Wednesday, July 7, 2010

the Ogre's ball

sun filtered through the window to the bed, where my well worn backpack yawned awaiting the things i would take with me. among the comic books, a piece of melted glass from the ashes at Mr. Wilson's house, one pack of Nabs (those orange crackers with peanut butter), a toy compass and my notebook to record my travels, i gently placed my rubber band bound stack of postcards from Sam. zipping the bag shut, i said goodbye to my teddy bear and my writing desk, and walked out into the world.

when i told my friends my plan to leave, the previous night, they were excited, but each had other plans for the day. Johnny said he saw an ogre sleeping under the interstate bridge and his parents had warned him never to go near it, but i figured it was just another way to keep us within the bounds of our neighborhood. i had saw Mrs. Lilly taking pictures there and she survived, so i figured my chances were good.

i stopped at the lot where Mr. Wilson's house used to reside. no one had acquired the lot, since the fire, so the cats had claimed the spot, lounging on black sooted timbers that had cooled. i could feel their emerald eyes crawling over me as i shuffled past on the sidewalk, and they cried a long farewell as i slipped across the asphalt, making the right turn toward the interstate.

approaching the underpass, johnny’s stories of the ogre itched at the back of my head, but were overruled by the desire to get out of the sun. it had almost melted me during the several hundred yard walk from the entrance of the subdivision and my energy was already flagging. the shadows massaged my shoulders with their cool touch and i lay the backpack at the base of the concrete incline that led up to the bottom of the bridge.

"who do we have here"...a voice thundered around me, gripping me in its thick fingers so that i was unable to move. i could hear a great rush of cloth and heavy feet sliding down the concrete, imagining any minute the ogre’s slobbering jaws would clamp down on my neck. the hairs on the back of my neck stood as i felt him draw close, and my legs gave way beneath me.

blinking my eyes, i saw a great mass of hair with aqua colored eyes staring back at me. what little skin i could see was bright red, and long crack nailed fingers prodded at my forehead. “sorry, i did not mean to scare you”, his chapped lips barely noticeable through the strands of his beard, “why don’t you just sit for a moment.” i watched cautiously as, what i could now see was a ragged homeless man, took a seat not far away and began bouncing a little red ball against the incline.

thwop. thwop. thwop.

“want to play?”, he asked.

we spent the rest of the afternoon, there in the shadows of the underpass, bouncing the little red ball in an awkward game of handball. i shared my plans to leave and he told me stories of how he grew up in the neighborhood, but left the first chance he had to escape. somewhere along the way, he got lost, things did not turn out the way he hoped and he found himself returning to the last place he felt at home, only to find it had moved on without him.

“what is your name?” my curiosity got he best of me, but his answer stole my breath, “Tom

unzipping my bag, i reached inside and pulled out the bound stack of postcards, “i think these are for you.” he stared at the picture on the first card for several minutes and I imagined he saw the same worlds i saw every time i looked at them. then he carefully slid the first one out to read Sam's message, a tear rolling slowly through his beard as he smiled.

he placed the little red ball in my hand and whispered, “thank you.” raising himself up, he tucked the postcards in his pocket and began walking toward the edge of town, whistling as he went. i watched him until he was lost in the haze rising from the road, then i turned to head back home, bouncing the little red ball the whole way.

thwop. thwop. thwop.

This is a Theme Thursday post.

72 comments:

Mrsupole said...

Threepeat.

God bless.

Mrsupole said...

I mean one minute past, if that is not totally awesome then I don't know what to say.

Gotta go read it now, because one has to be fast, very fast, okay very, very, very fast here.

GBA

Brian Miller said...

lol mrsu...you are killing me...so i think this will be the wrap of my exiled in suburbia series...its been fun but i need a break from it....tried to wrap a few things up...ended up a bit longer than i woul have liked but...it coulda been longer. lol.

Daniel said...

Thanks for filling in the details. My curiosity has been slaked.

Oh and this is not a criticism my friend, but an editor's point. You seem to use "passed" when you should be using "past". As in, he walked past us. Ultimately your book editor will catch these things for you.

Blessings my friend.

william said...

lol fabulous story brian as always ..hehhe was smiling at one of your commenters, past, passed, hehe

Mrsupole said...

And it was a good wrap, I really liked it. I could say what an ending but I think you all ready know that it was an awesome ending. I mean to find Tom in that way was pretty good. But do you think you might want to start one about what happened to Tom when he left and what adventures he experienced. Plus why he became homeless.

I really enjoyed this series.

God bless.

Mrsupole said...

Brian,

You could change it to "shuffled by", I think that would work too. Maybe better then past.

God bless.

JRM said...

Nicely done my friend. I enjoyed how you tied them together.

THE BEATY said...

great post for the theme. however I am noticing a grave crisis on your blog lack of swamp monsters lol.also can you believe maha got plagerized

Caty said...

I loved the suburbia series; great way to wrap it up!

Tina said...

Oh, what a treat to have the stories tie together like this. I had several favorite bits: yawning backpack, emerald eyes crawling, stories itched at the back of my head, shadows massaged my shoulders with their cool touch. It's treasures like these that make your work stand out. GREAT ending.

Deidra said...

aw...i'm joining the party at the end! bummer. but what a beautiful tale. i clicked over to read about "Tom" and found myself where the wild things are. fantastic!

so...nabs. i thought for sure my dad had made up that name for those crazy orange peanut butter cheese crackers. he brought some with him when he visited from va last week. they're still in my pantry. nabs. ;)

Monkey Man said...

Imagine that, a friendly ogre. Great continuation of the Sam story.

Eva Gallant said...

Amazing, once agaain!

lakeviewer said...

Oh how I wish this were true! It feels sooooooo real.

TALON said...

I think it was a wonderful ending for the series, Brian. I'm so glad that Tom got his postcards. I loved that he walked away whistling and gave the red ball to the boy. You write so well that it just leaves me wanting more...

slommler said...

I thought for sure you were going to give me an ogre!! I am glad for the turn it took. Beautiful and poignant.
Hugs
SueAnn

Magpie said...

Brian, you did it!! You got the postcards to Tom. So they brought joy to both little boys. You did a fantastic job of bringing this all together. Masterful!

Me said...

I stand by my previous comment: signed first edition, please. :)

(I LOVED that Tom got his postcards!!)
-C

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian,
This story was very interesting...because the story did one important thing...piqued my interest...In other words,
I was curious about the outcome of
the main character and the ending of your short story.
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Brian-I didn't know this was a series...Therefore, I have to take a few steps back because I'am..."lost."
DeeDee ;-D

Mama Zen said...

Beautiful!

Cloudia said...

Bouncy bouncy...





Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

Mmm said...

Wow. Another GREAT ending. I love that. now, is it true or what? such a sense of closure here on so many levels. Love it, Brian. You are amazing.

Unknown Mami said...

Get out! I love it!!! I love that the postcards found their way to Tom.

LadyFi said...

Great story.. a happy ending perhaps?

Susan Deborah said...

I remember Sam and the postcards. A nice connection you made by reminding some of your earlier pieces.

An ending everyone would want. Great.

And as an aside: Paul was right. Spain won!!!

Joy always,
Susan

Ocean Girl said...

Now I am happy for Tom. Thank you.

ds said...

Wonderful. I love the way this came full circle. Thank you.

gaelikaa said...

Layers of meaning. Love your writing Brian...

Bernie said...

I really enjoyed this story my friend, from start to finish.
........:-) Hugs

heartspell said...

I'm so happy Tom got Sam's postcards... such a victory! Great ending to an awesome story!Heartspell

adeeyoyo said...

Thanks Brian. There is some hope for us after all if kids can be left to grow up with their innate goodness. Wonderfully positive story!

anthonynorth said...

I've known quite a few ogres who turned out not to be. I really enjoy your memoirs.
By the way, am I going mad or isn't there a link to you on TT this week?

Selina Kingston said...

He knows too that he now has the pleasure of savouring each postcard, stretched out ahead of him.

What a lovely ending - it touched my heart.

Just Be Real said...

Very nice Brian. Since I am relatively new to your writings, I do notice you use the word "yawned," or "yawn" a lot. I think it is clever how you do so is what I am saying. Blessings to you dear one.

Lorraine said...

seriously? oh...wow

blueviolet said...

Something as simple as postcards bringing such joy, very nice.

tony said...

Brian.Those Postcards could be read as a Relay Race Baton?

Cheryl said...

He sees the ball hurtling towards him, he swings, connects, rounds all 3 bases, and SCORES!

Alan Burnett said...

I love the way in which this story keeps meeting itself in the most unexpected places. People from here appear there, sometimes up front, sometimes hidden in the background. A bit like a Zola novel.

Mr. Stupid said...

Wow. This was a wonderful ending to the series. Loved it!

Vicki Lane said...

Very nice way to pull all these together!

Birdie said...

so now we know what happened to Tom ... I love this sentence "and he found himself returning to the last place he felt at home, only to find it had moved on without him." - speechless for that one Brian! great great story :-)

buffalodick said...

I liked it!

The Bug said...

Great story! I like how you wrapped things up - but of course I'm greedy & want more...

We ALWAYS pack nabs when we travel - took some to the lake with us this past weekend. Hmm - I think there might still be a pack in the car...

sheila said...

great wrap up. Can't wait to see what you do next.

JennyMac said...

Again, you are so talented. Please write a book.

Six Feet Under Blog said...

Loved the suberbia series!

TechnoBabe said...

Great story, nice way to show a couple of good lessons in the story. And the mail was delivered!

Steven Anthony said...

as always.....brilliant!

California Girl said...

Brian, did you know how you'd end the story or did it evolve? I love the way you tied everything together and revealed the mysterious Tom.

00dozo said...

Great post with a different take on the theme!

Claudia said...

Brian - that's just beautiful - you "paint" your characters with such a lot of love - I almost think I know them very well!
...only to find it had moved on without him... scary thought that life would move without one and you can't get ground any more.

Deb said...

So. Not only do I think you should write a book (or three), I think you should teach a writing class. I learn something from you just about everytime I come to visit. Hope you don't start charging us!...my well worn backpack yawned awaiting the things i would take with me.......sigh. I have great writer's envy. Keep on writing...please.

AmyLK said...

You certainly tied a lot of stories into this one! I have loved your suburbia series and anytime you want to head back there, I will read!

PattiKen said...

This is wonderful, Brian. Those two needed to find each other to find their ways home.

P.S. I'm glad Tom finally got Sam's postcards.

Dot-Com said...

What a cool friendly ogre. It's all beginning to add up. Well written!

Tracy said...

That was seriously cool how you did that, Brian. I'll be sorry if this series ends.

Enchanted Oak said...

Good tale, Brian. Now I'm headed back to catch up on segments one and two. Nothing like reading the ending before the beginning. Really cheating, isn't it? I feel unhappy about that. Have made it a point to NEVER view the ending of a tale no matter how desperately I want to know how things turn out. Sigh. But still, as a standalone story, it almost stands alone!

Valerie said...

Like everyone, I was pleased to read that Tom got his postcards. This was well written and well constructed, I loved it.

justsomethoughts... said...

wow.

Gayle said...

I was totally wrapped up in reading this. Not much holds my attention, but this did. So well written.

Syd said...

Oh wow....what a great story. It is one of those stories that remind me of a power greater than myself. I don't think these things are coincidences.

Kris said...

I knew a girl who looked like an ogre.

Betsy said...

Awwww. Loved this.

finallygettingtoeven.com said...

I guess I reached the end of the story and now I have to go back to get the rest of the goodies. I like what I read already and the curiosity is going to get the best of me.

Pat said...

I love how you tied the stories together, that Tom gets his postcards, he sheds a tear, and goes away happy, and the little boy doesn't run away. Nice ending!

Baino said...

I like the way you wound your other posts in here Brian, you know you're capable of writing a childhood memoir out of these, a longer piece. It would be fun to see you try.

EG Wow said...

I enjoyed this ending even though I have never read the beginning. I look forward to reading future posts.

Goofball said...

I'm glad Tom got his postcards!

you're gonna quit the suburbia series just now that I start to feel familiar in your area? poooh :p

Alice Audrey said...

Wow. I love the way you build to this moment through the series. This is great.