Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Our PROMPTuesday prompt is a photo taken by our PROMPTuesday coach, Sandiegomomma, and as she describes it, "I recall taking the picture of the man below waiting at the bus stop, and he never once looked up as I surveyed his angles and released my noisy shutter over and over just feet from his face. I still think of him often, photoaging him in my mind to imagine what he looks like now, to place him in a happier place; and I return to this picture again and again to analyze his inscrutability."

Write a story about this guy. Or a poem. Or a rumination. Give him some background, some context.

Here's my story:

His sister called him Uncle Willie, the way her boys did. He liked being an Uncle and living in the downstairs bedroom at her house now that their Mother had died. The little boy James was quick to hug and quick to run away. The older one Charles was quieter, but Willie remembered the day long ago when he was born and his sister showed him the little face in the bundle of flannel. He had been surprised, amazed that such a warm, alive creature had come from her swelled tummy.

Charles was bigger now and sometimes let him play basketball when his friends came over, as they threw the ball at the hoop over the garage door. He was taller than they and could make foul shots from the line, but when the boys ran so quickly around him, he couldn't hold onto the ball.

Charles and his friends sometimes played tricks on him - keep-away with the ball or taking his hat. He once got mad and told Charles he wouldn't play with him anymore. He didn't mean to break the screen door but their laughter hurt his ears.

His sister told him to come inside and watch "The Jetsons" with James. She gave them chips and a coke, then went out to the driveway and he heard her voice talking sternly to Charles.

"It isn't fair to tease Uncle Willie," she said. "Charles, you should know better than that. I'm disappointed in you."

The boys' voices rose and fell and laughed and Willie's sister's voice clamored higher, scolding them, and then the screen door slammed and she came back into the kitchen. She inspected the split screen, lifting the drooping rubber string that his fist had forced from the track, and she sighed.

"Ah come on guys, let's get outa here. This is lame, playing with a retard," a voice rose beyond from the driveway. Willie ate a dorito while George Jetson ran on the treadmill. Petey was his name, the one who'd pulled his Dodgers cap off and thrown it under the car.

"Don't call him that," said Charles. "Anyway, you're not so smart, you can't even do that math homework unless I help."

"I don't need your help, smartass. Jeez, you got them eyebrows, like Frankenstein, just like your Uncle."

"Fuck you, Petey, get outa here!" Charles' voice shrilled now. "Go on home, get your sister to help you with your math. Get your dad, if you think he's so smart."

"I'm going, I'm going. Frankenstein." Laughter.

The door slapped again. Charles' footsteps thumped as he ran fast up the carpeted stairs, and the bedroom door slammed.

Willie's sister said, "Charles, have you done your geometry yet? Charles?" She started to climb the stairs.

Willie wondered if Charles were crying. He had heard Charles cry sometimes before, when the door to his room was closed. He waited for his sister to come back.

"Look, Uncle Willie," said James, nudging him. "I can bite my Dorito into a star! See?" He held it up. "Can you?"

Willie reached into the bag and pulled out a handful of chips and crunched them loudly. The taste of salt filled his mouth.


stephanie said...

These people are so real, immensely understandable & likable.

Nicely crafted. :)

blognut said...

I like! This was a fresh angle on the prompt.

JCK said...

Very impressive, g!!

San Diego Momma said...

I love the dialogue and well, all of it, really. I really am enjoying how I am getting all these different takes on who the photo guy was and where he might be now.

This was a great story snippet...and I adore how you write.

Anonymous said...

Each person we encounter has a story. We could all learn a lesson from this one.

Extremely captivating and well-written.

tinsenpup said...

Oh, this is wonderful. You did such a good job with the prompt.