As a writer, the stories are inside and you have to coax them out. There are times when it is hard, they want to stay private. Other times they explode, tearing parts of you apart while you give them life. No matter what, the desire to watch them live and grow is just like that of a parent. The great thing about kids is they eventually live and grow on their own. No matter what you do, short of barbarism, to stop them from becoming their own function humans. Your story is never that way until you hand it to another being. Then and only then do your stories take an identity all their own. They live away from you and in the reader’s mind. As such they move out and grow in a different way. If others take your stories and talk about them with friends, well they multiply again and continue with new lives. The great stories will never die, be them Hamlet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. They will live and multiply through reading and discussions until the end of humanity. What writer would not want to know that their stories will live forever? Isn’t that the most we as parents can hope for, to touch on the human conscious and give our children immortality?
The dark clouds race across the horizon. Their arrival announced by the fleeing wind and the bass rumble of discontent. Lightning flashes raise the hairs on the back of my neck and I try to stare the storm down. I gather the energy pushing against me, and with the thrust of my hands, push back. The effort has little to no effect and I feel heartbroken. This would have worked if there was really magic in the world, I’m sure of it. The sky opens up, mocking me as I am drenched by some of the largest rain drops I have ever seen. Lightning takes pictures of me as I slowly walk to the house under the mocking laughter of thunder. I shake my fist at the storm as I get to my front door. The thunder goes silent and the rain begins to lesson. A smile spreads on my face as the sun peaks out from the dark clouds. Maybe there is magic. I dance in the puddles of my victory, at least until my mother calls me inside.
Thomas looked at the screen in front of him, not knowing where to go next. Should his hero pursue the woman of his dreams, or the woman he needed? What about the aunt who adopted the hero when he was three, and loves him like a son, but has been pushing him away because she knows she has cancer and doesn’t want to have him see her suffer? What about his boss and the problems he is having with drinking rum and coke to wake up in the morning, but nobody calling attention to it since he is the President of the United States? Or for that matter the cabinet member who happens to be a scout assassin from a race of space beings who are still trying to decide if earth needs to be recycled? So much power as a writer, but should he save his universe or trash it and start with a clean slate and hopefully another big bang of inspiration? Thomas wondered if God was similarly flummoxed at times.
I took my kids to Walmart the other day. As we walked back and forth along the aisles I observed a new behavior not seen out of my children before. It sent chills down my spine. My daughters were insisting on putting things back where they belonged on the shelves. This amazed me, especially coming from the redhead who NEVER wants to pick up. After about the fifth time of ‘Daddy, can we put X back’ I had to ask if they were feeling okay.
My oldest responded, “Why did you ask that?”
I told her that they didn’t want to pick up at home, so why start in a place where the people were actually paid to do so. We then discussed what was different about being at Walmart and being at home. Since my oldest is still only eight I did not get constructive answers from them. It did make me wonder what I could do to help foster this behavior. I came up with the most obvious choice, one that will be painful to transition to, but should solve the whole pick up problem. I am officially requesting that Walmart open a small location here in my house. It doesn’t have to be staffed since my kids will help stock the shelves. I know, you are thinking how brilliant this parenting spin is, and I can only agree. Next on my list, getting them doing lawn work by opening a small “flower shop”. I just hope Walmart doesn’t mind the competition on its front doorstep.
“To the max, and beyond!” I know that’s not right, but the five year old I swing my pillow at doesn’t seem to notice. She attacks me with a two handed over the head pillow chop, threatening me to split me in two. And by splitting me in two I mean from deep revitalizing belly laughter. I collapse to the ground, taking her down with me, both of us gasping for air between the laughs and tears. This is just what we needed since her mother wasn’t coming home again. At least this was one battle we both could win.
Dan went to the police department the next day exhausted. The rest of the sleep he had gotten after waking up on the floor could barely be called a fitful doze. Thoughts of dreaming another nightmare and sleepwalking and hurting himself during just wouldn’t leave him alone. It stalked him in the darkest and sleepiest parts of his mind. He headed to his desk nursing his coffee, praying the energy would burn off the haze over his consciousness. As he sat down Mahoney and Turner, aka Laurel and Hardy but without the bowlers, came around the corner. Mahoney gave a wave which Dan returned, but Turner came over and sat on Dan’s desk. “Man, I heard what happened on Friday night. Are you like, okay?”
Dan waved it off. “Yeah, I’m doing pretty good. Just didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”
Turner leaned a little closer. “That’s good, because what I heard it was pretty bad.”
Dan leaned farther away, not enjoying the smell of onions on Turner’s breath. “Really, it was nothing.”
Mahoney leaned against a desk nearby, watching his partner in action. “Aren’t you worried it’ll hurt your career?” Turner asked, concern leaking into his voice.
“What?” Dan asked. “Why would being bit by some idiot hurt my career?”
Turner gave a half smile. His eyes beginning to light up. “You know.”
Dan began to get agitated. He knew this wasn’t going to end well. “No, what should I know.”
Turner smiled even more. He even glanced at Mahoney to bring him into the conversation before focusing back on Dan. “Really, you should know.”
Mahoney couldn’t wait any longer. “Damn Turner, you can’t ever get it right,” he chimed in.
Gary walked into the room carrying two coffees in a cup holder as well as something in a small brown paper bag. He observed the situation quietly while making slow progress towards the verbal melee.
Turner turned on Mahoney. “Hey, you stay out of it dumbass.”
Dan tried to get back in control. “Turner.”
Mahoney wasn’t going to back down. “I’m not the dumbass stretching out the joke so far that the damn thing broke it’s ass five miles back.”
Turner stood to get into Mahoney’s face. “Maybe if you hadn’t opened you big fat pie hole maybe I would be done by now.”
Dan tried to be more forceful. “Turner”
Dan barely turned away from his partner. “Stick out of it Dan! This is between Mahoney and me.”
Mahoney shook his head at Turner and laughed. “It’s just you and your fat ass hanging in the wind.”
Turner was all worked up now. “I’ll remind you of that next time you…”
Dan had had enough. “Turner!”
Turner flew around to give Dan the riot act. “Dan, I said…”
Dan cut him off. “Turner, what the hell was your punch line?”
Turner calmed right down. “Oh, well you got everything backward.”
Dan waved him on. “And?”
Turner quietly said, “You let crime take a bite out of you.”
Mahoney threw his arms in the air. “Man, that sucked worse than I thought it would.”
Turner got riled right back up. “Maybe if you let me tell it my way instead of interrupting, then it would have went better.”
Gary couldn’t wait any longer. “Girls, if your done discussing how to give a Barbie a better hair style, Detective Cunningham and I have actual police business to work on.”
Mahoney and Turner walked off grumbling to each other the whole way. Gary handed Dan a full coffee cup. Dan slugged back what little was left in his original cup before taking a quick sip. “So what’s the ticket for today?” asked Dan.
“I figured we would pay a visit to Jorge later to see if we can cure him about his amnesia,” Gary said putting the brown paper bag on the desk. “Before he climbs out from under his rock though I figured we would go see Luigi about a horse.”
“Really? Again?” Dan shook his head in disbelief.
Gary shrugged his shoulders. “It’s what I heard. He was down at the track again trying to talk up one of the jockeys. I figured we could nip this one in the bud before it got out of control.”
“If Luigi is back at it it’s already out of control. Should we check with Pops first?” Dan asked.
“Probably, just to make sure we don’t step on any toes we don’t want to,” Gary said. He paused to drink some coffee then continued. “Though personally I think it’s about time we forget dancing around things.”
Dan smiled at his partner. “Patience grasshopper. All things in good time.”
“That’s almost funny,” Gary remarked.
Dan looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“You telling me about patience.” Gary was getting on his mojo now. “Mr. I’m going to rush in without my partner and get all beat up.”
“I said I was sorry,” Dan said feeling chastised.
“Not often and numerously enough.” Gary finished by crossing his arms and ending his concluding arguments to the jury of none.
Dan was moved to move on. “Numerously is a big word for you.”
“The word fairy was feeling generous and left it under my pillow.” Gary rubbed his hands together. “I was saving it all morning for you.”
“I’m a lucky guy,” Dan said. “So what’s in the bag?”
“A little something special for you. I figured after the weekend you had you could use a pick me up.” Gary motioned for Dan to open it.
“You have no idea. Thanks man,” Dan said.
“Not a problem,. That’s what partners are for,” Gary said.
Dan reached in the bag and pulled out a set of chattering teeth. “Classy Gary, real classy.”
“What can I say?” Gary asked as he straightened his tie. He then jabbed a finger into Dan’s chest. “Maybe they can talk some sense into you next time you decide to do something bone headed.”
Dan chucked the teeth at Gary. “You wish.”
“Yeah, I do.” Gary caught the teeth and looked closely at them. “Think I should get my money back? They seem to have an overbite.”