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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)

TITLE: In Search of a Modern-Day Hero
By Venice Kichura


“Wow but is he hot or what?!” Fourteen-year-old Jessica swooned, her eyes glued to the hunk on the popular reality show “The Bachelor.”

“My hero!”

“He‘s no hero,” her father Ken snorted, entering the living room. “Just some guy showin’ off his abs. Doesn’t make him a hero. Where are the modern-day heroes? Wish I could find one. But then back in my day…”

“Here we go again,” Jessica moaned, rolling her eyes. ”Back to the 50s.”

“Gimme that.” Ken snatched the television remote from his starry-eyed teenager.

“But Dad….”

“No TV ‘til your homework’s done. And no reality shows. Period. You know the rules.”

“Hypocrite. All you do now is watch TV,” Jessica mumbled under her breath, storming up the stairs. ”Sure wish you’d find another job.”

“Jeanne!” Ken yelled out to his wife in the basement folding laundry. “Thought we blocked those television stations.”

“Yeah, but the kids know how to unblock them, dear. And, hey, you‘ve been watching a lot of TV yourself, lately.”

“Just the TV Land Channel. Gimme the 50s, the good ‘ol days,” he sighed, clicking the remote to Channel 68.

Nestled in his oversized recliner, Ken stared at a fifty-year-old rerun of “Leave it to Beaver” he’d seen at least fifty times…..

“I’m sorry Dad,” Beaver said, hanging his head. It won‘t happen again. Promise. Honest.”

“Go to your room, son. Your mother and I need to discuss your punishment.”

”Yes sir,” Beaver stammered, staring down at his sneakers as he drudged up the stairs.

“Those were the days, Jeanne. Kids respected their parents. Families ate meals together. Kids had real heroes. Like Superman, Buck Rogers. Captain Kangaroo…. Today’s kids have no heroes.”

“What’s lame is that show,” his wife snickered. “What mother struts around in pearls doing housework? What father eats dinner at home dressed up in a suite and tie? Com’on, Ken. Get real.”

“Well, that’s the way it should be.”

“You can’t go back in time. And now that you’re home, give me a hand with the laundry. I’m not June Cleaver. And, you, my dear are not Ward.

The phone rang.

Blasted phone. Rings right in the middle of my favorite show. No use answering it. Always for the kids. The Cleavers only had one phone, in the center of their living room.

“Dad!” Jessica belted out from upstairs. “It’s the pharmacy. Your prescription’s ready.”

Almost forgot about my antidepressant. Back in the 50s, folks didn’t lean on pills. Folks were happier back then.

He’d been taking an antidepressant since losing his job last month. His high-spirited teenagers were also challenging his well-being.

Ken grabbed his keys and left for the pharmacy. Driving there he thought about how his parents and siblings used to share their thoughts and play board games after supper. Those were the days, he mused, pulling into the parking lot. He spotted a former coworker leaving the store.

Doug Mason? Wonder if he’s found work again. He was invisible there, just as I was. Nobody at the plant ever noticed him so of course they gave him the shaft…. Just a hard workin’ slob like me. No superstar. Probably better off than me, though. Probably doesn’t have a household of ungrateful brats. Probably has more money and an understanding wife …..He has to have it better…He always smiles.

“Hey Doug.”

“Hey yourself, Ken.” Doug waved, flashing one of his toothy smiles. A teenage girl about Jessica’s age hung on his arm. From her slanted eyes and vacant stare Ken could see she suffered from Downs Syndrome. Identical twin boys who appeared to be autistic trailed behind, playing with their hands.

“Audrey, Jeffrey, and Christopher, my three awesome kids,” He said proudly, squeezing each one.

“We’re been enjoying one another since I’ve been home. Their mom died three years ago. Was tough leaving them with a sitter after school.”

“Well, gotta head home and give them their meds….Take care.”

A widower with three handicapped kids? Could have fooled me…He never complains. Always smiling. I’ve got to find out how he does it…..Stay positive. Think I found my hero---my unsung hero.

“Hey wait. Say, Doug….Please tell me..…Uh…Just how…how do ya do it? You know….Carry on as widower, single father, out of work and still keeping smilin’?”

“I don’t do it alone,” he said, pointing to the bumper sticker on his rusted-out sedan.

God is more than my co-pilot?

Pointing a finger to the sky, Doug smiled broadly.

“My hero.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
william price12/14/06
A very nice uplifting, thought provoking story. I've had the same thoughts the dad in your story has. Thanks for sharing. God bless.
Beth Muehlhausen12/17/06
Here's my favorite line: "“We’re been enjoying one another since I’ve been home." That kind of priority - especially in the midst of adversity - is evidence of God for sure.
Jan Ackerson 12/19/06
A great story, rich in irony and realistically drawn characters.

I wonder if you'd consider changing the phrase "suffered from Down's Syndrome." I have a brother with that condition, and I've known many people with Down's--they aren't suffering, but supernaturally gifted with joy.

Love the bumper sticker, and the great message.
Catrina Bradley 12/19/06
Love this! Wonderful job - ah, yes, the "good old days". And I, too, love the bumper sticker. Better than "God is my co-pilot", He IS MORE than a co-pilot, isn't He?