Elliott’s favorite place is on his aunt and uncle’s back porch leaning against the house in an old kitchen chair with his feet up on the railing. Summertime finds him with an iced tea or a beer. Winter is a hot mug of coffee, or at Christmas, with his aunt’s holiday hot toddy. Elliott could sit like this all day watching the world drift downstream along the fork of the river at the edge of the property.
But on this summer’s day Elliott was leaned forward, elbows on his knees. He slowly peeled the label off of a bottle of beer, wadding up the remnants between his fingers and then poking them down the bottle’s neck. He thoughtfully placed the bottle with the other empties, then reached for another in the cooler under the chair. He took a long draw off of it before going to work removing its label.
“Hard times are easy to find, aren’t they?” Elliott’s uncle’s voice came from just behind the screened door.
Elliott reached into the cooler and offered his uncle one. The man took the beer and sat on the stairs on the edge of the porch, looking back at his nephew.
“You need to get a new No Trespassing sign,” Elliott said, pointing out toward the river.
His uncle glanced out across the property and shrugged. “Folks can pretty much guess what it says.”
“It’s not like a new sign’s ‘gonna set you back.”
“Don’t see the need, son. But thanks for your concern.”
Elliott finished his beer, jammed to the bits of label down the bottle, set it down with the empties, pulled out another one and got to working on that label.
“Look, kid, it’s a bum deal, but a case of beer isn’t going to make you anything but a drunk, sad-sack S-O-B, more than you already are.”
“Yeah? Well, could be worse,” Elliott grumbled. “Could be out with my guys making a night of it. Been a while since we were out looking to score.”
“OK. I’ll give you that,” his uncle conceded.
Elliott stopped fiddling with the bottle and looked up at his uncle. “Look, I’m a grown man, I know life’s not about scoring, and it’s not always going to turn out to be like some huge winning lottery ticket. I just wish,” he shook his head. “Whatever. Forget it.”
“No, I get it,” his uncle replied. “And don’t go mistaking my big mouth for God’s only truth. I just been around the block a few times more, is all.”
“I appreciate you bein’ here for me.” Elliott smiled as he took a moment to focus his thoughts. “I mean, if we’re talkin’ truths here, me and her? We were chalk and cheese. Take this place,” Elliott leaned his chair back into his customary position, “I love it here!” He sighed as he opened his arms wide. “How can you not love every bit of this?”
“I agree, I agree, of course” his uncle said. “But, you only brought her around that one time. She didn’t take to the place?”
“Who knows. I mean, she said it was pretty out here, but, yeah, I guess not. Anytime I suggested we come out here? She’d make a face and then say we should go shopping at the mall, or see a movie, or go out to dinner, or hang out at the casino, or whatever.”
Two gun shots echoed through the valley, setting a flock of startled crows aloft.
“Mick and Geraldine’s got their grandkids for the summer. Teaching them how to shoot,” Elliott’s uncle explained. Elliott nodded.
“So, how ‘bout I take you and Aunt Mary out for a bite?” Elliott said as he gave his uncle a slap on the back. “Your choice!”
Elliott’s uncle smiled. “Oh, well then, I could do with a porterhouse from River Bend Grill. With one of their whiskey sours Mary likes? You’re on!”
I like to accumulate prompts and then have a go (as the Brits say). Mostly, I like to force myself to just “get with the program” and write, something, anything!
The Un-OLWG prompts used are: big door prize; a simple kitchen chair; hard times are easy to find; gut shot; chalk and cheese; while the world drifts downstream; no trespassing; mistake my big talk for truth; who am I kidding; shamelessly speak the truth