December's subject was chosen by myself and is... "A large stone was found in the middle of a field in Iowa."
The first subject for January was chosen by Sgt. Hubbard and is... "A locked box is left to you in a will."
The second subject for January was chosen by myself and is... "A person is found in the desert with amnesia."
The first subject for February was chosen by Stan Weiss and is... "The baby sitter is snooping and finds your many passports, each with a different name."
The second subject for February was chosen by T.J. Reed and is... "Rewrite a classic monster, ghost, horror story in a modern way and include the story as the title so we know what you have rewritten."
Saturday, January 14, 2012
My eyes started to tear up as I opened the lid on the little wooden lock box setting on the attorney's desk, my entire childhood streamed over me as everything that ever meant anything to me flooded my mind and my heart.
I grew up on a small farm and was the youngest of four kids; I was ten years younger than my brothers and sister who were all within a year or two of each other. My Mom stayed at home and took care of us while Dad worked seasonal construction to pay the rent and utilities. We all worked on the farm to make sure there was food on the table. Even I had to work every day doing whatever chores that were pawned off on me at the ripe old age of five or six. Being so much younger than my siblings had its advantages and its disadvantages because whenever the older ones had something they wanted to do I became a hindrance instead of the cute, little, adorable brother they used to amuse themselves with by getting me into every kind of mischief imaginable and then hiding to see what mom did to me. I must say I remember a few times that I felt sorry for them, because dad was the first one to find out what I had done and he seemed to always know who put me up to it. I still laugh about a couple of those times and find myself crying about one or two other times because my dad was a rough old bird.
My oldest brother Carl was the one I looked up to the most because he was always doing something cool, but I guess to a six or seven year old everything seems cool. He worked construction with my dad when the work was there and rode the rodeo circuit the rest of the time. Sometimes he would take me places with him but I always had to give him something before he would let me in the truck; sometimes one of my toys and other times my birthday money and I remember him taking my Christmas silver dollars a few times. I didn't care what I had to give up because I really wanted to go and he always bought me something when we were out. My first bike, my first cowboy hat, and even my first knife came from Carl and I never even asked for any of them, he just gave them to me. As I got older I understood why he always took me to the rodeos and the horse sales; he was using me as bait to attract girls to him. The girls would see me and they would start talking and playing with me and then he would step in and pick them up. I don't remember how many times he ended up talking with some pretty girl because she was hanging out with me; he stole more than one of my girl friends. Oh well, what are brothers for? That is what I thought until He tried to steal my girlfriend when I was sixteen and after the fight I never spoke to him again. We lived next door to each other on the same farm but never had anything to do with each other from that day on. We still saw each other and when it came to something on the farm we had no choice, but still ignored each other.
I was away in college when I got the phone call that Carl had been in an accident on the way home from a rodeo in Oklahoma. I sat in the floor and cried for what seemed like hours praying it wasn't true; maybe it was someone else and Carl was sleeping off a drunk or maybe he was with some Buckle Bunny in a motel somewhere. After reality set in the next morning I started home and it was the longest drive from Springfield that I had ever made. I questioned my every action and my every word over the last four years and his too; was it really worth losing a brother over a girl? The usual three hour trip felt like an eternity as a mist filled my mind and my eyes and an overwhelming despair crept over me. I made it to the farm before noon and was totally wiped out; I could hardly keep my eyes open as I sat down and stared at the flames dance in the fireplace and watched the smoke curl up and rise up the chimney. Mom was on the couch and her tears hadn’t stopped since I walked in the door. Dad was outside working on the tractor as if nothing had happened, I guess he had to keep his mind off the fact we would be burying his first born son. The others were all there by early afternoon and we went to the funeral home to make arrangements for his body to be shipped back home to be buried, it was the hardest thing I ever had to watch my parents do; It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
Mom called me a couple weeks after the funeral and said that Carl had a will and it would be read when I came back for Christmas break. I was surprised that Carl had a will and even more surprised that I was in it after all we had been through. He had a wife and a son who needed taken care of so everything he had should go to them. We went to the lawyer’s office early on a Thursday morning; it had snowed the night before and Carl's wife Karen was running late so mom and I waited quietly in the reception area. Dad refused to go, he said he had work to do and the cows wouldn't feed themselves. Mom didn't say anything about it but I knew it was tearing her apart because he wasn't there with us. Finally Karen showed up and we went in and sat down across the desk from Carl's attorney while he spoke all the pleasantries that he had to because of the consequences of our meeting. Everything was in black and white and seemed to be in order with an insurance policy that went to Karen and little Carl. The money that he had borrowed from mom and dad to build his house was there too. My mind was on overload trying to figure out why I was there and then the lawyer looked at me and said there was something that he had retrieved from Karen ahead of time for today. What could it be that Carl wanted me to have that Karen had to give to the lawyer? The attorney placed a small wooden box on the desk in front of me that had my name carved into its lid rather crudely, I just stared at it. I had never seen the box before so what could be so special about it that it would need such an official or formal transfer to me. Why couldn’t Karen have just given it to me sometime when I was at home? The lawyer handed me a small skeleton key and asked me to open it. I slowly reached over and pulled up on the lid, it was really locked so obviously there was something valuable in it. I inserted the key into the lock and turned it slowly to the right and pulled up on it. When it opened there was a little white piece of paper folded and lying at the top of the box, as I opened it the tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks. I began to read his hand written words under my breath to myself so no one else could hear me. The note said, “I am sorry! I know it was my fault that we haven't spoken in so long and I want you to know I never did anything with Susie”. Under the card I found several Christmas silver dollars along with many other coins, a pocket knife, a toy car and probably every other little thing I had ever given him as payment to get a ride in his old truck. I was amazed that he had kept everything I had ever given him in a little wooden lock box. I took out every object and looked at each of them with awe until the only thing left was another tiny piece of paper at the bottom of the box that simply said, “Thank you for going with me when I was afraid to go by myself, I love you little brother”. I broke down as I thought of the wasted years and how I never knew what I meant to him. How could I have known I would find my freedom and forgiveness inside that little wooden lock box?