Life One Letter at a Time

a is for airplane

© James Pyles

Timmy’s airplane was an hour late arriving in Omaha which just added to Glenn’s sense of missing his boy. Fortunately, the stewardess made sure he got off first. When he saw him, little Timmy let go of her hand and ran to his Dad.

“Dad! Dad!” He flew into Glenn’s arms.

“You sure have grown, Timmy.” They hugged and he lifted the child off the floor. “How old are you now, 22, 23?”

“Don’t be silly, Daddy. I’m only nine.”

The man put his son back down and shook hands with the attractive, brunette stewardess who had been in charge of his son during the long flight from Los Angeles.

“Thank you so much for taking care of him on the plane, Miss…” he looked at her name tag, “…Stewart.”

“It was my pleasure, Mr. Evans. He’s a really sweet boy.”

“Ah, Janice.” Timmy rolled his eyes at being called “sweet.”

“You be a good boy for your Dad this summer, okay?” She gave him a hug which made him blush. “Maybe he’ll get you that cat and dog you were talking about.”

“I don’t think you were supposed to let me know that, Miss Stewart.”

“Oops,” she feigned embarrassment.

“I was going to talk to you about that, Dad.”

“Later. We have to pick up your suitcase and then drive back to the old homestead.” Glenn leaned over and whispered in his ear. “I might have a surprise or two for you.”

“Yippie!” Timmy jumped in the air. “Can I name them?”

“Come on, Slugger.” He put his hand on the boy’s back as they started walking away from the gate and into the terminal, although for Glenn, it was a limp. “I’ve had ’em for a year so they already have names.”

“How far away do you live, Dad?”

“It’s a couple of hours away. Are you hungry?”

“You bet. I haven’t eaten since breakfast and all I had were a couple of scrambled eggs.”

“We’ll stop off at some place on the way and grab a bite. What do you like, Frog‘s Legs?”

f is for frog

© James Pyles

“Yuck, Dad!” They both laughed as they entered the baggage claim area, but he knew it wasn’t all going to be fun and games. The divorce had been hard on them all, even though it’s what Annie said she wanted. She’d been only 17 when they got married and he had been 22, and after years of being stationed at different Air Force bases, she realized it wasn’t the life she wanted.

However, it was the only life Glenn had imagined. He enjoyed being a firefighter, the camaraderie, being around all the different types of aircraft, C-130s, B-52s and the really cool F-104 starfighters. They hadn’t been divorced nine months when he had the accident that ended his military career. About the same time, his uncle died and left him a place on the river, and the inheritance plus his disability pension paid just about all the bills. It would be great for Timmy to have some open space to play in after being stuck in L.A. for so long.

They hadn’t related to each other as Father and Son in over a year, and he’d had to fly out to California every time he wanted to see his boy. Finally he had Timmy all too himself. He just hoped they’d have a lot of fun together.

By the time they got his luggage loaded in the pickup, Timmy wasn’t really hungry anymore, so he picked up a few snacks including a bunch of grapes (he remembered Timmy really liked grapes) and headed north.

“Missing your Mom?”

Timmy had been looking out the window absentmindedly at the passing scenery, his prior enthusiasm drained away.

“A little. I’m just tired, Dad.” He turned his head to look at Glenn.

“It’s okay to miss her, you know.”

“I’ve missed you, too.”

“I’ve really missed you. Don’t worry. Well have a lot of fun. I’ve got some hens and a rooster so you can help me collect fresh eggs every morning.

“Any cows?”

“No, but my neighbor does so you can have milk with those eggs. I tell you, you’re going to love it out here.”

It was after eight when they got home but still hot and a lot more humid than the boy was used to. Glenn got him some orange juice and put a couple of ice cubes in the glass. The boy drank it down and decided he was hungry after all, so his Dad fired up the charcoal barbecue and made burgers and corn while the boy got to know Timber, Glenn’s Golden Retriever.

“Here you go. Fresh Kangaroo burgers.” He put the plate on the patio table in front of Timmy.

k is for kangaroo

© James Pyles

“Oh, come on, Dad. That would be yucky.”

“You don’t know.” He sat down opposite him and took a bite out of his own burger. “I forgot the catsup and mustard. Hang on a second.”

Glenn fetched the condiments and spruced up both their burgers.

“You sure have a lot of space. What kind of animals live around here?”

“Believe it or not, my neighbor Tom Milton had to shoot a Mountain Lion just last week.”

“Really? I mean, do they come around here a lot?”

“Don’t worry. Not too often. I have bigger mouse problem than a lion problem, but only in the storage shed. That’s why I have a cat.

“Where is she?”

“He, and Buster is probably hunting some of those mice now.” Hearing Timber under the table whining, he added, “I told you no begging. I’ll throw a net over you and haul you out to the shed if you keep it up.”

“Oh Dad, he’s just hungry too.”

“I feed him dog food every day. He’s not that hungry.”

“What was that?” The child heard a noise from one of the trees near the water.

“Just an old Hoot Owl. I call him Barney. He likes to hunt mice, too. Oh, speaking of animals, we can go out to Tom’s place tomorrow and I’ll introduce you to Mavis and the rest of the pigpen. She’s a big ol’ hog and thinks she’s the Queen of the whole farm. We can also see the sheep and rabbit…”

“Rabbits?”

“Nope. You’ll have to make do with Timber and Buster. I’m not buying one of those pellet makers from Tom.”

“Aw, Dad.”

“It’ll be okay, Timmy. Eat up.” Glenn could hear the lonely sound of a train‘s horn in the distance. It’s the song of his life most of the time. Now that Timmy was with him, he hoped for something a little more cheery.

A cool wind started blowing in from the West and looking in that direction, he thought they might get a thunderstorm.

“Are we going to need an umbrella, Dad?”

“No, we’ll be inside before it gets here. I just thought of something. Are you still taking violin lessons? You should have brought it along. I’d love to hear you play.”

“Nah, I didn’t really like it. When I get older, I want to learn to play the cello. These musicians came to our school once and it was really neat.”

“A cello? Those things are the size of a whale.”

“That’s what Mom said, so I’ll have to wait.”

“I think I’ve still got a toy xylophone of yours in the attic.”

“Dad, I want to play real music.”

“Help me clean up and afterward I’ll show you something you can play with right now?”

“Sure Dad. What is it?”

“Have you ever had a Yo-yo?”

“No. Mom gave me a paddle ball but I’m not very good at it.”

“I was really good with Yo-Yos when I was your age. I’ll teach you all kinds of tricks.”

Glenn carried their plates inside while Timmy handled the catsup and mustard bottles and jar of pickles.

“If you’re real good, I’m sure Mr. Milton will let you ride one of his zebras?”

z is for zebra

© James Pyles

“I don’t believe you, Dad. You’re making that part up.”

“So you’re catching on to your old man. Alright, he has horses, not zebras, but I bet you can ride one of those.”

“I’ve never been on a horse before.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Now you wash and I’ll dry. Then I’ll teach you how to use your Yo-yo.”

So far, the visit was going smoothly but it was all so new. It was great being with his son again, but he knew three months would blow by like the storm coming in from the West and then he’d be gone. More than anything, Glenn wanted to be a full-time Dad but if this was what life had to be like, he’d have to settle for twelve weeks at a time.

I wrote this for the Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 2/25/18 hosted by Helen Vahdati. The idea is to find song lyrics that map to the theme word or phrase and post a link to them on Helen’s blog. The theme for last Sunday is letters

Like most others who chose to participate, I first thought of Postal letters, but then I came across the Alphabet Song, the one we all learn as little kids. I also remembered a series of stories I wrote for an A to Z Writing Challenge last year. I used my granddaughter’s alphabet jigsaw puzzle and starting with A is for Airplane, wrote 26 related stories in the form of a fantasy/mystery.

I decided to take the same words and use them in order to craft today’s tale. It wasn’t easy and I wasn’t sure which way the story would go. In the end, it’s just the chronicle of a divorced family and a Father and Son who spent far too little time together. Just for kicks, I set it in the 1960s. You may have picked up on some of the references like referring to a woman as “Miss” or a Flight Attendant as “Stewardess.” Yo-Yos have been around since the 19th century but became very popular in the 1960s.

I bolded the alphabet words in the story but here they are again:

airplane, boy, cat, dog, egg, frog, grape, hen, ice, juice, kangaroo, lion, mouse, net, owl, pig, queen, rabbit, sheep, train, umbrella, violin, whale, xylophone, yo-yo, zebra.

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10 thoughts on “Life One Letter at a Time

  1. I’m glad you included a list of your alphabet-representative words, because neither ‘train’ nor “thunderstorm” were bolded and I was unsure which you intended for “T”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this story…it has a strong underlying message of life as it is for so many families.
    I’m not familiar with the prompt rules, but your notes lead me to believe that you’ve done a clever job! It sounded so complicated. ..the song bit.

    Like

    • I bend the prompt and use it differently than everyone else. The prompt is simply to take a theme word such as “letters” and find song lyrics that match then post them along with a YouTube video of the song being performed. In my case, I like to write stories based on a selected song and “The Alphabet Song” (literally about letters) appealed to me.

      Like

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