Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Tribute to Ace

Monday was Labor Day for those of us residing in the U.S. Despite its connotation, it does not denote a day set aside for work. Rather, the day celebrates the ability to laze about and feed one’s face, preferably with one’s fingers accommodating in rapid, shovel-like gestures. While participating in this yearly ritual, I snuffled over half-cooked coconut pie filling, remembering a man who died thirteen Septembers ago.

Why was I crying? Each holiday my grandmother made a coconut pie for Pa and me. She always cooked the homemade masterpieces over her gas oven the night prior to the big day. Before the filling had set, Pa would slice through the gooey custard and warm crust. Between mouthfuls, he would dial my phone number to taunt me about his sneaking the first piece. This man was my grandfather, and he was known as “Ace.”

In tribute to Pa’s memory, I wrote the following short piece about one of the tales he told during a warm day like this and after an empty pie pan like now.


      Ace returned from the Second World War a changed, hardened man though he eventually confronted his problems and altered his life. Before this metamorphosis, he was a rabble-rousing young man with a cigarette in one hand and a homemade blackjack in the other.


      Ace’s car swerved around the deserted town like a child’s toy car spinning on linoleum. The drunken young man jerked the steering wheel again, determined to elude the blaring police car chasing him down the darkened road. He stomped harder on the gas pedal and whizzed around the corner past a gas station. His grey eyes flicked to the rearview mirror. The police car had fallen behind during the last maneuver but continued its pursuit. Ace glanced at the gas gauge and grimaced. He was nearly out of town, and if he were to lead the police into the countryside, he would soon run out of gas. He threw his spent cigarette to the floor as he reached the last intersection. The car engine whined as the accelerator furthered the distance between him and his pursuer. Grinning, Ace fumbled in the dark for his cigarettes. He glanced one last time at the rearview mirror and flipped off the headlights.


      The police car raced through the intersection and rounded the corner into an alley. It roared down the gravel road past the cars parked alongside a series of crumbling brick buildings. After stopping briefly for the traffic sign at the end of the road, the car headed west.
      A tiny orange light bloomed and faded in the alley. Ace was lounging on the hood of his car, smoking the remainder of his cigarette and laughing.


As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line. In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It’s contagious.


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