Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Boy Who Loved To Handstand

Charlie lived in grey house which stood in a grey street which weaved its way through a grey town. He wasn’t an unhappy kid – on the contrary, Charlie saw the world both as beautiful and crazy all at the same time.

But where Charlie was alone was in the way he looked at the world. He knew that there was more to life than all this greyness, the question was where to find it.

His grey school room was taught over by a grey teacher who had once shown something other than grey from her eyes but as Charlie didn’t have a word for it, he decided he must have imagined it.

One day Charlie was busy drawing an elephant, (on a piece of paper, not actually drawing on an elephant as that would have been stupid) with his tongue hanging out of his mouth and as he scribbled hard, his pencil shot out of his hand and under his desk.

When Charlie leaned down to get his pencil, two strange things happened. One – all the blood rushed to his head and made him feel really dizzy. Two – the world seemed to take on something other than grey, he still had no idea what it was but for the first time Charlie could see the world in colours.

He sat upright just a bit too quickly and nearly made himself sick – but there it was, the world was back to being grey.

Charlie decided to keep this secret to himself and run all the way home. When he got to his bedroom, he had one last look out in the hall, in case the family were nearby then he went into his room and did a handstand against the wall. Sure enough the world became colourful again, so much nicer than the grey one.

So every chance he could get, Charlie would stand on his hands and enjoy the way he looked at the world. Okay, so no one else looked at the world the way Charlie did, but he didn’t care, in fact he loved being the only one who knew the secret.

One day, when he felt like a walk, Charlie went down to the river and when no one was looking, he stood on his hands and the world seemed right again. That was until a large shadow was cast across his face – he hoped it wasn’t the kids from the other street, he knew they’d never understand but it wasn’t them. Instead, it was a young girl and what was more surprising was the fact that her face was the right way up.

Charlie was used to seeing a beautiful world but with people the wrong way round.

You see, the pretty young girl loved to see the world the same way as Charlie did, she loved to stand on her hands too and that made Charlie happy.

The two of them could share the beautiful world now. He wasn’t alone.

bobby stevenson 2012

Today Is Going To Be A Great Day

“Today is going to be a great day,” said the little boy
Whose mother unexpectedly opened her eyes
Today is going to be a great day, smiled the old man
As the pain in his hands stopped for a time
Today is going to be a great day, laughed the young mum
As she picked up the money from the street
Today is going to be a great day, thought the doctor
As he put the diamond ring back in his pocket
Ready for the big question
Today is going to be a great day, chuckled the large man
At the bus-stop, with the sun on his face
Who was just happy to be alive,
Today is going to be a great day.


bobby stevenson 2012


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Secret Things, Sweet Things

Secret Things
She awoke, as she did every morning to the sound of the muffled, shouting voice and the door being unlocked before repeatedly kicked.

Slivers of sunlight were all that her young eyes could understand until she reached for the old spectacles that were her only possession.

She was in the garden shed, this was where she lived.
There was another kick, usually when her father had just finished his rollup cigarette.

She reached up to remove the old stinking blanket that covered the window. The morning light did what it always did - the shock of it burned her eyes at first. Sometimes the blanket was just her window curtain, but on frosty, snowy night it was a life saver. It just meant that she would awaken with her father’s face looking through the window – her privacy gone.

In the kitchen, her father and grandmother danced around each other; the dance of the bully and the gentle old lady. When the old woman’s daughter had disappeared, she had decided to wait on her return. As the months became years, she still had hope burning in her heart. The bully knew better, he didn’t expect his wife to come back.

The grandmother was limited in what she could do to keep her granddaughter safe but leaving was not an option. They had tried that and he had tracked both of them down, and both were badly beaten.
He took them to the hospital afterwards and told the doctor that they had been attacked by a burglar. The doctor knew from the bully’s eye’s what the truth was.

If it was a particularity cold night, the grandmother would take the young girl into her room for a few warm hours. By the morning, she had to be returned to the shed; the young girl’s sin being that she reminded the bully of her mother.

The little lost girl in her dishevelled clothes would leave her shed and look through the kitchen window. When her father was reading the newspaper, her grandmother would signal that she could enter and come to the table.

The young girl would sit very still with her arms by her side and wait to be told when to move.

Her grandmother would place toast beside the girl and then ruffle her hair.
The little lost girl would eat the dry toast as her grandmother would leave a glass of milk for her granddaughter. But on this morning as the little girl reached for the milk, she knocked it over.

The quiet old lady and the little lost girl watched as the milk ran towards, then under, her father’s newspaper.
The bully jumped, screwed up the wet newspaper, threw it at the little girl, knocking her from her stool.
Before she left for school her grandmother stuck a plaster on the cut on her forehead. The bully long gone, she kissed her granddaughter and ruffled her hair then gave her a few coins to spend.

On the bus she sat alone drawing pictures in the window condensation.
As three older girls passed her, they laughed, held their noses and then spat on the little girl. A kindly woman took out a paper handkerchief and handed it to the little lost one. The little girl wiped the spit away, then put the hanky in her pocket.

In the class, she sat as she did at the breakfast table with her arms by her side. She sat alone.
The teacher handed out exam results to each pupil and behind the little girl, a classmate held her nose letting everyone know of the smell.

The class laughed until the teacher told them to quieten.
The teacher placed the young girl’s result on her desk: 10 out of 10 – ‘excellent’.
The girl behind her stole the paper and threw it around the class. One boy ripped the paper into pieces.
When the class emptied, the little girl put the pieces of her exam result in her pocket.

At lunchtime, the young girl walked to the cafe and bought chips with the money her grandmother had given her. The woman in the cafe smiled as the little girl smiled back.

Hungrily the girl walked and ate her chips before bumping into someone. It was one of the older girls who snatched the little girl’s food and threw it to her friends. One tipped the chips on to the street then they walked away laughing.

The little girl picked up her chip paper and put it in her pocket.
Later that day, the little girl sat in the kitchen at the table with her grandmother. She drew a beautiful picture with her crayons.

Then a door slammed and the grandmother motioned her granddaughter to go out the kitchen door – quickly.
In the shed the young girl hung the blanket over her window once more, just as her father put a lock on the shed door. He made sure it was locked solid.

Under her bedding was a torch which the young girl switched on. She then took the papers and hanky from her pocket and the plaster from her forehead.

With a little pot of glue, all these things were stuck to a larger object.
The object was made up of bits of this and that. The little lost girl had built something out of all the badness that had come her way.

As she shone the torch up towards the object, she smiled at what she has made.
She had built an angel which reached to the roof and watched over her.

Sweet Things
She eventually found her mother.

Perhaps it was more correct to say that her mother had found her, having traced her daughter through a friend. The mother had been in contact just before the girl’s 21st birthday.  

It had been a dark time when the girl had returned for her grandmother’s funeral. Her father had spoken to her that day, perhaps for the first time in years. He had screamed at her from time to time but on this sad day, as her grandmother’s coffin was placed in the ground, he whispered “She’s joined your mother”. She was seventeen by then and she didn't want to believe him. She didn't believe him.

Her father had shrunk since last she’d seen him and the drinking had taken its toll; he was barley forty and comfortably wore the body of an older man.

It had only been three years since the girl had gone to school and simply never returned home. She had taken the first bus that was leaving town and had paid for it with her grandmother’s lunch money. She’d been skipping meals to save up - what was the point anyway? There was always going to be someone to take the food away from her.

Only when the bus was on the highway and the town was a distant church spire did she begin to relax. She dumped her school clothes in a bin at the first comfort stop then dressed into a sweater and jeans.

Her grandmother had given her an address in the city, “just in case” she said. “In case I go, sooner rather than later.”  The address was meant for an emergency and this is exactly what this was. She felt sorry that she had abandoned her grandmother to that madman but she could take it no longer. She had given them all a thousand chances: the school, the teachers, her classmates, even her grandmother, to change things and no one had.

Then one morning when she awoke in the shed for the hundredth time, the angel gave her a look as if to say, ‘it’s up to you, no one else is coming to help’.

The address had taken her to a Mrs Beverly Smith of Harrow, London - a kindly woman who had once been a beauty and had once been her grandmother’s bridesmaid.

“Just call me Bev, love, everyone does.”
She lived on her own with a cat called Lennon. Her husband, Stanley, had ‘been taken’ five years before.
“I’ve got me son, ‘Arry, he’s a doctor in Aberdeen. Works for one of them oil companies. I’ve got two grandchildren, Sarah and Stanley. That’s enough for me, thank you for asking.”
Bev let the girl stay in Harry’s room, “Don’t suppose he’ll be wanting it anytime soon.”

Bev knew a woman who knew the manager of the local supermarket and got the girl a job on a Saturday. She proved such a dependable hard worker that after a month, she was taken on full-time.

“If you don't mind me saying. I’ve seen them drawings you do, love. You’re too good just to doodle. I reckon you could be an artist.” Bev also knew a woman who knew a man that ran an art course at the local college in the evenings. Bev managed to get the girl on a course that ran over the winter.

By December, the girl’s art teacher was recommending that the girl go to Art School – “You are that good.”
At weekends when she wasn’t working at the store, she was working on her portfolio. She painted Lennon as a thank you for Bev and it hung on the wall next to a photo of Stanley, her husband.

The following September, the girl was accepted into Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design. This wasn’t just any art school, this was the best.
When the girl worked in the supermarket she had kept to her own company, always expecting someone would take everything from her but at college she was spotted by a young girl called Leonetta, who befriended her.
“Just call me Leon.”

Leon was studying fashion and was in her second year. Her boyfriend was a footballer and insisted that Leon watch him every Saturday – so she took the girl along as company.

One Saturday evening after football, Leon and her boyfriend came to Bev’s for something to eat. The girl had never had friends home before or for something as glamorous as a meal.

The girl met a boy at one of the football matches. Eddy was his name, he was an electrician.
“You hold on to that one” said Bev, “Electricians are never out of work.”

And she did hold on to that one. She didn’t tell him of her past life, something like that would keep for another day. But one day when they were walking along the High Street, she laughed out loud and then she realised that she was laughing for the very first time in her short life.

Eddy made her eyes smile.

In her final year at art school, Eddy asked her to marry him and she accepted.
A week before the art show, she went back to Bev’s for a change of clothes, all the students had been working day and night and basically sleeping at the college.
When she walked into the front room, Bev was sitting with a woman.
“She’s your Mum.”
Bev left the two of them to talk.
“I was younger than you when I left.  I couldn’t cope. He wasn’t a bad man, not at first. He just used to come home drunk and lock me in the shed out back. You know the one?”
The girl nodded that she did.

There were several roads that the girl could have taken that day but the one she took was to place her arms around her mother and they both wept.

She invited her Mum, along with Leon and her boyfriend, to the graduation show but pride of place was kept for Bev, her other mum.

Along with the girl’s drawings of Bev, Lennon and Bev’s family was a statue she had made from glued paper.
It was a tall smiling angel and underneath it were the words:
“Everything is going to be alright.” 

bobby stevenson 2012

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sometime While I Was Out Walking

Sometime while I was out walking, the wind changed,
No longer at my back with my face always towards the sun,
It cuts a sheer cold front that takes my breath away,
And steals the words out of my mouth,
Names are harder to recall and thoughts are grainy,
It blows the dust of time into my eyes,
Causing them to stream and flow with tears,
Friends wander into the fog and don’t return,
Sometime while I was out walking, the wind changed,
Never to blow this way again. 

bobby stevenson 2012

Thursday, 27 September 2012

That Gregory Peck Incident

She’d been living in the city long enough to remember to call an elevator - the lift, and the place where she was standing right now was a bookshop not a store.  

London was a million miles away from northern Virginia but home was where God had placed her whereas this big city was her current choice in life.

She had been born in the town of Herndon, right under the flight path to Dulles airport. That was when the place was little more than an oversized village, but now each of the towns had grown to touch the next  until there were buildings all the way to the Potomac river and into Washington itself.

Nancy had never really seen D.C. as a city, to her it was just another small town where everyone knew everyone else. She had worked in administration at William and Mary College in Williamsburg but when her mother remarried and moved out, Nancy needed more money and took a job at Georgetown University. It was a bit more travelling but boy was it worth it.  

Although Washington had always been on her doorstep, it was only when she started working there that she appreciated how beautiful the place was. Her father had been employed in the tax offices on Pennsylvania Avenue and at weekends the last thing he wanted to do was take the family back into the city. So for a long time she remained ignorant of what it had to offer.

Her father was many years older than her mother and died when Nancy was still relatively young. Eventually her mother married another government official and moved a few miles away to Great Falls, a more upmarket estate on the edge of the Potomac. Nancy very rarely visited her mother until her second husband also passed away and then she found herself visiting on a weekly basis.

Nancy and her mother grew closer during those years, walking in the Great Falls Park everyday and watching the great and the good of Washington riding their horses through the woods. When her mother began to lose her battle with ill health, Nancy sold own her flat and moved in with her. She eventually gave up her job to nurse her mother full time and over the next three and a half years she did so, until her mother quietly passed away.

Nancy found herself with no family to speak of, no partner, no job and very few friends who weren’t married - in fact nothing but a huge empty house overlooking a river. It was then that the idea came to her to sell up and travel the world. There would be enough money from the sale to keep her comfortable for a few years.

What she didn’t expect was to arrive at her first stop on the itinerary and stay there.

Eighteen months she had been in London and now she was employed at a branch of a well known American magazine. Someone she had known at Georgetown had recommended her, one quick interview and the job was hers.

The work was hard, the hours were long and initially, to Nancy, it seemed that the city was indifferent to most. Unlike D.C. she felt that no one really knew anyone in London or for that matter really cared whether they did or not.

She had rented a decent sized apartment   (or flat as she now called it) just off of Kensington High Street. Her wages as a personal assistant would have never covered the cost of her living there alone, so until she decided what her next move was, she subsidised the rent with her own savings.

The folks in the office were mostly from back home and would socialize on occasion; the 4th of July, Christmas holidays, Hanukkah and New Years. She had hooked up with a couple of boyfriends but nothing to make her stay. If she was being honest with herself, she had been already thinking of moving on to Paris or to Prague. She had been to check out both places over several weekends and liked what she saw. Air travel within Europe was so cheap these days that almost anywhere was within easy and inexpensive reach.

Her office was in a prestigious building on Piccadilly which meant at lunchtimes she could take in art galleries, sunbathe in Trafalgar Square, see the movers and shakers in Downing Street, or just take a wander through the West End and people watch.

She’d developed an odd little hobby, one that she would most definitely keep to herself. In D.C. there were never that many interesting buildings with elevators, at least not ones which were open to the public. So when she came to London she was fascinated with riding in lifts, something she had loved since she was a kid.  Nancy felt that if something was meant to be then it would happen, so when she discovered an interesting building with a lift, she would take it and get out on the top floor.

It always led her to some adventure or another but she was wary that one day it might get her into trouble - it never did; she played ‘Elevator Lottery’ and she always won.

On this particular day she was in her favourite bookshop, at the far end of Piccadilly, looking at nothing in particular yet at the same time watching the British at leisure. She noticed something she had never seen before - a lift over in a dark corner of the shop. There was no point in resisting as she was determined to find out what on the floors above.  

She pressed the call button and when the doors opened, she stepped inside discovering it was empty. She then selected the highest number - ten - and pressed it. Sometimes it was nothing more than the administration floor full of accountants and managers and on those occasions she would make her excuses and take the stairs down. Even under these circumstances she would find forgotten floors. 

The doors opened at the top and delivered her into the most charming of tearooms, one that was open to the public but, by the looks of it, was a well kept secret. This was a place for those who knew. The tables by the window had the most marvellous views of Westminster , Pall Mall and the parks.

Some sat at tables reading their latest purchases, some wrote on computers, some talked to lovers while holding hands. Nancy couldn’t understand why in all the months she had been working in London no one had told her of this place. Perhaps if you stumbled upon the tearooms it was because you felt it was meant and there was no need to make its existence widely known to those who were not so deserving of such a prize.

Nancy took the last table for two beside the window and ordered a pot of Earl Grey tea and two scones. These arrived at her table very quickly and were delivered with a glass of water which she appreciated. She looked around the room and saw contentment on the faces of her fellow tea drinkers and made a mental note that she too would keep this place a secret.  As she bit into the crumbling scone she realised just how British she was becoming.

“May I?”

His question pulled her away from her thoughts.
Her eyes met a well dressed man in his twenties, who had a kind face and who was looking around as if to say, this is the last seat in the room.  It wasn’t of course but it was easier to join another single soul than push into a table of three or four.  

“Of course, please sit.”

He pulled the other chair from under the table and sat.

“You’re American?”


“How splendid, I’ve been there, a wonderful State.”

He passed his hand above her cup and took in the aroma, “Earl Grey?”


“Waiter, same please.”

She had loved the first scone but didn’t dare lift the second until his also had arrived. People couldn’t help it and were usually unaware of it but when only one person was eating, the other one at the table normally watched as their companion ate every mouthful. It was what we humans did.

When his tea and scones arrived they both got stuck in.  Nancy told that him this was all part of her world tour, that was if she ever left London. He told her that his name was Alfred and that he worked in public relations.

"Sometimes I just walk away for a shirt while, when it all gets too much. I find this a nice place to think, to get things clear in my head." He said.

She smiled and felt as if she recognized his face, perhaps from television but was too afraid to mention it.

When they had finished their tea, he asked if she would like a walk or as he put it ‘a perambulation’ which she laughed at and he seemed to enjoy.  They walked down Lower Regent Street and across Pall Mall, down the stairs and into St James’ Park.

By this time the sun was shining and the park was awash with wild life, they sat on the grass and watched the world going by.
“I never get a chance like this.”
“What to sit in the park?” asked Nancy.
“I suppose, I am always busy and if not, someone always finds something for me to do.”  

And talking of working , Nancy suddenly realised that she had to get back to work.

“If you must” he said, sadly.

“Oh, I must, I must.” And she wished him well giving him a kiss on both cheeks. Yes she was becoming European.

“Perhaps if you are ever in the tea room again, we might meet.”

“Perhaps” said Nancy.

And with that Nancy walked back towards Piccadilly even though she was sure he was still staring .
As she was perambulating  up Lower Regent Street, she realised that she did indeed hope she would meet him again in that secret tea room.

Twice a week she went back for several weeks but he never turned up.

Then one afternoon, as she sat down for her usual Earl Grey and scones, she started reading an early evening newspaper that had been left on the table and there he was in a photo on the front page.

Prince Alfred off to Afghanistan, it continued, the Queen’s grandson is off to fight for his country.....

Now there was a story to tell one day.

She took the stairs back down to the ground floor and went to the film section where she bought a copy of Roman Holiday - that one where Gregory Peck plays an American journalist who runs into a beautiful girl who happens to be a princess.

That night she poured a glass of wine, watched the movie and felt, for the first time in a very long time, that everything was going to be okay. 

bobby stevenson 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Everyone I've Ever Met Has Left Something With Me

Everyone I’ve ever met
Has left something with me,
A kiss, a smile, some only rest a while,
A laugh, a joke, a heart that’s broke,
A frown, a sigh, a desperate cry,
Those lines are etched upon my soul
And time cannot erase.

Everyone I’ve ever met
Has left something with me,
Some good, some bad,
Some dark, some sad,
But each and every single time,
I'm a better man in every way,
For everything that’s touched my path.

bobby stevenson 2012

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Million Other Things

He sat at the bar cradling his beer and wondering why the jukebox had more friends than he did.

If he was really being honest with himself, he was never, what you’d call, a popular guy; an acquaintance here or a guy you nodded to there, was probably the best way to describe his socialising strengths.
People respected him, he didn’t doubt that fact, but he couldn’t see respect bringing that many to his funeral, not that he planned on dying, no sir, not for a very long time, but still the hurt did go deep.

When did all this other craziness start? 
He had been going over that thought again and again until he was beginning to drive himself crazy. Had there been signs sitting right out there in plain sight with no one even seeing them?

He could feel through the beer glass it all starting again, the vibrations; small waves on top of the beer causing it to foam up, as if a half mile long train full of cargo was passing just outside the bar. But there wasn’t a rail track for miles and the road only saw one or two cars an hour, if that.

So he held the glass tight. 
“Jeez, Jethro are you okay? You’re gripping that beer like your life depended on it.” 
Jethro loosened his grip and smiled back at the barman.
“Guess you’re right Dan. Just thinking, that’s all.”

He left a tip on the counter, threw his jacket over his shoulder and walked out into the evening heat. It was growing dark as he drove onto his driveway where he failed to notice the flickering street light swinging above him. When Jethro entered the house, all the commotion stopped.

He walked down the hallway just as the telephone started ringing but something told him it was a cold call from an east coast building company, so he just plain ignored it. The little thoughts helped him at times. Like last Easter when he was driving through that blind junction on Madison Street and something told him to press the brake. He had no idea why he stopped but just then some old Chevy came blasting out of Jefferson Lane and it would have split Jethro’s car in two if had he driven straight on.

Now Jethro was never a religious creature you understand, but he always had a hankering that there was 
something else out there, some truth to the whole universe that kept folks in check.But all these things that were happening to him were unsettling, especially since he didn't  go out looking for them. “Just getting by” was his way in life and had anyone bothered to be his friend, well they would have known that too.

These days he had trouble sleeping and not just with the usual bad thoughts that crawled around in most men's minds. Things happened to him in the night, strange things, like at 1am every morning the telephone would ring and when he answered it, no one would be there. Right after he put the ‘phone down , the smoke detector, that lay on the floor, would start beeping until he picked it up. The thing didn't have any power for crying out loud.

Now don’t get him wrong, these weren't ghosts or any kind of haunting. Jethro didn’t believe in such things. No, if someone worked that hard at life ( and Jethro felt everyone should  get an award for just getting through a single day) then they weren’t going to hang around afterwards, not when they’d just been promoted - so ghosts were definitely out of the question.

One night he had this thought about an airport and so he switched on his computer. He looked at the flight arrivals and noticed that one of them from South America was delayed and he knew right there and then that the flight was never going to land. Not ever. Some technical fault over Brazil had been the reason for the crash.

On Saturday nights if he didn't go down to the bar, he’d sit and watch the lottery show on the television. Without thinking he’d say a number out loud  and what do you know? That number would be chosen. If he tried to concentrate on it, it never happened. 

So one Saturday towards the end of the month, when his funds were getting real low, he put on a lottery ticket - he chose only four of the numbers he could hear in his head - well he didn’t want to peak too early, you know how it is? 

He won a couple of hundred, just enough to pay one or two bills and get by until his next pay day. At least that was the plan, but by Wednesday he was already thinking about the next lottery draw. So even although he still had money in the house, he put on five winning numbers and this time it was several hundred thousand he won. He called the lottery people direct so that no one local would find out.

He drove into the big city to pick up the money but somewhere at the back of his mind he was wishing that he had got the numbers wrong. Jethro decided that the money wasn’t his to keep, it had only been an experiment after all, a successful one nonetheless, but he’d proved a point.

He got the bank clerk to put the cash into two bags – half the amount in each – and decided the first place to start was the Church half way along Main Street.

A pleasant middle-aged woman let him in. 
“I’ll just tell the Reverend you're here. Have a seat please. Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Tea?”

“Coffee is good.” Jethro was slightly nervous.

The woman smiled and left Jethro with the thought that this was probably the Reverend's wife. The room was in the process of being dragged from one century to another. There was garish pink flock wallpaper in a room of furniture that spoke of a more modern taste.

So two things startled Jethro that afternoon, the woman brought a large pot of coffee, two cups and a plate of cakes. She placed them on the table and sat beside him.
“So how can I help you?”
“I’d rather wait for the Reverend, if it’s all the same.”
“I’m she, the Reverend.”
“But you said....”
“That I’d tell the Reverend you were here? I was just trying to stop you running.”
“A lot do that?” asked Jethro.

So they talked, in fact they talked for a good two hours and Jethro told Maureen, the Reverend’s name, all about the strange things that were happening to him.
“You’re not stressed in anyway?” she asked.

He wasn’t and the question annoyed him. How could she dismiss his strangeness, yet spend her life promoting a strangeness of her own. He was sure his experiences were nearer to religion than she was willing to accept.
He left her the money but she needed convincing that he wasn’t a dealer, or a robber or insane. This he did.

“It could be lots of things causing this” said Maureen. “It could be weather conditions or it could be something electrical in you. It might even be God working in a mysterious way as he’s want to do. It could be a million other things as well.”

And  that was really all she had to say on the subject. Except when Jethro mentioned that she might use some of the money to fix the room up. She said the money would be put to good use as the flock wallpaper was expensive and so she was decorating real slowly. She couldn’t wait to get rid of all that modern furniture. That was the second thing that surprised him that day, she was transforming the room back the way. His power, whatever it was, wasn’t infallible. 

He walked along University Street with the second bag of cash but was hesitant about who he should talk to. He read off the different faculties, some he dismissed immediately, some he played with in his head for a while. In the end it came down to Philosophy, Physics or Mathematics and as the first department that he approached was Mathematics, he settled on them.

He told the receptionist that he wanted to make a donation and within five minutes he had been whisked into the Dean’s office and another cup of coffee pushed in front of his face. He explained that although he was happy to donate to the faculty, he wanted to talk to someone about a problem he had.

As the Dean removed the bag and the cash and placed it in a safe, he called in his secretary to contact whomever Jethro wanted to talk to. It made Jethro smile that in the university no one was bothered if he was a robber or a dealer.

In the end he was given time with a Nobel Prize winning professor who seemed a kindly man and who asked Jethro straight away how he could help him.
When Jethro had told him of the flickering and the vibrations and the lottery numbers, he seemed bemused.
“So you think that you have some extraordinary powers, am I correct?”

And Jethro had to agree that he’d got the problem down in one. The kindly man suggested that Jethro take some notes as the professor tended to ramble on and it might be a bit difficult for him to follow. So Jethro took a pad from the professor’s desk and started writing. Words like ‘Chaos Theory’ kept coming up again and again.

“So if I get this" said Jethro "and I’m still not sure that I have, you are saying Prof, that in the universe, no matter how sure that something is meant to happen or is due to happen, it might not happen because of Chaos Theory? And that means that anything could happen?”
“Exactly my boy, wonderfully put.”
“So I’m a chaotic interruption in an otherwise ordered universe?”
“Just so”
“Doesn’t that make me a freak?”
“Never young man. Now, I really must dash.”

Jethro drove home after spending a large amount of money on advice that he could have got off of a television talk show, but he felt that they had both meant well.
As he approached his house, several of the street lights began to flicker and swing and as he said out loud “this problem isn’t getting any better”. 

He stayed in all weekend and drank a few beers and this seemed to keep the thoughts at bay for a while - it even managed to stop the lights flickering in the house.
By the Tuesday he took a walk into town and as he rounded the corner he literally bumped into a neighbour, Tomas Saltz.
“I’m sorry to hear about your wife's passing” he said sympathetically to Tomas.
“How did you know? I have only come from the hospital, she died this afternoon. Who told you?”
Jethro left the poor man crying in the street as he ran off into Center City. The rules had changed again, this chaos, whatever it was, had surprised him once again.

So Jethro sat in the bar with his hands clasped around a glass of beer and purposely ignoring the vibrations on top of his drink. Danny the barman gave him his usual look.
“You alright, Jethro?”
“Sure Danny.”

Danny went back to cleaning the glasses.
“Can I tell you something?”
And Jethro told Danny about all the strange things that had been happening to him and how it might be one of a million other things, but then again he might just be a freak.

Danny assured Jethro that there was no such thing as a freak and that we all fitted into the universe in our own way. He also hoped that Jethro didn’t think Danny was a hippy or anything, but  if Jethro was made the way the universe wanted him to be, then that was all there was to it.

Jethro said he was sorry that he didn’t have any money to give him right there and then, but come Saturday he could give Danny as much as he wanted.

Danny said he wasn’t interested in Jethro’s money. Wasn’t he a friend and wasn’t that what friends did for one another? Friends listened and they helped each other, they cared.
Danny handed Jethro a fresh beer. “On the house pal”

And then they shook hands and that was when Jethro knew everything was going to be alright. In an instance, he saw Danny in the years ahead with a wife, kids and in a poor but happy life. He also saw a photo with
 Jethro as a godparent holding one of Danny’s children.

And he knew things were going to be alright for him too. So what if he was the exception, so what if he didn’t have too many friends? He had one and that was enough for him, and he had a gift that not too many people had and he knew that he had to use it for better things than lottery wins. 

After all, this was a big, big universe and everything and anything was possible.

bobby stevenson 2012