Dec 3, 2010

Short Story: Old Man Granger's Boy

Word: Grain

This is an older story I wrote (maybe 6 months ago?) thought I'd post it here anywho.

Old Man Granger's Boy

The Word: Grain (Inspired by Janet Fitch []) Short Story Exercise

It was Sunday afternoon, and Jim Granger, a tired-looking logger from Missouri, sat down on his rocking chair, eying the children playing in his yard. They ran on and around his old swing set, rusted and red, which gave out a faint metallic smell that clung to the childrens hands whenever they grasped the iron chains. Jim sighed. He remembered building that swing set himself, for his son, Rudy, when he was just five. There was no red then, no rust eating at the set, like decay, reminding him how much time had passed.

He sighed again.

Although he was a logger, Jim Granger did not have the regular burly, strong, physique thought of in a man of his profession. He was tall, lanky, with silver-white hair on his head with an equally silver beard to match. Old Man Granger they called him in town, because of his hair, but he was hardly old. He was in his 50's, barely, his silver hair aging him beyond that of his years. Silver hair, the hair of worry, early worry. And death. After Rudy's death, Jim's hair turned gray.

Rudy was his everything, his passion, his life and entire being. Jim's wife, Laura, died in childbirth and it was only the two of them to fend for themselves. Yes, they were inseparable. Rudy with his yellow-orange hair and buck-toothed grin, and Jim with matching orange hair and a smile bigger than the sun. He was proud of Rudy. Rudy, who, like his mother, acquired the exact knack of carving anything out of wood. He would carve with the grain and against the grain for hours and hours, creating a menagerie of animals. Whales, dolphins, turtles, skunks, you name it, Rudy carved it. And he was only 7 then, too.

A 7 year old carving a Noah's Arc of animals. It was enough to make Jim smile and smile and jump off to the moon. "Wouldn't Laura be proud of our boy?" He mused, watching Rudy swinging on the set. It was clean white and shiny then. New metal. It was just what Rudy wanted.

"Poppa!" Rudy yelled at Jim, who was sitting down at his rocking chair, minding the day. "Poppa! What's an elephant eat?" Elephants. Jim Laughed. They were his favorite animal, with their long squiggled trunks and wrinkled skin. Rudy said they reminded him of his Old Aunt Rose, equally wrinkled and gray, with big ears to match!

"They eat grass, son, grass." Jim replied, smiling at his little boy.


There was a lot of it where they found him. Red and decayed like the swing set he used to play on. He was only 8 then. In his hand was his favorite chisel, clean, shiny and sharp, and a wood block, halfway carved into another elephant. He clutched it against his stomach as if shielding it from whatever or whoever did this to him. And although Rudy lay silent, asleep, dead like cold iron, a smile was on his face as if to say, "Poppa, I'm fine where I am now, next to Momma." At least, that's what Jim Granger liked to think.

They buried him under the large Willow tree out back, Jim seeing it fit for his boy to be buried beneath the wood he so loved to carve. And there Rudy lain, orange hair fanned out with cowlicks still, clutching the unfinished elephant in his hands.

After that, Jim's hair turned silver-white, the swing set rusted and that metallic smell just never went away.

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