Lucky Horseshoes


“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

Lucky Horseshoes


The old man started coming around the day that Billy Clyde knocked me out. It was the end of third grade, right before summer break. School let out early and it was too muggy to take the bus. Burt, the driver, always sweat real bad and on days like this, the stink was unbearable.

I was halfway up Third Street, in front of Cassiel Park, when I saw Billy catching up. I made a beeline for the gate, hoping I could lose him in there. There was a small hole in the fence, behind the horseshoe pits, and nobody else knew about it. Even if they did, most kids were too big to fit.

I thought that if Billy followed me there, I could sneak through the hole and get away. My plan didn’t work though, because he disappeared after I got past the magnolia tree. I didn’t see him again until I was at the east exit, and he was standing there, just waiting for me. I put my head down and raced toward him as fast as I could, but Billy was like a giant – and everything went black. 

Billy was gone when I woke up. My ears were ringing and my hair was full of dirt. I didn’t know how long I’d been out, but the sun was hot and it felt good on my skin. I laid there and let it soak into my face, and that’s when I first saw the old man.

His voice was loud, and it echoed in my head, “Let me help you son… sonson.” The smell of orange and vanilla filled the air, and all I could see when I looked up was his old red fishing hat, blocking out the sun. His wrinkled face was hidden behind a puffy white beard, and his blue eyes sparkled as he leaned down and put out his hand to help me up. 


I realize that I’ve left everyone hanging, with no ending to my previous short story—Franky with a “y”—but that’s probably a good thing. Final chapters take time!

Anyway, I wanted to get this second story going because, when I wrote it for class, I couldn’t figure out how to end it (seems to be a common theme). Well, I was finally able to come up with it!

So, Lucky Horseshoes, which was actually my very first attempt at writing a short story, EVER, has been pulled from the dusty old—soon to be burned folder—and is being given a new life.

I hope you enjoy it!