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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outlandish (05/19/11)

TITLE: Mr. Spud
By Linda Goergen


He stood out as outlandish, where outlandish behavior was not uncommon. He was extremely tall , excessively skinny, always laughing way too loud or patting someone on the head. And the suits…he always wore a suit, but some of the loudest, most outdated patterns ever! Sometimes he even mixed and matched the garish suit coats and pants. Even though I pitied him because he seemed so clearly “abnormal”, whenever I’d see him in the nursing home, I tried to avoid him!

One day, after unsettling news about dad’s progress, I needed time alone and found what I thought was an out of the way corner of an empty sitting area. Head down, too late I realized someone had slipped into the chair across from me. My heart sank when I lifted my eyes and realized it was Mr. Outlandish. Staring right at me!

“Name’s Spud,” he said, “Like to say the name latched on because I’m a stud, but truth is, just an old “tator” farmer.”

I couldn’t help laughing out loud at that!

“Good!” he bellowed, “I like smiles!

Then softly, he said “Life seeming pretty complicated right now, hon?”

I was shocked, so simply nodded yes.

He studied me a minute, then said, “Folks try and make life too complicated, like one of those aggravating square puzzles you turn this way and that, to make colors line up, like one I worried over years back.”

“You must mean a Rubik’s cube” I said, still stunned at this conversation.

“That’s it!” he said, “Many folks make life complicated, like one of them doggone things. They turn this way, that way, every direction, in circles, repeating mistakes, getting frustrated trying to make pieces of life line up. Some, spend whole lives jumbled up, trying to un-jumble! Some think they have it solved, then suddenly see a yellow square on their blue side and get so rattled, they jumble all up again. They twist and turn, turn and twist, instead of just letting life be.”

I was speechless, so he went on, “One day, years back, little fellow down the road from me, named Wil, came by. His family was real poor, sometimes I’d pay him to help me with chores”

He cleared his throat, then continued, “Mostly though, came to visit, had no living Pa, so he kind of adopted me. That day Wil came, I was messing with one of those confounded puzzles, someone had given me. Wil asked about it, so I told him about getting all the colors on each side the same. Told him I’d been fooling with it for days! He sat, quietly, watching me a while. Finally, I handed it to him, told him to decipher it, while I finished a letter. I figured, it’d be a cinch for bright, sharp-as-a-tack Wil to get them colors in place, in no time…unlike me!”

“I was sure surprised when I came back and the lad was just sitting there, staring at that aggravating puzzle! I asked if he’d come close to solving it”

“He told me, yes, sir, Mr, Spud, I have…but those colors was jumbled as ever and I told the boy so!”

“Yes, sir, I know” he told me “but I’ve decided those red squares might like being over there with those blue and those green ones might like being with yellow or maybe those yellow really need to stay with those red awhile. So, I was wondering, couldn’t we just go fishing and let um be?”

“Well, glory gal! I looked at that lad a minute or two, my big mouth wide open, wondering again at the ways of the good Lord, showing me simple truth from a child.”

“I grabbed that useless puzzle, tossed it right in the garbage and took Wil fishing! See, people make life too complicated. We need to just let the puzzles of life alone, let God work them out… and us…just go a fishing.”

As I sat with my mouth open, Mr. Spud got up and left as quickly as he’d come.

“How long”, I asked the nurse, “has Mr. Spud been a resident here?”

“Oh”, she said, “he’s not a resident, he volunteers, has since a man named Wil was in therapy here after brain damage from an accident. Wil didn’t make it, but Spud keeps coming, trying to help others accept…and laugh. Aren’t his suits funny! ”

YEP! Funny! Mr. Spud…so outlandish he makes me ashamed I act so normal!

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This article has been read 409 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Fowler05/26/11
Loved Mr. Spud! Excellent writing,
Leola Ogle 05/26/11
Loved Mr. Spud. We recently put mom in a care home and pray there's a Mr. Spud there. God bless
Joe Moreland05/28/11
Love this story. Ironic how things turn out, huh? All this time your MC was avoiding Mr. Spud because they didn't want to get caught up in his antics and it turns out that he was there for others the whole time. Great twist at the end.
Theresa Santy 05/28/11
Oh, I love Mr. Spud. And I feel bad for laughing at him in the beginning. How terribly mishapen our first impressions can be.
Noel Mitaxa 05/29/11
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh! (I thought I'd "put eight ohs" together.)
I love how you have captured so many thoughts in such active dialogue, and the surprise twist at the end is a real bonus.
Helen Curtis05/29/11
A really beautiful story with a lovely message for us all to look past the outside appearances and nuances of each other. And I loved the little boy's response to the puzzle, it's such a childlike thing to say. Well done.
Danielle King 05/31/11
Excellent writing. Loved the twist at the end. Great message too!
Janice Fitzpatrick06/10/11
So well written. Wow! You really let God show you the heart of things don't you? Very good! God bless your ministry through words. :))So true to how we are judging someone on how they look, act or talk but often these same people, who are being judged, are the ones who seem to have a keen insight as how life is or should be. Praise the Lord for all of the Mr. Spuds in this life.