The Kite

my_house

I grew up in a small town in the heart of Cajun country of south Louisiana.  I was an only child on a sugar cane farm with an alcoholic father, a loving mother and a chaotic household.  My mother, a seventh grade drop-out, did everything she could to keep things normal for me and most likely for herself as well.  My father drank daily.  And yelled daily.  We lived in an old farm-house that we rented for twenty dollars a month. This is in the seventies mind you, not the early 1930s.  The house had no heating or cooling. The roaches pranced around like they owned the place while the rats danced in the attic. Often I heard them fighting. At times they would fall down the walls of my room.  Not exactly a place you wanted to invite friends.  My days were spent alone, in my own world.  I played with toy tractors and football by myself in the pasture. Our closest neighbors were an old and kind black couple. Behind my house were acres and acres of sugar cane fields.  They were my escape from the chaos of my home.  My favorite time of the year was spring. The cane had grown to three feet in height at this stage of their growth. That is just a bit shorter than I was at eight years old.  The winds would blow swiftly yet silently across the fields.  Often in the spring I would walk into the cane fields and fly my kite. The vast expanses of openness along with the spring winds were ideal for this activity.

One particular spring I purchased a baby blue paper kite from the local Ben Franklin. This was a departure from the more cool plastic bat kites of the time.  Owning a paper kite would surely bring ridicule at school had my classmates found out.  My father helped me construct the simple kite. Four light pieces of grooved wood and the paper itself was all that was needed for assembly. He added a long strip of a worn bed sheet, yellowish in color, as a tail. One spring Saturday morning in 1973, at age of nine, I was ready to launch my kite on its maiden voyage.

I left the house late that particular morning.  My mother had prepared a lunch for me and placed it in a small brown paper bag. In the bag was a ham sandwich with mayonnaise, a bag of lays chips and a cold Winn Dixie brand of grape soda.  Off I went across our pasture behind our house.  Over the ditch and into the cane field I marched till I found the perfect location. I was alone.  The wind blowing briskly across the tops of the sugar cane.  The long leaves made a slight hissing sound as they danced in the breeze.  Armed with two reels of kite string spun around an old broomstick handle, I flung my kite in the air.  Up it went into the sky, the breeze lifting it skyward. Quickly it reached the end of the string. There it flew above me, its tail waiving in the wind.  I pushed the broomstick handle into the ground to free my hands. I looked into the clear sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds, at my kite flying so majestically. It was simply beautiful.

I don’t remember the amount of time I spent in the field that day.  It felt like an eternity.  I spread my small body between two rows of sugar cane with my feet just barely touching the infant stalks of cane.  The ground below me was cool against my back.  It was slightly hard from the drizzle of rain the day before. The cool ground was a sharp contrast the warm sun shining  from above onto the front of my body.  I ate my lunch there, carefully placing the trash back into the bag.  My dog Flag visited me at one point.  I even napped.  All the time, my kite just flew above me. When the wind picked up I could hear the rustling against the paper. I felt so free. So at peace. I felt my house of chaos was a million miles away when in reality, it was only a few hundred yards south of me.

I remember that day vividly, even to this day.  The memory is a short film captured for my mind to play whenever I want to revisit. I can still feel the cold ground below me.  I can still hear the kite rustling in the breeze.  I remember the cold can of check soda, the outside of the can covered in beads of water caused by condensation.  When I want to relax I just hit the start button and play this moment in time.  It soothes me even these many years later. I often hope that when I pass on that I can revisit that day. Perhaps I can hover above that scene and see the happiness, if just for that day, in my eyes. It was for me, at that time, a heavenly day.  

It was the best day of my life. 

This was written for Yeah Write Week #99.

Timmy’s Best Friend

Life on the farm was tough for Timmy.  He was assigned daily chores from a very young age. During the school year he learned to juggle school work with daily chores. Farm life left him no time for extracurricular activities at school much less for friendships.  School was just a break from work. His nightly homework, which many classmates complained about, was less work than his duties before school.  Farm life, he determined, was not for him.

Timmy’s dogged desire to escape weighed heavily on his mind. He wanted to move far away to the big city.  In his ten-year old mind, he was on this earth to be an actor, not a farmer.

“Mom, I’m headed out to feed the hogs.”  Out the door he went with his only friend, his dog Ranger close behind. The two walked to the hog pen and dumped two buckets of this mornings delicacy into the trough. Then they headed to the nearby barn.  Timmy sat on a hay bale. Ranger hopped up beside him.  He reached out and stroked the dog’s head. His tail wagged with delight. “Ranger, one day I will leave this farm.” he explained.  “You’ll stay here.  I will miss you dearly. However, I must leave!  I don’t want to be a farmer. I want to be an actor. I know Dad will hate me.  Mom will constantly worry.  But I know you will love me.”  

Timmy stood up.  He looked out the open doors onto the endless stretch fields. “I want to be an actor,” he said to Ranger. “I’m going to be a Hollywood star. I’m gonna be in westerns with John Wayne.  Everyone will know and like me. It won’t be like school where they make fun of me.”  He walked to Ranger and gave him a hug. “Ya’ know, you are my only friend. My best friend. That will never change, I promise. I love you Ranger.”

This fiction was written for Trifecta: Week sixty-seven.

This week’s one-word prompt comes from Deana who linked up in our Meet Your Fellow Trifectans tab (if you haven’t done so yet, hop to it) and suggested this gem:

JUGGLE (transitive verb)
1a : to practice deceit or trickery on : beguile
b : to manipulate or rearrange especially in order to achieve a desired end
2a : to toss in the manner of a juggler
b : to hold or balance precariously
3: to handle or deal with usually several things (as obligations) at one time so as to satisfy often competing requirements <juggle the responsibilities of family life and full-time job — Jane S. Gould>

Please remember:

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.

Good luck!

Bigfoot’s Grave

Andre and Freddie.  Future fifth grade neighbors in a small southern town.  Their houses sit side-by-side on a dead-end street ending at the west side the Bayou Teche. The boys are frequently found gallivanting around their neighborhood and in the nearby woods along the bayou. To them the neighborhood is their playground.  They spend their summer swimming, riding bikes, building forts and fishing.  It’s not unusual to find them chasing fireflies in the early evening or catching crawfish in the ditch bordering the nearby elementary school.  Or mowing the neighbor’s grass to earn spending money. The adults in the neighborhood call them inseparable. They were best friends.

Today, after a ride to the Phil-a-Sac for an Icee and bubble gum, the boys peddled their sting-rays to the end of their street. They layed their bikes off the side of the gravel road and walked to the banks of the bayou.  They sat down on the edge of the wooden dock with their feet dangling in the murky water.

“Hey Andre, take your gum and put in the bottom of your icee like this,” Freddie instructed, pushing his gum down to the bottom of the cup with his straw.

“But it makes the gum hard Freddie.”

“So what. That’s why it’s so cool!”

“That’s dumb man,” Andre replies before sipping on his straw.

The sound of slurping was interrupted by a passing boat pulling a skier.  A quick wave from the boys turned to giggles as the boat left behind a wake that splashed against the dock.  The spraying water cooled them from the muggy afternoon, if only momentarily.  The passing boat causes a blue heron to take flight in front of them, adding color to the green woods across the bayou.

“Hey man Freddie, check this out” Andre says as he stands and pulls three large keys from his back pocket.

“What are those?” Freddie asked.

“Keys to my kingdom,” Andre responded.

“For real? Those are cool looking.  Like something from Scooby Doo!  So, what is this kingdom of yours Andre?  I don’t get it.”

“Well, it’s like this.  You know how in old times, when there were castles and stuff Freddie.”

“Sure I do.”

“I want my own kingdom.  So in my mind I made up this castle for me to escape to with the biggest door and lock there is.  And this key here is the only thing that can unlock it.  I have a moat around it with sharks!

“Sharks Andre, for real?” Freddie interrupted. “There can’t be sharks in a moat.”

“In my kingdom they can.”

Freddie stares at Andre with a puzzled look.  “So where is your kingdom?”

“Bigfoot’s Grave!  Follow me!”

Andre begins running along the bayou with Freddie close behind.  They quickly reach the edge of the woods, both hunched over and out of breath.

“What about our bikes man?” Freddie ask.

“Oh, they’ll be fine. Aint no one ever stole them before. Now follow me Freddie.”  

The boys follow the trail into the dense woods.  They evade countless briar patches and spider webs till the reach a big wooden door leaning against a huge fallen oak.

“Here we are Freddie.”  

“How did this door get here man?”

“I found it up against the bank of the bayou down there about a week ago. It looked cool so I pulled it on land and put it here to dry.  It looks old.  It had these keys in the keyhole.  So I made this my castle.  Isn’t it neat?”

Freddie is looking at the door perplexed.  “You dragged me all the way here to show me a door?”

“Noooo.  Follow me.”

The boys step to the side of the door and squat down next to one another.  

“We have to crawl underneath the oak dude.”

“After you Andre.  I aint going first.”

“Chicken!” Andre says laughing.  

The boys disappear behind the door and under the oak tree. The space makes a perfect little hidden room for the boys to sit.  

“Why did you take me here Andre?”

“I have a secret to tell man.  Promise me you won’t tell a soul.”

“I won’t man, I promise.”

“Pinky promise?”

“Yes pinky promise.  And I swear on my grandma’s grave too'” Freddie replies.

The two extend their pinkies to each other and move their hands in a handshake type motion.

“I saw my step-father beating my mom the last week.”

Freddie’s face turned red.  He can’t muster the right words to respond.  He stares blankly as Andre continues.  “I heard arguing from their room, then mama came running down the hall.  I peaked out my door just as she turned to him and he hit her man.  She fell against the wall the onto the floor. He jumped on top of her and continued to hit and yell at her.”

Freddie finally manages to stutter a somewhat coherent sentence, “did she, you, was she, did you tell the cops?

“Naw man, I’m too scared.  I just closed my door and cried is all.”

“Andre, I just.  I can’t say a word cause I can’t understand why he would do that.”

“After they went back to their room, I came to Bigfoot’s Grave to be alone.  That’s when I found the door with these keys and built this castle.  I don’t want to be in that house anymore man.”

The boys spend hours in the castle talking about anything and everything.  The dark subject was not revisited. Instead it was back to talking about kid stuff.  Bikes, fishing, football and even kissing!  

The boys enjoyed the rest of that summer together.  They visited the castle often spending hours talking and dreaming.  Later in the summer, Freddie began noticing bruises on Andre from time to time.  He never asked questions, just came to the only conclusion a young boy could.  Two weeks before school began Freddie’s mom brought him into the living room and sat him down. “Freddie I need to tell you something.  It is not going to be something good.”  

“What is it mama?  Did someone die?”

“No son, but Andre and his mama left their house.  They moved to Houston this morning and asked me to tell you. They won’t be coming back.  I’m sorry son.”  She reached over and hugged her son tightly.  She could feel the tears on her shoulders yet heard no crying. “I don’t know why on earth she would leave so suddenly.”  

“He is my best friend mama.  What do I do?”  

“Andre asked me to give you these.”  She pulled the keys to Andre’s castle and handed them to her son.  “He said you would know what they are for.”

Freddie grabbed the keys and ran out the front door without a word.  He sprinted down the street and along the bayou. Into Bigfoot’s grave he ran until he reached the castle.  He sat alone and cried all afternoon.  His heart hurt more than anything he had felt before.  

The castle door eventually disappeared from its location in Bigfoot’s grave.  In time, Freddie’s pain did as well.  With time he healed as all people do when losing a friend. Freddie thought of those days with his best friend often. He missed him. His childhood. The castle.  He never saw nor heard from Andrea again.  He’s now just a memory.  He understands that he not only lost his childhood friend that summer, but his innocence too.  Freddie became ancillary victim of the horror that is domestic violence.  He also kept his promise to Andre by keeping the secret between them. He never told a soul.    

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This fiction was written for Picture it & Write.

Bonding with Kids Daily Prompt: Musical

This was written for the Daily Prompt: Musical

What role does music play in your life?

There are so many different aspects of my life where music has played a prominent role.  From listening to music with friends during my teen years, dancing during the disco era (yes I am admitting it!) to going to concerts of my favorite bands.  Music is something in my teen years that I shared with friends and it was important to all of us.  It strengthened our bond.  

Now that I am way past my teen years, I use music to bring me to different places mentally.  It can help me out of depression, ease my mind from life’s challenges or brings back great memories of my younger years.  Music has placed stamps on my course through life.  

As I have gotten older, I began to listen to the lyrics.  And reading the lyrics.  This aspect of music has brought new light to what musicians offer.  As a young man, I would just sing the song and never understand truly what was behind the song.  Now, I am constantly amazed how they poured their heart out to the public.  They weren’t afraid to share their struggles of their life even when it was obviously painful.   I think of “Time for Me to Fly” by REO Speedwagon.  Great song from a musical sense.  But listen to the lyrics.  There is a young man understanding a relationship has been one-sided and he must move on.  So beautiful.  The music on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” album is filled with the pain of two couples breaking up during the recording process.  How did Ronnie Van Zant write such a beautiful song as “Freebird” while he drank  and partied to excess?  Like it or not that song will be around for eternity.  I heard John Mellencamp once say in an interview that he wrote “Jack and Dianne” for himself but over the years he understand it is not his song any more, it is the audiences.  And he was fine with that.  How cool.  

Isn’t Stevie Beautiful

Currently I have to say that music has been another way to connect with my kids.  Unlike my father when I was a kid, I am enjoying current music while my kids will like songs I listen when I was their age.  My daughter came up to me recently with a Fleetwood Mac song and asked if I remember the song “Never going Back Again’?  I was floored.  It’s not one of their more popular songs but it is beautiful.  How did she find it, I can’t recall.  But the connection is wonderful.  Same with my oldest son.  We constantly trade songs on iTunes.  And listen to music on You Tube.

I remember a line in the movie City Slicker’s where Daniel Stern’s character says something to the effect of  When he was 18 and him and his dad couldn’t relate to anything, they always had baseball”.  Now I don’t ever feel that distant from my kids, but I feel we always have music.

Right now I am so in love with the video and song by Annie Lennox called “No More I Love You'”.  HERE is the video.  It’s so very soothing and so beautiful both musically and visually.  

Oh I could go on and on.  I’d leave with how music puts me in a place of calmness, even when life is throwing everything it has at me.  Escape.  Even if it’s only for three or four minutes!

Till we meet again.  Good Day!

Mind of Shoo!

Daily Prompt: Musical.

Black and White

“Avery, does your dad yell at your mom?” I asked.

“Heck no Johnny, why do you think he would do that?” he replied.

“I was just curious.”

Avery is my best friend.  Has been since first grade.  It’s a Saturday morning.  We are sitting on the bench at the local the high school football field surrounded by empty bleachers.  We come here often, just the two of us.  Usually on mornings during football season, pretending to be members of the senior high football team.  The knees of our jeans are grass stained.  The football is beat up from the few seasons we have played both here and other spots around our south Louisiana town. I slowly stand up take a few steps onto the football field and look up into the sky.

I turn to Avery and ask, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

A smile comes across his face, his bright smile accented by his black skin.  He nods his head and says “That’s easy man, I am going to play football.  Not just high school man but college football too.  Number twenty-seven Avery Etienne.  Yeah man, that’s me!”

I knew this to be true.  Although we are four years away from high school, Avery has been dreaming of this as long as I have known him.  We are opposites.  He is black, I am white.  He’s athletic, I am not.  He comes from a large family, I am an only child.  He lives on the black side of town while I live on the white side.  I know whats going on around us.  My father doesn’t like my friend Avery because he is black.  He has warned me about inviting him over.  This hurts me.  Avery’s dad likes me.  I have been over to play at their house often.  Avery never questions why I have never invited him over.  Does he know why?  Does he know my father hates black people?  My heart would break if he found out.  We never speak of our color difference, but I think of it often. Some day that talk will come up, I just know it.  What do I say?  Will he still be my friend?  What will he think of my father?  I need to purge this from my mind.  But I can’t!  

“Hey Johnny!  What’s going on man, you are just staring into space?” Avery says to me.  “Wake up dude!  He claps his hands as he stands next to me.  You’re in dreamland man.”

“Sorry Avery, just thinking.”

“Bout what dude?

“I don’t know Avery, I just don’t know.”  

“You don’t know what Johnny?” . 

“Ah, I don’t know how good LSU will be the rest of the season” is all I can stutter. “You know what I mean dude.”

“Naw man, they will be alright.  It’s early in the season man”

Avery is speaking but I don’t hear a word.  My mind is not on football.  My mind is on him.  Our friendship.  Is this the moment I tell him?  I can’t. 

“You get that Johnny!” Avery said with a smile.

He knows I haven’t heard a word.  He’s a great friend.  I have others, all white though.  But there is no doubt he is the one I am closest to.  I only hope he thinks the same.  “Hey man, are we best friends?” I ask him.

“What kind of question is that?” 

“Just wondering.”

“You’re out there today Johnny!” Avery says with that smile.  “To answer your question.  Yes.  Let’s get out of here.  I need to get home before eleven.”

So we walk out the stadium side by side.  We reach our bikes on the concrete path that leads to the street.  We both have banana seat bikes, but his has the cool ram horn-shaped handle bars.  Mine is yellow, his is red.  We ride out, he turns left and I will turn right. 

“Later man'”Avery says as he rides away. ” Give me a call after lunch, ok!”

“Will do man!” I yell back to him. 

This story is fiction.  I cringe to post this..but I have had this story on my mind for a while.  Obviously it’s not finished.  I just wanted to put this out there. 

Feedback is appreciated.

Till we meet again.  Good Day.

Mind of Shoo   

Dr. Drew, Adam Carolla and Me.

I would like to say that I know these two gentleman personally but quite honestly I never met them.  However, I have listened to them, laughed with them and learned one thing about myself from them. Loveline, a syndicated radio call in show hosted by the above mentioned was my nightly friend for a few years.  I owned a small business.  Money was often tight or at times, not coming in at all.  To alleviate the burden on my financially in the business’s infancy, I took a job delivering pizza.  The hours were flexible, the money was decent and it was cash! 

It was at this job where I listened to Loveline. In between deliveries there they were, along with the thousands of callers hoping for help with their problems.  Dr. Drew gave his opinion, Adam often made fun of them and I listened.  A common theme was addiction (Dr. Drew’s speciality) and the common cause was always traced back to childhood trauma.  Over and over again Dr. Drew’s words were “did you have alcohol, drugs, or sexual abuse in your life as a child”.  The answer was nearly always yes. And for me,  I said “YES I did”!  My father drank.  And because of my fathers drinking, I always knew that when I was grown and settling down to start a life with someone I would NOT drink.  In my mind it was simple! Why would I want my wife going through the experience my mom went through?  Why would I want my kids to see and hear the things I did?  The answer was simple, I didn’t.  Why?  Cause it was a horrible experience.  It was unnecessary and it was avoidable if better decisions were made by a man with a great mind.  But instead of that wonderful educated mind ruling our home, alcohol did.  So many called Loveline and were repeating the same issues that they experienced as a kid.  Except now, they were the problem parent.  They were the alcoholic, drug addict or abuser.   And it was their kids who were suffering silently as you did many years ago.  How can they let that happen I thought.  Over and over again, it was all the same.  I can’t image letting my kids go through what me and my mom went through!  I will say this, for me it was such an EASY choice!  I can’t for the life of me imagine going the other way.  I am messed up enough from my father’s alcoholism, I can’t imagine the mess I would be if I drank on top of it!  To use the an old cliché, I broke the chain. It was the easiest choice I made in my life.  I made this choice for my family.

I listened to the show for a long time.  Adam was hilarious.  They often had celebrity guest who show great insight or humor and was a great addition to the show.  I would love to say I learned something from the show that I use in my struggles being a sober ACoA, but those people never called in.  What I did learn was that for my own family I made a great choice.   It is the single best choice I made in my life. I am proud myself.  If only all other choices were that clear and as simple.

I want to end this post with a few lines from the song “Father of Mine” written by Art Alexaskis of the band Everclear.

Now I am a grown man
With a child of my own
And I swear I’m not going to let her know
All the pain I have known

EXACTLY!

Till we meet again.  Good Day.

Mind of Shoo