You will always have less trouble with a snake in a towsack than a man in a robe

Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

The watch

The Boy Who Lost His Watch

(Story Number One in the “Tate and Sammy” Series)

The Present

It had been a very special birthday present because it meant that Abe was growing up. His very own watch! Just like the grown-ups, just like Mom and Dad! Abe was so proud that he showed the watch to everyone. He showed it to his teacher. He showed it to the crossing guard on his way to school. He showed it to the postman. He showed it to the minister at his church and his Sunday School teacher. Abe was very proud of his new watch.

Each night, before Abe went to sleep, he carefully placed his watch on the little table beside his bed. The face of the watch would glow in the dark just like a firefly! Sometimes when Abe would wake up in the middle of the night he would stare at the pretty green dial until he fell fast asleep again. His very own watch!

When Abe would wake up he couldn’t wait to put his new watch on and fasten the little leather band on his wrist. He was always very careful to make sure it was on securely so he wouldn’t lose it.

Abe’s Dad had told him to make sure and put the watch in his pocket if he was playing so it wouldn’t accidentally come off or get broken. This was very hard to do for Abe because there were so many people he wanted to show the watch to and they couldn’t see it if it was in his pocket!

Abe decided that he would just be really, really careful when he played and then the watch would be OK. After all he was a lot more grown up now and he was sure he could take good care of it without having to take it off.

The Park

Abe really looked forward to Saturday because some of his friends would go to the park and play catch. Abe was a very good player and could throw the ball farther than any of the other boys his age. Sometimes he would throw the ball so hard it would go way over their heads and they would have to chase it. He was that strong!

Abe was playing catch with his friend Marty that Saturday and Marty had to move farther and farther back because Abe was really throwing the ball hard. After all, he was a lot more grown up since his birthday, and stronger too! They played catch for a long time until they got hungry and then they decided to walk back to Abe’s house for a sandwich.

As they were walking Abe glanced down at his wrist to see what time it was. What he saw, or actually didn’t see, was his watch!!! It was gone! He hollered “Oh no”! “Marty my watch is missing”!!!

The two boys looked around where they were standing but the watch wasn’t anywhere to be seen. They tried to remember the exact route they had taken leaving the park and retraced their steps. They walked and they looked and they walked and they looked but couldn’t see the watch anywhere.

Finally they were back at the park where they had been playing catch and they looked and looked everywhere they could remember having been. They stopped everyone they saw and asked if they had found a watch but no one had.

Abe was getting really scared that he had lost his new watch for good. He remembered what his father had told him about taking it off when he played and all of a sudden he didn’t feel so grown up anymore. If only he would have put the watch in his pocket!

Even though their stomachs were growling with hunger the two boys kept looking. They looked all through the grass and even in the trash cans, yuck!!! But no watch. Finally Marty had to go home and Abe watched him sadly as he walked away. Somehow it hadn’t been as bad with his friend there but now he was alone.

Abe looked and looked, covering the same area over and over hoping he had just missed seeing it in the grass. Abe heard his name being called and he looked up to see his Dad walking towards him. “Oh no!!!” He was late getting home and now he was in real trouble AND he had lost his watch!

Abe’s Dad walked up and said “Son, don’t you realize how late it is? What are you doing out here all alone?” Abe just hung his head. He couldn’t bear to tell his Dad what he had done. When Abe didn’t answer him, his Dad knew that something was wrong. “Abe, what is the matter”? He heard his Dad ask.

Abe’s head just drooped lower and he finally mumbled “I’m sorry Dad I lost my watch. I was playing catch and I didn’t put it in my pocket.” There was a long silence and Abe finally looked up at his Dad. “Abe it is getting too dark to look for your watch now. We have to go home. Maybe we can find it tomorrow after church.”

It was a long silent walk back to his house with his Dad and Abe had plenty of time to think about what he had done. He wished he really was as grown up as he had thought when he got that watch for his birthday. Now it was gone.

His Sunday School lesson the next day was about “pride”. Abe’s teacher asked the class if they knew what “Pride cometh before the fall” meant. Abe knew what it meant and he told the class his story about how proud he had been of his watch and how he was too proud to put it in his pocket and had lost it at the park. He knew that his pride at being able to throw the ball so hard had probably caused his watch to come off too. He told the other kids how feeling more grown up had convinced him that he didn’t have to listen to his father’s advice.

When he was finished talking one of his friend’s said “Hey why don’t we all go look for Abe’s watch after church!!!” The other kids all yelled “Yay!!” And Abe’s Sunday School teacher agreed to go with the class to the park that afternoon if their parents were OK with it.

When Abe and his parents arrived at the park his whole class was there plus some of their parents and even some older kids from the church. Abe explained where he and Marty had been playing and everyone spread out looking for Abe’s watch.

They looked and they looked and they turned over leaves and looked under things but no watch! Abe was getting worried that someone else had already found the watch and kept it.

Two of his friends were looking under a bush when a squirrel jumped out of it and ran across the grass and up into a big oak tree. As the squirrel climbed out onto a limb and chattered down at them one of the boys yelled “Hey look” “Up in the tree”!!!

Everyone came running over to the oak tree to see what the shouting was all about. And there, caught in the branches of the tree limb was Abe’s watch! All the kids jumped up and down and yelled and Abe just stood there looking up at his beautiful watch. One of the older boys climbed up in the tree and unhooked Abe’s watch from the branches. When he got down he handed Abe the watch and Abe thanked him and he thanked everyone for coming out and helping find his watch

On their way home Abe told his parents he was sorry that he had not listened and he told them he would take better care of his watch in the future. His father smiled down at Abe, patted him on the shoulder, and told him that it looked like he was really growing up after all.

The End.

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Hungry monkey trumps fat tiger

In the land of the Banyan Tree a great battle was raging.  An invading army was gathering its forces for a final attack and their victory seemed imminent.  A spy returned to the camp with the news that the invaders would attack before dawn because their food and water supplies were exhausted and their forces were growing restless.  The Emperor’s Generals all advised to hold their defenses one last time knowing that, if thwarted, the enemy would be forced to retreat and victory would be theirs.

The Emperor weighed all the options gravely as he listened to each General in turn.  When the last adviser had finished he addressed his leaders:

“While it is still dark break camp and retreat out of range of the enemy.  Take only your weapons and leave the food and water stores along with all your valued possessions behind.”

The Generals and advisers were incredulous.  Had their Emperor lost his courage and his honor?  Why hand over to the enemy everything they wanted and needed to declare victory and to survive?  Surely it would be better to meet them on the battlefield and at least exact a price for their victory.  One General suggested that, if a retreat was in order, at least poison the food stores and  water they could not take with them.  The Emperor declined the advice stating that it was pointless and too time consuming, they would suspect the poison and not consume either the food or the water until it had been tested.

The treasurer pleaded with the Emperor to take as much of the kingdom’s riches as possible in order to purchase exile in a neighboring kingdom.  Again the Emperor declined, to the astonishment of all, stating they could not travel fast enough with the additional weight!

As ordered by the Emperor, while still dark the Generals had their men gather only their weapons and quietly retreated several miles to safety with neither food nor water to sustain them.

While the Emperor’s army was  retreating the invaders were preparing for battle.  Their Generals were inciting the army into a blood frenzy and their forces spent the night preparing for the pre-dawn  attack. Just prior to first light the invaders attacked their enemy only to find the camp completely unguarded and all the stores and valuables left behind.

After the invading generals established order and had the stores tested they sent a company of soldiers out to follow the vanquished army only to discover that they had retreated far into the hills with neither food nor water.

Too exhausted and famished to pursue them in force the invading army set up camp and began their victory feast.  The generals quarreled over who should be credited with the victory as their men fought one another over the abandoned riches not claimed by their leaders.  Barrels of wine were opened and consumed by the victorious warriors during their celebration.

Finally satiated, the drunken and exhausted army fell into a deep slumber.  Guards were posted but the victory over their cowardly enemy was so complete that soon they too fell asleep

As the invaders celebrated, a few miles away the Emperor addressed his demoralized generals and his soldiers: “We are now in almost the same position as the invaders were a few hours ago.  We have no food, water, nor any of our valuables.  At dawn the invaders, freshly rested and fed, will surely pursue us and put us to death or enslave us.  Those who may escape will only die of starvation or thirst. The only hope for survival each of us has rests in our returning to the camp immediately and attacking them while they sleep.

And so it was, after a mighty battle,  many of the befuddled invaders were slain and their disorganized army driven away by the wise Emperor’s warriors.

e.d. rowe

The Robin’s Nest

The view from the second story window was almost completely obscured by the two oak trees standing like sentinels in the front yard. What could be seen was the remnants of a recently abandoned robin’s nest perched precariously in the fork of the branch nearest the window, small pale blue cracked egg shells were all that was left behind. “Recently abandoned”; she repeated , out loud this time. She could relate to that concept as her gaze swept the room. So much stuff, baseball gloves, posters, pennants, and a closet crammed full to overflowing with articles marking various stages in her son’s life. No particular order to the heaps and stacks. No way for a stranger to discern the sequence of their arrival or of their discharge from current usefulness.

But she was no stranger and her heart was swept with waves of emotion as she looked at each memento of days now gone. Forever gone. Memories ghosted through her as she reverently touched each object. This room had become a time capsule and now the door was locked, trapping her and its contents for eternity. The objects she touched were mere remnants of the life of a child, her child, as they had traveled together to this jumping-off point in his life.

Not wanting to dampen his excitement she had put on a brave face as she helped him pack his things for his move to college. She had fussed at the mess he was creating with his last minute scramble to find this or that but her heart ached, and ached horribly, with each item he packed away. “Well, There, I guess that’s it!” he had said as he emptied the last drawer in his dresser. The hollow sound of the empty drawer thumping closed echoed within the pit of her stomach.

“There that’s it”. That was it? Is it? He was moving. He had always been moving but she had always been part of the journey until now. An essential part. Not some discarded catcher’s mitt or the stub of a souvenir concert ticket. But now things had changed.

Having put on a brave smile she waved goodbye and watched his car disappear into the distance.  As she sat in his room later she smiled wondering if one day another little boy or girl would be there marveling at daddy’s stuff and boy would she ever have some stories to tell!

Dark Wing

A thin iridescent line of light marked the horizon as the dawn of this new day approached. In moments the line diffused into an red-orange crescent as the sun began pushing the light ahead of its celestial path. The jungle began to come alive with a cacophony of animal screams and whistles like an orchestra of mad men, each instrument oblivious to the others. Celebrating their survival of the night the jungle denizens danced merrily in the tree tops or soared above the canopy of trees in the morning air. The predators of the night slunk back to their lairs. Their time had passed and now, their advantage gone with the light, they must rest in preparation for their own time at the end of this day. And so it was as it had been deigned by a far greater force.One predator remained ,however, foregoing his rest and silently observing the rituals of the new day. His amber eyes squinting from the unfamiliar glare of sunlight as he sat motionless so as not to influence even one random act. He watched and he learned and when he had digested his new-found knowledge he retreated back to his cave to sleep and dream new dreams.

He was one of a small lineage of beasts who were breaking the chains of DNA and broadening their knowledge base, refusing to be bound by centuries of snail paced adaptations. By stretching their instinctive patterns they had grown stronger and their surge ahead of others in their species had produced novel physical changes. Generations of climbing and leaping from tree to tree had triggered genetic changes that now broke the bonds of gravity and imbued them with a primitive wing structure.

They had one more advantage: their DNA was compatible with any other land creature. Capable of interbreeding with other species, they were moving genetically at lightning speed and morphing into perfect creatures. They were His favorites; intrinsically patient and curious they watched silently and noted all. Unselfish and regal in their God-like bearing He found comfort in their keen appreciation of order.

It was good that they had developed this strength and patience and ferocity for it was time to bring them more into the center of His plan. They would be the guardians of Order and would protect this world against the destructive forces of imbalance. Only they truly understood the purpose of His creation.

Humans had originally been preordained with the responsibility of stewardship but had succumbed to egocentrism and were now engaged in a destructive onslaught against the Natural Order He had created. They had long ago lost their special place and now had to be brought under the rule of a nobler beast. It was almost time.

The tall shadowy figures moved silently almost to the edge of the jungle and assembled in a line that stretched for miles. Their thick, black torsos expanded and contracted rhythmically as their breathing and heartbeat synchronized with their leader. All was stillness inside each beast except for the awareness of their unity and no sound escaped this savage line save for the boiling hiss of each breath. Although miles of jungle separated many of them from their leader they saw him in their mind as he stepped into the clearing. Standing erect his magnificent body towered nine feet above the ground. His wings spanned over twelve feet in flight but, until now, had only been used for soaring above the jungle canopy.

His body and mind was perfection. Powerful legs allowed him to spring high into the air, unfold his wings, and soar for great distances. The digits and talons on his feet were long, enabling him to grasp objects of prey or provide him with sure footing on the ground or in the trees. Similarly his upper torso and arms were powerfully sculptured and the retractable, cat-like talons of his long fingers and thumbs were razor sharp.

They were of one mind and their individual strength flowed from their combined life force. Their instincts were not diluted by individualism or ego nor was the fear of death within their nature. Their motivation was the re-establishment of the Natural Order and the destruction of those forces opposing it.

Molly

It was Sunday morning and swirls of dust blew across the dirt road on their way to obscurity, occasionally brushing against the old pickup truck. There was a casual indifference to their movement, an indifference that was not shared by the occupant of the truck.

Faint strains of church music pushed feebly against the wind as if in an attempt to reach him, to change his mind. But church music held no power over him nor did the words of any backwoods preacher that he had ever listened to.

When Ruby had been alive he had humored her when she wanted to listen to the radio preachers. It seemed to comfort her in a way he could not understand. She was gone now and the radio sat mostly silent, except for the evening weather reports. It was best that Ruby was not here now. She would only try to interfere and that would be a nuisance.

On a hill slightly above a grove of oaks was the community cemetery where everyone was eventually sent to the same level no matter their station in life. He found his gaze fixed on the spot halfway up the hill where Ruby, and  now Molly, lay buried, the dirt still freshly mounded over their daughter’s grave. One space was saved on the other side of Molly.

He had failed Molly and he had failed Ruby too. He didn’t want to admit it but he knew it was the truth. Ruby would have expected more of him and she would have been right.

In five minutes or so the church would be letting out and after the handshaking and chasing down of children, the worshipers would load up in their cars and head for home and Sunday dinner. Good people, most of them, just trying to get through the briars and brambles of life and hang onto something they could believe in. Anyone could believe in something until it had been taken away, reduced to vaporous recollections of the past.

The winchester rifle made a small metallic click as he laid it across the hood of the truck. Not everyone would be having Sunday dinner today.

 

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