Tag Archives: #truth

PACK TEACHES TWO BOYS LIFE LESSONS

The following short story is #30 in a year-long weekly writing effort where I have shared life events befitting the title of my blog site (www.aTimeinLife.wordpress.com). Each story attempts to touch the hearts of readers by sharing moments of joy, bits of sadness, inspiration, encouragement, and some life-lessons learned. The story below is my response to the following question asked by the “StoryWorth” project:

#30 – “Did you ever lie or withhold information when answering your parent’s questions?”

And now, without further ado, here’s the short story.

+ PACK TEACHES TWO BOYS LIFE LESSONS +

Billy was nine years old and his uncle, Alex, was twelve. They were like brothers and spent a lot of time together. The fact they lived about one mile from each other made getting together easy. It was just a four-minute bike ride on a straight highway between their houses.

When it came to intellectual capabilities, Alex was the shining star, but Billy wasn’t too far behind. Their creative minds could invent things the average child would never imagine. Most of the time their combined-creative talents had them doing good things—fun things, but there were also times when their scheming ways didn’t turn out too well. One such time involved a trip into the jungles along the Amazon River.

It all started on a hot summer day back in 1958 when this creative duo made a simple bike ride together from Alex’s house to Billy’s house. Along the way, Alex noticed something on the side of the road. To his surprise, it was a pack of cigarettes with the top already opened. There were twenty little tobacco stalks staring back at him. Alex’s eyes widen with the excitement of a twelve-year-old boy who had just found a sack of gold.

“Look at this, Billy. There are twenty cigarettes in this pack,” said Alex with a big grin stretching from ear to ear.

“Wow!” replied Billy. “My daddy smokes that kind. We can give them to him.”

“Are you crazy?” replied Alex. “We can do something better than that—I have an idea.”

“Whatcha talking about Alex?”

“You’ll see. Follow me!”

Off they went with Billy following Alex to where he did not know. They stopped in a wooded area one block behind Billy’s house.

“What are we gonna do here?” asked Billy.

“We are going to pretend we crash landed our jet fighter in the Amazon jungle. Let’s go to the pond back there in the woods. Come on, follow me!”

Still a bit uncertain, Billy let his bike fall to the ground and followed Alex further into the woods. When they arrived at the pond, Alex said, “Now we gonna play like we are jet pilots and our plane just crashed right over there,” as he pointed to a big oak tree at the water’s edge.

“Why are we gonna do that?” Billy asked.

“Cause we’re stranded and the only thing we have with us is this pack of cigarettes. We must evade the enemy, crocodiles, and snakes that are all around us. You know—we gotta try to survive until help comes to pick us up.”

With a puzzled look on his face, Billy replied, “Why we gonna do that? There ain’t any crocks or snakes around here, and there sure ain’t no enemy guys trying to catch us.”

 “Billy, we gotta pretend! It’s a game and we gonna smoke these cigarettes too.”

“Alex, you know my daddy told me to never smoke cigarettes. He said he better not ever catch me smoking those things. He said they’d stunt my growth and I want to be tall like him.”

“He smokes ‘em Billy and hasn’t stunted his growth—he’s over six-feet tall. He’s just telling ya that so he can smoke ‘em all. It’s okay for us to do it too. Besides, he won’t know we smoked ‘em anyway. Come on—don’t be such a big scaredy-cat. It’ll be fun!”

“I ain’t no scaredy-cat!” barked Billy.

“Dang it, Billy! We don’t have any matches,” bemoaned Alex. “Billy, you gotta go to your house and get some matches.”

“You go get ‘em from your house, Alex.”

“Your house is closer, Billy. Go get ‘em and be quick about it. Oh yeah, and don’t go gettin’ caught either!”

Billy ran through the “jungle” to his bike and headed toward his house. He wasn’t too sure about the plan Alex had come up with, but he didn’t want Alex to get mad at him either. He went into his house and found his mother in the kitchen. This posed a bit of a problem and his creative mind started swirling.

“What are you doing here, Billy? I thought you were with Alex.”

“I am. He’s… um… he’s up the street waiting for me. I had to go to the bathroom.”

Billy didn’t know what to do at this point. How was he going to get matches out of the house without his mother noticing what he was doing? Quite the quandary for a nine-year-old kid, especially when he knew what he was about to do was wrong.

He went to the bathroom and peeked around the door to make sure his mother was still in the kitchen. Seeing that she was, he tiptoed down the hallway to his parent’s bedroom. Surely, there are some matches in the bedroom somewhere. He began searching quietly and found some matches in the third drawer he opened. He quickly put them in his pocket so his mother wouldn’t see them.

As he started walking toward the door, his mama walked into the bedroom. “What are you doing in my bedroom, Billy?”

“Um… um… I thought I saw a mouse run in here,” Billy replied in a panicky tone.

“A mouse!” yelled his mother as she jumped onto her bed. “Where? You have to find it! You know I’m scared to death of those things! Find it, Billy! Get it out of here!”

Billy pretended he was looking for the critter under the bed and in the closet while his mother stood on the bed. “Get that critter out of the house!” she pleaded.

“I think he gotta way, Mama. You probably scared him away with all the noise you made. I think it’s safe for you to get off the bed now.”

“Are you sure it’s safe?”

“Yes, Ma’am. I gotta go now. See ya later, Mama.”

Billy ran out the back door in a flash. He knew he had just dodged a bullet and was right proud of himself for thinking up the mouse tale so quickly. He was also glad he didn’t have to clean up a nasty mess in his underwear.

When he got back to the pond, Alex asked what took him so long.

“I almost got caught by Mama, and had to look for a mouse.”

“Mouse? Whatcha talking ‘bout, Billy?”

“You don’t wanna know. Here are the matches.”

“Good! Take one out of the pack. It’s time to light these bad boys up!”

Billy did as Alex told him. He put a cigarette in his mouth and lit a match. One big inhale and Billy started coughing his head off.

As Billy continued hacking and coughing, Alex laughed and said, “What’s the matter big boy? You aren’t supposed to inhale the smoke—just puff it like this,” as a trail of smoke came from Alex’s mouth. “See, it’s easy.”

Billy puffed again and immediately started hacking, but now he had tears flowing down his cheeks. He continued puffing until he got the hang of it. It wasn’t long before he was puffing and flicking the ashes off like a seasoned smoker.

“This is pretty cool, Alex. Can you blow smoke rings like my daddy?”

“You mean like this?” as Alex blew a perfect circle of smoke out of his mouth.

“Stick ya finger in the circle, Billy.”

As instructed, Billy put his finger through the little circle and said, “That’s so cool. I don’t know how to do that, but my daddy can.”

Billy and Alex continued playing in the woods and evading the enemy until all the cigarettes were gone—all twenty of them. Having successfully evaded the dangers lurking in the Amazon jungle, they decided it was time to go home. They’d had enough fun for the day. Alex went home to his house. Billy went to his and started playing with his bow and arrow in the garage until he heard his mama shout that super was ready.

Billy sat quietly at the table eating with his mother, father, and little sister. After a few minutes, Dad asked, “What did you do today, Billy?”

Billy paused in thought and replied, “Not much—Alex came to the house and we rode our bikes through the neighborhood.”

Shortly after Billy finished his answer, the telephone rang. His Dad answered the phone, “Hello,” and then stood there quietly looking straight toward Billy. After a few moments of silence, he said, “I see. Thank you for letting me know about it. I hope he’s okay”

When he came back to the table, he looked directly at Billy, and asked, “Billy, do you have anything else you need to tell me about what you and Alex did this afternoon?”

Not being astute enough to realize his father was giving him a chance to come clean, Billy responded without looking up from his plate, “No, Sir. We just rode our bikes and messed around some—nothing special.”

“Is that your final answer, son?”

“Yes, sir!”

What did y’all do on the empty lot on Dantzler Street?”

“Oh, we pretended we crashed our plane in the jungle and had to hide from the enemy.”

“What about the pack you and Alex found on the side of St. Matthews Road?”

“What pack, Dad? I mean…”

“That was Granddaddy talking to me on the phone just now. He said y’all found a pack of cigarettes on the side of the road. Is that true?”

“Oh, you mean that pack. Yeah, we saw it when we were riding our bikes to my house.”

“Do you have something else you need to tell me about that pack of cigarettes? Before you answer my question, I’ll tell you that Alex is in the bed—he’s sick—he thinks he’s been poisoned.”

“Why does Alex think he’s been poisoned, Dad?”

“Billy, it was something in the cigarettes. Are you feeling sick also? Do you have something else you want to tell me about what you did this afternoon?”

“I feel fine, Dad. I’m not sick. I’d tell you if I was sick.”

Okay, Billy. I’ve given you several chances to tell me everything about your afternoon and you keep withholding information from me.”

“But Dad, I…”

“I don’t want to hear it now, Billy. You had your chances to tell me everything. Now, I’m going to tell you what Alex told his dad. He said the two of you found an opened pack of cigarettes on the roadside and you took matches from this house. Y’all went to the lot on Dantzler St. and both of you smoked the entire pack of cigarettes. Y’all left the lot after smoking the cigarettes and then went home. Is that what happened?”

“Umm… I think so, but I’m not sick, Dad.”

“Well, Billy, I’m glad you’re not sick. Y’all did a very dumb thing today and both of you could have been poisoned to death. You should never smoke cigarettes in the first place, but you should never smoke cigarettes you find on the roadside. You don’t know what someone may have done to them. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes, sir…”

“I want you to know that I’m very disappointed in you. First of all, for withholding information when answering my questions, and secondly, for smoking the cigarettes when you knew it was wrong. Now, finish eating and then go to your room. Think about what you did today and I’ll come in to see you shortly.”

**********************

Okay, that’s enough about a boy failing to tell the truth and trying to withhold information from his parents or anyone else for that matter. I’ll let you use your imagination regarding the punishment Alex and Billy received in this particular instance. I’m sure you have a good idea about what happened to both boys.

  • Be honest with yourself—have you ever or would you lie or withhold information from your parents or anyone else?
  • How would you handle a similar situation if your child did something like Alex and Billy did?

++++ LESSON LEARNED ++++

The moral of this story is simple. Always tell the truth and never withhold information from those you love when you do something you shouldn’t have done. You must face the consequences of your actions. Man up or woman up, whichever the case may be for you.

Oh, there’s one final adjustment you should make to this story—change the names from Alex to Charles, Billy to Tommy, and understand the dad in the story was my father—then you have a true story from my youth about a life-lesson I learned the hard way.

The good that resulted from this deception attempt was I never withheld information or tried to deceive my dad again. Having him tell me he was disappointed with me was more than enough for me to change my ways. 

Many blessings to you as you continue your journey through life and possibly have children of your own. I wish you nothing but the best in all you do, but don’t forget about the consequences of your actions. They can have dramatic impacts on your future.

++++++++++ END OF STORY ++++++++++

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Blog website: www.aTimeinLife.wordpress.com

ONE ROCK TOO MANY

We can find ourselves in the middle of difficult situations when we least expect it—situations that push us beyond the boundaries of a calm, peaceful existence and challenge the very fiber of our being. When faced with such situations, we learn just how strong or brave we actually are.

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to defining brave things done, life gets a bit convoluted. What some people view as an act of bravery others may view as an act of stupidity.

When it comes to acts of bravery, I could tell you the bravest thing I’ve ever done happened the moment I rushed into a burning house and saved a child trapped inside—but that never happened.

I could tell you the bravest thing I’ve ever done happened when I pulled an elderly man from a wrecked vehicle just before his car burst into flames—but that never happened either.

What I’m saying is my journey in life has been mundane to this point, but that’s not all bad. God blessed me with many situations that taught me moral values and helped build my character in ways I didn’t understand until long after they occurred.

You see, brave things are not always about saving someone’s life or going where no man has gone before. Brave things are often about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the face of difficult situations—situations that may be difficult only for them and no one else.

The following true story is a perfect example of performing brave acts:

ONE ROCK TOO MANY

I grew up with a passion for baseball. When I was ten-years old, you would find me playing baseball with neighborhood kids at the nearby vacant lot or in my backyard tossing rocks into the air and hitting them with a stick—any kind of stick became a bat as seen in the photo below.

My stick bat

Sometimes, I would venture across the street and hit rocks from a hill on a corner lot located in front of my house. There were a gazillion rocks there just waiting for me to hit them. I would pick one up, toss it into the air, and whack it down the street while pretending to be a major leaguer smashing the game-winning home run.

I remember picking up a nice-smooth rock one day and hitting it high into the air. I must have pulled it a little too far to the left because when it came down, it went right into the rear glass of a car parked on the street in front of my neighbor’s (Mr. Carr) house. There was a loud crashing noise as the rock shattered the glass into a million pieces. I immediately had a sick feeling in my belly. I knew I was in big, big trouble.

I ran home to tell my mother what happened. I never even thought about lying or trying to get away with what I had done. I owned up to the biggest mistake of my young life. Mama immediately called my dad at work to tell him about the situation. He asked to speak to me and my belly hurt even more.

I told him exactly what I had told Mama—every gut-wrenching detail of my one rock too many. Dad asked if anyone had seen it happen and I told him no. He instructed me to go back to Mr. Carr’s house immediately and tell him what I had done. Then he said the words that almost made my heart stop beating, “I’ll deal with you when I get home from work.”

I never dreamed I would have to go by myself to tell Mr. Carr that I had broken the glass and then have Daddy “deal” with me later. Fear was having a party in my head and I was the guest of honor. I could sense my life was about to end.

I got to Mr. Carr’s house and started walking up the steps to the front door. There must have been a thousand steps up to that door. At least it took me about that long to make it up to the porch level. In reality, I think there were only five steps up to the front door.

I knocked lightly on the door with hopes no one would hear. Unfortunately, the door opened and a man as large as Goliath stood in the doorway looking down at me. He was every bit of ten feet tall with a ferocious look in his eyes that would make a lion run away with its tail tucked between its legs. I knew my life was definitely about to end; I would never be able to play baseball again.

He opened the storm door slowly and asked me how he could help me. I wanted to tell him to go back into the house, but knowing that was not an option, I pointed to the car out front and started telling the tale of one rock too many. The words came out of my mouth very slowly as I told him what I had done. He said he had heard a loud noise but did not know what it was at the time.

We walked out to the car to see the results of my errant rock. The rear glass was in a million pieces and my rock was sitting on the trunk of the car. The very rock I wished I had never picked up.

The first thing Mr. Carr asked was why I had done that to his new car. I tried to explain that it was an accident and I didn’t mean to do it. I could tell he wanted to put me over his knee and let me have it, but he didn’t do that. It would probably have been better for me if he had.

We talked for a few more minutes but I don’t remember exactly what we discussed. I was too scared at that point. At the end of our verbal exchange, he asked if my parents were home, and if they knew what I had done. I told him Mama was home, but Daddy was still at work. Mr. Carr said he would talk to my dad when he got home.

I then returned to my house. It felt like it took three weeks for Daddy to get home. I was in “death-row” agony for hours. The waiting and waiting was horrible because I could not imagine what was going to happen next.

I saw Daddy pull into the driveway. He walked into the house and I explained everything again. It was not any easier this time. He did not say a word the whole time I was talking—he just nodded his head several times. When I finished my tale of woe, Daddy said he was going to talk to Mr. Carr and told me to stay in the house until he returned.

Dad was gone for what seemed like a month, but when he finally returned, he called me over to him. He said lets go to the backyard. I realized the time for a spanking was at hand. I figured he didn’t want Mama to hear me yelling as the paddle made home-run-contact on my rear end—multiple times!

As we were walking to the backyard, Daddy asked me what I thought my punishment should be. I wanted to tell him that I had already suffered enough and he didn’t need to punish me, but I figured he wouldn’t agree with that suggestion. So, I just said, “I don’t know.”

We walked to the tool shed in our back yard and Daddy picked up a huge bucket. He told me he was very sad that I had broken the glass in the neighbor’s car, but he was very proud of me for being brave enough to tell Mama what I had done. He said I had acted like a mature man by telling the truth in the midst of a very difficult and scary situation for a ten-year-old boy.

Unfortunately, Daddy told me that in spite of my bravery, he still had to punish me for what I had done. My punishment was to pick up every rock in the yard and put them into the big bucket he was holding. When I finished, he wanted to see all of the rocks I had collected.

I did as Dad instructed and then showed him the bucket of rocks. The final phase of my punishment was to bury all of the rocks in the corner of the backyard in a very deep hole that I had to dig.

I never knew what happened between Mr. Carr and Daddy, or what they discussed. I was just glad my “rock” ordeal was over. It was a long time before I ever picked up another rock or hit one with a stick. Thank goodness for me, rocks were actually hard to find because I had removed at least a million of them from the yard.

Yes, I eventually hit rocks again, but I always made sure there was nothing around me that I could break. I did not want to go through this nightmare ever again.

As a ten-year-old boy, I had bravely faced a bad situation and learned a valuable life-lesson that has served me well for many years. I confessed what I had done and accepted full responsibility for my actions. I didn’t try to run away and hide, nor did I try to put the blame on others. I bravely accepted my punishment. In the end, a bad situation yielded very good results.

My dad was obviously a very wise man to handle the situation the way he did. I am sure he was much more upset (mad) with me than he appeared. Fortunately, his method of punishment and the words he said to me left a permanent and lasting impression. Although a spanking would have hurt, the pain would not last as long as the lesson I learned. He was compassionate, yet firm with me. His method of handling the situation and the life-lesson I learned that day served me well in my adult life as I dealt with my own children.

Daddy was a special man of high moral character and I consider myself blessed that he was my dad.

Dad and me

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessings to all…

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

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PUTTING JESUS BACK WHERE HE BELONGS

A friend sent this to me today and I thought others might enjoy it as much as I do. Out of the mouths of children…

++++

A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by his little girl. She wanted to know what the United States looked like. Finally, he tore a sheet out of his new magazine on which was printed the map of the country.

Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to her and said, “Go into the other room and see if you can put this together.”

After a few minutes, she returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted and taped together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly.

“Oh,” she said, “On the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country just came together.”

So, when we get Jesus back

where He Belongs—

Our country will come together!

(Author Unknown)

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

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Quote

TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE

It takes courage to ask questions when the answers may hurt deeply, but it is better to know the truth and move on than to live in a fantasy world fearing what may not even exist. The truth, good or bad, can set you free.

Seek the truth and be blessed,

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

thetruth

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