“You will go forth leaping like calves from the stall!” Malachi 4:2 The Bible
The verse above, pictures for me the serious play of writing, teaming up words to skip along page or screen, leaping into mind and heart!
Excerpt from Hidden Within.
A story in progress…
Touch Stones, October 7, 9:33 AM
“What do these stones mean?”– Joshua 4:21
“Depends, each person gives a meaning to the ones we erect.” – Book of Hardy
Mount Olivet Cemetery is C shaped, embracing within its trees and grave stones an established neighbourhood of the living. With Abner, Hardy meanders its paths, an odd couple. Hardy lean and tall, black toque, turtle neck, cargo pants, and military boots. The only exception to this colour void, but barely, is his brown leather bomber jacket. Abner matches the colour scheme in black and white but he is squat and round.
Abner snuffles leaves and dried bouquets, while Hardy reads the occasional epitaph such as: Short & Sweet, In Life & Personality. He thinks of his teen friend Simeon. In this way they arrive first at the designated meeting place: Vincent Coleman’s grave, the telegraph operator who stayed at his post to warn incoming trains of the impending explosion in Halifax Harbour.
His tombstone reads: ‘In Loving Memory of P. Vincent Coleman; Killed in the Halifax Disaster; Dec 6, 1917; Aged 45 Yrs; Erected by his wife. Frances A.; Born Oct 23, 1877; Died June 11, 1970.
“Ninety-three years” Hardy thinks, “Wonder if she was sweet to the end.” Taking a Perrier from the bomber’s pocket he takes a few mouthfuls, then bends to offer it to Abner, admonishing, “No back washes little buddy.” Abner slurps a few sloshy mouthfuls while Hardy with his prosthetic hook scratches Abner’s back . After which Hardy tucks the bottle by his right elbow, wipes the rim with his left sleeve, re-caps and places it back in his bomber pocket.
Soon the light breeze wafts a waif of girl along the cemetery path. She is dressed in ripped jeans, and sweatshirt, hair in a faded yellow scarf.
“Ah, Swing Girl, guessed wrong” Hardy says aloud. He’d thought Marcus from the Playground Gang. Abner looks up at the sound of his voice, and grunts. So Hardy tosses him a dubbel zoute dropje, a double salt Dutch licorice candy, which Abner catches and swallows in one movement.
Swing Girl slows near them, Hardy says, “Hi, you texted me?”
She nods, tilts her head, indicating they should sit on a nearby bench. They do. Abner settles between them, facing her, studying this potential back scratch-er and food source.
Smiling slightly Swing Girl says, “Pig, cute.”
Hardy, “Yes, name’s Abner, a potbelly. Likes scratches behind the ears and along the back, if you want. He can’t bark, and doesn’t bite?” She nods taking it under consideration.
They sit. She looking down, grips the bench with both hands, as if to prevent the breeze from lifting her off. Legs crossed, Hardy is turned slightly towards her, able to look across the cemetery. In his face the breeze has a sun warmed salt tang as it stirs the fallen leaves. A sparrow chirps from a nearby rose bush, already the ground’s crew have bundled it up for the approaching winter.
After a time Swing Girl breaks the silence, “Waste” nodding to Vincent Coleman’s grave “Didn’t have to stay.”
“True” agrees Hardy adding, “did what he did, based on what he knew.”
Abner grunts, resting his head on the grass, resigned to being ignored.
“Maybe didn’t think he’d die, be the big hero” Swing Girl.
“Maybe, or he did it selflessly” Hardy.
“Maybe” Swing girl, “Still a waste.”
“Perhaps, that’s the best kind of gesture, when there’s no need, but you do it anyways because you believe it is right” Hardy. She shrugs, still looking down hands gripping the bench as the breeze lifts the tail of her yellow scarf. Hardy waits.
Swing Girl, “Brother thought he was doing the right thing. But he’s dead too. No man left to look after our family over there, so uncle sponsored us to come here.”
“I see. What about your father?” asks Hardy.
“Collateral damage, Israeli missile” she says impassively “Brother thought he’d be militant instead, not a bystander, still dead.”
“Sorry for your losses” responds Hardy, nothing else to say, he knows that all too well. He assumes she is Palestinian based on the snippet he’s heard.
She nods slightly at his condolence.
Hardy, “So by wanting to meet you believe you know something that’s not a waste, but helpful, meaningful?”
“Hmm” Swing Girl nods then begins…
Excerpt from The Apple Patch Kid
A story for the young of age, and at heart.
Nate leaps off the back step of the farmhouse, lands on his knees, where the red apple patches are sewed on his pants, then jumps to his feet. He runs past the sand box, under the clotheslines with clothes wafting in the breeze, across the gravel yard, and to the blue shed where the black mustang waits. Here he slows to a walk. At the shed door he pauses, then softly opens it.
Inside, beside the door, hangs a rope with a loop. Quietly Nate lifts it down, tiptoes nine steps more, then quickly tosses the loop over the mustang’s handlebars with matching black streamers and pulls tight. The mustang digs in its kick stand and the fight is on!
Steadily Nate pulls the mustang out the door, and across the gravel yard. It drags its kickstand all the way, leaving a snaking track in the gravel. Nate pulls the mustang onto the lawn. Stubbornly it falls on its side. Hand over hand Nate goes up the rope to the mustang, lifts it upright again to jump onto its banana-seat back!
Its kickstand goes up as the mustang rears on its hind wheel! Then it leans to the right, falls on its side again! Jumping clear Nate lands on his knees. Three times Nate leaps on. Twice more the mustang bucks him off.
First, he loses his cap. Someday soon it’ll be a cowboy hat!
Second, he loses 9-stitches from his left apple patch.
The third time the mustang lets Nate stay on.
Today, he names it, Midnight!
Midnight races off the lawn, across the gravel yard past machine shed and barn, up the lane between horse and cow pasture towards the 39 acre Sweet Woods.
Nate’s apple patch flaps, fences blur past, as do 49 cows on his right, mare and filly on his left. Without slowing, Midnight nimbly dodges a cow sitting in the lane.
Nate thinks, “On the way back we’ll round her up.”
At the maple shack in Sweet Woods, Nate wheels Midnight about. He rears on his hind wheel, spins round and comes down. He races half-way back before Nate slows him to a stop, hops off, opens a gate to the cow pasture. Then slowly he walks Midnight around the sitting cow, chewing her cud, flicking her tail, eyeing them suspiciously.
Nate bumps her rump with Midnight’s front wheel, twice. With a grunt she stands, flicks her tail, just missing Nate. He smacks her rump. She plods up the lane, udder swinging, Nate and Midnight behind, giving her rump a bump now and then. They herd her through the gate into the pasture with the other 49 cows.
Cow back, gate closed Nate hops on Midnight’s banana-seat back. Again they race down the lane, fences, cows and horses blurring past, then the barn and machine shed with a green tractor and tedder parked beside.
Dad’s back from the hay field. He’ll barbecue chicken for lunch! Yum!
Midnight speeds on across the gravel yard to the lawn. Nate locks up its wheels and leaps off to land on his knees. Nine more stitches come loose. Midnight slides to a stop on its side. One-peddle stuck into the lawn. Grinning, Nate hops over on his knees and strokes Midnight’s streamers, saying, “Boy, what a ride!”
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