THE BOY WHO COULD SEE TOMORROW

© 2018 Bill Murphy

People often ask writer’s how their stories come to be.  I my case, it’s usually that I first meet the characters – in my mind – as if meeting a flesh and blood person for the first time.  Then, these factious people tell their stories to me.  Their story simply unfolds. Such is the case of the boy who could see tomorrow.  I met his parents first.

Their story is, I’ll admit, a dark tale. It’s neither dark in the spooky sense, nor is it evil.  It’s just a story that we hope will never happened… period.  Some things, although not specifically sinful per se, simply should not be.  I’ll not ask you to enjoy this story.  Just think about it. 

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THE BOY WHO COULD SEE TOMORROW

Paula Wilson, the Mother –

Bucky was our middle child.  His birth was special, as was his life.  He was not suppose to be… and that in more ways than one.  His older sister, Connie, had a difficult beginning herself.  I was sick much of her pregnancy, and her birth was a long and difficult affair.  The small country hospital where she was finally delivered didn’t make matters much easier, on either of us.  Connie was a late talker and walker.  But when she blossomed, into a beautiful, radiant bloom.

The doctor’s told us that I’d probably not be able to conceive again.  That’s why Bucky was such a welcomed surprise.  We thought of him as our miracle child.

My pregnancy with Bucky went as smooth as silk, and his delivery also.  He was such a healthy baby.  We considered everything about him such a blessing.  He was always spot on with his developmental abilities – and even early with some.  He was an early walker and talker, much to our amazement.

His special ability, if I can call it that, was difficult to spot at first.  There were small clues to be sure, but when one is not expecting something like this, it’s difficult to grasp, and impossible to understand.  Looking back now, I think the first clues were those exhibited at feeding time.  Even as adults, all of us have differences in taste.  So it’s not surprising when a small child refuses strained spinach or squash.  Bucky was always a good eater. But when he didn’t like a food… say… beets – he’d turn his head away before he’d ever sampled it.  See what I mean?

By the time he was three, my husband and I knew that Bucky was different.  Evidence of his unique ability began to surface more frequently.  And it frightened us.  But Bucky was far too young at the time to discuss it with us.  And there were his frequent headaches. He whined and cried, holding his head.  They didn’t last long, but were frequent.  The doctors were baffled.  They could uncover no reason for them, none at all. Of course, we didn’t discuss with the doctors our growing knowledge of Bucky’s ability to seemingly peer into the future.

The first time Bucky seriously spoke with me about this was when he was 4.  He was having another of his headaches.  He’d crawled into my lap, cuddling close.  He turned and looked into my eyes.  “I don’t like the headaches,” he said.  “I don’t want to see tomorrow.”  Then his little arms squeezed me tightly, as if he was attempting to bury himself into my body.

I’ve never believed that seeing into the future could be a good thing.  And I’ve never believed in so-called fortune tellers.  I can’t see how this would be a natural and normal, in any form.  If it were possible to see into the future, it would open wide a door to opportunities ripe for corruption and ruin.  It would not be a blessing.  It would be a curse.  But somehow, my son was gifted with this curse.  He could see into tomorrow.

Franklin Wilson, the Father –

Bucky was the son I always wanted.  I was one happy camper at his birth.  I considered changing jobs when he was born, just to have more time with him.  Traveling like I did may have brought in more money, but then, money isn’t everything.  I missed the day he first spoke a recognizable word, and when he took his first step.  I missed a lot of his early days.  Perhaps this was why I was the last one in the family to admit the truth of Bucky’s unbelievable ability – or maybe that should be… disability.  It was a disability, for sure.  It set him apart from all of us, from everyone.  It made him different.  Our great love for him was intermixed with fear and dread.

Yes, I know that in certain cases, a glimpse into the future could be a reassuring and positive thing – but for the most part – personally, I have far too much stress coping with the present, to add knowledge of the future on top of that.  And this ability could be exploited – a unique tool to increase personal gain, wealth, influence, leverage.  But that would be like having the keys to every safe in town… and this could not be good.  The weed of temptation finds itself in every garden – there’s no point in watering and fertilizing it!

Once I accepted the unassailable fact that my son somehow possessed this dangerous ability, it shook me to the very core.  Oh what an tremendous responsibility had been give my wife and I – to raise and protect this ‘innocent’ child – a child who was of such great danger to himself, and to others.  Only a fool would think of it otherwise!

Our first ‘scare’ came when Bucky was almost 5.  I’m not sure what we were thinking at the time, but to give the lad as much ‘normalcy’ as possible, we enrolled him in a local daycare/kindergarten.  Bucky loved it!  By this time, we’d talked to him about the fact that no others ‘saw tomorrow’ as he did – and that they would be alarmed if they thought that he did.  We strongly urged him to keep his ‘visions’ or what ever they were, to himself.  What were we thinking?  Bucky was only a kid!

Bucky’s group was scheduled for a field trip on Friday.  They were going to the Municipal Opera House, for a tour, and hear the orchestra practice.  Friday afternoon, when his mother arrived to pick up Bucky after school, she was directed to the principal’s office.  Something very strange had happened concerning Bucky.  It seems that there had been a change in plans for the field trip.  The orchestra’s conductor had fallen ill – so the Opera House tour was off.  Instead they’d gone to the zoo.  This was not known until after school on Thursday.  The conductor was hospitalized late Thursday afternoon, and the school notified after the end of the school day.  It was then that the plans were changed – to take the kids to the zoo instead.  Thursday night, the principal called Bucky’s teacher, and told her the change of plans.

Then Thursday morning, as Bucky’s teacher greeted each child as they entered the building, the first thing out of Bucky’s mouth was, “I’m glad we’re going to the zoo today instead.  That opera stuff is boring.  I can’t wait to see the elephants, they’re so neat!” How did he know?  The change in plans had not as yet been announced to the children.

Monday, the daycare was called, and told that Bucky was ill.  And the family made plans.  This scare of discovery had been too close!  Bucky never went back to the daycare. Within 3 weeks we moved to Birmingham… 500 mile away.

Connie Wilson, the Sister –

Bucky was born the summer before I started 1st grade, which would have made me six, barely old enough to be somewhat of a help with Bucky.  Dad was ecstatic when Bucky arrived.  He’d wanted a boy, and Bucky was the answer to all his prayers and dreams, or so it seemed.  I admit to being thoroughly jealous, up until the newness of the new baby wore off.  Neither Mom nor Dad had any siblings, and where we lived, so far out in the country, meant that neighbors were few and far between.

I was not often around other babies or small children for comparison, but Bucky seemed to me to be just like what others were like.  We went to church, but not on regular basis.  Dad traveled in his work.  Although it was only a two state area, it was the states of Iowa and Nebraska, meaning a lot of driving for little business.  Dad needed his down time at home on weekends.  But we still considered ourselves Christians.

The first time I remember seeing Bucky using his – strange ability, was when I was in 4th grade.  It was a school day, and I was walking to the front door to board the school bus, when Bucky stopped me.  “Don’t go,” he said,  “I don’t want you to get hurt.”  But I pushed past him, laughing.  Little did I know – that he knew.

At recess, Moli Trent applied greasy sun-screen to her arms, and then climbed the jungle-gym.  I was behind her, my hand slipped when near the top wrung, and I fell – breaking my arm in two places.  Bucky knew it would happen.

This awareness of future events happened more and more often.  But even once a month was too much for me.  They frightened me.  Bucky frightened me.  And then we moved to Birmingham, I thought that things might be better.  They weren’t.

Paula Wilson, the Mother –

After the day care scare, my husband and I had a long delayed pow-pow.  What to do about Bucky?  We were both in agreement that Bucky’s gift was laced with danger, and not just to himself.  We where forced to look at the big picture.  His ability posed a threat not only to our family, but – if we were honest about it, to all of humanity.  I’m forced to agree that in some specific cases, a peek into the future could be a positive thing, but on the other hand, in the grand scheme of things, this unique ability could adversely cause great havoc.  Yet – think about it – if one knew what tomorrow will bring, can one still alter tomorrow and make it different?  I think not.  And I was not about to test this hypothesis with some hair-brained experiment.

This was way over our heads.  This was an issue, a problem, out of our league.  But still, try as I might, I could see no reason to believe that Bucky’s strange talent was anything but a curse, an unwanted and unneeded freakish ability.  It could serve no positive purpose.  But it could propel him, and our family, into great turmoil and danger.  But what were we to do?

For starters, we decided to homeschool Bucky.  We thought about moving to some remote and desolate location, to live off the grid, to hid ourselves from the world.  But we are not off the grid type people.  We moved to Birmingham to get away from the daycare fiasco, to distance ourselves from the fallout we feared it would bing.

Birmingham is definitely not off the grid, but at least, no one knew us, or knew of us, there.

Franklin Wilson, the Father – I’m not sure what the founding fathers of Birmingham were thinking when they turned over that first spade of soil.  There’s actually a lot of level ground in Alabama… but not in Birmingham.  And yes, we did buy a home in the suburbs of that great city, where it is much, much hillier.

We got a fantastic deal on the place!  The home was in foreclosure, and we bought it, as is, from the bank.  The former owners had gone thru a bitter divorce.  The struggling, weak willed mother, who got the house, was left with two traumatized teenage daughters.  She allowed the two girls to redecorate the house, any way they wanted.  The colorful result was a cross between psychedelic brothel and carnival fun house.  And the girls painted it themselves, in what looked like one weekend.  You’d have to have seen it to believe it.

It took us several weeks to restore the place to its original sanity.  The house was set on a hill, a very steep hill, especially in back.  The backyard had no problems with drainage, the 25+ degree slope took ample care of that.  The driveway was on the left side of the house, with a large parking pad beside the house, where it opened into the garage/basement area.  The front of the house and entry way, were at ground level, with steps leading upstairs to what for all practical purposes, was the ‘first floor.’  This contained the den, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  All were large and spacious.

Just off the rear of the house, and at ground level to the house, was an addition – a small ‘mother-in-law‘ apartment with 3 rooms.  This apartment could be accessed from steps inside the garage and leading down, or directly from an outside door on the rear of the house.  A small, brick and stone patio wrapped around two sides of the apartment.  Above this patio, a small narrow balcony had been added off the master bedroom upstairs.  It was almost 20 feet from the balcony to the patio below.  The view of the backyard from this balcony was breathtaking.

Connie, who was eleven at the time we moved, begged to have the sub-basement bedroom.  But we thought she was too young at that time.  We promised it to her when she turned sixteen.  Until then, Paula and I would share it as our office/hobby/crafts area, and where she would homeschool Bucky.  Connie then asked for the first bedroom off the upstairs hallway, and we agreed.  Bucky’s room was just down that short hallway and directly across from their shared bathroom.

Within a month, we’d settled in to our new normalcy.

Connie Wilson, the Sister –

It’s been six years now, since that terrible night that changed our lives forever.  I seems more like sixty.  Gone are the happy days with a happy family.  Gone too is the crazy house in the hills of Birmingham – at least it’s gone from my life – as is Bucky.

That night, Dad was downstairs in the hobby room, working on his electric trains.  Mom fell asleep watching TV in their bedroom.  I thought Bucky was in his room.

Because mine and Bucky’s bathroom was right across the hallway from his bedroom, all he had to do was crawl out of his bed, and walk in a straight line, out his door, across the hallway, and into the bathroom.  From Mom and Dad’s bedroom, if Bucky got up from Dad’s side of the bed and walked straight, he’d walk through the sliding glass door that led out onto the narrow balcony directly over the stone patio below.  This patio had a wooden railing.  Whoever built it, didn’t use pressure treated wood.  The railing was rather rickety, and Dad had not as yet gotten around to replacing it.  Mom left the patio door open that night.  She enjoyed the cool night air of Autumn.  Bucky’s death was a terrible accident!

The investigation dragged on for over two years.  No charges were ever filed.  The authorities were divided over what had actually happened.  The lead investigator was of the opinion it was an accident.  He theorized that Bucky had gotten into bed with Mom, then later, groggy with sleep, walked off the balcony thinking he was going to the bathroom.

The chief of police believed that either Mom, or Dad, had actually staged this accident, and pushed Bucky off the balcony.  But he had difficulty proving it, because he could never uncover a possible motive.  He flatly refused to believe our accounts that Bucky could see into the future.

Bucky’s death, coupled with the trauma of the long drawn out investigation, took their toll on Mom and Dad.  It changed them, hardened them, stole from them their very joy and joy of life.  They drifted farther and father apart.  I now live six months with Mom, and six with Dad. The divorce was finalized in March.

For many months, the investigators attempted to pit me against them, wanting my assistance in extracting the truth from each.  To be completely honest, I have no idea what to believe.  Both Mom and Dad clearly loved Bucky, although they hated his unusual ability.  But I can’t believe that this would bring either one, or both, to kill him.  I hope it was just an accident, an awful accident.

A few months before the divorce, one of the officers even asked if I had done it.  He said that sometimes children love their parents so much, that they can do unbelievable things for them.  I loved, and still love, both my parents, that much I know for sure.  I know I do.  But if I did do it, I can’t remember that.  I don’t think that I could do it.  If I did, then I’ve pushed that memory far, far away.

I loved Bucky too.  I really did.

 

 

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AN ANGEL IN THE CLOSET

Sk. In Closet copy© 2018 Bill Murphy

We often hear of skeletons in the closet, of deep dark sins and secrets hidden away, musty and dusty and, we hope, dormant and forgotten.  But what of angels in the closet?

My family has one of each – and both are from the same closet!

I come from two large families, with a total of 13 uncles and aunts plus all their wives and husbands. This large collection of unique individuals has gifted me with a wealth of stories and life experiences.  One of my favorite story-treasures involves my mother’s older sister, Lillie Fairchild Padget, and her husband Fred Padget.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Lillie (who everyone in the family called Sister) lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Uncle Fred died of a sudden heart attack in 1947, and Sister moved next door to us on Evergreen Street.  Now Uncle Fred had an evil skeleton in his closet, which Sister packed up and brought to Jackson when she moved from Bogalusa.  She kept it not in a closet, but in a large trunk.

Not long after settling into her new home in Mississippi, she joined Griffith Memorial Baptist Church on Silas Brown Street, near our home.  And she began to sew.  She made for herself a beautiful, white Easter dress.

She was oh so proud of that dress.  It was of the finest silk, and rivaled the elegance of any wedding dress!  That top quality garment hardy cost her pennies to make!  The smooth, lily white material she already had.  It was brought from Bogalusa in the trunk.

You see, Uncle Fred had been an officer in the Bogalusa chapter of the KKK.  Sister made that beautiful dress, a dress to wear to church to worship and honor her Lord and Savior on the day set aside to celebrate that marvelous day He arose from the dead!

Sacrilegious? NO!

Read your Bible.  Over and over again we read where God used the weak to defeat the strong, the fearful to instruct us in bravery, and the ugly as a radiant example of beauty. This former skeleton in a closet, a dark symbol of sin and shame, my dear Aunt Lillie transformed into an angelic statement of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior.  I know that He looked down on that silk’s new form, and smiled.

 

 

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