Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chapter X. Port In a Storm

C 2004 By Gracie Prior
The Scribblers were busy putting the finishing touches on their clubhouse. It was a cool November day. Terry hardly noticed how Mary's hair blew in the breeze as she helped put the last of the tiles on the roof. He saw Butch zip his jacket, look around at the whole scene and say, "This is so great. Look at it. Ain't she a beauty?"
Terry's mind was not on the club house or Mary or Butch. It was very much on his dad who had been sick again. Terry's eyes were red and puffy from lack of sleep. Dad's coughing had kept the whole house up, with Mom running around trying to help him. He was glad Dad was going to a doctor today. Maybe there was something the doctor could do to help.
Jimmy sat on a large rock in Butch's yard. He dangled his feet and observed, "Just like home. Now the Scribblers have a base. Let's give it a name. Something clever. We're writers. We should be up to it."
Butch walked around the clubhouse. "Great idea. Take five everybody and think of a good name."
Terry sat on the ground and Mary and Butch stood. "Why don't we go inside and get the feel of the place," Terry said. "That might help us." His mind was going back and forth, now on Dad, now on a name for the place. The group took his idea and all four crowded in and sat on the floor which was covered by a large area rug cut down and fitted. The clubhouse would be dry inside, even when it rained. Right now it was empty, but there was enough room for chairs, a small desk, and bookcases, the most desirable item. Terry felt the comfort of his friends and he, with effort, took his mind off Dad and put it on the job at hand. "How about 'Comfort Corner'," he suggested.
"Not bad," Jimmy said, brushing dirt off his leg. "I was thinking of 'Scribblers Settlement'. What do you think?"
Butch had his head down deep in thought. He came up out of a seeming coma and said, 'Writer's Block'". They all looked at him. Mary started to laugh. "As a name for the clubhouse, I mean," he said.
"That's bad luck, don't you think?" Terry said. "Mary how about you? We need a fourth choice. Then we'll vote."
"So far, I like 'Comfort Corner,' though it doesn't have anything to do with writing. How about 'Writer's Haven.' I got the word "haven" from a book. It's like a port in a storm. Or we could be artsy and call it 'Havenword,' a place where our words are safe."
"O.K., let's vote. I forgot paper, so we'll have a show of hands. 'Havenword'," Butch said. Four hands went up. "All right then. Tomorrow, we'll get a bottle of pop and Christen the place like a ship. I now declare this first meeting of The Scribbler's society at Havenword officially closed."
(Next time - more of Terry's problem and the play they are writing gets a new twist. See you on Friday. Nancy)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chapter IX. A Place Of Our Own

C 2004 By Gracie Prior
(In the last chapter, we took an interlude while Mary got to know her boys a little better. We return to Butch's problems.)
Butch sat in his room on the twin bed. He had pennants up on the wall from major baseball teams. He didn't have a favorite team and he didn't listen to games much, but he liked to get into sports talk once in awhile. Other boys had sports decorations on their wall. He didn't want to be different. He didn't consciously think about all this. The pennants were just there. They didn't speak to him. His heart was in reading and writing. He was running out of ways of telling his mom and dad what he liked and why.
"How embarrassing," he said to himself. "Mom has to be right there when the club comes over. Terry has the basement, Jimmy has a den, Mary, I don't know yet, but I bet her mom isn't there doing ironing." He pondered the problem. "What I need is a clubhouse. Dad and Mom always want me to go outside. Well I would like to live outside, to get away from them." He felt guilty for that last remark. His parents were old, older than Terry's even. He was sure they were much older than Mary's or Jimmy's. And as he was an only child, they babied him too much. "A clubhouse is just what I need. I even have money saved from when I delivered those phone books. I'll see if Terry and Jimmy will help me. Then we can do our club outside and please everyone."
Butch went downstairs and looked around for his mom. She was in the kitchen, making salads for dinner. "Mom, I have a project, for outdoors, that I'd like to try. Can I do it?"
"Butch, you know that depends on what it is."
"Let me make a clubhouse on the back of our property. We've got lots of room. Dad can help if he wants, but I can figure it out. It doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be a place where I, where we can be alone."
"Well I don't know. You'll have to ask Dad. You and your friends will still be sitting around reading and all. You need exercise."
"The last time you said I needed to be outside. The clubhouse will be outside. There won't be any electricity. Just whatever battery stuff we can bring in. If you like, we can run around the house every hour or so, just to stay fit."
"Don't you get that attitude with me, young man." Her carrot cutting became faster and more vicious.
Butch grabber his jacket. "It's just, Roy's mom is always on him because he never reads books. He's always playing baseball. You get on me because I read and don't play baseball. How is a guy supposed to be a kid in this day and age?" He slammed the door and went outside.
As Butch ran down to Jimmy's house, he noticed what a beautiful day it was. "Look at that sun!" The very last of the red and yellow leaves fell gently in the wind. When Butch called, Jimmy came out at once. "I have a great idea for the Scribblers. Do you think you and Terry can help me make a clubhouse out back in our yard? That way, we can always have a place to meet. Won't that be cool?"
A pensive mood framed Jimmy's face as the boys took seats in the green metal chairs on Jimmy's porch. "It's just what we need. Then we can get boxes and store our stuff and we'll really be in business. Besides, we won't have to keep calling to see where to meet. It will always be at the clubhouse. Will your parents let you? Do you have money for the materials? Do you know what you, we, are doing?"
"Yes to all the questions. Mom and Dad haven't agreed yet, but they will. They pretty much let me do whatever I want, as long as it isn't something bad. They are fair I have to admit. Don't tell them I said that. I don't want them to think I'm an easy kid to handle."
"Why not? I am. Easy, that is."
"It just works better to have leverage."
Butch and Jimmy looked over the trees in the yard and breathed deeply. After awhile, Butch said, "Let's call Terry and Mary and tell them the good news."
"Shouldn't you wait for official confirmation from the parents?"
"Butch squeaked the chair against the rough wood on Jimmy's porch. "Nah," he said. "It's a done deal."
(Next time: More news on the clubhouse. See you then. Nancy)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chapter VIII. The Waltz


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


It was an exciting time at Elsbeth Wilson Elementary School. The gym teacher was going to start dances at noon because there was nothing else to do with all the kids after their lunch, and it was too cold to go outside, winds and snow whipping around the corners of the school. Mary put on her black and white checked jumper, her white blouse with the ruffles, and her black patent leather shoes. Mom said she could wear them to school once in awhile. She also pulled her long hair into a ponytail. It was the style and she wanted to try it. She topped this all off with a scarlet bow around her hair.

In the morning class, Mary busied herself with her studies. Behind her was Butch with Jimmy to the back right. Terry was still behind Butch. They talked together whenever there was talking time. At lunchtime, the bell rang loudly and Mary went to the cloakroom and got her lunch money from her pocket. She went on ahead of the boys to the lunchroom. Wanting to get to the gym early, she quickly ate her sandwich and finished her graham crackers with leftover chocolate icing. Then she walked alone to the gym. She was eager to see what this dancing was all about.

When she got to the gym, there were already kids dancing. Mary sat on the bleachers and watched them. There were girls standing around on the floor, giggling and visiting, but Mary wasn't ready fort that yet. Roy, a boy in her class, came over to her.

"May I have this dance?" he asked. The sixth grade had been taught in gym class how to ask a lady for a dance, how to place your hands properly, and how to escort them back to where you found them when the dance was finished. Mary got up and smiled. She didn't like Roy very much. He made out-of-place remarks in class, but Mary was eager to dance. The record player was playing "Tennessee Waltz," her favorite, and she couldn't resist.

They started to dance and Mary realized that Roy was all feet. She tried to help him without actually taking the lead. It was useless. She concentrated on the lonely, beautiful words and melody of the song. Someone had tapped Roy on the shoulder while she was looking away and she saw with delight that Terry was now her partner.

"May I cut in?" he asked as he whirled her over the floor. The dance ended.

Mary realized that Terry didn't know where she was before the dance so she walked slowly back to the bleachers. Terry followed her. "This is where I was ...before," Mary said.

"See you later then ," he said.

A fast song came on and the kids who knew how to do the Jitterbug began holding hands, hopping around, twirling and moving in and out. There were girls with girls and girls with boys. Mary loved to dance fast, too. The music made her feet move. At home, she liked to practice her moves in front of the tall mirror on the door. She got up bravely and moved around the floor. She nearly bumped into Jimmy who would be game for anything. "Jimmy," she smiled, holding out her hands. Girls weren't supposed to ask boys to dance, but they could certainly look interested.
Jimmy turned and said. "Oh, Mary, isn't this fun?" He raised his eyebrow up and then down. He had that adorable smile. "I'd ask you to dance, but I don't know how."
Good enough, Mary thought. "I'll show you." They were playing "Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces." She took Jimmy's hand and stepped back away from him . "Like this," she said. She danced in to touch his other hand and then back out. Back and forth they went. Jimmy looked unsure, but he smiled. Mary wanted to go under his arm and twirl and do a few other moves, but Jimmy was obviously not ready. The song ended. Jimmy escorted Mary to where they started.
"You're a good dancer," Jimmy said. "Thank you for the dance, My Lady."
Mary giggled and nodded. She looked around to see what other fun was to be had when she saw two boys approaching her. Butch and Terry came over and looked like eager puppies. "We want you to choose. Which one of us would you like to dance with?"
Mary was surprised and delighted. Her heart right now went out to Terry but Butch was very cute, and she hadn't danced with him. "Butch," she said, smiling sweetly at Terry so as not to discourage him.
Butch gave Terry a superior victory smile. He took Mary's hand and started moving to another song that pulled at her heart. The voice on the record was so low and yearning. Butch was by far the best dancer of the day. He moved her around as if he knew what he was doing. He smiled at her. She just enjoyed the moment. Never before. Never once before had boys paid this much attention to her. Not like this. Was it the new school, her friendship with the Scribblers, the ponytail? What was different?
(Join me next Friday when the Scribblers get involved in a wonderful new project.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chapter VII. The Beginning Of Terry's Troubles

C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Terry's dad hadn’t been feeling too well again and Terry wanted to make sure he wasn’t needed at home. As he came in from the side door, he saw that his older brother Philip was home. Philip lived alone a few blocks away. Terry became concerned. He looked at Philip and asked, “What’s going on?”

“Dad was coughing pretty bad again last night and Mom wanted me to come and check on him. He seems rested now. She had to go to the store and didn’t want to leave him alone.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Terry looked closely at his brother. He didn’t sense any alarm in his face.

“Just relax. I’ve got things under control here. What are you doing today?”

“Butch, Mary, and I were going to ride bikes, but not if you need help.”

Philip smiled and ruffled Terry’s hair. “Go on and do what you want. I’ll be here when Mom comes home, and I’ll tell her you checked in. You won’t be in any trouble.”

Terry felt bad that Philip thought he only cared about whether he was O.K. with Mom. He was very upset about Dad and wasn’t sure he should go and play. He sat down and rested in a chair, thinking it over.

Mom came home then, bringing her groceries in the back door. Terry and Philip ran to help her. They all put the food away together. “How is Dad doing?” Terry asked.
Mom looked at him and smiled. “He’s resting fine, isn’t he Philip?”

“Sure is,” Philip said. “I told the squirt he was fine, but he didn’t believe me, I guess.”

Things weren’t going the way Terry liked. “If he is fine, I’m going riding with Butch. Is that alright?”

Mom looked at him and nodded. “Get some sunshine. This nice November weather can't last forever. See you at dinner.”

Terry rounded up his Blue Racer bicycle and peddled over to Butch’s house. Butch pulled out of his driveway and they decided to go and get slowpoke Mary. The boys were surprised to see the strange car in Mary’s drive. When she came out, Terry asked, “Who is that?”

“Oh, that car belongs to a friend of my dad’s. He’s going to be coming to town for a special event later,” Mary said.

“What event?” Butch asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Mary said. “Where's Jimmy?"
"He's not much of a rider," Terry said. "Ready?"
Mary nodded. "Let's ride."
The three of them rode around the neighborhood for a long while. Their street was mostly deserted with only a few cars coming and going. There was just a little snow left from an earlier snowfall. Terry remembered that it wasn't unusual for the street to be empty for a whole day. They regathered at the bottom of their street near Mary's house. Butch said, Race you all to the top of the hill.

“You can’t get all the way up that hill, Butch.” Mary said. “It’s too steep.”

“Sure I can," Butch said. “Let’s try it. Ready set go!”

Terry was ready and shot off like a rocket. Butch was right behind. Mary had a late start. Terry looked back briefly and realized Mary didn’t know their game yet. Get the other person distracted, then go. He was pumping heavily and there was only a little more street to go but his energy was going fast. Butch was by his back wheel. Mary was just coming to the steep part. Terry gripped the handlebars, made one last effort, and pushed up to the top of the hill. He straddled the bike waving his hands in the air. Butch crossed the imaginary line next. Mary was nearly to the top, but got off and walked her bike up the rest of the hill. “Awe, Mary, you could have made it,” Terry said.

Mary wiped her face on her sleeve, “Sure I could, but why? You are the winner. Let’s go try it again.”

Butch looked at Terry. “You up for it?

“I have to get home. Next time we’ll make sure you’re ready, Mary,” Terry said.

“Next time I’ll beat you,” Mary said.

“Bet she will, too, Butchie Boy,” Terry shouted as he flew down the hill.