Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: WILD (11/16/17)
TITLE: Rockin' Roary
By LeslieJean Anderson
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“I loved my Uncle Roary. We called him Rockin’ Roary from the time he had his first gig. He was awesome, man. Always cool. Used to let me hang around backstage when I was only sixteen. Let me do my own thing. Shared his stuff with me for fifteen years. Taught me a lot and let me play the drums in his band. I’m gonna miss him. Not as much as his three wives…”
Jesse grinned and swayed as laughter flitted through the audience. “Y’all know what I mean - his ex-wives. But he left me with great memories and some awesome songs.”
Jesse turned to the silver casket, surrounded by dozens of flower arrangements. He gave it a sloppy salute and said, “Adios amigos. Thanks for the cool memories.” Then he choked up. He sat down on the front row, his head in his hands.
There was a pause, and then another man stood up and went to the podium. In his mid-twenties, he was dressed in a suit and tie.
“I’m Jim Ritchie, Roary’s younger brother. For those who don’t know, his real name was Robert. He got the nickname Roary from me, because when I was a baby, he’d pretend to be a lion and roar at me. So I called him Roary, and it stuck."
"I was only eight when he left home to go to California with his band. So I don’t remember much about his early gigs around here. Mom and Dad and I got a glimpse of him on television once when he and his guys were playing background music. But other than that, we didn’t see much of him all those years."
"Jesse here – he followed the band around, and we eventually learned about Roary’s life out in California from Jesse’s Mom, who lives down the street. And sometimes the newspapers.”
“But we prayed for him all the time. We wanted him to be happy and healthy and successful in the music business. We were excited when we heard he’d married Peggy. We knew Peggy from the local high school, and hoped that they’d come home for a visit. We were sad when Peggy came home a few years later, alone.”
“We still tried to keep in touch with Roary, but he was on the road so much that many of our cards and letters never reached him. But we never stopped trying. Being the oldest son, he was the favorite…”
Jim stopped and smiled at his elderly parents. “It’s ok Mom and Dad – I know I’m your favorite too, as the baby of the family.” More light laughter flitted through the crowd.
“But as the oldest son, Roary held a special place in all of our hearts. He left us way too soon. However, he did receive the last rites, so we know he is with God, and he’s healthy again. We are sure we will see him someday in Heaven, and that is the hope that carries us through the pain of losing him now.”
Jim turned to the silver casket and said, “May you rest in God’s Eternal peace, big brother.” Then he returned to his place by his parents.
Later at the reception, a young woman approached Jim and his parents.
“I’m Stella. I just flew in from California. Jesse contacted me about Roary’s death.”
The elderly couple nodded politely, but seemed confused. Stella smiled and said, “I was Jim’s third wife – I guess he didn’t tell you.”
“I’m so sorry, Stella,” said Mrs. Ritchie. “There are some missing years we don’t know much about. But we’re glad to meet you. Thank you for coming all this way.”
“Well, I came to keep a promise. I loved your son very much. We talked about having a family. He actually went into rehab for awhile to straighten himself out. He often talked about going home as a “back-on-the-straight-and-narrow family man” – his words.”
Stella leaned forward and took the elderly couples hands in hers. “One time when he overdosed, we were afraid he wouldn’t make it. In the ambulance he made me promise that if he died, I’d tell all three of you that he loved you very much. That is why I am here today.”
Mr. Ritchie grabbed Jim’s arm as the two women tearfully embraced.
750 words This is a work of fiction.
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