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YA Fiction Short Story: Theodore's Music

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Author Topic: YA Fiction Short Story: Theodore's Music  (Read 243 times)

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« on: July 11, 2010, 08:31:43 am »

Theodore’s Music
by Terri McIntyre

   Theodore Nez picked up his bag and looked around the tiny bedroom that had been his for three months.  He never really understood what people meant when they told him, “It’s not working out.”  He only knew he had to go somewhere else.
   Theodore knew she had taken him in as a foster child after her pastor had approached her about him.  Theodore also knew that his grandmother had been looking for someone else to look after him.
   “Mr. Tabaha is here,” Miss Polk said quietly.   
   Theodore stared at Miss Polk.  At thirteen, he was nearly as tall as this large, white woman.  “You look like you want to cry,” he said flatly.   Then, with a flash of anger in his eyes, he exclaimed, “Hey, don’t worry about it, okay?” 
      “Oh, Theodore, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out, but that awful music you listened to--we just couldn’t have that.  You understand, don’t you?”  She reached to hug him, but he brushed past her, hoisting his bag on to his shoulder.  He felt the hard handle of the pistol bump his shoulder blade.  By the time Miss Polk discovered it was gone, he would be in the high country.
   “I’ll pray for you,” Miss Polk called as Theodore followed the social worker, a middle-aged man who walked with a slight limp.
   “Thanks,” Theodore muttered, and threw his bag onto the back seat of Tabaha’s car. “Hey, Tabaha, can I sit up front?  I like to see where I’m going.”
   “Sure.  But you already know where you’re going.”
   “Yeah, yeah.   Uncle Mike’s.”  As Theodore buckled the seat belt and folded his arms, he stared straight ahead and mentally went over his plan.  As soon as Tabaha had dropped him at his uncle’s hogan, Theodore would wait for the right moment, steal
$some food, a blanket, and a canteen, and head for the high country.  He would kill rabbits for food.  The pistol would also protect him from skinwalkers, the crazy devil people who wandered around looking for someone to scare.

Tabaha turned the car off the highway on to the dirt road that led into the Reservation.  It had been two years since Theodore had lived at his uncle’s hogan.  Almost every day, he had seen his cousins, Jared and Lorinda, at school.  Once Uncle Mike had come to pick up Jared for a dental appointment, but all he had said to Theodore when they passed each other in the hall was, “What are you doing out of class?”
   “I have to go to the nurse, you know, to take my medicine,” Theodore had explained.   He remembered the lonely feeling when his uncle merely grunted and left. 
Theodore resumed his saunter down the hall, stopping at each classroom to wave at someone, anyone. 
   “Say, Tabaha,” he said suddenly, coming out of his daydream, “do you like music?” Theodore removed the seat belt, turning to look at the round-faced man in a cowboy shirt, Levis, and boots.  “Yeah, you probably like country.”
   Gene Tabaha grinned.  “Yep.  Country.  Reba!”
   “Well, can we turn on the radio?  Pleeeeease.”
   “Sure.”  Tabaha reached for the dial.
   “I’ll get it!  I know how,” Theodore said, shooting his hand forward.  He punched the scan button, passing a dozen stations.  He stopped when he heard a drum beat pounding anger, an electric guitar wailing in anguish, a voice churning warning.  Theodore leaned back in the seat, folded his hands behind his head, and stretched his legs full length.
   “I thought you were going to get Reeeeba,” Mr. Tabaha protested.  He was smiling.
   “No, I just asked if we could turn on the radio,” Theodore corrected.  He pu
rsed his lips and rocked his shoulders to the beat.  Once, he caught his reflection in the side mirror and leaned to study the squareness of his face, his high cheek bones.   He dug a comb from his shirt pocket and ran it though his black hair, short on the sides, long and swept back on top.  “I think I’ll get a buzz,” he said, peering at the mirror again.  “Not that kinda buzz.  I know all about that.  I mean a haircut.  Say, Tabaha, why am I going back to Uncle Mike’s?  I thought he didn’t like me.”
   Gene Tabaha was silent, then said, “Well, number one, he does like you and  number two, your uncle has been reading books about hyperactivity.”
   “You mean Attention Deficit Disorderly.  I know what I got.”
   Tabaha smiled.  “Your uncle understands more now and
said he wants to keep learning.”
   “Yeah, well, Miss Polk read a ton of books and she didn’t understand anything.  I told her that my  music, not hers, but mine calms me down.  You know what she did?  She threw my CDs in a pile and burned Ôem.  And it made her nervous when I moved around a lot and talked too much.  She tried to make me sit still and be quiet.  I can sit still if I have my music.”
   Tabaha nodded.  “Mike wants to give you a good home now.”       
   Theodore stared out the window as they drove through the squatty juniper trees dotting the sandy hills.   A good home, he thought, and remembered when his parents had left him with his grandmother.  They were going to California, they said, and never came back.    He was eight.  They ran away, he thought.
   They passed a blue house beside a round hogan, its logs gray with age.  An old woman in a squaw dress was carrying a stray lamb back to its flock.  Gene Tabaha slowed the car to turn off the road onto a tra
il that wound through junipers and the taller pinion trees.  He stopped the vehicle and turned to look at the boy. 
   “We’re almost there, Theodore.  What are you going to do for yourself?”
   “Huh?”  Theodore said.  He thought of the pistol.  Did Tabaha know about it?  “I’m, uh, I’m going to always take my meds,” he stammered.  “But sometimes the doctor changes it on me.  I don’t know why.   It messes me up.  Like when I jumped on the table once.  Food flew everywhere.  Man, was Miss Polk mad.”     
   “I was thinking of a different kind of medication, Theodore.  Chemicals help you control your behavior, but chemicals can’t heal a broken heart.  What are you going to do for yourself?” he repeated.    
   Theodore  leaned forward and stared at his tennis shoes.  Gene Tabaha waited.
   After a moment, Theodore shifted and stared out the window.  “How do I know?” he muttered.  “I’m just a kid.”
   “You’re a kid with a lot of options.”
   “Yeah, right.  Okay, okay.  I can stay here.  I can camp out at school.  Or maybe in your
back yard.  I can hide in the church and steal some of the food they keep for poor people.  That way I won’t starve, see.  Yeah, I have a lot of options.”  Theodore opened the car door and stepped out.  He didn’t want Tabaha to see the anger boiling in his face, the tears puddling in his eyes.  Maybe he would run away now.  Tabaha
was old, and he limped.  He wouldn’t catch up.  Three miles to the north was a canyon.  I can hide in the caves, he thought.  No one will find me.  Theodore opened the back door of the car and grabbed his bag.
   “What are you doing, Son?”  Gene Tabaha was out of the vehicle surprisingly fast for an old man.  The two stood in the shade of a pinion tree, facing each other.  Theodore lowered his head, hoping Tabaha hadn’t seen his tears.
   “It didn’t work out before,” said Theodore, his voice trembling.  “It won’t work out this time either.  You want to know what I’m going to do for myself.  I’m going to take care of me.  I don’t want to live with nobody anymore.  Nobody wants me anyway.
Tabaha looked at the hunched figure before him.  “Let’s pretend that’s true,” he said softly.  “Before you take off from me, just assure me that you’ll be okay.”
   “What do you care?”  Theodore stepped back, and glared at the man.
   “I care.  I’ve known you for five years.  I’ve felt your pain.”
   Theodore gave an angry swipe at the tears on his cheeks.  He stared at Tabaha with mistrust.  How could he know about his pain?  He had a wife, kids.  He was loved.  “I don’t want to be around people,” Theodore blurted.  “Will you let me go if I tell you what I’m going to do?  You won’t tell anybody else?  Like the cops?”
   “Only if you let me come and check on you from time to time,” said Tabaha.  “There are bears up that mountain.  Lions.  Rattlers.”
   “You’re just trying to scare me.  It won’t work.  I have a gun.  See?”  Theodore reached into his bag and pulled out the pistol.
   Gene Tabaha sucked in a deep breath.  “I see,” he said.  He walked over to a log at the side of the road and sat down.  Theodo
re watched him uneasily.  Tabaha was removing a boot, then the sock.  Theodore saw that two toes were missing from Tabaha’s right foot.  An ugly twist of skin was in their place.
   “Who did that?” Theodore asked, moving closer, his eyes big.
   “You cut off your own toes?”
   “Gun accident.  I was twelve.  I didn’t know how to use a gun.  Do you?”
   Theodore found it difficult to tear his eyes from Tabaha’s disfigured foot.  “No,” he admitted.  He sat on the log next to Tabaha, the pistol still in his hand, dangling toward the pine needles scattered on the sand.
   “That thing’s makin’ me real nervous,” Tabaha said, looking at the pistol swinging from Theodore’s thumb.  “It’s like playing with a timber rattler.” 
   Theodore watched without reaction as Tabaha’s hand reached for the pistol and carefully removed it from his thumb.   The man then sat in silence as Theodore hummed and beat a rhythm on the log.
   “Tabaha, I’ve been thinking,” the boy said suddenly.   
   “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
   “Yeah?  Joke, huh?  There’s people everywhere, right?”
   “Almost everywhere.”
   “And some people have it good and some people don’t.”
   “Maybe I’m not the only kid without a home.”
   “It doesn’t do any good for me to feel sorry for myself, which I don’t.  You know that?”
   “I know.”
   “Someday I’m going to be old, like you.”
   “I’m old?”
   Theodore looked surprised and laughed.  “Sorry, Tabaha, but you’re old.  You’ve got it together though.  I’ve gotta get it together.  Two things I can do for myself.  Number one, when I feel hyper, I can go outside and run like hell round and round the hogan.” 
   “Good idea.  And what’s number two?” Tabaha asked.
   “Number two is listen to my  music.”  Theodore turned his head toward Tabaha and grinned.  “Only problem is, no electricity out here.  Guess I’ll have to make my own music.  You know?”
   Tabaha smiled.   “Sounds like you’re ready to get it together,”  he said gently.
   The two stood up and walked to the car.  They drove up to Mike Blackmule’s hogan. 
DAs Theodore got out, the social worker reached for his briefcase and a box that had been lying on the back seat. 
The hogan door opened.  A short, muscular man about thirty came out, followed by Theodore’s cousins.  Mike extended his hand to Tabaha.
   “Ya-at-eeh,” he greeted as the men lightly shook hands.  To Theodore’s surprise, Uncle Mike put out his hand to him, too.  His aunt stood in the doorway, smiling.
   “Ya-at-eeh, Nephew,” Mike said. 
   Theodore hesitated, then, almost shyly, returned the greeting and shook his uncle’s hand.
   “You need to sign some papers,” Tabaha said to Mike.  “Here’s the--” he stopped and looked at Theodore, then continued, “the surprise you asked me to pick up.”  He handed the box to Mike Blackmule.   
   Mike gave the box to Theodore.  “This is for you,” he said.  “It’s from all of us, a sort of welcome present.”
   “Thanks,” said Theodore, blinking.  He slowly opened the box.  “Coooool,” he said and placed the headphones around his neck as he pulled the tiny radio from the box.  Something fell to the ground.
   Mike picked it up.  “Extra batteries,” he said.
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2010, 05:33:36 pm »

A very well written story with truth for all of us to read
I'm glad to see the first post in your new board Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2010, 03:20:40 pm »

great ending always a twist at the end helps to bring the story home.

sort of when you have a dream and wake up suddenly you remember most of the dream.

the same with a story a sudden twist makes the reader  go back to the rst of the tory in their mind and most of it is recalled.

hi terry
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