The Committee

In a senior living trailer park, five people sat around a table planning activities for the people who lived in this small community.  Nothing had been planned for years, making it hard to once again get the ball rolling.  Like an extra set of ears, a special dollar bill that had written across it, Smile; someone special loves you was tacked to the bulletin board.

“No one will come,” Larry stated as the first suggestion of activities were brought forth.

“Like no one came to our Stone Soup dinner on Christmas Day,” Dorothy challenged back.  She had sent out a personal invitation to all in the park by leaving a flier at each home.  “Then who bought all the ingredients we ended up adding into the soup?”

“That was so clever of you,” Shelly giggled, for she could still taste the fragrant soup, with its carrots, potatoes and other vegetables.

“People were lonely and were just curious enough to come out,” Oscar commented.  “I know what we had was a lot more appealing than the TV dinner I had planned.  But I agree with Larry.  A once a month thing.  People aren’t going to commit.”

“Why don’t we do a survey.  Find out what people want.  We can pass out a short flier and see what people think,” Dorothy suggested.

“Do you realize how big this place is?” Magna stated.  “There’s at least fifty homes in the park, maybe more. “

“Who among us has a computer?” Dorothy asked, determined to see this through.  When Larry reluctantly raised his hand, Dorothy pressed on.  “Let think of some questions.  From people’s responses, we can plan events.”

Shelly spoke up.  “I for one would love something like that.  There are all kinds of games we could set up.  Or just come together to share a meal.”

Working together the group came up with a simple questionnaire.  Since Shelly wanted this, she happily paid for the printing.  Each took a stack and passed them out.  Setting up a box in the clubhouse, the group waited.  By Sunday they were surprised at how many had responded.  Meeting again on Monday the community began to sort out the papers.

“Here’s a good one,” Magna laughed.  “We can run a dating service.”

“No thank you,” Shelly said, wrinkling her nose.  “I’ve been married twice.  My first husband, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, the second I buried.  I sure as heck don’t want a third.”

“Who said you have to marry them,” Oscar shot back.

“Someone has suggested a monthly Bunco game,” Magna responded.  “That might be fun.”

“Another,” Dorothy interjected so they wouldn’t get off track, “wants us to celebrate the holidays each month.  News Years Day is just in two days.”

“Not enough time,” Larry argued.

“My Stone Soup only took an invitation.  Why are you such a naysayer?”

“Because he doesn’t want a bunch of people hanging out in what Larry’s come to consider his private space,” Magna challenged with a glint in her eyes.

“Not true,” Larry responded with some indignation.  “In fact, to prove my point, I’ll volunteer to organize this nonsense of celebrating New Year’s Day.”

“Done,” the other four shouted.

In response, Larry’s eyes went wide at what he’d just gotten saddled with.

Leaning over, Shelly patted his arm.  “We’ll all help out.”

Determined to make this work, they began to make a chart, set forth ideas for future events, and other items needed.  Knowing whatever was planned, a cleanup committee had to be part of every event, that too was added.

The response to getting together on New Year’s Day was well received by the community.  As the room was made ready, someone realized they’d need more ice than planned.  Shelly volunteered to make a run to the store.  “Here,’ Larry said plucking the dollar bill off the wall.  “Apparently no one is claiming this.  Why don’t you use it?”  At the store Shelly bought what was needed, passing the dollar bill on.

With the rush of the holiday crowd, the clerk didn’t see the odd bill.  As money was gathered from registers, it was once more passed on.  In the store’s office, the manager spotted the bill in the excess cash.

Battered, wrinkled and a bit frayed, the bill was intact.  “Hello,” he said.  “I didn’t expect to see you back.  Looks like you’ve had quite an adventure.  Why don’t I give you rest?’  Since he was alone, the manager settled at his desk.  Taking a fresh dollar bill out of his wallet, he took a red pen and once more wrote the words Smile; someone special loves you on it.

Later when someone called for change, he made sure the new bill with the amount of money being exchanged today.  As for the other, he gave it a place of honor by framing it and placing it on the wall at home.

 

As with many things in life, they come to an end.  I hope you enjoyed the journey of the one-dollar bill which began on January 2nd, 2019.

Community Soup Pot

Sitting in her new living room, Dorothy Haggerty felt like she’d been on a roller coaster for most of the year.  The dollar bill sitting on her coffee table that read Smile; someone special loves you, right now felt like the only stabling force in her life.

In the beginning of the year, her beloved husband had passed away from a long illness.  They had married late in life and though the couple had tried for a child, nothing happened.  So, for thirty years it had been just her and Jimmy.  His death had put a big hole in her life.

Then in late November, a friend had told her of a mobile home for sale in the senior trailer park.  The idea of moving to a smaller place and living in a community with people her own age had been very appealing.  When she tried to sale her home, she became prey to some thieves.  Thankfully two young people stopped by one day, and as Dorothy talked, they realized what was happening.  Now the house was in the hands of a reputable real estate agent who’d see she got the value of her house.

Then the two families were so kind and helpful and by the end of the week, Dorothy was in her new home.  Yet here she sat, not quite alone two days before Christmas.  She had her two small mixed terriers, Petie and Roxie, but right now she craved human company.

Deciding to explore her new surroundings, Dorothy put her two dogs on leashes and took a walk.  Near the front of the park was a community center.  Going inside the building, she found a lone man sitting on the couch reading a newspaper.  Off to one side was a bulletin board with the large word ACTIVITIES pinned above it.  Only there was nothing underneath.

“Did you have a Christmas Party here earlier?” she asked the stranger.

The man snorted.  “No,” and went back to his paper.

“I see there’s nothing planned here,” Dorothy asked, gesturing toward the board.

“There never is,” he replied.

Walking over to him, she started to rein in her curious dogs, but the man reached out a hand to pet them.

“I’m Dorothy,” she said introducing herself.

“Luther,” the man replied.  “This is a great room that no one ever seems to use.  As for getting together, no one seems to care to plan anything.”

Looking around, she saw an open space with tables and chairs.  A comfortable sitting area, and a full-size kitchen.  “Are a lot of people going to visit family and friends on Christmas Day?” Dorothy asked.

Thinking, Luther considered.  “I’m not going anywhere.  My kids and I had our Christmas a few days ago.  I know of at least three others who will be having a lone dinner that day.  I’m fine with that, but Milla Burger has a real hard time with being alone on Christmas Day.  Come to think of it there are at least a dozen people who will be by themselves.”

“Why don’t we have a little get together?” Dorothy suggested.

Turning his attention back to the paper, Luther replied, “Because no one will come.”

Once back home Dorothy considered.  Picking up the phone, she called Sadie and asked for a favor.  “Sure Mrs. Haggerty.”  Within the hour the young woman arrived with the fliers Dorothy had requested and an odd expression on her face.

“What is Stone Soup?” Sadie asked.

“The recipe comes from a book I read a long time ago.  It’s quite good, but the recipe comes out different each time it’s made,” then winked.  When offering to pay the youngster for her the fliers, Sadie brushed it off, asking only for a chance to sample the soup once it was done.  “Come by the day after Christmas,” Dorothy said.  “I’ll see there’s a bowl for you.”

The next day being Christmas Eve, Dorothy was up bright and early.  Taking a walk, she left a flier on everyone’s steps.  The invitation read,

Hello; I just moved to the park.

Tomorrow at noon I will be cooking up a pot of stone soup in the

Community Center. 

Stones are so bland, so I will be adding some broth.

If you’d like to make the soup tasty, bring something to add.

Dorothy

During the day she made a trip to the store to buy what she’d need for a party.  Later that night she went out and found three large rocks and scrubbed them clean.  She had no intention of adding them to her stewing pot, but she’d use them as decorations.  Since her husband loved to cook, Dorothy dug out the large pot she hadn’t been able to part with.  Now all she could do was wait and see if people would be curious enough to come.

In the morning, she baked a fresh batch of brownies and hoped for the best.  By noon, Dorothy was standing by the stove in the community center.  She’d had bowls, spoons and the other items already set out.  Sadly by 12:15, no one had arrived.  Discouraged, she started to turn off the burner when the door opened.

“Sorry I’m late,” a voice called out.  “I bought some carrots to go into the stone soup and made some garlic bread.  My name is Lucy.  Are there really stones in your cooking pot?”

With a laugh, Dorothy pointed to the stones on the counter.  Accepting the carrots, the two women pealed, then chopped them.  They had no sooner gone into the pot when another person joined them, this time offering potatoes.  Within the hour, six more people from the park had come out of their homes offering other items to go into the pot.  A bag of mixed vegetables, two cans of beans, and some barley.    Like Dorothy and Lucy, they too had brought items to share.  Even Luther had come out of curiosity.   For his contribution, he’d browned hamburger and had added cheese and crackers to the other items being served.

When the soup was done, all sat down to enjoy the community meals.  Spirits were brightened and friendships made or renewed.  Several people made the suggestion that they should get together more often.  Later as Dorothy whipped down the counter, she considered the request.  Deciding that someone had to get the ball rolling, she put up a notice on the bulletin board inviting people to attend a meeting this Friday.  Then she tacked the special bill up with another note.  If you need this or know someone who does, please take.  Turning off the light, she left, leaving the bill to silently wait to server.

Merry Christmas to all

A Special Christmas Project 

The year hadn’t been easy for Sadie.  Accepting the loss of her mother at the start of the year had been so hard.  Thankfully for the family, Barbie had been there.  She’d known this woman all her life, as Barbie had been her mother’s best friend.  Soon she would become her stepmom.  Yet Barbie wasn’t trying to take her mother’s place.  To remind Sadie her mother was still part of her life, Barbie had given her a dollar bill that said, Smile, someone special loves you and Sadie felt lucky to be loved by two exceptional women.

Knowing love and kindness was meant to be passed on, Sadie decided to find a special Christmas project.  There were lots of organizations to get involved with.  At this time of year, there were groups collecting food, warm clothes, and toys for the needy.  Any one of those would be a worthy cause, but she wanted something more personal.

The old saying of being careful about what you ask for came into play.  On her way home from school Monday afternoon, she watched old Mrs. Haggerty trying to rake leaves in her front yard.  The woman had to be in her mid-seventies.  Like Sadie’s mother, Mr. Haggerty had passed away earlier in the year.  The couple had never had children, so that meant Mrs. Haggerty might be living alone. The house was a bit run down, and the front yard was slightly overgrown.  It made Sadie wonder how the old woman was doing.

Stopping, Sadie greeted her.  When Mrs. Haggerty looked at Sadie, there was confusion and frustration on her face.  “Are you alright?” Sadie asked.

“Just tired deary.  There were so many leaves this year.  I just didn’t get to them.,” the old woman replied as she went back to work.  Then looking back at the house, she sighed, muttering, “So much to do.”  And as if Sadie hadn’t been standing there, wandered off.

At school the next day Sadie expressed her concern to Bruce.  The two had been going steady since the school year began.  In Sadie’s opinion, he was smart and had a caring nature.  A senior, his plans after graduation was to go to the local junior college for an associate’s degree, then follow his father into the real-estate business.  Already Bruce had been working in the office learning some of the job’s requirements.

“Why don’t we stop by on our way home from school?  Maybe she just needs some help,” Bruce suggested.

Knocking at Mrs. Haggerty’s front door, the couple waited.  When Mrs. Haggerty opened it, she seemed more distressed than the day before.  Looking over the woman’s shoulder, Sadie could see the room beyond was in disarray.  “Are you alright?” Sadie asked with concern.

“Oh, Sadie.”  This time Mrs. Haggerty wrung her hands.  “I’m so confused.”

“Could you tell us why?” Bruce asked.

“Come in,” she invited, then walked away.

When the couple followed, Mrs. Haggerty acted like they weren’t there by going back to packing the box currently sitting on a coffee table.  Eagerly her two small terriers sniffed around the young people’s feet.  Bending down, Sadie picked up Roxie as she barked for attention.  Scanning the room, the couple saw boxes were partially packed, while other items were strewn about.

“Mrs. Haggerty,” Bruce called out gently.  “Are you moving?”

“Yes,” she replied, then changed her mind.  “No.  I’m not sure.  A few weeks ago a man offered to buy my house.  I thought it was a good idea at the time.  A friend of mine told me of a mobile home for sale in a trailer parker for senior citizens.  I went down to look at it, and found it perfect for me and my babies.”  She gave her dogs an indulgent smile.  In response, Petie barked.   “I’ve been trying to deal with the sale at the mobile home park, but all the paperwork is so confusing.  I contacted the man who wanted my house, and he’s been getting pushy.  He wanted me to sign papers to sell the house to him right away and move.  None of what he’s telling me about the process is making any sense.  Bernie always took care of stuff like that.

“And how can I move so fast.  There’s only me and I can’t make up my mind what to keep and what to get rid of,” she wailed like a lost child.

“Did you settle on a price?” Bruce asked.

“No.  The man said that he’d have to talk to his partner, but I have to sign the papers first.  If I don’t do it soon, someone is going to buy the mobile home.  I have some money in savings, but don’t know if I should put a deposit down before or after I sell the house.  I’m so confused.”   As if in sympathy both dogs began to whimper.

“Sadie, can you make Mrs. Haggerty some tea?” Bruce suggested.  Then turning to the old woman, asked,.  “Can I look at the papers the man left you?”

Still in a daze, Mrs. Haggerty led the young people into the kitchen.  Here was the same disarray.  Some things had been taken out of cupboards and stacked on the counters.  Other’s were in boxes as if ready for transport, but quite probably would end up broken before they got to their destination.  As Bruce settled in a chair, Sadie routed around for tea.  She found a box sitting inside a saucepan.  Setting a kettle of water on the stove, she considered.

The Haggertys had been a fixture in the neighborhood for as long as Sadie could remember.  The house had to be filled with a lifetime of memories and belongings.  If Mrs. Haggerty moved into a smaller place, she’d need someone to help her sort things out.  As water boiled, Sadie watched Bruce begin to put some type of order to the papers spread all over the kitchen table.  He studied them for several minutes.  Then pulled out his cell phone to call his father.

Copying Bruce, she too pulled out her cell phone to call her stepmother.  After explaining what was going on, Sadie was glad to hear Barbie would be over to help.

The paperwork Mrs. Haggerty had was legal, but had her at the mercy of the buyers.  Instead, Bruce’s father offered his services to help her get the best price for her house.  Since the mobile home was available to move into now, they encouraged Mrs. Haggerty to do so.

Immediately Sadie and her family were joined by Bruce’s and they helped the old woman sort through rooms and pack things down.  Though it really was the wrong time of year, they quickly organized a Christmas Garage Sale.  To draw a crowd, they arranged for a Santa to be at the house.

By Sunday evening Mrs. Haggerty was in her new home, and her place had been mostly cleared out.  The few things left would be hauled away to be donated after the holidays.  If luck would have it, the house would be sold by the first of the year and she’d have a nice little nest egg to live on for quite some time.

Both Sadie and Bruce once more were sitting at Mrs. Haggerty’s kitchen table, only this time it was she who served tea.  “I can’t thank you enough,” the old woman cried.  “If you hadn’t come along, those men would have gotten my house for next to nothing.”

“Next time you need help,” Sadie replied, “Ask for it.  My stepmom gave me this to me,” she added, “I think you should have it as a reminder you’re not alone in this world.”  Gently she tucked the one-dollar bill into Mrs. Haggerty’s hand.

Taking the money, she read the words.  “Yes,” Mrs. Haggerty replied.  “I now know how much people do love me.”  Patting the child’s hand, she added, “Thank you for the reminder.”

Stepping into Someone’s Shoes

The engagement ring on Barbie’s finger was still such a shock, as was the one-dollar bill in her pocket, which had written across the front, Smile; someone special loves you.  The words couldn’t have had a truer meaning.   Looking around the now empty bedroom, Barbie couldn’t believe she was planning a spring wedding to the husband of her deceased best friend.  Life sure could take some funny twists and turns.

Lorretta and Barbie had known each other since elementary school.  After graduation, they had traveled different paths, but had remained close friends.  All Lorretta had ever wanted was to be a wife and mother.  Marrying her high school sweetheart she had done just that.  As for Barbie, she had gone onto college, earning a degree in human development.  Shortly after graduation she’d met and married a man who turned out to be an abuser.  It was Lorretta who convinced Barie to leave the man and get professional help.

Though she’d never remarried and rarely dated, with the help of her friend, Barbie healed and life went on.  Then tragedy struck when Lorretta was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  To pay back the kindness given to her, Barbie was there for her friend over the years, helping with whatever needed to be done.  Then sadly, right after the first of the year, Lorretta took a turn for the worse and died.

After that, Barbie had stayed on to looked after Johnathan and his three girls   Already she was in love with the girls, and somewhere along the way had gone from being just a good friend to falling in love with her friend’s husband.

“You ready?” Johnathan asked.

“More than you’ll ever know,” Barbie answered.

Before taking this next step, Johnathan had talked to his girls.  They had been excited to have Barbie come and live with them.  They even approved of their father remarrying.  Yet things quickly changed, as Barbie settled in and started taking on the role of stepmother.  If she had to say what the trouble was, it was as if a door was closing, locking Lorretta on one side and her on the other.

Knowing that the two younger girls took Sadie’s lead, Barbie decided to work with her first.  One night she invited Johnathan’s oldest to help with dinner preparation.  Silently the two scrubbed baking potatoes and seasoned a chicken for roasting.  Since the family as a whole preferred vegetables, they worked on other side dishes.  To be fanciable, Barbie decided to add stuffed mushrooms, a family favorite, to the menu.

While the two chopped, Barbie asked a question.  “Tell me something I didn’t know about your mother?”

“Like what?” Sadie asked a little uneasily. “I thought you two were BFF.”

Laughing lightly, Barbie replied, “Yes we were best friends forever.  But I’m sure there’s something I didn’t know about her.  Tell you what.  I’ll tell you something that you probably didn’t know.  Did you know how your dad and mom met?”

“Yeah.  At a party.”

“Did she ever tell you what happened before the party?”

Intrigued, Sadie shook her head.

“Lorretta was gone head over heel for this guy and wanted so badly for him to notice her.  He was very popular.  We were invited to this party and she knew he’d be there.  It was a casual event, but your mother insisted on dressing up.  She wore one of her Sunday best dresses, mile high heels and had me work her hair into this fancy French braid.

“We went to the party with her looking like a fashion queen.  She wanted me to dress fancy too, but I didn’t.  The guy she wanted to impress ran like a scared rabbit.  When she found out he’d left the party, she was devastated.  Your mom was outside crying when your dad came along.

“I’d heard she was upset and went to find her.  That’s when I noticed your dad was sitting there with her and the two were laughing.”

Smiling at the thought of her parents, Sadie considered as she began to stuff mushroom caps with the mixture they’d made.  Then all at once tears flooded her eyes.  “Mom,” she choked out, then stopped.

Gently Barbie laid a hand over Sadie’s.  “Can I say something.”  When Sadie nodded, Barbie continued.  “I don’t want you girls to ever think I’m replacing your mom.  I loved Lorretta and miss her as much as you girls do and as much as your father still does.   What I want is to make my own place in this family, while honoring my very dear friend.”

“Mom,” Sadie began again, “used to read to us the same story every year right before Christmas.  It got to be so sappy sometimes, listening to The Night Before Christmas.  Last year when she was so sick, she still managed to read it.  I just rolled my eyes, not realizing it would be the last time.”  Eyes drenched, Sadie looked at Barbie.  “She won’t be here to read it.”

Taking the child in her arms, Barbie asked softly.  “How can we carry on that tradition?”

“Would you read it to us this year.”

“I would be honored.”  Then stepping back, reached in her pocket for the special one-dollar bill.  “I think you need this right now,” Barbie said.

Smile, someone special loves you.” Sadie read aloud, then giggled.  “You know,” she said to Barbie, “I’m lucky.  It’s not every day a girl has two special moms.”

They heard the front door open and watched Johnathon enter the room.  When he shot the two of them a questioning look, Barbie responded lightly, “We’re remembering Lorretta.”

“And the boy she was crazy about before you,” Sadie piped in.

 

The journey of the dollar bill begins with the blog called Taking Different Paths Released January 2, 2019

 

A Message of Love

When Johnathan had gotten home on the Friday after Thanksgiving, he’d found a gift card in his mailbox with an anonymous note that read from a caring neighbor.  Attached to it was a one-dollar bill that said; Smile; someone special loves you.  The gesture had been nice but unnecessary.  Yes, money was tight for the now family of four, but they were getting by.  What was hard was they were still grieving the loss of the person who had been their center.

Johnathan had met his Lorretta in high school.  They had married in June right after graduation.  Many people said that kind of love would never last, but it not only had lasted, it had also flourished.  Following his father into the sanitation business, Johnathan made a decent wage as a garbage collector.  Lorretta enjoyed being a waitress until the girls started coming along.  When their third daughter was born, Lorretta was satisfied to be a stay at home mom.

Then tragedy struck.  One day Lorretta noticed a lump in her breast.  Not thinking anything of it, she put off going to the doctor.  When Johnathan started nagging her, she gave in and made an appointment.  The biopsy came back as cancerous, thus starting the long journey of dealing with the dreaded disease.

At the being of last year, Lorretta took a turn for the worse and they nearly lost her back in June.  Then she seemed to improve.  The family was feeling hopeful for a recovery.  During Christmas, she was cheerful, and alert.  The only thing out of the ordinary was Lorretta had said very little about her last few doctor appointments.  With Johnathan working, he thought nothing of it, since Barbie was taking her anyway.

On Christmas day Lorretta was her old self.  It was the day after that she began to shut down.  By the third of January, he and the girls were in the hospital, waiting for Lorretta to take her last breath.  If Johnathan had had it his way, he’d died right along with his wife, but he had their three girls to think of.  Sadie 16, Joan 14 and Nichole 12.   What had been a God sent was Barbie.  She’d been with the family through thick and thin over the last few years.

The women had known each other since high school.  In Barbie’s case, she’d married a worthless man after graduating college, who had abused her.  It had been Lorretta who’d pulled her friend out of the nightmare.  Though she’d had no children of her own, Barbie had worked hard to get back on her feet both financially as well as emotionally.  Now she was a stabilizing force for this family as they struggled through their grief.

On more than one occasion Johnathan would come home to find Barbie in the kitchen fixing an evening meal, or spending time with his girls filling the void Lorretta had left.  Tonight, he walked in to the smell of scents of cooking and baking.  His girls would be scattered about.  Sadie active in high school, with Joan’s nose buried in a book in her room, and Nichole down the street spending time with one of her friends.  But all three would be home for dinner.  As he set his lunch box on the counter, Johnathan spotted the black forest cake, his favorite, heaped with cherries on top.  It brought a tear to his eye.

“Happy birthday,” Barbie said, greeting him with a warm smile.

“You remember those little touches.”

“How was your day?” she asked.

“Crazy.  Had a lady chop up a couch and tried to put as much as she could in the dumpster.  Then she left what she couldn’t scatter around it.”

“Oh my,” Barbie laughed.

“People,” he said shaking his head.  It felt so good to have someone to come home to and share the day with.  Then it dawned on him.  Was he being fair to Barbie?  She should be living her own life, not tending to him and his girls.

“Barbie,” Johnathan asked cautiously.  “Why are you still here?”

“Because you all still need me.”  Her heart started to pound.  Back in her mind Barbie knew this day might come.

“I can’t say how much we appreciated all you’ve done.  All you still are doing.  When Nichole started her …  Well, you know what I mean.  You came over and explained things to her and got what she needed.”  He still felt embarrassed thinking about how to explain a woman’s menstrual cycle to a young girl.  Even if they covered stuff like that in school, it was an awkward subject for him.

“I didn’t mind.”

They stood there looking at each other.  Then Barbie cleared her throat.  “Back in November,” she said as casually possible, “Lorretta gave me a letter for you.  Said I was to give it to you when the time was right.  She said I’d know,” Barbie continued while moving to her purse.  “I never opened it, but I think I have an idea of what’s it about.  After you read it if you don’t want me to come over anymore, I’ll understand.  But I hope you’ll still let me be friends with the girls.”  Holding out the letter, Barbie waited.  After Johnathan had taken it, she added.  “I’ll just finish up the lasagna I’m putting together for dinner.”  Quickly she moved off to give Johnathan some space.

Staring at the envelope, Johnathan recognized his dead wife’s handwriting.  A mixture of feelings ran through him.  Taking it into the living room, he sat, the sounds of Barbie in the kitchen were blocked out by the emotions stirring inside him.  As his hands trembled, Johnathan opened the letter.

Johnathan;  If you are reading this letter I have moved on.  The years we’ve had together and the three beautiful daughters we made are so precious to me.  Please my love, do not spend the rest of your life grieving for me.  I am at peace now.  What I hope and pray for is that you, Sadie, Joan and Nichole will live your lives and once more find joy.

If you find someone, please take hold of that the love being offered, for it is so precious and should not be wasted.  Know I will watch over all of you until we meet in heaven.

All my love, Lorretta.

Sitting back, he wiped the tears from his eyes.  It was so like his wife to even from heaven care for her family.  Turning, he wondered if she had nudged Barbie in his direction.  Getting up, Johnathan stepped into the kitchen in time to see Barbie slide tonight’s dinner in the oven.

“You said you thought you knew what was in the letter?” he asked softly.

“Lorretta asked me to watch over you and the girls.  That’s all I meant to do.  But somewhere along the way, I started to have feelings for the four of you.”

Her remarks didn’t surprise him, and yet he still felt a loyalty to his wife.  As was his habit, his thumb brushed over his wedding band.  “I can’t say what I feel, but have feelings for you as well.  Why don’t you stay for dinner?”

“I’d like that.

Later that night as Johnathan got ready for bed, his thumb once more brushed his wedding band.  On a shelf in the room he’d shared with his wife was a wooden box.  In it were things he’d given her.  The first pair of earrings while in high school, a simple gold bracelet on the night of their prom and gold heart pendant on a chain for her twenty-first birthday.  Each was a gift he’d planned to give their girls when they graduated high school, so they’d have some part of their mother with them.  Sliding his ring off, he set it next to his wife’s wedding rings. “Thank you my love,” Johnathan murmured as he closed the box.

The following day he and Barbie stood in the kitchen, clearing up the remains of dinner, while his girls were scattered around the house doing their own thing.  Having Barbie there seemed so natural, like she’d belonged in the house.

“You seem distracted,” she said.

“With Christmas is just around the corner, it’s time we start thinking about putting the tree up and decorating the house.  Lorretta had her way of doing things.  I know it will be different this year.  Maybe even hard, but I want to celebrate, if nothing else for the sake of the girls.  I was hoping you’d have some ideas on the matter.  Maybe even add a few touches of your own.”

Barbie just smiled.

“I got another dilemma.  Some of my neighbors were trying to be kind, so they gave me this gift card that I don’t want or need.  I just don’t know what to do with it.”

“What kind of gift card?” Barbie asked.

“It’s a Visa gift card, for $200 dollars.”

“Can I have it?” Barbie asked without thinking.   When first surprise, then disappointment crossed Johnathan’s face, she realized he misunderstood her intent.  “Not for me, but for the women’s shelter I work at.  We need so many things at this time of year for some of the women who are abused like I was.  The money would be a big help.”

It was so like Barbie to think of others, Johnathan felt a bit embarrassed by his initial reaction.  Going to his room, he got the gift card, then on impulse grabbed the one-dollar bill.  After he’d handed her the credit card, he then slipped the bill in her hand.

“I have just one question for you,” he stated.

“That would be?”

“Stay the night.”

Smiling, Barbie answered, “I’d love to.”

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Sitting at the kitchen table, Chris tried to drum up the enthusiasm for Thanksgiving.  It was hard, for his mother had always been a big part of the holidays.  Like him, his two sisters and brother were also feeling the loss.  His mother had simply been there one day, alive and healthy, and gone the next.  No one, not even her doctor had been aware of the heart condition that had been brewing.  Looking up at the one-dollar bill currently attached to the refrigerator, Chris could hear his mother say the words written on the bill, “Smile, someone special loves you.”  Then she’d stare at him with a stern face, but there’d be a twinkle in her dark brown eyes.  “Now get moving.  Thanksgiving is just around the bend.”

Being the youngest of four, he’d already know the loss of one parent, for at the age of ten his dad had been killed in a car accident.  Though there had been money from the settlement and the accidental death insurance policy, the loss of their father’s income had made surviving difficult.  Yet his mother had kept a cheerful home and taught each of them, despite their hardship, they needed to give from the heart.

Over the years, no matter how tight their money was, she donated a small amount of funds to charity and saw that someone who was needy in their community was invited to the family meal.  To make her children efficient, Thelma saw to it that each one of them knew how tend to their loved ones and cook.  Some of Chris’s fondest memories were the time he spent in his mother’s kitchen.  Flipping through the ads, he thought if he didn’t get a turkey soon, he’d be letting his mother down.

Setting a cup of coffee by her husband, Terri asked, “Do you want me to go with you to help with the shopping?”

“No,” Chris said taking a sip.  “I’ve got this.  Just need to get my butt in gear.”

With pen and paper, he made his list.  Others would be coming, bringing different dishes.  Over the years as his sisters and brother had married, their extended family had been included.  Food ranged in variety.  There was Angelo’s lumpia and Carlotta’s caramel flan in among the traditional foods like candied yams, homemade cranberry sauce and fresh baked pumpkin pie.  This year his sister Pam would make their mother’s cranberry upside down cake.  A favorite with the family.

At the store, Chris checked off items on his list.  Walking by where the turkeys were stored, one bird caught his eye.  The thing was massive compared to the others around it.  What surprised him most was the price.  It had been marked down to five dollars.  Snagging it, he finished his shopping with a spring in his step and headed for checkout.

When it was his turn, the clerk scoffed at the price.  “This has to have been miss marked,” the man told Chris.

“Miss marked or not, that’s the price I’m paying,” Chris replied.

“Sorry,” the clerk informed him while picking up the weekly ad.  “I have to weigh it and charge the appropriate price.”

“I think not,” Chris countered

“If it was marked for five,” the woman behind him interrupted, “That’s the price you have to sell it at.”

“Come on,” another patron complained.  “I’d like to get home before Christmas.”

Other people joined in, but Chris held firm.  “Call the manager.”

When the manager arrived, he didn’t even bother looking at the bird.  “Sell it to him for the price marked.  And get moving.  We’ve got a lot of customers who want to get home.”  Though the clerk didn’t say anything, Chris knew he’d winced at the slight reprimand.

At home, Terri only stared at her husband’s prize.  “How big is that thing?”

“Thirty-two pounds three ounces.”

“Will it fit in our oven?”

“I’ll make it fit.”

On Thanksgiving morning, Chris rolled out of bed bright and early.  Yawning, Terri stretched.  “Go back to sleep,” her husband ordered.

Tossing off the covers, she rose as well.  “You need help getting that monster of yours ready.  And I don’t mind.”

Together they rinsed the bird.  With butter, the turkey was given a massage, then seasoned before being placed in a large aluminum pan.  After giving the bird a good drink of white wine, it was sealed with foil.  It did fit in the oven, but just barely.

As Chris cleaned up, Terri showered for the day, then began her own preparations.   Chris’s old family home had been sold, the proceeds divided among the four kids, as well as the family mementos.  One of the items Terri had loved was Mama’s Thelma’s rocking chair.  When Chris had asked if she could have it, Terri had been delighted the family had agreed.  Now she draped one of Thelma’s shawls over the back and placed a basket in the seat.  The family had stopped exchanging Christmas gifts years ago, choosing to give their mother money to donate to a needy family.  Determined to carry on the tradition, the family who hosted Thanksgiving each year was to collect the funds and give it to the family of their choice.  In their own neighborhood, Chris and Terri knew of a family who’s young mother had died of breast cancer.  Setting ten dollars in the basket, Terri went about her business.

Soon family and friends began to arrive.  Food was more than plentiful.  When the guest of honor was brought to the table, people were awed by its size.  As the first slice of tender breast meat was cut, its scent filled the air, making mouths water.

As people ate, memories were shared.  Some cried, while others laughed.  Little by little money was tossed in the basket.  All too soon, dessert was being served.  With glasses of soda, wine, water, or cups of coffee, a toast was made in Mama Thelma’s honor.

After the meal had been cleared away and leftovers divvied up, people began to depart.  That evening, Terri sat in the chair counting what had been donated.  When her husband entered the room he asked, “How much?”

“A little over two hundred.  Not too shabby.  I think the Wiltons’ will appreciate it.”

“Since I’ve experienced what it’s like to lose a parent at such a young age, I know what the kids are going thought.  The mother was so young.”

“Thirty-six.  Cancer knows no age or ethnic bounds.”

“Here,” Chris said dropping the special one-dollar bill in the basket.

Adding it to the amount, Terri said, “I’ll drop this off tomorrow.”  Rising, she set the basket on the rocker.  Then yawing hugely added, “I think it time we head for bed.”

Slipping his arm around his wife, Chris lead her back.  In the dark, no one noticed as the rocker began to move.  In a voice so soft only someone close by could hear, Thelma added, “I raised them right.”

Note:  One year my husband did find a 32-pound bird for $5 and brought it home with glee.  In his memory, I wish everyone a Blessed Thanksgiving.

The journey of the dollar bill begins with the blog called Taking Different Paths Released January 2, 2109

 

A Stitch in Time

On any given day one might find the average fifteen-year-old boy playing sports or video games.  Some liked even girl watching, as did Ivan, but for different reasons.  He had a good eye for style and a talent for designing clothing and costumes.  Not wanting to be label a geek or worse, he kept this sewing ability a secret.  The only person who knew of what he could do with a needle and thread was best friend, Tia.  Ivan admired her bold nature as Tia entertained people with her skill as a clown.  The other day on the way home she gave him a one-dollar bill that said, Smile; someone special loves you.  She wasn’t going to let anyone tell her that her future career choice was foolish.  Instead, Tia chose to follow her passion.

On this blustery day in November, Ivan sat at what had been his grandmother’s sewing machine, hemming a pair of pants for Tia.  Standing less than five feet, finding paints that fit had always been a problem for her.  Off to one side, pinned to a dress form mannequin was a multicolored gypsy skirt Ivan had designed himself.  He loved fabric, with its many colors and textures

Ever since he was ten, Ivan had spent many an hour at this grandmother’s side learning the trade.  At first, his parents thought it was a fad, then did all they could to discourage him, but Ivan persisted.  When his grandmother passed away last year, it was her wish that Ivan would inherit her machines and sewing supplies.  Since there was a large game room built in the backyard and his older brother had moved on to college, his parents had given him permission to take it over.  From there Ivan had set up shop.  Soon his mother, other family members, and even friends were giving him small repair jobs to do.  His biggest accomplishment was the dress he’d sewed over the summer for his cousin’s wedding.  Being a big girl, finding a dress that fit turned into a nightmare.  When asked, Ivan decided to give it a try.  Everyone, including the bride, was shocked at the beautiful gown that had been created.

The next job that had been handed to him was figuring out clothing for another cousin who was disabled.  Mentally intact, Brody had to struggle each day to get dressed.  Ivan began altering many of his clothing to make the task so much simpler.

Clipping a thread, he got up to hand Tia the pants.  Slipping behind the curtain of the dressing room Ivan had created, she tried them on.  Stepping out with a flourish, her fuchsia-colored hair bounced as Tia danced around the room.  The pants she had on needed to have enough room so she could move freely.  Under the baggy clothes she wore, was a tight athletic body.  “Perfect,” she cried, raising from the split she’d just done.

“Glad to be of assistance,” Ivan said.

“You think any more about applying for the job I showed you?” she asked, snagging a grape from the plate of fruit his mother had provided.

“No,” Ivan replied.  “They just see me as a kid.  No one’s going to hire someone my age to mend or alter costumes, even if it is volunteer work.”

“You don’t know unless you ask.  My uncle knows the director.  The lady they’ve used for years broke her wrist and isn’t going to be able to help them out.  They got this big performance coming up.  From what my uncle said, they’re desperate.  Just go and see.  I’ll go with you.”

More nervous they’d make fun of him, Ivan reluctantly agreed.  On the evening of the next day, Ivan found himself and Tia standing backstage as people rehearse their lines.  It was some kind of comedy centered around the civil war era.  The dialogue was quick and funny.

“You the seamstress?” a man asked Tia.

“Do I look like I know a stick pin from a thumbtack?” she asked.  “He’s the one you want.”

The man was surprised.  “You sew?” he asked Ivan.

Blushing, Ivan answered with a squeaky, “Yes.”

“I was told to show you what we need fixed.  Follow me.”

With Tia in tow, the three headed back to a dressing room.  A sewing machine was threaded and ready to go.  Two long full dresses hung on hooks.  One had a long tear in the skirt.  Walking up, Ivan examined it.  Lifting the skirt out to get the width, he decided how best to fix it.  “I can sew this up with no problem, then run a seam down the other side to disguise the repair.”

Instead of answering, the man pointed to the machine.  Setting down the box he’d carried in, within minutes Ivan had the repair done, improving the shape of the dress.  The other dress was much more difficult.  Whoever was attempting the repair had taken several seams apart.  Unpinning the sleeve from the bodice, Ivan tried to figure out where to begin.

“Who’s wearing this?” he asked.

The manager called out for a girl by the name Aylssa.  The brunette who came back was someone in his English class.  “What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Fixing this,” Tia remarked.

“Boys can’t sew.”

“They can too,” Tia shot back.  “Show her.” Nerves had Ivan hesitating.  “Come on Ivan,” Tia demanded.  “Do your thing!”

The sharp command got Ivan moving.  Within minutes he had repinned the sleeve in place.  Letting Aylssa go back to rehearsal, he sewed.  Calling her back as he adjusted the fitting.  By the time the practice was over, the dress was repaired.

“We can’t pay you,” the director remarked.  “But your family are invited to any of our performances.  I know Molly won’t be returning for a long time.  We sure could use someone with your skill.  If you’re interested.”

“I am,” Ivan said, for the first time feeling good about his accomplishments.

Excited, Tia danced with joy.  As they stepped out of the building, they found Aylssa waiting for them.  Dreading his secret was out, Ivan found himself regretting his decision to come.  “I like what you did.  How much do you charge for repairs?  I’ve got this skirt that I love, but the hem is coming loose.”

The next day three other students were coming up to ask about repair jobs, one even asking how much he’d charge to make her prom dress.  Unfortunately, as Ivan feared, his talent reached some of the boys in his class.  Unable to resist, one of them started taunting him.

To his surprise, three of the girls who were behind him, marched around Ivan to deal with their fellow classmate.  “He’s doing something constructive,” one of them barked.  “Instead of sitting in front of a TV blowing stuff up.”  Then turning to Ivan, asked, “A bunch of us are going to the movies Friday night, then out for pizza.  Why don’t you come and hang with us?.”  She gave him a sheepish smile.  “Maybe even be my date.”  The boy who’d been picking on Ivan was so flabbergasted he walked away shaking his head.

At home, Ivan began organizing his list of jobs when his father walked into his work areas.  “Going to have to get you a phone,” he said laying a message on the boy’s cutting table.  “Purple will do?” his father asked, then shook his head.  “Guess your mother and I were wrong about your sew thing.”

“No problem dad,” Ivan said.  As his father started to leave, Ivan snagged the dollar bill off the bulletin board he put up.  The coming holiday days were going to be hard for his father, without his mother around to fuss over the meal preparations.  “I think grandma would want you to remember this.”

Looking at the bill, Chris wiped at the moisture starting to form in his eyes.  “Yeah, she would.”

 

The journey of the dollar bill begins with the blog called Taking Different Paths Released January 2, 2109

Clowning Around  

Autumn was in full bloom as Tia headed down the street.  Colorful leaves crunched under her skateboard’s wheels, as a cold wind blew them around.  With her mind on where she needed to be, Tia was suddenly startled when a one-dollar bill floated up from nowhere and landed on her pants leg.  Stopping, she snagged it before the wind could send the money on its way.  Pausing, she read the words, Smile; someone special loves you, written across the frontWith a laugh, she shoved the money into her oversized jacket pocket and took off, her green hair flapping in the wind.

From the time she was a little girl, her parents had always encouraged their children to follow their dreams, never realizing that Tia’s ambition was to become a clown.  Her father’s brother was a professional clown, and she’d always been fascinated by his performances.   At age ten, she’d asked him to make up her face.  When he did, Arthur had no idea of the door he’d just open.

For the next two years any chance Tia got, she would play with face paint in an effort to recreated what her uncle had done.  Finally, the family gave in and let Arthur once more make up her face, hoping it would satisfy the phase she was going through.  Far from it.

Over the last two years, Tia had tinkered and adjusted the image.  Then at fourteen started appearing at parties to do tricks and entertain people.  Even Arthur was impressed with the various routines and started working with her to fine-tune her performances.  Then on her fifteenth birthday, he helped Tia register her face as her signature work as a clown.

From that point on she’d worked entertaining people with her jokes and funny sense of humor.  Today she was scheduled to perform at the party of a group of ten-year-olds.   A hard age to impress, but Tia was sure she’s wow them.

Arriving on time, she slipped into the bathroom to prepare her face and get into costume.  The months of practice paid off, for Tia was quick at applying her make up.  Then pulling an out a bright red bowler hat with a big yellow daisy sticking out on top, she was set.

Dressed in baggy jeans, a multicolored t-shirt, and flannel overshirt, she went out to do the job she’d been hired for.  The kids spotted Tia at once.

“So you’re the entertainment?” the birthday boy asked, eyeing Tia suspiciously.  “What can you do?’

Height wise, Tia wasn’t much taller than the kids watching her.  At four foot-eleven inches, she was considered small for an adult.  Yet that didn’t bother her.   Without saying a word, she moved her hands apart as if stretching something, then awed the party guests when a balloon appeared out of nowhere.  Breathing into it, she made a long cylinder, then twisted it into a dog.  Continuing her silent routine, she worked to make other things out of balloons, while making the children laugh.

After her performance, she hung around for a bit to watch the kids play party games and was treated to a very delicious piece of birthday cake.  As the party began to whine down, she slipped into the bathroom to remove her makeup.  Then with pay in her pocket, rode her skateboard home.

On Monday she sat at one of her school’s lunch tables, algebra book opened, while eating a carton of yogurt.  A good student, Tia hated math.  When Ivan sat beside her, Tia had to complain.  “Why do I need to know a^2-b^2 = c^2?”

“For the same reason they teach us about how a tribe in another country plant crops, thinking it will help us understand the world.”

Laughter had Ivan looking across the room.  Two of their classmates were pointing in Tia’s direction.  Looking at her friend, he noticed Tia’s hair was still green.

“I thought you said the color you used was a washout.”

“It is,” Tia said still studying her textbook.  “I freshened up the color for this weekend’s gig.”

“I though clowns wore wigs.”

“They do.  I actually hate them.  Makes my scalp itchy.   Plus because I don’t have to mess with a wig, I can get ready faster.”

“Are you still planning to be a clown when you graduate?”

“Sure.  What’s wrong with that?”

Ivan turned to face his friend.  Tia didn’t have one ounce of fashion sense.  Dressed more like a hobo in loose-fitting clothing, she looked the like the character she played, without the makeup.

Making his voice sound snooty, Ivan replied, “Because that isn’t a noble profession for a young lady.”  Laughing, Tia agreed Ivan did a good job of imitating one of the school’s councilors.   “But I agree with Ms Bolts.  You really can’t make a good living being a clown,” he added.

Flipping her book close, Tia took another bite of her yogurt.  “I beg to differ.  My uncle’s been a professional clown for years.  He has a degree in psychology.  While going to college, he worked as a clown to make money.  Then when he graduated and started working, he became depressed dealing with his patients’ problems.  So combining the two, he’s had a great life.  He, his wife and my two cousins have traveled, seeing a lot of the world because of what he does.

“I’m not naïve and know it’s going to take work to establish myself, but I’m looking forward to all the fun and enjoyment I can bring to people,” Tia added.

“How do you become a clown?” Ivan asked out of curiosity.  “I mean there’s no such thing as clown school, is there?”

“There sure are.  And many of them have good reputations.  I plan to do the two years at community college, before transferring.”

Once more the girls two tables over were laughing.  Digging into her yogurt once more, Tia commented.  “I bet you those two over there couldn’t tell you what their plans are after high school to save their life.  They’re too busy flirting with boys, or looking up the latest fashion trends.”

Glancing at Tia, Ivan couldn’t resist the tease.  “You might want to consider taking a peek at what’s fashionable once in a while.”

Since the bell was about to ring, Tia put her books away.  As the two began to move to their next class of the day, one of the girls who had been laughing walked by.  “Too bad someone doesn’t know Halloween is over.”

“Yeah,” Tia responded, “but I get paid for dressing up like a clown.  What’s your excuse?”

The comment threw the first girl, but her friend was quick with a comeback.  “What? Five bucks for looking like an idiot.”

“Actually, I get between fifty to three hundred for a performance.”  Then she smiled as the girls’ mouth dropped open in shock.  “I guess my clowning around pays off,” Tia added smugly.

Later as the two friends rode the bus for home, Tia handed Ivan the one-dollar bill.  “I going to pass this message onto you because I know who loves me.”

Taking it, Ivan read the words, then asked, “Who?”

“Me, because  I know who I am and where I’m going.”

 

The journey of the dollar bill begins with the blog called Taking Different Paths Released January 2, 2109

 

Sent From Above

Looking at the evening paper, Russell felt restless.  With the death of his beloved dog Buster, Russell’s routine had been out of sync.  A German Shepard/Labrador mix, he’d been a great dog.  After dinner, weather permitting, he and Buster had taken a walk for the last sixteen years.  Then recently in his sleep, Buster had simply passed away.

Folding the paper, Russell went out into the backyard where his dog was buried by the tree he so loved to rest under.  With his hands in his pocks, fingers brushed against a one-dollar bill that said; Smile, someone special loves you.  There was nothing like the love of a loyal dog, Russell thought as he reminisced on how Buster had come into his life.

It was close to winter when Russell had gotten off work from his job as a security guard.  He was walking out to the parking lot when the sound of whimpering reached his ears.  In the darkness, he spotted two teens who were carrying a young dog with them.  The sounds the animal made was pitiful.  What struck Russell as odd, was the youths didn’t seem to care.  Instinct had him following the boys.  When they turned into a dark ally, Russell knew the dog was doomed.

“Hey,” he called and immediately the teens jumped.  “What do you have there?” Russell demanded.

Startled, the one carrying the dog dropped it and the pair ran.  Walking over to the animal, it was obvious the creature was in trouble.  Limping, the dog moved toward Russell, then licked the hand that reached down to pet him with gratitude.  From what Russell observed the back leg was broken.  As his hand brushed over fur, something wet hit his fingers.  As if in pain the dog whimpered.  Moved with pity, Russell picked up the pup.

His first stop was to an animal hospital.  The news was grim, for the dog definitely had been abused by the teens.  Sadly, there was nothing the vet could do, since there was no one to pay for treatment the animal would need to recover.  Euthanasia was the recommended option.

“I’ll pay for his care,” Russell offered, with the dog nuzzled in his arms.  As the doctor stepped out to make arrangements, Russell ran a hand over the damaged fur.  “You need a name,” Russell decided.  Looking at the different shades of brown fur reminded Russell of a stuffed animal he’d had as a child.  “How about Buster?”  At the sound of the man’s voice, the dog’s tail began to wag.  “Then Buster it is.”

Though the boys were never found, the love between man and dog grew.  His kids were excited to have a pet, but Buster’s loyalty was to his savior.  When the dog was well enough, the two started walking.  The exercise seemed to relieve some of the stress Russell dealt with from work.  This became their one on one time.  Each night Buster waited patiently for Russell to set his fork down from eating dinner.  No sooner had he done so, the dog was at his side as if to say, “Now.  Can we go now!”

Buster was no angle though.  He dug up the flower bed each spring and chewed up the oddest things.  Yet he was a great alarm system, barking at anyone who came to the door.  One night when the dog wouldn’t settle down, Russell was at his wit’s end.  The next day, he’d learned there had been a burglary in the neighborhood.  Had the thief targeted their house?

Great with kids, Buster seemed to know to be gentle and protective of babies and young children.  The recent story of him walking a teenaged girl home sounded so like him.  The only trouble was, Buster had passed before the encounter.

“I miss you so,” Russell said.  Squatting down, he brushed the leaves off his old’s friend’s resting place.  “I know I can’t replace you, but if you find a lost soul, send him or her my way.”

The next day as Russell was getting out of his car a young dog ran up to him.  “Hello,” Russell said, surprised by the animal appearance.  “Where did you come from?”  The dog had no collar.  Its fur was wet and matted from first of the winter storms to come.

Gathering up his bags of groceries, Russell started for his house, with the dog at his side as if it lived there.  “You better go home,” he said unlocking the door.  The dog barked as Russell went inside.  Pausing, his heart went out to the animal.  Stepping outside, he called to the young dog.

“What do you have there?” his wife called out.

“A lost dog,” he replied, surprised the dog came along so obediently.  Grabbing up one of the cans of dog food they hadn’t bother to discard, Russell saw the pooch was fed and watered.  Then running warm water in the large sink in the garage, he gave the animal good a bath.  Rubbing clean fur with a towel, Russel was rewarded with licks of gratitude.

“What shall we call you?” Russell asked with a laugh.  “Sadie.”  The dog barked in agreement.  “Then until we learn your real name, we’ll call you Sadie.”

Judging by the breed, Russell thought there was some lab in his new friend, he wasn’t sure what else.  Taking a guess, Russell judged this female to be maybe six to eight months old.  The next day, Russell walked through the neighborhood trying to find the owner, but one knew where she’d come from.  He did the next responsible thing and contacted the local pound.

“Do you want us to come out and get the dog?” the officer asked.

“No.  I’ll keep her until you find her owner.”

“I tell you what I think,” the officer commented.  “Sounds like a dump to me.  If no one claims her in thirty days, you can have her if you want.”

“I’ll think about it,” Russell said.  Hanging up the phone, he looked at Sadie.  “Did Buster send you?” he asked.  As if to confirm a yes, the dog barked happily.

Taking her to the vet, Sadie was given a clean bill of health.   The vet agreed Sadie was another dump, which as of late was becoming the way people got rid of unwanted pets.  Taking a chance, Russell made the decision to provide Sadie a home if no one claimed her.

His first stop was a pet store to buy what he needed for Sadie.  Playful at home, she ran around barking with excitement.  It took Russell a few minutes to hook the new walking harness on.  Before they left, he did the right thing by stuffing a poop bag into his pocket.  Sure enough about a block from home, Sadie stopped to do her business.  Like a good pet owner, Russell pulled out the bag, not noticing the one-dollar he still had in his pocket had fallen out.  As he cleaned up Sadie’s mess, the wind blew the special bill down the street.

The journey of the dollar bill begins with the blog called Taking Different Paths Released January 2, 2019

 

My Hero

Halloween was just the start of the holiday season and Shelby loved every minute of it.  Arriving at her aunt’s house after school, she dumped the bag with her costume out on the big bed she’d be sleeping in tonight.  In among the slips, skirts and assorted jewelry was a one-dollar bill that said, Smile, someone special loves you.  It had been her reward from her cousin for finding a lost bracelet, that had the owner weeping with joy at its return.

“Tonight, you’ll be my good luck charm,” Shelby said for some strange reason.

Since Shelby lived out in the country, transportation to town was sometimes difficult.  At sixteen, she’d had no interest in getting her license.  What good would it do to have one, when she’d have no car to drive.  Money was tight and the expense of an extra vehicle was not in the family budget.

Her parents had agreed to let her attend tonight’s festivities in town since she’d worked so hard at the pumpkin patch stand they set up every year.  With Halloween falling on a Thursday, Shelby would need to attend school the next day.  So her parents wouldn’t be inconvenienced, she had been invited to spend the night at her Aunt Rosa’s house.

With fun, Shelby dressed the part of a gypsy.  Putting on three layers of slips and two full skirts, she then tucked a very low-cut blouse inside the waistband.  Her dark brown hair was long and had a wave to it.  Using a curling rod, she turned the mass of it into wild curls.  Standing in front of a full-length mirror, she added heavy makeup to accent her eyes.  Since the night was warm, her plan was to go barefoot at the party.  Stuffing black tennies shoes into her backpack for her walk to her aunt’s house, Shelby snagged up the dollar bill before taking off to have some fun.

The party was a big success.  Kory’s parents were great, hosting this event ever year as a safe place for high schoolers to party.  There where games, music, food, fun and more food.  By the end of the evening Shelby though she’d burst from being so full.  It was just after eleven, when she decided to head to her aunt’s.  As promised Shelby gave her aunt a call.

“I don’t know if I like you walking alone at this late hour,” Rosa complained.

“It’s just two blocks and I’m leaving right now.  I’ll be there in ten minutes.  Fifteen tops.”

Bidding her hostess a good night, she promised to call Kory’s mother as soon as she got to her destination.

As Shelby walked, she began to feel uneasy.  A gray van had cruised by, then slowed.  Instinct had Shelby turning and walking up to the nearest house as if she lived there.  The driver moved on.  Scared, Shelby wasn’t sure what to do, when a large German Shepard came up to greet her.

“Buster!” Shelby cried in delight.  “What are you doing running about.  Russell is going to be worried about you.”  The dog licked lavishly at her face.  “Come on.  I’ll walk you home.”

As the two continued their journey, the van came up beside them.  Buster growled deep in his throat.

The night had been warm, so it was understandable the windows would be rolled down.  “You lost,” the man called from the driver seat.

“No,” Shelby answered.  “I know where I’m going.”

Still, she became alarmed when he got out of the vehicle.  “I can give you a ride,” the man said coming forward.  Then stopped dead in his track when the big dog began barking furiously.  Frighten, he got in his van and drove off.

Shaken, Shelby patted Buster’s head.  “Good boy,” she said, her voice quivering with fear, “Good boy.”

Quickly Shelby walked the rest of the way.  Her intention was to see Buster got home, then returned to her aunt’s house.  But the dog had other plans.  All at once he took off on a dead run and disappeared into the night.

Hurrying up the steps, she was greeted by her aunt.  “Buster walked me home.  We need to let Russell know he out and running loose.”

“Did you say Buster?” Rosa asked in confusion.

“Yes.” Then Shelby told of her frightening experience.  “If Buster hadn’t been with me, I don’t know what would have happened.”

“Honey,” her aunt replied.  “It couldn’t have been Buster.  He died last month.”  Shocked, Shelby only stared.   “Did you get a good look at the man?”  When her niece nodded yes, Rosa picked up the phone and called the police.  They came and were thankful for the information, for they had received reports of a strange van in the area stalking young girls, only no one had been able to give them a description.

Over the weekend, Shelby came into town.  She still didn’t believe the dog was dead.  She’d touched his fur and felt the dog lick her face.  Knocking on Russell’s door, she was greeted by a man in his late fifties.  Years early he’d recused Buster from some kids who had been abusing the pup.

“I heard Buster died,” she said slowly.

“Your aunt told me of your experience,” Russell said while leading the girl through the house.  In the backyard, he showed her the dog’s grave.  Kneeling down, Shelby wept a little, but also said a quiet thank you for the protection he had offered her that night.  Standing, Shelby held out the dollar bill.  “I’d like you to have this,” she said.

At first Russell started to refuse, but saw the writing on the bill.  Touched he accepted the gesture.

“Are you going to get another dog?” Shelby asked.

“When the right one comes along, I will.”

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