Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: The Good Fight
By Beth Fiedler
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Jessie slumped under the weight of his father’s voice. His father had been known in the county for his work ethic and honest business dealings. The sound of his voice carried the weight of authority. Jessie glanced at the raw skin of his knuckles as his father stared into his bloodied face-the cumulative results of the fist fight with two local boys from which he had just been extracted.
“Son, I must ‘a told you a hunerd times not to mess around with those kids. Ya just don’t listen.”
His father continued to mumble under his breath as he walked away, leaving Jessie sitting quietly in the cabin near his father’s favorite summer fishing hole. He could still hear him carrying on in the stillness of the woods, “Ya just got to learn to lis’en to me when I tell you to git yerself away from ‘em.” He shook his head at the trees, “I shore wish your ma was here right ‘bout now.”
Jessie knew better than to leave the cabin as he watched his father through the window. He waited for his father’s return at the table in the middle of the large room. In his solitude, he looked about the place and could find nothing to hold his attention. The cabin only had one room apart from the area sectioned off that contained the plumbing. Jessie and his Dad had to pump the well water from there to use for cooking on the make shift stove and pine board counter that created their kitchen. Together, it took up about a third of the entire square structure. Old racks to sleep in and the table where he was sitting accounted for the balance of the space.
In an effort to kill time, he pulled at his rolled up shirt sleeve and swiped at his bloodied nose. Angry that he had taken the bait that started the fight with the boys, he mulled over why he let himself get entangled. Arguing with himself in his head, he sounded just like his father. But secretly, he knew he had to do it.
In the heat of the summer, the cabin was always cool due to its location smack dab in the middle of a pine grove. The crispness lingered in the furniture that was made from the trees that were cleared away when the structure was first being built. Somehow, he could not quite get accustomed to the surroundings that were very much a part of his father and seemed to do very little with him.
He could see his father approaching through the window and he sat up straight in the chair. When his father opened the door, Jessie realized that his father was holding something in his hand. Repeated glances did not permit him any further knowledge as his father held it closely to his chest.
“Son, I know that you don’t like it here without your ma. They’s times when a man has to learn how to get through rough times. Some times by hiz self, some times with a little he’p. Now, I want you to take a look at this little guy, here.”
As Jessie watched in horror, his father brought his hand forward and revealed the object of his failure-a dead bird.
“Now I suspect this fight had somethin’ to do with ‘dis here bird. Why don cha tell me about it, son. I’m ready to listen.”
Jessie spent the next five minutes explaining how he had tried to stop the boys from throwing rocks at the bird. After they had finally hit the bird, they both turned on him.
After Jessie was finished, his father said, “I know it’s hard to stay up here without your friends and to be alone with me, but I am glad that ya ‘r. It’s always right to stand up fer some thin’ that needs protectin’. Ya’ done right. I’m prowd of ya. ”
“Well Pa,” said Jessie, “I learnt it from you.”
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