Hello everyone, I am taking a brief break from my Blog Stories to bring you a very important announcement. Many of you know that I have Celiac Disease, those closest to me have the misfortune of knowing just how bad it is. They also know how terrible Gluten-Free Bread is and how important bread is to me.
Well no more! I ordered special Gluten-Free Bread Flour from Italy! It was amazing! For the first time since going on a Gluten-Free diet, I had a piece of homemade Gluten Free bread that was amazing and tasted pretty close to the real thing. If anyone wants to know the name of the flour please feel free to reach out. Thanks again to my father’s homeland for making such amazing flour!
Until next time when I return to more storytelling, I remain respectfully,
There was a sharp rap at the apartment door. Alice, who was absorbedly listening to her friend’s tirade regarding a “certain young man”, rose to answer it. It was a large oak door inlaid with cherub carvings around the frame. The door creaked as Alice slowly pulled the heavy brass handles. She found herself face to face with a comely messenger. The messenger delivered a small note into Alice’s hand. The little note reeked of a very distinct cigar smell. Reading the note and smiling to herself Alice quickly concealed it in her dress pocket. The strong smell of cigar smoke followed Alice in the sitting room where Catherine was now pouting. Catherine’s nose curled upward toward the ceiling as she took note of the smell. She inquired who was at the door. “No one of any importance,” Alice replied and implored her friend to continue her conversation. Not needing much encouragement to relay her grievances, Catherine continued.
Catherine paused for a moment, walked to the bay window, and opened it to let out the smell of cigars. Satisfied with the cool breeze that was now wafting through the room, she continued. “Before there was any time to process what happened it was over. There is a hollowness that comes from this type of disappointment. There is never a verbal commitment and perhaps never a conscious commitment. However, someplace in the subconscious mind, there is a glimmer of hope of having a relationship. You want so much to allow yourself to be happy. You want to believe that the other person’s intentions are real, that they are the person who finally values you and sees your worth. However, when there is no verbal commitment, they feel that they have no ties to you. They feel that they are justified in moving on without informing you. You see, it does not seem to matter that you had a type of romance; if they feel that there are no real strings attached, they also feel they do not owe you an explanation when they want to move on. Yet, they are jealous of another man who looks in your direction. So, my dear friend, it does not matter that I have real feelings for him as long as he does not care.” She sipped her coffee and stared blankly out the window after making this very pointed soliloquy.
Her friend gazed at her, not knowing what to say. How can you comfort someone who is in pain over the loss of a pseudo-relationship? Finally, her friend spoke, “Catherine,” she began carefully, “did you tell him exactly what you said to me?”
“He never gave me the opportunity to,” said Catherine, she kept her eyes on the children who caught her attention by laughing and playing with barrel hoops in the street below the opened window.
“Well, what if he did give you the opportunity? Would you tell him then?” Queried the lanky, blue-eyed girl. Alice pulled out the concealed note from her pocket, which still held its pungent smell of cigar smoke. Catherine took no notice of the note that her friend was holding.
“Oh, Alice, how could I tell him? He feels that he did nothing wrong. I have learned from the past that when a man thinks he is blameless, he will just say that I am crazy.”
“You cannot compare him to your past relationships. He is a completely different person.”
“He may be a different person, nevertheless the outcome is the same. I have been there for him, counseled him, and cared for him in ways that most people wouldn’t. He acted as though he cared for me but obviously he feels nothing for me. He has moved on with someone new. What bothers me the most is he wasn’t honest with me. He didn’t think enough of me to be upfront. I think if he were honest, I wouldn’t have been nearly as upset. I thought that I would be ok with a non-committal type of …” Here Catherine paused, not knowing what to call her type of association. Then with sudden determination she burst out with the word “relationship! The more we got to know each other the more I realized that I had feelings for him. Commitment or not, isn’t it completely unfair that a man can make a woman feel important, loved, and safe one day and then the next feel blindsided and alone? Do you know,” Catherine continued the pain tightening in her throat as she spoke, “he even has a portrait of me that he allegedly keeps on the wall in his sitting room? What kind of man keeps a portrait of someone he does not care for?” Suddenly Catherine determinedly said, “Besides, I have decided at this moment that I no longer care for him.”
“Well, Catherine, ” began Alice, “In all fairness, you also keep Charles’ portrait on your wall. If you did not care about him, you wouldn’t keep it up or keep its glass polished the way you do.” Alice glanced down at the note that she was still clutching in her hand as made the last remark.
“Oh, is that so!?” Squealed Catherine indignantly. Standing up abruptly she marched herself over to the wall where the portrait smugly hung. Forcefully she took it down and put it on the nearby table, which was adorned, in a flowered tablecloth. Catherine huffily returned to her seat and picked up her coffee cup to take another sip.
Feeling the tears welling in her eyes and wishing to conceal them from her friend. She gulped the last remaining mouthful of her coffee before rising to pour herself another. Quietly, absentmindedly she poured the coffee. She watched the steam rise from the cup. The steam seemed to dance as it did so. It was like watching a snake coming out of its basket for the snake charmer. She allowed the slithering steam from the cup to hypnotize her for a moment. Then she brushed the tears from her eyes and returned to her friend.
“What if he doesn’t realize that he hurt you or how much you care for him? What if he feels the same way about you but didn’t think that you cared for him as much? Did you ever think that maybe it is because of the miles between you that made him leave?” Her friend rapidly questioned her.
Catherine studied her friend’s face for a moment, and she did not know how to answer her. Of course, all these questions flooded Catherine’s mind and the only conclusion she could come to was simply that he never truly cared for her.
“No,” continued Catherine, “Let us not forget that I know him. If he cared about me even a little, he would have done anything and everything to make it work. He chose not to care for me. He allowed himself to be persuaded to pursue someone else. I tried to tell him that I care for him; he threw it aside. There is nothing more for me to do and it is ridiculous to discuss it anymore.”
Catherine was again standing and staring out the window during her latest speech. Turning around, she saw her friend’s big blue eyes fill with concern. She knew Catherine was speaking from a place of hurt and anger.
Alice pitied and grieved for Catherine. However, Catherine was right, it was absurd to dwell on someone who seemingly did not value her.
Finally, the blue-eyed girl spoke, “It pains me to see you like this. What if he comes back and tells you that he is sorry and made a mistake?”
“I think that is nothing more than a fairy tale. I have not heard from him in months, soon it will be a year, and if he wanted…” Catherine took a moment to consider what she wanted to say next, “If he changed his mind and came back, I would hear him out. However, I am not waiting for him either. I do not sit and wait for someone who created a “situationship…”
“A situationship”, interrupted her friend, “what is that?”
Catherine, looking very proud of herself said, “It is a word that I created for this type of thing.”
“What does it mean?”
“It describes what is happening to me now where there is no commitment or label of a relationship, but it has all the earmarks of one. I do not wait for someone who creates emotional turbulence. I do not wait for someone who only thinks of his feelings and does not think of mine. Anyway, enough of this talk about Charles, did I tell you that I have another date this evening with…”
Here Catherine stopped speaking; the two girls heard shouting in the street. Together they went to the bay window. Looking down, they saw Charles getting out of a cab and waving a letter in his hand.
Charles ran up the steps to the large oak door inlaid with cherub carvings and heavy brass handles and nervously knocked. Catherine quickly and quietly ran to the door and composed herself before flinging it open. She and Charles merely looked at each other for a moment saying nothing. Alice was not surprised to see Charles. She slipped the cigar-scented note back into her pocket, walked over to the portrait, which was previously slammed on the table, and returned it to the wall.
Quietly Alice tipped toed out of the room and shut the door behind her, lingering only for a moment while she listened to Charles’s apologies pouring forth. Apologies turned to tears, tears turned to kisses and I will leave it to your imagination as to what celebrations followed. Later in life when anyone asked Catherine if she believed in fairy tales she would reply, “Oh, yes, they are rare nowadays, but true indeed.”
Thank you for joining me in tonight’s story. Until next time when we return to more storytelling, I remain respectfully,
There they were all laid out according to the color of the metal, picking one up he began to shine it. Shining it until it gleamed. He looked over the ball carefully to make sure there wasn’t one smudge left. Satisfied that the ball was looking as new as the day he received it, he placed it back on the blue velvet cloth. Next to the shiny wooden balls inlaid with gold and silver sat their case, which was lined with matching blue crushed velvet. The dining room table was filled with newspaper clippings and photographs featuring the ornate little balls. Tommy, after making sure his last Bocce Ball was shined to perfection, put the little ball back in the crushed blue velvet. Looking down he noticed an article and photograph that he received about his performance in a championship tournament. Tommy put the photo and article back down and stared aimlessly out the window as a smile crept across his lips. He remembered that day as if it happened only a moment ago.
Picking up the photograph again, he read its caption: “Central Park near Sheep Meadow Bocce court- 1934. Tommy Nelson featured left”. Sighing deeply as he thought of the years that passed. He allowed himself to drift back in his memories, recalling the interview from that article.
The sky was a bright and delicate blue. Tommy watched the interviewer intently, there was no doubt about it, Tommy was nervous. He always stuttered and stammered anytime he was anxious. To take his mind off the forthcoming interview Tommy watched as an autumn breeze picked up the pages of the interviewer’s notebook as he asked Tommy:
“I am here with probably the youngest professional Bocce Ball Player to play on the lawns of Central Park. Tell me, son, how does it feel to have won the championship?” asked the interviewer
“Ooooooookkkkk” stammered Tommy.
Tommy was never interviewed before. At this very moment, he was more nervous about being interviewed than he was about the tournament. So, when the interviewer began asking questions Tommy couldn’t help being completely silent.
The interviewer took note of this and returned his pencil behind his ear and returned his notebook into his breast pocket and said, “Listen, kid, let’s go somewhere and get a cup of coffee. Maybe you will feel more relaxed and can talk then.” Tommy merely nodded and the pair headed to 550 West 125th Street to the “Battle’s Coffee Pot”.
They seated themselves in a quiet sunny spot of the café and ordered two large black coffees. Tommy leaned over his coffee cup and let the steam rise fogging his glasses as it did so. That smell of coffee was glorious. After taking a sip, Tommy began to relax and said to the interviewer “So what do you want to know?”
The interviewer leaned in as well and simply answered “I want to know everything you know about Bocce, why and how you got interested in it. Let’s start with its history. Tell me about it.”
“Well,” began Tommy “Bocce is an ancient sport dating back to the Roman Empire. The word “Bocce” is derived from the Italian word boccia loosely translating to “bowl”. It’s not a game that is too popular here in the states yet, but I am hoping that it catches on. It’s more exciting than you think. I read in a paper somewhere that the first Bocce Ball was documented in a painting of two boys playing in 5200 B.C. An English scientist, in an Egyptian tomb, discovered it. This game was kind of an equalizer.”
“An equalizer?” parroted the interviewer “How so?”
“Well,” continued Tommy “It was the kind of game that was played everywhere, from the churches, castles to the city streets. People regardless of where you come from, your age, or your gender always play together. Do you remember that Giussepi Garibaldi fellow? That Italian Nationalist?”
“ I believe so,” said our very patient interviewer who was taking diligent notes. “Wasn’t he famous for fighting for Italian independence and political unification?”
“Yes, Garibaldi formed an alliance with the King of Sardinia, and a Count. He conquered Sicily and Naples. Anyway, he was the one who really popularized the sport.”
“Well, that takes care of the history all right but how did you get involved in playing the sport?”
“I was a frail kid. I had Scarlet Fever. The doctors were unsure if I would survive. However, slowly but surely, I recovered, but because of my frailty, I could not participate in all the sports that my friends played. Naturally, for a kid, this made me very sad. I wanted so badly to be like everyone else but some days even dressing myself was tiresome. I was becoming more and more depressed to the point that I became withdrawn from everyone, even my family. That is until my Grandpa helped me.”
“How did your Grandpa help?”
“I was sitting outside; I remember it was an extremely sunny day and my mom made me go outside. She claimed there wasn’t anything sunshine couldn’t cure. Grandpa, who always came outside to drink his coffee, came to sit next to me. He was a quiet man, an Italian immigrant, and was embarrassed by his broken English, so he would often stay quiet. He only spoke if he felt there was something important to tell, apparently talking to me that day was important enough.
“Tommy,” he said in his broken English “You can’t sit here and be sad do something about it. You want to get better we do together slow. Here” and he hands me a Bocce Ball. You lift the Bocce Ball every day until you feel strong.”
So every day Grandpa and I worked out together using these Bocce Balls. However, first, we would have a cup of coffee. Grandpa said it would strengthen my mind and help with my stammer. He would have to sneak me the coffee though. My mother was convinced that drinking coffee would ruin my health at such a young age. To this day whenever I get nervous and start to stammer, I must take a sip of coffee. Maybe it’s mind over matter.”
The interviewer smiled to himself as he took a mental note that the moment that Tommy first smelled the coffee his whole demeanor changed, he became more confident.
“Anyway, after our coffee we would work out with the Bocce Balls, and he would start explaining about the game and how to play. My first lesson was the very basics. I learned that Bocce is played with eight large balls and one smaller ball called a pallina. There are four balls per team. Each team has its own color or pattern to distinguish the different teams’ balls. He went over this detail alone for at least an hour. Each day he explained to me different aspects of the game. Before I knew it, I was playing Bocce with Grandpa. When I started to get better at the game, he started having his friends come over to play with me as well and teach me their secrets. Then finally Grandpa and his friends thought I was ready to play in tournaments against other teams. Grandpa has come to every game and hasn’t missed one. Today before the game Grandpa gave me his very own set of Bocce Balls. He told me that I would win if I used them. “
The interviewer sat silently for a moment and then said, “Well I guess Grandpa was right.”
The Interviewer and Tommy made some pleasantries and then went back to Central Park where Grandpa was still waiting. They took a picture for the paper that day of Grandpa and Tommy with their winning Bocce Balls inlaid with gold and silver.
His mind returned to the present as Tommy once again picked up the picture from the table. Fondly going over these memories in his mind when he was interrupted by a car horn. Looking out the window he saw his little Granddaughter waiving and calling to him with excitement as her father helped her out of the car. Today was going to be her first Bocce Ball lesson, just as his grandfather taught him. Tommy’s excitement mirrored the little girls, and he knew that one day she would have her own picture in the paper with her Grandpa just like he did.
Thank you for joining me in tonight’s story. Until next time when we return to more storytelling. I remain respectfully,
He drew in a long deep breath as he narrowed his eyes. The children standing around him also took in deep breaths as they waited in anticipation for little Johnny Hack to pull back his shiny new slingshot. Just as Johnny was about to let go, he suddenly stopped to wait for Harry to stop coughing. Harry was good at breaking anyone’s concentration by his constant and vexing coughing. Poor Harry nervously let out his last cough that was promptly followed by a sneeze while Johnny glared at him.
Johnny again began to aim and then again, he stopped and lowered his slingshot. This time a pretty little girl in pigtails distracted him. She was blowing pink bubblegum and watched as it popped on her nose. She took note of his stares and coquettishly winked at him while pulling the bubblegum off of her face and hair. This caused Johnny to turn a bright shade of scarlet and the bubblegum-blowing girl began to giggle. Johnny once again focused on the target and this time without hesitation pulled back his shiny new slingshot and let go. The pebble that was nestled in the sling propelled through the air. No one made a sound until they all heard the crash of breaking glass and the blusterous voice of “old man Smith”. Johnny felt the blood drain from his face, as he stood still not knowing what to do. He stood motionless as he stared from a distance at the shards of stained glass that were once Mr. Smith’s window. Johnny was bewildered as to how the tiny pebble could have broken a window that large and how his aim could have been that far off. However, Johnny didn’t have much time to think about these things, he had to think of what to do at that moment. He knew he should run but he felt fearfully frozen. His “friends” and classmates did not hesitate to run. They ran as fast as their little legs could carry them. The children began screaming “Run for your lives!!!” They looked like a stampede of wild animals as they ran past little Johnny Hack. Poor little Johnny Hack, he was warned this very morning by his mother “ . . .not to use his new slingshot near the house, for you will break a window.”
Sweat was now forming on Johnny’s temples as his mother’s words echoed in his ears. Mr. Smith saw him standing there and in a blind rage charged at little Johnny.
Mr. Smith was a local restaurant owner who specialized in the art of Haute Cuisine. He was quite well known amongst the wealthy. Johnny often stopped to peer in the back door of Mr. Smith’s restaurant kitchen on his way home from school. The smell always drew him near the door.
He couldn’t help it; the aromas were so tantalizing. Johnny often thought that he would never want to eat in his restaurant, however; he made food out of disgusting things like turtles.
Mr. Smith was well known for three things in the city, making turtle soup, owning the only stained-glass window in the city, and being a cantankerous old man.
Just then Mr. Smith picked up Johnny, lifting him right off the ground and shaking him as he did so. Johnny’s mother a Mrs. Cordelia Hack came running out of the house as she heard Johnny desperately calling “Mamma, Mamma help!” Mrs. Hack began waving a broom in demanding Mr. Smith put her child down and threatened to hit him with the aforementioned broom. Mr. Smith reluctantly placed poor little Johnny Hack back on the ground.
“Mrs. Hack,” began Mr. Smith “Your child and his rock broke my window, and he must pay!” Mr. Smith at Mrs. Hack’s request produced the little pebble that allegedly broke Mr. Smith’s precious window. She mused that her ten-year-old could not have broken a window of that proportion at such a distance by a pebble that was no bigger than a pea. However, Mr. Smith was irate, and Johnny disobeyed her and needed to be punished. Mrs. Hack took a moment before answering as she thought out the best way to defuse the situation. Firstly she made Johnny apologize for breaking the precious window and then she continued by saying, “Well, Mr. Smith I think Johnny should pay you back for the window himself. Could he work it off by working for you after school and on Saturdays?” Mr. Smith reluctantly agreed, and that was that. Suddenly, Johnny had an after-school job, for no pay, with the meanest man in the city.
“Tomorrow is Saturday I’ll see you at 7:00 am, sharp kid. Don’t even think about being late, for every minute that you are late is another day that you will have to work for me.”
At the end of this speech, Mr. Smith turned around and stomped off in the direction of his house. Johnny tried to hold back his tears, as he looked up at his mother who led him inside so they could talk about the day’s events in private.
Tucked in his race-car bed and snuggled underneath his rocket ship comforter, Johnny tossed and turned. He woke himself up from nightmares about the coming day. Morning always comes quickly when it knows that you are dreading its arrival. Johnny’s mother woke him up, dressed, fed, and off to the imposing restaurant.
Once he reached the restaurant Johnny stood outside unsure whether or not he should go in. He realized that he never noticed the name of the restaurant before. He walked by it no less than a dozen times on his way home from school. There it was, large and imposing just like Mr. Smith. There were large wooden doors, a large wooden circular sign with an engraving of a Turtle, and above it the name of the restaurant that read “Rufus”. The boy watched the sign blow. It tossed itself back and forth by the last warm September breeze. Suddenly he heard a gruff voice behind him. “Boy you’re late, you get one extra day,”
“No Sir,” protested Johnny “I was early”.
Mr. Smith glared at him “Boy, stop being impertinent, do you want to get two extra days?”
“Noooo Sir,” Stammered little Johnny Hack.
“Very well” retorted Mr. Smith “come inside. You are going to start by emptying last night’s garbage, then wash the dishes and sweep and scrub the floors. Then after lunch, we will think about what else you can do.” Then around noon, Mr. Smith said he had to meet a client. He told Johnny to stay put and to shine all the pots and pans, while he was at the meeting. Johnny noticed that Mr. Smith took his wading boots, net, and fishing rod. When the boy questioned him about why he would need “fishing stuff” to meet a client, Mr. Smith snarled and said “None of your business. Can you chop onions?”
“Onions?” repeated Johnny
“I’ve never chopped onions,” answered Johnny timidly
“Well, you will learn. Here” and he thrust the biggest knife Johnny had ever seen into his hand.
“But sir,” said Johnny “My mommy won’t let me touch a knife as big as that. “Well don’t tell your mother.” We will begin the lesson when I return.”
This is how it went every day. Johnny showed up and emptied the garbage, washed the dishes, swept and scrubbed the floors until Mr. Smith left to meet with his client. For each meeting, Mr. Smith took his wading boots, net, and fishing rod and then returned at 3:00 pm. The days turned into weeks and weeks into two months, until one day Mr. Smith burst through the door. He said that he was going to be making a very special, rare turtle soup and that Johnny was to work extra hours to help him prepare for it. “Leave early kid,” said Mr. Smith “when I go to meet my client you will go home and rest for the big day.”
“But Sir,” protested Johnny, “I have a test in school tomorrow, and I can barely keep up with my classes. I am so tired from being here.”
“Don’t talk back kid and do as you’re told! Remember I am doing you a favor by letting you work off that broken window. I could have just called the police.”
Lunchtime came and Mr. Smith prepared to meet his “client” picking up his wading boots, net, and fishing rod, and left with Johnny close behind. Now, little Johnny Hack was a smart boy for only being the age of ten. He decided that he was going to follow Mr. Smith to see what he does and where he goes every day at noon. Mr. Smith got in his car and drove off.
Johnny mounted his new blue bicycle with the shiny chrome and little bell and stealthily began to follow Mr. Smith. It was hard work following that beat-up old jalopy through highways. It finally veered off the main road to a pebbly winding path. Suddenly the car stopped in front of a pond and the old man got out of the car, darned his fishing equipment, and waded into the water. The little boy looked around but he didn’t see anyone that could have resembled a client. So what was Mr. Smith doing?
Johnny sat next to his bicycle and waited for what seemed an eternity. Then he noticed something odd. It looked like a log emerging from the water but it wasn’t a log at all. It was a very large turtle, the biggest turtle Johnny ever saw.
However, there was something different about this turtle. Johnny looked hard at it to figure out what it was about it that made the turtle look so different. Then he realized that the turtle was wearing wireframe spectacles on its face. Mr. Smith bent near the turtle and the turtle made almost a hissing noise. “Ah don’t be like that Rufus, your time has come. I am going to have to make you into a soup and that’s all there is to it.”
With that, Rufus, the turtle gave out the largest hiss, which was fortunate for Johnny that he did because it muffled the scream of the little boy. “How could Mr. Smith kill such a nice old turtle?” he wondered.
“I’ve tried it your way and you made me famous for a while but no one seems to care about having turtle soup that isn’t made from the famous Rufus the Turtle. So I have decided that you need to go.”
Rufus stared at the old man. Then suddenly the very large imposing turtle pushed his wire-framed spectacles back on his face and calmly said in a very clear tone
“I don’t think so.”
Little Johnny Hack had to cover his mouth to keep from squealing with delight at hearing a talking turtle. Quickly Johnny’s delight turned back to anger as he thought of the talking turtle being made into turtle soup. Johnny waited for Mr. Smith to get back into his beat-up old jalopy and drive away. Quietly tiptoeing down to the water he peered beneath the murky ripples. The turtle that unbeknownst to Johnny, got out of the water when the old man left and out of curiosity sat beside Johnny to see what the boy was looking at.
“Can I help you find something?” asked the turtle.
Slowly the boy turned his head to see the turtle staring him right in the face. They sat motionless for a moment silently blinking at each other. Clearing his throat Johnny finally mustered up the courage to exclaim, “You can talk!”
“Quite so,” said the turtle “what is it that you want?”
“I want to help you get away from old man Smith,” said the boy. “How did you get involved with such an evil man?”
“He wasn’t always bad,” said the turtle “We met when he was about your age, he always dreamt of owning his restaurant and he would come down to this pond to draw my picture. He used to say that turtles made him happy.”
“Then why does he make turtle soup if he likes you so much?”
“Well, he never used real turtles. When he was a young man he used peas to make soup. Claiming that the color of it alone looked like a turtle, so he called his famous soup the Rufus Turtle Soup Special. I was famous. No one ever knew that it wasn’t turtles he disguised the pea taste with herbs. As he got older and the food critics began to give him bad reviews so he started using real turtles! Then one day a prominent food critic said the only way he would give him a good review is if he used the real Rufus for the soup. So now to save the restaurant he promised to make me into soup! What hurts most of all is that he once was my friend and a nice little fellow. How could he turn out to be so evil?”
Johnny didn’t know how to answer the turtle. So instead he asked him, “What will you do? You’re not going to let him kill you?”
“Not if I can help it, but I am too slow to make it out of here and be safe by morning all on my own,” said the turtle
“Why!?” asked the boy you are magical I mean after all you can talk”
“The other problem” began Rufus “If I leave Mr. Smith’s restaurant and all that he has become will disappear. That is the magical spell. Out of memory of the kind little boy that I once knew, I stayed. However, that seems to be the extent of my powers.”
“Well that kind little boy isn’t here anymore, don’t worry, we will get you out of here. I know someone who can help!”
Then little Johnny Hack went to see his friend Harry. Harry had a skateboard. Johnny thought if they could somehow get Rufus onto the skateboard they could wheel him out and get him into Johnny’s backyard. He was sure that his mom would let him keep a magical turtle.
That’s just what they did. The two boys quickly went back to the pond where Rufus lived and hoisted him onto the skateboard. The boys decided not to use any main streets on the way home; as they were afraid that Mr. Smith would see them. However, just as they began pushing and pulling Rufus up the big hill to bring him to Johnny’s house they heard a terrible noise that sounded like a scream and then a building collapsed. That’s exactly what it was. As soon as Rufus left the grass surrounding the pond Mr. Smith’s restaurant vanished and all that was left was a shell of a man. However, Mr. Smith did not disappear completely.
The Spell said that what Mr. Smith had become would disappear. It did not say that Mr. Smith himself would disappear. What had left the old man was his mean underhanded miserly spirit. Out of remembrance of who the old man once was, he was given a second chance. It was the gift of starting over. A new beginning, he had a chance to bring love and joy to everyone around him.
And what of Rufus? Well, Rufus went to live with Johnny, Mr. Hack, and Mrs. Hack. Every day Mr. Hack would go outside and together the man and the turtle would put on their wireframe spectacles and read the newspaper. While little Johnny, Harry, and their other playmates would race home after school every day to play with Rufus. Rufus, well Rufus having this much love was never lonely again.
Until next time when we return to more storytelling. I remain respectfully,
I thought we would try something new and different. During the month of October, I am going to open things up to you. What does this mean? Well, it means; I would like you to give me a suggestion of what you would like me to write a story about. I will sift through each suggestion and each week I will pick out one topic that you submit and turn it into a short story or a poem. Please keep in mind that I am only asking for you to give me a general topic. For example, if one week you would like me to write on the theme of ‘animals’, take it one step further and tell me that you specifically like me to write about a ‘bear’. Or, perhaps, you would like me to write on the subject of relationships. That could range from making a new best friend to finding love to a break-up etc. You can pick the theme/topic. Then when your topic is picked and the story or poem is completed I will post it to my blog with a note that you are the one who contributed to the blog/poem. Or if you prefer I will use your name(s) as a character in the story or poem. Naturally, if you do not want your name(s) mentioned in the blog please tell me that as well.
Once the story is posted I will tag you in the post. I hope this will be a fun experience. Please see the submission format below.
Would you like your name used in the contribution section (Please put Yes or No):
Would you like your name used as a character in the story? (Please put Yes or No):
Would you like to remain anonymous (Please put Yes or No):
**** Please keep in mind to keep the topic rated “G” as this is open to families ****
You can contact me through the comment section below or send me a message through my social media site.
Thank you for joining me in this fun experiment! I am super excited to begin. Until next time when we return to more storytelling. I remain respectfully,
This is what we wanted. We wanted to walk in freedom, to have a voice, but now that we are here; is this all worth it? Who is to be trusted? The night air is filled with tension, lies, and deceit. I, I am to start this war. The dawn will bring the smell of blood; the gnashing of teeth and so many lives will be spent. Lives, human lives, fathers, husbands’ lives, widows will be left in its wake. Yesterday I was just a goldsmith, nothing more, and today I will become a revolutionary. The anticipation is maddening, how much longer must I wait? The fear of it is killing me, the trajectory, oh what a united force we will become.
Now reflecting on the events that led to this tumultuous night, they were dangerous plans we had begun laying out. However, there was no other person whom I trusted more and would rather have at my side, after all, we were childhood friends. The day the Revolutionary Committee on Safety began finalizing our plans; he sat there just looking around him deep in thought. John was often deep in thought. My friend, Captain John Pulling, a well-known merchant, tapped his foot lightly upon the bare floor. That foot tap seemed to echo and resonate throughout the house with each strike on the floorboard. He lit his pipe while doing, so he listened in-depth to the plan to surprise our enemy.
“Can you do it, John?” I asked, “Will they give us permission?”
“Oh, I think so,” said the captain “Besides I have served as a vestryman of North Church”
“Then it is all settled,” said another member “John are you quite clear on Paul’s instructions?”
“Yes Sir,” replied my old friend “I will stand in the North Church’s tower and alert the citizens of any movement of the British troops. I will hang one lantern if arrive by land and two lanterns if by sea. Lexington and Concord shall be liberated if I have anything to do with it. Luckily, I live near the church as you know, and the sexton Mr. Robert Newman is lending me his keys.”
As my thoughts wander back to this present moment, I still worry whether this will be a success. What if the enemy sees our lights and we cannot complete our mission? I await my friend to signal from that tower. What a flickering glow must light up the night’s sky without prematurely alerting the people. That one little glow will begin a new era. Much like the flickering of light from a stage, it gives the cue to start the biggest performance of our lives.
It nears the hour of ten, and my nerves are rattling…
April 20, 1775
But a moment later I saw it, two lights. The Redcoats were embarking on boats to destroy our ammunition supplies in Concord. The enemy also seeing the lights and deducing our plans began to fight with all of their might. I received word that they tried their best to capture my dear friend, but he was always a tricky fellow, and he made his escape. I rode with the fury and the might of a lion that chased its prey. Screaming as loudly as I could to awaken every Middlesex village and farm with the cry: “British are coming the British are coming” riding and calling for each country-folk to wake and arm themselves.
Until the day that I die, I will never forget that first shot that I heard. It was the first shot that rang the battle and called for war. Its ferocious sound will always ring in my ears and resonate in my heart. I would not be surprised if “the shot was heard around the world” for that shot, screamed with thunder that my lungs wish to echo. I know not what the coming days will bring. The British have always been formidable opponents and I fear that in our quest for freedom we must and will endure great hardship. As I looked around riding through the streets, I saw the fearful looks from every woman and child. I rode for them as much as I rode for myself. It is now that each must stand up and fight against this tyranny. Down with the tyrant King! May God breathe life into the American Colonies and let us be united.
Until next time when I return to more storytelling, I remain respectfully,
The picture hung crookedly on the wall. Noticing the now very angular way in which the picture displayed itself upon the large wall, which was adorned in a faded flower wallpaper, he rose to straighten it. After returning the picture to its proper juxtaposition he gently and lovingly removed any dust from the face of the portrait. Then slowly, somewhat remorsefully, turned away from the portrait of the wide-eyed girl and returned to his companion. His companion, an old university friend, was smoking a very large, very foul-smelling cigar in a semi-recumbent position on the couch.
“Come now, Charles,” said the smoker “it can’t be all bad” here he took his cigar from his mouth, looked at it with a look mingled with disdain and enjoyment. Though he fancied the way he looked while smoking said cigar, he could not decide whether or not he enjoyed the past time of smoking. The amount of half-smoked cigars that were now in a pile in front of him on the table evidenced this. “Filthy habit this, I think I will give it up,” he said to his friend as he laid the cigar back on the table, to smolder with all the others.
Charles rolled his eyes and threw himself rather dramatically on the couch next to his chum.
“But it is! She wants to upset everything! I have a routine you know. Do you know what she wants me to do?” asked Charles with a mix of anger, confusion, and desperation mingled in his voice.
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said our smoker who was now watching his friend pacing about the room with bloodshot eyes and wearing clothing that he slept in. If this were an audition for some theatrical performance, by the state of his appearance alone, Charles would indeed be cast as the lovesick accordion. ” So why don’t you stop blustering about the room and tell me,” He continued.
Seeing an empty chair Charles once again in very much the same manner as before with great conviction threw himself in the nearest chair. “She wants me to quit my job, come home to be near my family, and start a new life together! That is what she wants! What does she think, just because I love her that I can give up everything?”
Here Charles stood up and began pacing continuing his now unintelligible rant. Turning to point his finger at her portrait and to yell at “her ” directly, he stopped himself mid-explosion. Noticing her portrait slid once again, and once again was lying crookedly on the wall. He went to the portrait to straighten it and wipe away the fingerprint mark he accidentally placed on the glass. If a bystander looked about the room they would notice that the portrait was the only perfectly clean and cared for item.
Rising to join his friend alongside the portrait he asked his friend “What’s so wrong with her asking those things? You certainly have been stringing her along long enough.”
“What’s so wrong with her asking those things!?” snorted Charles angrily parroting his friend’s comment.
“Well,” began our smoker who paid no attention to his friend’s outburst “because the first thing is first, you hate your job, you complain how it keeps you away from your family. She clearly sees, as do I, that you are terribly unhappy. She only wants you to be happy.”
“Unhappy!?” Exclaimed Charles with the same parroting anger as he did before. “I love my job, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and living in this city makes me deliriously happy! Where can I find this kind of work? Certainly not at ‘home’.”
“Is that a fact? Because to me, it sounds like you are trying to convince yourself of that. You may love the work you do, but where you work, and the excessive number of hours you spend doing it does not make you happy. I don’t know why you think that you can fool me, we share these quarters you know.” retorted his friend with even more clarity and calmness than before.
At this Charles was livid. He began pacing the room and yelling and flailing his arms about. Not because our smoking Soothsayer was incorrect, but because he was quite correct, and in the very depths of his soul Charles knew it. Charles being a very proud and stubborn man refused to admit it however and continued his tirade.
“Let me stop you there,” said the smoker “If you do not stop your antics and go home to that girl, your family, and begin a new path you will undoubtedly lose all of them. How many times have I caught you sighing over that portrait sighing and miserable because it has been months since you have seen her and been home with your family? Just because your position may not exist at “home” does not mean you could not still do what you love. Are you so small-minded that you cannot think out of the box? If the job is not there that you want, then create it! Goodness man, how many more opportunities need to come your way before you see what you need to do!?” For the first time since our story began the smoker spoke so impassioned that Charles could do nothing else but to wipe away his tears and sit down.
“What’s more,” continued the smoker, who realized that he finally had his friend’s attention “all of these women that you have been filling your time with since you stopped writing to her” he raised his impassioned finger and shook it at the portrait on the wall “will never take her place! Whether you realize it or not, man, you love her and you are simply a coward!”
“A coward!?” repeated Charles indignantly
“Yes, a coward,” continued the smoker. “The real reason that you haven’t truly acted on what you know to be right is you are afraid of upsetting your ‘perfect’ world. Can you not see how at peace you are when you are with her? You will not take a risk to have peace every day because you are afraid of changing your thinking and routine. You are wrong! I would move heaven and earth if she looked at me the way she looks at you. I worry about you. Life is going to pass you by and one day you will find yourself all alone and a very lonely old man! And why? All because you are too afraid to do what is right.” The smoker’s anger now subsiding, he saw that for the first time his friend was listening. Charles now had tears streaming down his face with remorse at what he allowed his fear to do to him. The smoker picking up his overcoat decided he needed a quick walk to rid himself of his friend’s torment. He headed toward the door to their apartment. “One more thing” added the smoker “I know you are probably afraid to write since it has been months since you spoke to her. But I tell you this if you do not do it now, you never will, and you will regret it.” Now seeing the perfect opportunity to needle his friend and with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ” Let me know when you decide what to do. I like her,” he said, nodding to the portrait; “she is pretty and sweet, and I like that part of the country myself. I could fancy myself moving there to be with her. Not to mention I like your family too. On more than one occasion your mother has offered to adopt me, so I might just take all of them for myself.”
At this, Charles stood up, looked at his friend with a shocked expression, and picked up the nearest pillow. Chucking the pillow at his friend just as his friend shut the door in time to miss its glancing blow. The smoker now leaning on the closed-door took a deep sigh of emotional exhaustion and chuckled to himself at his friend’s expense.
Charles, who by now was a master at pacing, began to do so again. Looking at the sweet smiling face in the portrait. He dusted it off again and sitting himself down at the nearby writing-table he began to write her a letter that simply began, “My Dearest” and continued with “Forgive me….” and signing it with “All my love”. He picked up the paper before the ink had time to dry, Charles ran out of the apartment to the street. Quickly flagging down a driver he decided to go “home” and put the letter into her hand.
If an onlooker bothered to linger in the room after everyone had left, they may have noticed the queerest thing. The portrait looked as though it, which previously wore little expression at all, now looked like she was smiling. Maybe it was mind over matter out of the desire of the author penning this story to see a happy ending. However, people would later say, “It is the strangest thing that portrait never appeared to smile before, but there it is, smiling.” Or perhaps it was simply a lightness that had entered the room at the prospect of shedding off fear and creating a new destiny that caused the change in the portrait.
Thank you for joining me in tonight’s story. Until next time when we return to more storytelling. I remain respectfully,
I have some exciting news I have a new page! Not to worry I will still be posting stories and blogs on this page. My new page follows my acting career and consists of reels, stage photos etc. Please take a look at the link below!
The music of the street filled every cobblestone with rhythmic vibrations that could only come from Spanish Harlem. The sun was blazing; sweat beading at the temples as the temperature rose from a comfortable 70 degrees that morning to an uncomfortable 90 degrees. The heat did not stop these musicians; they played through the blaze of the afternoon. What magnificent sounds filled the air, as the four girls watched the musicians play and people dance to the sounds in the street. Sticking sandals did not stop these enthusiastic dancers. What a sight to behold. The four continued to watch the street party fade out of view as they continued down the street heading toward the subway.
The hot sticking breeze rushed past them as they entered the subway. Now only a block away from the melodic sounds of the street band, they were met with a very new type of music. Jazz was the flavor of this subway. Coltrane tunes were doing their best to hide the sounds of the echoing, clanging, and often screeching of the subway train wheels. Stale hot air permeated with the smells of exhaust and mingled with sweat. Coltrane’s theatrical stand-in stood playing with a kind of beautiful desperation straining in his notes. His worn hat sat close to his feet under his one opened watchful eye as someone tossed a few coins into his hat as they passed. The four girls stopped now for a moment as well, as they took one more minute to take in the music that tried desperately to cover the sounds of that clanking train.
The girls ran to catch their next train as they headed back to the Upper East Side. Missing their first train they waited for the next and watched as a third artist set up her stand. She had carefully laid out a very loved and broken guitar case atop of a tattered and colorful cloth, which she had tossed on the ground. Her dirty hands reached inside the case and pulled out a very old but beautifully polished guitar. She began strumming and tuning the guitar as the girls’ next train steamed in front of them. Piling into the subway and looking behind them as the train doors slammed shut. The four somewhat weary companions watched as a crowd gathered around the broken girl, they clapped and tossing money in her haggard case as they did so. The train began to sputter and rumble and then letting out what sounded like a great sigh it jerked the four forward as it pulled off. The girl-playing guitar now became just a colorful blur as the train sped by.
The subway itself seemed to make its own music as it chugged through the underground. With every clang, screech, every stop seemed to have its rhythmic resonance. Finally coming to a halt, the four observers quickly exited the train walking through its ever-long tunnels and making their way back toward the world above. The sun was still ablaze in the sky but now as they made their way back to the sun’s bright embrace they were again met with very different sounds and music. The grunts of passersby’, shouting, the honking of horns, Rap, Classical, R&B, Jazz mingled with silence filled the girls’ ears as they passed shop after shop.
A cool breeze began to fill the oppressive heat of the day as the sun began to sink beneath the Met. The day’s adventures were coming to a close as the four-headed back to the subway and the city’s vibrant energy now took a very different direction. The day started in a fast-paced fury but now mellowed, as the tensions of the day seemed to release as people made their journeys into the night. The hot air lingered, dinner completed, clubs ebbed and flowed as the cityscape began to be covered in a blanket of darkness then burst into light as the buildings flashed their brilliance for the night sky. The next subway train took the four weary travelers back to their borough, this time its rhythm was quite different. The train, still screeching, clamoring, and clanking but now instead of keeping its passengers awake and alert it seemed to lull them into quiet repose. The sun which seemed to set only a moment ago began to send its shimmering rays back into the night sky lighting it ever so slightly in preparation for the bustle of the next day.
Brooklyn again, “Blue Train” tinkling in the background lulling the four into dreams filled with the sounds of the City.
Until next time when I return to more storytelling, I remain respectfully,
There is an undeniable smell that lingers in the air that foretells of the upcoming dinner. The tomatoes bubbling and frothing their way to becoming the perfect balance of paste and water. Oregano and Rosemary tickle your nose welcoming you home. The aroma that comes from homemade tomato sauce is unquestionable. This sounds like a peculiar statement to make, but there is truth in it. When you grow up in an Italian family, even if it is only in part, something is comforting in the smell, the taste, of the bubbling sauce. It was a tradition in my household to always have fresh tomato sauce when the meal called for it. I never tasted a “jar of sauce”, that is until I was about eight years old…
My parents received their annual phone call to drive down and visit a good friend. This friend, though we saw quite often, liked to have one big party each year to gather with family and friends. Joan picked one day in early fall, before any Holiday festivities began, to throw her dinner party. Each year my mother would warn me to act like I loved the food. Poor Joan, she was a terrible cook. Her gravies were as thick as jam, her biscuits were uneatable, and her roast beef always had the distinct smell of tainted meat. Everyone pretended that they were culinary masterpieces as to not hurt the dear sweet lady’s feelings. The lingering memory of those “Haute cuisines” will forever haunt my nightmares. However, for my mother’s sake, and of course out of politeness my sister and I would “pretend” that we enjoyed the food. We must have been great actresses for each year Joan, or “Aunt Joan” as we called her, believed our fake enthusiasm for her dinners.
I can never forget that one chilly Autumn Saturday morning, September 25th at 10:00 am to be exact when the phone rang. My mother was expecting Auntie Joan’s call, so it was no surprise when Joan began to chatter gaily on the other end of the phone. My mother listened politely as Auntie prattled on with the rapidity of Hummingbird’s Wings. Until suddenly my mother’s face fell, and she turned to look at me playing at her feet with the cat in tow. By the look on her face, I thought that something truly awful must have occurred. And it did. My Aunt announced that this year’s dinner party was going to be a themed dinner party. But not just any theme it was to have a spread of Italian foods from all over the vast regions in Italy. My Mother ended the conversation quickly and hung up the phone.
Then suddenly my mother sat on the floor in front of me. Looking me directly in the eyes as I kissed my cat who was squirming to run free, she said “ This year I want you to be an extra good actress, Aunt Joan is making Italian food, and no matter what it tastes like I want you to pretend you like it as much as mommy and nana. Now, I know I do not have to worry about your sister, so please follow her example.”
It must be understood that I was not an intentionally fresh child; however, I could and still can be extremely blunt when I think that I am telling the truth about a situation. As I said earlier Aunt Joan was a horrible cook, the worst food you would ever taste, but she tried so hard to make her culinary masterpieces. It must be further understood that I was spoiled when it came to food. It would not be until this party that I would find out what boxed pasta was. I had my Nana who lived with us, made only homemade authentic Italian food, and mommy and grandma who made everything else to perfection. From French Cuisine to homemade Apple-Pie mom and grandma made it all.
When my mother married my father, my Nana taught my mother to make each traditional Italian dish. For those of you who have immigrant grandparents, you know that it is tradition to verbally pass down these recipes and it is of utmost importance to do it accurately.
My mother naturally was anxious, to say the least, as the party was approaching. I was lectured and lectured on how important it was to be polite and to “put on my very best acting”. Now I knew Auntie was a horrible cook, but I did not understand why my mother was making a particularly big deal out of this dinner party. The long-anticipated night finally arrived, and I was seated in between my older sister and my mother. The first course was presented, Spaghetti and Meatballs with an extremely red tomato sauce. My mother held her breath as I took my first bite. Tasting the bitterness that was welling in my mouth from the sauce, my eyes began to water; I could not do it, so I promptly spit it out. Seeing my mother giving me daggers from the side of her eye, I claimed that it was just too hot. But that was not the truth, the truth was it was horrible, and it tasted rancid. I went to take another bite. My Aunt finally exclaimed “Oh I forgot the Parmesan cheese” and left the room. When I thought that the coast was clear I exclaimed to my mother; “Mama I can’t eat this I think it’s rancid!” I had just learned this word and was very excited to use it properly in the sentence, “There is something wrong with the spaghetti sauce and the noodles taste funny, and I don’t think it’s Aunt Joan’s fault this time! What do we do? Do we tell her!?” Just then my mother clamped her hand across my mouth, as she was the only one to notice Aunt Joan had walked back into the room. It is hard to explain the yelling that ensued and the tears to follow from not only me but also my poor Aunt Joan. I honestly thought there was something wrong with the food! I did not know I was being impolite but I saw Aunt Joan had left the room, so naturally, I thought I was safe to speak freely. I was wrong…. My mother tried to explain that I just never had noodles from a box or sauce that came from a jar, but I do not think that was much comfort to Aunt Joan.
That night when I got home, I had to write a three-page apology note. I do not think I ever cried so much as I did that night, after accidentally hurting her feelings. I think it’s worth mentioning that Aunt Joan and I patched things up quite nicely. However, due to the mishap, Aunt Joan always had the food catered thereafter.
Until next time when I return to more storytelling, I remain respectfully,
Cheyenne E. Mitchell
*** Note this story is in no way meant to offend jar sauce eating/making individuals it is meant purely as an amusing anecdote. ***