Words Have Power, They Are Magic
(Author’s note: I wrote this story last year. It seems that I have at least one fan of the story that asked me to re-post as well as add to and rework the finish, I agreed so we start with the beginning which is, according to Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, is a very good place to start. I do hope you enjoy as much as the first time or if it is your first time, enjoy the journey)
My name is, well now ain’t that funny? I guess what my name is, depends on who you talk to. Never thought of that before. To most folks, I have no name at all. Just another prop in the park, something that adds color to their world to keep it from being too gray. The kids, they call me Gandalf. That makes me laugh, I am sure Mr. Tolkien did not have me in mind when he wrote his stories. The kids though, they think so. Used to be called Mr. Wizard until the movies came out, then it was Gandalf.
They, those kids, say that on account of the Super Realistic, Deluxe, XXL Wizards cape I found in the dumpster beyond the Halloween Super Store. I do not know why I went there; the store building is usually empty except for Halloween time, then the Super Store shows up. There is usually nothing in the dumpster worth looking at. Maybe I needed some cardboard, hard to find these days with all the stores recycling and smashing boxes. I dunno either way I found my way to that dumpster behind the costume store. It was still new in the package with an on-sale price tag of $49.99 slashed from $89.99. Looked like a mistake to me so I tried to bring it back into the store. They kicked me out so I kept it.
It was black and being XXL, it was way too big. For deluxe, it was kind of thin, but it wrapped around me all the way almost twice and had a big hood that covered my head and hid my face. I lined it with plastic bags and then sewed materials on the inside. I put lots of pockets too. So all my stuff went in there. It was a good cloak and I wore it always.
The others who sat under the bridge in the park, they called me Story. That’s because I like to tell stories. My stories are about anything. Some of them are about things that happened, like the day I met Madge, my wife. Some of them are about things that are silly, like the turf war the squirrels have going on between the birch by the rock and the oak by the path. Those kinds of things. Words are magic. I can use the magic to help my friends forget how hungry they are or that the shelter was full, so it was another night in the cold or the heat. My stories helped keep the demons in their place or call forth the angels. Sometimes they made you cry. Sometimes they made you laugh. Always the magic made you be somewhere else for as long as it lasted.
Now my parents, they called me Richard. Never shortened to anything. Never was I called Rich, or Rick, or Dick or any of those things. I was ALWAYS Richard. Teachers, other kids, bosses always called me Richard. They did not know I was really just Rick.
My wife called me dear, honey, babe. My wife could call me anything. I would answer. I miss her so much. The child she gave me, little Ant, Anthony, my legacy, he looks just like her. He has the same smoky eyes and the same pert nose. Even his ears are the same. I hate looking at him. He called me Dad as a youngster, lately, I am called Father, as if I have been promoted from layperson to priest in the Church of the Parent. His Holy Sire.
Ant was raised by his grandparents, his mother’s parents. It was better that way. Now don’t get all sanctimonious with me, calling me a deadbeat dad or anything like that. I saw Ant a lot while he was growing up even though it was hard to look at him and not see Madge. Oh, how I miss her! I Ant grew up to be a fine young man who owns himself a successful publishing business. I see him every week. He feels it is his duty to come to the park once a week and try to convince me to get a place, to move from the park, too, at least, take some money for food. He does not understand me much. I have told him no so many times. I am happy where I am. My boy also tries hard to get me to write down my stories. I told him I couldn’t. I cannot write down my stories. After a couple of years of calling me a stubborn old fool (and sometimes worse), he gave up on his old man. He did convince me to tell my stories to him so he could record them and write them down himself. He is a good boy. He tells me that many people really like to read them. That’s because words have power, they are magic.
No, Ant doesn’t understand his old man. I started out kind of normal. That is until I learned about the power of words. I think I was maybe six, maybe seven. I dunno. I was young. I had an older sister named Belinda. Blendy, as I called her because it was very funny to me, was the apple of my parent’s eye. She was daddy’s little girl, momma’s little helper. She wasn’t like me. I was always getting up to mischief, making up stuff, not behaving, as a good boy should. I do not think she ever got whacked on the backside with the switch or made to pray for hours on her knees for the forgiveness of sins unknown. She never went to bed without food for days on end because she dirtied her new shoes. Blendy did nothing wrong and got everything right. Anything Blendy did was perfect. One day while I was laying on the kitchen floor having been punched for the C I got on a numbers test, Blendy was given a puppy. She got perfect marks on her test. It was a cute puppy, all black and white and wiggly. She should not have gotten it. Dogs are for boys.
Later on, when I went to pet the puppy it sniffed where the blood had dried on my cheek, then growled and bite me. Stupid dog. It made me really mad that it had bitten me. And then I got mad at everything. I got mad at Blendy for being perfect. I got mad at teachers who made me take numbers tests. I got mad. In my rage, I kicked the puppy. Hard. It yelped and ran off crying. I was glad it was hurt. That pup ran to Blendy who ran to my parents who threw me into a closet and locked the door with promises of never getting out until I was an old man.
Sitting in the closet with only a sliver of light from the hallway slipping under the door, I listened to my parents console Blendy. They told her it was going to be ok. She was hysterical going on and on about how I hurt her dog. To shut her up my father said they would take the dog to the emergency vet, right now. Then she could see there was nothing wrong with her puppy. I listened as they gathered their things. Dad opened the closet long enough to grab coats, he never even look at me, before closing it the door again. I did not hear the click of the lock. In his hurry, Pops forgot. I waited until the front door slammed close and I was sure they were gone before I opened the closet door. I peeked around to make sure the coast was clear, then got up and went into the kitchen. I was still angry with my sister for her dog biting me and I was angry with my parents for blaming me. It was the stupid dog’s fault. As I walked by the table, I spotted the picture Blendy had been drawing with her new crayons. I don’t remember what it was maybe a house. Anyway, I picked up the black crayon and wrote across her picture “I hate Blendy and I hate The Puppy and I hate Mom and I hate Dad. I wish they die in an accident tonight and leave me alone!!!” I was pushing so hard on the crayon while writing the last exclamation point the crayon broke in half. I would get in trouble. I just ruined the perfect picture and the perfect crayon. I didn’t care anymore. I went to the refrigerator, grab the milk and some cake, and sat on the floor. I ate and drank until I was beyond full. Feeling tired, I closed my eyes and was soon asleep on the floor.
The next day I woke up, right where I had fallen asleep. No one had slapped me awake. Or kicked me. They had left me alone. Now that was odd. I had knocked over the milk during the night and it had soaked the cake. No one had shoved my face into the mess screaming about how I did not appreciate the hard work it took to make the cake or the money it took to buy the milk. No one slapping me saying that I was a stupid child over and over again. No one. There was no sound except the tick tick ticking of the kitchen clock. I wandered through the house looking. No one was nowhere. As I was trying to figure out what it all meant, the front door burst open.
In through the door came a million of people. Well, maybe not a million, but there was a lot. There were police officers, some firemen, and some people with cameras, the bulbs flashing leaving behind small poofs of smoke. They all came to me; I backed up until I hit the hallway wall. Everyone firing questions at me. “Are you the only one here son?” “Are you Ok?” “You poor thing!”On and on until one lady came forward and got on her knees. She smelled liked lemons. Lemon lady looked me in the eyes and said to me, “” Richard. You are Richard aren’t you?” At my nod, she continued “I am sorry to tell you this. Last night your Parents and your sister were killed in a horrible accident. You are all alone. You have to come with me now until we find a relative for you to live with.” I thought of the drawing on the table and what I had written. It worked. As I was led out of the house by the nice woman who smelled of lemons, I looked back and saw one of the officers holding the drawing looking back at me. Words are powerful, they are magic