Seniors in high school are having a storytelling competition. Chapter 9 is the story told by the boy representing the music department. Chapter 10 is the students’ discussion of that story.
The Music Boy’s Tale
One morning Carl Hinterbacher backed his car out of his driveway, and when he pressed his brakes, nothing happened. He pumped the brakes again and again, but to no avail. He ended up in the petunia patch of Edna across the streets’ yard.
Edna came out in her robe and hair curlers and yelled, “Carl Hindenburger I always knew you’d turn out to be a no-good!”
Carl had to try hard not to lose his temper with Edna, because he’d been mowing her lawn and cleaning her gutters for free for twenty years. And his teenage son Huey took care of her cats for free whenever she went to visit her sister in Minnesota.
Luckily Carl knew a thing or two about cars, so he took a look at the brakes. Much to his surprise, the brake lines had been cut. Who would want to harm him?
So Carl had the car towed to the shop and got himself a rental. He made it to work by noon and left at 2:30 as usual to pick Huey up from school.
Huey looked surprised when he saw his dad. He said, “What’s up with the car?”
Carl explained the situation to Huey, and Huey agreed that the whole thing was very strange.
When they got home, Huey said, “Hey Dad, we have to do an assignment for sociology class about bucket lists. Do you have a bucket list?”
“Not really,” Carl said. “Right now my goal is just to do a good job at home raising you and do a good job at work so we can pay the bills. Truth is, I’m pretty content with my life as it is, Son.”
“Don’t you ever kind of want to have some adventure?” Huey asked.
“Raising you is an adventure, Huey.”
But Huey didn’t look satisfied. “Well,” he said, “I thought of some things that I bet you’d want to try if you think about it. You only live once, you know, and I don’t want you to get too old to do some of these things and then have regrets.”
“Okay, I’ll humor you,” Carl said. “What are they?”
Huey ran and got the papers he’d printed out. “Skydiving? Or climbing Mount Everest? Running from the bulls?”
Carl couldn’t believe that Huey didn’t know him better. “Geez, Huey, are you trying to bump me off? What about writing a book or visiting the Grand Canyon? If I did have a bucket list, that’s more the kind of thing that would be on it. You should know that.”
“I just don’t want you to spend your life taking care of me and not get to do the things you want,” said Huey.
Touched, Carl said, “Huey, taking care of you is what I want. I’m so proud to be your dad.”
The next morning, Carl dropped Huey off at school and went to work. He always took the stairs to the second floor, and when he grabbed the rail, it gave way in his hand and pulled right out of the wall.
“Hmmm,” he thought. He reported the problem to maintenance and went about his day.
When he picked Huey up later, Huey looked surprised again, which was weird because he already knew about the rental car.
“Hey Dad, how was your day?”
“Anything unusual happen?”
“Not that I can think of.”
Huey was very quiet the rest of the way home.
When they got there, Huey printed out some more information off the computer.
“Look Dad,” he said. “Surfing lessons. Four-wheeling.”
Carl slapped the kitchen table. “Huey Heidelmacher, what is going on? You know I’m not a good swimmer, and I hate those four-wheelers. Accidents waiting to happen.”
Huey sighed. “I guess, Dad, it’s all those novels I’ve had to read in school. I’ve been feeling a little inadequate at solving my own problems, and in the books, the father figure always has to die before the kid can face his demons for himself.”
Carl’s mouth hung open. “Huey Hinglemeier, did you cut the brake lines on my car?”
Just then, the chandelier crashed down, landing inches from Carl’s foot. Carl went pale. He said, “I’m trying to remain calm, Huey. Now please tell me what in tarnation is going on.”
Huey hung his head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“The brakes, Huey?”
“And the chandelier?”
Huey nodded again and said, “And the handrail at your work.”
Carl walked over and looked out the kitchen window at the falling leaves. After a while, he said, “Look, Huey, I want to be here to help you as long as possible. Maybe even help your kids. And any time you want me to butt out, I will. It’s been a long time since I called Kirk’s dad to tell him Kirk was stealing your candy bars at lunch. And if you want me to stop bringing your clarinet to school when you forget it, I will.”
Kinda quietly, Huey said, “No, I like it when you bring my clarinet.”
“And make you dinner?”
“How about you just tell me when you want to do something without my help. Deal?”
“Thanks Dad. You’re the best.”
Prologue to the Debate Boy’s Tale
“And that is why we shouldn’t be forced to read books,” Music Boy adds.
Everybody laughs. Have I mentioned that Foreign Language Girl has a musical laugh?
To purchase Anaheim Tales in paperback, go to my “books” page and follow the link!