Freddie’s Activity Ticket

Freddie’s Activity Ticket

By Ron Rutler

(Based on a true story)

The bell attached to the heavy wood door summoned Mary Lou out of the back room.

“Well, hello, Freddie, how was school today?” Mary Lou asked.

“About the same as always, say, Mary Lou, can I play with my puppy?”

“Well, Freddie, the boss says that I’m not supposed to do that anymore unless you are seriously planning on buying one of them.”

Freddie pulled out a shiny new Buffalo head nickel and laid it amongst the scratches in the glass counter top, “oh, I am going to buy Sandy, all right. This is my down payment. I’ll have the rest of the money to you by Monday, I swear.”

“So you’ve already named him?” she asked.

“Yep, his name is Sandy,” he proudly replied.

“Well,” Mary Lou replied, “seeing as how Sandy is going to be yours, I guess there wouldn’t be any harm in me letting you play with one of our pups. Sandy is a good name for that little guy. It matches the light tan color of his coat.”

She brushed the nickel off of the counter and into the pocket of her apron, walked over to the window, reached down and grabbed a puppy.

“How about I let you play with this little girl instead,” Mary Lou asked.

“Nope, I want to play with Sandy,” he stubbornly replied.

She put the second choice back down onto the shredded newspapers, and then she reached over and grabbed Sandy’s warm, baby soft underbelly. She put him down on the floor. She stuck her hands down in the pockets of her apron as she watched Sandy joyfully wag his entire body as he ran over and jumped up on Freddie.

Freddie plopped down on the floor and enjoyed every second of attention that Sandy offered him as he rested his front paws on his chest and thoroughly licked his face. He started to giggle. The giggle wasn’t because it tickled. It was simply a response to the joy that Sandy was spreading all over his chin.

“You’ll be coming home with me soon,” he told Sandy, “very, very soon.”

“So Freddie, what do your mom and dad say about you having a puppy?” Mary Lou asked.

“They’re giving me the money to buy him,” he replied.

“We’ll, that’s good,” Mary Lou commented. “Because I wouldn’t want you taking home a new family member that they wouldn’t let you keep. We don’t offer refunds on pups, you know.”

Freddie handed Sandy back to Mary Lou and watched her take him and his sad brown eyes and place him back down into the front window’s display area.

He started to leave when Mary Lou said, “Hold on, Freddie, let me give you a receipt.”

He turned to the sound of the cash register cha-ching as it opened. He heard his nickel drop into a wooden change slot in the drawer. Then Mary Lou reached into her upper apron pocket and grabbed a small “waitress type” notepad. She flipped the previous carbon copied page onto the spool of other sheets, grabbed the pencil from behind her ear, and scribbled the receipt. When done, she tore it off and handed it to him. He grabbed it and read it, “Received from Freddie five cents as deposit to be applied to purchase of the sandy colored mixed breed puppy. Balance due at time of purchase, $3.95.”

“Now, Freddie,” Mary Lou said, “I will hold Sandy for you until 3:45 Monday. Make sure you show this to your mom and dad when you get home.”

“Thanks, Mary Lou. I’ll come by right after school with the rest of the money.”

He exited through the door, stopped and peered in at Sandy through the store’s front window. He held up his receipt so that his new puppy could see it and said, “Don’t worry, boy, I have this receipt. You’ll be going home with me on Monday.”

He put the receipt in his shirt pocket and began his walk home. He knew how he was going to get the money from mom. She couldn’t refuse such a request from her little boy. When he reached his house, he grabbed the cast iron pipe handrail and began to climb the concrete steps that led up to their shotgun-style house. As he passed through the screen door, he paused, smiling from ear to ear as he imagined Sandy and him playing here on our porch. Entering the living room, he heard his mom, “Freddie, is that you?”

“Yeah, it’s me, mom.”

“Well, how was school today, son?” she asked.

“About the same as usual,” he relied. “Oh, mom, I have to have the money for my activity ticket by Monday.”

“How much is it,” mom asked.

“$3.95,” he replied.

Mom glanced down at his front pocket and said, “$3.95? You could just about buy a puppy with that kind of money.”

He looked down at his pocket and saw the top half of his receipt sticking out. When he looked back at his mom, she was holding three one-dollar bills and was reaching into her coin purse picking out the exact change. She poured the change into his pocket first followed by the dollar bills. She bent over and kissed the top of his forehead and then turned to head back to the kitchen.

After a weekend and a school day that seemed to drag on forever, he rushed to the pet store and paid the balance due. When he got home with Sandy, much to his surprise, his mom wasn’t mad. It was as if she already knew.

She sat down on the floor and enjoyed every second of attention that Sandy offered her as he rested his front paws on her apron and thoroughly licked her face. She started to giggle, and then she said, “I just love puppy breath. So let me see that activity ticket.

 

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100 years is a long time to be on a ship. A fictional Titanic story.

100 years is a long time to be on a ship.

A fictional Titanic story  

by Ron Rutler (I wrote this, a few years ago, for the 100 year anniversary of The Titanic’s tragedy.) 

I stood on the dock at Southampton and watched as the Titanic pulled away. Oh I waved at my Grandpa and shouted wish me wells, up towards his lofty perch where he and his beloved Fedora stood posed, one foot up on the ships port side railing, but I was full of disappointment, that I didn’t get to walk up that plank. He’s a wealthy man I thought, and I am his only Grandson, he could have afforded to buy me a ticket.

As my mother encouraged me to keep waving my hat up at him, all I could think about was how much fun, he was planning on having, playing Squash while sipping a glass of cool lemonade or enjoying an expensive meal at the A La Carte Restaurant or simply ‘roughing it’ by pulling up to a table at the Café Parisien. The band onboard played a lively tune as the most memorable ship in the world slowly pulled away from its moors, and me.

“Come along son, my mom said we have got to get you home, you have homework to do you know.”

“Mother,” I asked, “how long will it take the Titanic to get to New York?”

“Well I am not exactly sure, but I’m guessing 100 years or so,” she jokingly replied.

“Seriously mother how long it will take, to sail the Titanic across the Atlantic to New York?”

“I really do not know,” she said, as she paused to dig into her large quilted purse, “here why don’t you look at Grandpa’s trip planning scrapbook, it’s probably got a few answers for that inquisitive little mind of yours.”

I turned and looked at the big ship, as it, and its four majestic stacks, made its way further into the voyage. Look mother I can fit the whole Titanic in the itty bitty space between my thumb and my index finger. Can we go on the Titanic someday mother, please?”

“Are you crying,” my mother asked.

I wiped the tear of disappointment off of my cheek and said, “I really wanted to go on the Titanic. It’s not fair that Grandpa gets to go and I don’t. I’m going to miss out on all of the excitement of her maiden voyage.”

My mother bent down and said, “Son you are a young man, with your whole life ahead of you. You will get to do things that you’re Grandpa and I never dreamed of doing. You just have to be patient it’s just wasn’t meant to happen this time, your time is coming, you’ll see. Why someday the Hampshire Chronicle will boast of the accomplishments of the young man from the Chapel District who didn’t get to float away into the sunset on the Titanic 1st voyage. You know what I think? I think something wonderful is going to happen to you because you got to stay here with your darling, amazing, wonderful mother. Besides a hundred years is a long time to be on a ship.”

I rolled my eyes and replied, “Mother, it’s not going to take a hundred years.”

“Look son, I know you are disappointed, and I can understand you feeling the way to do.” She gave me a big hug and said, “Say, why don’t we stop and grab a couple of sodas on the way home, that is, if you are not too sad to enjoy a tasty root beer.”

“Really,” I said excitedly, as I looked at the sign on the window that announced that we were about to enter, Berg’s Soda & Sundry Shop.

Mother grabbed my hand and said, “Come on we’ll sit next to the window and pretend that we are first class passengers sitting at the ships Veranda Café.“

We dodged our way through the mix of horse drawn traffic and automobiles as we made our way across the cobblestones to the soda shop. We got our root beers and found a table by the window. While mother went to fetch us a couple of straws I plopped Grandpas scrapbook down on the wooden table and began to thumb through it.

The very first photo that I saw had me visualizing myself strolling up the magnificent staircase that led up to the entrance to my first class accommodation. I could actually feel the coolness of the foot of the bronze cherub lamp that my mind had my hand resting on, as I imagined looking up at the ebb of natural light that was flooding in through the large glass domes. My mind added the color to the glass that the black and white photo couldn’t. I paused as I felt the sun shining through the picture window as it warmed the side of my body that was exposed to it.

“So,” my mom asked, “did you get to the part about the hundred years yet?”

“Not yet,” I replied, before it sunk in that she was kidding me again, so I replied “Motherrr,” and gave her a stern look. “Wait, here it is, Grandpa wrote right here, he says, I’m going to sit back and enjoy what I’m sure will be a way to short seven day cruise to New York. See mom, Grandpa didn’t write anything about the cruise taking a hundred years. A hundred years wouldn’t be a short trip.”

“Well,” my mom replied, “there could be weather delays you know.”

“Mother, it’s the Titanic,” I replied

I just rolled my eyes at her. “Mother did you know that the Titanic has a grand staircase that has oak paneling, and a clock right in the middle of all the carvings. Do you know that according to Grandpas notes, the clock dep…. Mom what’s this word?

She leaned over. Her wide brimmed hat touched my forehead as she read the word I was pointing at. “It’s depicts, the word is depicts. It means what it stands for or what it portrays, what it represents.”

“Do you know what he says the clock is supposed to depict Mom,” I asked.

“I’m guessing, the passage of time aboard The Titanic’s at sea level, would be too easy of an answer,“ she quipped.

“No mother, Grandpas printed note says; her clock and the fancy carvings around it depict, Honour and Glory,” I replied. I didn’t know what the whole honour and glory thing meant, and I was pretty sure Grandpa misspelled honor, but it didn’t matter all I really wanted to do was let my mother know what her 8 year old was missing out on. I sat there for a second staring at the chunks of ice in my glass, and the etched iceberg design that was on the side of my Berg’s Soda Fountain mug, as if I was going to find some kind of meaning in them.

My thought was interrupted as I heard mother say, “A penny for your thoughts.”

“I was just thinking, I replied, “about how much fun I would be having right now, sliding down that staircase. Can I have some more soda please?”

My mother grabbed my glass and went back over to the soda jerk to get me a refill. I flipped the page and continued my photo cruise. The first class accommodations were trimmed in beautiful wood paneling, and furniture that looked like the type that my Grandpa had in his large English Country estate. The Café Parisien even had a trellis lined veranda and a wait staff that actually had some individuals from France amongst its members. My lip began to pucker, as I once again started feeling sorry for myself that I wasn’t onboard.

Mother kissed me on the forehead and said, “You know you should be happy for your Grandpa. He has worked hard to get to the position that he is in today. Besides like your Grandpa always says everything happens for a reason and I believe that there is a reason, or reasons that you and I aren’t on that ship. And one of those reasons is that you have two more weeks of school left.

Mother paused and then she said, “Son I am going to be honest with you, you see it’s not your Grandpa’s fault, he offered to take us with him but I said no, because I didn’t want you to miss that much school.”

“Mother you said no, but why? I would rather miss school then a chance to be onboard Titanic.” My tear ducts opened up and I began to sob uncontrollably. Tears fell on all four stacks of the majestic ship that the page displayed that was pasted in Grandpas scrap book.

“I…, well, I…, well to be honest,” my mom said, “it wasn’t only about you missing school, I wanted to make sure that ship was sea worthy before I put you on it.”

“But mom,” I cried, “she is unsinkable, it says it right here, in the newspaper clipping.”

“Those are a man’s words son. I have the tendency to go with my instincts when it comes to my baby. I told Grandpa that I wasn’t comfortable with him going either, but he just laughed at me.”

I quickly slurped down the rest of my root beer and then said, “I want to go home.”

“We went back to our home in the Chapel District and I went straight to my room. I turned on my lamp and sobbed, my poor me tears all the rest of the way through Grandpas scrap book. I read one newspaper clipping that talked about how there were three different grades of passengers, first class, second class and third class which was also known as steerage class.

“There’s even a Norman Wilkerson painting titled, ‘Approach to America.’ They have thought of everything, I can’t wait to get onboard,” my Grandpa wrote.

I read about the pool, the elevator that rose up and down seven decks. And I couldn’t believe the part about how only 3 of the ships 4 massive stacks were functional. Grandpa’s side note pointed out that the 4th was added to make the Titanic, which was 882 feet 9 inches long look more impressive. When I was done parts of my Grandpas scrapbook was thoroughly wet from my flood of pouting tears, and I didn’t care.

I turned away from my mother as she came into the room and set a warm glass of milk on my night stand. As she closed my door she said, “Good night sweet heart I love you.”

I didn’t reply with words, I just made sure she could hear me sniffling and sobbing.

The next morning before school I sat silently at the kitchen table, still disappointed in my Mothers decision, and read The Hampshire Chronicle account about how effortlessly the Titanic’s massive steam engines pushed the mighty ship across the English Channel to its first stop, at Cherbourg France where passengers got on and off. A photo of a man working out on the rowing machine in the ships gymnasium had a caption under it that said, “Next I’ll be off to the Turkish Bath, what a majestic ship the Titanic is.”

I hardly said a word to my mother as I made my way out the door to school. The kids at school asked me why my Granddad didn’t take me with him. I told them that my not getting to go was my mother’s decision, not my Grandpa’s.

That night after dinner I went to my room and read more about the Titanic and how it had its own telephone system, 3 electric lifts in first class, one in 2nd class, and a couple of things that I could do without, the Library, the smoking room and Barber shop. I fell asleep with the Chronicle on my chest.

The next morning, day two of the Titanic’s maiden voyage, The Chronicle’s article told of how the ship had made it to Queenstown, Ireland where it picked up even more passengers. I was amazed to read that some people in the steerage class actually sold everything they had and were on their way to America, to start a whole new life. Many sailed by themselves and planned to send for their families once they were established in their new home land.

“Would you like some more eggs son,” my mother asked.

“Speaking of eggs, Mother did you know that they supposedly have over 40,000 eggs with them and there is even a Renault, 35 horse power automobile on board? Wow, I bet that car is really fast. And listen to this she also has about 75,000 pounds of meat and nearly 1000 bottles of wine on board. Oh and yes I would like some more eggs and could I have a little more tea please,” I asked. “Is 825 tons of coal a lot mother?”

“Yes you can have more eggs,” my mother replied, and then she said, “825 tons sounds like a lot to me.”

“Grandpas notes say that she uses that much coal in a single day,” I continued.

“I am sorry that we didn’t go on the trip this time son.”

I wasn’t totally ready to give in and forgive her, so I went back to reading today’s article. I read something that I just had to share with her. “Mother did you know that the Titanic nearly ran into the SS New York as it departed from here. It says here that the New York came within 4 feet of being struck by The Titanic’s bow and they would have collided for sure if it wasn’t for the quick work of the tug boat Captains. What would have happened if the Titanic would have struck the New York? Maybe if you hadn’t made me leave the dock so soon I would have seen the commotion. Hey, maybe they would have had to delay her leaving port to repair damages long enough for school to be over. ”

“I would have to say if those two ships would have collided, it would have been a bad sign, probably more so for the smaller SS New York, then it would have been for the Titanic,” my mother replied.

After school I met up with my friends and we played at the park, where amongst other things we sailed the up and down waves of the SS teeter totter, until my stomach told me it was time for dinner. It seemed my life had been thrown a life jacket as I had survived the disappointment of not having been on board, as all of the self-pity had turned to a distant memory that sailed to the stern side of my brain.

On the third day of the voyage that I checked off on my wall calendar, we received word from my Granddad, via the Marconi wireless radio that he was having fun but wished that we were with him and that he missed us already. He ended by saying next time you guys are definitely coming along. I know you both will absolutely love this magnificent ship, I’ll send word when we reach New York, Bam voyage, Grandpa.

By day four my mind was back to focusing on just charting the course of a care free eight year old until I started hearing rumors about some sort of accident that the Titanic had been involved in. I wondered if it was possible that she had run into some other ship. No way, I reasoned the Atlantic Ocean is too big for something like that to happen. Word buzzed around school, that there indeed had been an accident, but not to worry as all passengers were safe.

Right after school I ran home to mother and found her with her head down on the table and sobbing uncontrollably. My granddads gold pocket watch and chain was clutched in her right hand.

“What is it mother,” I asked.

“Mother looked up at me wiped the tears off her face with a handkerchief and said, “It’s the Titanic…she…, she…, sunk.”

“That can’t be true, she’s unsinkable,” I replied. “What about grandpa? But I heard everyone was safe.”

Mother walked over and hugged me and said, “Grandpa loved you so much and he would be so happy that we weren’t onboard with him.” She placed grandpa’s gold pocket watch in my hand and said; “he would want you to have this.”

Suddenly I was glad to be standing on dry ground, I was happy that I hadn’t got what I wanted this time, I was delighted to be wrapped in the loving arms of my mother and then with my eyes filled with tears I said, “thank you mother, you were right.”

I was so glad that we didn’t go on the maiden voyage. I just wished that my Grandpa wouldn’t have. Now I knew why I stared deep into the chunks of ice at Berg’s Soda and Sundry. Grandpa was right everything happens for a reason. I looked at his picture over the mantle and cried.

From the Author: I learned a lot researching for this fictional piece. The little icebergs of rejections and trials that I have run into during my minds writing cruises are just bumps in the road, as I, at least to the point of this writing, have been given yet another sea of blank pages today to sail my imagination across. We all have to appreciate the opportunities that we are given and cherish the love ones that we are surrounded by. We can’t be guaranteed that we or they will be gifted with another breath or another step. I can’t imagine that any of the Souls aboard the Titanic had any idea that they had booked a hundred year cruise. God Bless each and every one of them and I pray that they all have found peace, joy, love and everlasting happiness in heaven, at the beginning of their new maiden voyage, the one that began 100 years ago.

Ron Rutler   www.theraveninbermudashorts.com

Twitter: @RavensBermudas

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Penny’s Guardian Goblin

Penny’s Guardian Goblin

By Ron Rutler

This one might be a bit scary for the young one’s. (Scroll down for lighter more fun stories.)

“Are Goblins real,” Penny asked.

“No, Penny, like I told you before,” her step-mom replied, “goblins are not real. They are just stupid little made up characters meant to make things seem a little spookier. Besides, your nightlight will keep you safe. And if you believe what your old man use to say, the manufacturer’s warranty guarantees that it will keep goblins away. Look if for some reason the night light doesn’t work the security system I installed,” thanks to your dad’s generous will, and life insurance, she thought to herself, “will do the job. Now get to sleep.”

Penny held up her plastic pumpkin that contained all the treasures that she captured trick-or-treating and asked, “can I have a piece of candy, please?”

“No way,” her step-mom replied. That sugar will only make your nightmares worse, and lord knows I don’t need that to happen. Besides it’s nearly a year old that stuff has got to be getting past stale by now. In fact I’m going to toss that candy and that stupid pumpkin away, first thing in the morning.

“But my daddy gave me that pumpkin, you can’t throw it away,” Penny replied.

“I can do whatever I darn well please, young lady,” she replied. “This is my house now. Look, you’ve got to stop bothering your dear old step-mother in the middle of the night. If you make me crawl out of bed one more time I am going to cancel your birthday party. Now get to sleep, I need some rest, the guys are coming by early to start construction on my pool. You’re going to be what, six years old on Friday? For crying out loud girl it’s time to grow up.”

Her step-mom turned on the nightlight and closed the door. Penny grabbed a piece of chocolate and plopped it into her mouth. She knelt on her bed, resting her elbows on the windowsill. She studied the black and white image of the neighbor’s house. The narrow sidewalk that separated the houses always looked colorless, but tonight even the brick on her neighbor’s place looked like something out of a black and white photo. She wondered if it had something to do with the full moon she saw earlier while she was out boldly attacking goblins with her imaginary pirate crew. The wind blew a dry leaf past her open window. Startled by the scratchy noise, she dove for the security of the underbelly of her blanket and lay there nervously chomping on her smuggled piece of loot. Suddenly she reacted to what her step-mom had said by whispering, “I won’t let you toss away my pumpkin this pirate will make sure that it and my candy are safely stowed away, by first light tomorrow morning, long before you and dad’s business partner step out of the master bedroom.”

A beam from her nightlight made its way through a crease in the blanket. Comforted, she closed her eyes and sailed off to sleep. She tossed and turned as she felt a presence in her room. She tried to force her eyes open, but it was nearly impossible for her to lift her anchored eyelids. She tried screaming, but nothing left port.

She woke up and was relieved to find no stowaways. The room, however, seemed much darker than it had when she got up to snag her forbidden snack. She noticed that her nightlight was gone, as her cheek rolled onto something sticky. Examining her pillow, she discovered her glob of candy that had slipped out of her mouth. My step-mother is going to kill me when she sees this, she thought.

“Not if it’s not there, “a raspy voice whispered, as a grimy hand with long, yellowed fingernails reached through her screen and ripped off the piece of pillowcase that held the sticky evidence. She watched as the hand pulled back and stopped midway through the screen, as if tempted to pull her through as well. She tried screaming, but once again, she couldn’t.

She stared into the eyes of the shadowy hooded being. She looked unbelievingly as the hand retreated, the wire reweaving itself behind it.

This time her scream found the all full ahead, and she let out everything she had. She backed away to the other side of her bed, not daring, to take her eyes off of it.

She screamed again. The being just stayed put, and whispered, “That’s it keep screaming my darling, I’ll take care of your step-mom,” as it continued its soul-penetrating stare. It did not run off into the night like she had expected it to. Penny stopped her screams as she heard her step-mom, yawn then say, “What is it this time?”

Penny looked back towards the figure and found it still staring in. It lifted up her pumpkin, the patch of cloth, and her still glowing nightlight. She watched as it silently tore slow, deliberate slices in her screen with those fingernails, and then it disappeared.

“Penny, what is your problem,” her step-mom asked.

Penny pointed to the window. Her step-mom leaned over looked out and said, “I don’t see anything. What happened to your screen? Did you do this on purpose,” her step-mom asked, her breath smelling of alcohol. “That’s it I’m canceling your birthday party.”

Penny turned to object and saw the being standing over her step-mom, raising those long nails in the air, as if he were going to attack her.

“Daddy!” She screamed.

Penny sat up straight as something warm splashed across her face.

“So I threw water in your face, so what,” her step-mother stated. “I had to do something. You wouldn’t wake up. There’s a switch you wouldn’t wake up, look at me, Penny. Your dad is dead, you might as well get use to that, this is my place now and I call the shots around here, now get to sleep. Say, where’s your nightlight and pumpkin? Did you hide them from me?”

“Your, your neck is bleeding,” Penny commented.

Her step-mom didn’t respond. The expression that came over her face announced that she was at least a thousand miles away as she turned and walked out of the room holding her neck with both hands.

Penny got up to check on her Step-mom. As she slowly passed her dresser mirror she stopped as she noticed that something red was splattered across her face and clothes. Then she saw the goblins reflection in the mirror, he was standing right behind her in a swirling fog. She froze as he reached around her and placed her pumpkin and her still glowing night light on the dresser. She turned to see if he was actually there, but he wasn’t. As quickly as he had disappeared he reappeared. He reached out grabbed her and pulled her into the mirror. He stood there staring at her and said, ”you don’t have to worry about your money worshiping step-mom, anymore.”

“Daddy, is that really you”

Penny asked.

“Go back to your dream my dear Sweet Penny, “he replied. I have to go plant a little evidence on an old business partner. My old partner and his mistress, my wife, got away with murder once, this will just about even the score.”

Penny pulled herself out of her dream and looked out through the repaired screen into her dad’s face.

He smiled, and said, “remember your guardian goblin will always be there for you, all you have to do is whisper. And then he turned and disappeared into the colorless night.

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Big Brothers Get Bullied Too

Big Brothers Get Bullied Too
By Ron Rutler

“My big brother can outrun your big brother any day,” boasted Jammers.
“Oh no, he can’t,” Kade replied, “my brother is the biggest, strongest, fastest big brother in the whole wide world.
“Is not,” Jammers steadfastly replied. He knew his brother was number one and not one to be messed with.
“Is so,” Kade adamantly replied, thoroughly convinced that his was the most awesome.
With their “is not”/“is so” debate ending in what they both chalked up as a win, they moved on to the important stuff, as Jammers asked Kade if he wanted to go get some candy.
“Sure,” Kade replied, as he dug in his pocket for change.
They both took comfort knowing that they were under the protection of their big brothers. No bully or any other bad guy for that matter would dare mess with them while big brother was on call.
Later in life Jammers was playing cards with his retired sibling when the phone rang. He could tell by the expression on his big brother’s face that he was being taken to an uncomfortable place by what he was being told by an old friend. That’s too bad,” Jammer’s brother finally replied. I’m sorry for his family’s loss, he paused again and then as if from a confessional he blurted out, “LaFant use to bully me when we were kids.”
He paused to listen to what his friend had to say, and then he said, “no way, you too, well I’ll be. Sorry man. Wow that sack of lard left quite a legacy, huh. What a sad, sad way to be remembered. So are we still on for coffee tomorrow morning? Great, I’ll see you then. I still can’t believe that little Kade’s big brother was bullied too.”
When he hung up the phone he said, “that was Kades big brother.”
“Yeah I figured,” Jammers replied, “next time you talk to him make sure you tell him I said hi.”
“Do you remember Tag LaFant,” his brother asked.
Jammers replied that the name sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place the face.
“Well, it’s just as well. Anyhow, he died this morning,” Jammer’s brother mentioned, I guess you heard me say that he use used to bully me and apparently Kades brother on the days that he wasn’t harassing me. Want another soda,” he asked as he headed towards the fridge.
That was the very first time that Jammers knew that his big brother had been bullied. He was shocked, mad and – surprisingly — a little sad for the bully as he thought about how that “sack of lard” legacy went with LaFant to the grave.
When we were kids, Jammers thought, if someone would have told Kade and me that our big brothers were being bullied, we would have rapid-fired “is not’s,” for hours, but the “is so’s” would have been right, as I now know that big brothers get bullied, too.
Jammer’s stood up and gave his brother a big hug.
His brother said, “Whaaaatttt…?”
Jammers replied, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” his brother replied. “For the record, I would still kick anybody’s rear that tries to mess with my little brother.” While rubbing the hair on his younger brother’s head he said, “yeah if wittle Jammer’s ever gets in a tight, “jam,” all he has to do is call his big brother. What kind of name is Jammer’s anyway? I wonder how mom and dad managed to come up with that one?”
“And I would do the same for you,” Jammer replied. I just wish I knew back then so I could have done something about it. But please do me a favor and stop teasing me about my name, it’s a little different, we both know that, but I happen to like it. So whose deal is it anyway and where’s my soda?”
“In the fridge,” his brother replied. “Hey you never answered me. You know, for the record, I like to kid you about your name, it’s what big brother’s do, but to be honest I have always thought that the name Jammers sounded cool.
“Really, Jammers asked, “so wait, then have you been bullying your little brother all these years?
“It’s called good natured teasing there is a difference. So deal already,” his big brother instructed as he got up to get his little brother a soda.

BULLYING IS A “LOSE-LOSE” SITUATION! The person getting bullied is hurt emotionally, and quite often physically, while the person doing the bullying is forever resented. Think about that. The bully is resented forever. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of that much bad karma being tossed out in the universe as being a good thing. If you were the bully and you were reviewing your life from your deathbed, would you be proud of the fact that you crushed someone else’s feelings or maybe caused a life to be taken? I hope not!
MAKE THE GOLDEN RULE THE RULE!

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The Last Christmas Decoration

The Last Christmas Decoration

We have this Christmas bear decoration. He looks like he’s carved out of wood, like those bears in yards at Lake Tahoe. He spends the off season hibernating between form fitting pieces of Styrofoam. That Styrofoam is the reason I took him out to the front porch, as I remembered how every time we pulled him out of the box, we’d end up with tiny pieces of clingy Styrofoam everywhere.

Well, taking him outside turned out to be a big oops that I tried to hide from my wife.  You see, I accidentally knocked the bear over.  As he hit the concrete, the little Christmas tree he holds broke off. After verbalizing a quick holy crap, I decided to get the glue. I squeezed the last bit of glue onto the broken pieces. I was so relived, I had fixed him and didn’t have to tell my wife about my unfortunate little accident — just yet.

Our bear greeted everyone at the door with just as much warmth as he had in previous Christmas seasons. The holidays came and went faster than ever, and before I knew it, it was time to take down the decorations.

We made our way through the house carefully putting everything away. When I picked up our bear, the Christmas tree fell off. Fortunately, I caught it before it hit the tiled floor. I checked to see if my wife was looking and was relieved that she wasn’t. Suddenly it dawned on me, there’s no glue in the house. Now what, I wondered? Should I wedge the little tree in with him? I don’t know, my long-term planning side replied, that could cause a bigger problem next year. About that time, my wife came down the stairs. I’d been caught green-Christmas-tree-handed. I held it up and said, “Should I just stick this in the box?”

“You broke it?” she asked.

“Sorry, Hon, I did it when I got him out this year,” I confessed. “I thought I had it fixed, so I didn’t see the need to tell you. So, should I just stick the loose tree in the box?”

“Ah…,” she replied, “why don’t you glue it back on before you put it away?”

“Great idea,” I replied, “I’ll run out and get some glue.”

And so the bear, the last Christmas decoration to be put away, waited for me to glue his little tree back on.  “I hope you enjoyed your extra time out of the box, my little friend,” I whispered as I sent him off to hibernate.

By Ron Rutler

 

 

 

 

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The First Day of School

 I was up early, heading to band practice with some of the guys that I was lucky enough to play rock and roll with back in the late ‘60s.  One of the advantages of a flexible work schedule and the retirement status of some of the members is that we practice early in the day, before the honey-do lists kick in.  I am amazed how the chords of musical expression that we struck back then still carry the harmony of great memory that has somehow run up the scale, back into a prominent part of our lives, as we step further into this side of 60. 

I was caught off guard by the amount of traffic and the pockets of kids carrying books.  Then it hit me; today’s the first day of school.  I found myself driving by young scholars, making their respective ways towards their personal learning experience.

I began to wonder what kind of memories they would be making for themselves.  I was struck by the different ways they handled their approach of the new school year.  Some shuffled around on their driveway, shooting hoops with friends as they waited for their bus.  Others walked stern-faced, as if every step was another on an uphill climb.  Still others were accompanied by a big brother who was actually smiling and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the responsibility of walking his younger sibling to school.  A little girl stood on a corner looking back at the steps she had taken as if she were contemplating retracing them. The faces mirrored many attitudes, all heading towards the same school, guided by their own inner compass.

I could tell by their expressions that some were running toward the social experience with open arms, while others seemed to be pushing a wheelbarrow full of bricks.  I found myself rooting for them all, hoping that they find — and then follow — their purpose, whatever it may be, and that they all could be gifted with a wide-smiled “I am me and I am proud of it” attitude.  I wanted to somehow magically convey the “what I know now that I didn’t know then” wisdom, that they all truly need to be enjoying this time of their life, that they alone are the crossing guards for personal success.

Here’s hoping that someday, a short gazillion years from this first day of school, when the speed of time has them sailing on into their other side of 60, they will all look back, smile at what they did not hold themselves back from, and enjoy surfing the memorable waves of personal and shared accomplishments.

I silently wished them all the best as I drove on toward band practice.

Ron Rutler

 

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Grand Pa’s Nice Dream Truck

Grand Pa’s Nice Dream Truck

A purple moose smiled at me in my dream

So tell me grandpa, what does it mean?

The purple moose means to bring you good luck

A dreamy treat sent from my Nice Dream Truck

A buffalo smiled and danced on a stream in my dream

So tell me grandpa, what does it mean?

Tons of fun and light on his feet, is Buffalo Buck

His refreshing smile comes from my nice dream truck

A zebra colored elephant made me laugh in my dream

So tell me grandpa, what does it mean?

The funny bone Min-Z the elephant struck

Is yet another treat from Grandpa’s Nice Dream Truck

A cowboy rode a cotton candy cow in my dream

So tell me grandpa, what does it mean?

The cotton candy cow was added for yucks

A new treat tonight from my Nice Dream Truck

Happy slumber said the driver of a colorful truck in my dream

So tell me grandpa, what does it mean?

It’s a wish of pleasant dreams from Mickey, Indy, or Duck

Some of the drivers of Grand Pa’s Nice Dream truck

Ron Rutler

 

 

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