The Broken Drum

Drum

THE BROKEN DRUM

by Edgar Guest

There is sorrow in the household;
there’s a grief too hard to bear;
there’s a little cheek that’s tear-stained
there’s a sobbing baby there.
And try how we will to comfort,
still the tiny teardrops come;
for – to solve a vexing problem–
Curly Locks has wrecked his drum.

It had puzzled him and worried,
how the drum created sound;
for he couldn’t understand it.
It was not enough to pound
with his tiny hands and drumsticks
and at last the day has come
when another hope is shattered,
now in ruins lies his drum.

With his metal bank he broke it,
tore the tightened skin aside,
gazed on vacant space bewildered,
then he broke right down and cried.
For the broken bubble shocked him
and the baby tears must come;
now a joy has gone forever;
Curly Locks has wrecked his drum.

While his mother tries to soothe him
I am sitting here alone.
In the life that lies behind me
many shocks like that I’ve known.
And the boy who’s upstairs weeping
in the years that are to come
will learn that many pleasures
are as empty as his drum.

From the book Just Folks,
by Edgar A. Guest
© 1917 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

My response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt: CHALLENGE

I really enjoy prompt words like this; they can call up such a variety of responses!

Rethinking the Woodpile

Firewood pile

Fandango’s challenge for today: ACCOMPLICE
Ragtag Community Daily prompt: GROOVE

Which brings to mind a short tale I once read, one that goes back to the days when every rural home had a wood stove in the kitchen, a tree stump that served as a chopping block for splitting logs, and a pile of firewood near the house for easy access in winter.

The Seventh-grade boys put their heads together at recess one afternoon. They were feeling kind of bored and wanted to think of something fun and different they could do sometime. Several ideas were advanced and vetoed.

Then someone offered the suggestion: “Why don’t we get together after dark some night over at old man Haskell’s place and play some trick on him.” This suggestion piqued the interest of the others.

‘Old man Haskell’ was their community’s equivalent of Oscar-the-Grouch. Living just out of town, gruff, abrupt, and somewhat crippled, he didn’t have a lot of patience for young boys. He grumbled when they cut through his yard to go fishing and if he saw them hanging around town he’d scold them for being idle. They should be working hard like he always had to, and so on.

At school the boys sometimes mimicked his mannerisms. Grabbing a stick for a cane, hunching over and hobbling along, they’d turn and scowl at the other boys just like old man Haskell would. They never let teacher catch them at this, though. Teachers were pretty strict about respecting your elders.

“But what trick could we play on old man Haskell? Upset his outhouse?”

“Nah,  that’s old hat. But I have an idea,” said Len. “Let’s un-stack his woodpile.”

The others looked at him curiously. “We can scatter his firewood all over his old yard,” Len explained. ” I think that would be a great trick to play on him. He’d have to pick it all up. That’d keep him busy for awhile and he wouldn’t have time to gripe at us.”

One of the other conspirators beamed. “Yeah, let’s! Wouldn’t that be fun – and serve him right for being such a grouch.”

The fourth conspirator, Rudy, scuffed his toe in the dirt. He didn’t really see the fun in tossing wood for hours, but did see possible consequences. “What if we get caught,” he asked. Much as he wanted to be part of the gang, it niggled at him how his dad would react if he heard this? Rudy had been taught to respect older folks and other folks’ property.

“It’ll be dark,” Len retorted. “Old man Haskell will never see us. And for sure he’ll never catch us — you know how slow he moves. What do you think, guys? Let’s meet in front of his place at nine tonight and have some real fun.”

That evening four boys crept away from their respective homes. Just after nine o’clock Len and his three accomplices slipped into Haskell’s yard and began tossing firewood off the pile. It became a game to see how far they could throw it. Still, there was an undercurrent of tension. They worked quietly, glancing often toward Haskell’s shack to see if the curtain moved or the door opened, though they knew he was hard of hearing.

With four pairs of hands working, the woodpile was soon scattered all over the yard. When they were done, Len rubbed his hands on his pants. “Okay. Let’s beat it, guys.”

“Won’t it be a joke when old man Haskell gets up in the morning and sees this mess? Wish I could be here to see his face. Ha ha!”

Rudy had been quiet most of the evening, his conscience stirring uneasily. He made his way home again, hoping he could slip in without his parents hearing him? But could he face his Dad in the morning? His dad was pretty sharp.

He tried to not make a sound but his father heard him come in and questioned why he’d been out so late on a school night? Rudy was evasive, but finally revealed the prank. “But old m…I mean Mr Haskell is such a grouch. We thought he deserved it.”

“Yes, Mr Haskell does seem cranky, but you boys don’t know what he’s been through in life and what he’s suffering now with his health issues. It’s going to be extremely painful for him to gather up all that wood and put that pile back together.”

Dad looked at him quietly for a few minutes and Rudy blushed under his silent disapproval. Suddenly Dad stood up. “So let’s us play a good prank now — and a joke on your school mates at the same time. Come on. Let’s get your brothers up.”

Dad called Rudy’s two brothers and he and his three accomplices went back to old man Haskell’s place. Working in the light of the moon for several hours, they not only put his woodpile back together, but stacked all the wood much closer to the house so he wouldn’t have so far to go to fetch his firewood come winter. They were enthused about the task and made good time once they got in the groove. When the job was done, they surveyed the neat yard and exchanged satisfied smiles. Near as they could tell, Mr Haskell never heard a thing.

“Now, boys,” Dad said, “Isn’t a prank like this a lot more fun than just making trouble for an old man? When Mr Haskell gets up in the morning and looks out, instead of seeing a huge mess he has to clean up, he’ll see his woodpile has moved twenty yards closer to his door.”

“Oh, yeah. Wish I could see his face when he gets a gander! That’ll be a neat joke,” Rudy’s younger brother said as they turned toward home again.

Rudy’s older brother nodded. “One he’ll appreciate right well, I reckon.”

Rudy grinned as he thought of Len’s reaction. “Len’s eyes are going to bulge right out of his head when he hears about this.”

“Let’s not tell anyone we did it though,” Dad cautioned. “Let them keep guessing who came here after they did.”

“That’ll be the best joke of all.” Rudy imagined the shock the other un-stackers would get when news got around. He knew Mr Haskell would never keep quiet about his walking woodpile.

Stretched in the Telling

One-Liner Wisdom:

“A Tale never loses in the telling.”
— Old Scottish Proverb

Abby started the conversation soon after the three wives met at the fitness center. “Have you heard that Jim and Fran’s daughter left home? Someone said all was not well between her and her folks and she decided to move out.”

Bonnie replied, “No, it sure wasn’t. At least from what I heard, Vikki was convinced her folks wanted to marry that young man from Texas and she wasn’t having any of it. She left home in quite a huff.”

Cathy added, “I remember that fellow. I was with them there at that huge family reunion in Texas. I was pretty sure they wanted their two daughters along in the hopes they’d meet some nice young men there.”

“I heard they practically dragged the girls along.” Abby gave her friends a knowing look. “And then they invited that young man to come visit them here. Talk about fanning the flames!”

Bonnie arched her brow cynically. “They made sure the girls spent lots of time with him while he was here in Plimton, too. Had to take him here and there, and the girls found him such a pain, expecting so much all the time. Vikki supposedly couldn’t stand him.”

Cathy nodded. “Yeah, I heard that, too. I’m guessing when her folks started putting pressure on her to think about marrying him, she just couldn’t handle it and moved out.”

Bonnie nudged her friends and whispered, “Cool it! Here comes Fran now.”

The three friends all blushed a bit when Fran walked up and greeted them innocently. “Morning, girls. Ready to tread the mills and press the pounds.”

Abby nodded enthusiastically. “I am. But I was wondering if you’d be in the mood for gym today. I heard your Vikki moved out yesterday.”

“That’s right. Of course we’ll miss her, but she got the chance to room together with her good friend Sue. They’ve both gotten jobs with the same company over in Vicksboro now, so living together and sharing expenses is going to work out well for them. That is, until one of them gets married.”

“Oh. Any prospects in that department?” Bonnie winked.

“Well, you’ve likely heard that Vikki’s met a fellow from Vicksboro. That was part of her incentive to move there. And she wants her independence. I did, too, at that age. We think this will be good for both girls.”

“Really?” Cathy’s forehead wrinkled. “I thought maybe she had something going with that fellow from Texas. The one who visited you last month.”

“Oh, please! Never. He wanted to do some job research here in Plimton and asked if he could stay with us.” Fran opened her locker and tossed in her handbag. “I’m glad the girls were willing to show him around, but no way would we want him for a son-in-law.”

“He seemed nice enough,” said Cindy.

“Well, yes…in some ways. And I don’t want to be too hard on him — or spread any rumors — but we found him still…well…rather immature. Jim and I weren’t all that eager for him to come in the first place, but he insisted he wouldn’t be any bother at all.” She laughed. “Guess he hasn’t met himself yet.”

Cindy smiled, obviously a little embarrassed. “Sure glad you could come today. It’s good to get the facts straight.”

“Yeah. You know how rumors spread.” Abby gave the others a quick wink and they all headed for the exercise area.

This post was written for One-Liner Wednesday, the rules of which are:

1. Make it one sentence
2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational
3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds
4. Add our lovely new badge to your post for extra exposure!
5. Have fun!

Also used the Word of the Day ChallengeINDEPENDENCE

Capture

How can you capture
the dandelion seeds
the moments gone
those stinging words
that should have been
stopped at the exit door
and smartly turned?

My response to Fandango’s daily word prompt:
CAPTURED

If you’d like to read other writing prompts and responses,
click on one of the links in my blog roll.

 

Almost Everybody

I wrote this fun piece in response to Fandango’s one-word prompt for today: ALMOST. Check out his blog to see the other responses, or add your own.
I was especially prompted to write this tale by Frank Prem’s not-quite-haiku, Almost a Cockatoo. You’ll see the link to his blog, Seventeen Syllable Poetry, listed among the others.  🙂

ALMOST EVERYBODY HAS A PAIR

“Mom, I need new running shoes.”

“So what else is new?” was Dad’s comment.

“You just got new shoes back in spring, Brandi.” Mom reminded her.

“That’s right,” Dad agreed. “And as I recall, they cost me a wallet full of bills.”

“Mom, Dad. Listen to me! The shoes you got me back in spring were El-cheapos. Now they’re like, RAGS! They’re decomposing with every step. I’m gonna get gangrene if I keep wearing them. I REALLY need new shoes.” Brandi stuck out a foot to show the evidence and wrinkled her nose. “I need something a little higher quality.”

Dad jabbed a finger in her direction. “The way you and your sister go through shoes, all we can afford are El-Cheapo brands. Do I dare ask how much ‘a little higher quality’ is going to set me back?”

Brandi rolled her eyes. “Oh, Dad. All you think of is money! You don’t understand how…how…ostracized I feel wearing Excess-Economy brand when all the other kids are wearing these cool new TECH-tonic ‘Earthmovers’. Kids who have ‘em say they really grip the ground and…”

“And all your classmates are wearing these?” Mom asked.

Brandi’s sister Trena nodded in agreement. “I’ll need a new pair soon, too.”

“Even some of the poorest kids,” said Brandi. “And they’re, like, $220 a pair.”

Dad’s eyes popped open. “Two hundred and…” He whistled. “And everybody in your class has a pair? Except some of the poorest kids, of course — like you two.”

Brandi stuck out her chin.“Well, yeah. Do you want us to be scorned by the whole school? Mocked on Facebook because our shoes are rotting on our feet?”

Mom looked at Dad and raised her eyebrows. Dad looked at Mom and raised his eyebrows. Somehow they both managed to maintain a ‘bank-manager-considers-loan’ sobriety.

“We’ll see.” Mom said. “Now that I think of it, Carrie’s cousin volunteers at school Thursday mornings. I’ll ask her what she thinks of these news shoes everybody’s wearing. You called them Earthmovers?”

Brandi nodded, squirmed, and sent her sister a desperate glance. “Well, almost everybody. At least five kids in my class have a pair. But the rest are getting them as soon as…”

Dad grinned.  “As soon as they can talk their folks into saving them from mocking and scorn?” He winked at Mom.

Brandi and Trena gave each other a meaningful look and rolled their eyes as if to say, “Parents. They’re so…archaic!”

Books: Honeymoon Cottage

Honeymoon Cottage
© 2012 by Barbara Cool Lee
First book in the Pajaro Bay Series

Camilla Stewart’s fiancé, Dennis Hutchins, bought a little cottage for them, left his eight-year-old son Oliver in her care, and disappeared. A short time later she was arrested — and discovered the truth. He was a con man.

From a great job in the accounting dept in a high-tech CA firm, she’s hit bottom. She’d trusted the sweet guy who waltzed into her life one day and won her heart, then used her computer to get access to her and the company’s bank accounts. She was finally cleared of the charge that she’d been the embezzler, but now she’s obligated to pay the company back. She needs to sell that cottage.

Out of money, out of gas, she’s come to Pajaro Bay to claim the house locals still refer to as, “Honeymoon Cottage.” But first her car needs to get them all the way to the door. She’s forced to sell her engagement ring — and the woman in the antique store is stalling.

Ryan Knight, in charge of the Pajaro Bay Sheriff’s Dept has been called by the owner of the town’s antique shop, who was suspicious as to why this stranger’s trying to sell such a valuable ring. Must be stolen. Running a check on Camilla’s ID, he discovers the real reason why she’s driving an old clunker and trying to sell a diamond ring bought new only the month before.

He escorts her to the house and she gets her first look at the place. She won’t be paying any bills with what she gets for this tiny, tossed-together mess!

“It looks like it was built by a drunken leprechaun,” she finally said.

I read this first book in the series and quite much enjoyed it. There’s the mystery of what happened to the lowlife who left her and his son with this place — and obviously some romance as Captain Knight tries to help her sort out her legal situation and the house repairs that must be done. The romance is light, the behavior of all characters decent and considerate.

Camilla’s efforts at drawing Oliver out of his shell and respecting his feelings for his father are impressive. There are some tense scenes as it becomes apparent Camilla and Oliver are being set up for some kind of “accidental” death.

A well executed plot by a skillful writer. I’d give it 5 stars and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

According to the book blurb:

“The Pajaro Bay mysteries are filled with light and breezy, heartwarming fun, and always leave you with a happy ending. Each is a stand-alone novel so can be read in any order.”