Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Odd Todd (palm)

todd was odd. not that he looked any different from the rest of us boys, all arms and legs, in that uncomfortable season when our voices squeaked, but before hair began sprouting in places left unspoken. he had plenty of friends as well, at school at least. it was when he went home that things changed.

when school was out for the summer and postcards kept me sane with visions of far away lands, we did not see todd all that much. he lived in another subdivision, down the road and behind a hill, where few children lived. it was a prim and proper place, where children within its confines were best seen and not heard.

one year, in the waning days of summer, i wanted to have a camp out in the back yard for my birthday, inviting all my friends. my mom was not too keen on a city of tents being created in the backyard, so we settled on three friends; johnny, eric and todd.

we pitched an old canvas tent, securing the ropes to fat yellow tent pegs that took forever to bang into the ground. hearing the click-whir of Mrs. Lilly's camera, preserving the moment, we figured it would be sent along to whatever agency she belonged to, surely flagging us for further investigation.

the trouble began shortly after the lights in the house went out, the neighborhood settling into relative quiet. the four of us lay on the soft bed of grass, staring at the stars, hoping to see little green men or the warp trail of the Enterprise, when todd began talking to himself.

his voice was quiet at first, though he seemed to be carrying on a lively conversation. eric, who was never at a loss for something to say, asked him who he was talking to, capping the question with a snicker. todd grew quiet, crickets filling the gap with their melody, then sheepishly introduced us to a friend he brought with him.

it was a bumble bee, that we could not see. he anxiously told us how the bee had come to him one day when he particularly needed someone to talk to and how it had been his confidant ever since. he shared his reluctance to bring the bee on the sleep over as he was afraid we would not understand. i shook my head, thinking of my postcards.

johnny, having none of it, snapped like a twig, smacking todd's hand where the supposed bee resided, calling him sissy and wienie and other things for which my mother would wash my mouth out with ivory soap. todd cringed, his eyes darting frantically for the invisible bee that now was missing. eric and i just sat there dumbfounded, until the lights snapped on in the house.

knowing my father was on his way to the door, we forgot everything, burying ourselves in our sleeping bags, feigning sleep, as we listened to the door open then close. after a few moments night sounds resumed and i listened to todd whimpering in his bag behind me, until i drifted off to sleep.

"agh!" johnny yelled, rousing us all from of bags, the beams of our flashlights careening around the tent to ward off whatever alien was attacking him. finally they settled on johnny, who sat grimacing, clutching his hand to his chest. slowly he opened his fingers, allowing us to see the throbbing red welt in the middle of his palm, that looked surprisingly like a bee sting.

my dad came all the way to the tent to scold us this time, striking fear in our hearts by invoking Mr. Wilson's name and thoughts of what might happen if we woke him. then dad took johnny inside to tend to his wound. when johnny returned, he crawled right into his sleeping bag without a word...and never made fun of odd todd or his bee again.

years later, i visited todd, in the one bedroom apartment, where he lives alone. while he went into the kitchen to fix drinks, i sat on the end of a ragged brown couch, letting my eyes wander around the room. in the corner, halfway up the wall, protruded a tree limb, with a round grey beehive hanging beneath and i smiled. todd is still odd.

This is a Theme Thursday post. And I could not help revisiting my old suburb again.

100 comments:

Mighty M said...

I was captivated by this story and odd Todd! :)

Julie said...

Hah! A most enjoyable read, Brian. I do like your structure, and your ee cummings approach. Now that Johnno needs a talking to! But I guess at that age it is the law of the jungle. I am glad that the protagonist could catch the link between the bee and the postcards. I know someone like this. Who started life 'odd' and who will finish live 'odd'.

Thank you for your response to the theme. As always, I am the more thoughtful for having read it.

Steven Anthony said...

Being somewhat of an Odd Todd myself I can relate. I love how the universe gives us just what we need when we need it;)

Steven Anthony
http://manndish.blogspot.com/

Paul C said...

I enjoy how you bring the real fabric of life within your stories. We all know a Todd like this who is a little odd. Who knows what background experiences made him this way?

Sam Liu said...

The characterisation of Todd was brilliant, it was entirely believable and beautifully written. As always, Brian, your words are a delight :)

Prayer Girl said...

I'm still waiting for your first book. You write so many different kinds of wonderful things that I think the difficulty would be choosing just what you would want to write about for a book.

PG

Bob Mac said...

Can't decide, is it, horror, fantasy or comedy. Can decide bloody loved it.

william said...

brilliant mate we got a touch of everything in this :)

lakeviewer said...

You can just whip these tales in no time. Amazing stuff.

blueviolet said...

That was the weirdest freaking story I've read in a long time.

chiccoreal said...

Dear Brian: Something about the bees is odd about this story. I don't get it. How did Todd get stung from an invisible bee? Did he have it hidden in a pocket? Things we fear or are unknown are considered "odd" labelling things helps to keep a "safe" distance. Definitely like how you discuss your own need to find a "sane" place in your "postcards". Also like how you accept Todd with or without his odd ways. Commendable story! Going to check out the linkys too!

~ Tabitha ~ said...

Oh jeese.That almost made me cry.
I said,almost! You have such a tender way of sharing your observations of people,Brian.And I think a lot of us can relate ;)
Thank you for this !

5thsister said...

I particularly like the "karma" aspect of the story and I would love to pay a visit to "Odd Todd".

AngelMay said...

Ha! Everybody's odd - you just have to get to know them. And, Brian.... come on! Ivory soap? Everybody knows if you REALLY wanted to wash somebody's mouth out you used LAVA soap. ;o)

Kay said...

just goes to show, doesn't it?

.... :)

Tracy said...

I was wondering where this was going. Cool story. I liked the ending.

Me said...

Oh, you know I love this world! Thanks for another chapter in the saga...great read. :)

Ladyulia said...

I think
I just found a lovely blog
:D
like it
visit mine :D

Magpie said...

One should never scoff at another's security blanket. We all have them and, obviously, some of them sting. Great story!

steveroni said...

Brian this is more fun than poetry!

And...about "...hair began sprouting in places left unspoken..."

You surely mean ears and nose--grin!

The master of Tales, of writing. PERIOD--that is YOU, Sir! (And I believe you enjoy it...a lot!)

--Odd Steve

Lori said...

Great story Brian. I was captivated from beginning to the end! I think lots of us have known someone like Todd.

Sophia said...

I love your "view" of the world around you and your ability to write about it. Great story, Brian. Keep bringing it on!

Cinner said...

Very interesting, you had me at every word. I think we all have an odd todd. lol. take care.

Hoiden said...

Beautifully woven tale....love it!

btw i wud be honored if u wud accept these awards...

http://hoiden.wordpress.com/awards/awards-from-ilakya/

moondustwriter said...

Love all your childhood stories Bri.

Thanks for sharing yet another wonderful one.

Katherine said...

What a lovely story Brian! Just lovely!

TALON said...

I love that we got to visit this neighborhood again and meet Todd the Odd and his invisible bee. This was special, Brian.

Francisca said...

This is becoming a favorite place to visit... Odd Todd is huggable, and so are the rest of your characters. Thank you, Brian.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

hey, why be normal???

Susan Deborah said...

This story reminds us how we don't take very kindly to someone who is different than us. We love the sameness, don't we. Maybe having seen Odd Todd, you are sensitive to life beyond the usual.

I like the way you present bits and pieces from within you. I wonder how many stories are waiting to burst off the seams. Your boys must be having a whale listening the the Daddy Story-teller!

Blessing always,
Susan

Nancy said...

I'm never sure if what you write has happened - or is part of a very active imagination and excellent ability to write. Whatever. I loved the story of Odd Todd and was happy when the bee stung mean Johnny.

Marla said...

Todds are often my favorite people. I am drawn to them. Hmmm... what does that say about me?

Good story, B!

Bernie said...

Brilliant and I can relate, do you think that makes me odd.....:-)Hugs

Joanna Jenkins said...

You are just so darn good. That was really fantastic, Brian. I'm in awe.

And I'm on vacation but I can't stay away :-) I'll be checking in from time to time to catch up and back posting Sept. 1st.

Have a great rest of August. jj

adeeyoyo said...

Loved this very unusual story, Brian!

JeffScape said...

Brian, email me.

Maggie May said...

I loved this story and felt a bit sorry for Todd.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

anthonynorth said...

The strangest things happen. This was great.

laurenmichelleotheim said...

Both a truly wonderful and slightly sad story. I greatly enjoyed reading this. Your words are masterful :)

And I am still very curious how he got that bee sting without being woken up, but I suppose that is part of the fun ;)

Leeuna said...

What a truly wonderful story. I loved it! And I must confess that I was a bit pleased when Johnny got bee stung. I love the odd Todd character.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I love anything odd.

So therefore I love Todd

Great story!

Valerie said...

Great stuff, Brian. We all know one, don't we, but it takes years before a kid will understand.

tony said...

when your with Friends, it's important to beehive Yourself!

otin said...

What a stinging story! LOL

Am I crazy for thinking that he is not that odd?

Just Be Real said...

Oooo la la Brian. Intriguing. Blessings, JBR

slommler said...

Ooo! I just love Todd! Boy after mine own heart!! I really enjoyed this story! And cheered when the skeptic got stung!! Perfect!!
And the ending is brilliant!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Goofball said...

I like odd Todd

Becky said...

That was amazing Brian.I thoroughly enjoyed it.Great observations in people.I wish I had that touch,maybe I could write as well,lol.

Lorraine said...

my heart broke...for Todd's bee, I love every words of this piece -You are a very special writer Brian

Subby said...

Kudos!

TechnoBabe said...

Todd is just his own person.

Claudia said...

you know what - i forgot that this is a theme thursday post because i was so captured by the story and the writing and thinking about the odd parts in my life as well - and only realized when i finished - there was a "palm" inside...i could've read on and on - and i think one day you should write a book on your childhood memories...really!

Switch_blade said...

Haha, Odd Todd is awesome. I can picture him now. Good work!
I think he'd fit in with some of the people I know. . . :P
Happy Theme Thursday!

the walking man said...

Golden Ju Ju of a gifted man.

natalee said...

Weird ... now turn this into a novel...

Birdie said...

I never had an imaginary friend but I know of kids who did ... and they grew up in raising their own kids and doing just great ... Todd may have been a bit more 'deeper' in the odd though ... but to my eyes as long as he is a good person as an adult who cares? ... it was a great read Brian, as always ;-)

Mona said...

My son had a spider for a friend once :)

The Bug said...

I like your suburb! Please use it whenever it seems appropriate...

My brother had a friend named Todd who I called Odd - "hey, Odd - pipe down back there!" Heh.

Vicki Lane said...

A little Kafka-esque, that ending. Nice!

Vicki Lane said...

A little Kafka-esque, that ending. Nice!

mairmusic said...

A great read! Childhood imagination is so strong. And you really do know how to spin a tale.
http://mairmusic.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

Interstingly Brilliant.....Holly

amritaghosh said...

very enjoyable read! reminded me of 'dandelion wine'...:-)

Bill Cook said...

Brings back many memories, and suggests so much more, as well as being a delightful story/poem. - Bill

Eva Gallant said...

What a great story!

LadyFi said...

Oh, brilliant! I was totally entranced.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. thank you. steve & lakeviewer...i do love telling stories...they are easy for me...and it seems to be wearing off on the boys a bit...l likes making up stories and when we play with his figures he often narrates what we should be doing with them...lol.

The Thirteenth Crossing said...

Loved this! A very enjoyable read. My theme Thursday is inspired by hours of watching Secrets of the Inquisition on PBS. I'm a little historical in my palm interpretation.

Theme Thursday: Palm

Tabor said...

You made us see the gentleness in Todd's oddness.

VE said...

69! Wohoo...

I can relate to Todd. I'm the kind that would get the bee sting too...

annell said...

I liked the story about the bee, and I think odd Todd is a friend of mine. Once you get to know him, he doesn't seem so odd at all. Thanks. And thanks, for your reassuring comment, I think you may be right.

Meeko Fabulous said...

Brian, thanks for such an enjoyable read this morning. Loved this story. :)

Meri said...

Intriguing story.

ethelmaepotter! said...

While you've written this as an amusing, sensitive,, and poignant piece, I think it would make a terrific children's story. I can just see the wide eyes of captivated little boys by campfire as their Scoutmaster tells the story of Odd Todd and his faithful bumblebee.

Nessa said...

So very fascinating.

Nessa said...

I never have much to say because i just love wallowing around in your stories.

Six Feet Under Blog said...

Thanks for the story. We all have a Todd in our life.

morganna said...

Very nice, and just a touch creepy. I like it!

drybottomgirl said...

I get odd Todd. I like that he likes bees because I love bees. What an awesome "friend" he picked to have. And that we can all relate whether we use books, postcards, or invisible bees, we all need a secure place to travel too in our imaginations, as children or even as adults....

Help! Mama Remote... said...

I really love how he allowed the bee in his home. Odd but Todd.

ds said...

Wonderful story. Johnny certainly got his come-uppance (sadly at the expense of the bee). I didn't find Todd "odd" at all. His own person.
And i "get" the postcards, too. The BFF collects them--the weirder, the better...

AmyLK said...

Very weird story. but I couldn't stop reading. Mesmerized to the end.

JStar said...

Reading your stories is like I was actually there in your childhood...The fact that we have already been introduced to these characters, I felt like this was another chapter in your book :) I love the fact that Johnny really had a bee sting...Makes us think the impossible may not be all that impossible...as we thought...

Cheryl said...

I'm so glad you chose to go back to the 'hood. This was an absolute delight.

Baino said...

Aww I like that kind of odd. Makes me feel a little more normal. Cute story. I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid so . . perhaps Todd and I should introduce ourselves.

secret agent woman said...

It's the Johnnys of the world who are the real problems - mean-spirited bullies who can't tolerate anyone who is a little different.

Amanda said...

I was totally lost in every word... A truly wonderful and in a way sad story. You are a master in writing and so loved reading this Brian!!
I am still very wondering how on earth he got that bee sting without waking up...you have written a brilliant piece my friend x

CM said...

I like that at least two of the boys were understanding of Todd's imaginary friend. Kids today can be so cruel, I would hope that my boys would be that understanding of a friend.

Great writing, I was drawn in from the beginning. I always find myself, as I read along, thinking, "I wonder what twist Brian is going to take us on this time!"

Stranger said...

My husband is an Odd Todd. Fortunately, no beehive. Love the end!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I love that the "bee" stung the mean boy........

Ruth said...

it was really a very cool story - glad johnny got his. he may be odd, todd, but ya gotta love him... although i think i'd keep a distance from any bees, real or imaginary :)

PattiKen said...

Brian, this was captivating. With the exception of the warp trail of the Enterprise (it was Flash Gordon for me), I could have been in the backyard next door.

And, hey, is a Happy Birthday in order? Or have the days not waned enough?

Daniel said...

A good lesson learned by all that night long ago. Yeah, Todd is a strange one, but I can relate. Smiles.

gayle said...

I know several people I could name "old Todd"! Great story!!

Pat said...

I love these short stories about Todd and that neighborhood. I can see you combining them all to make a book. IT WOULD BE GREAT.

Jim Swindle said...

This story is worth putting into the book that I hope you're writing.

Syd said...

I like odd Todd. I feel sorry for the underdog who is a little off the beaten track of life.

Caty said...

I like your 'old suburb' stories.

Alice Audrey said...

It seems a harmless enough kind of oddness. Better than stupid Johnny.

oldegg said...

Kids are cruel to each other, it is part of the toughening up phase. That the bee may have been real was a delight and showed how being an individual is OK too. I wonder whether they all learned that lesson?