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Story Time

Okay, folks, since the last entry was an essay about dreams, today's entry is a story that came from a dream. It got published once--I don't remember exactly where--some in-house literary mag at one of the schools where I worked, I think. They published it in the non-fiction section which is some kind of complement, maybe? Anyway, here it is:


My brother, Beau, can sell anything. He has the gift. He’s always had it. Last year he bought himself and me brand new bikes with the money he made selling Christmas cards, and he was six years old. You name it, he can sell it. Not me; I have different qualities. As if anyone around here would notice. My parents think Beau is a god or something. And I’m just a regular person. I try to be special, too, but Beau won’t let anyone else have an inch of glory.

And it isn’t that he gets away with stuff that makes me mad. It’s like, well, for example, I have a passion for cooking. And I do it very well. I bake wonderful butterscotch squares. Mrs. Mc Donald who’s really picky even likes them. So, one day, about a month ago, I made a huge batch for the whole family. And just as I brought them in and everybody was saying how delicious they were, and even Mama was actually looking at me and smiling, Beau burst into the living room, grabbed a butterscotch square off the plate, and started talking.

The story was about some dream he had where Mama was a beautiful angel, Daddy was some big hero, and Aunt Elizabeth was singing some holy song or something. He had everybody included except me and he had everybody so enraptured by this dream that even though they were all chewing like cows, they forgot all about what they were eating and who slaved in the kitchen to bake it for them. I just shook my head and watched.

“Why, Beau,” my mama said, “what a lovely dream!” And she just floated on her wings out of the room. And the rest of them drifted out of the room savoring the picture and looking dreamy. It was disgusting. I glared at Beau.

“Wasn’t I in your stupid dream?”

“Why yes, Sister,” he answered all smiles. “You were holding my hand and telling me not to be scared of our mama having the wings of an angel. You were the most important one in the dream!” What can you do with a person like that?

It isn’t fair. For another example, Beau is always the last one in with one of us having gone hoarse calling, “Beau-oh-oh, din-in-er” to the four corners of the neighborhood. Beau runs in, washes his hands and then walks all the way around the table before he sits down. There are usually eight or so people sitting down: my mom, my dad, me, our little sister Sara, my grandmother, and maybe an aunt or uncle and a cousin or neighbor kid at the big oak dining room table. Beau walks slowly around the table, pausing at each chair to give a nudge or a pat or a touch. And, when he has made a circle of all of us, made us feel kind of enclosed together, he sits down. It’s odd, that he does that, that no one ever remarks on it. No one says, “Hurry up now; we’re hungry!” or “What are you doing young man?” We all just accept it. It’s part of the blessing. In fact, I think it is the blessing. The words are just for show.

And I have to admit he does liven things up. Like the summer when he was three and a half and he decided to water the backyard one morning. Then he decided to water Mr. Mac Donald. Mr. Mac Donald is our neighbor on the right. He has multiple sclerosis and has to use a wheel chair. Beau “watered” him through his bedroom window. Mr. Mac Donald and his wife thought it was funny because Beau was “so cute”! I would have been stuck in the corner for a week. Or worse. Now, to be fair, Beau doesn’t get away with everything. When we fight- even though I am “older and should know better”, we ˇ get sent to our rooms until we can “be civil to one another.”

I’ve often wondered how he does it. How he gets people just naturally to go along with his ideas and seem to think he’s doing them a favor when he sells them something. I mean, okay, it isn’t that I don’t get anything out of it. I always sell the most Girl Scout cookies of anyone in our town because Beau goes with me. And whenever I want anything, I get Beau to ask for it and Daddy always says yes.

I saw how Beau did it once. I wanted a scooter that I had seen at the JC Penny’s in town. I told Beau to ask for it. He went in a told Daddy he wanted an Electric car that cost $150. Daddy said we couldn’t afford it and then Beau said, “Well, then how about a scooter from JC Penny’s that only costs $25? And Daddy said, “I’d call that a bargain!”

I tell you, you can’t live with this kid or without him. Just yesterday, I heard him giving his pitch to my aunt who is visiting us from Wisconsin. It’s spring and Beau had been all over the neighborhood picking daffodils in the bit of woods next to our subdivision and stealing flowers from beds stuffed with tulips, hyacinths, and blue bells. Even Beau wasn’t going to try to sell people their own flowers--this time. So my aunt was the logical choice. “Oh Aunt Elizabeth,” he said, “won’t you buy these lovely flowers?” My aunt Elizabeth is younger than my mom and visiting us for a few weeks. She is getting married to a very nice man, Jim, and is spending time with us before the wedding. I’m sure she needs her money more than Beau does. But she didn’t give him all that much.

I could see through the screen door. Aunt Elizabeth sat down on the steps and began to weed out the crushed and fading flowers from the bunch. Beau put the coins in his pocket and smiled at her. Then I noticed his face change. It was as though he had been hit in the stomach. Seeing him, I felt a cold touch. I slipped through the door and picked him up. This was not an easy job since he is solid, so I walked just a few steps on the porch that covered the front of our house. I sat down and put Beau on my lap. I pulled his head to my chest and felt his tears soak into my shirt. I looked at Aunt Elizabeth, sitting on the steps, absorbed in her task of separating the flowers.

But Beau,” I said softly, “there are still plenty for a bouquet.”

Beau shook his head. In a choked little voice he whispered, “She’s just so beautiful.” I looked at my aunt, the sun on her face, her face in the flowers, and even I almost cried.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
If this was the length of a novel, I wouldn't have stopped reading it until I was through. In fact, I think it needs to become a novel. I love these characters.
Jan. 12th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
Novel Thought
Thanks for your kind words! There might be another story about these folks, but I've never had the attention span for a novel :-)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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