him. Now whether it was a sign from the Lord or a gust of wind that shot straight down his chimney, we’ll never know, but it got Slim Jim to thinking and reading.

Samuel Huntingdon had only been twenty-three years of age when he had crossed the oceans to land in Philadelphia. It was a city that Sam took to his heart as much as it took to Sam. He settled for a few years and worked with the great Ben Franklin in his newspaper office.

It was while he was working there that Sam heard of the magical beasts who roamed the mountains of Virginia, and that was when Sam decided to give up the newspaper business and head south.

Ten years he spent walking those hills, and although he saw many exotic creatures, he never once set his eyes on a unicorn. But that’s not to say he didn’t find magic. Sam had been told of a well that lay just outside West Culpepper that contained water from deep beneath the earth. Water so special that it could cure all a soul’s ills and so, for the rest of his life, Sam walked to that well and drank from it every single day.

This got Slim Jim thinking who then set out to find the well. Retracing all the steps he could find written about Sam and his travels. Try as he might, he never found the well but this didn’t stop Jim, and so one day he called a meeting at the town hall. Some say it was the power of Slim Jim’s talking or maybe it was just that the town’s folk were so tired and hungry that they’d believe anything – but believe it they did.

Slim Jim told them that he’d found the lost well of Samuel Huntingdon and that the well could cure all their troubles. It wasn’t that Slim Jim really believed any of it, it was just that Jim knew a secret of life, and that was if people believed hard enough, then good things happened. Sure hadn’t Mother Hitchens given her cure-all medication which was nothing more than some water and sugar but because folks believed it, a lot of them got better.

Slim Jim marched them all down to a little well he’d dug out himself. Slim Jim said a prayer for the town and then he took the first drink.

Jim looked to the sky and shouted ‘Thank you’ and then told the people that he felt like a million dollars. So the town’s folk did the same – even Jasper the farmer.

Now I’m not saying that it was a miracle or anything, but the town’s folk went back to that newly dug well every day and drank like there was no tomorrow.

And do you know what?

People started getting better and luckier and getting on with their lives. Sure the businesses were struggling but with belief people walked further, worked harder and so day by day, the town of West Culpepper and its people got stronger and better.

Not because of what was in the water, you understand. No sir, they got better because they believed in themselves and I tell you folks, that’s the strongest medicine of all.

I thank you kindly for reading my little story.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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The Morning of the Day…..

morning-sunlight

She could feel the sun on her heart, as its rays broke through the window. There was a bird, a blackbird, singing in the old twisted trees. She heard the cyclists from the city, shouting to one another as their bikes sailed past her front door. The aroma of the freshly made coffee had skipped the stairs and had, instead, entered her room through a little opened window. There was a quiet tap as a Bee kept hitting on her glass pane, looking for somewhere new to live.

Then without warning, the heat started to bubble though her veins, and pumped her lips and brightened her eyes. No longer did her heart skip a beat, it was like an engine, blasting a way forward.

She had done with the dull days, and the rain, and the mist that had arrived with the darkness. She had done with avoiding mirrors and reflections. She was finished with treating herself as the enemy, and listening to the sourness of others: their paths were their problems, their responsibilities.

She sat up in bed, smiled for the first time in a long time, and decided it was the day to be happy again.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

Crazy Jinky

nuts

“So what do you want me to call you, Jinky or Jenkinson?” I asked him.
“Why is that so important?” He replied.
“So I know what name to give to the police when I call them,” I added.
“And why would you do that?” Jinky or Jenkinson responded.
“Because, it’s 3am, I don’t know you from Adam, and you’re sitting on the end of my bed.”
“And your problem is what exactly? And by the way, I prefer the name Jinky.”

“My problem is, that you’ve broken in to my house,” I said.
“’Breaking in’ is such an emotive way to put things, but then again I guess you’re a writer and you can say things like that. People who break-in usually steal things. I don’t want to steal anything apart from a few minutes of your time.”
“But why at 3am?” I asked.
“Because I knew there was a chance of getting you in. I have come to your door several times during the day and there’s never anyone home. And, may I add that would be a better time to break-in rather than at 3am.”

The stupid thing was I could see that he had a point. Still, with my finger on the police speed dial button, I thought I would give a chance to explain himself, 3am or not.

“I want you to tell me what happens at the end of your story.”
“Which story?” I thought I should ask.
“’The Shenandoah Reclaim’, the story where the cowboy rides off into the sunset,” he said.
“How should I know?” I asked wishing I had called the police.
“Because you wrote it, but only up to a point,” he said, annoyed.
“I like to leave the reader to make the rest up for themselves, I like to let them take over the story,” I lied.
“What if they don’t want to?” He demanded. He was no longer sitting on the bed but standing.
“Tough!”
“Tough? What kind of answer is that?” He shouted (and he was shouting).
“The only one you’re going to get at 3.15am,” I said smugly, although wishing that I had more than a couple of Dan Brown novels next to the bed to throw at him. I knew they would come in handy someday as they are no use when you read them.
“I’m not leaving until you tell me what happens and without any help from me,” he said pointing his finger straight at me.

So that was what I did for the rest of the night. I made up a story about Gene, the cowboy and the things he did next after riding into the sunset.

I awoke about 10am to find that Jinky (as he likes to be called) had disappeared as mysteriously as he had turned up. Although he had left a note saying that he was unhappy at my ending of ‘The Rose Girl’ and would I mind if he dropped by at 3 to 3.30am tomorrow to find out what happened next.

You see I only wrote these things to pass the time, if I thought people were going to read them, I wouldn’t have bothered.

 

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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The Word Hooker

words

It was the strangest of times.
The world was full, as were other worlds, of course, but the old one, the first one, our Mother Earth was drowning in people.

And that is when they brought in the death-chip. All those born after a certain date were fitted with it. Those who were born dumb had no need of it – but for the rest, it was a way to control the population.

The chip set a person’s output at 300 million words. From the very first discernible word – say, ‘mama’ to a song sung or a poem read out aloud, the words were deducted from the 300 million. The General Council had considered this value as over-generous – it could have been set much lower.

And so you’re asking what happens when the 300 million words were used up? Well the death-chip switched off the biological systems. It also did this if someone tried to have it removed – it would prematurely shut down its host.

Some of the new-born tried not to talk to make it last longer but it was impossible – the government made everyone repeat the State Prayer each morning and even if a person only said the prayer and nothing else – well, after 60 years of fitting the chip, it also shut down the user.

Many took to writing notes to each other: electronically, in chalk, in ink – any method that would get their message across. Those who constantly joked or sang died early due to using up their share. It seemed unfair that only the somber or quiet were given a longer life.

But that was the rule of the state.Each birthday a host/person/user – call them what you will – were informed of their yearly usage and how many words they had left.

One benefit, if that is what it can be called, was that people took more care in things they said to each other. A fight, an argument, could seriously shorten your life. It paid to be careful with what you said. Words became like gold.

Some people paid others to say things for them – they were called ‘Word Hookers’. Many died rich and young.

Most people, when it came to the end, kept a few words in reserve. Usually it was three to six words that they would hold back as long as possible and as you have probably guessed – normally the last three words folks said were ‘I Love You’.
Then they were terminated.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

bobby2 wee bobby

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The Last Train North

ben

It’s funny how all the things you do or learn in the past, seem to be needed later in life. 

Who knows what it is, maybe the universe dropping down little hints, or lessons, that it knows you will require at some stage. On the other hand, it might just be one big coincidence.

My father had taken me to climb Ben Nevis, at over 4000 feet, the highest in the UK (or what’s left of the UK) when I was about nine years of age. And over the decades I’d climbed it with friends and then latterly with my own son.

I didn’t know it then, but this activity was to save my life, both mine and my boy’s.

Looking back I realise how foolish we had all been. I guess we had been waiting on someone else to raise the alarm or call the shots.

Analysing it from where I am now, I can see that the warning shots were fired again, and again, and again – but we were all too busy enjoying the strangeness of it all.

When it came, it did come quickly – probably within eighteen months. Some scientists had predicted it would probably take years – but where were they now? Being fish food in some flooded town down south.

London had sunk very quickly and when it happened it had really come without warning. People had died trapped in the underground systems. Some had sought out the tops of skyscrapers. When several thousand people tried to (and stay) at the top of the Shard, fights broke out and the stronger threw the weaker off the top of the building.

We consider ourselves social and kind but when it comes to survival we revert to being animals. Who would have thought that the same souls who had donated money and energy into Live Aid, would now be killing each other in order just to keep going?

Me and my son, Robert had walked north keeping to the highest of ground. Firstly, it ensured that we avoided the rising water and secondly, that we avoided the bandits, thieves and murderers who were now roaming the countryside in gangs.

I started to realize, too late perhaps, that there was probably only a church, or a belief in a god, or some social pressure between certain individuals being civil and some being psychopaths.

As for the train, I had heard about it in a tented camp which had sprung up in the hills above Loch Lomond. Apparently an old steam train was shuttling people between a little village below The Black Mount and dropping them just outside Fort William. I have to let you know that all of this took place in the West Highlands of Scotland.

Both Robert and I didn’t sleep well that night on the mountain above the loch. We thought we would get off to a good start and so set out at first light. There were a few with the same idea but us being fitter, we managed to get some distance between ourselves and those behind us. We cut over to a route we had known from a path taken years before – known as the West Highland Way.

Just as we rounded the point going into the valley to follow the River Fillan, Robert tapped me on the shoulder and pointed east – the water was rising and coming towards us. It would probably be where we were standing in a couple of hours.

We increased our speed and ran up the old railway line which passed through Tyndrum before heading due north. The steep climb would bring us to the Bridge of Orchy – and this was where the train would start its ferrying north.

As I looked back one more time, I could see that the water was gaining on us and we only had a short time to catch the train.

Just as we climbed over the lip into valley, Robert spotted the smoke coming from the steam train. Ahead of us, it appeared that 30 or 40 folks were heading the same way.

As we arrived at Bridge of Orchy station, it was clear to see that there were more people than the train could hold. It reminded me of one of those Asian trains where folks sit on the roof or hold on for dear life.

Without warning the train started to move off, and looking over my shoulder I could see why – the water was quickly rising. Robert and I made a desperate attempt to grab one of the last carriages and had to avoid those who fell or were pushed from the train.

As we passed over that bog known as Rannoch Moor, I felt that this train, this last escape north, might not make it to its destination. I persuaded Robert to jump with me.

We immediately took to the high ground on the hills above Loch Leven, and coming around the back of the Mamores we headed straight over towards Ben Nevis. I would say there were maybe five or six folks also in our company.

Climbing the north face of the Ben was a tricky task but by the grace of God we made it. At the very top were perhaps another hundred souls who had decided to aim for the highest point in the country.

Once upon a time there had been an old observatory established at the summit of the mountain. Those few souls who had made it before us were beginning the task of building a boat large enough to take us all.

I smiled to myself as I looked over what was left of the Great Glen and wondered if we’d find someone called Noah amongst us.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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The Sky Watcher

fire-rainbow

He knew what it meant.

His grandfather had mentioned it to him during their walks. His grandfather had squeezed his hand tightly one night as they were looking at the moon and said, ‘keep watching the skies’.
And he had.

“Promise me.” And he had kept his promise.
Ever since he could remember, ever since his grandfather had told him the story, he had done nothing but watch the skies.
“When the sign comes, get ready.”
“For what, grandpa, for what?”

But he never ever told him. His grandfather said he’d need to learn for himself what it meant. That way he could be sure of understanding.
“But what am I looking for grandpa?”
“Fire, boy. Fire in the sky.”

The boy had never understood exactly what kind of fire you could see in the sky.
“You’ll know it when you see it. I won’t be here, mind. It ain’t gonna be in my time, but you, you’ll see and you’ll know. You’ll say, ‘well gone darn it, my granddaddy was right. You see things will need to get bad, much worse than they are now before you see the fire.”

He didn’t know how much worse his grandfather meant, but it didn’t sound that great.
He thought that you never realise how much worse things are getting until you look back and see what they were once like. Sure enough the boy’s grandpa was right, he had seen it coming – the wars, the financial crashes and the people caring more about money than each other. The people were too busy looking down at their computers and their I-this and their I-that to look at the skies. The strange thing is, they would sometimes look at the skies on their computers. Yeah, go figure.

The last thing his grandpa said to him was ‘look at the old books’. The boy wasn’t really sure how old he meant. Two hundred? Two thousand? So he looked at them all and sure enough there was a similar story through them all – when the sky lit up, it was time for a change, for something to come, something better, and something kinder.

His grandpa wasn’t a believer in things churchy, you could say, but he believed in goodness and he believed in the universe and that got him through the night.

“The universe brought you here from stars and stuff and the universe is there when you look up.”
That kind of thinking helped him sleep at night and that was alright by the boy.

He was right ‘though.
Things did get worse. Folks forgot about kindness and helping one another. Things were put on streets to stop the homeless folks getting a dry night’s sleep. Churches hoarded millions of dollars. Governments helping the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.

A rich man still dies.
And the boy guessed that was what his grandpa was really talking about – that when the well of kindness runs dry, the universe will be there to make a re-adjustment and get us all back on track.

So when the boy read in the newspapers of the fire-rainbow which was seen over South Carolina a few days ago, he knew the re-adjustment was coming and caring and love would be back on the agenda.

You see if it doesn’t.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

(excerpt from USA Today, August 19th 2015 –

A rare “fire rainbow” appeared in the sky over South Carolina on Sunday evening.
Folks on social media eagerly shared images of the fire rainbow, which appeared in wispy clouds over Isle of Palms, S.C. Some people on Twitter said the rainbow looked like angel’s wings, while others likened it to a whale tail.)

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Choking and Bruises

chokeBruises

You knew all this,
You even let it become a part of you,
“Who me? A bully? I don’t think so, friend. Not I.”
But yet, you knew it all the same,
That words don’t ever leave bruises,
And that is what you’ve counted on,
All your life.

Choking On Your Words

When they found him,
His face, it wore a perfect smile,
No troubles etched upon his brow.
The cause of death,
Was hard to say,
He’d smiled just once,
Just once he smiled
And then his eye-shine and soul
Went on their way.

They cut him up to find the cause,
And there they were,
In stomach, blood,
And in his brain,
He’d choked on all the words inside
All the words he’d tried to hide.
He kept each one –
Instead of spitting all them out,
They killed him in the end.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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The Titanic in New York City – Adel and Dirk

ship1

Wednesday April 17th, 1912 Pier 60. NY,NY.

That Wednesday morning, the sun shone, and a gentle breeze blew in from the sea. As far as Adel was concerned, she had everything in life she wanted. She lived in Brighton Beach at the bottom end of Brooklyn, and she had a job painting decorations on the rides at Coney Island.

She had been in New York City for almost a year. A year of struggling and making a life for herself in a new country. It had been lonely at the start, but the work had allowed her to paint and express herself. She had two friends, but as she worked most of the time, it really was difficult to meet people.

On that sunny morning, her cousin Dirk was arriving from Europe on the biggest ship in the world; the Titanic. Both their families came from Stuttgart, and as a girl Adel had been close to her older cousin. Now that she felt herself more American, she was pleased that another of her tribe would experience the exciting land that was the United States.

Dirk had qualified as a doctor, and in appreciation of this achievement, his family had saved money to send him second class on the Titanic.

She knew that the ship was due within the hour and that she could watch it pass from her little apartment on the Avenue, but instead she took an elevated transit from Coney Island into Manhattan. She had heard that there was going to be a large crowd to welcome the greatest ship to the greatest city in the world.

She took a trolley across to the west side, to Pier 60 on the Hudson. There were many people trying to get to the pier, and the crowd stretched all the way to the Battery. Adel wanted to welcome her cousin personally when he stepped from the ship.

She bought a hotdog and a lemonade as she waited, listening to the bands, some of which had come up from Coney Island. She had been granted the holiday by her boss, as long as she worked the following Saturday.

After what seemed a lifetime, she saw the funnels, and then the grandeur of what was the largest ship she had ever seen. It was beautiful, so beautiful that it took her breath away. She wiped back the tears and waved with the rest of the New Yorkers to greet the Titanic.

It was several hours before she was able to walk up and hug her cousin. He had to be processed through Ellis Island, as she had been, before he was allowed to set foot on Manhattan.

She cried again, it was wonderful to see one of her family again and to be able to talk in her mother tongue. Dirk hadn’t brought much with him and so they decided to walk up Fifth Avenue and enjoy the sights of the city.

They got back to her apartment, in Brighton Beach in the early evening. The sun was already sinking on this happy April day and she had baked treats that she would have made back home. She wanted make Dirk feel really welcome.

He was excited by his new country and full of hope, he told Adel. Perhaps he could be a great doctor in America, or perhaps even the President himself. Adel told him that he would have to have been born in the United States but she loved his dreams.

Then he told stories of the crossing of the Atlantic on the Titanic, how they had been troubled by icebergs but the captain had slowed the ship a little and all was well.

Tomorrow she had to go back to work at Coney Island but she would introduce Dirk to her boss, who might be able to help in getting him work. Dirk thanked his cousin and took his little bag into the kitchen where she had made him up a bed. Adel wished him goodnight and hoped that God would be kind to him in the new land.

As Dirk settled down, he took out the code book which he had been supplied, and went over once again the instructions he had been given. Not if, but when, there was a war in Europe and the mighty armies of the Fatherland moved into France and Britain, the Kaiser wanted assurance that the US would be in no position to join the war.

Dirk had one activity and one activity only, and that was to assassinate the President of the United States when the signal came from the Fatherland.Dirk slept well that first night in his new country and dreamed of the bright new world that was to come.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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A Christmas Walk

andrewroland

He had always lived in the city. His parents had met there, and his brothers and sisters had been born there.

Sometimes they’d visit the countryside, but it would always be on a blue-sky day. This led Andy to believe that the city was mostly a dark and wet place and it was the land beyond where the sun always warmed the land.

He’d dreamt of his father again, meaning the he had woken at 3.20am in a pool of sweat. Each time that he saw his father, he would bend down to tell his son that everything was all right and that he was good and not to worry.  The first few times it had happened he’d mentioned it to his mother, but it caused her so much pain that he stopped talking about his dreams.

His father had worked in the city. Every morning he would cycle to the railway station, take the express into the centre, and then cycle to his office. Then on the dark unforgiving Wednesday a large truck had cut across his path. The driver hadn’t seen him, in fact he couldn’t see him, and the truck hit Andy’s father.

Andy remembers his teacher standing at the classroom door, she had just been talking with the school secretary. She turned and looked straight at Andy. Straight into his eyes – straight into his soul. One human being locking hearts with another.

There was a sharp pain in his heart which told him it wasn’t good news.

At the funeral, several of his uncles and family friends slapped him on the back and told him that at thirteen years of age, he was the man of the house now. Andy had no idea what they meant.

His dad’s sister, aunt Alice, had rented a house for Christmas. It was up in the hills to the west of London, and everyone was going to be there; his grandparents, his own family and most of his uncles and aunts.

“It’s what the family needs at a time like this,” his grandmother had said. “The first Christmas without my boy”.

It had started snowing on the evening of the Wednesday before. They left very early on the Thursday morning, to ensure they all made it to the house before the snow got heavy. Christmas was not until the Saturday but everyone wanted to get snuggled into the house before the big day.

The place was perfect and aunt Alice had chosen well. Andy had to share a bedroom with one of his brothers and one of his cousins, but if he was being honest it felt comfortable. Andy felt a warmth in his heart that he hadn’t felt for a very long time.

Everyone mucked in with the Christmas dinner. The family had decided to hand out the presents after they had eaten and after they could then all sit down in front of the big log fire.

Andy had saved his money and given his mother a small picture frame in which he had placed a photo of his father. She had beamed the biggest smile towards him when she’d opened his present.

Andy got books and games, and a welcomed new phone. He knew he was lucky – luckier than most people. But still.

After the Christmas lunch, he decided to go for a walk along the trail that led out of the village. It was a beautiful day and the blue sky and fresh air seemed to cut into his lungs.

Since he was going outdoors, he had been given the task of taking the three family dogs for a spot of walking. They all needed it, given what they had just eaten.

Andy wasn’t alone on the path and decided to keep the dogs on their leads in case they chased the man in front.

For the first time in a long time, Andy felt a little contentment, inside. The pain had gone for a few hours and he felt like his old self.

Sherlock, the oldest of the dogs, gave a bark which brought Andy back to the here and now. The man up ahead had dropped a small dark object and the dogs thought it was something to chase.

Andy ran ahead and picked it up. It was a small box, and inside was a little medal. There was an engraving on the back which read ‘To the greatest. Saint Andrew’s University – 1998’.

Andy felt that the man would not want to lose this and as he shouted on him, the man turned a corner behind a bush. Andy set the dogs free to see if they might catch up with the stranger but when they all got to the corner, the man was gone.

Andy slipped the medal back in the box and put it in his trousers.

It was the following day that it happened. His mother was washing some of their holiday clothes and, as usual, had to empty Andy’s trouser pockets. She had found the little box.

“Andy! Andy!”

Andy ran to the utility room.

“Where did you get this?” She asked her son. Andy told her the story and that was when she almost fainted. Andy had to get her a chair to sit on.

“Every year just before the Christmas break, me, your father and the rest of the students would have a cycle race from our rooms to a pub in the centre of Saint Andrew’s. Whoever got there first was given a medal and whoever was last – bought a round of drinks. Your father, with me on the cross-bars, won that race in 1998. He had it with him the day of his accident and although I searched through his clothes I couldn’t find it. What did the man look like?” Asked his mother.

“Just a man,” said Andy. “Just a man”.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

photo:  Christmas in the Cotswolds – Andrew Roland

 

Teatime At The Empire Cafe

hastingsDecember 1955

Even although she pulled her coat in as tight as she could, the snow and sleet coming off the Channel still managed to make her shiver. She’d stop in at the Empire Café for a reviving cup of tea she had decided. It’s not as if Mother was in any danger; at least she could wait another fifteen minutes for her prescription medicines.

She managed to have so little time to herself these days. It hadn’t meant to be this way. By now, she should have been living out on some farm in Western Australia with the love of her life. Except he had never returned – like so many others – and after her father died of pneumonia, her mother had deteriorated so quickly that it had caught her unawares.
She was destined to being her mother’s nurse until the end.

When she had finished her tea and cake, she noticed that the snow had stopped and that the sun was fighting to come through. A little hope, she thought, and she caught herself smiling as she stepped out into the afternoon. 

July 1930

The Empire Café was still there – thank goodness. He’d come here with his grandparents before the Great War, and it was always a place of happiness to him. Today all the bright young things were occupying the promenade with their energy and laughter and the rest of the world could go hang, as far as they were concerned.

He had been young once, too. A very long time ago when Victorian values had ruled on things such as smiling and laughter; they had been frowned upon and were always kept behind closed doors.

He was jealous of the young, they had it so much easier – and as he sat in the Empire nursing his tea, he wished that this was his time and that he was nineteen again. He was startled by a very pretty girl, high on champagne, who knocked on the large glass window and waved to those inside. They did all they could not to catch her eye, not in disapproval, but knowing if they looked up, they’d wish it was them who were out there that day.

 

hasteAugust 1972

He doubted if anyone in the world could be more excited than he was right at that moment.

He’d asked his boss if he could leave at mid-day as he had to visit his grandmother on the south coast. She was keeping poorly and probably wouldn’t make it to Christmas. He wondered if his boss had realised that was the third time he’d used that excuse in as many months?

He’d never been to Hastings before, but thought that the Empire Café seemed a reasonable place to change his clothes.  He’d left for work that morning to go to Friars and Friars, who were known as the best accountants in Westly. He sat in the café dressed in his dull brown suit and drank his tea. He was hoping that the place would quieten down, and then he’d make his move.

By his third cup of tea, he decided that things weren’t going to improve and took his chance. Both he, and the little suitcase, he’d packed away and hidden under the bed, went to the Men’s toilets. He carefully folded away his dull clothes and changed into his glam-rock ones. It was a bit like superman, except this wasn’t a telephone kiosk.

No one had noticed him enter the café, but they all noticed him now. He was dressed from head to toe in a shiny silver suit and he wore the largest pair of glittery bright red boots ever seen in the Empire. He wondered if the make-up on his face was a step too far.

He could hear a few of the older ones choke on their teacakes, as he proudly strolled out of the café into the big wide world – accountant by day and glam-rocker by night. It was 1972 and anything was possible.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

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Me and Buzz and Halloween

loan

Every year at Halloween it was the same routine, Buzz would keep me guessin’ about what he was wearing and I would do the same to him. And every year he’d dress up like the Lone Ranger and I’d dress as Tonto. So this year I told Buzz that I was goin’ as Tonto – straight out like – and that totally confused him (as if anyone needed to work at that). He was goin’ real crazy wonderin’ if I was really gonna dress up as Tonto or if I was just double bluffin’ my best pal in the world. As if.

To be real honest, I had no idea what I was goin’ to be, the Tonto costume was real small and I had grown up a bit. The sleeves stopped at my elbows and I looked like Tonto, The Big Giant.

I asked Buzz what he was gonna wear and he said that I was to mind my own bees’ wax. I reckon that meant he didn’t know what he was wearing’ either.

One night, I kinda peeked thru’ Buzz’ window and there he was walking about the house in is Maw’s dress. I kid you not. I knocked the window and he sees me right after his face goes red, real deep red. He chases me down the street in the dress shoutin’ that him and his Maw are the same size and she uses him to sew up her dresses.

“Honest Injun.” When he shouted that I knew he was tellin’ the truth , cause we only say ‘honest injun’ in times of war or emergency. Still he had the whole town watchin’ him as he ran. Some unkind folks called him Elizabeth for a while but it was soon forgot.

I think I made my mind up during Math, one afternoon. I ain’t the countin’ type and I ain’t sure if I’ll ever have a need for countin’. As Buzz says and I have to agree with him – ‘countin’ is as countin’ does’. Don’t ask me what it means, but it sounds like it means somethin’, so I’m happy.

I decided I was gonna double bluff Buzz and I was gonna go as the Lone Ranger. I wanted to be a hero and anyhoo, my mother had bought me the costume and hid it in her bedroom. I only found it when I was being real nosey like.

I looked over at Buzz, in class, and he was drawing somethin’ or other with his tongue hangin’ loose with a life of its own, and his arm around the drawin’ so no one could see what he was doin’. Becky McAllister tried to see what it was thru’ her spectacles that had been handed down thru’ her family. I don’t think she needed them and I guess it made her eyesight worse but it was the only thing her grandma had left her and she liked to wear them.

“Miss – Buzz is drawin’ something and it ain’t countin’,” said Becky who always was a sneak up until the day she got arrested for makin’ Hooch in her Grandmaw’s bath tub. She was wearin’ her Grandmaw’s old spectacles when she added the wrong stuff to the Hooch and killed three folks, stone dead. She asked the Judge to take her Grandmaw’s spectacles into consideration, but he just said she was guilty as anyone he’d seen and was gonna hang. I guess snitches get what’s comin’ to them.

Anyway the Math teacher, grabbed the drawin’ from Buzz and threw it in the basket. I decided to try to get it out of the basket when we were leavin’ class. I stuck my hand in the basket and pulled out a clump of paper.

I said goodbye to Buzz and walked home. In fact I ran home ‘cause I was real excited to see what he was drawin’.

I got the wrong paper. It was a note by the teacher, she had written about herself – she was always tryin’ to get a boyfriend and she would put little adverts in Mrs Mulhoon’s store on Main street.

This one said “Nice looking lady, early 30s, seeks nice gentleman, no psychos.” I guess she didn’t like it too much on account she had thrown it in the basket.

So back to the story – you’ll never guess what Buzz turned up as on Halloween? He turned up as Tonto!

 

bobby stevenson 2016

 

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Me and Buzz and the Olimpicks

FRIENDS

Buzz was just Buzz and things weren’t gonna change that – no matter how hard anyone tried.

There was a time when he was gonna be a movie star, then there was the time when he was gonna be President, and then that crazy summer when he said he was gonna be in the Olimpicks (or somethin’ like that).Now I ain’t too sure about what the Olimpicks are, but I think they has got to do with runnin’ and stuff – serious runnin’.

I told Buzz that I thought that he was crazier than a sack of cats on a hot day and that the Olimpicks was about runnin’ and what did he know about that kinda what-cha-ma-do?

He just gave me one of his looks, the ‘don’t tell me what I can and can’t do’ kinda stares and then said he was gonna be in the Olimpicks and that was that.

He said that the Olimpicks only took folks that knew what they were doing and to stop the crazy folks joinin’ in, like Big Carter from the next town over, they moved the Olimpicks each time they held them.

“So you’re tellin’ me, Buzz that they keep movin’ to stop the crazy folks findin’ them?”

And Buzz told me that was the case, and I gotta say I had to believe him ‘cause Buzz has never really told me a lie or anythin’. Well except that time he said that his Great-Grandma had been married to a guy called Edison and that she had invented the ‘lectric light. Might still be true, who can say?

Anyhoo, Buzz says that he’s gotta start trainin’ for the sport which is gonna win him a ‘Cold Medal’ (yep, I’ve no idea what a cold medal is either but that’s what he said, so it must be true).

Buzz asked his Uncle Bert what kinda sports they had in the Olimpicks and his Uncle Bert told him that there was a running race for people who had one leg shorter than the other and that was probably his best bet.

Well I gotta say that Buzz was a might upset on account that both his legs were the same length. I know this fact ‘cause he made me measure them several times. No matter what he did they were always the same. The following week he came to school with a boulder tied around one of his ankles, to try to make one leg longer. Mrs Fabert, the teacher, said that Buzz would need to study real hard just to be an idiot.

No, I ain’t sure what that meant either.

The problem was that everything Buzz did to make his leg either shorter or longer caused him to run around in a circle – and I kinda wondered what race involved running around in a circle.

“Why they all do,” said Buzz to me. “Everyone knows that.”

Well, I didn’t and that’s for sure.

Buzz had probably been training for a couple of weeks, when I saw him being chased by one of the Cops from the Town Hall. Every time Buzz ran anywhere, folks thought he had probably stolen somethin’.

Buzz confided in me that he was getting’ mighty tired in the way the folks in town were treatin’ a respectable sports star like him.

“If I run in a straight line, the cops chase me. If I run in a circle, folks come out to watch and see how long it takes before I go dizzy and fall over. I heard they were takin’ bets.”

And he was right and I heard it was double the money, if Buzz was threw up.

On the followin’ Tuesday I heard a bang over by the old stables, and found Buzz flat on the ground and his face all black and smokin’. I asked him if I should call a doctor and he said he was fine. He was just bein’ like his Great-Grandma and trying to invent somethin’.

I asked him ‘bout the Olimpicks and he said, what in the name of a crazy kid was I talkin’ about.

That’s Buzz for ya.

 

bobby stevenson 2016

bobby2 wee bobby

 

 

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