Sunday, 28 April 2013

A Wet Finger In The Sugar


 
I know how long you waited for the days
When all the good things would come tumbling from the sky
And on one warm mist covered morning they fell
Not as you imagined, but they were all the greater for being that.
I know how long you wished for all the kindnesses
To fall into your lap - some landed in disguise but
You grew to love them all the same.
You stuck your wet finger in that sugar
And had a taste of what happiness was
One taste was all that you were allowed and now you have to say goodbye
But remember this - there are some of us who never even got to dip.






Bobby @ AMAZON.COM                                               Bobby @ AMAZON CO UK


bobby stevenson 2013

Stories Not In The Books


STONES UNDER THE SNOW

She used to sit on her Grandpa’s knee and he’d hold her so tight like she was the only person in the world that ever mattered.

Whatever the payment was to get on his knee, tears or frowns, when she was up there she felt safe.

Nothing could ever hurt her there.

She would run her hand through his thick white hair and giggle at the little bumps on his head.

“Old age,” he’d say.
“They’re stones under the snow. Grandpa,” then she’d laugh ‘till it hurt.

Although she grew and married and had children, whenever anything was bothering her she’d go to where her Grandpa rested and talk awhile and she’d feel things were good again.

One Christmas, as she knelt on the ground, the snow came down and covered her Grandpa’s grave.

Her Grandson, who had been waiting, came to see what was wrong, she said “Why nothing’s wrong, honey, I’m just looking at the stones under the snow.”

And as he walked back down the hill, he could hear his Grandma laughing out loud as if she was hurting.



BALLAD OF THE QUIET MAN


He said nothing, not a word ever passed his lips,

He just sat in the peace and quiet with a Mona Lisa smile,

One cold day the Angry People passed his way

All shouting about this and that and the other

They stopped and asked the quiet man if he was angry too

He said not a word and the Angry People liked that

“This man is so angry about this and that and the other, he is seething with rage”.

They shook his hand and on they went.

Then one summer’s evening the sad folks were passing by

They looked at the quiet man and then sat beside him

“This man is mourning, this man says nothing but the sadness shows upon his face”.

They wept beside the quiet man then walked on down the road

On an afternoon like any other a stupid man was walking through as he was lost

He asked the quiet man the way to town and when he didn’t reply

The stupid man smiled and said, "I see you are as stupid as I am. ‘Tis better to say nothing and not look the fool.”

The stupid man wished his stupid brother well and continued to be lost.

Just before the start of autumn, some happy people were running and jumping and came to rest next to the quiet man

“Look here,” one shouted .”This man is so happy that he smiles in his contentment.”

And the people all cheered and carried him shoulder high down the lane towards the town.

This happened to the quiet man more than he would have liked and once again he had to walk all the way back home. 


PEAR BLOSSOM HIGHWAY

The moments that existed between the lights being turned off and the walk to bed were his to own for the briefest of times.
They were an echo from the edge of a life; one that was now long gone. There had been a time when all he needed to think about was his own selfish needs but now he had the wife and kids.

 They were his life now, his total life.

 He doused the fire and closed the window against the night air. He could smell the rain coming from the west and he knew, for certain, that tomorrow would be a good day.

 He went to his grandfather’s old tobacco box and took out the creased photo. It was safe in there – the box was on top of a cupboard and the kids never touched it. His wife knew that  was his safe place and never looked in.

 He couldn’t remember when he first seen it, I mean really seen it - probably in some old magazine which smelled of damp and sat  on a wonky table in the dentist’s surgery. He hadn’t really known who Hockney was, just some painter from the Yorkshire coast and anyway art was for other people, certainly not for the likes of him. 

 People talked on the television about paintings and photos in words that his grandfather would have called ‘flowery’. There was no place for flowery in his life thank you very much, that was for those and such as those – although he never really understood what that meant.

 But this one work of Hockney’s really got to him. It was called the Pear Blossom Highway and for whatever crazy reason the universe had as a purpose, it genuinely sang to him.

 It floated his boat and that was a much a surprise to him as it was to anyone. I mean, apart from his lovely family, the only other thing that made him happy was football. He knew who played for whom and who scored what, just like his grandfather had taught him (as would have his father if he’d lived long enough to get to know him).

 So in the twilight, he sat looking at the photo and seeing himself standing by the side of the road and for no reason other than he could, he wished to himself that he was there right there in the Californian heat. 

 By the morning his secret life was shut away in the box and he was back to taking the family dog, Rufus, for his morning pee, ruffling the kids’ hair, kissing his darling wife and fighting for a place on the road into town.

 He wasn’t unhappy and no one could say that about him and think it was the truth, but his dream of standing on Pear Blossom Highway propped up his struggles against sadness when it came to visit.

 Sometimes he didn’t bother with the photo, like the days when they’d take the family to the beach – amongst all the screaming and shouting, he’d close his eyes and feel the warm winds blowing along the Highway and the smell of the desert air. Okay, it wasn’t real desert but it was a lot more desert than he could see at home.

 One day he’d found a book about the Pear Blossom Highway and it seems it was called the death road. Some of the good folks from LA would use it as an alternative route to the Inland Empire and then they’d drive as if they’d been set free from unseen restraint, speeding and hollering all the way home. And as he read the words, in his mind he was driving along the road with the top down, music on the radio and the biggest goddamn smile on his lips.

 He found his life was a hungry beast and never satisfied. It ate up time when he was busy, it devoured seconds, hours, days and weeks as he was looking somewhere else. Even in his quiet time, life sucked up every spare second. Before he knew it, the kids had grown, his belly had grown, he and the wife had grown in opposite directions and he was no nearer getting to the Highway. 

So he did something he would never have considered a few years earlier. He kept some of his wages back from the family. Not much but enough. He stuck it in the box that sat on top of the cupboard and he called it the emergency fund but he knew it was never going to be used in an emergency. It’s just that he couldn’t admit that to himself right at that moment.

 When the boss offered him more work but on the other side of the county, his guilt made him take the offer; the kids needed new clothes and none of them had had a holiday in several years. 


His eldest daughter was getting interested in boys and she wanted the latest fashions. So every Sunday evening he would pack the car and head off, returning on a Friday night when the rest of the family was asleep. But it wasn’t just his daughter who was dressing up, he noticed new dresses turning up in his wife’s closet. She wasn’t wearing them for him at the weekend, so who?

 He started to put a little extra money every week in the box on top of the cupboard. He reckoned it was up to a few hundred by the start of the summer. One day when the time was right he was going to use some of the emergency fund and it was going to take him all the way to Pear Blossom Highway.

 One Friday evening in mid July when he got back home, the house was in its usual darkness, yet given the warmth in the air the windows were tight shut. He didn’t bother turning on the lights, instead he took down the box to look at the photo and that’s all there was - the photo and a note.   

He turned the lamp on and read the letter.

 ‘I’ve taken the kids and the money you thought I didn’t know about. I’ll be in touch.’

 Now that he was on his own most of the week, life didn’t seem that hungry any more - there was always time kick around somewhere, unused. Sure he got to see the kids every second weekend but it meant a five hundred mile round trip and yes, they were always happy to see each other. 


Over a burger they’d talk about how their mother had a new daddy, Eric.
 Yeh they liked, Eric he was a good guy apparently.

 So he decided the only way to use up the time was to work seven days a week, which, when he thought about it was a good thing. It meant he could send a few hundred more for the kids and still put some money in the emergency box.

He worked the winter, saw the kids from time to time (but not like before) and worked some more. Come the spring, he got a call from his ex wife. She was getting married and although she would like to invite him, she didn’t think it was on the cards but she wondered if he could send some more money for the kids to buy clothes for the wedding.

 So he took the money from the emergency box and sent it to his ex-wife.
Apart from the odd woman he’d pick up in bar from time to time, his nights and his bed were cold and lonely. It worried him that he’d be hitting forty soon and he’s still not seen much of the world.

One Saturday morning, he took his truck to a garage in town and sold it for a couple of thousand and then went straight to the agents and booked a flight to Los Angeles in the great state of California.

As you’re reading this, he’s standing next to the Pear Blossom Highway and feeling the warm air in his hair and wearing a smile that may just crack his face.

THE DOG WHO LOVED TO DRIVE

It was New Year’s Day, 1913 and Andrew was bored. Everyone in the house was sleeping off the after effects of the Ball which his parents insisted on holding every year. 

This meant that no one would be driving the motor car that day and this made Andrew smile. All he needed was to rev the old beast up, find Buster and then the two of them could be off to the seaside.

Buster wasn’t just Andrew’s dog, he was his best pal and was probably much cleverer than the boy but Buster wasn’t one to brag.

Andrew sat Buster in the driving seat as he pushed the car silently out of the stables and under the nose of Reynolds – the little man who looked after everything mechanical for the big house.

Andrew’s father promised him his own motor car when it came to the time that he would go up to Oxford – until then he had to take every opportunity to teach himself the rudiments of driving. How hard could it be? I mean, Buster was steering the car along the drive and he was a dog.

Before they got to the big gates Andrew checked there was enough fuel to get them to the coast and back.

“Good man, Reynolds,” thought Andrew - Reynolds always kept the motor car in ship shape and ready for the off. All Andrew had to do was turn the crank and that would be that. The motor car spluttered into life, shaking and banging before it settled down and began purr like a big cat.

Andrew hopped in and made Buster sit in the passenger seat much to the dog’s annoyance. It was several minutes before the dog looked in Andrew’s direction again. Okay, so the dog was very clever and very friendly but it could get annoyed if it didn’t get its own way. Andrew knew how to bring Buster around by giving him a saucer of champagne – and not just any kind of champagne it had to be the 1893 and it had to be served at room temperature. Buster was a snob, as if I need to tell you.

It wasn’t long before they were on the road to the coast. Naturally being New Year’s Day, the road was empty of traffic with not even a horse to be seen. 

The road was straight enough that Andrew felt confident to let Buster steer the car, Andrew worked all the other buttons and pedals.

Whether it was the late night or all the dancing at the Ball, sleep crept up on Andrew and he fell into a deep dream. Buster hadn’t noticed and wasn’t caring since he was driving a human car and it felt great.

As they drove through the next town, a Mrs Styler of Heyham High Street looked out her window to see one of those new fangled motor cars being driven by a dog and a man (who looked unconscious) in the other seat. She was going to mention it to her husband when she decided that he was already looking for an excuse to get her locked up and this would be the perfect gift for him, so she went back to bed and lay down in a darkened room.

Somewhere just outside of town the car ran out of fuel and Buster guided it to the side of the road. He then started to bark at Andrew.

Okay Andrew would have heard it as barking but to Buster it sounded as if he was telling his lazy friend to fill up the car with more fuel.

After what seemed a very long time (which in dog’s years was probably quite true) Buster decided to fill up the car with fuel himself; a farmer who was in field nearby saw this and decided that he had been working too hard and for the first time in his life went home early.

Once again Buster barked and barked but he couldn’t get Andrew to waken so being a very self reliant dog, it decided to turn the crank handle itself. With Andrew’s hands and feet still on the buttons and such like, the motor car suddenly moved off on its own. It shot down the coast road with Buster running behind barking that someone should try and stop the human motor car.

The Reverend Dunlop was opening his church doors when he saw a motor car driving down the road with the driver asleep and a dog running behind barking. He smiled to himself and continued with his work.

Just as the motor car entered town, Buster managed to jump back on board and turned the car along the coast road. Buster knew he couldn’t stop the car so his only options were to drive it into the sea, or let it run out of fuel, or try and turn the motor car around and head for home.

Just then, Buster noticed a large house with many dogs and bitches running around the garden. He turned the motor car into the drive and as the car laboured up the hill, he invited the others to jump aboard. As he drove the car out of the grounds there must have been nearly twenty dogs and bitches sitting in the motor car. Two of them were on top of the sleeping Andrew.

Buster continued along the coast and at the big pier, the car once again ran out of fuel. Leaving the sleeping Andrew in the car, Buster and his pals spent several hours running along the beach and stealing food when the humans weren’t looking.

All too quickly the sun started to go down and so Buster filled the car with the last of the fuel, and got several of his pals to turn the crank.

After a very satisfying day, Buster drove back through the dogs’ home, dropping off his friends.

It was dark when the car reached home and as Buster had no way of stopping it, he drove the car into the garage hoping the something would bring it to a halt. Actually the car burst through the back wall and continued across the lawn but by this time Buster had already jumped off.


Reynolds found a very confused Andrew several miles away in the forest where the motor car had eventually run out of fuel by that time Buster was fast asleep and dreaming of his next adventure.

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Bobby @ AMAZON.COM                                               Bobby @ AMAZON CO UK










bobby stevenson 2013    
thoughtcontrol ltd


 


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Coming Down From Wonderland

 
We had walked as friends and talked of far off days,
We even laughed at the thought of it all,
You and me, too old to struggle and exist,
Just as we ran beneath the trees to shelter from the storm,
But it was all in the years to come,
In lands we had not yet visited.

 
 
How easy it had been, all of it,
Without a second thought
We shaped the things we held in our hands.
And then that final day, that day of sadness
When the bell tolled and we at last came down from Wonderland,
To have known it all was a joy itself,
But to have lost it so soon, so quickly,
Was undeserved.
 
 
bobby stevenson 2013

Friday, 26 April 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

The night of him looking at the stars was the night that everything changed.
That night as the planets danced overhead, a thought grabbed him and shot right up his nose and into his brain, almost taking his breath away.
Here he was abandoned in Space, a traveller and whatever the dimensions of this universe there could only be so many travellers.
Whatever brought him or sent him to this place -  that whatever he was going through was unique – perhaps what he was experiencing really meant something. There was a reason for his being
If that was true, then everyone else he knew or met or saw was travelling too – all of them wound up by a key and sent on a path with little decision on their part of what they should take.




If they had all been moulded by a god:  from the woman in the bakery, to the the postman, or the kid who always cried, then they all had an angel at their birth – but even if their heart, their existence or even their imagination was an accident of the universe – they were still unique, still special, still a traveller.

So when he jumped to conclusions or jumped to attention or jumped out of the way, he told himself to remember – no one asked to be a traveller.

Practice acts of random kindness.






bobby stevenson 2013

A Kinder Love

Even after all these years,
I awoke with you this morning,
Your arms in mine, your heat, your hair,
Your smell, your sleeping smile, your skin,
Your morning eyes,
Oh – those eyes.

Even after all these years,
When neither knows who lived or died,
I can still feel you inside
Clawing at the emptiness of my heart,
I was only ever happy in your company, that much is true.

Maybe we met a thousand years ago,
And swore we’d love in different forms,
Perhaps this time we only glanced each others' souls
and hope that the next time
Will be a kinder love.




bobby stevenson 2013

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Next Time



The next time, I’ll say ‘hi’ when that moment first arises
The next time, I’ll cross the street before the trouble starts
The next time, I won’t put the money on that horse that lost me everything
The next time, I’ll go with whom I love rather than who you said I should
The next time, I will tell you that I’m unhappy and not just smile through gritted teeth
The next time, I’ll live the way I want to and not because I am scared
The next time, I won’t let them hit me, or call me names
The next time, I will not wait so long
The next time, I’ll take that chance
The next time, I will not throw away friends and money like that
The next time, I’ll make sure they’re properly dead
The next time, I’ll take my share as well
The next time, I will not drink as much
The next time, I will not hit you, I promise
The next time, I’ll be the one to stay on the path and make you move
The next time, I’ll spend more time talking and listening
The next time, I’ll be far gentler on myself and my life
The next time, I’ll probably do it all again, just like the last time.



Bobby Stevenson
thoughtcontrol ltd
http://randomactsstories.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Learn To Climb Trees

Learn to climb trees,
And live with skinned knees,
Learn to jump gaps and laugh,
Learn to handstand,
Play a tune, join a band,
Learn to tap dance in the bath.
Learn to be foolish,
And live without care,
Learn to sing songs and cry,
Learn your name in Swahili,
And learn to climb trees,
And never stop asking ‘why?’.




Jina langu ni Bobby  (Swahili)



bobby stevenson 2013
thoughtcontrol ltd


After The Angry Sun

He would lay his hands on them, one day,
He would hold them and caress them,
And that would be enough for now
People had spoken of them, the elders, but no one could remember
When last they saw them.

That had been the problem, 
For all the World's words and all the photos,
All the music and all the knowledge of the planet had been
Stored as binary: on chips, on phones, on tablets.

So when the Sun grew angry and sent the solar storm earthwards.

Nothing was left of the memories
Except those,
The books,
They were out there somewhere and he would find them.



bobby stevenson  2013

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

They Came Today, The Angels


They came today, the angels,
Your turn, they said, your turn,
And me, a watcher of the clouds,
Had seen them fly for years, up, up, up,
Spied through the brown glass ceilings of this old house.

Out there, they’d scratch and scrape and hunt the heavens,
In wings of gabardine and gossamer,
To search for souls, like me.

They came today, the angels,
Out of a gunpowder sky,
To tell me that this path
Had gently ended
And a new one would begin.

They came today, the angels,
And even as I turned and sighed,
I somehow always knew they would.

bobby stevenson 2013

Monday, 22 April 2013

Beautiful Lies

The sun has almost set,
Out there,
Somewhere across a sea where we once played.
This sand has scents of earth and damp
Where we rest our weary bodies,
And talk of lives betrayed.
Last time, we clung to life in that apartment
Which looked out across Gorky Park
And we swam in vodka truths
There was no bed, but we made do with what was there.
But now, unspoken, we know that this is all for one last time
And so deliver each final line
Safely wrapped and presented in beautiful lies. 


bobby stevenson 2013 






Sunday, 21 April 2013

Stories For American School Children

Stories Written for US Schools (Grade 3) - 8 years of age.



1.Daisha is the Mountain Person


It’s a real scary thing living next to the tallest mountain in the world. All I have to do is look out of my bedroom window and there it is, Mount Everest, standing there in all its splendid magnificence, just behind the gas station.
Both my daddy and my granddaddy are heroes, you know. My daddy is in the army and he is always away from home. He is working in the mountains in some far off country and I sure miss him. He calls on the computer once a week and Mom and I talk to him. My granddaddy was a soldier, too, a long time ago.
“Longer than I care to remember, sweet pea.” He’s forever telling me.

My granddaddy still has a taste for climbing in the mountains. “It never leaves you. It gets a man right here.”

That’s when my granddaddy makes a fist and hits on his chest where his heart is and then he says, “I’m going to make you a mountain person, too.”

I’ve always wanted to be a mountain person since I was knee high to a snowman. So I’m going to make sure I am ready for the mountain when my granddaddy says it is time to climb.

I know I can do this and I know people will think I’m crazy to want to climb the highest mountain in the world but it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Honest.

When you know your own heart, you know things are going to be all right. At least that’s what my daddy tells me all the time.

Marion is always trying to get the other kids in my class to say stupid things about me. There goes the crazy mountain girl, she shouts at me, but as my granddaddy is always telling me, what people say about me isn’t my business.

I remember one day Marion brought a book into school about mountains. I remember she said that the mountain behind the gas station wasn’t anything more than a hill. She told me there was a book that said that Everest was a long way away in China or Nepal or somewhere like that. Then she said that we didn’t live in China or Nepal or anywhere close by.

I told her she was lying but she was having none of it. Said I was a stupid kid who believed her stupid grandfather.

Then last Saturday guess what I saw? Go on guess. Give up? It was Marion pulling herself up a tree using ropes and stuff like that. She didn’t see me, so I just stood at the bottom of the tree until she got to the top and I said to her that she must like climbing.

Well she nearly fell off the tree she was so shocked. When she stood up, she told me that maybe she did like climbing and maybe she didn’t. I didn’t think that kind of talk cleared anything up as I was still confused.

When I told my granddaddy about Marion, you know what he said? He said, why didn’t I take Marion along with us to climb Mount Everest? Have you ever heard anything so crazy?  Just in case he was right, I asked Marion and she said yes. So that is why the three of us are setting off to climb the highest mountain in the world.

I’ve packed soda and water. Marion baked some cakes with her mom helping. She says that there are animals called Yeti and they live in Mount Everest and they tend to like cakes. If you throw one to them, then they’ll leave you alone. We didn’t see the Yeti, so we just ate the cakes instead.

The climbing wasn’t as difficult as I thought, but I guess all those months of training helped.

When we got to the top, granddaddy planted a flag, the flag of the United States, and he said that we were the very first to get to the top. Marion started crying because she said she’d never been the first in anything. I gave her a hug and she said she felt better.

The other thing was that at the very top my granddaddy lifted me up on his shoulders and he said that if I looked hard enough, I could see my own daddy in the mountains where he was working.

I’m sure I saw him waving, so I waved back and when he talked to me on the computer last week, he said that he’d seen me waving.

I reckon everyone should climb Mount Everest.



2.The Lansdale Monster Hunters

Every Thursday without fail, well every Thursday since school finished that is, the Lansdale Monster Hunters meet in Stuart’s tree house for soda, candies and a monster meeting. 

The gang have noticed that there has been a severe increase in monster activity within their area in the last few weeks. They are troubled that if they don’t do something soon, the whole problem will get out of hand. If the monsters take over, who’s to say that the gang won’t be able to control them.

“I hereby call this meeting to order.” Says Jane, who watches lots of movies about courts and court cases, too many according to her mom but then what does her mom know?

The meeting is duly brought to order and Jane introduces Mia as that evening’s monster hunter. Each week they take it in turns to report stories, footprints or if they are real lucky, photos of monsters that have caught their attention.

“Hi, my name is Mia.”
“Hi, Mia” say the whole gang. It is part of the meeting for everyone to greet that week’s monster hunter.
“You all know, Mrs Coutts” says, Mia.
“I don’t” said Melvin but that was because he stays in his house most free days playing computer games, except on Thursdays when he comes to the meeting.
“Everyone, apart from Melvin, knows Mrs Coutts. She lives on North Broad Street. As we all know there have been a few sightings of monsters in that area.”

Harry, the gang’s accountant, looks at a sheet and reports that there have been three sightings in Mrs Coutts’ area since January.

“Thank you, Harry.”
“You’re welcome” says Harry who goes back to reading a book about pirates.

Mia gives a very important cough before she starts talking again. She noticed her uncle do that before he gave a speech at a wedding. She coughs again just to make it seem doubly important.

“I believe that there is a monster hiding in Mrs Coutts’ shed.”
“Wooo!” Says the gang.
“Any idea which type of monster, Mia?” Asks, Hilary.
“I think it might be a first but I do believe that it is a three-headed-Jumbalee.”
“Wooo!” Says the gang, again.

Harry looks up from his book.”That’s just crazy talk, Mia. No one has ever seen a three-headed-Jumbalee, well no one except Andrew and we all know he disappeared soon after.”

Actually Andrew moved with his family to Philadelphia but that wasn’t as 
exciting as being eaten by a three-headed-Jumbalee.

Mrs Coutts, whose shed the monster lived in, had heard from a friend of a friend that the gang might go looking in her shed. Not being one to want to disappoint anyone, she feels that if there wasn’t a three-headed-Jumbalee living in her shed then she might just have to make one, just as a backup.

Mrs Coutts goes down to the library and looks on the Internet and she can’t find anything about three-headed monsters. So she gets out her crayons and pencils and decides to invent her own.

What would a monster have? Five eyes on each head, she decides, so that it could see around corners, and maybe a nose at the front and a nose at the back so it can smell if any enemy are approaching.  It will have lots of hair in the winter and none in the summer. It has seven ears on each head, some can hear music and some can listen for dogs barking. You see the three-headed-Jumbalee is frightened of dogs as they will bark at them. With so many ears, it is a bit painful to listen to.

Mrs Coutts goes home and makes a three-headed-Jumbalee from cloth and bits of plastic. It is so good that it almost scares Mr Coutts who finds it sitting on their bed.

Mr Coutts hides the monster at the back of the shed and then waits on the gang.

The gang pushes Mia in first to the shed as it is her monster, when she hasn’t been eaten, she calls out for the rest of them to join her. When all the gang are in the shed Mr Coutts does a very foolish thing, he taps on the glass of the shed.

Well you have never seen so many kids run so fast out of that shed and just for extra measure Mr Coutts roars like a Jumbalee would.

Mr Coutts laughs and laughs but Mrs Coutts says that the kids will probably have nightmares and he’d better go around to each of their houses and explain.

He tells all the parents what he has done and they think it is funny too.

Parents can be strange. 

 3. Caleb's Dad is a Spy

Caleb’s dad is so good at being a spy that no one knows. 

Caleb knows, of course. He has decided to keep the whole story to himself, not even telling his best friend just in case he lets the story slip.

Caleb didn’t really notice that his Dad was a spy at first then his friend, Joshua had given him a book for his last birthday. It was called ‘How to Tell If You Have a Spy in Your Family’. He’d thought the book a bit far-fetched at first until he started studying it. If you look carefully there are signs everywhere.
For instance, his dad will go to an ATM and when he punches in a special code, instructions will come out. His dad will read those instructions, then fold up the paper and put it in his wallet. This is a very obvious indication of spying as mentioned in chapter fifteen of his book.

Caleb thinks that type of spying is dangerous, as the wallet might fall into the wrong hands but he also reckons his dad knows what he was doing.

Caleb’s dad is very clever with disguises. He makes people think that he works in a bank. It is a great cover because everyone believes it, not Caleb, obviously, but everyone else including Caleb’s mom.

He’d thought for a while that his mom was also a spy but her cover is just being a mom and that doesn’t seem very good. So he has scored her off the ‘possible spies’ list.

Caleb’s sister is only three, so she too has been taken off the list. That just leaves his aunt Patricia; she is his dad’s sister and probably comes from a long line of spies. Maybe his grandparents are spies as well? He will leave that investigation for another time.

Last week, Caleb’s teacher had spent an hour discussing with the class what their parents or guardians did outside the home or whether they stayed in the house. Caleb had to say that his dad was a banker but he was so wanted to say super spy.

“Is there something else you want to add?” asked his teacher.
“He’s not just a banker” said Caleb.
“This sounds interesting, Caleb” said his teacher “please tell us.”
“He’s a” but the word ‘spy’ wouldn’t come out. He knew it was a secret and that was that.
“He’s a great Dad, too” added Caleb but annoyed at himself.

On the bus home Robert, his best friend, asked him why he was so quiet. Caleb wanted to talk to Robert about his dad but he just said he was tired, that was all. Really Caleb was thinking through what would happen if the world knew his dad was a spy. Well it wouldn’t be much of a secret, so that was a good reason not to tell. Also his dad and family might be put in jail if he did things he wasn’t supposed to do because he was a spy. Caleb couldn’t think of any particular thing that his dad might have done, but he was sure that there must be something.

Everything comes to those who wait, that’s what Caleb’s auntie is always telling him and one day, in the week before New Years, the thing he had wanted more than anything happened.
Robert and Zoe, their other best friend and her dog, Toto were walking through the park. Zoe felt it was safe enough to let Toto run free for a time, she had seen her dad do the same but for whatever reason Toto was really jumpy that day and was rushing all over the place. Suddenly, as Zoe tried to get him back, he slipped down an embankment and slid onto the ice that covered the Whistledown Pond. No matter how much they called on Toto, she wouldn’t come back in and she just sat on the ice shivering and barking. Caleb’s dad had always told him to stay off the ice because the ice can crack and you can fall through. So Caleb called his dad on his phone hoping that he was nearby and not in Japan or some other country being a super spy. 

Luckily Caleb’s dad was standing at the pond within five minutes.

Caleb’s dad had brought a rope with him. One end, he tied around a tree and the other around his own 
waist. He handed his phone to Caleb and told him that if the ice should break that he was to call the fire station and let them know. Caleb took the ‘phone and stood proudly, ready to make the call. His dad, the super spy, had trusted him and no one else. One day I will be a spy too, thought Caleb.

Caleb’s dad then crawled onto the ice keeping his body very flat. Caleb thought that they must have taught his dad that at spy school although it didn’t mention it in his book. When Caleb’s dad reached Toto, she was shivering with the cold. Caleb’s dad gave her a hug and managed to get his arms around the dog and get her back on shore.

Caleb felt really proud of his dad that day and when Robert asked him where his dad had learned to go onto the ice like that, Caleb told him spy school.

Robert just laughed and Caleb smiled, happily.



 4. Billy 

Billy only had himself to blame.

If only he hadn’t spent the whole of the summer reading every book in the house that his mother had approved for him. She had meant Billy to read one or two books at most then spend the rest of the time playing with his friends. But no, Billy had to do what he always did and that was to give the whole exercise every minute of the day that was available.

Billy was always excited when he tried something new and now that he had discovered books again, he wanted to read everything. At least, he thought he did.
He had read so many books that he felt he couldn’t read another one. Not one more book or he would be ill. It’s just that he loved books so much and this is what made his predicament so difficult.

That night Billy lay awake imagining that there was writing on the ceiling of his bedroom and wondering what he should do next.

The idea must have come to him in the middle of the night, when he was asleep, because the next thing he knew, it was morning and he had the greatest idea ever in the history of greatest ideas.
Billy was going to write a book by himself, one that he could enjoy reading over and over again, because it would be his own story.

Now the only problem was what to write as a story. What did Billy like to read about? To be honest, he liked to read about everything. So that wasn’t much help. You couldn’t write a book about everything. So Billy would need to narrow it down to something easier. What though?
He would start by describing his own bedroom and see how that worked out.

My bedroom has a bed and three windows. It is painted in my favourite color and I have books and computer games.

Then Billy thought that describing himself might be a better idea to start with.

My name is Billy and I am nearly as tall as my bookshelf. I reckon I’m really good at sports, especially soccer. The walls of my bedroom are covered in posters of soccer players. I love to read books and magazines, I can’t help myself. When I go into book stores, I imagine the writers sitting on the shelf telling me to read their books. Imagine a book store full of people sitting on shelves rather than their books.

He could hear his uncle Raymond talking to his mother downstairs, so he thought that asking him what to write about might be a good idea.

His uncle Raymond was a large man who was always laughing and smiling. Billy liked to be around him and Uncle Raymond was always telling jokes. Not all of them funny.
“So my little nephew wants to write a book. I would say write about horses, definitely horses. Everyone loves to read about them, so I imagine they will be easy subject to write about. If you have any problems you only have to ask me.”

So Billy ran back up the stairs and started to write about horses, or rather he wrote the title, ‘Horses’ and then he was stuck. He had to be honest with himself and admit he knew nothing about horses. He didn’t want to upset his uncle so Billy sneaked along the corridor to Andy, his big brother.

Andy was always taller than Billy. I didn’t matter how much Billy grew, Andy also grew some more. Andy was Billy’s hero as he always helped him out with any problems he had. So he seemed as good a person as anyone to ask.
“Andy, if you could write a book what would it be about?”
“I could write about anything?” Asked, Andy.
“Anything” said, Billy.
“Then it would have to be about baseball. I mean everyone loves baseball, so it would easy to write about and if you had any problems you could always ask me.”

So Billy went back to his room and started on a new page with a story called, ‘Baseball’ but soon he was stuck again. He didn’t know anything about baseball.
Just then his wonderful Mom who always smelled of warm bread knocked on his door. “Billy?”
“Come in, Mom.” Billy called out.
“Your uncle says you want to write a book. How are you getting on?”

Billy had to admit that things hadn’t been going well. His uncle Raymond had suggested horses which he knew nothing about and then Andy suggested baseball which he knew even less about.
“What can I do, Mom?”
His mother thought for a while and then said, “What is it you love more than anything else in the world?”
That was a great question, thought Billy and so he considered it.
“The thing I love the most in the world is my family, you and dad and my big brother, Andy.”
“Then that’s what you should write about. Write about your family.”
This time when Billy wrote, ‘My Family’ he wasn’t stuck. This time, he just kept on writing.

My family is my dad, my mom, my brother Andy and my dog, Asterix, oh, and my uncle Raymond.
Asterix is a crazy dog who is never short of energy. My dog is always waiting on me to come home from school. He is brown and white and the friendliest dog in the world.
We live in a house on a really nice street called Sycamore Street. Our house has an upstairs and downstairs and last summer, my dad, my brother and me, painted the outside of the house in the color white.

Billy spent the rest of the day and most of the next day writing his very first story. This is going to be the best book ever, he thought.



bobby stevenson 2013 
thoughtcontrol ltd