White hair and blue eyes
Stooped by years, burdens and pain
Life shows on her face.
Greens turn into gold
Crisp mornings-closer to cold
Autumnal days fall.
Tiny fur balls explore
Over and under they move
Kittens race, then sleep.
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
The 2014 Christmas story in three parts
By T. Myers
Published by the Newberry Eagle Nov 15, Dec 1 and Dec 15 2014
When the snow started to fly in early November, the town started to batten down the hatches and brace for a hard winter. All of the old timers had predicted it would happen because the pine trees had so many cones on them. Birds were already gone south and no one had seen a deer or a bear for a month. Lulu sat, quietly sipping her cup of coffee in the late afternoon sun watching the town through the front window of the cafe. It seemed awfully quiet and for a few minutes while the rest of the day’s baking was still in the oven and no one was ready to come in for early supper, her time was her own.
Lulu heard the back door open in the kitchen and she turned to see her husband, the sheriff stop to hang his coat and hat on the big pegs inside the back door.
“Hi, honey,” the good natured man hollered out. “Where are you, Lulu?”
“I am right out here enjoying a little peace and quiet before the supper rush.”
“Where is Helga?” he asked. “Isn’t she here to help you today?”
“I sent her over to the general store to post a few letters and pick up our mail. I am waiting for the new Montgomery Ward catalogue,” Lulu answered. “Before we go up to Portland, I want a chance to pick out a few items we can look at when we get there. That big Log Cabin exhibit is going to have Christmas Decorations this year and the new Dining room chef at Wards is one of Mother’s old cooks and she says he is a miracle in the kitchen, so we need to have at least one meal at the Vaughn Street store and a trip across to the ‘world’s largest cabin’ for Lucelle to see.”
Lulu was picking up her cup and saucer to head into the kitchen when the front door burst open and the effervescent Helga burst into the dining room with her arms full of packages and letters.
“Here you go,” the friendly Norwegian woman said as she dumped everything onto the cash register counter and made her way back to the kitchen with the cup and saucer she took from Lulu’s hand.
“Did all of this mail come today?” Sheriff Johnny asked.
“That and more,” came the response from Helga who was somewhere out of sight in the storeroom, most likely donning her full apron. “I told Esther I would come back before supper and pick up the rest.”
“Gee whiz” Lulu said as she rifled through the pile. “Here is the catalogue!”
“What is all of this?” Johnny asked as he picked up small packages and shook each one.
“Careful, dear. Those might be some of the presents I have been ordering.”
Johnny picked up the biggest one with renewed interest and held it up as though weighing it on an imaginary scale. “This one is from I. Magnin. It is either for Lucelle or for you, but this one from the Maier and Frank store looks interesting.”
“Put them down, dear, unless you want to put them all in the office for me to look at later.”
“Happy to help, honey,” he said as he scooped up the bulk of the items and made his way back to Lulu’s office.
Lulu was wiping the counter when two couples walked in.
“Hello folks, be right with you,” Lulu said and within minutes the café was full of guests for the evening meal. By the time the chicken and dumplings and Helga’s famous beef stew had been dished up and the pie cabinet was empty, dinner service was over and it was time to close up for the night.
Johnny had long since departed for home and hearth and their daughter, so she and Helga tidied up for the next day, making plans for the morning crew for baking, soups and tomorrow’s specials. Lulu gave Helga a ride over to her little house and then she turned south to head for the ranch and a good night’s sleep. The snow was falling and the two windshield wipers were not keeping up with what was hitting the windshield. She could barely make out the edges of the road and she had to slow way down in order to make her way.
She figured that she had covered at least two miles when she saw some large bundles of something on the side of the road. She was going slow enough that when she approached the mass, a man stood up, waving his hands for help of some kind. Rolling to a stop, the rest of the bundles stood up to reveal a woman, two children and a scruffy looking dog. “Can you help us ma’am?”
“Get inside,” Lulu said and they piled through the door into the back of her automobile while the man got up front with Lulu. They closed the doors quickly to the cold weather outside. She asked, “What has happened to you?”
It was then that she heard a familiar accent, Scandinavian for sure. “Ve had us some trouble vith our vagon, miss. It went over the bank dere and we yust hoped dat somevone vould come dis vay so ve could get helped.”
“Where were you headed, sir,” Lulu asked the father figure.
“Ve vere trying to git to Nord La Pine to find our cousin,” he answered. All of the family was huddled together closely while the mother rubbed on the little hands. Lulu could hear her speaking softly to the youngsters and even the small dog was answering to her voice.
“Are you expected?”
“Ve wrote a letter a few Veeks ago, but did not hear back,” the man said. “Ve had to move after the fire got our house and ve packed vat ve could and loaded the vagon. After a month, ven ve are yust about to our destination, we lost our ability to see the road and vent over the edge. Mother grabbed a couple of quilts and ve tried to call for each other until ve all found each other and ve vere yust making a plan about vat to do next ven ve saw your automobile coming. Ve are very grateful that you stopped.”
“For now we are going to my home and we will sort everything out tomorrow when it is light. There is plenty of room for you and we are not much farther,” Lulu drove the rest of the way while the father excitedly explained that they were safe for the night.
Sheriff Johnny and Little Lucelle greeted Lulu as she drove up to the front door. Lulu noticed that the man reacted strongly to the Sheriff’s hat and Johnny’s jacket. Everyone was ushered inside to the main hall while Johnny put the car in the garage. Lulu’s daughter took the girl and boy by the hand and led them up to a second floor bedroom and Lulu directed the man and his wife to a large bedroom on the main floor. After she told the family to get settled and clean up and use the indoor facilities, she explained that they needed to come to the dining room for a light supper.
A few minutes later, the neatly dressed family appeared at the dining room door and waited to be seated at the long table. There were introductions for the entire Tranna family and for Lulu’s staff and family members as they piled into the room to meet the strangers.
“Do we know your cousin,” Sheriff Johnny asked the father as they sat down to a bowl of steaming soup.
“She is Helga Bakke.”
Lulu and Johnny reacted in surprise. “Helga Bakke is our dear friend and she works right in our café! She never mentioned that she was expecting to have family for the holidays, let alone that you would be coming at all!
The man spoke a few sentences to his wife. “Ve wrote to her in English. Does she read English?”
“I have no idea if she reads at all,” Lulu answered. “I better look through that pile of letters I brought from the café, Johnny.”
He excused himself from the table and fetched the bundle of mail from Lulu’s satchel. Lulu started to go through the envelopes and she spotted one that she extracted from the pile.
“It looks like Helga did not sort through the mail when she brought it over to me this afternoon. Is this your letter?”
“That is it!” Mr. Tranna said. His wife tugged on his arm and said something softly. “It looks like Helga has no idea ve need her help. Vat are ve gonna’ do now?”
“We will eat our supper, get a good night’s rest and tomorrow we will start to get things in order.” Johnny assured the family in English.
“Kan du snukka Norsk?” the wife asked.
“No, not really, but tomorrow Helga can help you”, Lulu answered.
Lulu knew from experience that this was going to be part of something interesting. Her mind was going over the possibilities of what was likely to happen with Helga. Chuckling as she climbed the stairs, she realized that Helga was in for more of a surprise than she could ever imagine.
Thanksgiving was just around the corner and Lulu knew the season would be very interesting. Indeed!
End of part one. Look for the next part of the story in the December first issue.
Christmas Story 2014
By T. Myers
Within the first two days of the week following Thanksgiving, Lulu had moved her friend Helga Bakke and her relatives, the Tranna family into a bigger home just down the street from Lulu’s Café.
Helga was in heaven running around speaking Norwegian to her cousin Julia and the children, Inga and Ingvald. All three of them were working alongside their beloved Helga in the café and the foursome were working on a Scandinavian Christmas Feast that would run every day at the café starting the week before Christmas.
Hrvald, the father, went to the school to see if he could help in the classrooms. Since no one had been able to get past the odd spelling, Hrvald was now Harold and it turns out that he was a choir instructor and violin or piano teacher. He was organizing the children to sing carols at the Christmas Concert and he signed up a few pupils for music lessons at church the first Sunday!
Lulu loved the fact that Helga was buzzing around like a mother hen looking after her new flock and the flock was busy, busy, busy! The children would wait until the first of the year to go to school, since they were so advanced in their studies. She had a good library and the two children were borrowing and reading books like it was a lending library! Even the local children from school had started to drift into the café every afternoon for a cookie or some other treat just so they could ‘take a look at the new kids.
Helga popped out of the kitchen followed by Julia. “Taste these Peppar Krakkors, Miss Lulu!” Helga said excitedly.
“What are they called?” Lulu asked as she took a flat brown wafer off of the platter.
“Peppar Krakkors,” repeated her friend. “They are highly seasoned spice cookies that are very good with tea and you can use them when you have the sniffles to clear the air passages. I like them with tea and they make good dippers.”
Lulu took her first bite and let the cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and black pepper hit her senses. She picked out a molasses note and honey? “These are delicious, ladies!”
Both of the women smiled.
“Wait until an hour from now when the spice cake is baked and the Spritz cookies are decorated and out on the counter,” Helga spoke excitedly. “Julia is the best baker I know and your customers will love the special treats for the holidays.”
“Miss Lulu,” Julia ventured in her broken English. “Do you like lutefisk and lefse?”
“I do indeed, Julia.”
“Gud, then,” was all she said and Julia returned to the kitchen.
“She is very happy to be here with us, Miss Lulu.”
“You two are working well together and everything here is going much smoother with the extra help. I think that when Ingvald starts working out at the ranch with the stock, his sister will surely miss him. He will have two of the Finley boys to work with so that will be good that he makes some new friends.”
“Inga is good to work in the kitchen. She loves being by her mother and she is helpful in translating when Julia needs to read a recipe. Did I tell you she is back there making a deep dish apple pie and a coach house pie with chicken and mushrooms?” Helga asked. Lulu’s eyes lit up when she heard about the coach house pie- a favorite of hers since childhood. “The woman is fast. I enjoy her so much and she is creative! She even wants to fry up doughnuts if we can figure it out.”
“Before you go back there, tell me more about what happened to their house and how it burned down.”
“They were sleeping and the back of the house caught fire. Hrvald said he heard the crackling of the flames because the wind was blowing the smoke east of them. He woke up the kids and they started pulling things out of the house through the front door and got most of the family possessions out while Hrvald threw water on the flames. The wind shifted and the fire took over. When the neighbors came to help, the family was in the barn ready to load up their wagon. They gave their livestock to the neighbors to take care of. A couple of people took the chickens and they closed up their barn and moved into town until they could come to me.”
“Are they planning to stay?”
Helga shrugged her shoulders. “I hope so, but they own that land and Alturas is growing so I cannot say.”
Lulu watched the reality of what seemed to be family indecision cross Helga’s face and as Helga picked up a few of the customer’s dishes and returned to the kitchen, Lulu heard herself saying that Helga should tell them that they have permanent jobs.
Helga set down her dishes and raced over to hug Lulu. “I will tell them.”
Lulu was sure of her feelings about the Trannas and she knew that Helga was the best thing since canned milk to come into her life, so she poured herself a cup of coffee and sat on the stool behind the counter to do her morning inventory when her husband came through the front door.
“Hello, Lulu,” Sheriff Justice said ebulliently. “What’s for lunch?”
“Oxtail soup and biscuits?” Lulu said. “There is pot roast, too and fresh sweet potato pie?”
“How can I decide? Johnny asked. “Both are favorites. Are you serving a big dinner tonight, honey?”
“We are using up the leftovers from Sunday so there is chicken and something for dinner.”
“Pot roast it is!”
Lulu went into the kitchen to tell Helga to get Johnny’s lunch and came back to a half dozen folks coming in for the mid-day meal. The café hummed with activity the rest of the day. All of the baked goods were sold out when the school kids who came in emptied the cookie tray. Lulu checked on dinner and determined she was in good hands and decided that she would leave for the ranch.
The drive home was pleasant enough. Snow was building up on the forest floor and it was beautiful to see. Lulu parked the Ford by the back door and she was greeted by her little daughter who seemed to be waiting for mom to arrive.
“Mother, look at this,” Lucelle said as she held up a long paper chain of green and red. It was draped over her small shoulders and her little arms held it out on each side- as though she was the tree to be decorated.
“Did you make that chain all by yourself?” Lulu asked her girl. Proudly shaking her head yes, Lucelle turned to go into the kitchen. Lulu followed and she saw that the glue pot and colored bits of paper were scattered across the kitchen floor and the counters and she saw that her hurricane of a daughter had managed to take over the kitchen- as usual!
“If I keep making these, the tree will be covered!”
“If you keep making these, there will be no dinner! Let’s clean up and help make supper, okay?”
Little Lucelle immediately went to work to clean up her mess and wash up so she could help set the table and help mom and cook do their work.
“You are a good girl, Lucelle,” mother said. Lulu watched her daughter help and was amazed to hear her little girl singing. The voice was clear and bright and on key. Pitch perfect? Absolutely.
“Do you enjoy singing, Lucelle?” Lulu asked.
“It is my most favorite thing to do past riding horses and helping cook.”
“How do you feel about singing with some of the older children in the Christmas Pageant?”
“Really? Uncle Harold is the choir teacher and he said the school students were singing.”
“But, Uncle Hrvald is going to be excited when he hears your voice so tomorrow; you are coming into town with me. You can try out for a part in the pageant.”
“Oh, Mother!” Lucelle rushed in for a big hug. The rest of the evening she sang every Christmas song she knew and by bedtime, she was exhausted.
The Trannas were sitting in the café before it opened eating their breakfast when Lulu and Lucelle arrived.
“Would you be willing to give a listen to my little lady here?” Lulu asked Hrvald.
Lucelle stood up tall next to Hrvald and Julia and sang a pretty rendition of Away in a manger. The song ended with applause from Helga, Inga, Ingvald and Mr. and Mrs. Tranna.
“Vere did you learn to sing like that?” Mr. Tranna asked.
“I listen at Church and home and copy the songs in my head,” Lucelle explained.
“I tink ve have our Littlest Angel for the pageant,” Mr. Tranna said happily. “You vill have to practice vith the others after school, but you vill be a lovely addition to the program, Lucelle!”
End of Part Two. See the last installment in the December 15th issue of the Newberry Eagle.
A new family, Hrvald Tranna and his wife Julia have moved to La Pine and with Christmas fast approaching, they are getting into the heart of La Pine, making new friends while they contribute to the community. After finding out that Hrvald is a musician of some note, the pageant is centering its efforts on his leadership and the local talent. In the days leading up to the program….anything can happen and it probably will! When a new stranger threatens to ruin the Christmas Pageant, Lulu tries her hand to save the day. What will happen? Read the final chapter to find out…
By T. Myers
Helga was soaking the dried lutefisk in lye water preparing it for cooking for Christmas Eve. She had made the Norwegian meatballs out of pork, veal and beef and the creamy sauce was a concoction of heavy cream, dill, salt and pepper. Helga’s pickled herring was a favorite in December and she had put up big jars for the Christmas dinner.
“You know that everything must be white for the dinner, don’t you, Lulu?” Helga asked while she peeled a big pile of potatoes for boiling.
“I did not know that- but I admit I always wondered why the lack of color was so evident.”
“It is Old Norse mythology. The Goddess Freya is the goddess of food and she is the ice queen, so we make everything look cold as ice and taste warm as a good meal should be.”
“What about the pickles and beets?”
“That is the exception to the rule. We gotta have the pickle to cut the butter we pour on everything or put in the gravy or roll up in the potato Lefse. A good pickle clears the palette.”
“What about all of the cookies you bake?” Lulu wanted to know.
“You see that everything is dusted with powdered sugar to make them clean like the new fallen snow?”
“Oh,” Lulu responded. “So, pile them high and dust them with snow for the banquet table.”
“That is right. And when we add the plate of fish or the meatballs we sprinkle them with dill weed and use a little sage or thyme to give them flavor. White pepper, too when we have it!”
“This is going to be so incredible. There are so many Scandinavians here in town and they will really enjoy having traditional foods for Christmas. You and Julia are doing a great job!” Lulu was finishing her comment when Hrvald Tranna and her daughter Lulu Justice walked through the café door.
“How was practice, Lucelle?” Mother asked.
“I got to sing loud and I like it, Mother. Daddy will be very proud when he hears my angel voice.”
“She is a natural singer, Miss Lulu,” Hrvald told Lulu. “She vill be the hit of the evening if she keeps up her practicing.”
“What about the rest of the people in the program?”
“The Lechner boys are singing a duet, the Finley children vill be performing a short dance with songs about giving gifts to the babe in the manger and the choir has a long list carols and people vill be able to sing along and the churches are working to create a living manger and we vill go out to sing the last song around the manger after the program. That Mrs. Merkle is a gud pianist and she likes to do it so everything is about ready!”
“Sounds like this town will be very lucky this year. Not to change the subject, but what have you decided about staying in La Pine and settling down hereabouts?”
“Julia loves being close to Helga, the kids love the school teacher and if ve can sell the land in California, ve both want to stay here.”
Lulu stood up to give Hrvald a hug, “That is great news Harold. Now let’s go to the kitchen to see what kind of trouble the women can get into with the next baking project.
Little Lucelle sat down at the table with a cookie and soon she was joined by the Tranna children and immediately a Christmas song burst forth with the young voices joining to raise the volume like they were raising the feeling of goodwill. Soon the customers were joining in and the entire café was full of music. Hrvald grabbed the guitar from behind the door and the afternoon turned into a caroling party. The children filed into the dining room, the front door opened and more folks came in to hear the concert.
A dark man who was clothed in all black came in and sat at the counter. He ordered a cup of coffee and sat quietly, listening to the chorus. He sat even after most of the folks had filed out of the café.
“Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?” Lulu asked.
“I would like to get a room and dinner somewhere her in town.”
“We have the hotel and of course dinner is served right here in about one hour from now. Tonight it is beefsteak with potatoes and corn pudding. The hotel is around the corner to the left.”
“What was all of that singing about?” The stranger asked.
“Most of the folks who were in here are performing in the Christmas Eve Pageant in a few days.”
“Does the minister allow people who do not belong to the church sing?”
“You misunderstand, sir. This is a community pageant for everyone, so of course any of the people who would like to sing are welcome to do so. Hrvald Tranna is the choir director and he has been working hard to rehearse the group to make it a good performance.”
“I don’t like it, myself,” said the dark man. “A church’s pastor is the leader and should be in charge of the singing of Christmas Hymns.”
“Will there be anything else?” Lulu asked the man.
“No thank you, Miss.”
“You can pay me when you are ready, then.”
“Are you the proprietor?”
“Yes, I am,” answered Lulu.
“It figures!” the man said and he put a twenty-five cent piece on the counter and turned to leave.
The next morning, it was all over town that the new minister had arrived and he was going through everything at the little community church office and his brusque behavior had made Betty, the old church secretary leave in tears over a comment he made about how she should have stopped the pageant rehearsals for the year.
Hrvald was sitting at the counter nodding his head back and forth in disbelief by the time Lulu returned from Bend.
“What is happening?” Lulu asked and Helga, Julia and Hrvald let loose with a series of statements about their disappointment about cancelling the Christmas Pageant.
“The new minister, Enos Applebaum, has told all of the ministers that it is not appropriate to have a community Choir Pageant for Christmas Eve. He told them all of the congregants should be attending church and praying. Any singing should be in churches, not outside or by a manger.” Helga retorted.
Julia added, “We should be able to sing out pageant, Miss Lulu.”
“The people have worked very hard nearly every day and they are ready to perform,” Hrvald said. “We need to let people enjoy the evening and after that they need to enjoy the feast and the midnight service.”
“He was in here yesterday,” Lulu explained. “He did not seem friendly, at all. Let me talk with John and I will let you know what we will do.”
“Tanks, Miss Lulu,” Hrvald said.
Lulu went into the back room where the phone was attached to the wall. She was glad to have it available. The operator took a long time getting the Sheriff on the line but when Johnny answered, Lulu explained what had happened and her husband assured her that he would help handle the matter.
“Please wait at the café for me and I will fill you in when I return to La Pine this evening,” Johnny told her. “I will stop by Applebaum’s church and find out what he is up to.”
Several hours later, Sheriff Justice opened the café door and strode in with heavy step. “He is a real pickle”
“What does he expect to have happen?” Lulu asked.
“He expects the other men of faith to cowtow,-that is what he expects!”
“Does that mean we cannot have the pageant?” Lulu asked.
“He was having a meet and greet with four other of the local pastors and I believe he must have put the fear of God into them because they were all quietly listening to his tirade about what is proper Christian behavior!”
“Oh, Johnny, this will make Lucelle so sad. And all of the others. You should have heard them in here yesterday. They sounded good enough to be a record or something.”
Let’s eat and then on the way home we can put our heads together so we can come up with a solution that will work for everyone- even Mr. Scrooge!”
Lulu never understood the pinecone express but by the time she got home that night, the staff and cook knew all about the problem.
Cook stepped forward into the foyer and stated, “We should do what we used to do and have the Christmas Eve celebration right out in the big barn and serve dinner out here, too.”
The caretaking couple added that they could decorate and set up the barn for a beautiful night of carols and banqueting. And Lucelle had come downstairs to give her opinion, “We could make the side coral into the manger and Mr. Harold could make the pageant happen outside and there is room for everyone.”
“Is this going to work?”
Johnny smiled and answered, “We always loved our Christmases on the ranch. It will be like old times!”
Lulu hit the café with a plan of action first thing in the morning. While she was gathering up the mayor’s wife, the rest of the women’s club ladies and heading to the church to talk with Reverend Sutton, she caught up with the Tranna children to take notes to all of the business men:
You are invited to a private party
At the home of Lulu and Johnny Justice at the Beale Ranch
On Christmas Eve at 5 PM.
The Christmas Pageant will be led by newcomer Hrvald Tranna with the Community Choir
Following the Norwegian Christmas Feast and manger caroling.
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
“Tell them to post the note in the window and tell everyone,” she told the kids. “I will get ahold of your papa and he can let the choir people know the change in plans.”
By the end of the day, the gloomy minister was back at the lunch counter, silent, brooding and looking very angry.
“How can I help you, sir?” lulu asked him after handing him a menu card.
“I will have the chicken soup and bread, Miss.”
“Right away, Mr. Applebaum!” Lulu said as she turned towards the kitchen with his order.
“You are the one behind this sinful concert aren’t you?” the dark pastor asked.
“What are you talking about?”
“You are working to turn the community against God and the churches.”
“I am working to get the hardworking community a place to celebrate the things they like about Christmas. When people work as hard as the people of La Pine do, they deserve to celebrate with food and festivities and no one should take that away from them. As for turning folks against God? A good pastor leads his congregation with love and respect- just as he would have them pay him respect that would be due to him.”
“How dare you….”
“I dare to tell anyone who tries to hurt this community what I feel, because it is my community…”
“And you think that a woman can decide what is best for La Pine?”
“This is one woman who knows what this community loves and needs- along with dozens of other hard working people who live here- just ask!”
The dark man was turning red as he stood and turned to leave. Lulu watched him and listened to the door slam. But, she was smiling. At the same time she was hoping she had given the new pastor something to think about.
Two days later the barn was ready, the food was ready and the people were coming down the ranch road to enjoy a night of good times and celebration.
“Come together, everyone, it’s time for our blessing,” Reverend Sutton called. After the blessing the choir and townsfolk ate a feast like no other- including a fishlike Jell-O substance that was called lutefisk, made tolerable with the hot butter that drenched it and the potato lefse that it was rolled in!
By the time the choir took the stage and little Lucelle sang joy to the World at the top of her lungs, Lulu noticed a dark figure in the back of the crowd. By the time Lucelle hit the halfway point of the song and people were joining in, the man, Pastor Applebaum, had removed his dark hat and was singing along. Lulu took a deep breath and nudged Johnny who seemed well aware of the presence of the new minister.
“It looks like there is hope for our new Pastor,” Johnny said.
Lulu just nodded yes and went back to listening to the program. She looked at the crowd of her friends from town and heard the voices sing joyfully and knew that La Pine would have a memorable Christmas. The faces of Helga and her family were beaming. The singers were full of light and energy and everything about the evening was full of love.
“Merry Christmas, John” she whispered. “Merry Christmas.”
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
The Legend of the Newberry Dolphins
By T. Myers
In the land before time, volcanoes erupted across the region. Lava flowed and began to build up the three hundred buttes from the many underground lava tubes. Where the mountains blew up, the craters that formed began to cool. There was so much volcanic activity that the Cascade Mountains met up with the ocean to the west and the rivers of the region because of the many underground rivers that formed with all of the volcanic activity.
The rivers, once fast flowing and deep began to lazily move through the region creating a network of cooling water that covered the plateaus of the high desert. What was happening underground was another matter.
River water filled the many tubes that ran from the volcanoes’ cores and cooled them. Soon there was a network of underground rivers that became a highway for aquatic creatures, fish, and even sea life.
One of the buttes was singularly unique. It stood alone, unconnected to continuing volcanic activity, and inside the Newberry Caldera, two lakes formed. They were deep and blue and once they became fit for supporting life, they became the home for some legendary creatures that were to spark many stories and Indian myths through the ages!
And the story goes….
In the days when human beings began to explore the lands around them, it was then that a group of Indian traders in arrow and spear points discovered the treasure trove of obsidian in the large butte 15 days travel time south of the big river. They situated themselves in a large crater where there was an abundant supply of flaking rock, shelter and water from a river and two lakes. There was never hunger for there was a never ending supply of wild game to support their endeavors.
The amazing craftsmen that they were had developed a huge trading area among the many different peoples of the Cascades and they were keen on using the new material to further their range and product offerings. The greenish hues of the new obsidian source were considered a prize and the strength of the new points seemed unequaled.
The men set up their working summer camp where they could hone their points, make arrows for their own use and create spears they could hunt with. Over the first summer they explored the crater and took pleasure from the two beautiful lakes and the streams full of ‘Fish people’ and the forests full of ‘deer and elk people’ and even ‘bear people’. The men were able to meet their needs while they piled up their goods for their next trading foray.
Towards the end of the first year they were at their Caldera camp, and two of the younger men finished a new a dugout from a large pine tree and were ready to put it into the smaller of the two lakes. They were hoping to paddle across the lake to the hot springs that had been discovered, to soak and bathe before they returned to camp.
That day the winds were already blowing from the north and it seemed that fall was about to arrive early. As they paddled, they felt a distinct chill. The temperature was dropping quickly. Clouds gathered and the two men paddled as fast as they could in order to get to the other side. The hot springs would feel very good to the cold men!
Pulling their dugout up on beach they went over the hill to enjoy soaking up the heat of the hot springs. It was wonderfully relaxing and they both fell asleep. When they woke up, day was disappearing and they had to make haste to return to the opposite shore.
The choppy water soon proved to be too much for the two men and when a huge wave hit the side of the dugout, the two went overboard and the boat overturned. They struggled to get the boat turned upright, but the cold water, the wind and the waves took away their strength and first one, and then the other drifted away from the boat in a cold stupor.
By evening, when the men did not return to the main camp as predicted, a search party was sent to the lake in the east but it was very late and they could see nothing in the dark. They set up camp close to the water’s edge and started a bright fire, hoping it would be a beacon.
As dawn broke the next morning, the men in the search party were just waking up when they heard a shout from one of their party to hurry to the shore.
There, lying face down on the shore, were the two young men. They were icy cold, but alive. There was no sign of their new dugout, but next to the men there were some deep drag marks on the beach that led back into the lake.
The two men were carried close to the fire and wrapped with skins after being rubbed down with bear grease. As they came back from their sleepy state, they began to tell of a strange occurrence that none of the men could understand.
“Something grabbed me by the skins and held me up,” one reported.
“It felt like a fish, but the one who held me fast had brown eyes,” the other related. “No fishes have brown eyes. It must have been the chief of the Fish People.”
The men were so alarmed by the tale that they sat in silence until the leader said they should take some food to regain their strength. By the time both of them has eaten some meat, another of their party who went to the shore for more water saw that the missing dugout was speeding towards the shore where they found the two men. The long boat was still upside down and moving straight into the shore.
“Hey!” shouted the man on the shore. “Look!”
The others turned in time to see two large gray creatures that looked like giant fishes pushing the boat toward shore.
As soon as the dugout was being dragged into shore, the gray creatures turned and swam away quickly adding a few high jumps as they crossed back and forth to reach the center of the lake.
The men stood in silence and finally one, stumbling through his words, spoke, “Wahtonkah has sent big fish people to save our men and now He has saved our dugout.”
The rest of them agreed that the Spirit Father had intervened, by nodding their heads and making guttural affirmations. They stood, together, never taking their eyes off of the creatures, watching until they could not see the big smooth gray colored fishes any longer.
The search party leader decided that they should stay another night to try to get a glimpse of the creatures one more time. No one wanted to get into the dugout, though, or venture out into the lake proper and they kept their vigil from shore.
Training their many eyes over the lake, they were sure that they saw the creatures playing on the other side of the lake below the hot springs. Another of the party was sure that he saw the creatures come close to shore by the men’s camp, like they were watching the men. A third felt, not saw, the creatures and said he thought the creatures were waiting for an opportunity to communicate with all of them. By the time they had packed up to go back to the main camp, every one of the men felt that the two men and the dugout had been saved by the big gray fishes and that these fishes were agents of the spirit, Wahtonkah Wah.
Through the years there were many reoccurrences of gray fish people who saved other men and the stories grew in intensity until the source of the fishes was discovered by adventurous men who dove deep into the lake to see the entrance of a large lava tube that must have been the creatures’ home- and because of the many lava tubes in the region, not only was it proclaimed to be the creatures’ home, but the source of the underground rivers that brought all of the many kinds of fishes to the Caldera in the first place.
On a clear day, in the summertime, a person walking on the south shore of East Lake looking north occasionally will catch a glimpse of what looks to be a large gray creature jumping out of the water. It will seem big for a lake fish, and, because of its size, it will be probably be discounted as an imaginary sight.
But, for those of us who know about the legends of the ancient peoples who first saw these creatures, the big gray creatures are as real as real can be.
Just look at the town that sits on the base of the Crater. The City of La Pine proudly displays the dolphins (the big gray fishes) that jump over the Newberry Caldera on the signs welcoming guests to town. And while people wonder why there are jumping dolphins displayed on the City logo, those of us who live here know for certain!
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
LULU PLAY Lulu Gets the Last Word!
May 19th 2014
Chamber History week.
Lulu LeDeux- a smart and savvy restaurant owner with a shady history, but a good attitude
Mary McGill- Mayor’s wife and a friend to the ladies in town
Cecelia Sutton- the Reverend’s wife and secretary to the WCOLP
Firefighter Dan- a regular patron at Lulu’s
Phoebe Newberry- local School Teacher
Sam Lechner- the local General Store owner
Johnny Justice- local Sheriff and Lulu’s beau
Publisher Hurd- Intermountain Paper
WCTU Ladies- one looks like she is covering up her face…Who can it be?
Setting: Early in the morning after the breakfast rush, Cecelia Sutton comes into Lulu’s restaurant to ask about planning a party for her Ya Ya Sisters.
Lulu: Good Morning Cecelia! Have a cuppa’ tea?
Cecelia: Coffee, I think and pie. (A couple enters and the two watch while they settle near the front.) Wait, what’s the lunch special?
Lulu: It is beef tail and root vegetable soup with biscuits. I bought one of the banker’s new beef steers and we are working through the awful and extra parts. Liver tonight and beef tongue sandwiches tomorrow. Cook will also do a pot of Posole for lunch tomorrow. Everyone seems to love it. (She moves over to the new folks and begins to talk to them)
Lulu: How are you folks doing? I have not seen you in here since January.
Mrs. Lechner: We have been very busy at the store. First there was inventory and then all the new products after Sam came back from the Portland Expo. Did you hear that we are marking down the canned goods as much as 2-1/2 cents a can? Pretty impressive. (Door opens and in comes the Mayor’s wife, Mary Magill)
Mary: Hello Lulu! What did I interrupt? (Mary takes a chair and settles in for the latest gossip)
Sam Lechner: We have all of our new dry goods arriving in the next few days. Wait until you see the new spring fabrics! Lulu? How about a bowl of the soup and I would rather have bread and butter.
Lulu: Sure! Glass of Milk today?
Mrs. L: One for each of us and I want a meatloaf sandwich.
Lulu: Coming right up.
(Lulu scoots to the counter and hangs the order)
Fireman Dan: Hey Lulu, What’s cooking? (He is followed in by a few other fellows that sit right down and put their hats under their chairs. They pick up the lunch menu cards and begin reading.) Some of the Tail soup for me and the boys. They all want coffee and bring out some cream, too, Lulu!
Lulu: Absolutely, Dan! I will get your soup and tell you about the cakes and pies when I get back. Are you fellows having a drill or something?
Dan: We are going to have a meeting with Sheriff Justice and we need to talk about the fact that we never have enough water to put out fires around here. He has an idea!
Lulu: (turning away from them to go to the kitchen- talks while she moves through the room) Anything that can keep us from losing another building would be great! Okay Mary what can I get you?
Mary: Tea and a sweet roll would be good!
Lulu: Peppermint or Orange Pekoe?
Mary: Peppermint, I guess! Say, have the girls been in to talk to you about catering their WCOLP party?
Lulu: Speak of the devil, here comes your pal Cecelia! She asked me about it yesterday. (Cecelia enters and joins Mary in a flurry of removing her coat and gloves) How are you today?
Cecelia: I am famished. I need some hearty fare if I am going to make it through this planning session today. The Events Chairman, Inez, is going to drive me crazy!
Lulu: When did she return to the events committee? I thought we learned our lesson a couple of years ago?
Mary: I know, Lulu! We tried to keep her from getting back on board, but to no avail!
(Leaning in close to the women)
Lulu: Are you serious about having wine with your dinner? Old Henry has lots of his special sacramental wine supply, but we could get in trouble if it gets out to the public.
Cecelia: As long as Inez doesn’t know anything, I think we are safe. Friday after you close the café and I will be here to decorate.
(Door opens and the Sheriff enters and crosses to give Lulu a hug before he hangs his hat and sits down)
Sheriff Justice: How’s the soup? I could eat a gallon!
Lulu: It is terrific and I will get you a large bowl and a pile of those fresh biscuits that just got pulled out of the oven.
Sheriff: You take such good care of me, Darlin’.
(One of the servers fills coffee and brings out orders while Lulu oversees and talks with everyone. Door opens and it is Mr. Hurd from the Intermountain with the latest paper.)
Hurd: Here is the latest paper, everyone! (He puts them on the counter and returns to the Lechner table.) I got your sale in this one, Lechner. What you eatin’? Looks good. Lulu, get me a meatloaf sandwich, too, will ya’?
Lulu: (Standing at the counter, she sees an article that makes her nervous and crosses to the ladies table to show them the front page) Take a look at this! The Women’s Club Party is all over the front page. It says that it will be a Wing-Ding of a party for the ladies of the women’s club and he has published the details and the menu. Too many people will be watching this event. We will need to change our plans a bit. (The sheriff comes over)
Sheriff: I saw Inez Garrett at the Intermountain Office. She must have put the ad in the paper.
Lulu: That is too bad! The gals were pretty sweet on having a Special Recipe Tea Party and now it looks like they will have to do something different.
Sheriff: Well, you know what’s best and I know that when it comes to Inez, you like to get the last word…
Lulu: Will you be back from Bend before dinner today? I need you to do something for me… (She leans into the Sheriff and whispers and the Sheriff shakes his head yes)
Lulu: Hey everyone, make sure you give me a personal RSVP about Friday night by Thursday afternoon, ok?
All: Sure thing, Lulu- or other ad lib comments…
Setting: It is Friday afternoon and the regulars are in the restaurant. So are the wcolp ladies, the volunteer firemen and the Sheriff. It seems that everyone has gathered to see what is going to unfold when a surprise visit from the WCTU Women from Bend arrive to check out rumors about Lulu’s Tea time.
(Door Opens and in walk a group of ladies dressed to the max and they take an open table near the front)
Lulu: Good afternoon ladies! (She hands them menus cards) I will be right back to get your orders.
Woman 1: Do you have any of that famous tea we have heard about?
Lulu: Absolutely! (Looks them over and notices the shy one who keeps her head low) Are you all right, Miss?
Woman 2: (Barely audible) I have had the chilblains and this is my first day out.
Lulu: (She nods to the lady) So all of you are ready for some special tea? I have just the right tea for you, Miss and some of the China tea with almond cookies for the rest of you ladies.
Women: (together) Perfect!
(Lulu and a server come over to set the ladies up with everything they will need. In the meantime, the strangers are really giving Lulu’s Café the once over! They seem to be putting their heads together to talk privately. After Lulu delivers the teapots, she speaks 🙂
Lulu: Will there be anything else? (They ad lib no thanks) No? I will be back to check on you later!
(The WCOLP ladies signal Lulu to their table. She stands near to them and keeps an eye on the women from Bend)
Woman 1: This tea tastes perfectly fine!
Woman 2: Whatever this is it seems like it is really soothing to my throat.
Woman 3: Good for you. Your voice even seems better after having a little of that pot. Can I try it, too?
Woman 2: Of course.
Woman 4: I cannot taste a single strange note in this tea. Are you sure that you are right about there being something added that should not be used?
Woman 2: I tell you, in the afternoon, Lulu serves tea that is full of her special recipe and I have seen what happens to the people that drink it. She is breaking the law. Seriously!
Woman 1: well, as far as I can tell, this is some of the finest China tea I have ever had. And, have you tasted these fine little almond cookies? They are wonderful.
Woman 2: Just wait. The tea will catch up to you soon, sure enough! Then you can close her down for good!
(Lulu crosses to check on the ladies while a server takes care of filling the other customer’s cups and bussing dishes from the tables)
Lulu: Can I bring you more hot tea?
Woman: I would like another pot of that tea you brought her. (Pointing to woman 2)
Lulu: (Lifting the lid on the big pot) Looks like you all could use a refill. (Calling to her server) Honey, can you bring another pot of each to these ladies- and more cookies, too?
Woman 3: Wonderful. I feel so relaxed! (All of the others at the table turn to look at their friend carefully)
Woman 4: Do you sell these cookies to take out? I would love a dozen for my bridge club tomorrow.
Lulu: We sell everything we make. Perhaps the buttery sugar cookies coming out of the oven would do nicely, as well.
Woman 3: I’d love some of those. Do you sell the loose China tea?
Lulu: By the ounce!
Woman 3: I will take ¼ pound, please and two dozen of those almond cookies and a dozen sugar cookies, too!
Lulu: You ladies are making my day. (She sees a paper poking out of the top of one of the purses hanging on the back of the chair. The article about the party is circled) I notice that you read our local paper?
Woman 1: Why yes we do. We were over at the General Store and saw that you are having a party for the Ladies Club tonight. Can anyone come?
Lulu: I wish I could extend an invitation, but the Ladies have postponed their party until another time. Too many people have taken ill recently and their group could not make it.
Woman 2: (Excitedly) That is not true! That party has not been changed.
Lulu: How would you know?
Woman 2: Well I… (Stammering) heard that the party was happening here tonight.
Woman 1: Are you sure, Inez?
Lulu: Is that you, Inez?
(Woman 2 removes her head gear and veil)
Inez Garrett: Yes.
(The WCOLP ladies gather around the table with Lulu)
Lulu: What are you up to now, Inez? This is your club’s party. Who are these ladies?
Inez: I heard that you were using illegal alcohol here at the restaurant and these WCTU Ladies are here to shut you down, once and for all!
Lulu: That is certainly just like you, Inez. Never going to the source, only following the rumor mill and causing problems.
Woman 1: Hello, Lulu. I am Inez’ Aunt Mabel from Bend. I am pleased to meet you.
Woman 1: Quiet, Inez. I can see that you have drawn me into another one of your schemes. When will you stop trying to control everything? As for you, Miss Lulu. We have all wanted to find out what it is about your café that is such a draw for people that come through La Pine.
Woman 3: We all know why, now. The tea is superb, the atmosphere is comfy and cozy and the cookies are amazing.
Woman 4: Hear hear!
Sheriff: (Joining the table) I need to talk to Miss Lulu for a moment before I leave. Why don’t you all introduce yourselves so the ladies from Bend get to know you hard working WCOLP women?
Lulu: Thanks for the tip, Johnny!
Sheriff: It is good to be Sheriff! I always know about all of the WCTU comings and goings, because of that new secretary we hired! She is a real treasure- except for the fact that you cannot tell her anything or talk in front of her at the office without it getting out to the towns folk!
Lulu: Lucky for me Ethel resigned and you found Betty! So what happened exactly?
Sheriff: Inez called on the telephone to talk to her Aunt and they made plans to meet her at her home when they came down to La Pine. She put on that disguise and hoped that it would be too busy for anyone to recognize her. The WCTU meeting helped to plan the trip and Betty told me all about it yesterday morning- down to the finest detail! A call to you and their plan was foiled!
Lulu: I so love to cooperate with Law enforcement! (She gives the Sheriff a quick peck on the cheek. The restaurant has let out its collective sigh of relief and is back to business as usual.) Fresh hot cookies for everyone!
(Server comes out with a tray and passes them out)
Lulu: (Stepping back to the WCTU Table) Well, Inez, it looks like you are on the hook again! I don’t know why you always want to make it hard for the people here in La Pine, but it is time to stop interfering and join in with the others who want to make a difference here!
Inez: I- I- I am sorry. I just did not want any law breakers doing business here… (Makes a move to leave)
Lulu: (Incensed) You better sit back down, I have something to say! I have a list in my pocket of the things you have tried to do to me since we met (She unfolds a paper). You tried to keep us from having a Sadie Hawkins Party when I was Event Chairman. And when that worked, you tried to burn down my café and my home on Morson St. You tried to take the property away from Linc Lincoln Lumber Mill and use it for a summer house and fireworks location. You tried to get the pastor to take my Community Service Award away from me before I even received it. You have continually tried to take over the Women’s club and instigated one thing after another with your fellow members until even Phoebe and Cecelia cannot trust you anymore. Trying to count the votes so I would not win the Presidency was the last straw until today, that is…
Inez: But I …
Lulu: But, nothing! Inez, it is time for you to pay for your misdeeds! (All of the people in the restaurant ad lib yes it is) The WCOLP is stripping you from your chairmanship and asking you to resign your membership in the club. Cecelia will go to the pastor and let him know what you have been up to and hopefully you will be removed from the Christian Education Committee, too.
Inez: You can’t do this…
WCOLP Ladies: Yes she can!
Lulu: Yes, I can and as far as you gals from Bend are concerned, don’t let her help you out or she will cause you no end of difficulty.
Aunt Mabel: I am already writing the letter in my head. And you can be sure, that we will give you the finest of recommendations as a family friendly café!
Lulu: (Handing Inez her disguise) That about sums up the situation, Inez. Tell Ralph he is always welcome here, but as for you- no more- no way. (Turning to the rest of the customers) And that’s the last word!
(Applause breaks out. Inez and her group leave and the rest of the customers get back to enjoying the fresh pots of Special Recipe Tea that are being delivered to their tables while the Sheriff and Lulu move around, checking in with the customers.)
Music swells and finis
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
And the news is…
A play by T. Myers
Setting: A minimalistic- nearly empty stage. You see a hospital bed, a desk with a chair on either side. An arm chair and a Mike stand.
Maggie- middle aged woman with a story to tell
Cancer Center Volunteer, others:
Maggie: Hello! Can you hear me? Testing…Testing…1- 2! Oh! Okay, here we go… I am here today to share what the latest news is! We all want the latest news. Don’t we? Well I always have and here is what I know-now!
(Maggie moves towards the bed and pushes it out to the front. A doctor joins her as she climbs into bed and covers up. Takes a sleeping pose)
Doctor: (Poking her gently) Maggie? Wake up Maggie. I have some news to share with you?
Maggie: (Coming out of her post-operative stupor to listen) What is it, Doctor T?
Doctor: We got the tests back from the labs on the tissue samples we took the other day. They have found a granulosa cell tumor in the right ovary and in the tissue I scraped from the pelvis. I expected that the left ovary would be a problem but it wasn’t. So I will let you go back to sleep and I will be in for rounds later. Okay?
Maggie: What’s the prognosis, Doc?
Doctor T: We have some research and then some thinking to do and I will let you know more- later. I am so sorry Maggie. The news is not good. (He leaves)
(To the audience)
Maggie: Now, I have known this Doctor for years. I also have studied enough biology to know that an OSA or an OMA on the end of a word means something very serious. Have I just been told that I have cancer? I think I have. Of course everyone has left town. The family all went home this morning. What am I going to do? I am all alone!
(Nurse enters and avoids looking at Maggie)
Nurse: Just checking to see if you need something. (She doesn’t check on anything and leaves)
Maggie: (To audience) Did you all see that? She was checking on me to see if I fell apart or even realized what the news was that the doctor brought me. She couldn’t even look at me! I have cancer. Dammit! Why was I so good in science? (Maggie gets out of bed and moves towards the desk while the bed is moved back. The Doctor comes back in and the two of them sit down.)
Doctor: So, we will want to go back into surgery in a week or two to look at your surgical site and we need to remove your gall bladder. After that we will set up your chemo. You need to get your affairs in order so you are ready for whatever happens.
Maggie: (Turns her body to the audience) Get my affairs in order?
Doctor: I have an oncological surgeon who will perform the next surgery and I will be there with him, so we won’t miss anything! You need to make an appointment to see him. By the way, your tumor is very rare. There have only been 14 of them recorded…
Maggie: (Standing) Oh, goody! Rare, get my affairs in order and now another doc- who I do not know, wants to see me. (Doctors switch)
Doctor 2: Maggie, the cancer panel has come up with a plan for you after your next surgery.
Maggie: What is the prognosis, Doctor?
Doctor: If we don’t find anything else, the news is that I can say that a stage four ovarian cancer is between 6 and 18 months on the average…
Maggie: (Standing facing the audience) Bam! Bam! Both Barrels! (To the doctor) Other than my gall bladder, is there a reason you are going to operate?
Doctor 2: We need to remove the gall bladder or you won’t make it much longer. It is full of stones. We know that already.
Maggie: (To the audience) So, if I don’t get the gall bladder out I’ll die from that, but I have cancer that is already killing me so…what is he really saying? (To the doctor) Well, you are the doctor!
(Maggie moves back to the bed and the doctor leaves and Doctor one comes back in to bedside)
Doctor: We checked out the entire pelvic area. We took several of the lymph glands to test, but, the big news is that the gall bladder had 236 stones and they were already into the duct. Within a few weeks, you would have had a liver shutdown for sure. Now, you’re good to go!
Maggie: (To the audience) Good to go to what? Oncology?
Doctor: We found a woman who has made it through her chemotherapy. She lives in Germany and the Italians that worked her over, did a great job and we will use their protocol. After a year of regular chemo, she is still alive! That’s good news, right?
(Doctor leaves and Maggie is in the bed when another man comes in)
Husband: I need money for a new truck.
Maggie: (To the audience) This is my husband. He left me not long ago, because I was sick. I sold the house and moved the money from our joint account into a new account in my name. Now he wants money? (To the man) I will be in the hospital for a few days. We can talk after that, but not now.
Husband: I have the truck ready to go and I wrote a check and it bounced.
Maggie: For how much?
Husband: The full 19K
Maggie: You won’t get any money from me for the truck.
Husband: You $#@>&*#! What did you do with the house money?
Maggie: (to the audience) He doesn’t know that after I cashed the check and deposited it in front of him in the local branch of the bank, I continued down to the next town and moved it a half an hour later into a personal account of my own!
Husband: At least I won’t have to put up with you for much longer, you cancer ridden *#?))*!
Maggie: (to the Audience) Of course I had already pushed the nurse’s call for help button and just as he finished his tirade, the nurse was in the room and a moment later two armed security men were there to escort my husband away. Bam! Bam! Bam! But something interesting happened. Right then! I knew I had to make it! I was going to make it! I remember saying something to my husband AS HE LEFT THE ROOM BY FORCE: “I’ll tap-dance on your grave before I die!” Mad was a good thing!
Maggie: (Move back to the desk and pretend to sign papers) I left the hospital and met with my attorney about a will- and a divorce -and prepared for the many courses of chemo I would take.
Doctor: (Walks in to the desk) You will go into the hospital every three weeks for an overnight stay to get treatment and follow it up with daily infusions until the cancer count goes down and then weekly infusions until we are sure that we have it. It looks like the second surgery showed no involvement with the lymph glands, but we are not taking any chances. We are going full throttle on this!
Maggie: (to the audience while raising her finger and moving it in a circle) Yay! (To the Doctor) Will I lose my hair?
Doctor: I am afraid you will lose your hair and your strength and your immunity to everything. (Hands her a pile of pamphlets) Read through these and go and talk to your oncologist if you have questions. His nurse can help you on the phone. But, Maggie, I will also be there right along with you, through this next period. You are gonna beat this thing!
Maggie: Yay! (Again- Moving to the center of the stage) My sister had my children while I worked through the treatments and healing. I had my dogs to keep me moving around on my out of hospital days- There is nothing like picking up dog piles to keep a person going! It sort of grounds you – as it were ! ! ! Lucky for me they never talked back if I complained and always were happy to see me as my body went through its major changes in appearance. Before I knew it- a year was over and I was ready to go to work full time. (Move to the desk where the boss is handing papers to Maggie and she puts them in a briefcase) I waited until my hair was a couple of inches long and had it styled in a new short sophisticated cut and went back to teaching full time. I got the kids back and life was returning to normal.
Maggie: (Looking pensive) Normal? How can anyone’s life be normal after going through what I went through? It cannot! But, there is a new normal that you find- along with worrying about every bout of flu or the weird aches and pains you get while you recover. Your hair grows back and it is different. Your body feels like it is different, too. Parts are gone. And without estrogen replacement hormones, the hot flashes can be a real challenge. (Pick up a briefcase and other stuff)
(She is moving real close to the middle of the stage to deliver the last comments):
Maggie: It takes years, going in for the tests after a month, then three, then six, then a year and so on until that day when you have made it past the time you were supposed to die, until you feel like you can live. And here is the weird thing; all of your fears are not about being afraid to die. It is more about being afraid to live! So, people, here’s the dealio! You just keep on keeping on until you get to today and you chalk all of the days up until you get through the year and you thank God and your family and friends for sticking by you. That is when you will know…(starts to walk away and comes back and leans out to the crowd)
Maggie: That is when you will know that the news is … good! (She walks off stage right) Finis
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
A “Turkey” for Thanksgiving
By T. Myers
A Holiday Tale for November 15th, 2013
If the weather was not so blasted cold it would be easier to get into the Thanksgiving spirit she was thinking. But, it was already hitting annual lows and competing with the coldest recorded season in history back in 1971! She was mildly cognizant of the Musak playing through the speakers overhead but everything was blurry…
Lacey Warrenton stood in the produce area, immobile. Tomorrow was the big day and she was supposed to make Thanksgiving dinner for her friends and family, but, her heart was not in it.
For several weeks the snow had been falling off and on. Shoveling the driveway one or two times every day and brushing down the sidewalks and deck had always instilled a Holiday feeling in Lacey. That feeling would kick start the season and Lacey to do her best to bring on the Christmas cheer. Not now, though. Not this year. This year it just seemed like more hard work. She had to get up early enough to clear the snow, and now that the car heater did not work, she had to walk to work. And she couldn’t afford to fix the car, and with the food stamp cut back, food was harder to get and the birds were flocking to the feeders with a half dozen feral cats who would eat the birds or the cheap food out on the front porch. H-m-m-m-m!
While she stood there, she was thinking about how to stretch everything, pay for the gas in the car when she could see to drive and how she could heat the house for the next few months. It was already hard when Lacey stayed home all of the time.
“A new challenge.” She said out loud.
Today she was a weary as you could get and still stand so it wasn’t surprising when she found herself mulling over the worries and turning into a statue. She just held onto the grocery cart next to the potatoes until some man who startled her as he reached across her to get a bag from the middle of the display.
“Sorry!” she said as she pushed her cart out of his way. She was back and she went over the list of must haves and completed her shopping with the salad items and cranberries, apples, onions and celery. Then she headed for the day old bread, the flour and a can of Libby’s Pumpkin- on sale for Turkey Day. She had the turkey and it was thawing in the sink at home. She would clean it up and get it ready to stuff in the morning. She was going to make fresh rolls and all that she needed was to get the milk, sour cream and whipping cream. Done!
“Did you find everything?” the perky clerk asked as Lacey unloaded her cart and nodded yes. Lacey handed her the recyclable green bags for her purchases.
“I am good, thanks,” Lacey spoke.
“All-righty then! Here you are,” the happy clerk said as she handed Lacey the receipt after making the payment transaction.
Lacey followed the young box girl out to unload the groceries into the trunk of the car. With that she drove home where she unloaded everything into the kitchen before downing a couple of Tylenol. The coffee was running through filling the air with the wonderful scent of fresh coffee and as soon as she poured out the first cup, she took care of the turkey and took it out to the back porch where it would be cool enough overnight. The coffee cooled enough to swallow it all in a couple big gulps and she filled her cup again and added a big glug of milk when she heard a friendly knock on the door. Cup in hand she went to the front door. It was her dear neighbor.
“Hi, Lacey, I am just stopping to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and ask you to do me a favor.” Emmie said brightly. “We have just decided to go to Klamath Falls to the folks’ for the day and I need you to take all of the stuff I have been cooking up off my hands. We are leaving before dawn and Mom will be insulted if we bring anything to one of her feasts. So… what do you think?”
“I suppose so, Emmie. But can’t you freeze the stuff?” Something in the back of Lacey’s mind was coming to the surface.
“No, not really. It is ready to eat and fresh and I know you have company coming, it would be a real favor.”
“Okay. Sure. Thanks!”
“I will be right back.” Emmie opened the door and ran out to the car through falling snow and returned with a huge box and two shopping sacks. She handed the food through the door and stomped the snow off her boots.
“What is in here?” Lacey asked with amazement. She opened the big box and it was full of Tupperware.
Emmie moved in to help unload the bags and box. “Here are fresh cranberries, and these two are pumpkin pies and this one is an apple pie. Here is the Waldorf salad and this one is my fruit and nut dressing. This sack has fresh butter rolls and butter and there are plenty for leftover turkey sandwiches. This sack has the dressing. It is ready to bake for 50 minutes at 375.”
Lacey mouthed a thank you and sat down at the table piled with goodies. Emmie hugged her pal and breezed out as fast as she had come in.
“See you Sunday night,” Emmie said over her shoulder. “Don’t spend all your money on Black Friday!”
There were still containers that she had not opened. Orange glazed carrots, creamed onions, and a jar of apple butter. The only thing Lacey would have to do is cook the turkey and make potatoes and gravy –tomorrow.
It was after she had peeled the potatoes and put them into salted water and was eating her way through the cheese sandwich she made for dinner when she remembered what was in the back of her head about Emmie’ s family going to Klamath Falls for the holiday weekend. Emmie’s oldest had told her they were going three weeks ago. “Oh, Emmie! God bless you!”
Her neighbor was saving her. Emmie had cooked up a storm just so she could bring it to her friend to help her out.
“I love you Emmie,” Lacey said out loud and she started to cry. “I will be able to get some sleep and be rested for tomorrow- all because of you!”
She finished the rest of her sandwich and half an apple and started to set the big table. Before long she was actually singing along to the radio as she polished the silverware, set out the goblets and plates and folded the cloth napkins. By the time Lacey had put candles in the candlesticks she found that she was full of joy. When she sat down in front of the TV to watch the Thanksgiving Special it took all of two minutes to fall sound asleep.
Some kind of weird noise woke Lacey up right past midnight. She was not sure what it was and she listened again.
What then? There it was. On the porch? Yes, a soft scratching noise at the front door. Lacey peeked through the curtains onto the well-lit porch and saw a very small, shaggy little dog looking up at the front door. She could also see that the temperature on the thermometer was only eleven. She was getting company!
Lacey unlocked her door and pulled it open and the tiny dog came right in and sat at the edge of the rug facing her. From looking, she could see that the little animal was injured. “It looks like someone threw you out of a moving car. You are all skinned up.”
The dog stayed still.
“Come with me and get a drink of water and then we are going to see about cleaning you up.”
The tail wagged a little. The dog watched her carefully.
“Come,” Lacey said softly and she walked back to the kitchen where she ran the tap and filled a small bowl with water. The dog was right with her and enjoyed a hearty drink before sitting again.
“Can I pick you up little one?”
She reached down and gently lifted the injured dog up to look at the big skinned patch without hair on the dogs side and then she saw the tiny feet all scraped and bleeding. “We are going to get you into a nice warm bath and soak these poor little feet. Its okay little girl. I will help you feel better.”
Lacey continued to babble words of gentle encouragement to the little dog as she soaked her in the bathroom sink, using peppermint soap to clean her. With a pair of scissors, she cleaned away the mats and hair around the paws and the wound on the dog’s left side. She dried her by patting her with a soft towel and then she bandaged the paws with gauze bandages soaked with antiseptic cream. For the wound on the side, Lacey applied some triple antibiotic salve to keep it moist and then she wrapped her up there, too.
“You are not whimpering or flinching or anything,” Lacey said with amazement. “You must be a very grateful girl to let me do so much to you when you do not really know me.”
When she found a soft throw and a large basket, she set up the makeshift hospital bed so the little lady was comfortable and she could be carried without hurting her feet and side. The dog took a look around and curled into a ball- while in motion down the hall to the family room. When Lacey stopped, the dog sat upright and began to stare at Lacey. It took all of two minutes to pick her up, cover her with the throw Lacey was using and settle in with her new gray guest on her lap so they could watch late night TV.
It was nearly seven in the morning when Lacey woke to discover the little dog shaking its head to get her attention.
“Want to go outside?”
The dog reacted and she carried the little girl to the patio slider. “I don’t know about these bandages, but let’s see what happens.”
The tiny dog had to be lifted down to the snow covered yard, but in a matter of five seconds, she looked up at Lacey to help her in.
“What a good girl you are,” Lacey said as she chucked the little dog under the chin. The dog leaned into Lacey as they went back inside. “Are you hungry?”
The big round black eyes got bigger as Lacey opened the fridge to see what she had. A hot dog and cheese and eggs came into view and Lacey set the dog in her basket and began to cook some scrambled eggs with cheese and then she cut up the hot dog to cook as a special doggy side!
The breakfast was gobbled up by the two of them and the little dog slept while Lacey prepared the last foods for her company. They even got to watch the parade! By the time that everyone arrived, it was time to eat. The tiny dog sat next to Lacey on the floor, eyes on the forks being moved through the air but, she never made a sound.
“You are sure a good girl,” Henry said. “When did you get her, Lacey?”
“She showed up in the middle of the night,” Lacey replied.
“I was just wondering if she is the dog that is missing from the car accident over on the Highway last night.”
“Yeah,” Henry’s son explained. “There was a couple driving up to the Humane Society with six dogs from the Sacramento area and a semi ran right into them. Killed the couple and the semi driver is dead, too. But the hard part was the dogs being thrown out of the vehicle. They found one and it was too late for him. Four more were picked up, but one went missing. Dad can call over to find out about it after dinner.”
“I suppose so, Henry,” Lacey said sadly. She was already in love. She looked down at her little friend and there was the tiny gray dog, sitting up moving her tiny bandaged feet in a begging motion. Lacey scooped her up and held her for the table to see. “I think that this little girl needs me to help her. I really love her already, though.”
Everyone at the table nodded their heads. The young man who lived two doors down said, she looks like one of those trussed up birds with the white papers on her legs. Everyone laughed.
“Are you my little turkey?” Lacey asked. And apparently she was, because the little dog barked and then howled in response to the word turkey several times.
Henry had gone to the phone and checked into the fire department to see about the tiny dog. “Guess what folks?”
Lacey waited for the bad news.
“They found the other dog. This one is a stray,” Henry told the group.
Lacey just looked at the little dog that was staring back at her and said, “Well, I guess I got my Thanksgiving turkey after all!”
The dog responded with some little yaps of joy and Lacey’s friends and family members got up to give the new little pal some pats and greetings.
“How about some pie, everyone?” Lacey asked as her new friend was being patted and passed around the table.
The tiny dog gave a long howl followed by a few short barks.
“And a piece of apple for you, too!” Lacey said as the dog reached for her with both bandaged paws.
The rest of the story went like it had evolved over night. Things looked up for Lacey and her new friend. No one came forward to claim her dog, so she settled into her new home, happily!
Before long Lacey and her Thanksgiving Turkey were known all over town as the two best disciples of cheer in the city, making everyone in the area feel better about the holidays. They were always ready with a convenient visit, a howl or bark of real appreciation and a joyous tail wag of seasonal cheer. The man at the garage fixed Lacey’s car. Her boss gave her more hours and before long the dynamic duo was ready to take on the New Year.
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
I am always working to create a good story. Every year I publish a three part Christmas story in the local newspaper and I also write a children’s tale every year, as well as, plays, and continuing work on my novel series.You can buy my cookbooks at the La Pine Chamber of Commerce.
Look for the new stuff. You will find it here…
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
Johnny Justice to the Rescue:
Or Don’t Take a Loan on a Log!
Teasers nightly at 5:30 pm WITH A GUNFIGHT AND ARREST?
Several months ago our heroine, Lovely Lori Lincoln and her hardworking husband Lionel Lincoln were informed that the bank was calling in their note on their Logging venture in South La Pine.
Lionel went to work to get all of the contracts he would need to pay off the bank on time and has been working so much that he had an accident when a chain broke and the log it was moving fell on top of him and his best workers leaving him injured and his crew short three good men. Now, with the time running out, Lori Lincoln has gone to the bank to ask for an extension….
Banker Garrett: Well, Mrs. Lincoln, what can I do for you today?
L Lincoln: I was hoping that you could give me and Linc a little more time to pay off our note, Mr. Garrett.
Garrett: You both know how much I admire you and I am so sorry about Lincoln’s accident, but my hands are tied, Mrs. Lincoln. I had to sell your loan to an out of town investor a month ago and he no longer wants to carry the paper. He wants the cash or, unfortunately, for you and your husband, he wants you to shut down operations and move along. There is nothing I can do.
L Lincoln: But I heard that you still have a part of the loan, Mr. Garrett. There is also a rumor that this man, the developer from Portland, is your brother in law. I know that there is something you can do. It isn’t ethical. What you are doing is not right. It is not what we do to our friends or business associates here in La Pine.
Garrett: Now, now, Mrs. Lincoln. Don’t go getting yourself all upset. Leave this to your husband. Doc said he is up and around. A nice little woman like yourself should not be taking this on all by yourself.
L Lincoln: My husband is still in bed, Mr. Garrett. If he could handle this, he’d be here right now!
Garrett: Maybe I had better drive out and see him myself and explain the facts.
L Lincoln: Maybe you can tell him about your brother in law and how you stand to gain from calling in our note, Mr. Garrett. I am sure he will be shocked that you, of all people, are ready to betray one of your best customers and take away his livelihood. (She storms off to go home)
(Back at home with Lincoln)
Linc: What’s got you so riled up, Lori?
Lori: I just was at the bank. Mr. Garrett would not even consider talking about an extension. He told me he sold the loan to someone from Portland and then he tried to avoid telling me about who the man was. He just said the fellow wants his cash or us out!
Linc: The workers were in here to see me when you were in town and they shared a mouthful, let me tell you.
Lori: What did they say?
Linc: Little Billy saw someone by the logs we were moving right before that chain broke. He remembered the man looking familiar, and he was wearing a bright red plaid shirt like Paul Bunyan, but he was not one of us.
Lori: Not one of our crew? Did he do something to cause the accident?
Linc: Don’t get your bustle in a bunch, honey! I got the fellas out to all of the watering holes in La Pine to see if they spot the guy. In the meantime I had Sven send a telegram over to Johnny Justice to get his help on the deal.
Lori: Johnny Justice? If we can gather up some of the facts before he gets here, maybe he can do more than investigate your accident. Maybe he can poke around after Garrett’s partner in the loan recall. By the way, how are the fellas doin’ cutting and delivering the timber?
Lincoln: We are so close to filling the contract, we may not need to worry, but it will sure be close. We need at least three other woodcutters and a choker setter to meet the deadline. And something else? We had better pay very close attention to the wagons and oxen teams because right now they will be what save us.
Lori: Who is checking on the livestock?
Linc: Norm and Sandy are over there and they will continue to watch the teams. I got the men checking the wheels and axles and all of the pin holders on the wagon beds. We should be ok, but after what happened to old Stearns last year, we are going to remain vigilant!
Lori: (handing Linc a plate of food) Here you go, Linc. Eat up and get some rest. I will take care of the chickens and then I am going over to Martha and Tom’s to see if they know any more about our mystery man.
Linc: It’s going on dark, girl, so be careful, okay?
Lori (leaving) I will, Linc. I will!
(Big man outside the bar is talking with the group gathered around him. Mrs. Lincoln and Lulu LaDeux are watching from the sidelines.)
Mr. Bart Biggs: Now it seems that a few of you still have questions about selling off your land. Those folks over in Portland are itchin’ to have vacation spots here in La Pine and anywhere you have some big ole trees and some running rivers, you stand to make a bucket of cash!
Fella 1: Will we still be able to log the trees?
Mr. Biggs: Sure you will, Son.
Fella 2: I hear tell that you are trying to get Lionel Lincoln’s land. Won’t that piece be enough for your project?
Mr. Biggs: That is a done deal, sir. It will only start the development I have in mind. We want more water front property for some of those fancy pants sun worshippers in the valley and you folks are the only landowners left that can help them with their vacation fantasies.
Fella 3: Can you buy the land next to the river and leave the rest to us?
Mr. Biggs: What’s your name young man?
Fella 3: Billy, sir.
Mr. Biggs: Well. Billy. If I can get my hands on a little riverfront property, you all can keep the rest as long as I have one large parcel to anchor a resort it will be perfect and we will all make a lot of money!
Billy: (Billy looks around and sees someone in the distance he recognizes.) Let me talk to my Pa, Mister. And will you tell that man (pointing to the man) with the red plaid shirt that works for you, thanks for helping me with my wheel the other day.
Mr. Biggs: You mean Dan Dirtee? Sure I will. (Billy thanks the man and runs off and the others close in around Mr. Biggs. The two ladies rush off in another direction to make some plans.)
(Back at Lincoln’s house)
Lincoln: (Billy busts in) What did you find out, Billy?
Billy: That developer is trying to buy up all of the riverfront land to add to your parcel so he can have a resort for Portlanders who like the sun. But, there’s more! The man I saw by the logs before your accident? I remembered him. He still wears a bright red plaid shirt and I found out his name is Dan Dirtee and he works for the developer Bart Biggs!
Linc: Dirty Dan! He has been around for a few years fixing accidents in different logging camps that have gone under. Last year it was over at the MacKenzie River Logging Mill, and the fall before that the Mill City operation had to close down. I heard they have been looking for him and have had no luck. (Lori comes in from outside.)
Billy: I told that developer to thank the red shirt man for helping me with my wheel and high tailed it over here. I don’t think he knows why I was asking about the red
shirt man. When I saw him, I just suspected he might be with Mr. Big.
Lori: Smart thinkin’, Billy. I saw that man, too, but I couldn’t hear what you were saying. Now let’s get you some grub. You look mighty hungry! (She serves up a plate of food and sets it on the table)
Billy; I sure am, Miss Lincoln. Thank you. (Sits at table to eat)
(Loud knock at the door. Lori opens it and Johnny Justice is standing there ready to help them)
Johnny Justice: Howdy, Mrs. Lincoln, Linc (tips his hat to all in the room) I hear you might need some help!
Lori: (Almost faints) I am so glad you are here. Linc and I are really up against it. Garrett told us that we will lose the land and the business if we don’t pay off the entire bank note. We don’t know how we can do it with Linc being injured and all.
Johnny: If someone is breaking the law, I know I can stop them. Now tell me what you know.
Linc: My crew was working the South hill over by the Big Deschutes. We were taking down the big trees and loading them for the mill and everything was going smoothly.
Lori: I was getting meals ready one afternoon and a couple of fellas came out to the place with Mr. Garrett from the Bank. Garrett explained that he had sold his loan to another man from Portland and that the man wanted us to settle up right away. I took the notice out to Linc within an hour and had just arrived when I heard all kinds of hollerin’….
Billy: Mr. Lincoln and two others were stuck under a huge Ponderosa log and we had to get the whole crew to lift it up and pull the three of them free.
Linc: I remember checking the chains early in the day. It is the only way we can move those big logs and the chains we use have to be good shape. They were, too. I just do not understand what happened. They should not have broken.
Billy: Remember that I saw the stranger over by the rig.
Johnny: Who is he talkin’ about, Linc?
Billy: The man is called Dan Dirtee.
Linc: He is the same guy they have been looking for since that accident in Pleasant Hill and the one up in Sisters last spring.
Lori: And there are others, too.
Johnny; You mean that mean son of a buck from the docks up in Portland is over here doin’ dirt to your associates?
Linc, Lori and Billy: YUP! Dan Dirtee is Doin Dirt to us and helping that developer from Portland, too.
Johnny: Well, let me see those chains that broke. You did keep them, didn’t you?
Billy: Sven took everything back to the equipment shed.
Johnny: Well after a good night’s rest, how about the three of us…
Lori: The four of us!
Johnny: The four of us! We will go out and talk to the boys and take a look at the scene of the accident.
Lori: Afterwards, let’s go over to LULU’S LUNCHEONETTE. I think we can work out a way to find out how involved the Garretts are with Mr. Biggs. Lulu and I have a plan!
(the towns folk are gathered in Lulu’s Luncheonette to support the Lincolns and get to the bottom of the plan to develop La Pine. If something else happens, they will all be ready!)
Lulu: Howdy gents. What can I get you two (Mr. Bigg and Mr. Garrett and Dan Dirtee sit for lunch.)
Garrett: Two lunch specials for us (pointing to Biggs and himself) and a Hefty Henry for this young fellow. And are you making your special tea yet?
Lulu: Always for you, Mr. Garrett. One or two pots to start with?
Garrett: Make it two. (Lulu leaves and Mrs. Garrett comes in and joins the men.) Right here Inez, next to me. (Lulu brings the tea and they start right in on the first pot.) Another cup and keep ‘em coming, my dear!
Lulu: I am trying out a new recipe, just for you today, Mr. Garrett. Hope you like it.
(Within minutes the talking is getting loud at the banker’s table. Folks are listening to the chatter about making millions and all the things Inez is going to buy when Johnny Justice comes in quietly and takes a place at the counter with Lori and Lionel Lincoln.)
Garrett: I have the men at the mill ready if Lincoln comes in with the load that should top off his payment on the loan. They will be sure that he cannot count it for payment and that will mean that by tomorrow, you will own his land, Bart.
Bart Biggs: This has been the easiest deal yet, Garrett. A big thanks to you and Inez for telling me about Lincoln’s beautiful property. And of course a big thanks to the man of the hour, Dan Dirtee without whose help none of this La Pine deal would be in progress.
Dan Dirtee: It was a cinch. Everyone in La Pine is so friendly and trusting, a little filing on the chain and I knew that Lincoln would be down three men in his crew. Did not expect him to be one of the three, but that just made it easier in the long run. (We see lori ready to hit Dan over the head with a cake PLATE SHE’D PICKED UP OFF THE COUNTER. Lulu grabs her hand and Johnny Justice motions for Linc to hold on to her.)
Inez: You know very well that the Lincoln woman has been invited to join the Women’s Club of La Pine? She is going to have to move before Lulu over there can get her hooks in and get her on Lulu’s side. One less female to worry about. I am just glad that we will be able to get our hands on that river view cabin of theirs before the summer is over. I will so enjoy being up there.
Mr. Garrett: Now, Inez. It may take a little time to remove all of the lumber equipment and such so people can move in.
Inez: That is why I have you and Bart here. Just be sure it is done by the 4th of July. I am already planning a big party with fireworks and I want it there. (The crowd is going nuts)
Johnny: (moving to beside the table and carrying yet another pot of tea) Here you are, folks.
Inez: Who are you? The new man servant to Miss Lulu?
Johnny: Something like that, Mrs. Garrett.
Inez: Do I know you?
Johnny: I guess you don’t remember me from that little incident at the Sadie Hawkins Dance last year when you tried to burn Lulu out of business?
Inez: (Getting queasy and nervous) The Sadie Hawkins Dance. I don’t remember meeting you there.
Johnny: Well, I was just the little old sheriff who came down to investigate the situation. Lulu saved your bacon and so did the community when it came right down to it. It looks like you have been up to your old tricks, madame. Getting your brother in law to come to town and your own husband to bilk the lady and gentleman who are sitting right over there at the counter listening to you and your tales of parties and fireworks!
Garrett: Just a minute Sheriff…
Mr. Biggs: Don’t say anything, Inez! You either, Garrett!
Johnny: Well, it don’t matter what else you folks have to say. I am ready to arrest Dan Dirtee for his part in causing the accident that nearly shut down Lincoln’s Logging operation. (A fellow steps up and cuffs the drunk Dirty Dan.) As for you Mr. Biggs, I checked to see if you had done any land deals over by McKenzie Logging, Sisters, Pleasant Hill or Mill City and guess what I found out? You Had- and all of them had the same outcome and same sidewinders involved: You and Mr. and Mrs. Garrett here.
Inez: Well, I never!
Lori and Lulu: Make that well I always!…
Johnny: I am afraid that this time, you are on the hook for crimes here in la pine and in other central Oregon locations and I am taking you all in!
(A group of people help to take them off)
Linc: What does this mean as far as the loan is concerned?
Johnny: From what the state boys told me, your load is turned in and the payment to Garrett’s bank is on the way and will be accepted as final payment on your loan. Your land is clear.
Lori: Thanks Johnny! What would we do without you?
Johnny: Shucks, Ma’am. I am just doing my duty as a law enforcement officer who fights for Justice and the American way!
All: Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Johnny Justice to the Rescue!
Johnny: And remember folks- It is your responsibility to know the folks you deal with! A simple handshake cannot replace a written agreement! If you want to make money, it’s the American thing to do, but be aware! You can’t take a loan on a log!
Posted in Original Stories by tmyersnewcomb with no comments yet.
An original play in two acts
By T. Myers
La Pine, Oregon
Couple’s Camp / Couple’s Kampf
A Play in Two Acts
By T. Myers
Boyd Butcher: Mature 40-60’s. Counselor and Pastor- He has years of experience helping married couples find a way to work together. He has been married to his wife for years and loves to work with her. Nothing much shocks, old, Boyd. He has seen it all.
Bootsie Butcher: Mature 40-60’s. Social worker. Wife to Boyd. Happily married. Naive. She is flamboyant with her Church Lady appearance; she might present herself as judgmental, but is absolutely not. She loves to laugh and enjoys a good story or joke. High Compassion and empathy.
Len Nesbitt: Mature 40-50’s. Well known radio personality, makes a comfortable living and who never makes a public appearance. Len is one of the good guys. He is off track of late and does not talk easily to anyone. He talks all day at work and wants a quiet home life.
Sue Ann Nesbitt: Mature 40-50’s. Dazzling older woman with a great deal of panache’. (Fashion, make-up, clothes, hair- it’s all there) She used to work, but now spends her time at home or working with a variety of child based charities. She works at the crisis hotline one night each week.
Joyce Mathison: 30-50’s. She is a former ad executive. She is the family business bookkeeper. During the past few years she has become more and more religious. She is independently wealthy. Her holdings allow her to do what she would like to do with her life and she knows it. She is overly humble, judgmental and eager to please God.
Carter Reynolds: 30-50’s. Comes from old money, but he is no longer associated with the family business, so he has tried to make it on his own. He is liberal. An environmentalist. He does not go to church. Was once big in the Sunday school set- so he knows what his wife is doing. He is worried that Joyce will leave him and he will not be able to keep working.
Armando Lejon; 30’s. A lawyer. A hard worker. A secret holder. He loves his wife and is truly worried about their future. He seems confident. He is intelligent. He has a first generation way of looking at society.
Kristine Lejon: 30’s. Expecting her first child. She is an orphan- all grown up. As an art history graduate, she became a museum manager and she is off until her child is born. She concentrates on the baby and has lost r=track of what her husband wants/needs.
Travis Cook: 40-50’s. A graphic Designer. Yuppy. Concerned with his appearances. Married to a woman he considers being behind the times. He is sharp dressed, sharp tongued and he has to hold himself back from making quick reactions to the people around him- especially his wife.
Marigold Mooney-Cook -40-50’s. Marigold ‘Mari’ is a child of the 70’s. She likes it laid back- although she has spent her adult life very responsibly. She loves going to counseling weekends and counts these events as her favorite things to do.
Rebecca Whiting: 40-60’s. Lovely, docile woman who used to write an agony column for a series of newspapers. She advised people all over the region about everything from their love life to household hints. She has been married since the Viet Nam war came to an end. Her husband just retired and they are working through some of his issues.
Samuel Whiting: 40-70’s. Retired teacher. He has a bad attitude towards the world- and his wife. For some reason, he and his family are distressed about what is happening with him and he has been forced to come to Couple’s Camp.
The play is always the middle of the story. We don’t see what happened before you are on stage and we will not see where you go after you leave. You must write me a short paper of your background. Everything from where you were born, how many kids in your family, pretty much anything that makes your character who he/she has become will be important. What are the events that lead you to this time in front of an audience? (Know your spouse’s character, too) Keep a few secrets that only you and I will know as the director. I will help you develop your ad libs based on this personal history and the part you play.
Setting: (We see a set with three areas. One in the center is a circle of 12 chairs set up in the middle of a big room. For anyone who has been to a group activity before, it is a comfortable little circle. Kleenex boxes and water bottles are set out in the center of the circle. There is a white board and markers, rolls of tape and other items in a box by one of the chairs next to the big board. There is also a table with coffee cups and other snack items laid out.
On either end of the floor is a bunk house area with camp cots and other cabin-y furniture. Both have a round table and chairs. There is a picture of Jesus on the wall where the bedspread covers are pink. (SR) A few tennis rackets and exercise items are on a shelf. Ladies magazines are stacked there, too. On the other end of the set is a lodge-like setting with rough and ready furnishings and fishing equipment. (SL) The beds are plaid and the mugs on the table have sports slogans or manly things on them. There are brooms and other cleaning things in each of the two areas. There is a door way leading to a bathroom on each end. It is marked.)
(There is a lady checking off people’s names on a clipboard. She is smiling and affable as she greets the folks. She is standing on the side of the circle. A few people are already sitting down and others arrive after checking in, they sit, too. The woman appears to be on edge, though. Nervous? Concerned? She checks herself out in the hanging mirror right during the time that the narrator talks about the reflections in the pond)
Narrator: Reality bites!
Remember when you read those Edgar Allen Poe stories when you were in High School? They were usually the only ones that you really wanted to read- because they were weird. Tonight we will discover that the story we are about to see is a little like that place in the Fall of the House of Usher, when the young man rides his horse up to the property and comes upon a small lake/pond. It is a windless day and the house is reflected magnificently in the still water. As his horse takes a drink he looks at the pool and studies the reflection, comparing it to the house on the hill above. He begins to feel like something is wrong. A leaf falls into the pond and the ripples form irregular circles. Not right. He has no idea what makes him feel like that. He knows that a reflection is never real- even if it seems to be real. A reflection is always a little bit askew. As he ponders the dreary lines of the stark mansion, the bare branches of the single tree above the waterline and thinks to himself that he is doing this for his school friend, the rider becomes even more uneasy.
Remember that! The rider becomes uneasy in Poe’s story. What will he discover? Will the time he spends with his friend change him in ways the reader understands?
This evening we will look into the lives of some of our friends and see if their stories are reflected in us. Just be mindful. When can a camp be a Kampf? Sometimes it is easier to look at the reflection and believe that we see it all………… than to look for the reality.
(There is luggage in the two areas that serve as cabins. The chair section of the set- the great room is full of people. The woman in charge is now talking with a man by the white board and the rest of the folks are chatting so that we can hear them. Mostly they look to be couples. NOTE: Remember that as an actor you will be required to use -AD LIBS- AD LIBS-A D LIBS…..)
Bootsie Butcher: Are you sure that we need to do that, Boyd? It is going to seem very silly.
Boyd Butcher: The referrals always have specific things that we are supposed to do when these people come to camp. We will do them or risk losing other referrals in the future. No matter how ridiculous we think the accommodations are.
Bootsie: Hope you know what you are doing, dear, because this group is a little challenging.
Boyd: It will be fine, Boots. Make sure everyone gets a cup of tea or coffee and then get them seated.
Samuel Whiting: Now listen, Rebecca, I do not want you to talk to me while we are here. Do you understand? You will make me look foolish and I can’t take it anymore!
Rebecca Whiting: But, Sam, we are here to work through things and get past this…this…whatever it is and that means that I will have things to say.
Samuel: Well, talk to me outside, ok? Not in front of everyone. Now go sit down and leave me in peace. (She sits with her head bowed down. Sam gets a coffee and joins her in the next chair)
Leonard Nesbitt: You have got to be joking, right? I can’t sit with these strangers and discuss the things we have to talk about if we are going to make this work.
Sue Ann Nesbitt: You didn’t want to talk to the marriage counselor. You never talk to me. And if we don’t talk here, we are through. Do you hear me, Len? Talk here or forget it! (She grabs him by the arm and they sit down.)
Marigold Mooney-Cook: This sure looks like fun, hon! I hope that these other people will enjoy the weekend as much as we will. (She adjusts her look and reaches into a huge handbag and brings forth a large mug) I hope they have herbal tea. My head is still banging after that trip to Starbucks on the way out here!
Travis Cook: Didn’t you have a decaf latte?
Marigold: I don’t remember. (She goes to the tea table and fills a napkin full of cookies and chooses a tea bag. Hollering to her hubby) Hon, what would you like?
Travis: (under his breath) For you to disappear. (Out loud) Coffee. Black. (And he sits down in the closest chair)
Bootsie: Come on everyone. It is time to get going. Here are your name badges. Slap ‘em on so we see your name. For now will you sit next to your partners or spouse?
Armando Lejon: Over there, Kristine, pointing to three chairs.
Kristine Lejon: I want to sit next to the door to the bathroom, Mando. (And she walks the other direction to the only other chairs)
Joyce Mathison: (Praying) Dear, God. Please let me get through this weekend. Amen!
Carter Reynolds: Keep your prayers to yourself, Joyce. You always want to tip your hand to the world. They are trying to get us to settle down. Do you hear that? (Pointing to the lady who is walking around in the circle)
Joyce: I am just trying to get settled.
(The chairs are filled and the Pastor speaks)
Boyd: Welcome to the island everyone. We will begin to work right after I go through the rules for today. Tomorrow we will be working under a different set of guidelines, but we need to start now with a few guidelines for today. Participation is mandatory in order to move ahead. Okay?
(People look at each other and look around at the others)
Boyd: The bathrooms are right through the hall door and to the left. We will take regular breaks about every 50 minutes and if you need to leave the room, you need to wait until whoever is talking finishes their statement. There are Kleenexes and water in the middle. No one can pass the Kleenex box to a person who needs it. The person must get it for themselves. Why?
Bootsie: Because when you hand someone a Kleenex, you are telling them to stop crying.
Boyd: There will always be water for you, Take one and set it next to your chair for later. We will provide snacks at the mid-morning and afternoon breaks and lunch will be served when it is reasonable to break for lunch. Be sure you eat.
Bootsie: Be sure you breathe.
Boyd: What she is really saying is that you will need to think about what you are saying- Brain before mouth.
Bootsie: There is one more big thing to remember.
Boyd: What we say in this room is private to this group and you cannot talk about it when you go to the dorms tonight or with your partners. Tomorrow you will understand why. Are we ready?
Bootsie: Show your hand if you agree to the rules of the group. (She looks around the room to check that all of the hands are up.)
Boyd: Here we go! I want to go around the circle and you can introduce yourself, how long you have been together, where you are from and what you are hoping to accomplish this weekend.
(More questioning looks) Go ahead. We will start with you (pointing to Bootsie) and go around…
Bootsie: I am Bootsie Butcher. I am Boyd’s wife of fifteen years. We don’t have kids at home so we spend most of our time helping others be happy. I don’t like to talk about myself. I think women need to keep a secret or two to stay interesting, don’t you agree? Woman of mystery and all that! I want to help each of you make some progress in your relationships this weekend.
Leonard: I am Leonard Nesbitt. I am a radio newsman and I don’t want to be married anymore. There, I’ve said it. (To his wife) Are you happy now? I mean, she never lets up. She wants to talk all the time. I talk all day and I don’t have anything to talk about when I get home and I am tired of the poking and prodding and accusations. What I want out of this weekend. That’s simple- for it to be over!
Sue Ann: Well, Boyd, you can see what I have to deal with. I keep telling him to pack his bag and leave, but after so long, I guess he doesn’t really want to go. Or he can’t pack a bag without my help.
Boyd: Another rule? No sarcasm.
Sue Ann: So what was sarcastic?
Len: He can’t pack a bag without my help! You harpy!
Boyd: Another rule? No name calling. Right? (The couple looks at him, shrugging shoulders).
Sue Ann: I want him to talk to me. I don’t understand him. (And she looks at the next man)
Travis: I am Travis Cook. I am a graphic designer in my own firm. Marigold and I met in college when I was a starving artist. She likes to make me come to groups like this. Goal? I want my wife to move into the 21st century.
Marigold: Hi everyone. I am Marigold Mooney-Cook. I don’t like to be called Loony Mooney, but people do it. It comes to this. I am a person who likes to be open and accessible. My folks were hippies. Surprise! I love to go to seminars and learn about new things. I hope I learn how to be more like what Travis wants me to be, but we are really very different people and I don’t know if I can change that much?
Carter: My name is Carter Reynolds. You cannot shorten my name, so call me Carter. My family manufactures aluminum, but I didn’t want to be part of the business, so I started to build houses. Now I design houses and use green materials. I am here today to support Joyce. I am fine with whatever happens, as long as you don’t make me do games and stuff. Will you do that? (To Boyd who shrugs) Good grief (to Joyce) this isn’t one of those touchy feely seminars is it, Joyce?
Joyce: I don’t know. Anyway, I am Joyce Mathison, and yes I am married to Carter, but we kept our names. It was easier because we both owned things. I don’t work anymore. Other than church, I don’t really do anything. I want to go back to work, but Carter doesn’t like my ideas. I hope he will…
Carter: She wants to be a missionary!
Joyce: I have a calling!
Carter: Isn’t what you are already doing enough?
Boyd: Sounds like we will have some work to do, you two. Let’s move on.
Kristine: (rolling her eyes in judgment and then she reacts to a twinge in her mid- section) I’m Kristine Lejon. I am married to him (nudges Armando). As you can see we are going to have a baby. It is our first and I am here to be sure that we-as a couple- can become good parents and stay a couple. Oh and I am on leave from the _________Museum, where I have been a curator.
Armando: Good morning. I am Armando Lejon. I am an attorney who specializes in corporate law in the three west coast states. We are both worried about how our lives will change when our baby is born. That is why I am here.
Marigold: What are you having and when is it due?
Armando: We decided that we did not want to know so we could be surprised.
Kristine: It is due on ________ (date is five weeks away from when the play occurs. Marigold coos with delight.)
Rebecca: (She sits and says absolutely nothing- reacting to her husband’s looks and she zips her lips and he sighs)
Samuel: I’m Samuel Whiting. I am a retired teacher. I am here because my entire family jumped me last week and told me to come. I don’t expect much.
Boyd: I am Boyd Butcher. I have a PhD in Psychology and have been doing family and couples counseling for 19 years. I also have a MS in Social Work and my wife and I have a private practice in __ (city) _____. I want each of you to leave here with some new tools for communicating with the people in your life. I want honesty. That brings us full circle. We will do Q&A next. Raise your hands if you have no children. (We notice one of the participants, Sue Ann, raise and lower her hand quickly) Thanks. I will start by asking one of you a question and you answer me and then it is your turn to ask someone else a question and so on. We want to get to know each other a little so we can move forward. So, Travis. You don’t seem very excited about being here. What would you be doing if you were not here today?
Travis: I would be out on the golf course for the whole day. I never have enough time to spend a day with my buddies. I would like to have a day to myself.
Boyd: Okay. Since you are here, are you ready to work on your relationship with Marigold?
Travis: Isn’t it my turn to ask a question?
Boyd: As soon as you answer mine.
Travis: I know that Marigold would like that. I don’t know what I feel. (Boyd nods and signals for him to go ahead with his question) So-o-o, Armando, you are going to be a new dad. What are you worried about the most?
Armando: Time with Kristine. She is so wrapped up with the idea of the baby already, I don’t know how I am going to fit in. (Men look around nodding in agreement)
Will she get… no, will we get through it?
Travis: I won’t lie. Stuff is going to change for both of you. A baby is a big responsibility and you have to work together to make it easier, but we all get through it- some better than others, but we all get through it.
Armando: My turn? Mrs. Butcher? Do you believe that a wife should support her husband?
Bootsie: Do you mean be a helpmeet? Like in the Bible? Or are you saying that a married woman needs to stay home raise a family, cook meals or that kind of thing?
Armando: I think I mean all of that.
Bootsie: Well, Mr. Lejon, we women are not the same as we once were. History has made sure of that, but I am a Christian woman who believes that my husband will take care of me and I need to take care of him, too. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a job of my own, but it does mean that we consider each other in everything we do. Okay? (Armando looks at Kristine and nods to Bootsie) I want to ask Joyce a question. Does Carter like the fact that you are becoming more religious?
Joyce: What? I’m not more religious. I have always been spiritual and that hasn’t changed.
Carter: Are you joking? All you do is pray.
Bootsie: Is that true?
Joyce: I have an intimate relationship with God and I talk to him on a regular basis. That is true.
Carter: But she will stop in the middle of a sentence and start praying. It is getting crazy!
Boyd: Maybe we better go ahead and move on. Do you have a question for someone, Joyce?
Joyce: Yes, I do. Sue Ann, is it? I heard you tell your husband that he needed to talk to you here or he could forget it. What do you mean? Will you leave him?
Sue Ann: (Jolted) I think so. When you asked the question it hits me that I want him to leave if he can’t help work through what has happened to us, I want to move on with my life. And, I’ll do it alone if I have to.
Len: That’s a little harsh!
Sue Ann: Well, you need to take it in, Len. I have a question for you, Carter. Do you listen to what Joyce says, or have you turned her off and tuned her out?
Carter: Off. It all sounds the same anymore, Dear God, blah blah blah blah blah! I come home and she is sitting at the dinner table or on the couch or standing at the kitchen sink and she is talking. Does she say hello? How’s your day been? Anything? Nope. Just Dear God, blah blah blah blah blah! (Joyce crosses herself and bows her head) I am to the point that I don’t want anything to do with God people! I have a question for you, Sue Ann. When Boyd asked us to put hands up if we had kids, I saw your hand go up and right back down. Did you lose a kid?
Sue Ann: I had a son. Not Leonard’s. But, Len raised him as his own. Mike, that was my son’s name, died in a horrible accident, he… well afterwards it was like he never lived. At least as far as Len was concerned. (Len gives her a blank look). I guess there is nothing more to talk about. (Pause) Oh, my. It’s me asking, right? (She looks around the circle and we notice Rebecca shaking her head no-no-no) You are Sam? (He nods yes). Why does your family think you need to be here?
Samuel: They don’t like the way I talk to my wife. (He looks at Kristine) Do you have to use the bathroom? You are wiggling like crazy.
Kristine: (Embarrassed) I do. My question is to Boyd. Can we have a break? (Everyone laughs)
Boyd: Great timing! Snacks are on the table. Let’s take a couple minutes and be back in five minutes.
Scene II: (The group mills around the snack table while Boyd and Bootsie go over the items on the clipboard. Nearly everyone goes out and comes back in except Sam and Rebecca. Sam reaches for a doughnut.)
Rebecca: Sam, dear, I think that lots of these people are very troubled. I hope you can help them. You are so good at reaching out to people.
Samuel: (He stops his bite into a doughnut when she talks and he starts to choke. Armando enters and comes to slap his back) Don’t…(He is still choking and looking at Rebecca but Armando thinks he is talking to him about the slap.)
Armando: You’re choking! (Keeps slapping and then Heimlichs Sam) There you are old man!
Samuel: Thank you. I’m all right now. My Doctor warned me about eating doughnuts! (Participants gather around him asking if he is ok and Boyd directs folks back to their seats)
Kristine: No, thank you, Samuel. I almost peed my pants over there. Ready to sit?
Samuel: Yes. (He sits in Rebecca’s chair closer to Armando. Rebecca sits on the other side and he looks at her sternly until she turns her face away. Sam talks to Kristine) I remember the first time we had a child. We were both terrified and neither of us had a clue what we were getting into. We just knew that you get married, you have kids and….
Rebecca: I knew what was going to happen. I couldn’t wait for a baby.
Samuel: (Ignoring her outburst) It is a natural thing to worry about being a parent, Kristine.
Boyd: Okay, people. Sit in the same order, please. Here is a brief assignment for later: after the last session today we are going to go to our rooms and write. There will be no interaction between couples and the men need to talk with the men and vice versa. I will explain it later. You probably noticed that your cell phones do not work here on the island? No service so you can focus on your work here. We will be picked up tomorrow at two o’clock and until then we have some more work to do. Understood? (He looks around until he sees nods) So, here is the next question. When did you discover that you were finally a grown up and how did it happen? Bootsie? Can you start?
Bootsie: I was a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding when I was just graduated from high school. It was a hot summer and I remember being very hot in the dress she chose for her attendants. I thought I would go to the bathroom and put cold water on my face and when I opened the door, my cousin was in there with the groom’s brother and they were… let’s say they weren’t making it cooler. I closed the door and went back to the changing room. I didn’t know what to do. I think it shocked me and I thought to myself that if I decided to marry, I would have all the little questions about my relationship worked out. I enrolled at State University and took up psychology and hoped I would learn how to be more responsible than my cousin. It made me grow up.
Sue Ann: Did she still get married?
Bootsie: Yes. And two years later she divorced and married again. Not the brother, but her husband’s best friend. (The group reacts by nodding knowingly) She is on husband number five now. It is strange because we were raised the same- I thought, but she made really different choices about herself.
Joyce: But, is she happy?
Bootsie: She is -every time she falls in love, but not for long afterwards!
Boyd: How about you Leonard?
Len: Len. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but it was one of the hunting trips I took with my dad and we were talking around the fire at the end of the day and my dad looked at me and said I had turned into a good man. I wasn’t out of High School yet, but it made me feel pretty manly to have my dad say that to me. After that I remember talking to him about lots of things. And it was easier. He started to show me more about his ham radio and that is how I got interested in doing radio work. We are still close and I respect his ideas. He is my friend, not just my father.
Sue Ann: I was in the back of an 82 Honda Civic late one fall night after the football game. (Laughter, but not Len) No kidding. I made the choice to go all the way for the first time with one of the winning football team players who I had my eye on and it was the classic story. Girl meets boy. Boy screws girl and girl get knocked up then football player leaves for places unknown leaving girl with baby and a family who rejected her because she was not married- or old enough to be. I lived on the streets and found a program that gave me an opportunity to go to GED classes and work for room and board for me and my son. I never went to prom. I never did anything but work and study. I could never trust anyone who said they loved me. Still can’t. Especially now. Now I feel betrayed all over again.
Len: Betrayed? I never did one thing to make you feel betrayed….
Sue Ann: When Mikey died you left. Not physically. But you might as well have left me. He did. You did. My folks did, everyone does.
Boyd: Len, what happened?
Len: I can’t talk about it.
Sue Ann: We need to.
Len: Not in front of all of these strangers.
Sue Ann: Who cares? They will never see you again. Spit it out.
Len: Okay. (To Boyd) You want to know? I shot Mikey. He was crawling into the back bedroom window of his old room. I did not know he was coming home. I thought he was the burglar who had been hitting the neighborhood and I called out to stop, but he came towards me in the dark and I shot him. He said one word to me. “Surprise!” and he died before I could call 911. I have no idea how to deal with what happened. I know it was an accident. At least that is what I want to believe. (Tears) He was my son. (Hold face) I killed my boy. (Repeat quietly)
(The group gets quiet while Len reaches for the Kleenex. Sue Ann stares at him, measuring his emotions)
Boyd: It is so sad when something like this happens. If you don’t talk you are going to have to understand that an event like this tragedy changes everything about your marriage. Stay with what you are feeling Len. Moving on.
Travis: What do you mean, ‘Moving On’? I just did a project for an organization who deals with teenage suicide. All of the facts say that when you lose your child like this most people divorce. Isn’t there a way for you to help him, Boyd?
Bootsie: If he wants to ask for help, we are here for him. (Len looks at her and his wife)
Travis: OK. Moving on. I was an art geek and in high school I never fit in. At college, it was almost as bad, but Marigold made me feel like I was important. She loved me and everything got better. I wanted to help her get through school, so I went into graphic design and started to make a good income. I could pay the bills. It felt good to me. I was finally a grown-up and I liked what I was doing. But Len? My brother was killed in the Gulf War and it nearly killed me, too.
Sue Ann: Tell them the rest. (Len shakes his head no) Tell them that Mike came home from Iraq early and he was trying to surprise us. I am so mad. I told Mike that I hate surprises. All of his life I told him that. He did it anyway and look what happened.
Travis: Good grief.
Marigold: We started to go to groups to talk about how Travis felt way back then. It helped us, Len. Maybe it can help you and Sue Ann. Work helped my husband. School kept me busy and when I started rotations I was so tired I never had time to feel sorry for myself anymore. I grew up right then. I looked at the world in a different way. For me it was about life, not death and I got through it.
Kristine: I am sorry for your loss. (She leans forward and back and rubs her back). I was one of those kids who never had a bad day. The folks were terrific. My older sister loved me and let me tag along. I went to work babysitting when I was young and as soon as I was old enough to drive, I worked at the little historical museum in my hometown. I fell in love with the idea of museums! I was only seventeen when my folks went out sailing and drowned. Over – night I was an orphan. Happy to lost in an hour. My sister saw me through college and sent me to Europe where I really grew up because I had to travel alone. I also got to see all of the big museums and knew I would do that kind of work forever. In the back of my mind I think about how I want to take care of this baby so it is never alone. It has only been since I got pregnant that I really realized how sad it is that our child won’t have my parents in its life… It scares me, too.
Armando: I am first generation American. I never had a chance to be a kid. My family was so serious about me going to college and focusing on work and school, I was always a grown-up. It is hard to figure out just when I knew it, but it was probably when I was about ten and someone came into the house when my folks were gone. I was taking care of my siblings and I had to protect them. I took a butcher knife to the intruder and fainted when he left. My folks were proud of me. I was just numb. After that I knew I could do anything. And I did!
Boyd: Before we go on to Samuel, let’s go back to Joyce or Carter.
Joyce: I remember the day I was confirmed. In the eyes of God I became a grown-up when I was 12. I went to Catechism classes and then we all got to wear our white dresses and veils and join the congregation. There was a big party and all of our families made us feel very special. It was just like a….
Joyce: Shame on you. I was going to say dream. I graduated from the academy and went on to college. I concentrated on business classes and got my MBA. I was working at an advertising company when I met Carter ten years later. We got married, we have two children who are both in college and now I want to go to work again.
Carter: I didn’t have time for business when I was growing up. I wanted to be far away from the mills and offices, so I learned everything I could about how to build things by working summers and weekends for local contractors. I was doing an ad package where Joyce worked and there was a reception one night. I liked how she looked. And she was very intelligent. I thought that she would be a good fit for me in our business and I was right. Then we got married. She took over the business part and I built houses. We were a good team, weren’t we, Joyce? But it has only been the past year, since the economic downturn, that I realized that I don’t know her anymore. I guess I really skipped a few steps in growing up, because she makes me feel like a spoiled child that doesn’t get his way and it is driving me nuts!
Samuel: I can’t remember when I thought of myself as a man for the first time. During the war, I guess. I was in Viet Nam right after the TET Offensive and we’d lost so many marines and soldiers that I just knew I was going to die. I wrote a letter to my folks and told them the things that I thought were important to me. “Tell Rebecca that I love her,” I wrote. I put the letter in my pocket and never sent it. And, when all was said and done, I was still alive. When I got home I read the letter through and it was so ridiculous that the only true thing I saved was the sentiment about Rebecca. We got married a month after I returned home. I used the GI Bill and finished teacher training and went to work.
Kristine: Sorry to interrupt, but (She is rubbing her back and looking like she is really hurting) I really need to lie down for a bit.
Boyd: It’s almost time for lunch. Go back to the dorms for now and after lunch we will meet again. Bootsie, you can handle the gals and I will take the fellas.
Scene II (Everyone looks at Kristine. Armando helps her to her feet and Joyce and Marigold walk her out and over to the dorm. The men stand there for a second and go to their dorm. We see the lights go out on the center and come up on the women.)
Joyce: Dear God please let this woman be all right.
Sue Ann: Come and put your feet up. Would one of you put some pillows behind her back and hand me one for under her legs. (She works to get Kristine comfortable.)
Kristine: I am just having a hard time with sitting so long is all.
Marigold: You said you were due in five more weeks? Have you had any spotting or contractions at all?
Marigold: Good. Just rest. Why don’t we sit down and have some tea and talk a little?
(Rebecca shrugs and sits down on the empty chair- and the others grab chairs and pull up to the table while Marigold gets some mugs and the carafe of hot water.)
Sue Ann: It sounds good to me. Sit down Joyce. You can pray more later. Tell us about this missionary thing.
Joyce: There is a place in Columbia outside of Medellin where they have a new orphanage. I want to go there and work to help take care of the children.
Bootsie: How long would you be gone? (Marigold brings the tea and goes over to Kristine)
Joyce: I am going in a couple of weeks for ten days to take a better look and figure out what I have to do.
Sue Ann: So you are going with or without Carter’s ok?
Joyce: I will go. And, I guess, since it is important to do it. I will go.
Bootsie: You are going to have to figure out a way to work this out with your husband. You don’t want to give up your marriage, do you?
Joyce: That is why I’m here, Bootsie. I want to work things out, but I can’t just stay the same anymore.
Marigold: Is Carter going down there, too?
Joyce: Not on your life. He is too busy- and completely against it.
Kristine: (From bed) It sounds like it will be exciting. Have you ever traveled before?
Joyce: Yes. To Europe and to Mexico. I think that since I am going in a big group, it should be easy enough. (She crosses herself)
Marigold: (To Kristine) How ya’ doin’?
Kristine: I guess I am more tired than I thought. Getting here wore me out and I worry about how Mando reacts to everything.
Sue Ann: You don’t have to make excuses for anyone. Armando is a big boy. I do think you look a little flushed. (Rebecca comes in close and then she feels Kristine’s forehead. Kristine’s eyes are closed, but we see her grimace. Rebecca leaves)
Bootsie: Tea is ready girls, have one of these sandwiches and we can rest until later.
Scene III: (Some of the men are playing cards and others are looking at the old fishing stuff or reading quietly. We see Rebecca enter and touch Samuel’s shoulder. He reacts by brushing it off. Then she tries again and he looks up to see her and gets up to walk outside.)
Samuel: What are you doing, Rebecca. Boyd told us we are not to talk to anyone but the men or women in our groups.
Rebecca: I thought that you should know that the young woman is going to have her baby. Soon.
Samuel: How do you know?
Rebecca: How do I always know, Sam? You will need to tell the young husband so he isn’t surprised. Find out if any of the men have gone through a delivery before. One of them might be able to help you.
Samuel: Help me?
Rebecca: Somebody needs to help her, Sam. I have to go. I will come back if I know more.
Samuel: I am sure that Bootsie will come and tell Boyd if something happens. (He goes back inside.)
Len: What were you doing?
Samuel: Taking some air.
Boyd: I forgot that there are sandwiches in the fridge. We will eat here and rest for a while. OK?
Sam: (Looking around the room at the different men, Sam suddenly speaks) You know, fellas. I have been thinking. The weather is getting kinda’ funny and with that little lady about ready to have her baby, I was wondering if any of you guys have helped deliver a child?
Armando: She is not due for five weeks. We have plenty of time.
Len: What do you mean the weather is turning funny?
Boyd: (Looking out the window and then going to the door) Sam is right. There is a storm heading this way. Maybe we better get some emergency supplies ready in case we need them.
Carter: That’s all we need. What do we do out here if the power goes out?
Boyd: We have lots of food, blankets, candles, batteries and water that we can use without power, so don’t worry. I am going to check with Bootsie and see about dinner. Go ahead with lunch. I’ll be right back. (Exit)
Travis: (He is drawing in a sketch book) Sam, I can help deliver a baby. I have done it before with mine and to be honest, I liked being in the delivery room. Besides, Marigold……(lightning hit) Yikes! What was that?
Sam: It got the tree top. Look. (All go to the door to look. Boyd comes running back in.)
Boyd: Grab your blankets and whatever you will need for a campout in the main room. There is back-up power there and we can do some work together later. (We see the men picking up and getting ready to move when the lights go out)
Scene I: (Everyone is back in the main room. The members are all talking to each other- except Sam, who is carefully watching Kristine and Armando. Rebecca is standing close to the pregnant woman and mouthing words to Sam while she points to her watch and at the woman’s tummy.)
Bootsie: Grab your water and snack plate. I set up the TV trays in front of everyone’s seat so you can use it for your personal items and dinner service. We will have the dinner that was already in the oven set over on the table in a little while. You can sit wherever you like at this point.
Boyd: We will do some dyads first. Pull a chair in front of your spouse and set them up so your knees almost touch. I want you to be able to look into each other’s face and eyes. Find a spot where you have room around you. Bootsie help move the trays out of the way for now, ok? (Rebecca leaves the room and Sam sits by himself at first and then he gets up and leaves, too.) Sam? Bootsie can sit with you.
Len: What next?
Sue Ann: Look into my eyes, Len. (She tells him soto voce ‘listen’)
Carter: Joyce, you don’t have to pray just yet, so come and sit down in front of me over here, okay? (She looks at him, shrugs and comes over)
Marigold: I have our chairs all set, Travis. (She motions for him to join her)
Travis: I hate this type of thing, Mari. Maybe I should go out and see what is going on with the weather. Sam is out there, too. He could need help.
Armando: Boyd, how long are we going to do this?
Boyd: Until you feel like you understand why we do it!
Armando: All right. Kristine, are you ready to sit down?
Kristine: Yes. Can you get me the big pillow? (Armando moves to get the pillow)
Marigold: Put it behind the small of her back. You can let her put her feet up by holding her legs over your lap. (Sam comes in with Travis. Travis crosses to Marigold and Sam sits down by Rebecca.)
Rebecca: I cannot help you with this part, Sam. I will be back in a little while. (We see her leave the room)
Bootsie: I will sit with you and help you with this part, Sam. It’s ok. Trust me.
Sam: Do I have a choice? (Chuckling) Do you know that Kristine is going to have her baby?
Bootsie: She isn’t due until ______. Why do you think so?
Sam: A little birdie told me. She is probably wrong with her calculations of when she got pregnant. I just know, after watching my wife- and others, that it’s close.
Bootsie: I hope the power comes on before anything like that happens! Or maybe she can wait until the boat takes her home.
Sam: Liability issues?
Bootsie: Not that! It is just that there can be complications. It won’t happen! What am I worried about?
Sam: How does this work, Bootsie?
Bootsie: Dyads are about the two people listening to the other and saying things that are important. There’s Boyd. Just listen…
Boyd: Is everyone sitting comfortably? Here is what I want you to do. Decide who goes first. That person can say exactly what he or she wants to say to the partner. The partner listens and then has a chance to respond while the first person is quiet and listens. The rule is that you look into the partner’s eyes and don’t look away. We will practice first. Try the following thing: tell your partner what you like about their face. You know? – Eyes, mouth, ears, and etc. Begin. (We see the dyads start- all together. AD LIBS)
Boyd: Next, tell your partner why you don’t want to talk to them. Begin (Again the same AD LIBS)
Boyd: This time make sure you make an “I” statement when you tell the partner, ‘when you don’t talk to me, you make me feel like…..’ Begin. (We see that this is harder to do and that the couples are having some difficulty with continuing AD LIBS.)
Boyd: Don’t stop. I am walking around the room and I will help you. Keep going.
Sam: Bootsie, I feel like a fool when I try to talk to Rebecca. I’m not stupid. I know she’s dead. But I see her and now she never shuts up and I can’t go around talking to her anymore. People think I’m crazy! (Everyone suddenly stops and stares at Sam)
Bootsie: But, it is all right to have words with someone you’ve lost, Sam. Wait. What do you mean she talks to you all of the time? Is she here now? (Bootsie looks around)
Sam: No she went outside.
Marigold: I thought I was feeling a spirit. Where are you, Rebecca? (Rebecca comes back in from out in the hall and touches Marigold on the shoulder) O-o-o-h. I just felt something.
Sue Ann: Can she talk to my son?
Sam: I don’t know. (The room is falling out of dyads and everyone is dragging their chairs back into the circle at Boyd’s direction.)
Bootsie: Is that why you said that Kristine was having the baby? Did she tell you? (Everyone starts asking Rebecca questions AD LIBS)
Boyd: There are no ghosts. Calm down everyone. Sam is trying to get to the point that he stops talking to his wife and move on.
Travis: Finally we have something really interesting to deal with. Do you see her, too?
Joyce: I think it’s Satan. He is tempting you. (She starts praying and Carter shushes her)
Carter: Maybe Sam loved her so much that she stayed with him. (Rebecca moves to Kristine’s side)
Sam: That’s what she told me. The thing is this. When she had her stroke she could no longer speak. We are talking about a woman who used words her entire life to help others and then she couldn’t talk. She couldn’t even write or type anymore. She was vegetative. Except her eyes. She looked at me and I saw that she was trying to talk through her eyes. (Everyone starts looking around to find Rebecca and they all start talking to her.)
Len: Can she talk to other people who have died? I would like to find out if Mike knows….that I….
Sue Ann: Tell Mike that Len is sorry. It was an accident. And if Mikey would have listened to me, he would still be here.
Kristine: Did my folks suffer much when they drowned? (She groans an oh-oh and holds her back)
Armando: Tell my Abuela that I am afraid I won’t be a good dad. Find out what I need to do.
Marigold: Are there dogs in heaven? Really?
Travis: Is that what you want to know? Really? You could ask if the kids are doing drugs, or if that woman is going to go into labor, but no! You want to know if dogs go to heaven. Unbelievable!
Marigold: I may not want to go to heaven if my dogs aren’t there!
Boyd: Are you kidding me? You don’t want to spend the rest of your existence in paradise if you don’t have your dead dogs with you?
Marigold: That and some of the religious hypocrites that will be begging for forgiveness at the last minute before they die- because they can!
Joyce: I know that God will be the one who lets people be saved (crosses herself) through Jesus Christ our lord and savior- of course.
Carter: Now you‘ve done it, Marigold! I can’t believe it. Joyce? (He looks over to admonish her) Please don’t start with the rant about going to heaven.
Joyce: It is obvious that she needs to know more about the Bible, Carter. Do you have a relationship with our Lord, Jesus? (She asks Marigold) He is there for all of us and God loves you and wants you to be part of his kingdom on earth when the world comes to an end!
Marigold: (She motions for Carter to let it go) Here is the deal, Joyce. I believe that you believe. In fact, I believe that lots of people believe in Jesus and that they have availed themselves of God’s personal invitation to become intimate through prayer and service to him. I know that it is all about separating yourself from others who do not believe and spending your days trying to be more like Jesus. Good. Holy. Boring!
Joyce: (Standing) Why are you here at a Christian Couple’s Camp instead of a secular counseling situation?
Marigold: I saw the flier and it was time to check in with my feelings. Besides that, Travis is probably having an affair that he is covering up and I am so tired of being easy to get along with, I was just waiting for a good argument!
Travis: How did you find out…?
Marigold: That you are seeing that little graphics artist at the co-op?
Travis: (Shocked) At the Co-op?
Marigold: Maybe you should have had her go to a different gynecologist with her little pregnancy test and problems conceiving. She told me all about her lover, you, on the second visit. It was not hard to figure out who you were after a few pointed questions, Travis. Did you bother to tell her that you had a vasectomy? No? H-m-m-m!
Travis: But, you never said anything.
Boyd: Why would she?
Bootsie: You son of a gun! You would rather be playing golf? I just bet you would!
Marigold: Don’t worry, folks. I am not without feelings, but I did take vows that are sacred to me. I am not through with Travis yet!
Sue Ann: Everyone has their secrets, huh? What else could possibly be revealed at Boyd and Bootsie’s Couple’s Kampf?
Len: Funny, Sue Ann. Couple’s Kampf! (He starts laughing) Everyone is struggling!
Sue Ann: Ha, ha, Len. You, most of all! Are you going to get everything out on the table or do I have to drag you kicking and screaming into Monday?
Len: When I got here, I thought that you guys had some relationship issues and I didn’t want to be here. I still don’t! But, a little attempted suicide seems mild by comparison to some of you people!
Bootsie and Kristine: (Together) You tried to commit suicide? (Armando is comforting Kristine and looks worried)
Len: And failed (laughing even more) I just can’t seem to do anything right! Shoot my son…
Sue Ann: Your son?
Len: I raised him. I watched him go off to war. I worried about him while he was gone.
Sue Ann: And you shot him when he came home! Then you tried to shoot yourself, leaving me completely alone to deal with it all! Why, Len? Why?
Len: Because I couldn’t. Deal with it all, that is.
Boyd: You must have been so sad.
Joyce: Suicide is against God.
Carter: Shut up, Joyce.
Joyce: Well, it is!
Boyd: Sue Ann? Is what Len did why you felt abandoned?
Sue Ann: Who wouldn’t? I always lose everyone I love.
Bootsie: How did you manage to go on? I would be so unable to help myself if it were me.
Sue Ann: What can anyone else do about it? You are not the ones who are going through our mess.
Boyd: That is why we are all here. We are all in some kind of “mess” as you say, right Armando?
Armando: Mess? That’s putting it mildly! I am so worried about being a dad…
Boyd: No you aren’t. You are ready to become a dad. But are you being completely honest with yourself? Aren’t there some things going on with you at work? I thought that you were involved with the PAC committee suit and some ethics questions?
Armando: (Kristine looks at him with questioning look) I do have a few things that are concerning to me.
Kristine: Are you in some kind of trouble, Armando?
Boyd: You might as well get it out now.
Armando: It is nothing important. Not really.
Carter: I hate the word really! It’s an overused adverb!
Joyce: Really? You are really out of the loop. You are really a piece of work. Really!
Carter: You are really not being a wife, Joyce.
Boyd: Back to you two. What you have not told your wife is very important to her- and you, Armando. Tell her.
Armando: I set up some accounts for a Save the Children sort of organization that is working to stop the violent kidnapping of children in Uganda, You know, that Kony character? Well it seems that the PAC has been collecting money and it does not get used to save anybody but the people who are spending it themselves.
Kristine: How can that hurt you?
Armando: I did not vet the organization properly and I signed some documents that make it look like I am involved in the scam. The Feds are looking at my practice and have frozen my assets. They even have frozen my personal bank account and credit cards. I can’t tell you why it happened. I had my mind on so many other things that…..
Kristine: My water just broke!
Rebecca: Here we go Sam!
Sam: How long before the boat gets back here, Boyd?
Boyd: (Looking at his watch.) They are supposed to be here at two. It is only 10:30 now.
Marigold: I need a few of you to help me. Ladies, can you go to the kitchen area and start boiling big kettles of water. Look for all of the towels you can bring and get more bottled water. Men, we need a little privacy, so let’s see if we can get her to the women’s quarters. Armando, you come with me.
Sam: Rebecca, (to her) can you give Marigold a hand? (Looking around the room at the men who are trying to see who he is talking to) I am sure Rebecca will answer all of your questions later. Let’s just take care of Kristine. (They all nod in agreement. The men start to tidy up the room and put it back in order)
Boyd: Put the chairs back into dyads. We still need to finish what we started.
Travis: (He is examining the chair that Kristine was sitting in) This is interesting, you guys. Look at this (They gather around Travis). There is a squished water bottle stuck in the back of this cushion and it is all wet.
Len: It is wet because Kristine’s water broke.
Carter: I don’t think so. Maybe her water broke…conveniently!
Boyd: Why would you say that?
Sam: Because she just found out that her hubby is in trouble and she just got him out of here- away from all of us.
Travis: And I bet she is talking to him right now!
Carter: Well, while the girls are away, I want to know about why you are cheating on your wife?
Travis: Not cheating, really.
Carter: What do you mean? If you have an intimate relationship with anyone besides your wife, it is cheating. I have done a lot of things, but I never have cheated on Joyce,
Travis: You cannot cheat on a wife who is never here.
Len: I thought she was a stay at home wife. It surprised the crap out of me to learn she is a doctor.
Sam: And a competent one, too. I think I remember Rebecca talking about her a few years back. Didn’t she start that clinic for women?
Travis: Yes. And she teaches. And she is a surgeon. And she volunteers for everything hippy-dippy-trippy.
Boyd: What made you fall in love with her?
Travis: She was so laid back and full of life.
Boyd: You mean that she is doing what she has always done and you can’t appreciate those things about her anymore?
Travis: Now that she knows about me, I don’t think that she would ever forgive me, even if things were different.
Sam: Don’t sell yourself short. She still loves you.
Travis: I haven’t been able to tell for a long time.
Len: Maybe you haven’t told her that you loved her for a long time. (Marigold walks back into the room)
Marigold: I checked Kristine and she has not lost her water and her cervix is not dilated. I told Bootsie to take the girls for a walk and leave Armando and Kristine alone in the cabin for a bit. What do you want to do, Boyd?
Boyd: I am relieved. Let me think a minute.
Sam: Rebecca said she was ready to have the baby.
Marigold: She is. But not right now.
Sam: Travis found where there was a water bottle that was broken on Kristine’s chair. I better put that one away and get out a new one, huh?
Len: Did she try to fool us?
Marigold: No, Len. She thought she was in labor. And she is still having back pains.
(All the girls come into the room and mill around the table. Armando helps Kristine to the table and she is clutching her big pillow.
Bootsie: grab a snack and get ready to sit back down people.
Kristine: I am so sorry everyone. I felt my bottom get wet and I thought my water broke.
Armando: You really scared me, honey.
Boyd: I have a question for all of you. Do you love your spouses? (Everyone- even Sam says yes) Then we have a few things to finish. Sit down facing your spouse in the dyad chairs one more time. (All of them do as asked. Sam reaches out to hold Rebecca’s hands- and the people all notice what he is doing.)
Boyd: Repeat these words starting with the men first and…
Bootsie: …then finish the thought in your own words: I have loved you since the day…
Boyd: Go ahead men. Tell your partners how you fell in love with them. (The men all start talking at once and get silent.) Don’t lose eye contact. OK. Now, ladies? Tell your partners why you have loved them since the day you…. (Ladies)
Bootsie: Good. Look at each other and tell your partner your favorite facial feature and why you like it. Men? (They all talk)
Boyd: Ladies. You do the same. (Women)
Boyd: Before you say anything else, I want you to answer a question to yourself as you look at your partner. Do I still love you? (They start talking) Not out loud. Decide for yourself and just look at the person you have spent your life with.
(There is a crack of lightning and sound of thunder and the lights go out for a couple of seconds. When the lights come back on, we don’t see Rebecca anymore and we see Sam looking around for her. No one notices- just the audience. Sam sits up straight.)
Boyd: Wow that was close! Everyone ok? (Nods) Let get ’er done! Ready? Look at your partner and one couple at a time I want each one of you to say I promise to love you and use your partner’s name.
Bootsie: Like this. (She holds Boyd’s hands and looks at him and speaks) I promise to love you, Boyd.
Boyd: I promise to love you, Bootsie. (He continues to look at her for a second) take your time and do this right people. This is the beginning of you working together to heal some of your wounds. It is a promise you cannot break if you are to go on.
Bootsie: It is a promise you cannot forget if you want your partner to love you back.
Boyd: One couple at a time.
Sue Ann: Len, I promise to love you.
Len: I promise to love you, Sue Ann.
Boyd: That’s it. Travis?
Travis: Marigold, I am so sorry.
Marigold: I know.
Travis: I still love you. I promise to keep loving you, Mari.
Marigold: I promise to love you, Travis…love you.
Joyce: Carter, you know I love you, don’t you? (He shakes his head yes)
Boyd: Just make your promise.
Joyce: I promise to love you, Carter.
Carter: And, Joyce, I promise to love you, too.
Armando: My turn? (Boyd signals for him to speak) Kristine, whatever happens, I promise to love you.
Kristine: (She adjusts her pillow) Thank you, Armando. I promise to love you, Armando. (They grasp hands and lean into one another and separate and continue to look at each other. We are down to Sam- who sits alone in his dyad)
Sam: I guess I never thought you would really ever be gone, Rebecca. I’ll miss you. (Everyone gasps) But, I promise I will always love you.
Lights go out and a moment later we hear a groan)
Kristine: Armando? My water just broke.
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