(for Jims - the King of the Kings Arms)
The two of them sat at the shaky table in the Bright Water Café. They always chose this table as it gave Jake and his grandfather a chance to come up with ways to stop its unruly behaviour. Usually they would stick some folded paper under the short leg, but if they didn’t bother with that technique, then they would see how much of their breakfast they could eat before they spilt something.
It wasn’t a grown-up thing to do, but when Jake and his granddad met up, adult stuff went out of the window. Today they were being spies and Jake’s grandfather was teaching him the tricks of being James Bond.
“If you want to know if someone is watching you, maybe even following you – the trick is to yawn.”
“Yawn, Granddad? That’s it?”
“That’s it. Without looking around, Jake my boy, stretch out your arms, and then yawn.”
Jake did exactly as he was told.
“Now look around and see who yawns – that is the person who is watching you. Because yawning is contagious – if you’re watching someone yawn, then you’ll want to yawn too.
Jake looked carefully around but there was no one yawning, well no one except the man who fried the eggs, he was always yawning.
“So that means that you’re not being followed. Now that’s a good thing, right?”
And Jake had to admit that it was. Many things scared Jake, and being followed was one of them. Noises also bothered him. And busy places. It was all much as the doctors had told his mother and father – ‘your son is Autistic’.
No one knew what that meant at the time, but they did now. It was as his grandfather had said, just another colour in the human experience. Jake was sure that was a good thing.
His grandfather would try to introduce Jake to as many different and interesting things as he could. Sometimes those things worked – sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes the strangest thing entertained Jake. He loved animals, especially birds. Jake would sit and stare at their behaviour for hours. Other times he would grow bored very quickly and his grandfather had to think of something else.
Jake’s granddad did try to keep it to the same times each week, so that Jake could be ready and looking forward to whatever they decided to do; and if they stayed away from noisy, busy places things usually turned out okay.
When Jake’s grandfather started to grow older and found it more difficult to get around, he sat Jake down and told him a story.
“When I was a kid,” he said. “I had no brothers or sisters to play with, and most times, if my pals weren’t there, I got ever so lonely. So what I used to do was a little trick my grandmother had taught me. She’d say, close your eyes, and then shake your body a little to get relaxed, and I would do that. Then she’d say imagine you have the biggest rope in the world, and I would do that too. Then she’d tell me to lasso the moon. That’s it, she’d say, go on, throw that rope, and I would do as she said and I’d lasso the moon. Then when I was sure that the rope was tight enough, she’d tell me to concentrate real hard and walk towards the moon. That way, my little grandson, she’d say, you can be as free as the wind, and that Jake, is what I want you to do when I’m not with you some days. Close your eyes, lasso the moon and then walk to a quiet spot on the moon. Up there you can sit and watch all us silly people down here moving about.”
And do you know what? That is what Jake did whenever he was tired, or afraid, or scared of the noise. He’d close his eyes, lasso the moon and walk to a quiet spot.
bobby stevenson 2016