Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Writer: j guevara

Bro

Having a knack at raising money – for other people – I got 'volunteered' to be on the local Big Brothers of America board of directors – ‘Managing Director, fund raising’. Although I consented, I refused to bend to their persistent pestering to take on a ‘Little’, as the organization affectedly calls them. I had no desire to deal with some lost, unfortunate juvenile, with a life already out-of-luck before his teens. Hey, it’s a tough world.
The 'Pizza Festival' netted $600, but the 1st annual Big Brothers’ golf tournament promised to do better. To give it more legitimacy the committee felt the ‘Littles’ should take part. The problem was the ‘Littles’ were too little. "How ‘bout adding a putting contest?" I suggested. End of problem.
The morning of the tournament, Pat called. Pat, the most cunning, underhanded sneakiest woman I’ve ever known, had one goal in life: get me to accept a ‘Little’. She was relentless, though I had to admit, no one was better at pairing ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’. She could pick a perfect match at a hundred yards, in the dark, connive you into that match, and have you thinking it was your own decision.
Knowing that, I should have been on high alert. But it was early Sunday morning, bad hangover; she caught me off guard. A ‘Little’ needed a ride, she said, and it was on my way; could I please pick him up in time for the contest? No problem, I thought. I thought wrong.
It was pouring rain. I barely tooted the horn when out came this skinny little whelp dodging puddles with the agility of a first-string half-back, leaping toys and hedge like a track star. I leaned over and cracked the door. He jumped in dripping wet, water running down his stringy blond hair, over his youthful face of pre-puberty innocence, past a wide smile full of teeth, and onto my new $200 leather seat covers. Not an auspicious beginning.
With barely a ‘howdy’ he laid into a machine gun chatter with enough details to stymie a mainframe. In fewer minutes than his age – eleven – I knew his whole life story. Twice! Steve didn’t just worm his way into your heart; he jack-hammered his way in.
 When we reached the golf course the rain had stopped, clouds parted, and Pat was waving for us to hurry, the putting contest was about to begin.
About twenty ‘Littles’ prepared for the elimination rounds. Some were shorter than the putter, so they'd be out soon. At least they got to compete, which was the whole idea, right? The ‘Littles’ thought otherwise. To them, this was the PGA.
Round by round the mini-midgets were eliminated. Some groaned, other moaned, a few threw a fit. The adults tried to calm them with admonitions about being good sports. I was no help quoting Vince Lombardi: "Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser."
It wasn’t long before it became obvious whom it would come down to. Steve was definitely a front-runner. He had a steady hand, good concentration, coordination, and a nice smooth stroke for his age. Steve was a natural athlete; lack of confidence was his only setback.
The other contender was a wiseass, too big for his age and his britches; a dough ball, a foot taller and two feet wider than his peers, who’d go through life thinking 'clever' is the same as 'intelligent'. He was sharp, he knew it, and didn’t hesitate to use it. Every round he’d bully his way to go first. He understood psychology. Unfortunately for him, so did I.
As expected, it boiled down to Big Butt and Steve. Before final round, they took a break. Steve had already resigned himself to second-place. He was satisfied with that. The kid had two years on him; Steve didn’t think he stood a chance. I took him off to the side and gave him a crash course in Psych 101.
“Look, the trick is to go first,” I said. “Whoever goes first has no pressure. Even if it takes 10 putts, number two still has to beat that. Therefore, number two is under pressure. That’s how he’s winning; he’s not that good. He’s counting on you beating yourself. He’s gone first every round. Stand up to him and demand he let somebody else go first for a change.”
Steve gazed up at me with his wide smile and the most incredible gleam in his bright blue eyes; a look I will never forget. It was as though in his mind I was the smartest, most all-knowing person he would ever meet. I was Apollo, Zeus, and Thor all rolled into one. For that brief moment, I actually thought I could command lightning, wind and thunder. It felt good, of course, until it dawned on me what a heavy burden that is. Like I said, I’m nobody’s big brother, and I sure as hell was not interested in the role of God.
The final round was ready to begin. Big Butt muscled his way to the green ready to take his putt. I stood watching. Steve was nervous, a little scared, he was on his own. He started to back away, then glanced over at me watching to see what he would do. He’d resigned himself back to second-place. Ashamed he had to let me down, his sad face begged me to understand. For once, I wished I was God; maybe then I could forgive him.
Instead, I looked up at the sky and shook my head in disappointment. That was all Steve needed to see. The next thing I heard was this little guy’s voice trying to sound strong, exerting his rights against all odds for the first time in the real world.
Wait! I think I should go first. I’m younger, he’s older. He’s gone first every time.”
“What difference does it make?” Big Butt shouted.
“Good,” said Steve, crowding his way to the green, and nudging his opponent aside, “since it doesn’t make any difference to you, I’ll just go ahead and go first.”
Calm, cool, steady, deep breath, eyes glued to the ball, putter squared to the cup, heels locked, knees slightly bent, back straight, just as he’d seen on television.
Butt had a ‘Big’ somewhere in the crowd; I’d already scoped him out, casually made my way over, and stood with arms folded next to him. With both of us focused on the action, I leaned toward him slightly and said out of the corner of my mouth, “Five bucks he wins.”
Big’ looked at me, rolled his eyes, laughed, and said, “Make it ten.”
One stroke, two strokes, three strokes, contact, follow through, the ball rolled over the green straight for the cup. A thirty-foot putt-in-one by an eleven-year-old was too good to believe …so I didn’t. Nevertheless, it got pretty darn close. Five feet, still not an easy putt. Steve squared off to do it again.
One stroke, two strokes, three strokes, contact, follow through, and again the ball rolled over the green straight for the cup. Only this time there was no doubt where it was gonna end up. It was headin’ for home. It hit the cup slightly off-center and started to drop after it circled the edge a time or two. Centrifugal force took over, however, and the ball made an exit stage right.
There it sat, less than a blade of grass away from the cup looking as sad as the sigh from the crowd. I tried with everything I had to call forth my power to command the wind. Forget lightning and thunder, one small breeze was all it would take. Just this one time, and I promised never to ask again. Apollo, Zeus, and Thor all turned a deaf ear.
Without ceremony, Steve didn’t even bother to square up; a light tap put it in. He then slung that putter over his shoulder, strutted off the green right past his opponent, and without a pause looked dead up at him, and said, “Next.”
At last count, it was 16 and the ball was nowhere near the cup. The putting contest was over, but in frustrated determination, the poor kid had turned it into a contest with himself. It was difficult not to feel pity, for that is one contest you can never win.
Steve picked up his trophy, I picked up my ten, and we headed back for home. He sat silently holding his prize. We were both too proud to talk. After awhile, Steve turned towards me, smiled, and said, “You know, this trophy belongs to both of us, Bro.”
What a word, I thought. ‘Bro.’ Just by the tone he used, the feeling he expressed when he said it, it defined a relationship between two men like no other. The word has had special meaning to me ever since. I’m not your dad, I’m not your brother, I’m not even your friend. I'm your Bro.
It’s been nineteen years since that day, and Steve still calls me Bro.
      ...and no, I did not split the ten.

Epilogue

What became of Steve?
Somehow, I ended up with legal custody and helped him get through his later teen-years. As difficult as that was, I never would have imagined that skinny-ass, beanpole, nail-biting, pimple face would grow up to become a 'Ford Agency' high-fashion model traveling the world first-class on their dime, making around $3000. a day. And, between dates he conducts seminars for top CEO's on... 'Confidence Building'.

       ...and no, he does not split the three-grand

© j guevara 2010

j guevara assures me this story is all true. j, also known as that green, caffeine-jacked muppet, KAWFEEE, is the author of the top-selling novel The Twain Shall Meet to be followed in May 2010 by his Himalayan adventure, The Keepers of Himal. You can visit his website at http://www.jguevaranovels.com.

14 comments:

  1. Smooooth read indeed, and lovely tale - I like the asides to Apollo, Zeus, and Thor and how you describe interactions with others.

    PS - 'The Twain Shall Meet' arrived last week and I'm hoping to read it very soon!

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  2. Nicely spun yarn, well rounded characters, in particular Stevie, appropriate bias in the vernacular of the story teller; and tension enough to make you want to read on.

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  3. Good job, read it through, the epilogue/ending was sweet!

    Doesn't even need horns.

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  4. This was perfectly told. Peter explained why. You're a natural storyteller and "Bro." is definitely one of those stories I'll carry around with me forever as a big WIN. It's always a pleasure to read your work and I can't wait for the release of your next book!

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  5. Holy Moly, Kawf. All this time, I thought you were a drive-by wisecracker on 6S. This is the best goddamned story I've read in ages. I adore everything about it!

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  6. I'm glad he was able to get close to you. It's
    a great story. For both of you. Congrats on your books and all the best of luck.

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  7. Nicely done! Congrats on the book. Quite a life story at you site too! That is really an amazing journey. Kudos to Mr. B. for hosting.

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  8. wow. amazing story! looks like you made quite an impact on him, this should be sent to all the big brother programs out there! a true success story.

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  9. This is a great cohesive piece with distinct characters and voice. The relationship is well established and played out (pardon the pun) beautifully. A great read.
    Adam

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  10. Good story! =) I like the relationshio that they have! =) I really like this story!

    By: Mariana Lopez!

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  11. What can I say? I am humbled beyond words.
    gracias. mucho appreciado.
    And a special thank you to Mike Brown for giving me space to Espresso myself.

    Pot's on... KAWFEEEE j

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  12. J, you are a phenomenal storyteller my friend. Every time I read one of your stories, I feel as if I am sitting in an audience and being mesmerized by your gift. Keep doing what you do bro. --Gary Simms of http://GSimms-HealthandWellness.com

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  13. Just read this again and have to say it grows on you. To see that an impressionable kid just needs a little push to get going and how far he can make it with his new found confidence is heartening. This tale, even though true, seems like a natural coming from the great Twain enthusiast. Sure-handed and telling.

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