I’m NOT an editor, so what you see is what you get, I’m SICK of reading over and over!
This story is many shorter stories linked together, so continuity?
Jimmy of Wobbly Knob
Ten year old Jimmy Tilford sat staring out his bedroom window. He was stuck inside, on a beautiful spring morning, a Sunday morning no less, trying to concentrate on writing a paper for Mrs. Westerhouse’s 4th grade class. His mother wouldn’t let him out of the house until he finished the paper; it just wasn’t fair. All the kids in his class were to write about their town, Wobbly Knob. Jimmy couldn’t think of one thing about his hometown that was exciting enough to write about. He noticed that everyone in the world was over at the park, playing football, and just messing around, including his best friend, Davy Jones. This was like torture, having to sit here inside, and working on a stupid paper about his stupid town, while having to watch the other kids of the neighborhood having fun. Shoot! Why didn’t his mom see it was so unfair? Just then came a knock on his door. Then it swung open, and his mother stuck her head in.
“Jimmy, how’s it coming?”
“Mom, can’t I go outside and finish this later?”
“Jimmy, as soon as you’re finished, you can go outside. I know what will happen, you’ll mess around until it’s bedtime, and then you’ll have to stay up late to finish, and it’ll be rushed, and not your best work.”
“Sorry, Jimmy, but that’s the way it is–now the sooner you get to work, the sooner you can go play.”
Jimmy felt his spirits sink. “Oh, okay Mom.”
Two more hours had passed, and Jimmy was no closer to coming up with something to write. He let his mind wander; now he was Jimmy the Red, leader of the Viking hordes.
Jimmy the Red stood in the bow of the Viking ship Huskavarna, and stared across the storm-tossed seas, watching the big, lumbering ship that was attempting to flee from his ship. It was laughable, really, but Jimmy the Red was not in a laughing mood. The sooner they could catch the enemy ship, the sooner the could get back to plundering other, more-lucrative ships. This enemy ship was powered by rowers, while his ship was taking advantage of a brand-new technology, an outboard motor.
Jimmy knew that motors and such wouldn’t come around until much later, but it was his daydream, and he could dream whatever he wanted; he wasn’t above cheating to win, even in his daydreams.
The Huskavarna flew across the waves, and in a matter of minutes, had the enemy ship along side. Jimmy the Red called to the captain of the other vessel,
“Avast ye, ye can’t escape, hand over your ship!” Jimmy wasn’t even aware of thinking of himself as British.
The enemy captain appeared and replied, “I’m not just going to hand it over, we’re carrying precious gems for the empire.”
“Precious gems? Okay we’re sorry to have bothered you, we’re only looking for scrap metal.”
“Well, that’s okay; we’ll just be on our way.”
“Hold the phone there, Captain Dullard, I was just kidding; precious gems sounds great. Sven, Sven?”
“Yes, Captain Jimmy the Red?” answered a tall, tow-headed sailor.
Hold the phone? Oh well, he could think anything he wanted.
“Take five Vikings and shimmy down the side, go abroad their vessel, and grab any precious gems you find, and if you’re given a hard time, hurry back here, chop-chop!”
“What do you mean by ‘chop-chop’? You mean chop their heads off, right?”
“No, I mean haul as fast as you can.”
“Wait, I’m confused, weigh anchor?”
“No, idiot, chop-chop means hurry up.”
“Captain Jimmy the Red, are you planning to run away? We’re Vikings, the dreaded terrors of the sea.”
“Well, we’ll need more gas if we mess around any more, and besides, it’ll be getting dark soon, and I don’t know how you feel, but to me it’s bad luck to be pillaging after dark.”
“Huh? Say, what kind of a Viking are you?”
“The kind who wants to save lives, not take them; if these enemy sailors object too strongly, who are we to just take whatever we want from them? I say, no armed clashes of any kind.”
His daydream was interrupted by the sound of his dad’s voice through the closed door,
“Jimmy, your mother says to tell you lunch will be ready soon.”
Lunch, already? Oh man, this was terrible. He had to come up with something, or he’d be in here the whole day. He started daydreaming about the people of Wobbly Knob being interesting, instead of super-boring:
I’m growing up and live in a nice little town by the name of Wobbly Knob, that sits next to a tree-lined river. Sound like paradise? It is a living heck! My name is Jimmy Tilford, and “The Stepford Wives” (he thought that was the name of the movie he’d once seen) look like perfect mothers and wives next to the ladies of my hometown.
There’s Lucille Candor, whose house you always skipped on Halloween. In fact, you ran by as fast as you could, if you knew what was good for you. It was rumored that she’d invite little kids in, offer them candy from a bowl, and when they’d reach in to grab some of the treats in the bowl, a hand would fly up from the bowl, and latch on to the poor kids’ neck, and squeeze until they passed out, then she’d drag their unconscious body down into the cellar, and passers-by could hear screams of horror emanating from The Dungeon of Nightmare. That’s what we kids called her basement. Granted, I never knew anyone who mysteriously disappeared; maybe they were kids from somewhere else, I don’t know, but I never took any chances. One time, Mrs. Candor approached me unawares, and asked me if I would help her move something down into her basement. Scared me to death, let me tell you. I booked out of there, like I had the Hounds of Hell nipping at my heels. Ever since then, Mrs. Candor has steered me a wide birth, which is just fine by me.
Then there’s Mrs. Fury, who lives in an old house down by the river. It’s haunted, as we kids see mysterious lights flash on in the house when Mrs. Fury is gone. And we see mysterious shadowed-figures through the pulled drapes. We hear wild rumors of a son living there, probably spread by Mrs. Fury herself, but she is probably just covering for all the unexplained happenings in her haunted house, as we never see any signs of a son.
Then there’s mean old Mr. Doltmier, who’s always screaming, “You little jerks–clear off my lawn, if I catch any of you rodents in my yard, I’ll bash in your head with a 2×4.”
If I wasn’t so scared of him, I’d rip up his precious lawn with a Roto-Tiller. So, we live with the constant threat of violence, ghost-haunted houses, and murderous neighbors, hanging over our heads. My friend, Whiz Green, says we’re letting our imaginations run away from us, but one of these days, Whiz Green will simply disappear, either after a visit to Mrs. Condors’ place, or walking too close to Mrs. Fury’s house, or having his head caved in by a 2×4-wielding Mr. Doltmier. Then, he won’t discount our fears.
Jimmy reread what he had written, and smiled to himself. So much more entertaining than the truth. Now, he was free to go outside. He ran out of his room, saying a quick goodbye to his mom, and ran for the front door.
“Hold on there, mister.”
“Mom, I’m all done with my story.”
“We’re about to eat lunch.”
Oh, he had plum forgot about lunch. “Okay Mom.” Shoot.
At last, he was free to go out and play, as lunch was over. He said a hurried goodbye to his mom, and ran to the front door, ripped it open, and raced towards the park. When he arrived, everyone but Davy was gone. “Hey, Davy.”
“Oh, hey Jimmy, I was just going to head home, I was already supposed to be home, but I guess I lost track of time–I was pretending I was a pro baseball player.”
“Well, I’d better be getting home. Want to come over later, that is if my mom’s not too sore at me.”
“Sure, maybe we could pretend something,” replied Jimmy.
“Cool! See you later, then.” and just like that, he was standing alone in the deserted park. Dang it, stupid homework!
Now what? The game was over, but he wanted to play football! He looked out over the empty field, and started to daydream about the outcome of last winter’s playoff game being won by his favorite team, the Portland Lancers, instead of by the hated Orlando Dynamo, as it actually had been. And he, he was the star player:
The air was crisp; ice covered was the frozen tundra, and the weather screamed ‘football!’ The 100,000 fans in attendance, and the millions more watching across the nation on T. V. were not expecting another Jimmy-Clint Power’s miracle (Clint Powers was Jimmy’s favorite player, and his hero.) His team, the Portland Lancers, faced 4th down and 25. The game clock was down to 30 second left in the game, running, and Portland couldn’t stop it, as they were out of time-outs. They trailed by 6 points to the hated Orlando Dynamo. This was a do-or-die playoff game. If Portland lost, it would be a long winter, but Jimmy-Clint had no intention of allowing that to happen. He called a down-and-out, hail Mary pass into the end zone. Everybody in the stands, everybody watching on T. V, and every player on the opposing squad KNEW what was about to happen. Jimmy-Clint took the snap, dropped back to pass, waited as long as he could, and launched the ball as deep and as far as he could. The crowd was on their feet, holding their breath, as the pass arced down from the heights, right into the arms of a defender. All he had to do was catch it, or knock it down, and the game for all intents and purposes was over; but instead the ball ricocheted off his shoulder pads, and caromed high into the winter air, right into the waiting arms of a Portland receiver, who pulled it in, and tumbled to the ground. Touchdown; they had done the impossible, tied the game! All that remained was to kick the extra point, and Portland would win. As place kicker Ned Cleatus stood up to run onto the field, his foot became entangled in the one of the cables for one of the T. V. cameras, and he tripped and plummeted to the unforgiving turf. He felt a searing pain in his leg, and knew he’d be unable to kick.
When the head coach learned of the kicker’s injury, his shoulders slumped in defeat. So close to victory. Now, he’d have no choice but to go for two. They could still go ahead, but the odds were cut dramatically. He informed his team of the unfortunate turn of events, and was just about to call for the offense to go for two, when Jimmy-Clint spoke up.
“I’ve never tried kicking, but I know I can make this kick, let me try.”
The coach was about to say no way, when he looked at Jimmy-Clint’s face, and saw something, a steely-eyed certainty, that made him change his mind. “Okay, Jimmy-Clint, get in there, and kick us to victory.”
Jimmy-Clint ran onto the field, and lined up to kick. The wind was swirling, the fans were screaming, and he knew all the fans watching at home were holding their breath. He lined up behind the holder, who barked out the signals, the ball was snapped, Jimmy took a couple of steps forward, and launched the kick over the outstretched hands of the Orlando players, straight and true through the uprights; the kick was good, and Portland had won.
Jimmy was doing a victory dance, when Mrs. Pomeroy happened to see him. “Well, look at that, he must be high,” she said out loud.
Mrs. Pomeroy thought ever person under the age of twenty five must be doing drugs, but her rasping voice hurled Jimmy back to reality. What, did she think Jimmy was on a hill, or something? He had NO idea what she was talking about, and wanted to get as far away from Mrs. Crazy as possible.
After running for at least two or three minutes, he figured he was probably safe. Now, what could he do? Once again, boredom settled like a wet blanket over Jimmy.
Dang it, Jimmy was sitting in the living room, watching his mom watching ‘Wobbly Knob Today’ on one of the local channels. The things adults liked to watch. If he had a channel, it would be way different, and way cool. He’d show nothing but cartoons, and have ads about nothing but yummy foods; pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, and many more he couldn’t think of at the moment. Yeah, it would be way cooler than this junk:
“You’re watching The Jimmy Channel, well get back to our ‘Speed Racer’ marathon, right after this word from ‘Sugared Wangos’.”
“Kids, are you sick and tired of the ‘good-for-you’ cereals your mom makes you eat? No sugar = no taste! Introducing ‘Sugared Wangos’, the breakfast cereal that puts ‘sugar’ back where it belongs, in your face. We’re aware that there is zero chance of your mom buying anything with that name on the box, so, just between us, we’ve disguised our cereal by using the name ‘Wind Sprint Health Flakes’, but once you open the box; out will pour not sticks and gravel, but bright-colored dang-near candy goodness.”’
“So kids, let your mom think she’s buying ‘Wind Sprint Health Flakes’, when surprise, it’s really ‘Sugared Wangos!”
“This is Jimmy, your announcer, and I’ve decided that instead of more ‘Speed Racer’, I’ll be showing “Lee, the Bear’ cartoons!”
Yeah, that would be cool. “Mom?”
His mom tore her eyes away from watching paint dry, looked at him, and replied, “What is it, Jimmy?”
“I think when I grow up, I’m going to be on T. V.”
“That’s nice, Jimmy,” and her eyes returned to watching the T.V.
Yeah, he’d get his own show. Suddenly, he saw his friend Andy waving to him from outside the window. The daydream about having his own T.V. show was quickly forgotten. Andy wanted him outside. “Mom, can I go play with Andy?
“Sure, honey; just don’t go too far, it’ll be lunchtime soon.”
Oh boy, playing with Andy and lunch; the rest of his morning was going to be great.
Two weeks had passed, slowly, for Jimmy Tilford, and finally, he had he’d thought of something to do. His best friend Davy was gone with his parents somewhere, but the carnival was starting this morning, and he was going to be there. His mom had given him twenty whole dollars to spend; that felt like a million dollars to him.
Jimmy ran down the street, towards The Wobbly Knob Fairgrounds, where every spring, The Dobson and Sons Carnival set up shop for a week of thrills. Jimmy was super-excited. It was all he could do to wolf down the pancakes his mom had made for breakfast. He thought back to that morning:
First off, he had come pounding down the stairs. His mom yelled,
“Jimmy, what did I say about running on the stairs?” from where she sat on the couch, reading the Saturday morning paper.
“Sorry, Mom, I’m just so excited.”
“Well, no more. Now, breakfast is ready.”
Ordinarily, he dearly loved his mom’s pancakes, but this morning he had his mind on the carnival, and barely tasted them. He almost threw them at his face, guzzled the small glass of milk and the small glass of orange juice, and told his parents he would be at the carnival.
“Jimmy, don’t you think you should take your jacket? The weatherman said it might rain later.”
Oh Mom, he thought, but answered, “Sure thing mom.” After all, the sooner he sounded like he’d caved and agreed to what she wanted, the sooner he’d get to the carnival. He stomped back up the stairs, grabbed his jacket, walked down the stairs, said goodbye to his parents, fought the urge to slam the front door as he left, and once it was shut, started running. His first stop? The garage, where he ditched his coat, then he ran out of there, and raced all the way to the Wobbly Knob Fairgrounds, where his eyes beheld an absolute fantasy land, at least to his 10 year old eyes. Rides galore, and the smell of tantalizing treats wafted through the air. Up close however, the rides looked run-down, with globs of dirt-streaked grease dripping down, and slightly dangerous. As excited as he’d been to get here, now he felt bummed out.
“Hey kid, how’d you like a chance to win a prize at The Ring Toss?” came the cry of a man who looked to Jimmy like he’d recently escaped from prison, and looked to be in desperate need of soap and water. He didn’t personally know anyone who’d actually been to prison, but this was the way he’d always pictured one as looking. He looked at the cheap-looking ‘prizes’ and replied,
“Aw, no thanks.” As he was walking away, he heard the man mutter under his breath,
A little further on, he happened to overhear a conversation between two carnival workers who hadn’t noticed he was there.
“Hey Dave, what do you say that if this scummy little town has a tavern, we hit it later?”
The one named Dave, apparently, replied, “Oh, I shouldn’t–my parole officer told me not to–you know how I get after a bunch of beer.”
“A bunch? Try after a beer or two–yeah, you’re probably right…”
From there, Jimmy listened as the sound of their voices faded away, as the two kept walking. He walked by the Haunted House, and suddenly it became a castle, with a drawbridge, where a damsel in distress was being held prisoner:
I’m Prince Jimmy, and I’m going to save the damsel in distress, who’s being held captive by the evil Count Darkwater. First, I’ll use my handy hook on the end of this rope, throw it over the rampart like this, and scale the wall, hand-over-hand like this, until I’m standing on top. Then, I’ll throw the rope over the inside wall like this, and repel down, until I’m standing on the ground. Suddenly, before me stands Count Darkwater himself, who says,
“Gee, could you make anymore noise? I could be deaf, and I still would have heard you,” and he pulls his sword, as do I.
“I’ve come to run you through and save the damsel in distress,” I reply.
“You mean you have more than one?”
“Shoot; well then, I’ll save them all.”
And then Count Darkwater attacks, and the sound of clashing swords fills the air. Back and forth, back and forth, we battle. I can feel the strength ebbing from my tired arms. I won’t be able to hold out much longer. My desperate eyes seek something, anything, to reverse my fortunes. Then I see a big unfinished cage for birds hanging from a rope, just above my head. It has no bottom. Suddenly, the path to victory becomes clear. I take a couple of steps back, and let the Count advance, until…now he’s standing directly below the unfinished cage. My sword slashes through the air, slicing through the rope holding the cage aloft, and it falls right over the Count.
“Hey, this cage has me trapped!” yells Count Darkwater. I run to the castle, and quickly find the cells where he is holding the damsels in distress. I see a key hanging on a hook, and unlock all the cages.
“Oh, Prince Jimmy, you’ve saved us!” says a blond-haired damsel.
“Think nothing of it, ladies; it’s all in a day’s work for a handsome, brave prince.”
“Well, you’re certainly both of those things.”
“Follow me, ladies,” and I lead them right by a livid, imprisoned Count Darkwater.
“Darn you, Prince Jimmy, I’ll get you for this!”
I look straight at him, and reply, “Talk to the hand, cause my ears aren’t listening.”
A chorus of, “Oh, Prince Jimmy,” rises from amidst the damsels…
Then, the castle became just the Haunted House again, and Jimmy figured it’s time he headed home on this spring day.
Once home, he slouched through the front door. His mother, upon hearing his return, asked,
“What’s the matter, Jimmy, did you spend all of the $20 dollars I gave you already?”
“No Mom, in fact here’s all of it. The carnival wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be.” He quickly thought that not spending his money was weird, but he wasn’t like other kids. He took the money out of his pants pocket and dropped it on the table.
Then he said, “Thanks anyway, Mom. I’ll be up in my room doing homework.”
Jimmy’s mom thought, ‘Boy, for Jimmy not having spent any of my money; I wonder why?’ Then she wondered, ‘Where’s his coat?’
Jimmy was bored once again as the sun was setting on Wobbly Knob. There was nothing to do. His best friend, Davy, was busy, so he had complained to his mom, and got a lecture on going out and finding something.
Great advice, Mom; I’m sure when you and Dad were young, which is hard for me to imagine, there were plenty of exciting things to do. It’s not like that today, he thought. Boy, his parents just didn’t understand. He was kicking an old rusty can in his front yard. He’d kick it one way, walk to where it lay in the grass, then kick it back; woo, somebody call The Fun Police, because he must be over the legal limit!
After a couple of hours of kicking the rusty can, Jimmy reluctantly headed back to the house. Boy, that was exciting, an old rusty can. As he walked, he saw their old picnic table, and suddenly it sprouted sails, and cannon appeared lining the deck. Suddenly, he was not Jimmy, 10 year old boy, he was Captain Jimmy, pirate, and he led a group of pirates, robbing and pillaging. He knew he’d already day dreamed he was a pirate recently, but he liked pretending he was a pirate, so, tough!
The ship carrying gold doubloons back to Spain, was making a run for it. Not today, today, he would have that gold; it was a good day to be rich. He gave the order to his crew to fire a warning shot across their bow. Soon, there came a tremendous ‘boom!’, and a few seconds later, a huge ‘splash!’ just ahead of the fleeing ship.
“Ha, ha, good shooting, men,” he exclaimed.
The fleeing ship’s sails lowered to the deck, and the ship hove to.
“Prepare for boarding.”
“Aye, Captain,” answered a one-eyed pirate, complete with the expected eye patch, and as the pirate ship pulled along side, men poured over the side of the pirate ship, and…’
“Wait a minute; I need to name it, but what?” Jimmy said out loud. This was a grand adventure, but he needed a name that would tell everyone that this was one ship you didn’t want to mess with. Somehow, the name The Picnic Table didn’t seem very scary. How about The Sword–yeah, that was more like it!
The Sword’s cannons made sure that the hapless ship didn’t have a change of heart. The enemy crew stood looking sullen, but what could they really do? The enemy captain appeared at the rail, and Captain Jimmy said,
“Sir, we will not harm you or your crew; all we want is the gold.”
“Sir, I protest; this is a ship of the Spanish government, and this is an outrage,” and he withdrew his sword, saying, “You’ll have that gold over my dead body.”
“That can be arranged, sir,” replied Captain Jimmy, withdrawing his own weapon. Suddenly, the decks were filled with shouting, cursing men.
Jimmy didn’t know many curse words, so, “Scoundrels!” was about Captain Jimmy’s harshest word.
The battle raged back and forth, with first one side, and then the other winning. Captain Jimmy was so caught up in his daydream, he was shocked to hear his mother’s voice,
“Jimmy, it’s time for dinner!”
What was she doing out here in the middle of the ocean? Suddenly, The Sword became just a picnic table again, Captain Jimmy became just a 10 year old boy again, and he realized that he’d lost track of time. Where had the day gone?
© 2020, MikeS. All rights reserved.
- What can I say other than I know, and I'm currently in therapy