Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The 3 Stories From The Camp.

1.You’re probably asking how I first met her, and I would have to say that it was around sometime in the late 1940s; down in the boon docks.

She’d been born in Mainz, Germany on January 1st, 1900 and had seen more than her fair share of everything in this life.

She was a Jew, and a proud one and, as you can probably guess, watched most of her family disappear into concentration camps.

She was feeding the birds by the docks that day. I remember it was a warm sultry afternoon in New York.

I asked if I could help and she said sure, I could. I had some coffee and we sat and shared it, sitting on an old crate. She had an almost permanent smile on her face, as if to say, I’m happy world, just get used to it.

Boy did we talk. I told her about my family who lived upstate and how my great uncle helped invent the automobile.

“You must be very proud,” she said in a thick German accent.

Sure I was, I told her, sure I was. And her grin became a huge smile.

I asked her about her own family, and she said that there weren’t no one left.

“All gone,” and then she nodded her head as if to say into the showers of those camps.

“All of them?” I asked.

“Yah,” and then she took another sip of her very cold coffee.

“Where were you?” I asked.

And she told me she had been there too, along with her three brothers, three sisters and her mother and father.

“At the end, there was only me,” she said sadly.

So I asked her, how or why she survived.

“Only the good Lord knows that one,” she said.

Then she told me how she got through those days of death and hatred. She said that she would close her eyes for one minute every day. One minute when things were getting really bad and she would remember who she was. It was as simple as that.

“Just close your eyes and recite your name and then remember who and what you are. Some things or someone in the universe went to a lot of trouble to get you here. Just think of that.”

It was just as the sun was on its last legs that she said she must get back home, and that it had been very nice talking to me.

Here’s the funny bit  - every day after that I did the very same thing. One minute with my eyes closed just to remember who I was.

I have to tell you, it’s got me through a lot of life’s stuff.

2.The clanking of the train as it went over the gaps in the rail made him think of home. If he closed his eyes, he could still hear the horse and carts passing outside the family home in the west of town.

Oh, those days of endless sunshine and hope. Everyone was friendly.
Everyone shared. Everyone was in and out of each other’s homes. My son did this, my daughter has achieved that – my, hasn’t your youngest grown. They were the best of days.

He would come home from school and there was his mother sitting at the table, smiling, as only she could. No matter how bad the day had been, that smile would melt away any pain and discomfort. Those were the best of times. No doubt about it.

His father had taught him to help those who needed it, without complaint.

“And I want you, my boy, to do a good deed each and every day without telling anyone about it. Promise?”

And he crossed his heart and hoped to die that he would do it – and he had, as best he could. There was no point in thinking of them all over again – for that would be praising himself for his good deeds.

So why was what he was about to do the most selfish thing he had ever done in his life? How had he got to this point?

Perhaps in every good deed is the seed of its own destruction.

He had seen the boy from across the street many times. Now and again he had nodded or even, on occasion, said good morning. The boy and his family had intrigued him greatly. Although they seemed to be very well off for this part of town, they never ever smiled. It had taken him a while to work out what it was that had bothered him about the boy and his people. They didn’t laugh. How strange, he thought. Perhaps, money doesn’t make you happy after all.

Then one night as he as staring through the window, he saw that the boy was being whipped by his father. It was severe, but as far as he could see, the boy did not appear to show any pain on his face. He just held the side of the kitchen table tightly and gritted his teeth.

He saw the boy the next evening, standing alone watching the carriages pass by and for the first time he spoke properly to him.

“Would you care for a chocolate?”

The boy looked at him suspiciously, then smiled and said thank you. And as quick as the smile came, it went in again and the boy’s face grew dark. It wasn’t until a week later that he saw the boy standing on the corner of the street and he was sobbing. He said good afternoon to him but the boy turned his face away. He asked the boy how he was doing and the boy grunted that he was okay but could he go away and leave him alone. However this was his good deed for the day and he wanted to help the boy. He gave him his handkerchief that his mother ironed for him every day. The boy eventually took it and wiped the blood from the mark on his face. The boy said thank you then wandered off home.

The next day the boy’s father, the one who liked to hit his son, came to his door to return the handkerchief. The man looked at the signs on the wall and said:

“You are…..?” Then the father spat on the ground and ripped the handkerchief up.

In the middle of the night they came for his mother, his father and himself. As they led them away, he could see the boy’s father looking from the window and smiling.

They had been on the train about two days when the wooden slat had opened up at the side. It was only big enough for him to get through, no matter how hard he wished it, his mother and father could never squeeze through that hole.

They told him he had to go and that he had to go as soon as the train slowed. His father pushed his son through the hole.

And that is why he jumped from the train - leaving everyone he loved aboard and on their way to Auschwitz.

3.Everyone called him Papa - that was how he was known in our part of the square. ‘Papa, the storyteller’, to give him his full, well-deserved title.
Whether the stories were as old as the hills, or maybe Papa himself, or even little ditties he made up on the spot; they were always the same thing, they were wonderful and they took us away from our own lives.

“Gather around children, gather around, push-up close to one another, I don’t want to have to shout,” he would say with the biggest grin I had ever seen.

We would all push in to the front, and in doing so, keep each other warm and for a few minutes we would forget where we were and get wrapped up in the warmth and colours of Papa’s stories.

They were as rich as cream, and as light as feathers. They made us laugh, always they made us laugh – that was the one and only rule of Papa: “these stories, my little blessed ones are to make you all happy in there,” and that is when he would point to his heart.

There are times in your life when something so terrible happens that you push it to the back of your mind. Then in the morning, when you awake, you are happy for the merest of seconds before you remember whatever it is you have experienced.

And so it was with Papa’s stories, when they were done, and only when they were done, I would suddenly remember where I was and immediately feel sad again.

It was the same for us all.
I remember Papa’s last story as if it were yesterday.

“Come close my little kinder. Closer still, we don’t want those others to hear our precious little stories,” and then we would all sit as close as our little frail bodies would allow.
“Can you all hear me?” and he’d put a hand to his ear.

“Yes!” we would all whisper.

“Then I shall begin. Once upon a long ago, there was a little child, a little strong boy by the name of Joseph.”

“That is my name,” said Joseph, who sat next to me, proudly.

“So it is, and much like you he was full of life itself. And this little strong boy decided to help the oldest woman who lived in their village. For they all lived in the highest of highest mountains and each of them had to help the other. The town was two days ride away and so everyone needed everyone else. The little boy knocked on the old lady’s door. He was nervous - for it was told that she was a witch. At first she shouted ‘go away’ because through the years, she had been tormented by some. But the little boy persisted and knocked the door again. This time the old lady, who some say was as old as the moon itself - opened the door. ‘What do you want?’ she asked and the little boy explained that he wanted to help. At first she was unsure but as she asked the boy to do more and more tasks, he seemed to enjoy all of it. ‘Why are you helping me?’ she asked. And the little boy explained that he had been taught that helping others was the only way to live. And so the boy came and helped the old lady, day after day, week after week. Then one day, the old lady said she would reward the little boy, who said it didn’t really matter as helping the lady was all that counted. But she insisted and she told him to close his eyes and in doing so, he could go anywhere he wanted. And sure enough, he closed his eyes and the next thing he knew, he was standing on top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Now children I want you to do the same,” Papa said to us all.

And sure enough we all kept her eyes tight closed and imagined the greatest of all places to be; and while we were doing this, the guards were waiting on Papa outside the hut and then they marched him to the showers.

We only found this out a little later.

Like the rest who took that walk, Papa never returned, but like the little boy, I still close my eyes and wish of somewhere else.

bobby stevenson 2015

Sunday, 25 January 2015

True Stories - Somewhere South

This is a true story.

It was yellow that was the only way to describe the day. A sort of washed out yellow but then so were we - we too, were washed out.

The hotel itself was like an asylum decorated in muddy brown and the light, which fought the unwashed windows, gave the lobby an almost unreal quality. There was a woman at reception who was too busy flirting with the mail man to look over as she took our room keys.

“I swear this place ain’t seen paint since Eisenhower’s day” and as she laughed, she sweated even more and didn’t care that the whole world could see she only had one tooth in her head.Her neighbour, who lived just down the street in Pennsylvania Avenue, was Jimmy Carter but she didn’t see too much of him.

Then there was me and my pal Stu, two kids who were simply travelling and had decided long ago that planning was for other people. So on that hot and yellow sticky day we were aiming for the bus station and heading ‘somewhere south’. 

As we passed the FBI building, I was trying to remember a while back when I had been here with my family. We’d got caught in a downpour and had run into the J. Edgar Hoover building looking for shelter. We'd thought it was a bus station – as you do, didn’t take us long to find out it wasn’t.

Yesterday had been the Fourth of July.

After the parade, we had found ourselves sitting across from the White House where we saw what we thought to be a music concert. Cross my heart and hope to die, we honestly did think it was a music concert; there was music and there were people, what else would you think?

There was an old man throwing marijuana joints from a bag to the crowd while singing the Beatles ‘Eight Days a Week’. This was the summer of ’77, people did things like that back then.It was only when the cops on horseback started to move in that we realised it was a ‘legalize cannabis’ demo. I swear to God, it was only then.

I think it was Stu who shouted “run” and that’s what we did, all the way around to the other side of the White House where we lay on the grass next to the Washington Monument and waited for the fireworks – the ones that explode in the night sky, not the metaphorical kind.They never happened.

Some non-American guys made a camp next to us and by non-American, I mean we found out they were all from a well-known Australian rock band. One we’d actually heard of and they were good. The funny thing about this life is how it drops clues into your lap when you aren't even looking for them but I’ll come to that a bit later.

The guys from OZ spent the evening making weird and wonderful shapes, many of them pornographic, out of inflatable balloons. These kids could entertain even when they weren’t on stage and, all in all, Independence night, 1977 turned into a good one. We were still talking about it all the way to the bus the next day.

We were soon heading for a place somewhere north of Savannah, Georgia - that’s as much as I want to tell you right now. We travelled through the night and hit an Atlantic resort just as the town’s thermometer was showing the high eighties and it was still only breakfast time.

Some places just don’t do it for you and this was one of them. It had everything and nothing and so we decided to move on as quickly as possible – or rather return north. A couple of stops back was a place in the middle of nowhere, we’re talking a couple of houses and a horse at most.

What we had noticed as we'd passed through the first time was that this little town had the same name as the Oz band we’d been sitting next to the night before; see what I mean about the world working in mysterious ways?

Boy when the local bus dropped us at ......, no I ain’t going to tell you the name but we were ready for passing out. The air con didn’t work and there were far too many people on board.
Here we were in the middle of nowhere, so Stu said let’s just walk and we did, for several miles.
Until we hit the Intracoastal and to save some time here's the Wikipedia explanation:
"The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile (4,800-km) waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds - others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea."

Next to the Intracoastal was a solitary motel, a little like that one out of Psycho and yet a bit of a momma and pappa place too - you know homely as well.At the reception was an old drunk lady who was picking fleas from her dog.

 “Can I help you boys?”I told her we wanted a room - and to make it cheap.“That’s the only kind we got in these parts honey. My husband will be along shortly to escort you young gentleman to your boudoir.”Looking back I remember that’s exactly how she said it ‘boudoir’, like she had been invented by Tennessee Williams.

She thumped an old brass bell on the reception desk as if folks were going to come jumping out of doorways any minute, but nothing much happened for a long time. We could hear the noise of an old worn out golf cart and then we saw his leg.As he drove manically into the reception area, his army charge was led by his broken leg sticking out a good two feet in front of him (if you’ll pardon the pun). And her husband drove us like an insane person over to one of the far rooms.
“Not too many folks staying at the moment, so you boys can party all night. Now, you’ll need to excuse me.”
And he slapped his leg. “Here’s your keys boys, you can let yourselves in.” And with that, he was army charging back to the inebriated wife and the infested dog.

We found the solitary store which sold beers and chips and we made do with that for our evening meal. The next morning there was a knock at the door. Outside the owner was hitting our motel door with a large stick.“You boys up yet? I got a proposal to make to you. Come on down to the house when you’re ready.”

So we’re sitting there with the drunk wife (yep, that time in the morning and she was already gone) picking the zoo of creatures from her dog’s back, and the husband who had slid himself on to a stool. I had started to wonder if he slept in the golf buggy.

“Me and the good wife have been talking. Now until this leg...”
 and he knocked it three times on the cast “well,until it’s mended, I’m going to need some assist-tance” that was just the way he said it ‘assist-tance’,
”You boys can have a room between you and some cash. Can’t say fairer.”

Stu and I decided that was fair and we accepted. It was six bucks a day, our food and a room. Not the one we were currently in however but a more damp ridden one around to the rear of the hotel. It had a roof and beds and that was it.

For six bucks a day we had to clean the rooms, clean the pool and empty the trash, work in the kitchen and Stu (only because the Southerners could understand him better than me) worked in the bar. If I’m being real honest Stu was given, and gratefully received, all the easy jobs – if you’re reading this buddy, you know it’s true.It was a wonderful time, even if working in almost 100 degrees made the job that little bit harder.

 My first activity of the day was to clean out all the vacated rooms then put on new sheets and generally clean up - Stu’s job, at this time of day, was to empty the garbage then as I far as I can remember play the large old church organ which lay at the bottom of the steps in the big house, until hunger made him move.Now I may be doing Stu a disservice here but I don’t think so.

We both worked in the kitchens around lunchtime and as anyone who works in a kitchen will testify, it doesn't make you want to eat in the place. 

We did terrible things to peoples’ food. Taking anything that could be saved from an incoming plate, putting it on an outgoing one after heating it a little. Still there are some things in this life that you’re better not knowing.
Everyone had a siesta in the afternoon as, by then, it was well into the 100s. In the evening I served tables as Stu played the cocktail maestro. 

Now we both come from the same part of Scotland, although Stu’s lawyers have asked me not to be specific about the location as he has been telling terrible lies about his birthplace in recent years. However those people drinking in the bar could understand his tongue as if he was born there. Me? Well they always asked why I spoke all that weird Spanish – go figure.

It’s the next bit that has been troubling me all my life.

Really, this is the point of this story and why I am reluctant to tell you where it is.
One of my odder jobs in the morning was to get an old man out of his room, let him have some fresh air then stick him back in his newly cleaned room. Oh yeh, and put a new bottle of bourbon on his bedroom table. After that I had to ensure that I locked the door.

Yeh, you read it correctly, I’d lock the door. I had to unlock it and let him out in the morning. Now he wasn’t actually old, probably only in his forties but with my young years and his drinking, it made him seem a lot older.

I used to sit him by the pool and away from any of the other guests – those were my instructions – and when I cleaned his pee-stinking room, changed the sheets and replaced the drink, I’d help him back in.
Sometimes he would grab my hand and smile, other times he would say only one thing, the thing that has haunted me all those years: ‘help me’.  

One night, just before we left the motel, the question of the man in room 17 came up and a young Inuit (or Eskimo as we called her then) told me his story.It seemed that he’d been a top class, grade A lawyer but he’d murdered his wife. When some technicality or other had made things complicated, he had appealed and been released from prison early.

However someone, and no one knew who - or so they said - paid to have him stay in a small room in a stinking run down motel in the middle of nowhere.He was to talk to no one and be kept with as much alcohol as he wanted.You’re probably thinking how stupid I was not to have seen what was happening. 

It still wakens me up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I was his prison guard and all he wanted to do was tell someone, something – maybe the truth.

All I can say is how truly sorry I am.Stu and I had to leave in a hurry as some guy from the British Embassy was staying with his family and he warned us if we continued to work, he’d have to turn us in. So once again we headed somewhere south.

The place isn’t there now and I guess most of them are dead.The guy with the broken leg had been beaten up by three native Americans who wouldn’t pay their bill.
There’s more I would like to tell you about that place but I’ll save that until the next time we meet.

Until then don't let anyone lock you in any room.

bobby stevenson 2015


Friday, 23 January 2015


The full moon had formed over Thing’s cave 12 times when he decided that enough was enough.

He now realised that his mother and father were not coming back home.
Where ever they were, he hoped with all his heart that they were happy. That night, Thing sat at the mouth of his cave and thought about all the stuff that concerned him.

He needed to get a job since the money and tokens his parents had left in the cave were just about to run out.
Thing had done okay at school, especially with counting and numbers. Perhaps he could get a job in the town’s bank.
When Thing awoke the next morning he found himself still sitting at the mouth of the cave. He got washed and made his way down the mountainside, crossing the main street and into town.
Thing was used to people staring just because he was different. People didn’t like difference, it frightened them, and frightened people didn’t always behave rationally.

He loved life, and he loved the town where he had gone to school and where he had found (and sometimes lost) friends.

He went to the employment agency to see what job were available. Thing didn’t notice as he entered the office, that everyone stopped and stared. Thing wasn’t the first Thing who have lived in the town. There had been Thing’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and of course, his parents.

All of his family had gone to the northlands where many of the Things had formed a colony. His own parents would have gone there too, was it not for the fact that his mother had taken ill and gone to hospital. The last words his father had said to him was that he was just popping out to see his mother. Neither of them returned, although Thing had spent many sleepless nights waiting and wondering.
He had had many good friends in school and some enemies but that wasn’t any different from anyone else. Children learn either love or hate very early in life and rarely do they forget.

The one brave soul in the employment agency asked Thing how he was doing.
“Fine,” said Thing. “Very fine, indeed.”
Thing told the person that he was good at numbers and counting. The agency manager went through many cards, saying ‘no’, ‘no’, ‘no’ to most of them. Then he pulled out a card and exclaimed ‘a-ha’.

The job was at a café near Thing’s old school. He’d remembered the owner being a kind elderly gentleman.
As was requested on the card, Thing popped along to the café for an interview.
The old man remembered when Thing’s parents had held a birthday party for him in the café. The old man was happy to give Thing a job and he was able to start immediately.

The following morning Thing almost skipped all the way to work, given that it was such a nice morning and that he enjoyed being at the café. He had company there and people to talk to.

In the middle of the morning, a middle-aged man came in and when he saw Thing, the man said he didn’t want no dirty animal serving him and he expected a human to give him a cup of coffee.
When the old man told the customer that Thing was his new server and that was that, the man said he would be taking his business elsewhere.
The old man thought that that would be the end of it but it wasn’t. By the time he was ready to shut the café, the middle-aged man was standing outside with several others of his kind and all of them had flaming torches.

“If you don’t put a human behind the counter then we are going to burn the place down.”

Thing told the old man that he was sorry, it was all his fault, and that he wouldn’t return to the café the following day - but the old man just shook his head and said ‘nonsense’.
Then the old man went outside and faced the gang of men intent on burning down his café.

“You men, think that because Thing looks different that he deserves to be treated differently. In fact to be treated as a lesser being that you. Is he a child of a lesser god? I don’t think so. How many of you created yourselves? How many of you brought yourselves to Earth? None of you? I didn’t think so. We are all in this living together and all we can do is live together. It is you with your black hearts and thoughts who are different from the rest of us. The problem is you hide your evil thoughts in a body and brain that looks like everyone else. But you are not like everyone else. You are evil and most of all, stupid. So burn my café down if you want. We will only set up in another place, and yes, Thing will be there too. You people are what is wrong with the world, not Thing, not me.”

And with that the men, one by one, threw down their torches and wandered off. The middle-aged man came forward and spat at Thing. The old man wiped the spit from Thing and apologised to him.
“I cannot make an excuse for such a person. They are what they are, and we must exist beside them. Now you go home, have a rest and I will see you tomorrow. We have living to do.”

bobby stevenson 2015

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Me and Buzz and The Madman

That day started like any other Saturday.

My Grandma was washin’ the back of my neck with all my family lookin’ on. When she got into rubbin’ real hard I would turn my neck a little so that I could see out the window. That morning was just like any other, Jake Van De Berghe was getting chased up Main Street by another angry husband. You’d have thought he’d have run out of married ladies by now. When my Grandma let my ears go, I met Buzz down at the corner of Lincoln Street.

Buzz was holdin’ something, which turned out to be his Maw’s curtains from her best room – it was called the ‘best room’ ‘cause Buzz wasn’t allowed anywhere near it. No sir-ee.

Apparently Buzz had to get the curtains back home before his Maw returned from Johnstown at sundown, or Buzz’s Maw would skin him like a desert rat. Now I know he ain’t tellin’ the whole truth ‘cause he’s used them curtains before and his Maw didn’t even see they were missin’.

Apparently Buzz had found a book with superheroes in it and that was what we were gonna be, this here Saturday.

I gotta say, at first, I kinda felt stupid with the cape around my neck but it started to feel good and I could see what Buzz was up talkin’ about.

We were just about to begin fightin’ crime when all of a sudden Jake Van De Berghe comes rushin’ around the corner and shoved me and Buzz into the Ice Cream & Sarsaparilla Café.

The minute we were through the doors, Jake shouts,
“Help me boys, keep this mad man out.” And by madman he means a mad husband – but like I say, it was just another Saturday in town. I hear tell that Jake has a wife of his own but that she don’t mind if he runs after other women on account that he really annoys her and has bad breath. Least ways that’s what Becky told me in school.

So there’s me, Buzz and Jake trying to hold the madman from breaking down the door. Every time he charges at the door, we move forward some and then we’d push back and then it starts all over again.

Crazy Eddie, who ran the café, was getting real worried about a madman getting’ loose in a Sarsaparilla store, and so he helped hold the door, too.

For a moment it all went real quiet and Jake was about to say that the madman had probably given up, when I turn my neck the way I do and look out of the window to see that the madman has gone all the way across the street to the Chip and Shoulder hardware store.

I was just about to tell them that the madman was gonna take the longest run ever in the whole world when the he burst through the door throwing me, Jake, Crazy Eddie and Buzz out of the way and got his head well and truly stuck in the Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream machine.

“I’m tuck,” was all the madman could holler.
“I’m really, really, really tuck.”
“I think he means he’s stuck,” said Crazy Eddie.
“Tat’s what I said,” hollered the Raspberry Ripple madman.

Buzz threw his cape around his back and decided it was the right time that me and him were superheroes.I pulled the man’s left leg and Buzz pulled the man’s right one.

“Tat hurts.”
“Sorry,” I shouted.
“Wot?” The madman hollered back.

It was no use, the man’s head wasn’t going anywhere and he was complainin’ that he was getting brain freeze. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

“There’s nothing for it, I’ll need to call Stupid Larry,” Crazy Eddie said sadly, ‘cause apparently Stupid Larry wasn’t the cheapest in town, but he was sure good at getting’ people out of holes. When Buzz’s Maw fell down that Main Street drain and got stuck good, Stupid Larry got her out of there in two shakes of a lambs tail, although he did charge her fifty bucks.

When Stupid Larry saw the madman’s predicament, he looked at it one way, “Mmmm,” he said. Then he looked at it another way “Ohhh,” he said, shakin’ his head. Then he kinda crawled around in on all fours, “tut,tut,” he said. Now some of the less kind folks in town used to say that all this walking around the problem wasn’t exactly necessary and it was only to make you think that Stupid Larry was givin’ you your money’s worth.

“Nope, we’re going to have to get him back to my workshop and cut him out.”

So Stupid Larry unhooked and unscrewed the ice cream machine with more show than a magician, I kid you not. Once we’d bumped it down the stairs, Jake and Crazy Eddie pushed it up the street, with me holding one leg and Buzz the other. Stupid Larry ran ahead to get his workshop all fired up.

When we were just passing the courthouse, the wife of the madman came over to Jake and asked him how he was doing and had he seen her husband. She didn’t think to ask about the pair of legs that were sticking out of the ice cream machine. Jake said, he couldn’t help her and he was sorry but he was real busy and if she didn’t mind they’d like to be off real quick. Kinda trying to pretend that he didn’t really know her and all.

When Stupid Larry started using the torch to cut open the machine, Crazy Eddie kept saying “This is gonna cost you, mark my words, cost ya good,” to Jake. To be honest I don’t think that kinda talk helps much.

Anyways, when Stupid Larry got the bottom off the machine, the madman’s face was frozen stiff, I kid you not.

Buzz was sure that the madman was dead, but Crazy Eddie gave the madman the kiss of life by blowing into his mouth. He said it wasn’t the first time that someone had got stuck in his machines, last time it was the pineapple caramel. Crazy Eddie also said that the Rasberry Ripple did taste real good even if it was on another man’s lips.
The next time I saw the madman he was sitting in church with his wife and his face was Raspberry Ripple Red.
The curtains were a real mess, so Buzz told his Maw that someone must have broken into the house and stolen them.

She believed him.

bobby stevenson 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Zoot and Sandy and Tails

Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were, without doubt, the best of pals in the whole wide world. They loved to sit by the river and watch time floating past their little seat.

“You’re quieter than usual, young Zoot,” said the elephant.

“Just thinking,” Sandy replied. “Just thinking.”

“Thinking about what?”

“Well, Sandy my oldest friend, I was wondering if those birds ever worried about things,” said Zoot.

“Like what?”
“Well…that they might fall out the sky, one day,” said Zoot, worried.

“You think it might happen, young fella?” Asked Sandy.

“Don’t see why not, everything is possible in this life. Everything. I mean I had an aunt who worried all the time about her tail falling off.”

“And did it?” Sandy asked.

“Well no, but she did get electrocuted when she was peeing up against a lamppost.”

“But that’s nothing to do with her tail falling off,” said Sandy.

“But she did worry that something terrible was going to happen and it did,” said Zoot, a little concerned.

Sandy took a deep breath through his trunk.

“My little Zoot, what if we all had a terrible end. Imagine it was the only way out of this life.”

“Okay,” said Zoot.

“What would be the point of when and where it was going to happen? Since it was going to happen, then making the most of the time you had would be the only way forwards. If you worried about your terrible end all your life, then your life would already be finished the moment you started worrying.”

“So you’re saying, don’t worry?” Asked Zoot.

“No, I ain’t saying that at all. Worrying serves a purposes sometimes. Like when you are lost in a wood, it makes you more on edge – ready to run should anything take place.”

“’Take place’?” Asked Zoot.

“Just forget about that. Why, oh why, should the birds worry about falling out of the sky? If it happens to them, then it happens – but they don’t let it bother the life they’re living. Otherwise….”

“They are already dead,” said a proud Zoot.

“Exactly. Now try this,” added Sandy.

“Try what?” Asked Zoot.

“Imagine you only have five more minutes to exist on Earth.”

“Okay,” said Zoot.

“So what are you thinking?” Asked Sandy.

“What I should do for the last five minutes of my life.”

“Aha,” shouted Sandy. “You see you are wasting five minutes worrying about nothing. Instead look at the sea and watch how beautiful it is, look at the birds and think how magnificent they are. That way when the five minutes are up you will go with a smile on your face.”

“Is having a smile important?” Asked Zoot.

“Of course it is,” replied Sandy. “Now sit here with me, your closest friend, and don’t worry about anything for the next five minutes.”

So that is what they did, although initially Zoot worried about not doing it properly. Then Zoot got the hang of it and was surprised when Sandy said that the five minutes were up.

“Now,” said Sandy. “Try that for another five minutes and then another five and soon you’ll get there. And you’ll notice nothing bad has happened. You didn’t float up into space or have your tail fall off.”

And Zoot did see what Sandy was getting at. There was too much wonder in the world to let it be contaminated by needless worrying. Bad things would happen, they did to everyone, but no amount of worrying could or would change things.
And as Zoot said goodbye to his friend, he made up his mind not to worry for five minutes on the way home, and after that maybe he’d try another five minutes.

“See ya, tomorrow,” said Zoot.

“See ya, buddy,” replied Sandy. 
bobby stevenson 2015