Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Ride



The Ride

Donald M. Hart


     David clutched the Chihuahua to his chest.  He was stroking its fur as tears ran down his cheeks.  He snuffled back a sob.

     “I told you not to cry.  It’s only a dumb dog.  I’ve told you for weeks we had to go to the vet.  Stop that crying, or I will pull into a parking lot and give you something to cry for,” his mother said.

     David drew in a sharp breath, held it, gritted his teeth, and flexed his muscles to stifle the next sob of sorrow that seemed to rack his whole body.

     He closed his eyes and envisioned the time his grandfather had taken him on a ride, not telling him where they were going.  “Grandpa, won’t you tell me where we are going?  It must be someplace very special if you are not going to tell me.  If you don’t tell me, how will I know if I will like it or not?”

     “Oh, I think you will be happy with the place we are going.  It is just a couple more miles up the road.”

     David leaned back against the seat.  His frustration was growing and welling up inside him to


a crescendo.  He crossed his arms in a manner of resignation and decided a couple


miles would not be too long to wait.                                                                                                                                                        


     After a few minutes, his grandfather announced, “This is the place.  It doesn’t look like much, but what they have inside of this rundown trailer is a sight to behold.”

     David was horrified that his grandfather would even consider taking him to such a place.  It was terrible.  The screen door hanging by one hinge, the window screens, what was left of them, were loose, the front deck was leaning precariously to one side, the grass knee high, and there were three junk cars in the yard  David slowly climbed out of the truck.  “Grandpa, I don’t like this place.”

     Oh, but you will soon enough,” came the reply.  “I imagine you will even get to take something home with you before we leave here.”

     David didn’t think there was anything he could possibly want from this awful place.

     Hi grandfather knocked on the trailer door.  A loud portly woman with a heavy accent opened the door.

     “I wuz begin’ ta thank you all weren’t a coming.  Nice to see ya again, Zeb.  Is this the boy?  Course it tis’.  Who else would ya be a brang’ing.  Hi, boy.  You’ns must be David?”

     “Yes ma’am.”

     “Well, David, People roun’ here  jus’ call me Granny.”

     “Yes, ma’am, Granny.”

    “You’ns come this a way to th  back room, and I’ll be’s showing ya what I got and you,


David, can pick which’un ya want.”


 David and his grandfather followed the old woman to the back room.  As soon as they entered


the room, whining met their ears.  As David looked around and could see five puppies in a little


pen situated against the back wall of the room.


 Am I really going to get a puppy, grandpa?”

  Yes, David, choose the one you want.”

     David walked over to the pen and chose the reddish brown puppy.  He picked it up and held it to his chest and began petting it.

     “Don’ts be a holdn’ him sa’ tight.  They’uns Chihuahuas ana they be a might fragile,” said Granny.

     David loosened his grip on the puppy bit.  The puppy wriggled around to face him and began to lick his face.  David laughed and said, “That tickles.”


     A sudden lurch and the blaring of a horn jolted David back to reality.

     “Son-of-a-bitch,” his mom yelled out the window at a car that had turned in front of her.  Asshole.  Where did you get your license?  Probably in a Cracker Jack box.”

     David didn’t understand why she was still yelling at the driver.  He was too far down the road to hear his mom..

     David felt a slight wiggle in his arms and realized his pet Max was still there.  And this in turn reminded him of what they were doing.  Tears began to well up in his eyes again.  He couldn’t help it.  He Loved Max dearly.

     His mother stopped at a red light and looked over at him.  She used the back of her hand to slap David on his left cheek.  He began to cry louder.

     “I told you I’d give you something to cry about if I caught you crying again.  Now do as I said and stop that crying.”

     David lowered his head.  As he did, Max looked up at him and David saw that Max’s eyes were watering, giving the appearance of him crying too.  Upon seeing Max David began to wail.  His mother reached over and backhanded him again.

     “Damn I wish this were over with,” said his mother.  “It can’t be soon enough.”

     David’s crying was now just a small whimper.  He clutched his beloved pet closer to him.  Normally he wouldn’t be able to do that, for Max loved to look out the window when he was riding.  But not today, not on this ride.

David’s mother looked over at the two of them, a boy and his dog, and felt oh so slightly the twinges of remorse.  She knew this trip to the vets was hard onDavid.  But it was a trip that was necessary.  As she turned down the street that led to the vet’s office, she looked again at David. 

Small rivulets of tears were streaming down his cheeks.  At least, she thought, he wasn’t crying out load.  It was she couldn’t abide.  The car bounced a little as she pulled into the drive at the vet’s office.       Walking into the vet’s waiting room, David’s mother looked around and commented loud enough to all that were present,  “God, I hate dogs.  Why should there be dogs everywhere I look.”  She walked to the receptionist desk and told the girl that Dr. Parnell was expecting them.

     “Mother why do you hate dogs?”

     “I’ve told before, but I’ll tell you one last time.  When I was five years old, I had a dog named Magoo.  He was a fluffy white dog and likable.  One day I was playing with him, and he bit me.  Then he ran off.  Because he ran off, we had no way of telling if he was rabid or not and the doctor that treated me had to give me twenty-one shots in my stomach.  My stomach turned black and blue and yellow.  I hurt for weeks as it healed up.  The bad part came after the twenty-first shot because when I got home Magoo was sitting on the porch wagging his tail.  I killed him that same day by poisoning his food.”


     Doctor Parnell appeared at the door.  “Mrs. Pace.  It’s time.  If you would just follow me.”

     David tried to resist.  But his mother was stronger.  They followed the doctor into an examination room.  David began to cry again.  He knew his mother  wouldn’t hit him in front of the vet.

     “Mrs. Pace, I know you have given it a lot of thought.  And I understand this was a hard decision for you to make.”

     “Not a hard as you might imagine.”     “As I was saying, I think it is the best for Max.  His quality of life is not going to get better, and he is already suffering.  I’ll give him a shot that will make him just go to sleep.  It’s painless.  And it’s the most humane thing that can be done.”

     David was crying louder and incessantly now.  His breathing caught as he snuffled.  He asked the doctor if there wasn’t something he could do to make his pet better. Dr. Parnell said there wasn’t.

     David handed the doctor the tiny animal and the doctor placed him on the table.

     “Mrs. Pace, do you think David should see this?”

     “He needs to face reality and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t know what happens when you put a pet down.  It will be good for him, in the long run.”

     The vet slowly placed the needle in the Max's leg and pressed the plunger of the syringe, and the fluid began to flow into his frail body.  David was crying and petting the animal the whole time during the vet’s ministrations.  As the animal quit breathing, David stopped petting.

     The vet placed the animal in a cardboard coffin and taped it shut.  He handed the coffin to David.  Still snuffling David reached and took it from the vet.  He and his mother walked out of

the room.  As they passed the receptionist, David’s mother told her just to bill her for their services.

     As they got into the car, David began to cry.  He knew that this would be Max’s last ride.

     His mother started to slap him again.  But a small feeling of remorse caused her to reconsider.  She didn’t know why.  It just did.







The Drinking Cup


The Drinking Cup



Very well worn, showing signs of many year’s use, and sitting as it has since it was last needed, the tall nine-ounce silver cup occupies a solitary place near the center of an empty table.  At first glance the cup reveals the magnificent workmanship of a person’s labor, long ago, with aluminum.  The exterior is brilliant, reflective, polished silver, replete with tiny oval-shaped indentations that create a dreamlike ripple effect over the entire surface.  The top curves outward, away from the interior in a gentle arc for about a quarter inch.  The rim, polished and honed to a smooth surface, makes it an easy and safe place for one’s mouth to drink a cool and refreshing liquid.  The interior is a burnished finish with a faint hint of the indentions showing through.  Looking toward the bottom, in the decreasing light of the narrow interior, one can see small scratches and a ring at the bottom from ice cubes and liquids that stain.  In the very center of the bottom, the faint reverse indentation of an engraving can be seen.  Turning the silver cup over to read the engraving on the bottom, one understands how a cup of this kind could acquire such distinguishing characteristics.  For written on the bottom is a single but loving inscription to its owner that reads, “To my beloved Chris, on our anniversary, with whom I have shared one hundred happy years!  Love Martha Kringle.”


The Kite

The Kite



“Did you bring all the supplies Bill?” asked Kevin.

“Yea.  And I guess you brung all the tools?” Bill inquired.

“All the ones we needed and then some.”

“How long do ya think it will take to build?”

“I don’t know, maybe a couple of days.”

“Won’t yer Pa miss the tools?”

“No.   He is out of town for the week playing Army.  You know, the reserves.”

“ Yea, I kinda forgot about that.”

“What about your dad?  Won’t he miss the plastic pipe?”

“Na.  As a plumber he has scads of piping of differing sizes in his workshop.  And besides I only took what ya said we’d need.”

“Well let’s get started.  According to the picture in the magazine it appears we have a lot of work to do.”

“Are ya sure that we can make this thing from a picture?”

“You bet.  All I have to do is copy the basic design and make adjustments as we go.  Besides, the article describes the concept in basic terms.”

“I wish you wouldn’t talk so technical.  You know I don’t understand things like you do.”

“Don’t worry.   I’ll keep my instructions as simple as I possibly can.  And if you don’t understand just ask and I’ll explain what I mean.”

“I don’t know why you didn’t get someone smarter to help ya with this thing?”

“It’s simple.  You keep secrets and you were the only one who could supply the plastic pipe.”

“So, yer using me?”

“Not at all.  I had the tools and you had the pipe.  It’s as simple as that.”

“Well, I still feel kinda funny.  Bob or Mike would have been a better choice than me.  They always seem to understand yer thinking better than I do.”

“Look, I chose you.  And that’s that.”

“OK.  Let’s just get goin’ on this thing.”

“Fine.  First hand me the pipe cleaner and glue.”

“One can a’ cleaner and glue coming up.”

“Now I need two eight foot sections of plastic pipe and a joint connector.”

“What kind o’ joint connector?”

“One of the straight ones so I can connect these two pipes together.”

“Not one of the three holed ones?”

“No.  One of those over there that is open on both ends.”

“Here ye are.”

“Now hold this end of the pipe so I can apply cleaner and glue to this end.”

“How high off’en the ground do ya want me to hold it?”

“About waist high.”

“Like this?”

“Yes, that’s perfect.”

“Ya want me to get the other piece?”

“Yes.  Go ahead and I’ll connect it to this one.”

“Hey.  That sags when ya hold it up.”

“It’s supposed to sag a little so when the wind catches it it won’t break under the strain.”

“I thought that wuz what all the strang was fer?”

“The string will be used to stabilize the wings so they won’t fold up onto themselves during flight.”

“Gee, I didn’t think you knew so much about building this kinda kite.”

“As I told you before it is a special kind of kite, a hang glider.”

“It still looks to me as a triangle kite that you fly by holding onto it instead of using strang.”

“Well it’s not.  And I’ve read a lot about them at the library and I think you’ll be surprised how well it works when we finish it and I fly it from Widow’s Leap.”

“How we gonna git this thing from here to Widow’s Leap?”

“We will just fold it up and carry it up to the top of the rock outcropping.”

“What do we do next?”

“Hand me those other two lengths of pipe and another joint connector and I’ll put the other spar together.”

“You want me ta hold it like I did last time?”

“Yes.  It is a lot easier to assemble that way.”

“Are ya sure this thing ain’t gonna be too heavy ta fly?”

“If the wind is right and I get a good running start on takeoff I’ll soar like an eagle on the thermals.”

“There ya go using those big words again.”


“Nothing ta be sorry ‘bout.  I’m just not as smart as you.”

“Look, let’s just assemble the flight bar and attach it to the center rib.”

“What ya need fer that?”

“Four four foot long lengths of pipe and one eight foot length.”

“That looks like a square stuck to a piece of pipe.”

“Basically it is.  The rib will be attached to the fabric and held in place by the ropes.  This will keep it level while I hang on to it in flight.”

“I think yer crazy.  This here thing won’t ever fly, with or without you hanging on.”

“Look, I’ve studied the picture a thousand times and I’m sure it will be easy enough to fly.”

“It’s gittin late.  My Pa will be home soon and he will expect me at the supper table with everyone else.”

“We are almost finished for today.  All we have to do is attach the string to the center pipe and cut it to the various lengths.  Then we can hide it in the old shed over there until tomorrow morning.”

“Come on then let’s git to it so’s I can make supper.”

“There.  It’s almost ready.  All we have to do in the morning is attach the fabric and the strings to their respective places.”

“Good.  I’m gonna go home now before I’m late, so’s I don’t git swatted.  See you here after breakfast.”

“Remember, don’t say anything about our little project to anyone not even your brothers and sisters.  Mums the word.”

“I ain’t”


“Did you make it in time for supper?”

“Yea’, but I wish I didn’t.  My Pa was in a foul mood and took it out on everybody.”

“Sorry about that.  What was he in a foul mood about?”

“Well it seems that someone ripped out all the copper piping in the new house they’re building and now my Pa has to do over all the work he did.”

“Did they call the cops?”

“Yea’ but taint gonna do no good.  Pa says that the copper is probably already sold to a junk yard in another county.”

“I had a very pleasant evening.  My Mother and I had steak and shrimp for supper and afterward rented two movies and watched them before I had to go to bed.”

“Sounds like yawl had a good time.”

“We did.”

“So we gonna finish this thing or not?”

“Yes.  I brought all the fabric to cover the hang glider.  I should be able to fly it about lunchtime, if we hurry.”

“How we gonna make the cloth stick to the pipes.”

“We’re going to use duct tape to attach the fabric to the frame.  The tape will hold it in place as long as we don’t wrinkle the tape when we apply it.”

“Where is the cloth?”

“The fabrics at the rock out cropping.  I thought it would be easier to take the glider up there to finish it because it will be on the heavy side after we attach the fabric.”

“Come on then let’s git the parts an git up the hill and finish this thang.”

“You take the back end and I’ll get the front and we’ll walk up the path to the top.”

“Ge you give me the heavy end.”

“I don’t think so.  All the weight is on the front end because that’s where all the pieces connect.”

“Then this thing won’t ever fly cause it sure is heavy.”

“Let’s just get it up the hill.”

“Don’t you need to put yer end toward the front of the rock so’s we don’t have to turn it around?”

“That’s what I intended to do.  Just swing your end around a little and lay it on the ground then spread the spars as wide as they will go.”

“How’s that?”

“Perfect.  Now we can attach the fabric.”

“Gee, wher’d ya git so much cloth?”

“I saved up my grass cutting money and ordered it on line from a kite manufacturer.”

“Wow.  Sure is a lot of cloth.”

“Here take this corner and I’ll take this one and we can spread it out over the top of the glider.”

“Now ya got it spread on top how ya gonna cut and tape it.”

“I borrowed my mom’s good cutting scissors to cut the fabric to fit the frame.”

“Which side ya want me ta hold?”

“The one you’re on is fine.  I’ll start cutting there.”

“Ok.  Now that the cloths cut how do we tape it to the pipes?”

“We’ll start on your side and pull the fabric tight against the frame as we go.”

“I’m glad we got that done.  I didn’t imagine there was so much cloth to tape.”

“There was a lot of taping to do.  And you did a good job of helping me.”

“You gonna try flying it now?”

“Yes help me get it as far back on the rock as we can.  That way I can get a good running start before I jump off the edge.”

“Are you ready?”

“As ready as I will ever be.”

“Then when I counts to three you start running.”


“Mark.  Get set. One. Two. Three. GO.”

“Here I go.”

“Ya gotta run faster.”

“I’m running as fast as I can.”

“Go.  Go.  Go.”

“I can’t do it.”

“Whad ya stop and let go of the kite for?”

“I got scared.  That’s a long way down.”

“Where’d the kite go.”

“I don’t know.  Let’s walk to the edge and see where the glider crashed.”

“Look.  The kites just floatin in a circle goin toward the medow.”

“Damn.  I knew I shouldn’t have let go.”




The Mission a short story

The Mission

Copyright 1995 Donald M. Hart



            The Missionaries had walked a long way.  The old dirt road had many ruts that had filled with muddy water from the last three days of rain.  Elder Power, the senior of the two Elders, had tried to jump over the last of the biggest puddles.  He had been unsuccessful.  His left foot, overextended, had caught the very trailing edge, and he had slipped backward, landing with a big splash of red muddy, oily water.  Elder Thomas had laughed for about two minutes straight, causing his side to ache from the effort.  Not thinking the incident very humorous, Elder Power, admonished his companion and asked for his assistance in withdrawing himself from the puddle.  Elder Thomas, still laughing, extended his hand and helped his companion to his feet.  Elder Power began to wipe the grime off of his trench coat and pants legs.  They were in the back woods of the upper part of South Carolina, close to the North Carolina border, just north of a community called Cleveland.  A place with the reputation of having people who had never given up hope that the South would rise again.

            They had been walking for some time when Elder Thomas asked, “Are you sure this is the right road to this man’s house?”

            “Yes the directions came directly from the Mission President.  He was very precise when he gave them to me because Mr. Bogan’s house is so far out of the way; off the beaten path.”

            “Well, I just wish we had our bikes.  We’ve been walking for the last hour, and my feet hurt.”


“Elder Thomas, I’m sorry about the bikes.  I regret that we even stopped at the restaurant for breakfast, but we had to eat.”

“That’s not the point.  The point is the sheriff of this one horse town didn’t even care.”

“What makes you think that?”

“I guess it was the way he said, ‘You know boys…  You Mormon types an’ us country folk don’t cotton to each other very well.  And I wouldn't be a bit surprised, no-sirree if’in those boys what took your bikes didn’t take them up ta Myers pond and sling em out ta the middle just ta see how fast they’uns would sink’.”

“And I guess the other reason I think he doesn’t care is when you asked him if the boys would be arrested, and our bikes brought back, he said,  ‘You young men mean well in ta thangs  yall’re doin’.  But upin  these here neck of the woods, you’s just tha outsiders and folk around these heah parts don’t like having their kin locked up.  So with something as minor as this kids prank is, I think it be left well enough alone.  My bestest advice ta youins is ta write home ta yo mamma’s and ask them ta send you more money and buy yall new bikes’.”

 Elder Power chuckled at his companions imitation of the Sheriff.

The rutted and over used road seemed to stretch on forever – as country roads have a tendency to do.  When they rounded the next bend, Elder Thomas stopped and pointed.

Elder power who had continued walking, with his head down watching where he was putting his feet, noticed the absence of his companion.


Turning to look back, asked, “what are you doing?’

All his companion could do was point straight ahead and mouth the word, “Look.”

            Elder Power followed the outstretched hand of his companion to its end and then continue to follow the invisible line toward the thing his companion was pointing at.

            Straight ahead like a scene from the movie  Psycho  stood a three-story clapboard house, weathered with age, with white paint peeling from the hand-hewn siding like leaves falling in an autumn wind.

            As they stood looking in awe and wonder at the kind of a dilapidated house they only saw in movies, a high-pitched cackle began softly and slowly rolling across the wind. 

            The cackle grew in intensity, like the approaching sound of a great steam locomotive. The Elder’s skins began to crawl.

            Silas Bogan was an old man. He had lived a long life of ninety-three years. Standing over six feet four inches tall, his frame thin and wiry, he reminded  people, from a distance, of President Lincoln.

            The only time he had gained any weight was during the occupation of France after World War II; being a master sergeant had its perks.

            Now, all his body parts showed their classic signs of age; the sagging pocket of flesh under his chin, the loose skin where muscles used to bulge from his forearms, and his loose drooping emaciated looking thighs.


            Silas was bestowed a good life. He had been fortunate enough to work a number of jobs after the war and save his money to build the biggest and best house in town, a beautiful garden, and a shop out back where he could start his own business.

            At one time, his house and grounds were the talk of the town. People would come from miles around and make the muddy trek down the quarter mile drive to the turn around just to marvel at the magnificence and beauty of the house, and it’s surrounding gardens.

            He had spent all his army retirement and savings to build it. It had been his pride and joy until his health had prevented him, at age eighty-three, from doing the necessary maintenance. Now it was no longer a beauty to behold - it was in mortal dis-repair.

            Silas,  at one time, was a compassionate and loving individual.  That had been before the turbulent sixties, when the whole world (in his opinion) went crazy.

            The teenagers in the bigger cities had started disrupting the natural order of things with sit-ins and protest over the war in Vietnam.  The Democratic national convention in Chicago had been a scene of chaos and anarchy. What had started as a peaceful protest turned into a massive melee disrupting the convention and causing the party to become a laughing stock in the minds of the American public.

            The situation didn’t bode well with Silas. He was a life-long Democrat. Shortly after the fiasco at the convention, the town began to have troubles of a similar nature. And Silas, with his big house out in the “middle of nowhere” became a primary target for pranksters throwing rocks and vandalizing his property.


            The Elders, still standing and staring, didn’t notice Silas, laughing loudly, walking out from behind the giant oak tree at the right corner of the house. He was holding a double barrelled, over-under, rested red, 12 gauge shotgun leveled at the two Missionaries.

            “You two boys don’t move a muscle or even breathe.”

            Both missionaries began to shake from fear.

            “Ye..Ye..Yes..Si..Sir” stuttered Elder Thomas.

            “I said, keep still and quite!”

            Slowly Silas raised the shotgun until the stock rested in the pit of his shoulder. His head bent slightly over the barrel as he began to take aim.

            “We are going to die,” Elder Power said under his breath.

            Everything from the missionaries perspective began to move in slow motion. They could see Silas close his left eye and sight along the barrel of the gun. Panic stricken they saw his right index finger position itself at the angle required to fire both chambers at once. Silas’ left arm tensed and his left hand tightened on the grip. Slowly he pulled the shotgun tighter against his shoulder. His right index finger began to pull back toward te stock of the gun.

            Elder Thomas had come out three weeks ago. He was a “greenie”. Life as he envisioned it was one of semi-poverty, diligence, prayer, chastity and working hard for the church on the behalf of the Heavenly Father. Thomas considered it an act of providence that he was paired with Elder Power who had been out six months. Power was an industrious and meticulous worker.


Thomas knew, because of his diligence, his companion was slated as the next District leader in the lower part of the state. As soon as Thomas finished training, he knew Power would be transferred, and they would both get new companions. Such was the life of a 19-year-old man on his mission.

            Elder Thomas remembered the day of his arrival distinctly. He had no time to unpack. Elder Power had three afternoon appointments, a dinner appointment, and one evening appointment. He was thrust into the fire from the beginning. Now he was under fire. These thoughts shot through Thomas’mind, as well as others, depiction home and family in the split second it took for him to watch Silas Bogan’s finger squeezed gently back on the triggers.

            A tremendous explosion split the air.

            Both Missionaries hit the ground.

            Cackling, Silas walked past the missionaries prone bodies.  Reaching down, about three feet behind the heel of Elder Thomas, Silas picked up the body of the snake that he had just obliterated.

            Raising his arm toward the sky he laughingly said, “Supper tonight boys. You young fellows were real lucky that I happened around the corner when I did. That rattlesnake was coiled to strike. We have a lot of those around here, and you need to be careful walking in unpopulated areas.

            “We really appreciate you looking out for us,” said Elder Thomas, shaking and while from fear, as he picked himself up from the ground. Throwing the snake carcass into the weeds


along the side of the road, Silas helped Power up, and the three of them went to the front porch to sit down. They sat in silence on the porch for about five minutes.

            Standing up, Silas said, “Let me take this gun in the house, and I’ll get us a bite to eat.” Returning a few minutes later with white grape juice and cherry turnovers.

            “You fellows walk all the way out here?”

            “It’s not that far,” replied Elder Power.

            “It’s over three miles from the town to here.”

            “Uh.. we actually live on the other side of town at the Terrace Apartments. Do you know where that is?”

            “I sure do. They are right next to the shopping center- that’s a good five miles from here. Why did you young men walk all the way out here just to give an old dried up man a copy of the Book of Mormon? That seems like a long way out of your way to go for someone like me?”

            Elder Thomas spoke up, “Our Mission requires us to make sacrifices in order to do the Lord’s work.”

            “I thought that the Church would furnish you with transportation.”

            “We have to supply our own way of getting around.”

            “Well… we did have bikes until this morning.”        

            “What happened this morning?”


            “Our bikes were stolen.”        

            “Stolen? By who?”

            “A bunch of young guys in a red pick-up.”

            “I don’t know why teenagers have such a mean streak these days. I really hate you lost your bikes. When you get ready to leave, I’ll get ‘Ol Sal’ and drive you back to your place.”

            After a time of getting to know each other a little better and learning that Silas had graduated from Harvard shortly after the end of World War I, the missionaries began teaching the first discussion concerning the Plan of Heavenly Father.

            At the conclusion of the first meeting, which included a tremendous amount of Biblical referencing and reading, Silas asked Elder Power to say a closing prayer. “Dear Heavenly Father, we are thankful for the opportunity to meet with Silas today and share with thy gospel. Help as he strives to find the truthfulness of this gospel, and the Spirit be with him and that his prayers are answered. Please bless his household that it will be kept from dangers seen and unseen. As we depart, we ask you to keep us safe till we gather together again. Father we thank you for all the many blessings you have given us. We say these things in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, amen,” prayed Elder Thomas. The Elders inquired if they could come back for a second lesson and Silas said yes.

            While the Elders waited on the porch, Silas disappeared around the side of the house.  After a minute or so they heard an engine start in the distance.  The roar of the engine got closer,



and the Missionaries stepped down from the porch just in time to see Silas, in a shiny solid black 1952 Chevy pick-up, come from the back of the house.  Silas pulled up next to Elder Power.

            “Climb on in fellows.  Ol Sal may not be much to look at, but she will get us there in one piece.”

            The three of them rode the five miles back to the apartment, bumping, chugging, and rattling all the way.  When they got back, Elder Thomas asked, “How long have you had this truck?”

            Pulling away from them, Silas leaned his head out the window and cackling loudly over his shoulder yelled, “I bought her in ’52.”

            The Missionaries continued meeting with Silas every week for three more lessons.  Each lesson was a trial for the Missionaries because Silas was full of questions.  Most of the questions dealt with the relevance of  The Book of Mormon to the King James Bible.

            Every time the Elders came to Silas’ house, they were greeted at the door with a tray of tarts and three glasses of grape juice in one hand and the rag-tagged, weathered,dog-eared,marked, and remarked eighty year old family Bible, his mother had given him, in the other.  He would invite them in, they would talk for a few minutes, and then one of the Elders would open the lesson with a prayer.  That was the way the ritual went each time they visited.  Nothing varied.  Nothing changed.  Nothing, that is until they got to the fifth lesson.




            The Elders were walking up the now familiar rutted drive when Elder Thomas noticed the front door closed.  Turning to his companion he asked, “Do you have the appointment book with you?”

            “Yes,” was the answer as Power pulled the folded blue planner from his shirt pocket.

            “What time is it,” Power asked?

            “2:30.  Isn’t that the time we’re supposed to be here?”

            “Yes unless you wrote it down wrong.”

            “No, I’m sure I didn’t.  You know how Mr. Bogan is; he told us that if we were ever late not to bother to come because he would send us away.”

            “Yeah – I know.”

            The two approached the house, mounted the steps and crossed the porch to the front door.  Elder Thomas pressed the doorbell.  After a few seconds with no answer, he pressed the button again.  Becoming a bit anxious because Silas had always been waiting for them in the past Elder Power pulled open the screen and rapped the ring against the brass lion head door knocker.  The sound of brass on brass and a hollow thudding emanated from behind the big oak door.

            Elder Thomas began to get uneasy.  He reached for the knocker and rapped it as hard as he could.  After what seemed to the Missionaries as an infinite span of time, Elder Thomas looked to his companion and asked, “Do you think something has happened to Mr. Bogan?”

            “I don’t know.  Let’s try looking around, maybe he’s fallen and severely hurt himself.”


            “Or worse, he could be dead.”

            “Don’t say something like that.”

            Both Elders began walking across the porch trying to look into the windows.  Doing so was almost impossible the dust and grime from so many years of neglect prevented them from seeing anything but hazy images: images that resemble an early spring morning in the Great Smokies as the fog lifts and burns away from the valley.

            Elder Thomas pulled the sleeve of his shirt down over the heel of his hand and began wiping individual panes of glass to get a better view.  Seeing this, Elder Power did likewise.

            After looking in all the windows they could from the porch, each went around the house in opposite directions doing the same all the way around.

            When they both turned the corner of the wall to the back entrance of the mud room, they almost collided.

            Power spoke first,”Did you see anything?”


            “Neither did I.”

            “Did you hear anything?”


            “Maybe we should knock on the back door?”


            “Yeah, good idea,” said Power as he immediately acted upon the suggestion by grabbing the screen door handle.

            Elder Thomas stepped forward and with his hand balled into a fist, thumb out, pounded, with all his strength, on the heavy door.  He paused; then repeated the process twice more.

            The house was silent.  As a matter of fact at this point in time the whole world seemed quiet – too quiet – like a tomb.

            “Let’s go to the shop and look around there,” Power said.

            “No.  You know Mr. Bogan told us never to go near his shop, or he would never ask us back again.”

            “I know, but what if he needs help?  I would hate to think we were this close, and he died because we didn’t try.”

            “You’re right.  Let’s go!”

            With Elder Thomas leading the way, the young men started toward the shop.  The only sound anywhere came from under their feet on the dried leaves of grass crushed beneath their weight.  As they got closer to the shop, Elder Thomas nudged his companion and pointed.  On the right side of the shop barely visible was Ol Sal.  This eased their mind a little because if Ol Sal were here then Mr. Bogan was here somewhere.

            When the Missionaries were within ten feet of the shop, the door flew open and Silas, red with rage from the neck up, stepped out.


            “I told you boys never to come out here!” 

            “But we thought you might be hurt,” said Elder Thomas.

            “You boys leave my property … NOW!”

            “But…,” began Power.

            Taking a step toward the two and raising his fist in a threatening manner Silas screamed, “I said GO!”

            The two Elders turned and with their heads down walked back around the house, up the dirt road and then back to their apartment, sullen and not speaking.  That night they discussed the events of the day with their District Leader and he told them not to worry, everything would be O.K.

            Over the next week, the Elders tried to call Mr. Bogan and he would either not answer or hang up on them.


            As the days passed and the Elders continued the work of Heavenly Father, they thought less and less about Silas Bogan.  Three weeks had passed since their last visit with Silas.

            On the first day of the fourth week, the phone rang at 7:30 a.m.

            Elder Power picked up the phone, “Hello?”



            “Yes is this the residence of the Morman Missionaries Elders Power and Thomas?” asked the voice on the other end.

            “Yes it is.  I’m Elder Thomas, may I help you?”

            “I suppose so… I need the two of you to come to Silas Bogans’ house as soon as possible.”

            “Is there a problem?”

            “I think could say there was a major problem.  I’m Silas’ son, and I need you to come to my father's house as soon as you can.”

            “We can be there within the hour.”


            The Missionaries walked the familiar road to Silas’ house, hypothesizing as to the reason for the unexpected call.  As the rounded the last curve, they saw a silver Mercedes parked in the turn-around.

            The door to the house and a white-haired man approximately fifty-five years od stepped onto the porch.  He was wearing a three-piece suit and the trademark red Republican tie.  His stature was completely opposite from that of his father.  The Missionaries walked closer to the porch.

            “I believe that you two are the Missionaries that impressed my father?”


            Elder Thomas answered, “Yes we are.”

            “I’m Montgomery Bogan.  I have a letter from my father for you.”  Reaching into his inside breast pocket, he withdrew a sealed white envelope.  Stepping forward he handed it to Elder Thomas.

            Elder Thomas read the front; “To the Missionaries.”  He turned it over gently in his hand and began to open it.  He took out the yellow sheet of paper and unfolded it.  Written on the piece of paper in a scrolled antiquated were these words; “My son has been instructed to take you to my shop.  Please indulge me.”  Elder Thomas folded the letter and replaced it in the envelope and looked inquisitively at Mr. Bogan.

            Without saying a word, Mr. Bogan walked down the steps and started around the house toward the shop.  The Missionaries followed in silence.

            Not a word was spoken between the three of them as they approached the shop.  The only sound was of the keys being extracted from Mr. Bogans pocket.  As they reached the door, he extended his hand and inserted the key into the lock.  The lock clicked, and he pulled the door open.

            “My father told me to allow you boys to go into the shop and remove what’s behind the white sheet.”

            “No, I am not.  What is behind the sheet is yours.  Just take it and leave.”

            The Elders walked up and pulled the sheet away to expose what was behind it.


            There, with the sunshine shimmering off the meticulously painted frames, were two hand-built bicycles.  Taped to one of the handle bar of one of the bikes was a note with these words written on it; “To my friends who taught me a lot in the twilight of my days.  Use these wisely and only for the Lord’s work.”