The old trunk had been sitting in the closet for decades.
He knew about the box in the vaguest terms, but only that it had existed, and he’d had even vaguer memories of seeing it. He’d heard it talked about by older relatives all who were gone now.
He dragged it out into the floor. He couldn’t make out any of the writing on the small label that tacked to the front of it, just under the lock. He lifted it to the nearest table. It was heavy. He wasn’t sure if the weight was because of the trunk itself, or what was in it. Although he suspected most of the weight was the trunk, which appeared constructed of solid wood.
Shining a proper light on the label, he was barely able to make out a name and date. The name seemed to that of his grandfather, Robert Brown Strong. The date looked to be early 1900’s, around the turn of the century. He had vague memories of the trunk. He’d seen it when he was much younger, as a small child, but didn’t remember anything about it.
Locked, he assumed there had to be a key somewhere. He rummaged through the drawers of his grandfather’s desk and found an old set of small keys. He’d never seen them before, but he’d never went through the old desk that thoroughly.
To his surprise, one of the keys fit. After carefully jiggling the key, the lock finally opened. The cast-iron hinges squeaked in rebellion, but after much resistance, he lifted the lid.
The light from the lamp off to his side cast a shadow over the insides, making it seem darker than it was. He shifted the light, which gave him a clear view of the inside of the small trunk. The amount of dust inside a sealed box was surprising. He sneezed and coughed as the dust stirred from its resting place of decades. Finely he unearthed several small objects. One was a small notebook, and the other was a pocket watch and various small pieces of jewelry. Now covered in dust and lint and general grossness, he couldn’t tell what they were.
Picking each piece out carefully, he laid them on the desk, in the order that he’d found them. When the box was empty of everything save the dust that didn’t float up into his face and cover his hands, he placed the trunk over on the side table.
He sat down and looked over the collection, removing dust as he fingered each item. He dared not be too aggressive in removing the dust for fear of what too much rubbing or handling could do to the fragile pieces.
One of the pocket watches seemed familiar. He had hazy memories of the trunk opened by big hairy hands. He seemed to be eye level with it, which meant he’d been pretty small. Something else as playing up in his mind, but he couldn’t quite see it. The memory was a feeling or a shadow of some kind. He tried to force it to his mind’s eye, but it wouldn’t come.
Setting the watch down, he picked up the ring. It too carried memories. Those memories were brighter. Then it occurred to him. The brightness he remembered was the sun. A bright summer day and a pretty hand wearing the ring was holding his smaller hand. He remembered more as the memories came in flashes, His grandfather, standing at a station of some kind, holding the pocket watch in his hand the chain dangling between it and his vest.
Shaking his head, he lay down the jewelry and stood up. Memories that he didn’t want to remember kept rushing back. Pacing back and forth in his grandfather’s old office, he knew what was next.
He closed his eyes, and for a briefest of seconds, the eyes of his mind flashed the shadow of the train as his mother fell into the track. Seconds later, he remembered landing on the wooden deck next to the track. All they were able to find was his grandfather’s pocket watch, which had broken from the chain as it flew out of his pocket as he jumped to save her. His mother fell under the train, and they only found her hand with the ring on it.
Pushing the images from his mind, he opened his eyes. This was the twenty-fifth year that they had held a memorial service. And each time it tore him up when he had to speak. He cleared his throat and tucked the watch and ring in his coat pocket. His family was waiting in the parlor for the service to begin, and he knew he wasn’t going to give the speech he rehearsed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a moment of silence in remembrance of my grandfather, Robert Brown Strong, and my mother, Mary Jeanne Strong. Then I will tell you about the family trunk.”
Ragamuffin, That’s what she looked like. He thought as he put away the old doll. It had been in the family for decades. In fact, no one could remember when it had come from. It had always just sort of been there. Now it had turned up again just after his mother had died. The more he thought about it. As far back as he could remember. The only time anyone ever found that doll was after someone had died. It would get put in a draw or a closest or other such place and forgotten about. Sometimes for years, decades. No one would see it. Then someone in the family would die. There it would be. Soon after someone would find it in a closet or drawer, or the like. They would always assume they the deceased had had it . And they-they had put it away and forgotten about it to be found later.
Picking it up again he began to really look at it. It was about a foot tall, made of some sort of cloth, the dress if you could call it that, was a very old style. Simple and made of rough materials. The face was sort of drawn on. Basic eyes, and nose and the mouth was no more than a thin line drawn about where the mouth should be. He sat on the edge of the bed staring down at it for what seemed like several minutes. Then it seemed to move. The eyes started to blink and the mouth seemed to form where they had been nothing but a pencil line. It seemed to be alive in his hand. The limp material seemed to stiffen up like it had real bones in it, and He could feel a heartbeat in his fingers. He thought he heard a voice. Then it slowly accrued to him the voice was in his head. At first, it wasn’t clear what it was saying. But it slowly came into focus in his mind. It became more real.
Suddenly the doll jumped out of his hands. It leaped over onto the bed next to him. It stood as upright and sober as anyone person could. The doll’s features seemed to become more lifelike. He slid back along the length of the bed. Hitting the headboard of the old bed. About then the voices in his head became crystal clear.
“It’s your turn,” they said. “My turn?” he thought. Before he could speak the words. The voice continued. “Yes, Your turn to die. I’ve been waiting for a very long time to meet you. And now you’ve come, you're a disappointment I like all the rest have. So you're useless to me.” Questions filled his mind. But before he could form them. He felt the uncontrollable urge to look out the window. He went to the window he was 10 stories up in the old brick tenement house.
Before he could stop himself he opened the window. The last thing he saw as he fell out the window was the dolls evil face laughing at him.
A week later they found the old doll tucked in a steamer trunk that he had put in storage more than a decade before he had killed himself.
He was a small man. He had always been a small man. Small in every way. He'd had small dreams, A small life. A small job.
People ignored him, when he was a kid, he was the one everyone picked on . In school, the teachers never picked on him, because he didn't stand out in the classroom. They seemed to feel that because he was small, he wasn't smart. They ignored him, when he called on being wrong. Being small he had taken a lot of abuse. The end result was he was small, he thought and dreamed small.
Than he looked in the mirror one day. He was suddenly tired of being small. Being naturally small he'd pretty much let life run over him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he had slowly realized that it was his fault he had a small life. It was time to reinvent his life.
That started with his wardrobe. He went through his closest. Except for a very few pieces he really liked everything else went to the Goodwill. The next stop on the way to the men's cloths store was the barber. There he had the barber give him a while new look, When he left he sported a nice flattop haircut, nicely trimmed beard.
He spent the rest of he day at the cloths store. There he selected , a completely new set of cloths, and a new style. He went back to the basics, classics. He topped it off with a new fedora hat, and trench coat. The bill was huge. But he didn't care.
For the first time in his life he didn't feel small. His next stop was his work. The looks he got when he walked in wearing the new outfit were priceless. In all the years he worked there, he had never been in anything other than a very old, ill fitting suit, and crappy old hat. all of which should have been dumped decades ago.
He walked into his boss's office. Laying his new briefcase down on the desk, took off the new hat.
His boss barely glanced up at him. Then he did a double take.
The look on his boss said it all. In his wildest dreams he never had seen him look that good.
"Mr. Connery. I want a raise. I've been working here for almost twenty years, I've been doing mine and your jobs and sometimes even more than that. For all of those years you've taken me for granted. and pretty much ignored me, unless you needed my help, and me to bail you out of a mess. That stops now.
You give me a raise, double my current salary, and a promotion, A promotion, I might add you promised me several years ago."
Mr. Connery, just sat looking up at him. He was speechless for a second. He barely recognized the small man standing before him. He tried to think quickly. He realized everything he'd said was right.
"You want what?" he asked sarcastically. He decided to make a show of standing up to him. He really wasn't sure how to take the new version of his old employee.
"Its really simple you start treating me as a equal, and giving me the respect I deserve, Or I leave. I start my own firm, and take all of my clients with me. After all the years I've been here, I know where all the bodies are buried , so to speak, I know how much you've skimming off to your off shore account. And about you and Mrs. Lewis. " He paused a moment to let it sink in.
Mr. Connery sat back down his his chair. Suddenly the man before him looked ten feet high. He knew if he pushed him he'd do exactly what he said he would do.
"By the way I quit. There will be a letter in the mail going to the proper authorities detailing all of the things I've just mentioned. and more. And I am taking all my clients with me. I've already talked to them and they've agreed to move with my to my new firm.
He turned and walked back through the offices. He went to his desk, There he plugged in a thumb drive. started downloading all his files. While that was working he cleared out his desk. collecting all his papers, and every little thing he had. The computer beeped. He unplugged the drive from the USB port, Putting it in his pocket. With all of his papers and files and other stuff in his new briefcase. He took one single piece of paper, and wrote on it "I Quit" With the whole office staff watching, including Mrs. Lewis, and Mr. Connery, he walked out the door.
He was never a Small Man again.
Time was all he needed was his old guitar. He would get up on the stage with just his old Martin guitar and sing his heart out.
People loved it, and him, So much that now he had long since abandoned his street corner, His days as a street performer where long gone. Theses days he traveled in a million dollar bus, with all of the comforts of home. And than some. He now had a entourage of 100 people on his payroll. They did everything from take care of his bus, set up stage, lighting sound, and equipment, and things he didn't even know existed.
Sometimes, when he lies in the back of his bus drifting off to sleep, his mind goes back to the old days. Back when he barely had money to eat, and slept wherever he could find a warm dry place. back than it was literally him and his old guitar.
At one time he knew who his friends were. People who supported him, feed him, let him barrow money, found him gigs to play. Now he could never completely trust anyone, Everyone from the old days was gone. To the outside world, he'd made it. But had he really ? Made what? A fortune doing what he loved, playing and singing, yes, he had that, but what about a family? A wife, kids and extended family? He had none. All of theses things and more weighted heavy on his mind over many months.
One day he just walked off the stage, out the back door and disappeared into the night. That was over 20 years ago.
The mystery of his sudden disappearance, and why has become the stuff of legend. Over the years many tales have circulated about why he left his life. No one knows the truth. That is, except him and his family. Somewhere in Virginia, he lives with his wife, and 6 kids and grand-kids. He works in a a local hardware store, hunts and fishes, and spend quality time with his grand-kids. Sometimes that plays his old songs and they have no idea that's their grandpa their listening to.
Once in a while when its late at night, he gets the old Martin out and plays. Now as he enter his twilight years, he knows his life has been well lived.
The old kitchen table had long since seen better days. Over the years, many meals had been prepared and served on it. There were scratch marks and gouges in the top from various family dinners that had included many turkeys, and hams and other large pieces of meat. Unfortunately not all were cut with the efficiently of a master chef. Most were , shall we say, unceremoniously mangled into bite size portions. Which were served to the various family members attending the event.
The old table had been the scene of many hours of homework. The homework ranged over the years from simple spelling words to world history, and many topics in between. Three generations of children had eaten and done homework on the table over the years. Oh the games that it had seen. From Go fish, to Yahtzee, and on more then few occasions poker, bridge, gin, and many board games. Stories had been related over the meals and games, memories had been made, first dates, last dates, fights, making up, and one more then a few Christmas secrets had been told across the table.
Today , it sat in he garage, in the far back corner, waiting to be first used as a work bench, and probably as is the usual manner of course, to be piled high with junk, no one knows what to do with, or wants to get rid of.
Eventually, it will be rediscovered under a pile of stuff that should have been tossed decades ago. The new owners will oh and ah over it. Marvel at the quality workmanship, and the fine quality of the wood. The scratches and gouges and various stains in the top, will be noted. There will be a discussion of weather to leave the table as is, or have it refinished. It will be decided that the table should stay the way it is. So the table will be moved back into the house, placed back in the kitchen, and used again for another several generations of the new family. The old table would be a rabble rouser if it could talk. The family history the old kitchen table has seen and will see with the new family would be enough to fill several books,
Time can either be your best friend or your worst enemy . The weather can also be your best friend, or your worst enemy.
His mind wandered back to a week decades ago.when time and weather had played important roles in world history.
The scene is England 1944, end of May, beginning of June. His boss General Eisenhower , was putting together the greatest military battle that had ever been fought until that time. Months had been spent planing every detail, Nothing had been left to chance, Security was impossibility tight, The slightest hint of what was planned would have ruined the plan before they could ever begin. Somehow they had kept it all together. Though months of secret training, Deceptions on a scale that had never been attempted, all had worked. All came down to this one week.
The General had all the pieces in play. all was set to go. He could almost feel the tension today, as he thought back to the headquarters in England when the General had given the final orders to go. The weather had been playing havoc with the plans for at least a month before, Finely there a break in the weather predicted. So it was then or never. They went.
He let his mind roam through his ancient memories. The looks on the faces of the general and staff who had nothing left to do but wait. Wait for word from the field commanders as to weather their gamble had paid off. While is is hard to put to the invasion together to work with generals who all though they should be in charge, and get men and equipment ready and still keep Operation Overlord a national secret. That seemed easy, compared to he next few hours of waiting, and praying for successful end to the Longest day.
It came, the end of the Longest Day, Over 9,000, Allied soldiers were either killed or wounded, But in the end they prevailed, and got the job done. The sense of relief an finely being able to breathe again was almost palpable. In his minds eye he would remember the rest of the reactions as word came of their success, and now knowing the this was the beginning of the end.
Yes, time had been both a friend and enemy, throughout his life, many times both at the same time, But time could not erase his memories of his longest days, many years ago,
The cineplex has 10 hugmongus screens, The snack bar was famous for its Frankenfood, some of which was almost editable .
The various screens showed movies ranging from the classics, to 3rd rate horror flicks, that were carptacular, not to be missed. One screen had home movies. Dumbfounded debutantes paraded across the screen, with blank bionic looks giving their lack of usefulness away. Their only redeeming quality was their bodies, barely covered in tiny poked dotted bikinis. If one looked closely they could see the scares from many plastic surgeries. The glitz was surpassed only b the stupidly of the whole thing. Yet people watched, in spite of themselves.
Meanwhile in other screens the audiences sat blissfully watching edutainment, ideally punching emoticans on there handheld devices
When the movies let out, The denizens of the theater, marched out into their quiet live, completely unaware of the malware that had been implanted in their minds..
This post needs a little explanation. The prompt this week was Portmanteau:.
Which I have admit I had never heard of before. So some Googling was in order. Here is what they had on the Studio 30 prompt page;
[noun] the combination of two or more words to create a new word.(examples: bromance, snowpocalypse, brunch, sexting. Use one of these portmanteau or pick one of your own.)
So I thought it would be fun to see how many I could use in a story.
He tried to understand her, But her Dialect was almost unintelligible . But it didn't matter. Her body language spoke volumes. Watching her talk was an adventure unto itself. It didn't really matter what she was trying to say.
The more she talked, the less sense she made. But he didn't really care. Her head moves almost as much as her mouth, Her shoulders went up and down as he moved her arms, waving them around her hands dancing in the air in front of her like a maestro directing an orchestra . Her fingers danced almost as much as her arms. All of this tended to create a effect of a very manic woman trying to get something very important out but being hindered by her own inability to slow down and focus on what she was trying to say.
The question was what was so important ? Why was she so frantic? He could only slowly start to make out bits and pieces of what she was trying to say.
Looking at the direction from which she had come. He saw the building from she had just came from. The airport. Then his eyes went slowly above the top of the building. The thick black smoke slowly rose above the roof of the building. As it rose up higher, the winds pushed it around. Suddenly it came to him, She wanted him to come and help with whatever was going on.
He had only just arrived and gotten out of his car when she approached him, talking a mile a minute, so fast her words ran together thus making her dialect that much even more pronounced. At first he couldn’t understand what had drawn her to him the second he appeared from his car. Then glancing down, He realized he had on his porter uniform. He had just barely arrived at the airport to begin a long shift hauling luggage around for people who more money than he’d ever see in his lifetime. Finely able to take his eyes off her, he realized what happened.
A airplane had crashed on a runway behind the airport tower, and all hell was breaking loose. People were scrambling everywhere, sirens blaring and big trucks rolled, barely missing his car. The lady grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the building. He let himself be pulled along. Obviously there was something important she wanted him to see or do. They managed to push their way into the building the crowd was confused and scared as she dragged through the maze of people. There in a back corner of a back room was a another lady.
She looked to be about the same age as the first lady. She was sitting on the floor, One took told him he a big problem, on his hands. Aside from being scared and in pain, she was very, very pregnant. As in about to pop any minute.
Many thing went through his mind; chief among them; “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no baby” Then his old army training took over evaluate . determine best course of action, and then do it. Looking around he saw a empty office with a couch, He pointed to office and he and the lady got the other one up on her feet, and started as quickly as she could manage to the office. Once in the office they lay her on the couch. Then it was time to settle down that talking lady, He finally got her to understand that she should with her, while went to look for help and supplies, he’d be back as quick as possible. Out of the office looking around in the confusion, he spotted a storeroom. Fortunately whoever was in there last forgot to lock it. Inside he found a first aid kit, grabbed some blankets, along the way back got some bottled water, Within a very few minutes he was back.
Inside the room, the patient was in pretty bad shape, The panic lady had gotten most of her restrictive cloths off, and gotten as comfortable as she could on the couch. Now for the hard part delivering a baby, without proper equipment or experience or training. As they begin the process of giving birth the rest of the world seemed to fade away for a while, they were so intent on what they were doing. For them in that office, there was no airport, no crashed plane, no sirens and people yelling and screaming and general confusion, for the next hour.
One hour later; they had a brand new baby boy. Both mother and her sister are doing fine and he could finally start breathing again. With a great sense of relief and pride he went to find the proper people to help take care of them.
The blank page stared back up at him. Yes, he knew he knew all of the answers. He should. He'd spent the last several nights and weeks studying for the big test. This was the biggest test of his young life. He had spent the last 9 months going all over with his older brother, mother and father, anytime there was chance for him to go. Now he sat staring at the test paper, After a minute the answers came to him. One by one he carefully checked the questions, Several of them were trick questions, If one didn't read them carefully, they were very easy to answer wrong. But he caught them. Twenty minutes later he finished the test, handed it back to the clerk behind the big counter. Her waited nervously while she checked he test against the master answer list she had behind the desk. Finally she looked up and smiled,
"You did very good, Young man, Perfect score, We don't get many of them."
A few minutes later he was outside with his mother at the car. He showed her the perfect test. Then the lady from behind the counter came out ad met them at the car,
His mother watched nervously as he got into the driver's seat and the lady got in the passenger's seat , He started the car, waited for directions, and headed out the parking lot. Turning right, they went down the street, and made several lane changes and various other turns, and finely came back to the parking lot,
His mother waited for them to return with the car. He got out with the lady, Both had big smiles on their faces.
"Congratulations, Jimmy, You've just passed your drivers test, I'll issue a temporary licence in the office, and you'll get your permanent drivers licence in the mail within the next few weeks."
As they drove home his mother was a mixture of pride that he had passed his drivers test on the first time, and that the morning hadn't been boring. and her most over ridding thought was;
Clear The Road; Another Teenager has his Licence. !!
Her conceit was only matched by her ability to babble on for hours about absolutely nothing. There were a host of things that she did very well. She could shoot a gun as well as any man, better than most. She had other abilities, such as being able to cook a meal that would put any TV celebrity chef to shame. While at the same time make him enjoy the experience. Most importantly of all she knew when to shut the hell up and listen. Something she had to learn the hard way over the years. Along with that she had learned to tell people what they needed to hear, without alienating them.
While there were people who really didn't like her. The majority of people overlooked her many eccentricities , in favor of her talents. Weather it was competing on the range, or the kitchen, or writing, or generally outdoing most everyone around her. She stood out among the crowd. In politics she had learned to get folks to do things they didn't necessarily want to, but with her coxing they would reach a consensus. Over the years she had taken her gift of gab and turned it to the business of making money and building a empire. Now she was taking her talents and ambition and drive to the business of running a country.
All of theses facts came together came together the day she took the oath of office for President of the United States.