With the foruth of July having just past it got me thinking of a short story I wrote in August of 1996. I hope you enjoy.
The crackling thunder of firecrackers, lured me to an open window overlooking the dark alley below. Several lads stood stunned and appeared to be full of fear, as if something terrible had just happened. In the center of the group laid a boy in a puddle of blood, next to his detached hand, and his skin burned black as night. Terrified, frozen with fright I was unable to assist the helpless soul. Luckily for the injured lad, a younger boy wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans happened by. The rescuer did not seem to know how to help, but was certainly eager to assist someone in need. Shortly after he arrival, an ambulance and fire trucks came to treat the injured youth. The rescuers quickly compliment the boy in blue for his efforts, and the injured lad for his bravery. The injured lad was put into an ambulance that sped away in a blur of lights.
Several weeks later, I noticed a thing resembling a young mummy, being carried into a house down the street. Their wasn’t any need to guess; I knew it was the boy injured by a needless gadget. I watched in bewilderment, wondering how a helpless child could endure such pains without showing any emotions. Than my eyes met his, which told a different tale, one pleading for help. At this point, my heart dropped and my soul opened to him and my mind worked feverishly to create ways to help.
My nerves practically gave out as I knocked on his door offering, assistance. The old wooden door echoed loudly as it opened to reveal the face of a charming lady. “Hello. I live down the street. My name is Jesse. I would like to offer you my assistance.”
“I am sorry sir, but we have all the help we need right now but I greatly appreciate the offer.” said the mother gently.
I walked home depressed and sad, because my hopes to improve a young life diminished before my eyes.
The next morning, I awoke to a loud pounding noise. I was pleased to find the boy in blue knocking on my door. I learned his name, Josh, and that his brother Sean was the youth injured. Josh asked me to entertain his brother while he was at school. I cheerfully accepted, without hesitation. I had my fears and doubts, and no idea how to amuse a bedridden boy. I discovered Josh to be a talented mind reader.
“Just talk to Sean it doesn’t matter what, long as its interesting and fun.”
After a hearty breakfast, and after convincing myself all would be fine, I was heading out the door and down the street. The day was wonderfully cool, bright, and cheerful. The brisk walk brought joy to my worried soul. I marched up the sidewalk leading to Sean’s small cozy house, with its little porch and a cute chimney.
“Come in.” invited Sean’s mother.
The charming lady offered me a whole variety of foods, all of which I graciously declined because of the unusually large breakfast I had and also due to my thoughts of the lonely lad nearby. The house seemed deathly still, which disturbed me deeply.
Trying to break the horrid feeling, I asked. “How is Sean?”
The soft voice of the mother spoke as if worried about a young eavesdropper. “He is alive, but it will be a long time before he can run about as boys should,”
A soft and gentle, but surprisingly powerful voice echoed from the walls. “Mom!”
The well-meaning, spirited mother went to check on her son; I could not help noticing the fearful look in her eyes. A fear, I understood meant that young unsuspecting ears heard about a harsh battle to come. She quickly returned with a glimmering look that repeated tales of goodness and happiness. “You no longer need to seat here he wants to meet you.”
A short narrow hallway led to a small desolate room, where a dreadful, unrecognizable thing laid surrounded by barren walls. The horrid thing looked like a mummy, instead of a little boy. All I could see were two eyes peeping out of small crude holes. Watching his movements I could tell he knew nothing about his blown off hand.
“Sir,” a soft but frightened voice said, “were you sent by God to end my suffering?”
“Sean, I am not an angel, nor can I ease your pain, but I can help you push it aside, for a good old time while you let me remain.”
“Are you my friend?” he said nervously.
“Please don’t call me sir, my name is Jesse, and I wish to be your friend. I knew little of you before the horrid accident, but have felt sorry for the strong spirited beast who use to storm the streets.”
“You pity me don’t you?”
“I cannot pity anything who knowingly did something stupid. Bringing pain and suffering to all around it.”
Trying to change the subject and thinking fast I ask, “Would you like to hear about my trains?”
“Jesse, you have trains, oh how I love trains!”
“I have a cool model railroad layout complete with a town and mountain. Railroading gives me a feeling of power and control over little machines who muster all their spirit to pull precious cargoes for me. It’s fun to watch them huff and puff as they lug themselves to the top of the mountain, sometimes losing control and wreaking on their way downhill.”
I glanced over at the peaceful, still body. Sean was now fast asleep. This did not bother me because I knew young growing and injured bodies need lots of rest. I left the small room. Sean’s mother appeared relived as if a large load had been removed from her shoulders. Surely my visit had brought a life and spirit back into a household filled with pain and suffering.
“Madam, please don’t call me sir. My name is Jesse.”
“Sorry. My name is Nancy. I uh, was uh, checking up an you earlier and well uhm... I thought you would like to know that his hand was not as bad as it first seemed. The doctors were able to sew it back on, although only time will tell how much use he will have with it.”
I walked home and laid down to rest only to be awakened sometime later by banging at the door. A very pleased Josh stood staring at me. “Sir you have brought life back into my brother he is brighter than he has been in weeks thank you. Sean asks you to return for a visit, if you do not mind.”
“Of course, Of Course, I will, uh it would be a great pleasure!”
I return to Sean’s room and knocked. “Come in!”
Entering, I saw Sean wide awake and ready to hear more wonderful tales of amazing and dangerous curiosities.
“Hello Jesse, I missed you. I have never seen your trains, but somehow I believe you have given me a life outside this barren dreadful jail. Forgive my rudeness for falling asleep during your last visit, but I couldn’t help imagining driving a train up a mountain, and the adventures it might bring. I still do not understand why the train was huffing and puffing.”
“Sean, the trains wanted to blow down the mountainside, because they were lazy and didn’t want to work so hard.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Plenty Sean. Those locomotives grew weaker and weaker, until they became too weak to work, and were cast aside.”
A pitfall voice quietly said, “You mean something like me?”
“No, No nothing like you. You have a fighting chance to start over, never give up and you will be bouncing off walls and doing stupid stunts again.”
Over the next few months we continued to see each other and to tell one another incredible and surprising stories. With the passing of time, he grew healthier and stronger. It seemed that with each visit, he became fresher and more vibrant. To my great relief, the mummy I had grown to know steadily disappeared, and a young handsome body proudly emerged. My visits grew shorter and less frequent as other children began to stay. On one visit, I realized my friend would soon be running about like a wild Indian releasing months of caged energy.
I sat up with a fright; was it just a bad dream? Noises of children playing outside lured me to an open window, where I stared upon some kids playing. One boy stood out like a beacon, with bandages here and there and slightly charred skin. Yet it was the banaged hand that caught my eye. As I, watched I noticed the boy was no longer as careless and rough as he once was. He stopped playing long enough to give me a wink, which was impossible to forget as, his eyes shone like a locomotive’s headlight, repeating “thanks” a thousand times over. But kindly get out of my way, or I will run you over. Sadly shortly after all of this his father got a new job and they moved away. I will never know what will become of that young man.
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