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Archive for the ‘Stories I tell my grandson at bedtime.’ Category

While driving back from the bay Area to El Dorado Hills following some medical tests a few years ago, I was accompanied by my 9-year-old grandson Hayden. During the drive, I explained to him that we had to make sure I did not fall asleep due to any residual effects of the anesthesia. I suggested  we play ‘What am I thinking.’ A game I learned from some friends as something they used on long drives to divert their children. At one point, during a lull in the game I mentioned to Hayden that talking was also a good thing to do to keep me awake.

He said:

‘In that case, there is something you should know about me. I am really an alien from Cluton sent here by my parents. That is why I act like I do. I have three hearts and five stomachs one of which is dedicated exclusively to digesting fish smoothies. I also have three butts one of which I lost during the Butt Wars which we lost and is why my parents sent me here to earth. I am filled with ‘joy bubbles’ which allow me to float in air or water if I want. You should also know that music makes me crazy.’

With that, he turned on the radio to a music station and acted…well crazy until finally and thankfully he shut the radio off.

Who knew?

A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.
Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of this blog would permit them to fall within the class of no one.”

4-up on 3-1-13 at 6.18 PM4-up

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One morning as I lay on a lounge chair by the pool, the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver and perhaps Pirate stopped by to chat. He takes Aikido lessons at the health club and enjoys steam baths. He keeps the ashes of two friends in cigar boxes in his locker. Periodically, as they requested, he scatters their ashes in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute throughout South East Asia.

He reminisced about his life as a deep sea salvage diver and treasure hunter in the American Virgin Islands during the sixties and seventies.

Inspired by the movie Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he left his life of petty crime in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a government program to train underwater salvage and construction specialists.

After a few years, he found himself living in the Virgin Islands and along with about four or five others, made up an itinerant band of underwater salvage and construction workers — sort of a wet monkey-wrench gang without the social consciousness. He worked on the underwater construction of the St Thomas Airport, and also pipelines, gas lines, petroleum structures, in-situ aquariums and the like.

With his VW bus loaded with ten Scuba air containers, ten truck tire inner-tubes and a two-way radio, he prowled the island on behalf of the coast guard or various insurance companies lifting sunken boats using the inflated inner tubes or searching for saleable salvage.

At one time he and his friends competed with Mel Fischer to locate the Atocha. They searched around Marathon Island and Fischer between Key West and Tortuga. They found cannons and anchors, bottles and bones, but Fischer found the gold.

For a while, they supported themselves by every morning securing the hawsers over the bollards when the cruise ships arrived in port and releasing them when they sailed in the evening. They also searched the bottom of the sea for salvage, mostly anchors that they sold to boat owners and bottles they sold through consignment shops (blue bottles from the 19th Century and earlier were destined for apothecaries and usually held poisons).

At times, he also worked as a sailor, boat builder and sail maker. For two years, he crewed the Colgate heirs family yacht, a 150-200 ft three-masted schooner named the Lorelei Lee. But mostly, he caroused until he decided to travel around the Pacific (Including a stint in the merchant marine delivering supplies to the American troops in Viet Nam), often living the delightful life of a beach bum and eventually ending up in Bangkok in a single room of a downtrodden hotel where his walls are covered with wonderful photographs of his life and where he keeps a running list of friends who have died.

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My grandson HRM wrote the following note to the tooth fairy which he placed under his pillow along with the detached tooth:

“Dear Tooth Fairy,

Did you ever take John Cena’s tooth? Yes__ or No___

Please respond.”

Clearly the lad will become a future CEO; dynamic and imperious behavior set in an imaginary universe.

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So, last night, at bed time, I continued telling the series of stories to my grandson Hayden that I had begun about two years ago. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit the ranch owned by our friends Bill and Naida).

Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of “The Old Man Under the Mountain.” With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego, a cuddly toy that Hayden insists shares my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse.

In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not a so Powerful Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.”

They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.

The knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named “Heimlich.” Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called “Pruneberry the King of the Castle” (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother “Natasha Dewlap” married Heimlich’s uncle, “Julius Caesar” (we both thought that was a very funny name).

Anyway, Heimlich and his friend (who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well been something as ridiculous and “Guildenstern” or “Rosencrantz” or even “Miracle Max”) one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go the grave to visit the site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.

Anyway Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.

When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, “Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.”

At this point Hayden asked me, “How can a ghost speak after he died?”

“A keen observation,” I acknowledged. “That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.”

The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich, thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.

And so the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, “Say Natty does this look familiar to you?” At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passers-by.

Hayden then asked me, “What are rutabagas?”

I said, “I did not know.”

Heimlich, thereafter spent every day alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named “Snowy,” looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabaga to passers-by, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party. The End.

I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale for the Three Knights that I would tell him about tomorrow (I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear). But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.

I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story because he needed to get a good nights sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the “Deep Dark Wood'” to visit his mom.

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