Monday, May 20, 2013


            Calvin rode his bike, towing a wagon, to the docks on Bear Lake.  He parked his bike next to a white wooden framed building bearing a sign, "Wilson's Boat & Tackle".  The wood framed screen door squeaked as he entered.  A bell rang indicating that someone had entered the store.  He walked on a well worn hardwood floor.  Shelves reached to the ceiling holding everything imaginable for boats, such as engine parts, life jackets, water skis, and fishing poles.  Other items sat on the floor, like coolers, oars, and even a boat engine.  He knew that his mother would never put up with a place this disorganized and messy.  He made a meandering path, stepping over and around numerous items, to a counter located in the back.  "Hello, Mr. Wilson," Calvin greeted the man at the counter.
            "Right back at ya," responded the six foot, 220 pound man.  He was wearing loose fitting jeans and a white t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, revealing tattoos on both muscular biceps.  His face was covered by a fully grown, grey beard.  A well worn, faded Captain's hat sat on his head.
            "I need a couple of things.  I need three large fishing nets, a long rope, and a pulley."
            "That is a little unusual.  Whacha doin'?"
            "Nothing much.  Just working on a project."
            As they talked, a radio on the counter stopped playing oldies music.  Calvin nervously listened to the news update.  It centered on the circus train crash and the tiger that was roaming in the woods.  It warned everyone to stay out of the woods.  Calvin worried that Mr. Wilson would figure out that he was trying to catch the tiger.  "I have a wagon on my bike that I can put the nets in," Calvin continued, speaking a little louder, trying to distract Mr. Wilson from the radio.
            "Okay.  Let me see what I have back here."  Mr. Wilson turned and walked to the back of the store.  He mumbled to himself as he was getting the nets, rope, and pulley.  "Bring you wagon around back.  I will take everything out the back door."
            "Great!"  Calvin turned and quickly exited the store.  He wanted to get out of there as quickly, before Mr. Wilson figured out his plan.  He rode his bike and wagon to the back door.
            Mr. Wilson was dragging the nets out the door.  Calvin stopped and Mr. Wilson dropped the nets into the wagon.  "I will get the rope and pulley."  Mr. Wilson turned to re-enter the store.
            Calvin interrupted, "Here's my phone.  I will pay with the account on my phone.  Just ring it up while you're getting the rope and pulley."  He hoped to speed up the transaction so he could leave.
            Mr. Wilson was in the store for a few minutes.  He returned carrying a long rope and holding a pulley, which he dropped in the wagon.  He pulled Calvin's phone and a receipt from his back pocket and handed them to Calvin.  "So, what did you say is this project you are working on?"
            Calvin was really worried now.  He had to get out of there fast.  He jumped on the bike and started peddling before Mr. Wilson could stop him.  As he rode, he turned his head, "I didn't say.  But, I will let you know how it turns out."  He faced forward and peddled faster.
            After getting out of Mr. Wilson's eyesight, Calvin let up and peddled at a normal pace. 
            The meat clever flew threw the air heading directly for Jack’s head.  He turned his face away from the oncoming meat cleaver.  The cleaver hit his bike helmet, splitting the plastic cover and removing a chunk of Styrofoam padding.  Jack heard the high pitch clank as the cleaver landed on the tile floor.  He scurried through the back door.  He stumbled and fell as he neared his bike.  He quickly removed his backpack, tucked the meat inside, threw the backpack on one shoulder, and jumped on his bike.  Jack heard the door slam open.  Ogre exited the back door.  Jack peddled as quickly as he could.  Ogre stood tall, shaking his fist, “Come back here, Jack!  I know it’s you!  I am going to get you.”  Jack never looked back.  He turned right on the first street he saw.  He could not get out of Ogre’s view fast enough.
 Calvin rode his bike through the rest of town until he came to a path at the edge of the woods.  Willie was already waiting.  He did not see Jack.  "Hi, Willie.  Is Jack here?"
            "I have not seen him.  What took you so long?"
            "I stopped to get nets and a rope so we can catch the tiger.  Did you get any meat?"
            "I emptied our freezer.  How come your nets make me think this is going to be dangerous?"
            Before Calvin could answer, he and Willie heard, "Hey guys, I'm here."  They looked up and saw Jack riding down a hill toward them.  As he approached, he pulled hard on his hand brakes, locked up the tires, and skidded to a stop right in front of Willie.  Willie jumped back, afraid Jack would hit him.
            Jumping off of his bike, Jack looked at Calvin.  "Nice camou shirt."
            "Thanks," Calvin responded.  He reached into his backpack and pulled out two camouflage shirts.  "Here is one for you."  He turned to Willie, "Here's one for you.  I hope it fits.  It is the best I can do."
            Willie pulled his Pepsi t-shirt over his head and stuffed it in his backpack.  He then put his camouflage shirt on.  It got stuck on his head and he had to give it a firm tug.  The shirt did not come down to his waist.  He grabbed the bottom of the shirt and tried to stretch it.  It still would not come down far enough.  "Thanks, Calvin. It's a little tight, but it will do."
            After watching Willie struggle with the shirt, Calvin turned to look at Jack, who had already changed shirts.  "This is great.  Now, we can hunt the tiger."  Jack was excited for this hunt.
            As Jack spoke, Calvin saw a gash in Jack's helmet.  "What happened to your helmet?"
            "Ogre was mad at me."  Jack tried to dismiss the question. 
            "What do you mean Ogre was mad at you?  How did you see Ogre?  I thought you went home and came here."
            Jack knew that Calvin was not going to give up.  "We did not have any meat at home.  So, I went to Ogre’s store and snuck some meat out,” Jack explained, trying not to admit that he actually stole the meat.  "He saw me and threw a meat cleaver at me.  Can you believe it?  Who would throw a meat cleaver at a kid?  That guy is so mean!"  He was trying to divert blame from himself to Ogre.
            "That's stealing," Calvin exclaimed.  He was in shock that Jack had stolen the meat and that Jack didn't think it was a big deal.
            "That's wrong.  You can't do that, Jack," Willie pitched in.
            "Hey, don't give me any of that Sunday School stuff.  You know I don't like church.  That is why I stopped going.  They’re always telling people all the bad things they are doing.  I don't want to hear it and I don't need to hear it from you.  We needed meat to catch the tiger, so I went and got some meat.  Ogre has plenty of meat.  It won't hurt him.  Now, come on, we have a tiger to catch."
            "I don't want to argue with you, Jack,” Willie continued.  “You and Calvin are my best friends.  But, you know you are wrong about church.  It's not about telling you that you are bad.  It is about how you can be forgiven for doing bad." 
            Jack shook his head, not wanting to hear Willie.
            While Calvin agreed with Willie, he knew that Jack would not change his mind. It was probably best to change the subject before Jack got mad and left.  "You both are right," Calvin added, trying to adopt the compromise skills from his parents.  "Willie is right about church and Jack is right that we have a tiger to catch.  Let's go."
            "But," Willie wanted to continue the conversation, believing that a conversation about God was too important to stop.  He saw Calvin shaking his head.  He gave up figuring Calvin probably knew what was best. Plus, he did not want both of his best friends mad at him.  "Okay."

Friday, May 17, 2013


            Jack squirmed, but could not get away.  "Hey, what are you doing?"
            Calvin tried to turn his head, but could not get a glimpse of the man who was holding them.
            Willie heard the commotion, opened his eyes and saw a large man with big muscles.  Really big muscles.  The biggest muscles he had ever seen.  Like the muscles of bodybuilders he had seen on TV.  The man was big, intimidating, and scary.  Willie knew he should do something.  Instead, he froze.
            "You boys need to get out of here.  We don't want some little kids getting hurt.  A train wreck is a dangerous place," the man warned.  While holding the boys in the air, he turned and tossed them to the ground.
            For the first time, Calvin and Jack saw the man, the huge muscular man.  The biggest, strongest man they had ever seen.  They were stunned.  They froze.
            The man was wearing loose black pants and white shirt that fitted closely around his muscles.  Calvin noticed the man was wearing a belt.  While the belt was latched in one hole, the leather around the hole next two holes was broken. 
            The man turned his hands over so that his palms were face up.  He moved his hands away from his body, like he was shooing them away.  "Go ahead.  Get out of here and don't get hurt."
            Still in shock, Calvin looked at Jack and Willie.  "Okay.  Come on guys, let's go.”  Calvin turned and walked away, toward the front of the train.  Calvin led them through the overturned cars, making sure they did not stop.  Several times, Calvin looked back over his shoulder, trying to see the muscular man.  At first, the man watched them.  As the boys continued to walk, the man disappeared, apparently satisfied they were leaving.
            They continued to walk until they found the Sheriff.  He was still talking with the older, suit wearing man.  Calvin tried to get the Sheriff's attention.  He glanced at the boys, waived them away, "Get out of here.  We’re busy."
            "But, Sheriff, this is real important," Calvin pressed.
            "As you can see, we have a mess here.  I don't have time to spend with a some twelve year olds.  Go away!"
            As the boys walked away, Willie asked, "What are we going to do now?"
            Calvin looked at Willie. "We’ll go to the Deputy.  He is your uncle.  He should listen to us."
            The boys walked back through the wreckage.  They found the Deputy helping with injured people and helping EMTs.  They approached a stocky muscular man who sported a goatee.  "Hey, Uncle Chuck!" Willie shouted.
            "Willie, I don't have time."
            "But, this is important.  Trust me; you need to listen to us."
            "All right, but this had better be good."
            Calvin explained that the safe had been robbed and he believed the tiger was intentionally set free to cause a distraction.  Initially, the Deputy was skeptical, so the boys showed him the safe with the hole in the back.  Finally satisfied, Chuck said, "Well boys, I think you have something.  I'll go tell the Sheriff and I want you boys to go home, where it is safe."
            "Okay," Calvin responded as he started to walk away.
            Jack ran up next to him.  "Seriously, you just plan to go home now?"
            "Yes, that is the safest thing to do."  Calvin began walking to his bike.  "Come on."
            They got on their bikes and followed a path that led to a two lane road. When they reached the road, Calvin stopped, turned to his friends and said, "I have a plan for catching the tiger.  I just didn't want them to know.  They would’ve stopped us."
            Jack was upbeat, "I knew you couldn’t give up that easily.  So what’s the plan?"
            "Catch a tiger?  Maybe we should’ve given up," Willie mumbled.
            "We’ll build a trap.  First, we need bait.  We’ll all go home, eat lunch, and grab any hamburger or red meat we can get from our homes.  Then, we’ll meet back at the path to the lake."
            Jack was still excited, "Sounds great."
            Willie was not so excited, "As long as I’m not the bait."
            The boys rode the windy, hilly road until they passed a sign announcing, "Borough of Bear Creek".  At that point, they went separate ways to their homes. 
            Calvin lived on the outside of town and arrived home, a large, two story, red brick house.  He opened a key pad by a garage door, entered a four digit number, and the garage door rose.  He walked into the empty house.  Both parents, lawyers, were at the office.  His older sister was not home.  He did not know where she was and did not really care.  He went to the kitchen, made a sandwich, and quickly ate it with some pretzels and orange soda.  After cleaning up his mess, he went to the freezer and grabbed some steaks and hamburger.  He placed them in a bag and returned to his bike.  He ran to the shed, grabbed a wagon that he could tow with his bike, and threw the bag of meat in the wagon. 
He ran back inside, upstairs, to his room.  Opening his dresser, he pulled out a camouflage t-shirt, and put it on.  He reached under his bed, pulled out a box, opened it, and found two more camouflage shirts.  He gave the one shirt a funny look, thinking, "It will have to do."  He ran out of the house, closed the garage door, and left.  He had more to do to set the tiger trap.
            Jack opened the screen door of the small two story, white house.  The door creaked as it opened and made a loud thud as the spring pulled the door closed.  "Is that you Jack?" his grandmother's voice came from upstairs.  The kitchen was hot.  A fan was spinning in the corner.  He heard her steps come slowly down the stairs.  He opened the refrigerator, grabbed some sliced ham for a sandwich, and closed the door.  His grandmother walked in and threw her arms around him.  "Oh, I’m so happy you are home safe."
            He pulled away and looked up at her.  "What are you talking about?  I’m fine."
            "The news says there was a circus train accident and a tiger is loose.  You boys play in those woods.  I was worried about you."
            "It's nothing.  I am fine."
            "Good.  But, you are going to stay home the rest of the day."
            "Grandma, I am going to go play with Calvin and Willie."
            "Not any more today.  Not until they catch the tiger."
            Knowing that arguing with Grandma was useless, he finished making his sandwich, ate it, and cleaned up.  Grandma went to the living room and sat on the couch.  After cleaning up, he looked at the kitchen door.  Grandma was not there.  He opened the refrigerator; no meat.  He checked the freezer; again, no meat.  "Not surprising," he thought.  He quickly walked upstairs to his room.  He closed the door and walked to his dresser.  He flipped the radio on.  The Phillies were playing an afternoon game.  Bottom of the first inning and the Phillies were losing 1-0.  "Nothing new there."
            He paused and looked at a picture of his parents sitting next to his radio.  He had not seen them in years.  He barely remembered them.  The State took him away from them when he was three.  His parents could not care for him because they were involved with drugs.  The State sent him to live with his grandparents and his parents disappeared.  He wondered what life would be like with them.  Well, at least he lived with people who love him.
            He could not stay here long, though.  He had a tiger to catch.  He turned the radio up a little louder so his Grandmother could not hear him.  He moved a fan away from the open window and perched himself on the sill.  From there, he jumped a few feet, grabbed a tree branch, and wrapped his arms around it.  He pulled his legs up and wrapped them around the limb as well.  He shuffled his body down the limb to the trunk.  At that point, he lowered his legs and dropped a few feet to the ground.  He glanced back at his window.  Grandma was not looking out.  He did not hear her.  He ran out through the back of the yard.  He made it.
            Willie walked into the open garage of his two story home.  From there, he entered the air conditioned kitchen.  "Hi Mom.  I'm going to get lunch."  He opened the refrigerator door, grabbed some leftover meat loaf and vegetables, put them on a plate and re-heated them in the microwave.  His older and younger sisters were in their rooms; neither interested in greeting their brother. 
            His mother walked in and gave him a hug.  "Glad to see you're home."
            "I’m only home for lunch.  I’m going back into the woods with the guys."
            "Well, have fun. I'm going back upstairs to clean the bathroom.  Make sure you put your dishes away."
            When hot, he ate his lunch and obediently put his dishes in dishwasher.  He peeked out of the kitchen to see if anyone was around.  It looked like everyone was upstairs.  He opened the freezer, threw three steaks and some hamburger in his backpack, and quickly left the house.  He strapped on his helmet and road to the trail to meet his friends.
            Jack rode to a house a few blocks away.  A dog barked at him.  He slowly approached the collie.  "Hey, girl.  How are you?"  He walked toward the dog with his hand out.  The dog yelped while attached to a chain straining to hold the dog back.  He got on his knees and wrapped his arms around the dog.  The dog jumped in his lap, licking his face.  "Calm down girl.  We're going for a walk."  He pulled a rope from his backpack and tied it to the collar.  Holding the rope, he released the chain.  He returned to his bike with the dog leaping against his legs.  Keeping the dog with him, he rode to an alley behind Main Street and parked his bike behind Johnson's Family Market.
            With dog in tow, he walked around the store and knelt down by the front door.  He grabbed the dog by the collar and untied the knot.  He slowly opened the door a couple of feet, pulled the dog into the doorway and whispered, "Have fun girl."  The dog walked into the store and Jack closed the door.
            Quickly, Jack ran around the building to the back door.  He opened the door a couple of inches and looked inside.  He saw Mr. Johnson, the store owner.  The boys had nicknamed him "Ogre" because he was six and a half feet tall and weighed 300 pounds.  He had short hair that stuck straight up in the air.  He did not shave often, leaving short, unkempt whiskers all over his face.  He had deep set eyes surrounded by chubby cheeks, making it appear that he was always squinting.  Because of his size, he moved slowly, giving the impression of a large lumbering monster. 
            Jack saw Ogre look over the meat counter and yell, "What are you doing in here!"  He had seen the dog.  Ogre was cutting meat at the time.  Holding his meat cleaver, he walked around the counter to chase the dog away.
            This was Jack's chance.  He snuck inside the back door.  He saw some steaks and a large bag of hamburger sitting on a counter.  Keeping his head below the counter, he crawled to the meat.  With his head down, he reached up, grabbed the steaks, and put them on the floor.  He reached back up and found the bag of hamburger.  He pulled it off of the counter.  As he pulled the bag, it bumped against a knife, knocking it to the floor, with a bang.
            Ogre quickly turned and looked over the counter.  Jack looked up and saw Ogre’s eyes staring at him.  "What are you doing?  Stop!"
            Jack, with steaks in his left hand and the hamburger in his right hand, scrambled for the door.  Trying to stop the boy, and out of instinct, Ogre threw the meat cleaver at Jack.  Jack pushed the door open and looked back at Ogre.  He saw the cleaver spinning in mid-air, heading straight for his head.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


            "Why would someone let a tiger loose?" wondered Willie.
            Jack answered, "I don't know, but I have a feeling Calvin wants to figure it out."
            "You got that right, Jack.  Follow me, I have an idea I want to check out," Calvin replied as he started running to his bike.
            The boys ran to their bikes, strapped on their helmets, pulled their backpacks over their shoulders and followed Calvin.  He led them past all of the train cars, past the caboose, and kept riding, following the tracks.  Shortly after passing the caboose, they rounded a tight curve.  Calvin stopped, as did the other two.
            "That's what I thought," Calvin said as he looked up at a sign next to the tracks.
            "Yeah, there is a sign.  So what?"  Willie asked.
            "It's a speed limit sign.  This curve is very tight.  Trains have to go real slow right here.  We heard the Sheriff talking about an explosive going off, causing the wreck.  But, the wreck was fairly minor.  The cars basically just fell off of the tracks.  It didn't look like anyone was seriously injured.  That's because the train was moving so slowly.  Someone purposefully set the explosive where the train would be going slow so the wreck would happen, but no one would get hurt.  Then he, or she, let the tiger loose."
            "Makes sense, but why set the tiger loose?"  Jack added.
            "I don't know yet.  Let's look at the train again."
            They rode back to the train, stopping at the caboose, and started looking around.  "What are we looking for?" Willie queried.
            "I don't know exactly, just look for anything that does not look right," Calvin suggested.
            Willie threw his hands in the air, "I don't know what's normal on a circus train."
            They looked around the caboose, but like Willie pointed out, they really did not know what was abnormal. 
            They climbed into the next car.  This car appeared to be some type of office.  Circus posters and tickets were scattered throughout the car.  Pens and papers were littered throughout.  Two computers were upside down, next to a printer.  A couch and chairs were upended.  Spilled coffee surrounded a broken pot.
            Jack noticed a large black box in the corner.  He approached, "Hey guys, I think I found a safe."
            Calvin and Willie scurried to the safe.  It looked normal.  Calvin grabbed the door to see if it was locked.  The door did not move, but the entire safe tumbled away from the wall, revealing the back of the safe, which had a small hole in it.
            "Wow!  I don't think that is normal," Willie pointed out.
            Running his fingers around the hole, Calvin suggested, "I think an explosive was used to blow the hole."  He reached his hand inside, "It's empty."
            Calvin stood and faced his friends, "I am guessing someone purposefully derailed the train so they could steal whatever was in the safe.  They probably freed the tiger so everyone would be forced to waste time capturing it instead of finding the thief."
            Jack nodded, "Makes sense, but unbelievable."
            "Let's go tell the Sheriff."
            Calvin climbed out of the train car, followed by Jack.  Willie emerged last.  They started to walk away, but Calvin hesitated and walked to a window of the wrecked car.  He bent over to look in the window. 
            Willie was not interested.  He sat down on the ground, laid on his back, stretched out on the ground, and closed his eyes.
            Jack walked up next to him.  "What are you looking at?"
            "Probably nothing.  I just wanted to . . ."
            Calvin stopped mid-sentence.  Suddenly, he felt himself two feet off of the ground.  Someone had grabbed Calvin and Jack by the back of their shirts and literally lifted them off the ground.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


            Jack knelt down on his left knee, his right arm outstretched and pointing down with his left forefinger.  Calvin bent over, looking over Jack's shoulder, asking, "Why'd you stop?"
            "Look.  There's his paw print."
            The boys, in awe, stared at an eight inch tiger paw print etched into the soft ground. 
            "You didn't see the tiger?" came a voice from the brush.  Willie stood, wiping away dirt and leaves.
            "So, we weren't imagining things.  We really did see a tiger."  Calvin remarked under his breath as he stood up, looking around for the tiger.
            "What is a tiger doing out here?" asked Jack.  "Tigers don't live in the Poconos."
            "I don't know, but let's get our bikes before we see it again."  Calvin replied as he rose.
            Jack stood in front of Calvin and resumed leading the boys down the path.  Willie scrambled out of the brush, slowed down to see the tiger's paw print, then hurried to catch Calvin.
            Nearing the lake, the boys game to the edge of the woods.  They could see their mountain bikes lying on the ground by the water.  A meadow of long, green grass separated them from their bikes.  Jack stopped.
            "What is it?" asked Willie.
            "I hope nothing.  I just wanted to look around before we get out in the open."
            All three looked around.
            "All clear."  Jack walked towards their mountain bikes, as the others followed.
            The boys slipped their backpacks over their shoulders and strapped on their helmets.  "Where are we going?" Willie asked.
            "I think we should try to figure out what's going on.  Remember, before we saw the tiger, we heard a loud noise," Calvin said thoughtfully.
            "Yeah, I remember the noise.  It sounded like it came from near the river," Jack recollected.
            Getting on his bike, Calvin instructed, "Let's go to the river and see what the noise was.  Maybe it will explain the tiger."
            "Okay, but I don't think anything can explain a tiger in these woods," Willie doubted out loud as he climbed on his bike.  "By the way, what do we do if we see the tiger while we are riding?"
            Jack looked up and down at his slightly overweight friend, "All I have to do is ride faster than you."  Jack rode away.
            Beginning to pedal, Willie snarled, "That's not funny."
            The boys followed a dirt path about two miles until they came to the southern end of Bear Lake, which was marked by a dam, holding the lake in place.  The path ran next to Bear Creek for another two miles until it emptied into a larger river.  When they reached the river, the path became wider and ran between the river and rail road tracks.  After following the tracks and river for a mile, they rounded a corner, allowing them to see around a mountain. 
            For the first time, they saw the disaster.  Sheriff's cars, fire trucks, and ambulances were spread out, surrounding a train that was lying on its side, next to the tracks.
            The boys rode their bikes to the engine and started walking around.  The train was like no train they had seen before.  The cars were painted with tents, animals, and clowns.  Some of the cars were cages with animals like lions and bears in them.
            "It’s a circus train," Jack exclaimed.
            "I remember hearing something about a circus train coming through town," Calvin chipped in.  "Let's walk around and see if we can find out what happened."
            Near the engine, they saw the Sheriff talking with two men, one looked like the train's engineer and the other was an older man, wearing a suit.  As they talked, they were pointing at the rear wheels of the train.  Calvin put his right forefinger to his lips, "Sssshhhh."  Then, he waived, indicating he wanted them to follow him.  He led the boys around the engine and stopped, where they would be inconspicuous, but could still overhear the conversation.  Calvin could not overhear every word, but it sounded like a small explosive went off, causing the wheel to come dislodged from the track and the train to derail.  When the train derailed, the tiger's cage broke and he escaped.  The first priority was to capture the tiger before it hurt someone.
            Calvin heard enough.  He wanted to see the tiger's cage.  They walked by numerous people who appeared to have minor injuries.  Calvin assumed they were circus workers who were on the train when it derailed.  Paramedics and EMTs tended to the injuries. 
            Calvin found the car that served as the tiger cage.  It was tipped over on its side.  It was empty, so obviously the tiger escaped.  However, Calvin noticed something unexpected.  "Hey guys, what's missing from this cage?"
            Jack and Willie looked at the cage.  "We already know what is missing," Willie replied.  "The tiger."
            Calvin frowned.  "Obviously.  But, if the crash caused the tiger to escape, we should be seeing something.  But, it's missing.  What is it?"
            Jack took another look at the cage.  "I am looking, but I don't know what you are talking about."
            "The cage is not broken.  All of the bars are intact, just like the other cages.  Look, the bears, lions, and other animals are still in their cages.  Those cages didn’t break.  This cage didn’t break either.  Someone let this tiger out."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013



            Drip . . . Drip . . . Drip . . .
            "DDDDDDDDDooooooooo . . . yyyyooooouuuu think it is safe to go out?" Willie asked his friends, Jack and Calvin.  Hiding in darkness, Willie was lying on his stomach on a cold, damp, rock floor.
            "Ssssssshhhhhhh," whispered Calvin, stuck between his rotund friend and a rock wall.  "It still might be out there."
            "But, I haven't seen it in a while, and I am hungry."
            "Why are you thinking about food at a time like this?" Jack questioned, as he elbowed Willie.  "You just had a snack when we were at the lake."
            "Well, how long do we have to wait here?" Willie asked impatiently.
            Tired of being squished by Willie, Calvin suggests, "Maybe one of us should take a peek to see if it is still out there?"
            "I'll take a look," Jack whispered as he crawled forward on his stomach.  Slowly, he inched forward.  Finally, his red Phillies cap, with brown hair poking out underneath, emerged from the cave like a turtle's head poking out of his shell.  Intently, he looked left.  Seeing nothing unusual, he rotated his head to the right.  He still saw nothing unusual in the woods.  Or is there?  What is moving over there?  His head freezes.  Jack holds his breath.  He looks closely.  A bush rustles.  A squirrel emerges and climbs a nearby tree.  He sighed in relief.  He continued looking to the right.  Nothing.  His eyes scan back to the left.  Still nothing.
            Cautiously, he climbed out of the cave.  Kneeling, he looks from his left to his right.  Still nothing.  With his right hand, he waives for his companions to come out of hiding.  "I think the coast is clear.  I don't see anything."
            Calvin and Willie breathlessly watched Jack emerge from the cave and waved for them to join him.  Willie exhaled.  Calvin moved forward first and climbed out, followed by Willie.  They stood together.  It felt good to stretch after being cramped in darkness, for what felt like hours. 
            As they stood, Jack looked at his friends, Calvin in a muddy Star Wars t-shift and Willie in a mud covered Pepsi t-shirt, "You guys look terrible."
            "You don't look so good either."  Looking at his shirt, Calvin continued, "My mom is going to kill me."
            Willie chimed in, "My mom expects me to be dirty."
            Jack pulls at his muddy red Phillies shirt, "My grandmother will just think that I am in trouble again.  Now that it looks safe, what should we do now?"
            Jack and Willie looked at Calvin for the answer.  "Let's go back to the lake and get our bikes."
            "Follow me," Jack said as walked on a narrow path down a hill.  Calvin followed as Willie trailed behind.  Trees and brush surrounded them as they walked.  Jack and Calvin kept looking around to be sure it was safe.  After a few minutes, Willie started to sing.  Calvin elbowed him, "Sssssshhhhhhhh."  Jack turned and glared at him. 
            They walked in silence.
            Suddenly, Jack threw out his right arm, stopped sharply, and whispered, "Stop."  Calvin collided into Jack, dislodging his hat.
            Willie dove to his right and crawled under some brush.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Writing for 100 Days

If you are not a writer, how do you write a story with over  20,000 words?  Try writing 100 words a day for 100 days.
My daughter, Aly, found a challenge online at  The challenge started in January and she announced that she was going to take it; write 100 words for 100 consecutive days on the same story.  You are allowed to miss up to one day a week, but have to make up the 100 words the next day.  You can also take a grace week.
My son, Matthew, also accepted the challenged.  To encourage them, especially Matthew, to finish the project, I decided to do it with them.  Today is the final day, day 100. 
My story is over 21,000 words, which is an average over over 200 words a day.  Even though I wrote over 100 words a day, I rarely wrote more than 300 on one day.  By just writing consistently, the story blossomed and exceeded 20,000.  I can't really believe that I wrote that much.  By writing small amounts everyday, the large challenge was manageable.  My story is actually not finished and I look forward to finishing it.
I am going to let Matthew tell you about his experience.  He says . . .
      I learned a lot about writing when doing 100 for 100.   I learned about perseverance and remembering to actually writing everyday.  One of the many reasons I remember to write everyday is thanks to my sister since she is constantly reminding me.  I did not stay with my storyline very well, which I will definitely try to do better.  Another thing I did not do very well was stay on track with my story during my writing session.  I have finished the contest, but I have not finished my book.  I will definitely finish this book and post it on my blog. 
Aly had done this before, so this is not a new experience to her.  She is also a writer besides doing this challenge.  So, her perspective is different.  I will let you tell about her experience.  She says . . .
     One hundred words is not a lot of words, but it's the one hundred consecutive days that makes it a challenge. Last challenge, I completed the challenge only missing three days. This time, I only missed one. My goal this time was to write the second draft of my current novel.  I made it to 30,000 words, 20,000 words short. I had a steep goal, but I also found the last semester of school more challenging than the first. 100 for 100 helped me keep my writing and school balanced. It was comfort to slowly see my word count climb higher and higher in the midst of a tough school year and busy life.
We had a lot of fun and concluded the event by going to Chick-fil-a for milkshakes.  Of course, we had to write while we were getting milkshakes, so this blog is the result.
The challenge itself might be over, but we are not done writing.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Date Night With 4 Year Old

It is hard to raise boys into men.  Our culture encourages gender confusion.  To combat this, I try to teach my boys how to be men.  One thing is to teach them how to care for their wife.  Primarily, I do this by example.  But, I also find ways to teach them to treat her special.  I help them make special moments for Mom, which I hope they will do for their wives.  Tonight, I took Christian, our 4 year old, on a date with Mom.
For starters, I had him dress up.  He wore a dress shirt with a tie.  The tie was too long, but it did not matter.  He was dressed up for Mom.  Dressing up for our woman is special.
We planned to take her to the bookstore for tea.  Before we got there, we had something special to do, so we told Mom we would meet her there.  On the way to the bookstore, we bought Mom flowers.  He learned to treat a date special and that flowers are special for girls.
When we arrived, we saw Mom's minivan.  Christian was excited that she was already there.  He carried the flowers.  Upon seeing her, he ran with a big smile and gave the flowers to her. 
With my direction, he asked her what she wanted to drink.  We went to the counter.  I wanted him to order.  He could not remember the order, so I told him what to say. He repeated the order.  I wanted him to pay.  I gave him the money, he handed it to the cashier, and he kept the change.  He learned that the man makes the effort to get the food and that the man pays.  This makes her feel special.
We sat at the table.  He ate a chocolate chip cookie, drank chocolate milk, and made a mess.  I cleaned him up.  Then, he wanted to play with the trains in the children's section.  This was not exactly what I wanted him to do because the date should be fun and special for the girl.  He did not get the unselfishness part of the date.  Maybe he will understand next time.
Recently, I heard someone explain that a way to help young boys is to encourage them to be a hero.  After all, every young boy wants to be a hero.  While walking out of the store with the flowers, I told Christian he would be Mom's superhero.  He likes Spiderman.  I told him he would be like
Spiderman, only his powers would be flower power.  He objected, "I don't want to be Mom's hero.  I want to be her friend."  Well, so much for the hero part.
Overall, it was a good early step for him to turn into a man.  We learned to treat women special.  Dressing up for them is special.  Giving them flowers is special.  Getting their food is special.  Paying for the food is even more special.  These things are special, but, according to him, do not make him a hero.  I pray that some day he will be a friend and hero to a special woman.