“It’s time for bed you two.” Aurora shouted from the kitchen.
“Five more minutes.” Davey said, making a face as he pulled the covers up over his head.
“Please mom,” Ethan pleaded, “Grandpa’s telling us a story.”
Aurora was smiling at the doorway now, drying her hands and nodding permission.
“OK, but lights out after that.”
That summer the old man never left my side. I don’t know if Murphy was his first name or his last name, or if it was his real name at all, but he said it’s what his friend’s called him, so I called him that too.
We spent a week cleaning out the old shed in back, so I could have my own gym. Mom was happy that I finally moved my dad’s heavy punching bag out of the den. It had been sitting there collecting dust ever since he died, and it was always in her way when she tried to sew.
My dad loved Rocky, I think that’s why he bought the bag. We saw that movie five times, and that’s about how many times he used it before he got sick. After what happened with Billy, I knew that I had to learn how to fight. He hit me so hard that I couldn’t even remember it!
Murphy was there every day, watching me practice punches and giving me pointers. I figured he was pitching horseshoes when it happened, and he must have seen the whole thing, so one day I finally asked him about it. He just smiled and said it didn’t matter, that sometimes things aren’t what they seem. He was always talking in riddles like that, and it just burned me up.
“I’m sick and tired of being small and afraid,” I yelled, hitting the bag hard, and as many times as I could. “If Billy tells the other kids, I’ll be the laughing stock too.”
“Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened,” he laughed. “Life’s too short. Besides, everything will work out in the end.”
Another stupid riddle, I thought to myself. I was too tired to argue, so I sat down on the floor to catch my breath. Murphy was sitting in front of the window, in my dad’s old recliner, and a gust of wind came up and sent his old fishing hat sailing across the shed. We both started laughing hysterically, and the smell of orange and vanilla filled the room.
Murphy looked at me with a huge grin, and his eyes started to sparkle.
“Let’s go play some horseshoes squirt.”
To Be Continued