Friday, February 5, 2016

Wobbly and Wobberjawed

JB, my childhood friend and neighbor, and I built many things together.  Carts and wagons and bikes and caves and tunnels and, well, structures.  We liked to make "secret places" in the woods and backyards and fields and gravel pits that surrounded us.  

We made treehouses, platforms really on relatively low branches.  Pounding giant ten penny nails with lightweight hammers through planks and into the green wood of the branch.  Two nails took us half an afternoon.  But, one time, we managed to form a sort of bench very high up in an old maple on someone else's property.  It was shockingly high, terrifyingly high, exhilaratingly high.  

I think we sat there ten minutes or less, never to climb that high again.

We made a low, lodge-like building one Spring out of long pines we'd found in a particularly spooky patch of woods just off Mr Poff's soybean field.  The long trunks - felled many years before in a wind or under the weight of snow or ice or, perhaps, just crowded out like little brothers by the big guys - were as dry and hard as driftwood, not rotted, laying all those years on a thick bed of pine needles.  We stripped the bark and cut off the knots of branches with our trusty hatchets.  We found four pieces of forked wood from an oak that had fallen not as long ago, sharpened the points and drove them into the ground and laid the long logs between them.  We used string - that rough hemp string, we'd found in and abandoned barn, I can still see and feel it in my hands - to tie crossbeams of shorter sticks across the two forkends and vertically like pickets to frame a wall.  We sacrificed a fairly small white pine and wove the soft-needled branches all around for walls.  (God - it's funny what comes back when you really start remembering a thing, it can almost hurt.)  We used an old "oil-cloth" for a roof lashed down with that same hemp twine.

We spent an afternoon and evening in it, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, canteens of water, apples and a chess board.  At sunset we took our tarp and went home.

One year, in the woods on the other side of 741, behind the old gravel pit where people shot their rifles and shotguns, we had the notion we could build a sort of log house.  We gathered every fallen branch we could find.  We cut them in to five or so foot lengths with a bow saw and hatcheted points on each and pounded them into the ground, one next to the other like a vertical log cabin.  The plan was a circle but, after about three days we only had a six, maybe, foot wall.  It was all wobbly and wobberjawed.  

At the end of that third day, I think we peed on it and went home.

JB had the notion to build a tepee.  We used long bamboo poles, five or six of them.  He'd found an elaborate knot that was supposed to keep the apex from slipping and yet still the poles could lay flat for transport.  We cussed that knot for hours.  Finally though, we had something and we spread the poles and it all stayed as it was supposed to.  We couldn't understand why our rectangular tarp wouldn't wrap around it, neither of us had yet studied the geometry of cones.  It didn't matter anyway, Mr. B. came home and told us to put the poles back in the garage where they'd been because he might need them someday.

We argued we needed them now.  And then we put them back in the garage.

There are many others that flash through my mind - a cozy little lean-to, more an a-frame, I guess, sticks leaned up against a length of long-forgotten fence, three poles and only the top rail, weathered and gray, still hanging on; a deep gouge in a hillock, cut out by a farmer who needed some top soil many years before that we lined with sticks and fashioned a roof from a couple of peeling, water-logged sheets of plywood and, because it was dirt and Ohio mudclay, we poured bucket after bucket of sand and stone from a dry creekbed for a floor; a fort of pallets out behind someone's barn, we imagined shooting arrows out the slits.

It was, in fact, those pallets that began our last masterpiece.  We found out it was Bucky Barnes' dad's barn.  On the bus one morning, we asked Bucky to ask his dad if we could have four of them.

"Ask him yer damn self," was his reply.  I saw his point.  Mr. Barnes was a pretty gruff dude, heavy set, big, that kind of big that surprises you, perpetually in overalls or Carhart's, leather face and hands - a farmer.

It was near the end of my sixth-grade year, JB's seventh, and that first day of Summer vacation we marched across a few fields, through the gravel pit and came up behind the Barnes', well, barn.

I'll spare you the whole conversation, calling it awkward would be kind.  Although we'd talked to him before, we introduced ourselves and asked him about the pallets and if we could have four.

"You ain't gonna burn 'em, are ya?"

Frankly, that hadn't occurred to us, so we said no.

"Well," he said gruffly, "Whaddya want 'em for?"

"We want to use them as, well, a sorta floor and foundation for a clubhouse were gonna build," I blurted out, sounding ridiculous, I'm sure.

His face softened, just a bit, and his eyes smiled, just a bit, and he said, "Well, that's just about as gooda want as any, I guess.  You can have 'em.  Jus' four."  

We thanked him, relieved to have his permission and to be away from him.  Big guy.

Pallets are heavy.  We'd really not considered how we would get them all the way to JB's backyard.  Not wanting to have to return, we decided, in our primitive wisdom, that we'd take them all by carrying one about a hundred yards ahead, drop it, and return with another, repeat.

We were easily a mile-and-a-half from home, through fields and over hills and fences.  It was a masterful comedy routine - add "Yakkety Sax" and speed up the film and start laughing at the clowns. We tried carrying two and getting about ten feet out and dropping them on JB's toe.  He jumped up and down, cussing - which we'd just really started at - and chased me around with a stick.  We tried to roll - remember pallets are square - them, sort of flipping them to one side then the next.  They kept falling on us, and we got to laughing and wrasslin' and before long we'd moved exactly three out that hundred yards.  It'd probably taken us an hour.

We were wet and hot from the dew and exertion, so we figured we'd take a break.  We were not daunted, boys are not quick to recognize ill-fated or idiotic schemes.  We sat on those three pallets listening to the birds and bugs and frogs and, suddenly the sound of a tractor firing up in the barn disturbed our revery.

We saw the two tandem wheels come around the corner of the barn and then the rest of that old John Dear and then a beat up old hay-wagon.  Mr. Barnes stopped in front of that last pallet, grabbed it with one hand and flung it up onto the wagon.

We were confused.  He puttered up towards us, braked the tractor and idled it back.  He walked up to us, shirtless and overalled, a dirty seed hat high on his head.  Big man.

"Y'all got more wood to build yer 'clubhouse' with?"  His eyes laughed at the word, kindly, though.

"Uh, yeah, uhm, my dad's a carpenter and he brings home scraps and leftovers and stuff and he said it'd be okay if we used some of it and we found some wood out behind Old Man Osborne's shed and..." JB sorta ran out of air.

"I know yer pa, son, he's in Grange.  I know Old Man Osborne, too," he smiled a little and spit brown on the green grass, "and if I were you I'd grab that wood when he wernt lookin'.  Like, maybe, in the afternoon when he's sittin' on that porch, sippin on his 'lemonade' and snorin' in the breeze."

He laughed and we chuckled.  We all knew that wernt lemonade in his glass.

It was right about here that we realized he was gonna help us, and that he knew a lot more about us than we did about him, that he knew a lot more than we did, period.

"Listen boys, let's load the rest of them pallets on here and drive you over there in the wagon.  I found some old wood in my barn that ain't a-doing nothin' but collecting dust and mouse shit so I threw it on there.  There's some two-by-fours and some old pine sidin' there and a couple sheets of some thin-ass plywood I ain't got no use for.  Mind it all though, boys, I cain't guarantee there're no nails in 'em."

We tried to stammer thanks but he'd not have it and he told us where to put the pallets.  Then he tied it all down, hemp rope again, and showed us a tension knot I still use to this day.

He drove us across the farm paths he knew so well.  We sat like kings on top of our pallet thrones, holding on so we'd not get thrown.  He knew where we lived, of course, he worked many of the fields around us.  When we got to the front of JB's house he asked us where we wanted it.  We told him behind the house which was down a steep hill and that we could just carry it from here.  He smiled and told us to hold on.

He went on down to the end of our street, turned left on 741, and then left into a lane.  It was early afternoon and he idled as quietly as he could and didn't wake Old Man Osborne or disturb his "lemonade."  Mr. Barnes pulled right up next to where we wanted it, showed us how to undo the knot and threw the pallets off as we unloaded the rest of the wood.

JB's dad came down, not knowing what was going on, worried I'd guess that we were causing trouble.  The two men looked on and talked as we finished with the last of it.

Mr. Barnes drove off back down towards the road and out of sight.  We heard him gun it and wondered if the lemonade had spilled.

I also wondered, out loud, why he'd done that - why he'd helped us.

Mr. B had turned and was starting back up the hill.  He stopped and came back towards.  This was unprecedented, Mr. B never left twice.  He was a man of very few words but he use up a bunch at once.

"He said he was glad to see kids doin' something.  I am, too.  He said he was proud to know you.  I am, too.  He said you was hardworkers.  I took exception to that."

He winked and marched up that long hill to the house.

We spent the next few weeks planning and building.  I used a circular saw, got a tetanus shot, got pulled over by a sheet of plywood kiting in the wind, got my own hammer and fell off a roof - all for the first time, none for the last.

Most of the wood was questionable, as was our understanding of posts and lintels, but, we had enough thanks to a pile we found behind some one's shed - it was afternoon as I recall.  We bought some plywood or pressed wood - a new concept at the time - and tar-paper for the roof.  As God is my witness, we shingled over it with flattened tin cans.  Yep.

It took us most of the summer.  It had a door and a small window.  We were really proud of it.  Mr. B said something glowing like, it's fine.  Kids came from all around to see it.  My dad liked it.  We thought about asking Mr. Barnes to see it.  We didn't.

In truth, it was all wobbly and wobberjawed, nails bent over, bad cuts everywhere, gaps and scabs and splinters, what a mess...

It was also HOTTER'N HELL.  I mean it.  

We didn't spend much time in it after we'd finished it, we hung out a bit in the fall that year and, except for smoking a cigarette or two in it some years later we never really utilized it.  I think Mrs. B used it as a potting shed (though we already had) after Joe moved on and I went to college.

It's all in the doing, like Mr. Barnes said.  I think that's my point, but, it's trite.  

It's more though, deeper, primal - boys need to do stuff, it keeps the wild at bay.  Men do too, not just to stave the wild but to also embrace it here and there.  Doing is trying and trying is risking failure and failing is good and just and right.

It is also not as complicated as I might make it out to seem.  It is inaccurate to say it's all in the doing, you see, it all is the doing.  The things JB and I made over the summers of my childhood are now but dust and rot.  But, it was the doing that was my reward.

You know, just the other day I remembered another thing we used to do with branches leaned against a tree.  I can't figure what set me to thinking about it:

I've kept you too long again, it's unforgivable really.

Peace to you and yours and mine and theirs and... you get it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Back to the Beginning

I sometimes miss doing the simple posts I started this all with.  So, I decided that I'd try it again.  Also, there are a couple of things the boys wanted me to post on here, I won't tell you which ones.

Here is a rainbow star that I found underneath a pile of old papers on the corner of my desk.  Nick made it a couple of years ago.  I remember keeping it, planning to put it here.  I also remember he was very proud of it... so am I.

The boys are on a Dodgeball team and entered into a tournament scheduled later this month.  They were experimenting with ideas for a T-shirt, this one was in the discard pile.  I like that they identify as "nerds," it shows they don't really care about labels and yet, they understand that they exist.  I love, love, love that they used ellipses... just as incorrectly as I do.

Zack has been working on his graffiti tag.  It's pretty good.  Freud called but I asked him to get back with me in a few years.

I just don't know what to say about this one.  I'd work in a lab with this dude though, parrot'n all.  I love that wallpaper, too.

In Art class the boys were asked to do a version of Grant Wood's iconic "American Gothic."  Zack made his a butcher and his wife in front of a pig shaped shop.  Their logo is "Meat Yum!"  I love him so.  I like that he's holding a pot of fresh basil.  Maybe there's a green-grocer out front.

This is maybe two inches by two inches, it was the only thing on a full-sized sheet of paper - I think that's delightfully odd.

Right now the boys are outside, it's fifty-something and the sun is bright and breeze is blowing.  They like to do their homework in on the top deck of the playset.  Oh, wait, they're done and now they are stick-fighting and running around screaming.  I wonder what they are chanting...

"Ain't no party like an out side party 'cause an outside party don't stop!"

It's true, you know.

I love how weird they are, how quirky and unpredictable they can be, how individual they've become.

From Marci's "...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat... " Facebook page:

Marci Peebles's photo.

When it is 55° in February, you do your homework in the play set.

Well, it was fun going back and thinking sillily and all.  Peace to you.

Thanks for stopping by and come back Friday, if you have time, I am trying to write more substantial stuff on Fridays, trying...

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Long Time Comin'

It is difficult to explain a life, especially one's own.  You've only a fraction of the time that's past behind you to figure it out, it seems an insoluble equation.  And yet, here I am trying to do just that, explain a life, namely my own.

There are places - or are they times? - where you can see the all of something - the all of what you are allowed to see, at least - the completion.

I am never sure where a story begins or ends.  It is my great fault as a storyteller.  In linear time this all has a specific beginning on a stormy porch in Mason forty-some years ago.  But, my understanding of this all came staring down a bright fire, glass in hand, tear in eye, just the other night

Should I work backward to reach the spark that started it all or work forward to reveal the glowing embers of understanding?  I mentioned this is my great fault, didn't I?


You might remember the great screened in porch at the western end of the brick ranch I grew up in.  The porch looked off towards valleys and fields and barns and sunsets and storms.  Although I was initially afraid of storms, my dad explained the science - speed of light, speed of sound, the elegance of electricity's polarity, grounded lightning rods in the shape of roosters, decibels and candlepower, and wind sheer - and I came to appreciate them... sorta.

Summer storms often serve up a harbinger wind before they come in.  If you saw one coming in the distance, you could be sure that you could get a breeze on your salty, September sweat.

We saw a storm brewing off in the distance just south of the sun hurrying down.  It was after dinner and Dad and I went out on the porch to catch the breeze see what might come of it.

But, that storm stalled, not a mile away, and that early breeze whispered off.  The storm just sat, each threatening cloud roiling and lifting upwards and back into itself like gray cotton candy.  Right at the line where it all fell back into itself in deeper grays and blacks, the lightning flashed bright white, the blue shadows flashed in the clouds like steel buttresses supporting the tall thunderheads.  And, it sat there like a cathedral, ominous and sacred.

Dad stood, a scotch on the rail, a pipe in his mouth, cupping a match, not against the wind, but out of habit, ritual.  He gazed out, puffing, grey smoke matching the sky.

"This storm's a long time comin'..." 

He said it to me, or the storm, or himself.

Suddenly, the citadel of a storm fell, and it roared on towards us, picking up speed, intensifying - aiming, it almost seemed.  The lightning blinded, the thunder deafened, the rain pelted.  Trees bent in the wind like supplicants in the strobe flashes from the nearly constant lightning.

I looked at my dad and I understood something for the first time.  He stood, pipe clenched between his teeth, head high, back straight, scotch secure in hand, laughing at it all.  His face was wet and his glasses were dotted with rain.  He looked wild and happy and I understood that wildness was for everyone - not just for boys.

"... a long time comin,'" he shouted above the storm, elongating the word like a wolf's howl.  I understood his inference even in the crazy wind and din of the storm - it is worth waiting and it will be rewarded.  The longer the wait, the better.  Stillness begets wildness.

I sit here now and try to figure how old I may have been in this scene.  It's funny, sometimes rich details and emotion can obscure the edges of a memory, render it timeless, frameless.  It is also funny that - and, you know, this just occurred to me, and it feels important - you don't really see yourself in your memories, you're not on the stage, you are both audience and narrator.  So, I can't see which glasses I had on or whether my cheeks were chubby or thin or what shoes I has wearing.

I'm gonna guess eleven or twelve, a little older than my boys are now.

I have long employed storms and weather and seasons in my storytelling.  Not always as the central theme or central image, but, often enough.

Four, maybe, years later I decided that I would take a shot at writing a song.  I was enamored of the singer-songwriters that I was listening to - Croce, Taylor, Denver, Lightfoot, Prine, Clark, and, of course, Dylan - and felt I could.

It is not a very good song.

I'd guess I typed it up on my mom's IBM Selectric in 1976 or '77.  I haven't seen this in years and I haven't played it in decades... well, until just now, I sorta felt I had to.  I suppose I could tell you some more details about it, but, examining teenage angst and sophomoric lyrics is not my reason for showing this.  No, it's the rain imagery.

Ten, eleven, years later I was living in New York City, Queens, and I decided to have a go at poetry.  I wrote, among others, this poem:

It's not a very good poem.  Again, not the point.  I remember writing it in an apartment in Astoria watching a storm come up.  My makeshift desk looked out upon the cityscape - the backside of it, in honestly.  The alleys and antennas and clotheslines and water tanks and buildings and buildings and buildings, so different than the fields and woods of home.  But, the wind blew through the screens and whipped the rain like wheat fields, the lightning cracked and flashed blue high in the high Ohio Valley thunderheads, and, well, it all mixed up in my head.  I saw the metaphor of it all, the ones my dad had alluded to - storms and life and anticipation, fear and hope, time and stillness, the calm, the wild.

Let's move on down - or up or across or through - the timeline to 1997.  I lived in a nice little, pastel yellow two-family house in Oakley, on Brazee Avenue, as I recall.  I had the bottom apartment.  It was a funny little setup; a living-room, a small bedroom, a kitchen along the back with a small cement porch and, a peculiarly large dining-room with a bay window that looked out upon nothing but a driveway and my neighbor's kitchen.

I had a desk - a door spanning two black filing cabinets - against one wall and a fairly large dining-room table in the unnecessary bay window.  The desk held the first computer I'd ever owned and a printer with which I'd just finished writing the novel I'd spent a year on.  It - the novel - sat waiting for whatever was next.  I didn't know... I still don't.

Painting in acrylics had long been something I dabbled in.  Poorly conceived, bright, unapologetic abstracts; big, clownish, ungainly things.  I had a closet full of them.  I knew they weren't very good, but I genuinely enjoyed the thought and effort and craft of it all and, well, before the internet, a fellow had a lot of time on his hands.  I am forever grateful for that time.

I liked thick, right-off-the-palette-knife strokes and I'd been working on two dark and stormy canvasses.  I would paint something over them, I wasn't sure what.

I took care of the lawn at this little house and the mower was in the two car garage out back.  It was a derelict old building and the cars stayed away.  There was a lot of junk crowded into it, boxes and old furniture, mystery items, defunct lawn chairs... you know.  That afternoon I noticed a wooden bin built into the far back corner of the garage.  What looked like wooden frames were sticking out of it in different sizes.  I'd been painting earlier that morning and I thought, incorrectly, that they might be canvasses.

It was all the old storm and screen windows for the house, windows long ago replaced by new double-paned ones of plastic and vinyl.  The glass storm windows were mostly cracked or missing the glass altogether.  The screens were broken and torn, old patches bending off, rusting and crumbling as screens will untended.  I wondered why they were still here - they seemed so purposeless.

In the center of the the rack one screen rose taller than the others.  I pulled it out and it all came to me at once.  It was fairly intact, only rusting around the bottom edge.  It was thick with grime and mouse droppings and dust turned to dirt over time.

I didn't get the lawn mowed that day, not for a couple.  I cleaned the screen up and painted it black and hand lettered the words to a poem, blowing them up, line by line on the computer, and printing the templates and mounting them on the underside of the screen and, carefully, stroke by stroke, painting the words in titanium white.  I used the words to the poem I told you about earlier.

I worked hard on it, devoted way too much time to it, and when I finished, I hung the whole thing on a wall in the oversized dining-room.  People liked it.  I liked it.  It was up at the apartment I moved to from that one, the one where I met Marci, and we had it in what would become the boys' room when we moved into this house.  It's been in the basement since they were born.

Remember earlier when I asked should I work forwards or back?  Well, this is where I'd have started if I'd've gone the other way.

Recently, an old friend of mine mentioned it: "... do you remember a screen you had on which you'd stenciled the words to a poem? Any chance you remember the poem? Was it one of yours"

I do, dear soul, and, yes, it was one of mine.  And thank you from the bottom of my soul for remembering it, for reminding me of it, for returning it to its place in this story... my story.

I got it out to show you, to show my thoughtful companion, to show Nick and Zack, to show myself.  I couldn't find a wall to accommodate it.  I tried setting it up on the floor but I couldn't get a good picture of it.  I finally looked outside, the wind was whipping up, storm clouds grayed the sky and the shed called to me, as sheds so often do...

So, that's it.  That's the "all" of it.  Stories spiraling backwards twisting with those going forward, like a double helix, meeting here and there, sharing, mingling, entwining with one another, forming a whole...

... for now.

Listen, life is the long game.  Life is in the waiting, in the spaces between the words, between the notes, between the breaths.  The best storms are a long time coming.  I'm glad for that.

Peace to you.  I've kept you far too long, I know you must be running off.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 22, 2016

I Am But A Bear

I am but a bear, not even a fur and bone bear, I am a stuffed bear. I am brown, or tan, and I have a red bow-tie. I guess it is red, I don't really see colors very well, except in the eyes of childrens.

I am the size of a newforn child. I have never met a newforn. I have seen them in the arms of the Big Ones. I have moved on because of one. They can't see us right. Babies can. And, of course the childrens can see us right.

I understand some things about the grownout world. It is where the children end up. I do not understand numbers or time. I see patterns. One light-to-light might be called a "day" to you Big Ones. To us it could be all of everything. It could be our only time with a children. From one coldtime to the next coldtime we spend under a bed seems an instant, which is also a forever... it is hard to explain.

I am not good with names. I try and try to believe that things are called other than what they are. That you Big Ones have labeled everything there is. That is a very brave thing to do, I think. So, I do not know what we are called. Because I am not good with names.

There are other-ones-like-me. A kitten used to be with me here. She said her labelname was "Kitty." It was because she was. I work very hard to remember her. She was smart and kind. She had to go finally.  She waited in a box and talked with me for a some part of time I don't know. And then she stopped answering my questions. I knew she moved on. It is sad for me right now to think of. And, I am a happy bear, mostly. She was a callicoed kitten. She gave a labelname to us, she called us Stuffers.

She called me BearBear because I am. My Boy calls me that. I can understand it. It is not too very hard to remember. My boy says it a lot. I don't always remember the name that is for My Boy. It sounds sizzly like a bacon noise. My Boy likes bacon. He likes the smell of it and the way it makes him feel loved. I can taste and feel it, too, because he can.

I am from Inbetween. I cannot understand the labelnames and the numbers and you cannot understand where I am from. Where I am, actually, now. Always. We live - exist is the word? - in Inbetween. I don't mean to say that Big Ones are not smart enough to get where we are, some do.

I am not made to be very smart. I'll try to explain it as best I can. I am made to listen, to emptysize - you know, when you take the hurt off another and leave them emptied of it so they can fill up again with better different stuff. I do pay attention, though. I listen, I can read, not the letters as you call them, but because each word is what it is and...

Oh my, this is getting complicated and I am but a bear.

Here is what I think. The Big Ones get into Inbetween when they love and cherish a children, specially their own. I see you so close to me when you pray. Your laughing and singing goes to Inbetween. Gods and Demons are from Inbetween. It is where everything starts and everything ends. It is where Guardian angels and wood sprites and cherubs and fairies wait until they are needed.

I am not saying any of this right.

My Boy is made of flesh and blood. He fell once where he goes when he is not here, and had to get some skitches. He was scared but it didn't hurt very much. The Furry Big One was with him and they talked about funny things. My Boy calls him something like Dad. Is that right?

This is what I think happened. The Furry Big One, Dad?, loves My Boy very much. So much that he sometimes sees me for what I am. I can feel his love for me. He looks for me when I am lost and hugs me just right. He puts me in my vest that the Twinkling Big One made me to make My Boy happy. It is very handsome. He talks to me. I think he loves me as a children loves me. This means I can be with him sometimes.

Oh my. There is so much explainings to tell you and I don't know how to tell you. I am not really sure who you are. I don't know where or when I am right now. I am always without the when and the where, Inbetween is like that, but you Grownouts like to know that stuff. I can see everywhere My Boy goes. I can go back to anywhere My Boy has been, even without him. What he calls memries are in what you call past but it is always my now.

Most Stuffers don't understand this sort of thinking. They are happy, content is it?, to just be always now. Some of us last only a short time. I am lucky, I have seen My Boy get bigger and bigger and have been with him for many of your years. That's why I can use the words so goodly.

Once a children sees us, we can see through them. We can see what they see. We can have the feelings they are having. We can see inside their heads, as you might say, but truly, inside their heads is Inbetween.

I was trying to say something. I will tell a story. The Furry... no, dad, was cleaning My Boy's room. He shares the room with the other My Boy, Kitty's boy. He's only seen me once and I doubt he remembers. I was very lost and he found me stuffed into a long chair. He said, Oh! BearBear, here you are! He saw me, as I am. I could see him seeing me and I could see his face. The joy, the happy. I saw how he loved the other My Boy. I could feel his emptysizing, his hope. It is a good memry.

Bears are not good storytellers. Perhaps if I tell it in the now.

Dad is picking things up and moving them. Under many things there is a piece of curvy leather with tiny holes all around the edge.

He is about to throw it away. It is in the hand of the other throwaway stuff.

Oh, please don't throw that away, My Boy loves it.

I am with the dad now. Really, we are together in Inbetween. I know he goes there, often on his knees. We have been together here before. My Boy's dad understands me and stops. He remembers the story. He'd forgotten it. I didn't.

The thing is a half of a baseball outside. My Boy finds it in the back of the yard. The dad knows he likes it, but he doesn't understand the all of it. It is not a just strangely shaped piece of leather. It is more than that.

The dad and I, together, piece together the parts together. I know My Boy loves it. I know he is happy when it is in his hand. The dad remembers games and tossing and catches and hits. He remembers mud and lightning and joy. And I am back at the now of each moment. We both come to understand at the same time. It is not the piece of leather that matters, it is all that it brings with it.

It is a talisman, he thinks.  I don't know the word but I know exactly what it means.

He glances at me. I look very smart in the vest he just put on me. I feel him wink, feather soft on me, and he smiles.

I think we better keep this, BearBear.

I laugh.

He hears me... again.

Goodbye.  I might come back again.  I'd like that.