Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fillmore's Treasure

Fillmore Fluster shot this picture with his Kodak Instamatic 100 on his way home from rabbit hunting. He pulled off the road, snapped the picture and continue on his way. It was getting late and Mrs. Fluster doesn’t take kindly to anyone coming in late for supper.

During the meal Fillmore was tempted to tell the family of his discovery but decided against it until he was sure. Because thinking before speaking isn't one of Fillmore strengths, he settled on silence as the best course of action. Mrs. Fillmore and the nine children picked up on the quiet.

“Fillmore, what’s wrong with you tonight?” Mrs. Fillmore said while sitting back in her rose cushioned chrome framed kitchen chair. She folded her arms across her large chest and spoke. “Your appetite is healthy but we haven’t heard one peep from you all night. Aren’t you going to say something about the chicken fried steak with homemade biscuits and cream corn? I know its your favorite and expected more than a few grunts in return for my day spent hovering over that stove like a vulture over roadkill.”
Mrs. Fluster was a lonely woman living out in the country. Her one pleasure, beside caring for her goats, was cooking good country meals and hearing her family praise her for it.

“Mother, these are fine vitals and I’m right beholding to you for the time taken to do the cookin. But my mind is fixed on something at the moment.” Fillmore nearly spoke about the rainbow but choked back the words.
Mrs. Fluster reached over and slapped his back so hard it dislodged his upper plate. Fillmore pushed the teeth back into place and waved off the second blow. “I’m fine mother. I’m fine.” he said.

“You’re not thinken of leaving me with all nine of these children and going out huntin agin are ya, ‘cause if you are....” Mrs. Fluster was up on her feet with both hands on her hips. She towered over the diminutive Fillmore causing him to hold both hands over his face in an act of contrition.
“No, no, no........ calm yourself mother. I’m not goin huntin.”
“Well what is it then?” she asked firmly. Fillmore was stuck. His poky brain was no match for the keen mind of his wife.

“Mother, I found gold today.” Fillmore’s words brought silence to the table, except for three year old Alice Bell. She had her face in a small bowl of gravy blowing bubbles.
“Where?” Mother asked. She sat down. The kitchen chair groaned under its burden.
“Over at the McDonald’s Place. I’ve got a picture on the Instamatic.”
“Children, grab yer coats. We are going into town.” Mother was up and out of the kitchen carrying Alice Bell with one hand and used the other to catch gravy drippings.

The family drove into Cloverdale in their 1973 Ford truck. Fillmore, Mother and baby Alice Bell rode up front. The rest of the Fluster children rode in the back with the family dog Pooch. They stopped at the one hour film counter at the Red Owl Grocery Store to have the film developed. The family enjoyed ice cream sandwiches while they waited in the parking lot. The children grew bored and played hide and seek in and around the parked cars. Five year old Matthew Paul was nearly run over by the Widow Parkins in her 1986 Lincoln. She cursed as she swerved to avoid him and hit a shopping cart instead. Lincolns are built like tanks so no damage done.

In one hour Fillmore picked up the prints. The family gathered outside the store near the coin operated bucking bronco. Fillmore sorted through the pictures he took of the countryside and interesting trees until he landed on the picture showing the gold.
“There it is,” he said as he proudly held it up for all to admire.
“Its a rainbow,” little Nancy Lue said while reaching up to touch it.
“It is a rainbow,” Mrs. Fluster exclaimed. She snatched the picture from Fillmore’s quivering hand. She studied the picture for a moment. “Where’s the gold Fillmore?” she asked.
“In the port a potty of course,” Fillmore explained. “We all know there’s a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Well, here’s a rainbow and here’s where it ends.”
“Fillmore Fluster. I can’t believe how stupid you are. I’ve always known you were an idiot but hoped it would pass after being married to a sensible woman for all these years but now I see I’ve had no affect on you whatsoever.” Mrs. Fillmore handed Alice Bell to twelve year old Floyd. “Fillmore, this is a fist. And now I’ll show you where it ends!” Mrs. Fluster readied a blow intended to knock sense into her husband. Fillmore was as thick as a concrete but had a good sense of fight or flight. He settled on flight.

The Fillmore’s spent the better part of twenty minutes running around the parked cars in a game of hunted and hunter. The constable was finally call and put an end to the spectacle. Mrs. Fluster drove the truck and the children home. Fillmore waited at the Red Owl for his brother. He would be spending the night away from home.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Harvey's Confession.

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” Little Harvey Walburg sniffled. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand.
"Please use the tissues by the door," the priest said taping on the screen seperating them.
"Forgive me Father for I have sinned," Harvey whispered while reaching for a tissue.
“Louder child.” the priest spoke from behind the partition. It was his tenth confession of the afternoon. It would be improper of him to glance at his watch but he succumbed to the temptation. His time was nearly up. He was grateful. His stomach was grateful as well.
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” Harvey spoke louder as he shuffled closer to the side of the priest’s head facing him. Harvey recognized the smell of Old Spice. It was Father Mack. Only Father Mack and his dad wore Old Spice. He liked Father Mack. He was the youngest priest at St. Bartholomew’s. He was funny.
“Go on,” Father Mack spoke quietly. Harvey could hear him, just barely.
“It has been one week since my last confession,”

Harvey’s heart beat loudly in his chest and ears. This would be his hardest confession yet. He was a good boy but even good boys can get into trouble. He hesitated to speak. His studied the laces on his Converse All Stars. He cleared his throat and readdressed his runny nose with another tissue.
“Hands,” Father Mack admonished. Harvey resumed the correct posture for a prayerful sinner, hands clasped and face forward. “Go on.” the priest urged.

“Father. Something strange happened to me this week. I don’t understand. It scares me because I don’t want to go to Hell. Sister Eugenia says that boys like me are damned and I don’t want to be damned. Father.........” Harvey sniffled. His voice grew softer, almost afraid that if he spoke louder someone outside the confessional would hear and tell everyone about the horrible Walburg boy. “Father...... I’ve seen the monsters that live in Hell from them windows in the chapel. I’m afraid.”
“Harvey, the devil doesn’t want a pint of a boy like you. Look at you. What kind of a meal would you make for one of those demons. You let me decide if you’re going to Hell or not. Isn’t that my job?”
“Yes, and that’s why I’m here instead of playing,” Harvey found a spot of dried ketchup on the front of his shirt. He picked at it but it wouldn’t go away. He remembered where it came from. He dropped one of his tater tots when he saw Luellen Lacy walk into the cafeteria during lunch. She was a half day late because of a dentist appointment. Something inside him stirred when she walked into the room. Something he had never felt before.

“Father, I saw something today.”
“What was it child?”
“Luellen Lacy,”
“Harvey I don’t think it proper to refer to Luellen as something. She’s a young Christian girl.”
“Father,” Harvey continued. “I saw..........,”
“What did you see?” Father Mack’s impatience revealed itself in the pitch of his voice.
“I saw ........ I think I saw......... well I’m pretty sure I saw........ Father I’m going to Hell. I know I am.”
“Harvey, calm down. Take a deep breath.” They both inhaled and exhaled at the same time. “Harvey, you saw something. Now what was it?”

“I ..... saw........ color,”

“Color?” Father Mack spoke in a questioning tone. “Harvey, what exactly did you see?”
“It had to be color Father. It was bright and shiny. I was scared. It was beautiful Father and I had this feeling like I wanted to be near it. I wanted to put my tater tots down and walk right over to Luellen and look at her. She was beautiful, not like the other girls. They are all gray and black and white and ........ and. Father I saw color.”

“Harvey, the world isn’t the same anymore is it?”
“No Father. When she is in the same room I see colors. Lots of colors .”
“You’re confused aren’t you?”
“Yes Father. Boys don't like girls and girls don't like boys. Isn't that the way its suppose to be?" Harvey asked.
"Well Harvey, not really. At your age it may seem that way but as you get older. Well, in your case - maybe right now - you'll see it differently."
"Sister Eugenia says boys should stay away from girls and never ever look at them. Me and my friends stay away from the girls. We never looked at them. Well, they never look at them but ........ Luellen shines with color and when she smiles I see more color. I see the sky. Father, did you know the sky isn’t gray?
“I’ve heard that,” Father Mack replied.
“”Father. The devil makes you see color. Isn’t that right?”

“Harvey. Listen to me closely. Life for you has always been black, white with a bit of gray. Everything has been exactly right or wrong. There is nothing in the middle. Its been a simple life, very innocent - as it should be. But, you’re different now. You’re growing up and, well, you see what many people see. You see there is more than black and more than white”
“Father, do all grown ups see color? And if so, why don’t they tell us?”
“Well Harvey, you kind of learn it on your own. Color just comes to you one day. Like it did you. Now there are some grown ups that saw color once but..... forgot. They keep those memories deep inside. It hurts to think about them, or share them."
“Harvey. Seeing color can make life all topsy turvey and confusing. Give yourself more time. You'll understand."
“Yes Harvey.”
“Do you see color?”
“Yes Harvey, I see color. I see beautiful colors everywhere I walk on God’s good Earth.”
“So, if you see color then I’m not going to Hell, am I ?”
“No Harvey. You’re not going to Hell.”
“What should I do then about Luellen?”
“Harvey, it is OK to look at Luellen. Just don't stare. Staring is rude. Its even OK to talk to Luellen. Don't be upset if she doesn't want to talk to you though. She may not see color the way you do. It is OK to think she is beautiful but remember, there is still sin so be careful of your thoughts. Let your mind control your heart because that is where the color comes from. Don’t let your heart control your mind. Remember, you’re a good Catholic boy and God expects you to follow the commandments.”
“I always try Father.”
“Good boy Harvey.”
“Should I tell my parents what I’ve seen?”
“Sure. They will have very good advice. I’m sure of it. Now you run along.”
“Shouldn’t I say some Hail Mary's?”
“Harvey, there is no commandment that says ‘Thou Shalt Not See Color’”

Harvey laughed. He jumped up and opened the confessional door.
“Bye Father. Thanks.”
“Good bye Harvey. Be a good boy.”
“I will Father.”

Father Mack heard the door close. He was finished. The sins in his parish were absolved. He rested his head against the back of the compartment. The memory of his first color came back from long ago. A blue dress worn by a beautiful young girl in his confirmation class. Her name was Laura.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Short Tale of a Very Ungifted Athlete

John Truelove has trouble with some of the finer points of soccer. This picture was taken during his last game playing for the Cloverdale Wasps. A broken nose and the lose of a great deal of blood convinced him to give up his dreams of professional soccer and spend more time with his math. His dad expects him to take over his accounting practice. Before this game John wouldn’t hear of it. Now a job behind a desk pushing numbers has its appeal. Isn’t it interesting how one injury can shatter the dreams of a hopelessly ungifted athlete?