Here Kodi can be seen delivering thorns to welcome a new writer into our mist-oops!-midst!
I have to sneak in this announcement before I introduce you all to newbie Newton Perry who has entered our contest: A Dozen Roses from a Single Thorn: A Valentine’s Day Love Story.
With your help, we have sent out hundreds of invitations for folks to enter our contest, and we recently discovered that the URL which we have sent to link people to the contest is faulty. This is not something that occurs as an error from our site, but with the server. Our techies Morgan and Diana are on it but it is not a simple fix. I will be resending an email to many of you with the contest rules embedded in the email, rather than sending the link. Please pass it on through all manner of social media. We can’t extend the date of the contest because the roses will wilt and the chocolate will melt. Thanks for your help with this. I will also change our home page shortly so that ALL the rules are stated there.
OK. And now let me introduce you to Newt Perry. He stumbled on to our site by accident, and I do hope he stays around for a while. Please remember that all entries must use the phrase “but it was only a rumor”. Or, if you live on Derek’s side of the pond (Jack? Steve?) “but it was only a rumour”.
Hero of the Lost Cause
by Newt Perry
… but it was only a rumor. It had to be.
“I’ll be home before you know it, little girl,” he told me. “We’ll go huntin’ and fishin’ just like always.”
And Tommy always kept his promises.
Then he tackled me and we rolled around in the yard and wrestled and hugged and he laughed and kissed me right square between my eyes. Finally he stood up and brushed the fresh mowed grass off his Army uniform and dusted the grass off of me too.
I just sat there on the grass trying not to cry when he kissed mama and threw his duffle bag in the back seat of the old Chevy then climbed into the driver’s seat. He started the engine, backed onto the street and looked back at everybody all bunched up together on the sidewalk, waving and hollering, “Goodbye.”
He gassed the Chevy and a gray cloud of exhaust blew out of the tailpipe. The tires squealed and the Chevy fishtailed down the street. I heard him laughing when he stuck his hand out the window and waved back at us. He honked the horn twice and disappeared around the corner.
Everybody kinda stood there, looking down the empty street, watching the exhaust smoke disappear in the warm, spring breeze. Some of them even turned their heads and looked down the street in the opposite direction like they expected Tommy to come driving back up laughing about it being some kind of a big joke or something.
But he didn’t come back.
And I knew he wouldn’t.
Me and him sat up all night before and talked about it. Well, he did all the talking. I did all the listening.
He was scared.
“The war’s lost,” he said, turning his State Champion Football trophy over and over in his hands. “They’ll start evacuating Hanoi in a week or two. Then it’ll all be over. A real bloodbath.”
He looked away and tried to wipe a tear off his cheek without me seeing. Then he looked at the floor and whispered, “This is a suicide mission,” but I don’t think he said that to me.
Three weeks later the house phone rang.
From the kitchen, there came a heart-broken, hopeless, blood-curdling scream. Then there was dead silence.
I ran out of Tommy’s room as fast as I could, down the stairs and found her sitting on the kitchen floor holding the phone out in front of her face. She screamed again then cursed and threw the phone against the wall, drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. Her whole body shuddered uncontrollably.
I walked quietly across the kitchen and sat on the cold tile floor beside her, leaned against her and nuzzled her real gentle behind her ear. That helped her calm down and she was finally able to cry, because nothing says love better than a warm puppy nose and a gentle nuzzle behind the ear.