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AC Benus

Author: Signature Author
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AC Benus last won the day on June 14 2017

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22,426 There Can Be Only One!

About AC Benus

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    Elite Member

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  • Age in Years
    47
  • Gender
    Male
  • Sexuality
    Gay
  • Location
    San Francisco
  • Interests
    Love, cooking, history, classical writings, Queer politics, chatting with friends, finding more in common with everyone than I thought possible, architecture, design, dogs, Airedales

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  1. ...farmhouse breakfasts are the best... I like the 'get him up and ready' line and how Rob reacted to it
  2. As it's almost Easter...here is some happy music. This performance is almost breathtakingly fine. Beautiful. Francesco d'Avalos leads The Philharmonia in Clementi's Symphony No. 4.
  3. AC Benus

    Night Blooms

    Yes, Parker, thank you. Here's some hugs for everyone who've lost their folks
  4. Thank you for your warm comments @Lyssa, @Mikiesboy and @MacGreg
  5. You may want to read droghtquake's opinions -- it would be interesting to see if two comments from people somewhat the same age living in the same city are similar. I am especially interested as, many years ago -- when the streetcars were still blue and yellow, I lived in the Sunset district and attended school downtown. A long ride back and forth.

    1. AC Benus

      AC Benus

      Yes, @droughtquakeand I have discussed some points relating to life in the Bay Area :) BTW, Muni has a fleet of streetcars refurbished by volunteers and hailing from cities far and near. They run up and down Market Street and are known as the "F Line." They even have a yellow example from here like you mentioned.

       

       

    2. droughtquake

      droughtquake

      And AC is one of the GA members who actually resides in The City. I worked on Castro Street for a few months, but have never lived in San Francisco. I live in the East Bay in a terminus of BART.

      I don't claim to speak for my city, the Bay Area, or California. My opinions have clashed with others from the Bay Area or other parts of the state. Several others have expressed a desire to leave California, but I would have a difficult time ever leaving the state of my birth (unlike some who came here from somewhere else).
       

      I'm also more than a decade older than AC even if I seem to be less mature…
      ;–)

    3. Will Hawkins

      Will Hawkins

      Hey, a decade is nothing, take it from a guy who has seen eight of them slip by, During my sojourn in the San Francisco area, I never lived in the East Bay, I was in the Sunset area because at that time rentals were cheap there. I suppose that is no longer true as the type of house I lived in is now selling for over 100G. A ground floor entry and garage with two floors above was the typical plan. I remember the back yard was only about large enough for a clothes dryer and a dog run with high fences on three sides toward the neighbors. It was the first house in which my family had ever lived where I had my own room however, so I thought it was grand. I attended John Drew School and rode the streetcar through the Twin Peaks tunnel to and from school every day. It was a great time to get my homework done.

  6. I will comment more, but to this point specifically, I really like (and respond well to) how Goethe weighted his poems at the end. It's something Shakespeare would do too, but Goethe is all the more free in his use, but just as effective. I think it's part of Goethe's art; he build towards a conclusion that cannot be seen until the reader lands on it. It's altogether remarkable for me, knowing how difficult it is to start a poem and have it increase in both intensity and simplicity, as if the verse were always moving straight to this conclusion.
  7. Good Thursday, and this has to be among the most remarkable recordings of Haydn ever made. The symphonic version of The Seven Last Words of Christ, led by Antoni Ros-Marbà, conducting the Orchestre de Chambre de Catalogne in 1965. Rarely is spiritual presented in such a spiritual way; it's amazing.
  8. Abundant thanks go @Timothy M.for his editing skills, and to @Mikiesboy, @Parker Owensand @Lyssafor their beta-reading and comments. They have all strengthened this story, and I am deeply appreciative
  9. Thank you for reading and commenting, Chris I hope you have a happy Easter
  10. The veil between people is thinnest at certain times of the year. This collection of Short Stories explores what we call 'Holidays.'
  11. . The $10 Chocolate Bunny an Easter story for my mom Blessed Harmony hardly ever got rocked by scandal, but Shaun Williams had been pegged as an instigator early on. Now in Mr. Katz’s 5th grade, tongues still wagged about how the boy had kissed Mary Schubert one day by the swing set. Shaun had been a mere 1st grader then, and Mary – as the older, more responsible one at seven – had come in for a fair share of the rebuke. Some speculated in low-toned conference that she’d not properly rebuffed the advance. As for the two children actually involved, neither could discern the exact problem at the root of the grownups’ fixation. For them it had been a teary goodbye punctuated with an “I love you” and a kiss on the cheek. Mary was changing schools, and the unlikely cross-class friendship was coming to a sad conclusion. The powers that be at Blessed Harmony Catholic Elementary and Junior High School had reacted by raising eyebrows and calling in parents for warnings. After the dust had settled, the female staff of instructors, teachers’ aides, librarians, and even lunch ladies, kept their eyes on “that one.” For even though the kissing incident was several years in the past now, the wary glance of cook, nun and pedagogue waited for Shaun to reveal his true colors as troublemaker once more. It turned out they wouldn’t have to wait much longer, despite the fact that Shaun was a good and loving son to his parents, and a respectful soul to his elders. He was the type who took the parish priest’s words to obey both the letter and spirit of the Ten Commandments seriously, although, let it be known, no one is perfect. Even so, Shaun always strove to be as good as reasonably possible, even more so when in the confines of Blessed Harmony. As alluded to already, the makeup of the school staff was entirely female, with the exception of two uniformed custodians – most often seen during lesson time mopping up sick kids’ vomit from too-strenuous post-lunch physical activity – and Shaun’s homeroom teacher. Back at the end of August and the start of Shaun’s junior high school existence, the ringing bell and moving from classroom to classroom, from teacher to teacher for different subjects, had taken some getting used to. However, to return to Mr. Katz at the end of the afternoon for one final lesson in Social Studies was always a relief. He was a nice man, and supportive of all the kids, in a way treating them as if his own, and paying them the respect due to developing individuals. In his own mind, the 5th grade teacher often considered his side of the school a wearying place to work. Not because of the pupils, but for the three remaining instructors constituting Blessed Harmony’s Junior High School staff. Sister Perpetua was excluded from the trying nature of the others, for a sweeter nun of the old-school variety could hardly be wished for. She too always guided developing souls with a smile and the judicious leverage of persuasion to ensure her charges succeeded academically to the best of their abilities. Even acknowledging her tempering influence, Mr. Katz thanked his lucky stars he was the only male teacher. It meant he could rip off his tie, change into sweats, and not have to sit around being vulnerable to intrusive personal questions and gossip-tinged chatter from the ladies. No, his post-three-o’clock-hour was devoted to sports duty. As Blessed Harmony’s athletic director he enjoyed providing a no-nonsense coaching figure to the boys’ teams of the school: softball in warm weather, and gym-bound basket- and volleyball in the cold months. Ms. Goodman’s silvery laughter could regularly be heard up and down the corridors of Blessed Harmony. The 8th grade instructor was the type of person to take things casually, most often dismissing conflict with a wave of the hand. She took pride in knowing she was liked, and found it all the more annoying that one of her colleagues did not return her fondness. But never mind. She normally spent the first hour after the final bell tidying up before heading to the teachers’ lounge for a chamomile-tea-fueled confab with her fellow ladies, and seeing what new underhanded comment Ms. Landau tossed her way. Young and pretty, with Farrah Fawcett hair, Goodman loved kids and felt satisfied in her career choice, yet frankly viewed herself as on a year-to-year agreement with the school. She used the summer months to unwind and socialize with a few gentlemen prospects she kept on her fishing line. Eventually – that is, within a summer or two – she planned to be engaged and able to return to Blessed Harmony with a rock on her finger. With a renewed flicker of ambition, she could then sail through the teaching of a final 8th grade class, and be happily planning a spring wedding at the same time. This day, spring was on her mind, for the crocuses were in bloom, while hyacinths peeked their purple eyes from beneath green pods, and the masses of yellow daffodils and forsythia had already come to pass. Yes, now that it was nearly Easter, her heart pined for summer and an ultimate release from school duty. It all made her sentimental for her wedding; Goodman could see she’d be in white lace and the song playing for the first dance, “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters, naturally. Heavy mug in hand, the woman pushed those thoughts away briefly this afternoon to regard Ms. Landeau’s “stunt” displayed so prominently in the copy room/front office. Goodman was on her way to the break room and could already hear her fellow teachers catching up. Walking on to join them, she hoped Landau wasn’t there so she might freely broach the subject of why the 6th grade teacher was doing what she was doing. In her classroom, it happened that the 35-year-old Ms. Landau was thinking about Goodman too. The 6th grade instructor sat at her desk grading math tests, and allowed a vision of her cheerful rival sitting in the teachers’ lounge to drift over her. She resented the younger woman’s perky optimism, and the mere thought of it was enough to halt Landau’s activities. Awkward acknowledgement of the 6th grade teacher’s own predicament came to her instead. Sure, there was nothing wrong with Walker Englebart, son and heir of Englebart’s Fine Chocolates in Belleville, a small city twenty miles to the north, and where both their families resided. Englebart was on the mousy side – that much was true – but five years ago they had gone out on a series of enjoyable dates, mainly to screenings of the latest movies. Landau wrote a red-letter “B+” at the top of an exam and mindlessly grabbed a sheet of medium-sized stickers. She scanned them. From a collection of brightly painted Easter eggs, chick and simple flowers, she selected one and affixed it as reward for the pupil’s good efforts. A larger sheet stood by reserved for “A” students. Ms. Landau picked it up a moment, rather sourly surveying the elaborate images. These more expensive stickers had highly detailed strips of grass where white Easter bunnies leapt. Although intended to be whimsical, they reminded her of Englebart’s ploy and the tough situation in which it had put her. She wondered if the man was thinking clearly. Who in their right minds would imagine such a gift appropriate? True, when they’d been dating, he’d bashfully professed a keen, romantic interest in her, even one evening when they’d gone to see the newly released Divorce His, Divorce Hers. Despite this obstacle, they’d continued to have fun and engaged in hours’ worth of natural conversation. Even still, a part of Ms. Landau doubted he was destined to be “the one.” She’d kept her options open, despite perhaps feeling more for Walker Englebart than she felt comfortable admitting to herself. But still! Out of the blue, look at what he went and did. His gesture was inappropriate for “acquaintances,” to say the least, and it was done in a way to make Ms. Landau’s mind reel: having it delivered to the school like that. The nerve. In fact, so much so that even after she’d settled on what to do with it – and show him how little she thought of his gift – Ms. Landau was unable to keep it in her classroom and be constantly confronted with it. Instead, she’d set it up on display atop the copy room counter for the children to ogle. She didn’t want it, and until it was properly disposed of, the 6th grade teacher would avoid afternoon coffee-clutches. She went back to grading papers, contenting herself with the notion that her embarrassment would soon be over. The following day at lunch, 5th grader Shaun kept his eyes on Ms. Landau. He’d eaten hurriedly, and now languorously picked out raisins from their box one at a time, waiting for the 6th grade teacher to finish her meal and head back to her classroom. He could feel the money burning a hole in his pocket. He was carrying around enough cash to buy himself an entire schoolyear’s worth of milk, and a pint cost a whole five cents! A smart boy, he knew they’d be repercussions. He realized he was doing something to cause the entire school to focus on him, but when Shaun imagined achieving his goal, he knew it’d be worth it. The student chewed pensively on another raisin, shutting all the clamor of the full cafeteria out and thinking back to the first time he’d laid eyes on “him” last week. The copy room had been crowded following the end-of-day announcement, but Shaun persevered, and eventually, the older kids filed out and gave him a chance to see. And there it was – a towering two-foot-high chocolate Easter Bunny! A basket on his back was piled high with variously colored candy eggs. A ribbon bedecked the upright rabbit’s neck, and his little paws were up, almost like a begging terrier. “Geesh,” exclaimed the 3rd grader next to Shaun. “It must weigh a ton!” “Nah,” explained a savvy 7th grader to the girl. “It’s mostly hollow inside. That’s what Sister Perpetua says anyway.” “But still,” rattled Shaun, “it has to be three pounds of chocolate.” “Probably closer to five.” Shaun’s eyes grew round. “Imagine,” exclaimed the 3rd grader again, “eating all of that.” Shaun found himself murmuring: “Yeah….” All around the rabbit were pink and purple shreds of paper grass. Together they formed a cushion as it stood in its presentation box. This too was seasonal, and had various Easter scenes printed all over it. The box sat very near the edge of the counter between the mimeograph machine and the paper cutter. Taped below it was a hand-lettered sign: “All Proceeds go to providing Easter Baskets for the Poor of the Parish.” “I wonder,” said the girl, “what he’ll bring me this year!” The 7th grader asked, “Who?” “The Easter Bunny, of course.” Shaun chuckled, then added rather acrimoniously, “The so-called Easter Bunny only ever brings me new pairs of socks.” “What!” The 7th grader was astounded. “Well, first of all,” explained Shaun, “I wasn’t born yesterday, so I know it’s my mom who plays hippity-hop this time of year, and I always get the marshmallow chicks along with the socks.” “So you don’t have anything to complain about,” said the girl flatly. “No, I guess I don’t,” admitted Shaun. “And come to think of it, my mom never complains about anything – ever.” The three children gazed at the rabbit one more time with hushed admiration. The boy from the 7th grade said, “Anyone who gets that will feel like a million dollars this Easter.” The 5th grader felt emotion welling. “They would, wouldn’t they?” “And how!” slowly exclaimed the girl. Shaun fished for a raisin in his box and chewed it very deliberately. Suddenly, Ms. Landau stood with her tray, saying “Have a good afternoon” to her fellow teachers. Shaun closed up the Sun-Maid box and dropped it in his shirt pocket for later. The 6th grade instructor walked up to the tray return, and Shaun followed close behind. She was first out of the cafeteria, and just as he got to the wide-open double doors, Shaun saw her duck into the women’s room. No worry, Shaun simply walked as fast as he could past it, and along the long corridor. He’d be the first waiting in line outside Ms. Landau’s door. When he got to the front office, he stole a quick peek at the bunny and hightailed it towards the 6th grade classroom. Shaun’s heart sank. There was already a pair of chattering 8th grade girls waiting for Ms. Landau’s return. He got in line behind them. “I hear,” one of them was saying, “it’s a rejected love token from a man she just doesn’t dig.” “Could be,” the other girl opined. “But it’s a lucky break for us.” “Yeah.” The original girl sighed. “I guess we all have more or less equal chances at taking it home tomorrow.” Hands thrust into his pockets, Shaun began to fidget and blush violently. It was a relief Ms. Landau came then with keys rattling to open up her classroom. The two girls and Shaun entered the room and waited until the teacher seated herself. Then she pulled out a clipboard; next to it was a neat stack of cut, mimeographed certificates, each about the size of a chewing gum wrapper. “Hi, April,” Ms. Landau said to the first girl in line. “Hello.” The young lady pulled out two quarters. “I’ll take ten raffle tickets, please.” “Sure.” The teacher wrote down the sale, took the money and handed over April’s chances for the drawing. “Fill in your name and grade, and then bring them back to me, okay?” “Yes, Ms. Landau.” April moved off to use the classroom table. Her friend stepped up, extracting 75¢ from her coin purse. “I’ll take fifteen tickets, please.” Shaun’s stomach began to quake, for both the teacher and the girl’s seated companion acted like the amounts they spent constituted “a lot.” “Okay, Janet, here you go. Fill them out, and best of luck.” “Thank you, Ms. Landau!” The girl skipped off to join April. Shaun stepped up quietly as the teacher was still jotting down the sale. “Yes?” she asked him without glancing up. “Um—” “You entering the Easter Bunny raffle, Shaun?” “Yes,” he told the still-distracted woman. “How many?” “I…um, don’t, um…exactly know how many.” The happy clatter from the girls clammed up as the teacher regarded the boy. “Well, how much money do you have to spend?” Shaun extracted and held up a ten-dollar bill. “This much.” “Where did you get that?!” “My dad gave me an advance on my allowance for three weeks, plus an extra dollar, to make an even ten.” The girls gasped. Ms. Landau rocked back on her seat. “But, that’s…that’s. Shaun, that’s two hundred tickets.” “Yes, please,” he said placing the bill on the desk. “But don’t you understand? That’s more than I’ve sold to everyone else, combined.” Into her withering tone, Shaun thrust an innocent, “But it’s for the poor. I thought you’d want to get as much as possible for them.” Ironclad as it was, there was no overcoming this argument, but nevertheless, the 6th grade teacher leaned forward and asked very intently, “Are you sure?” “Yes, Ms. Landau. I have a good reason.” The woman inhaled, attached the Hamilton note beneath the metal clamp of her clipboard and wrote down: “Shaun Williams, 5th grade – 200 tickets.” The she rustled her pile like a deck of cards. “I doubt I have more than fifty here. You take these and start filling them out.” She stood. “I’ll have to run off and cut the rest.” Landau left the room, instructing Shaun to tell anyone looking for her that she’d be in the front office for a while. As she walked down the corridor, the master copy of her raffle sheet fluttered frustratedly. All she wanted was for this to be over. Instead, now she had to stand by the copier and print off a thick bunch of tickets. Naturally, as the device rattled, her eyes fell on the unwanted gift from Englebart. As the blue-ink fumes of the mimeograph began to circulate around her, Landau’s attention landed on the sign she’d made. Having to come up with “a good cause” proved to be more vexing to her spirit than she’d expected. To give the proceeds to 6th grade wardrobe needs for the upcoming all-student play at the end of the term? To donate the raffle money to Blessed Harmony’s scholarship fund? In the end, the meager prospects for cash-money sales nudged her to settle on Easter baskets for the poor. Truth was, there were hardly any poor in the parish, and Landau had an entire childhood’s worth of holiday egg carriers she could recycle in her parents’ basement. She’d boil and decorate a few eggs herself and pick up packs of treats to fill the baskets up. She had struggled to come up with a reason to reject Englebart’s gift, and felt undue stress about it. In the end, she feared it was all too transparent for the critical gaze of her fellow teachers and nun principal. A hand went up to pin back a stray lock of hair. She wondered if she’d waited too long; five years is a long time. She never imagined she’d get “stuck” teaching. Thirty-five meant she was on the road to spinsterhood. Oh, sure, Ms. Goodman flaunted her free spirit and youthful outlook on life. Oh, sure, the 8th grade teacher could pick and choose men like vending machine candy. Oh, sure, Goodman is on the road to being married and settled by thirty. But then honestly, when she was that age, Landau had been caught up in the “you’ve come a long way, baby” attitude of the times and valued her independence too much to hand it over to a lover, fiancé or husband. Now she was not sure it was worth it, not if she stood around and felt old and ugly compared to other instructors. Meanwhile, back in the 6th grade classroom, Ms. Landau’s homeroom students had begun to show up, and April and Janet quickly let everyone know what Shaun was doing there. Within a minute or two, kids left the room again to inform other classes. Shaun stood and diligently wrote his name and class on the fifty-eight tickets Ms. Landau had left for him on her desk, even though his skin prickled, he held onto the knowledge that what he was doing was going to pay off in the right way. “Hey.” Scott, a boy from the 7th grade, was standing next to Shaun. “Hi.” “Is it true?” “Is what—” “You’re buying $10 worth of tickets?” “Yeah.” “How come?” Shaun shrugged, playing dumb. “Well,” said Scott, already leaving, “good luck, I guess.” “Thanks.” Shaun went back to filling out his certificates In Sister Perpetua’s room, Scott returned and immediately gathered some girls together to confirm the news. Shrieks erupted, and the teacher had to tamp down the noise – for the second time. Nevertheless, the nun listened with great interest. She had papers to grade and stickers to place too, but in fact her mind drifted back to another era, to another Easter holiday season when she’d been twelve; the same age as her students were now. She dared not count the actual number of years, lest it startle her out of the recollection. A boy named Bobby McGee presented her a bunny much like the one on raffle, albeit one to suit a little girl’s grasp. He was a shy lad, and had placed the treat next to him on the pew Easter mass. After the service, as parents filed out and milled on the grass in the springtime air, Bobby had come up and given it to her with the words “It’s not much, but sweets for my sweet.” Startled, the twelve-year-old blushed but took it. After a hasty glance around at the preoccupied adults, she leaned in with a “Thank you” and a kiss on his cheek. To this silly, helplessly old-fashioned memory, Sister Perpetua allowed a grin to play about her lips as she pretended to work. She knew this lingering sensation from a spring five decades ago was wildly innocent compared to the presumed experiences of her swinging, 1970s coworkers, but she treasured it. It kept her warm some nights, and always – as now – made her smile. A tingle traveled along her spine too. Setting her pen down, she deliberately twisted the tight-fitting ring on her finger, the only piece of jewelry she’d worn as an adult. Mouth going dry, the nun glanced out the window and wished with a desire similar to the almighty impulse of spring itself to enter the raffle with the children, to throw caution and restraint aside one more time. But, alas, she knew she’d have to give it up if she did by some miracle win, so the woman picked up her red pen to continue grading, resolving to only enter the drawing in her heart and leave the rest for God to decide. The next day, a festive mood permeated the corridors and classrooms of Blessed Harmony School. It was the final, morning-only, day of lessons before the Easter break. And at one o’clock, with every pupil seated at his or her desk, they would know who won the raffle. The immense chocolate rabbit was going home with one of them, and that realization was electric. A grouchy Mr. Katz gripped his coffee mug as he headed towards his 5th grade homeroom. His irritation sprang from a conference he’d just managed to escape. It seemed the notion of one of his pupils buying an inordinate number of raffle chances had percolated and boiled over in the female hearts of his fellow teachers. Worse yet, they as a body had decided Mr. Katz was the only one able to “Do something about it!” A technicality, they explained, existed: Shaun Williams had paid for two hundred tickets, but only had time to fill out fifty-eight yesterday afternoon. Mr. Katz, they believed, could talk reason to the boy and have him call off his obviously selfish scheme. They had all suspected Shaun was a latent troublemaker anyway. As he seated himself behind his desk, Katz’s annoyance faded to dolor. A sip of his coffee allowed him to casually scan the students already in his room. Shaun was there, laughing and chatting with a small group of boys by their lockers. Would he be able to “talk sense” to Shaun like the nattering ladies of Blessed Harmony wanted? At the same moment in the break room, Ms. Goodman was stewing. Alone, and continually glancing at the clock to ensure she’d have enough time to make it to her classroom before the first bell sounded, the attractive woman wondered what had put the hornet in Ms. Landau’s bonnet. As far as Goodman was concerned, she’d always been nothing but nice to the 6th grade teacher. And yet, why then did the more mature woman constantly snipe at her with insinuating comments? It was almost enough to make her want to quit teaching at the end of the term. Why did people have to project their insecurities onto those who conjure those feelings? Goodman, isolated and hurting, suddenly felt her dreams for the future come to comfort her. With a bittersweet acknowledgement, she knew she wasn’t really looking forward to leaving Blessed Harmony; she’d miss the kids. But in truth, she loved children so much she couldn’t wait to have her own. For her, it's an easy choice. She’d rather be the world's best mom more than the town's best teacher. She rose nobly, straightening her skirt as if she were brushing off Landau as so much annoying lint. She couldn’t help someone who wouldn’t help themselves, so, gathered and composed, she prepared to start her day with a smile, and by humming the strains of a Carpenters’ tune. Hours later, at noon precisely, the lunch bell rang. Mr. Katz had arranged for a teachers’ aide to shepherd his class to the cafeteria. He’d held Shaun back, and now the two sat at a table in the back of the room. “Mr. Katz, I really don’t have much time—” “Look, Shaun, I won’t keep you long, but tell me, why have you decided to…to spend so much on the raffle?” The boy slumped on his chair, causing Katz to continue in a softer tone. “There is concern you’re not doing this for the right reasons. Do you understand what I mean, Shaun?” “Yes.” The teacher waited for more; none came. Shaun simply inspected his hands, which he’d folded in his lap. “No one’s angry or upset,” the adult lied, “but also no one’s clear on your motivations. When there’s a vacuum of information, Shaun, people are likely to fill it with whatever they like.” “Do you think I’m a bad person, sir?” The question rocked Katz. The tension in his face dropped immediately. “Shaun, please look at me. Now, I suppose it’s not too late. You’ve filled out fifty-eight tickets already. That’s more than any other student has bought. Why don’t you quit with that?” “Because I want to be sure.” “But why? Do you want to eat it all yourself?” The boy only shook his head, hurt. Katz almost felt like crying. The teacher wasn’t sure why he was doing this to the boy. “You won’t tell me why you are doing it?” “No, sir. It’s private. I don’t want to jinx it, but if I win, I’ll come back to school after Easter and tell everybody exactly why I wanted it so bad.” Confronted with the boy’s sincerity, Katz was forced to remember an incident from his own childhood, although not a particularly favorable one to the teacher. When he was Shaun’s age, his dad had presented him with a genuine Louisville Slugger. The kid-sized wooden bat had been the envy of his classmates, and he let other boys use it freely during pickup games on Saturdays. One of those matches turned contentious, as Hank Covington – the boy chosen by lots to act as umpire for the game – made a decision Katz didn’t like. The conflict escalated, as everyone seemed to be on Hank’s side and not his. Pissed, Katz had collected his bat and walked out in the middle of the 7th inning. And why was he thinking of this? Why did Shaun’s beautifully sincere gaze at him bring up this wart of a recollection form the man’s own tenth year of life? Because he knew a more selfless, innocent kid not exist than Shaun Williams. This child would never walk out on his friends like Katz did; he doubted the boy would ever let a group of his peers pressure him into talking someone out striving for a goal, no matter what harmless goal it was. All at once, Katz smiled. He stood up, inviting his pupil to join him. After forcing a handshake on the young man, he told him, “Whatever your reasons, I know they are good. Best of luck on your drawing, Shaun!” And he meant it. He felt so liberated, if Katz could exercise his druthers, he’d give the boy another ten dollars to double Shaun’s chances at winning! Somehow it seemed the least he could to make amends, both to Shaun and Hank, but for all the other boys too. After eating hastily, Shaun was standing by Ms. Landau’s door at 12:25. He had a lot to do. Eventually, after being told the news – or lack thereof – by Mr. Katz, the 6th grade teacher came and opened the door. She was not happy about the whole situation, feeling the added attention to the bunny and where it came from originally reflected badly on her. Shaun waited patiently in front of her desk while she extracted the clipboard, and neat little bundles of raffle tickets, stacked and secured by rubber bands into groups of fifty. She kept wondering why Walker Englebart had done this humiliating thing to her. Her heart seethed. “Ms. Landau, I’ve heard what people are saying. Do you think they’ll hate me for this?” For the second time in the day, the boy’s plainspoken question knocked an adult out of their languor. Confronted with the ten-year-old’s unflinchingly pure gaze, Landau’s rancor melted away. A truth was standing there before her, and after a moment of painful self-realization, she told Shaun, “No, I don’t. And don’t let worrying about others bother you. People often need very little excuse not to like someone, or at least tell themselves they don’t.” She grinned a little, handing Shaun his pile of blank certificates. “You have a lot to fill out, one hundred and forty-two to be exact, so you better get started.” Just as Shaun beamed and took ahold of them, there was chatter at the door. Girls from the 8h grade had heeded Mr. Katz’s call for volunteers and were there to help. As they sat at the table and worked away, Shaun noticed April and Janet’s handwriting was a whole heck of a lot neater than his, but they were speedy too – writing his name and grade over and over again – so he could relax a bit. “No one really understands why you’re doing this, Shaun,” April said casually. “Yeah,” agreed Janet, “some say it’s unfair.” That stung, but Shaun could see how some might feel that way. “I have a good reason.” “Wanna share what that is?” April tried coaxing. “As I told Mr. Katz, I will after Easter break, if I win.” Janet chuckled some, still tidily completing a new ticket. “I heard they tried a few test drawings this morning.” “And?” Shaun asked. “And,” April said, “you won three out of four attempts.” The 5th grader merely nodded, but the information buoyed his heart for success. He couldn’t wait to get back home this afternoon…and then…. He smiled broadly, pulling another pile to him to fill out. Soon, trashcans were emptied to start receiving the completed raffle tickets, and Shaun’s teacher popped his head in to collect a pile for 5th grade volunteers to complete as well. Even with all the help, the hundred forty-two others barely made it up to the front office in time. For at one o’clock precisely, the PA system crackled to life. In the 7th grade classroom, Sister Perpetua had her hands folded on her desk. Her erect posture was dignified; composed. None of her students could see or feel the inner workings of her mind. She was relieved the chocolate bunny was soon to depart Blessed Harmony School. It represented the voluptuousness of the world the nun has shunned wholeheartedly. Its presence had goaded her into uncomfortable memories and emotions better left buried; hidden. Besides, her dalliance with Bobby McGee had been short-lived. For soon after, one day while helping her mother clean their farmhouse, the girl had been under the heavy kitchen table wiping down the legs, and heard Him. The nun’s calling had been a literal voice in her mind to serve God, and there had followed no questions about its sincerity. At first it had been a challenge for the young novice at the convent in Ruma to give up “the sweet” things of life, but now she told herself she’d have it no other way. The principal’s voice sounded throughout the school, announcing the start of the holiday break, and giving out instructions for when regular classes would resume. Sister Perpetua regarded her chocolate-induced nostalgia as merely a fleeting pang, a tug on her heartstrings for things she actually did not miss. She reminded herself by twisting her ring that it’d been thirty-five years already since she’d taken her final vows, and ignored how even now moisture would sometimes gather as she lay her head upon her pillow, her will to be content slowly shut down by the initiation of the sleep process. For it was then in the twilight gray between waking and slumber her tears would trickle without her knowing it. In the 6th grade classroom, Ms. Landau was also lost in her thoughts. As the principal continued on with the announcements, the teacher’s heart relented its sternness against the son of Englebart’s Fine Chocolates of Belleville. She had made his gift a totem of unwanted attention, and realized she’d acted rashly to reject it – perhaps to reject him as not good enough when they had dated. She’d acted mean. Her “charitable” act was anything but, and she had done it to hurt a sweet man who was simply sweet on her. His resolve to woo her has been tested by the few years of her coolness towards him, and now she regretted every moment of her aloofness. Landau suddenly felt like laughing. Who did she think she was anyway? Embracing the fact she was far from perfect herself, Landau began to sort out how she could repay Walker. She’d get him something for Easter. But what? Maybe she’d send him flowers. And why not? She felt she’d come a long way personally, and nowadays a woman could send a guy bouquets if she wanted…if she wanted to show him…she really cared. Landau sniffled and held back a tear. But she resolved to do it; she’d be doing it mainly for herself anyway. “And now,” the principal announced, “the moment we’ve all been waiting for.” Shaun sat a little more erect, like God was watching. His heart beat that much faster. “By a random draw”—the sound of rustling paper could be heard—“the winner of Ms. Landau’s chocolate Easter Bunny is…. Shaun Williams, 5th grade class.” The winner let out a breath just in time to hear an unexpected sound. Every child in school shouted in joy for him. He felt blessed. “Class dismissed!” Chairs squeaked. Shaun was instantly surrounded by smiling classmates congratulating him. Half an hour later, the enormous Easter box astride both his outstretched arms, he walked into his living room. His dad helped him with the door. “Did you get it, son?” “Yeah, this is it.” “I’m glad for you, Shaun. Now, set it up,” he said closing the front door. “I’ll go get, you-know-who.” More excited than ever, he placed the box upright on the coffee table, carefully removing the lid. He even bothered to fluff some of the colorful paper grass around the rabbit and tweak its ribbon like a bowtie. His father re-entered the room, smiling as if he were proud. Shawn’s mom walked in behind him, chatting about something mundane and drying her hands on a dishtowel. The woman gasped when she saw the chocolate bunny. Shaun simply said, “I love you, Mom. You deserve a treat sometimes, and this is for you. Happy Easter.” ~ _
  12. Thank you, Tim. I like your thoughts on all of the poems. These were not fun to write, much less revisit to type up and post, but pain seems to be something most people can relate to. No. 29 is a special poem, and I'm glad I posted it in context with the two preceding it. Thanks again ❤️
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