Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
By Joshua Janoski
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I entered the main door, tightly wrapping my left arm around a parcel. An elderly lady wearing a pink bathrobe and fuzzy white slippers stood checking her mailbox. She turned towards me, a cigarette drooping from her cracked lips. Her icy stare penetrated me and chilled my bones. I darted past her and up the staircase. Forget waiting for the elevator!
I trudged my way up what seemed to be an infinite number of stairs. Every few months, my mother would send me on a delivery run to this decaying stench-hole. I dreaded the mission, but mom said it was important, and she couldn’t come because of work.
Arriving at the tenth floor, I stopped to catch my breath. I proceeded down the hall to door 210. I rapped on the wood, waiting for a reply. Three attempts later, I heard a whisper.
“What’s the password?”
“The password is JimmyHoffaLives.” I replied.
The door creaked open. I slipped inside. Standing before me was a short man. The scraggly curls of his black beard had grown a couple of inches since I last saw him. I was guessing that in all of the tangles and mats, there were some hidden treasures inside, maybe some Cheetos or even some spare change. His long greasy black hair dripped sweat. His green camouflage fatigues emitted traces of body odor. His feet were lodged inside heavy black military boots with laces that hung untied.
“Hi Uncle Lenny.”
He examined my open mouth with his beady little eyes. “You’ve been brushing your teeth, haven’t you? Don’t you know that fluoride is rat poison? The government puts it in your toothpaste to cloud your mind and make you their slave.”
And with that tidbit, he scurried over to his desk along the back wall of his living room. His dingy apartment walls were covered with newspaper clippings, photos, and maps. I sloshed my way through stacks of Mountain Dew bottles, empty potato chip bags, and snack cake boxes. I examined some of the articles on one of the walls.
“Government covers up alien discovery at Roswell.”
“George W. Bush sets up 9/11 attack.”
“Elvis spotted at McDonalds in Manhattan.”
My uncle Lenny was definitely one far out dude. Mom said he wasn’t the same after his motorcycle accident ten years ago. I was only two at the time, so I never remember having a “sane” uncle.
My uncle mumbled to himself as he hovered over stacks of books and papers on his desk. “JFK’s secretary was named Lincoln, and Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy. Lincoln was shot in a theatre and his killer hid in a warehouse. Kennedy’s killer shot him from a warehouse and hid in a theatre…”
I tuned out his ramblings and went into the kitchen. I attempted to open the fridge, but it was securely fastened with a padlock and chains. I walked back into the living room.
“Can’t a person get something to eat around here?”
“They tried to poison my food, so I had to lock it up. By the way, did you know that margarine is one molecule away from being plastic? They are using it to kill us off with heart disease. I only eat real butter because...”
“Uncle Lenny, I came by to give this package to you. It’s from Mom. She told me to tell you to please not throw this one away, because she thoroughly scanned it for tracking devices, and it is clean. She wants you to read it.”
My uncle ripped opened the paper and pulled out a Bible.
“Yes, Uncle. We all want you to find Jesus. We believe He can help you.”
My uncle paced back and forth, one hand was holding his chin, and the other clasped the new Bible. After a few moments of intense thinking and mumbling, he burst out.
“That’s it! I need to find Jesus!”
I smiled excitedly. “Really?”
“Yes! Your mom once told me that Elvis went to be with Jesus! If we can find Jesus, then I bet the King of Rock and Roll will be with him and maybe Jimmy Hoffa too! Brilliant!”
I rolled my eyes and looked up towards Heaven with a shrug. Good ol’ Uncle Lenny…
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