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“No act of kindness,
no matter how small,
is ever wasted.”
Max was right. Middle school is different. People are nice. Mostly nice. Well, there are a couple of jerks, but I stay away from them.
No matter how hard I tried to get him to tell me, Max would not tell me about what he saw that day with the Orb. Jamie told me she thinks the Orb and Max are bonded somehow.
I don’t know about Max bonding, but I do know Max knows things and he is helping his friends.
Tomorrow is Saturday, Max and I are supposed to play video games. Jamie is hanging around a lot with Max. I don’t think she likes going home. She sits on Max’s bed and reads while we play X-Box or search the internet.
My new friend Amanda is going to come over. She said her mom would drive her over to Max’s house if Jamie was going to be there too. Amanda is like me only not as bad. She is real pretty and kind of smart too.
“Hello, Amanda, I am Max’s friend Jamie.”
“I know, Jac told me all about you.”
“Jac? You call Melvin Jac?”
“Yes. He said it was what Max uses and he likes the name.”
“Okay. Jac it is.”
Jamie had met Amanda at the front door with Max’s mother. They both waved to Amanda’s mother who waved back and drove away.
“Amanda, come with me, Max and Jac are in his room.”
“His room? His bedroom?”
“Yes, where else would they be?”
“Oh, I thought it was like a den or game room or something. Jac said they play games there all the time.”
“They do, but it is in Max’s bedroom. We can sit out back, on the patio, if you prefer?”
“No, it is okay. I have never been in a boy’s bedroom.”
“No. This is the first time I have been invited anywhere.”
With a big smile from Max’s mother, Jamie takes Amanda’s hand and leads her to Max’s room. Max and Jac are sitting, Indian style, on the floor, playing X-Box.
“Look who’s here.”
When the boys barely look up, Jamie shrugs, points Amanda to the office chair, and flops on to Max’s bed. Amanda watches the boys play the game and Jamie reads until the game ends.
“Wow, Jac, you are getting better.”
“It is the game, The right side of the controller. The Y, C, B, and A buttons have a lot of control in the game.”
“Whatever, you seem to anticipate the game better. Hello, Amanda. It is nice to meet you. Jac has told me a lot about you.”
“Yes, he did.”
Amanda is smiling. Focused on Max, she is trying to avoid looking at me. Jamie has put her book down and is watching.
“What did he say, exactly?”
“He said you and he have the same problem.”
“That is obvious, what else did he say?”
“He said, it was nice to have a new friend.”
Max is being coy. Jamie is beaming. Amanda pulls a tissue from the box on the desk and catches a little drool. Embarrassed, she looks away. Max fixes everything with a comment and exaggerated hand gestures.
“Don’t worry about that. Have you seen Jac when he is close to winning? Spit flies everywhere.”
Amanda is laughing. Jamie is laughing. Max is smiling at me. I look at all them and then answer.
“If you think that’s bad, wait until I win. I am going to own you and it won’t be pretty.”
They are laughing. I am laughing. I have never felt closer to anyone except my mother.
Written: April 7, 2020
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She is a shrew.
She thinks I don’t know what she is doing. But I know everything about her, her family problems, and her nasty little habits.
She thinks I don’t know she hired this jamoke to follow me. He’s a moron. He took my bribe. Every dumb detective is bribable. She will never get the true story from him.
Look at her.
Nasty little shrew.
The A-Train will take us to Idlewild Airport. Then a jet to British Honduras. She thinks it is just another business trip. The plantations will make us rich. We have it all planned. That shrew will end up with nothing but that dingy little apartment, her family’s stipend, her lovers, and her memories of being mean and nasty.
I will take care of him. He will be happy. I will be happy. We will be happy.
We deserve to be happy.
He doesn’t need her family’s money. We don’t need her money. She can keep the damn money. We will make more from the wood harvests.
The lawyers are processing the paperwork to close the business here. Too bad he has to give half to the shrew.
We will live like royalty. We have enough. My money, the money from the sale of the business, and the little money he has saved, will buy a nice little home in the Honduran hills.
She thinks she is so smart. She thinks her family’s money entitles her to be abusive and mean. She is about to learn some hard lessons.
What is it hon?
It is an obituary, in the Times. She died.
What? She died? How?
It says suddenly which is their way of saying suicide.
Suicide? Are you sure?
I think so. Let me make a call.
The lawyer says it is true. She threw herself out of the widow.
Oh no! Twenty-eight floors. Why?
Her family found out about her lovers and the constant parties. Apparently, she threw a party that was so indecent it made the papers. They cut off her money. I guess being mean and not someone who makes the family proud is the line to far.
What does this mean for us?
Yes, us? What does this mean for us?
I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.
Written: April 9, 2020
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“No great discovery was ever made
without a bold guess.”
“What is that? Where did you get it?”
“I found it at the bottom of the pond.”
“Max, what is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it glowing? Can I hold it?
I take the crystalline Orb in my good hand. Holding it up to the light from the window, I see it has lines and shapes on the inside. The lines and shapes are bending the light.
“Why is it warm?”
“I don’t know.”
“It doesn’t look natural. Do you think someone made it?”
“I don’t know. Mom said you came by yesterday. Sorry, I was not here. You should have called.”
“I don’t mind the walk. Walking is part of owning it. The counselor says I need to get out. What are you going to do with it?”
Before Max responds, I hold it up to the light again, and watch the colors refract. I think it is getting warmer the longer I hold it up and look at it.
“I am going to keep it. It feels… I like it.”
“You should keep it. It is cool. Do you want to play X-Box?”
“Sure. But no wimping out this time.”
“I feel good today. Today is the day I am going to win. I’ll beat you one-handed.”
“Yeah, right. No way.”
Max is happy I am making jokes and trying to be positive. I can tell, he senses I am not brooding today. I play the best games I have ever played. Max still wins but it was close. We switch games. Max picks a game I can control easily with my bad hand. Max senses I might win. Before he presses play, we feel it.
“Max… Do you feel something?”
“You feel it too?”
“I think so.”
“Jamie and them said I was crazy. But I feel it. Do you feel it too?”
“Yeah, it is sort of pulsing.”
Max picks up the Orb and hands it to me.
“Is it getting hotter?”
“Yeah, it heats up then cools off. I think it is connected to me or something. I feel it most when it is the warmest. Do you think it is alive?”
“Alive? Like a human or an animal? No. It is a mineral of some type.”
“I looked on the internet, I could not find any minerals or rocks that are exactly like this thing. The closest I could find was a geode. But this is like the insides of a geode with no outer covering.”
I ponder Max’s comments, turning it over in my good hand, then set it down between us and pick up my controller
“Come on, I am going to win.”
Max is beaming at me. He knows our talk from the other day has worked. The last game was the closest I have ever come to winning. Max wins the next game, but we high five like I won.
“Max, there is something special about that thing.”
“Yeah, I think you are right. Let’s do an experiment. I am going to think on something while holding the Orb. Then you do the same thing. We’ll compare what happens.”
Max keeps his legs crossed Indian style but wiggles and turns to face me. I use my hands to reposition and face Max. Picking up the Orb, Max holds it in both hands. Closing his eyes, he is concentrating on something. I sit quietly for several minutes.
“Max, something was stinging my skin.”
“Yeah, like a lot of ant bites only a harder. What were you doing?”
“I… Uh… I was sort of dreaming. No… That is not right. I was seeing something. Jac, I think the Orb shows me things.”
“Things? What things?”
“Jac, you are going to save a girl from choking.”
Max drops the Orb and grabs his side with both hands.
“Max, what is wrong?”
“I don’t know. I just had a bad pain in my side. It is gone now.”
“What did you see in your dream?”
Max grabs his side again, grimacing. When he looks up, his smile is sideways.
“It doesn’t want me to tell you what I saw.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t think the orb wants me to tell you what I saw.”
Written: April 7, 2020
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“Things are never quite as scary
when you’ve got a best friend.”
I will tell you the story. It may take a few days, but we can get though it together. It started a couple of summers ago, the summer Max found the Orb.
“Come on Jac, you are not even trying.”
“Max, my hand is little bad today.”
“Oh. Okay. Do you want to do something else?”
“No, let’s just talk.”
Max tosses the X-Box controller at the floor then jumps up from sitting Indian style on the floor. He props the pillows and reclines on his bed. I use the desk chair to stand, then sit, slowly spinning the chair to face Max.
“Are the kids in middle school going to be mean to me?”
“Jac, school does not start for another few weeks. What are your worried about?”
“It has been better since you talked to Bobby McMurtry. He stopped being mean to me. Lillian says they will beat me up every day in middle school.”
“You know that is not true. Lillian is just being mean. Stop being a baby. No one is going to beat you up. Middle school is different, everyone knows they need to be nice and get along. The schoolwork is harder. People don’t have time to be mean. You are going to meet a lot of new people and make a lot of friends.”
“Yes, Jac, you will make friends. Lots of them. There are so many more people. The girls are prettier too.”
“Yes, you know what girls are, right?”
Max is laughing at his own joke. I wait. He stops and does what he always does. He makes me feel better.
“Have you been doing what the doctor suggested?”
“She is a counselor and, yeah, I suppose.”
“That means no. Jac, you have to tell people about it. Stop trying to hide it. Everyone knows and the people who don’t know will ask you about it. You need to do what the counselor told you. Tell them about it. What did she say…? She said: You need to own it. Own it, Jac”
“But, Max, sometimes my words don’t come out right.”
“No, they don’t but that is okay too. It doesn’t make you any less smart, or less funny. People don’t know you are funny. I know you are funny but no one else does. Make a joke. Get people to laugh while you tell them about it. You know the answer. Why are you being stubborn?”
“I am not stubborn… Max, do you think middle school will be better?”
“I know it will be better. But you have to be better too. Stop being shy and afraid. Let people know the Jac I know. Funny. Smart. Kind. And, you are a terrible dancer.”
Max waits while I laugh because he knows he has just made me happy. Standing, I try to do The Watusi, but it looks more like The Mashed Potato. I get exactly the result I wanted. Max is roaring. I stop and head home. Mac’s mother hollers from the kitchen as I am opening the back door to leave.
“Coming back to tomorrow Jac?”
“Yes, maybe in the afternoon.”
Walking across the yard, the back gate, I see Max watching me from his upstairs window.
When I come back to Max’s house, I forget to call first. I walk the two blocks, only to have Max’s mother tell me he is not home. He, and Jamie, and Mark, and Randall have gone swimming at the old mill pond. I walk home, thinking about owning it. Max knows I can’t swim so he didn’t invite me. That is a kindness. I’ll come back tomorrow. I’ll own it.
Written: April 3, 2020
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Ten lessons in motivation from Admiral W. H. McRaven.
Research sites and graphics artists.
About R. C.
Fortunately, in secondary school, my interest in reading was sparked. A close friend and an instructor who took an interest in a boy he later called ‘The rebel without a clue.’ were instrumental in learning the value of a good book. Both piqued my interest in reading.
My lifelong friend inspired me to read J.R.R. Tolkien, and I became addicted to the fantasy genre. The instructor required me to read exciting historical novels for academic credit. Frank Norris, Leon Uris, and Ken Follett are inspirations and fuel my love of history.
Born to a military family, it was logical that I follow the military tradition. However, after four years of “yes sirs” and scraping the wax off floors, I decided there must be more fun in a corporate career.
After thirty-plus years of work experience across the globe, the corporate career landed me in Colorado.
Where it all started.
Humans are interstellar capable.
Is she strong enough to save everyone?
Pops, Allison’s father says, let them all die.