Tuesday, 28 July 2015

"Lunch With Frank."


This painting is called "The Runaway."
Lunch With Frank
Was I going to go to jail and rot there for years, until I was old enough to really be on my own? I shuddered as the policeman led me across the street, his hand on my shoulder. We walked through the door of the lunchroom at the end of the drugstore. “Sit down, and let’s get something to eat, Tommy,” he said, sitting down on one of the five green-topped stools.
I nervously sat down next to him, using the step attached to the counter so I could reach the seat. The lunchroom man leaned over the counter, a cigarette in his mouth. I could barely see the heading “Special Today” on the menu behind his head. What was the lunch special?
The lunchman smiled at us, his face looking amused as he glanced at my bundle that I’d dropped on the floor and the coat I held in my lap, and then at the policeman’s face. “Did Frank catch you trying to skip town, son?” he questioned.
I nodded shyly. “He found me at the start of the highway. I’m under arrest.”
“No you’re not,” Frank smiled, putting his feet on the counter step. “We’ll get some lunch and then I’ll take you home. What would you like to have?”
“May I have the special, as long as it’s grilled cheese?” I asked quietly, still feeling a little shy.
“I would like that, too,” Frank said, resting his arm on the top of the counter. “As long as it’s grilled cheese, of course.”
The lunchman laughed. “The lunch special isn’t grilled cheese, but I can make you that if you want.”
Frank nodded, smiling. “Yes, please, thanks.”
As the lunchman went to make our sandwiches, the radio on a shelf next to the menu started to play. It was a man making some sort of announcement. “The police station would like to alert the people of Woodinville that a little boy aged six years old is on the loose. He escaped from his house at sunrise, and was spotted by his neighbor, who told the boy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gordon. Woodinville citizens are to watch all lunchrooms in the area for signs of him, especially the Martin drugstore, which has a lunchroom attached to it. We have reason to believe that the boy is there. Thank you, and please enjoy the rest of your day.”
I glanced at Frank, who was looking at me, smiling. “Do my parents already know you found me?” I asked.
He nodded. “They weren’t worried, and even tipped me off as to where you’d be-- the highway. Did that show at the movies last Saturday really get to you?”
“Yes. It was about a bank robber who escaped from jail and went west. I thought it was cool. Is that why the announcer was talking like I was an escaped bad guy?”
Frank laughed. “Yes.”
I looked at the lunchman, who was back at the counter, leaning his folded hands on top of it and grinning. “Oh. I guess everyone in town knows everyone else too well for anyone to run away.”
Smiling, Frank nodded. “I guess so.”
I looked back over at him. “How come you came to find me instead of daddy?”
“Well, your parents thought you might appreciate being found by a policeman. It’s something neat to tell your friends. Do you mind?”
I smiled a little. “No.”
“I used to eat grilled cheese a lot when I was little, you know” Frank said suddenly. “One time that I will always remember having it was in this lunchroom, a long time ago. I was sitting right here, and eating with another guy. His name was Hank Martin.”
The lunchman smiled. “I used to be a policeman, Tommy. Frank was only seven when I took him here. This place was my dad’s before I took it over.”
I pulled my eyebrows together for a moment. “You ran away, too, Mr. Frank?”
Frank nodded. “Yup.” He leaned over to me as I looked at him. We smiled.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

"In the Way."


This painting is called "Roadblock."

In the Way
As I biked up the street, trying to shift my backpack around so it wouldn’t feel so heavy, I glanced up at the sky for a moment. The clouds lay heavily, trapping the humidity near to the ground. I kept pedaling up the street, hoping it would rain on me before I got home. I really enjoyed biking to the library, but getting home was unpleasant, with hills to struggle up and cramped streets to get through.
I turned onto a smaller street, but I couldn’t go very far, because a car was sitting in the middle of the narrow road. Getting off my bike, I walked it around the car, looking at all the people who were gathered. People had come out of houses, were leaning over railings, or were standing on the edge of the road, staring at a small black and white dog. It looked like a pug, but I didn’t know for sure.
A “Pepies” truck was stopped behind the dog, and one of the drivers was standing near the dog, coaxing at it. “Come on, move, little thing,” he whispered.
“Why don’t you just honk the truck’s horn? That’ll scare him away,” I suggested.
A little girl standing against the side of a house shook her head. “We already tried that, and the dog ran under the “Pepies” truck. Now the drivers are afraid that he will go back under if anyone makes too much noise.”
A mailman leaned over the brush and fence behind me. “Come on, dog, chase me!”
The dog just glanced at him and shied away.
A family walked up the street and around the stopped car, the boy carrying a musical instrument case of some sort. The father pointed at the dog and started laughing. “That dog was on this road when we walked this way to go to your lesson, Ted!”
The boy stared at the dog as it cowered away from the dad’s laugh. “Is everyone afraid it will run under the truck?” he asked.
The “Pepies” truck driver nodded. “Yeah. Do you have any ideas?”
Ted smiled and set down his instrument case. Stepping forward, he reached out slowly and tried to pick up the dog. The dog jerked back and run under the truck. As the “Pepies” truck driver banged his head against the truck’s front, Ted lay down on his stomach and scooched under the truck.
“Ted!” Ted’s grandmother cried sternly, her nose in the air, “you’re getting muddy!”
Ted didn’t come out the way he had, but crawled towards the back of the truck. The dog barked and ran out in front of Ted, emerging from under the truck.
“I got him out of the way!” Ted called, rolling out from under the truck and coming to get his case as the “Pepies” men and the other people cheered.

I saw the dog skitter up the street and run off, and smiled. “Good job, Ted.”

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

"On Jury Duty"

Last week I did a Norman Rockwell picture story, and I have another one that I wrote last week that I'm posting today.

This picture is called "The Jury"

On Jury Duty
A wispy cloud hung above my head as I stared at the men gathered around me. Pulling my right foot up onto the rail connecting the front legs of my chair, I glanced at Mr. Gertum, the head juror, who was sitting at my left, his arms crossed as he peered back at me, as if trying to think me into changing my mind.
“Sally,” Mr. Grant said from behind me, trying not to let his cigarette impede his speech, “we wish you would comply with us.”
I tried to ignore the increasing cloud of smoke above my head and folded my arms. “I don’t want to comply, and it’s not right for you to try and make me.”
Mr. Busher and Mr. Gedall flanked me, Mr. Gedall staring down at me and scowling, putting his hands on his hips, Mr. Busher looking like he was trying to be friendly as he leaned across the table toward me.
“We know we cannot make you, Sally, but we all think--” Mr. Busher started, holding his hand towards me.
“You really need to try and understand what we are--” Mr. Gedall interrupted.
“But if only we could all--” Mr. Gertum began.
“Sally,” Mr. Grant said, “you need to try and cooperate a little.”
Trenton looked up from scratching his palm. He was slouching in his chair, which was situated away from the other men. “Sally, what are they asking you about?”
“They want me to change my opinion about this case,” I said, feeling that Trenton was not even trying to help me by asking.
“Wait, no, we want you to actually give an opinion on the case!” Mr. Grant said.
I turned to look at him. “But I already wrote down my decision!”
Mr. Gertum looked at the papers in his hand. “We’re missing a vote from Brenton, and your last name is Bre--”
“I haven’t decided yet,” Trenton said, picking up a piece of paper.
I stared at my brother. “Why didn’t you say something?”
He shrugged a little. “I didn’t know what they were all arguing with you about.”

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

"Durant Diner"

Last night, I was looking at a book of Norman Rockwell paintings, and I saw several that sparked my imagination; I felt kind of like I could write some kind of story for them. For each one, I mean.
Today, I wrote a short story for this picture.

This picture is called Saying Grace.

I call the story Durant Diner, and here it is. I think I might post a story with a Norman Rockwell picture on here once a week, if I can.

It was the only place where we could eat before we got back on the train, but I wished we could just stay on the train and starve. Grandmother took my hand and walked with a determined manner towards the door of the small diner on the first street in Durant.
I went through the door and held it open for her, then looked around at the tables. Other passengers from the train were in there, too. The two college men were sitting at a table by the front window, the one smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee at the same time.
“We would like a table for the two of us, please,” grandmother said to the seating lady.
“Do you mind sharing a table with other people? There aren’t any two seaters available at the moment,” the lady said, sounding sorry and hesitant.
Grandmother shook her head and smiled. “That’s fine.”
We followed the lady towards the table at which the two college men were seated. I held back, dreading sitting with them and having our meal in front of them. Praying in front of them was what I dreaded most. Grandmother would insist. I never minded when we were alone, but grandmother didn’t just save prayer for in our house. She prayed before a meal no matter where she was.
I pulled out grandmother's chair for her as the lady put two menus on the table next to the glass holder on which rested several salad dressings. The smoking college man smiled at me and put down his coffee cup. There was a brown stain on his cigarette, but his lips were clean; he hadn’t received a coffee mustache from his drink.
“What would you like to eat, Willy?” grandmother asked me, handing me my menu and setting her umbrella on top of her bags on the floor.
“Um, may I have some soup?” I asked, glancing at the smoking man’s friend, who was still looking at his menu.
Grandmother nodded her agreement and looked at her own menu. I pulled off my coat and hat and dropped the hat on top of our things piled on the floor, and laid my coat behind me on the chair. Only one of the college men was wearing a hat; the other's blonde hair was smoothly combed to one side as if he had never even got his hair mussy when he slept.
After we ordered, I leaned towards grandmother. “Do you have to pray before our meal?”
She looked at me carefully. “Yes, Willy.” Then she sat back and smiled at the smoking college man. “What college do you attend?” she asked.
“Southeastern Oklahoma College, ma’am,” the young man said, taking his cigarette out of his mouth for a second so her could speak coherently.
“We’ve been on a short break,” the blonde man said, still trying to figure out what he should order from his menu.
Grandmother nodded, then turned to watched as a small girl passed by with her mother. The smoking man handed the blonde man a cigarette and put his own back in his mouth.
“Here is your meal,” a waitress said to us, coming up and putting two trays on the table in front of grandmother and me.
“Thank you very much,” grandmother said, then looked at me. “Willy, let’s pray.”
The men looked at us both, and I bowed my head and folded my hands, feeling very huge and very small at once. I looked at grandmother before I closed my eyes. She bent her head and folded her hands, holding them above her soup bowl.
I was about to close my eyes when I big man came through the door and walked towards the two college men. As I snapped my eyes closed, he cried out, “Ian!” Then he stopped talking. I squinted at him, and saw him standing frozen a few feet behind the blonde man’s chair, holding his hat and looked embarrassed. The two college men were staring at us, the blonde one holding his cigarette between his fingers.
I closed my eyes and waited fro grandmother to begin her prayer.
“Dear Lord, thank you for our meal here, and please bring us safely to our destination with no trouble. Thank you for our fellow table occupants, and please bless us all the rest of this day, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
I opened my eyes and looked at the two men. They were both now staring at their cigarettes, and the man who had come in was still standing behind the blonde’s chair.
I looked over at grandmother and smiled, wishing I hadn’t been scared. Praying hadn’t been so bad, and the man hadn’t interrupted us or mocked or anything. They looked very quiet, as if afraid to break the hush that had come over our part of the diner.
Grandmother smiled, then picked up her spoon and began to eat her soup. I took mine and did the same.