(Little side-note TBL has just reached 156 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.2 stars out of 5. Thank you readers and reviewers.)
SFM is one book in a series unlike TBL. But it still made sense to me to include information about what happened to the principle characters--not so much the on-going ones but this particular book specific ones. Some of the people who's advice I respect said I shouldn't do that, matter of fact they said the prologue in TBL was not needed. As you can see on some occasions, okay quite a few, I ignore advice. I know some books should not continue on past the end. But I can't help it, I like knowing what happened to the people in the book I have just gotten to know. What do you think?
A Christmas Tradition
Part Three of Four
What was I going to say to Bobby? Don’t even show me your gifts-- you’ve lost. Wow, life was tough. Bobby lived on Northrup but he lived across Key Boulevard, a major two lane street than ran right through the heart of the little city. My parents had never forbid me going across Key, but many kids on my street couldn’t. “Too much traffic”, was the most often mentioned parent reason. As far as I knew the people weren’t different on that side, although it was a possibility.
Bobby was all about sports. He had no interest in anything else. So naturally his also ‘only interested in sports’ parents bought him sports gifts. These, of course, had great value in kids scoring. But Bobby was hard to deal with, he was ultra-competitive. If I assigned an eight to a new football, Bobby would insist it was an eleven. If I said eleven he would demand a fifteen. Unless he won he wouldn’t agree on any number. Since I have dealt with Bobby before, I knew what to do.
This year he received a new basketball. I told him it was an eight, he insisted it was a ten. I really thought it could be a fifteen but he won at ten. We bargained away for some time with him winning every battle. He was all smiles; he was the victor. His grand total was thirty-two; but he was ecstatic that he had bested me in every negotiation. None of us played sports games with Bobby, one reason was that he was much better than we were; but mostly it was just not much fun.
Once I was back across Key Boulevard I felt more relaxed. It was only thirty feet of pavement but it was a real barrier, at least in my head. Johnny’s house was next. His mom was a school teacher and she yelled a lot. Most of her yelling was directed at her husband who always seemed to be leaving. Sometime later, when we were in Junior High, he left one morning and never returned.
Johnny was the class clown. He lived for only one thing –to make you laugh. His biggest problem was that he wasn’t very funny. We used to walk down Key to a small shopping center and buy things at the drug store or just gawk at things in the hobby store. There were times in the summer we would make that journey every day. On each trip we would pass a dry cleaner shop that had a woman sitting at a desk facing out to the sidewalk. She apparently was the bookkeeper. Each time we passed Johnny would put his face on the glass and blow. This made an ugly face and it seemed to upset the woman. It also left an unsightly mess on the window. She didn’t think it was funny, I didn’t think it was funny; but Johnny thought it was hilarious.
After a while when the woman saw us she would get up and go to the back of the shop, no doubt hiding from the hideous creature who made faces and smeared her window. Even if she had left, Johnny did his face thing and laughed. One day a man came out, he might have been the owner, he didn’t say, he told Johnny he would have to clean up that mess or he was calling the cops—he also let Johnny know that he knew his mother. With no reason that anyone could have figured out, Johnny jumped around and made monkey noises at the man and then ran off. It was obvious to me that Johnny had just insulted the man, but the man seemed unsure what to do. He looked at me as if I might have an answer, I had none. He went inside and I went home. From that day forward we begin to walk on the other side of the street and only cross over once we reached the hobby store. All Johnny ever said about that day was that the man had called his mother and threaten to have him arrested for damaging his window—he said “defacing”, but must have meant something else. In a very strange way Johnny seemed to think all of that was funny.
Christmas had never been a big event at Johnny’s house. They had a tree but it was only slightly decorated and they had very few gifts. Johnny had never won the Christmas gift rating game. He didn’t seem to care but it was hard to tell for sure. His biggest gift this year was cowboy boots. That could rank pretty high on the kid’s scale, but he said they were hand-me-downs from a cousin who lived in the country. Better luck next year Johnny.
Next: A Christmas Tradition Final