Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bobby – Mosquito

Bobby locked up the equipment and jumped on his bike. Instead of heading home, he turned in the opposite direction, riding along Old Cemetery Road. He pumped his legs hard. His ears filled with rushing wind. His lungs labored for enough air to keep up the pace. Sweat formed down his back, across his forehead.

Turning onto the rutted dirt road that led into the old cemetery, Bobby hopped off his bike and pushed it hard into some low growing cedar that at one time had been a natural fence separating the country road from the cemetery proper. He stepped over the rotted gate that stood at a forty-five degree angle guarding the isolated, rectangular clearing that ran back into the woods.

Bobby started to meander through the rows of headstones looking at names and dates, many of which were indiscernible as the carvings were worn by years of rain, ice, snow and wind. As he ambled along, Bobby wondered who these people were, what their lives had been like, if they been happy, how they had died. He walked along the edge of the cemetery and plopped next to a headstone that was partially engulfed by the surrounding woods. He moved aside the leaves of two maple samplings and read the name Juha Toivonen.

Bobby picked up a few loose pebbles and tossed them into the surrounding brush. As he reached for a smooth stone that lay three feet to his right, he noticed a mosquito on his right forearm. He watched as the insect pierced the skin and started to drink from a vein rich with protein. Soon, the insect’s abdomen displayed a prick of red. Bobby continued to watch as the insect’s abdomen expanded to plump red and yet it continued to take more. Bobby didn’t care and let the insect take what it wanted.


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Bobby – Bumble Bee

“Wolves, Wolves, Wolves!” The team stood in a circle each player with a hand in the center cheering one of the few wins of the season. The circle broke up and the players started to chatter about the game. “Did you see that catch in right field? How about the double play? Hope we play like this next week!” The players grabbed their hats and gloves, stepping around Bobby as he collected the bats and loose balls.  Someone suggested they should go celebrate the win and it was quickly agreed that a swim down at the river would be the perfect spot. Names were run off to check to see who was going: Tom, Runt, David, Pierre, Calvin, John, Jeff, Fly, Dean, Rick, Mike.  One name wasn’t mentioned, Bobby…Bobby Metsa. Bobby focused on counting the balls to make sure he didn’t miss any. The team left the dugout. The chatter about the win rewound itself back to previously discussed plays. A bumble bee buzzed into the dugout and circled Bobby’s head.

“Hey Bobby.” Pierre, the catcher had backtracked to get his cap.

Bobby looked up.

“So, uh, the team is going to the river. You wanna go?”

Bobby looked at Pierre. Part of him wanted to go, but he knew that he wasn’t wanted, that he wasn’t counted as part of the group. “Nah, gotta get home.”

Pierre shrugged, “Ok.” He jogged away to catch up with his teammates.

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Bobby – Chopping Wood

Bobby stood in kitchen doorway and observed Momma Pelimanni and his brother Billy. The pair sat at the kitchen table Momma Pelimanni with her back to the door and across from her Billy, who sat munching on a freshly made chocolate chip cookie. Momma P. whispered something that Bobby couldn’t hear and pushed a plate of cookies closer to Billy. Billy grabbed another cookie and took a huge bite.

Bobby cleared his throat, “Mom said you needed some work done.”

Momma P. turned slightly, “Oh, Bobby.” She turned back to face Billy, “Yes, you need to split some wood for the sauna and then after that tie up the tomato plants.” She reached over and patted Billy’s cheek. “You are such a sweet boy.”

Bobby stomped down the porch steps and took the short path to the wood shed. (You are different.) He threw some small logs out towards the splitting stump. He grabbed the axe off the wall and placed a small log on the splitting stump. (Different) He swung the axe hard. Crack, the wood split in half.  He took each half and halved them again. (Differ…) Stop he screamed to himself.  Just stop! He worked feverishly. Soon the back of his shirt was wet. Sweat dripped off his forehead. His lower back ached. He stood up, arched his back.  He cradled some of the split wood into his arms and walked into the sauna.

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Bobby – III

Bobby’s bedroom door creaked open. The top of his mother’s head peaked in, “Bobby you should have been up an hour ago. It’s already 10:30 and you need to get out to Momma Pelimanni’s.”

“Yes, mom.”

Bobby rolled to his right and sat up, removing himself from the warmth and safety of his bed. He stood up, threw on some clothes and scuffled into the upstairs bathroom. He examined his face in the small cracked bathroom mirror. It was an average face, not unattractive at all. Maybe the nose was a bit too big, but overall he pretty much looked normal. He washed up, brushed his teeth and headed downstairs for a late breakfast.

As Bobby plodded downstairs, each wooden step intoned a unique protest under his weight. On the bottom third and fourth steps Bobby stepped back and forth “taaa da da taa da da ta da ta da ta da da” creating a short symphony.

From the kitchen, Bobby’s mother yelled, “Bobby, stop that already and get in here before I throw your breakfast in the garbage.”

Bobby walked into the kitchen and plopped himself at the antique kitchen table. His mother placed a warmed plate of pancakes and bacon in front of him. Bobby grabbed the butter knife and spread slabs of softened butter on the pancakes. He next swirled on a load of his mom’s home made maple syrup. He waited a couple minutes for the syrup to soak in before launching into his food.

Billy, Bobby’s younger brother, bounded into the kitchen. He glanced at his older brother and grunted. Bobby returned the acknowledgement. Billy handed a small grocery bag to his mother, “Mrs.  Herman said that they didn’t get the egg delivery yet, so I can go back later if you want.”  Bobby raced out of the kitchen.

“As soon as your brother is done with his breakfast he is going out to the farm, if you want to go,” mom said.

There was a creak from the staircase. “Ummmm, ok.I guess I’ll go.”

As the two brothers jumped on their red Schwinns, Bobby knew they would take the alley across town. Billy rode first, Bobby close behind. As the two brothers crossed Third Street, Billy turned around, “Hurry up,” he said. He stood up, put his head down and pumped his legs as fast as he could past the rear of the market. As Bobby followed he saw three of Billy’s friends hanging outside the front of the store. He looked at Billy’s back and knew that his brother was embarrassed to be known as Bobby Metsa’s brother, but why? Why am I different?

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Bobby – II

If you asked anyone in Pike Bay, they would say Bobby was a good kid. He followed the town laws and Pike Bay had a lot of laws. There were laws that told you what to think, what not to think, what to eat, what not to eat. There were laws that dictated the roles of men and women, defined boys as boys, and girls as girls. Boys played boy sports: football, baseball, ice hockey. Girls played tennis, volleyball and golf. Music was considered a female past time, but certain instruments were okay for boys, such as drums, and deep brass like trombones, tuba, or the baritone. Girls were relegated to flutes and reed instruments. (God forbid that a boy should play a reed instrument!) And for some reason, a law had been passed several decades earlier that forbid anyone from playing the French horn. Outsiders might call it a town of suppression, oppression and depression, but for the most part residents were content.

This was Bobby Metsa’s world. Even though the fourteen year old Bobby didn’t always understand it, it was the world that he knew. It was what he was taught. It was what he believed he believed because that is what he was told to believe.

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Bobby I

Bobby Metsa was different. It wasn’t the fact that he was tall and lanky. It wasn’t the fact that he was uncoordinated. Maybe it was the fact he didn’t talk much about boy things, but that wasn’t it either. There was something deeper that made him different. Everyone sensed there was something different about the fourteen year old, but no one could identify what it was. Well, no one except for his great grandmother. She knew from a young age what made Bobby different, but she wasn’t talking.

Bobby did typical boy things. He tried hard at sports. He played baseball. Well played is not quite the right word, participated is more accurate. Bobby’s on field career was short. Because of his height, Coach tried Bobby at first. However, no matter how much Coach worked with Bobby on how to position his feet on how to stretch his body towards the ball Bobby would stand with both feet on the bag and at the last make a stab at the ball with his glove. Needless to say, he missed more throws than he caught.

Next Coach tried Bobby at right field where Bobby had some success. On fly balls, Bobby would run up then back, his feet stumbling as he positioned himself for the ball and somehow more often than not he would make the catch. But when he had to make the throw back to the infield, the ball could end up in the opposing team’s dugout, could hit the fence behind the catcher or could end up in the stands. You just never knew. Coach and Bobby finally agreed that the best position for Bobby was to keep the bench clean and to organize the bats between innings. It was safer for everyone.

Bobby knew he was different, that he just quite didn’t quite fit in and most of the time he accepted that fact. It was what it was. At times though, it weighed on him. He wondered why he couldn’t be more like the other boys, be better at sports, be more of a boy so to speak. His teammates accepted him. At least they seemed to accept him, but Bobby was aware that at times he was left out, left out of a get together at someone’s house, left out of a joke, left out when just hanging out. Bobby was a green strawberry amongst a crate of red juicy berries. He was one, but not one.

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Kirsti – Illini (Rewrite)

(This is a rewrite of the previous post.)

“Da da daaaaaaaaaaa. Barnabas has entered,” said Clyde Jalkanen as he nodded towards the door. Several people turned to see Principal Destrampe standing inside the teacher’s lounge doorway. “She be looking for some poor soul,” Clyde continued.

“Oh Clyde, shut up already. You can be so rude,” said Mrs. Lehto. “She’s not that bad. She’s actually one of the best principals you will ever have.”

“Well, she scares the hell out of me. Look at her. The dour face, the grey haired pulled into a bun. And the clothes. Does she have anything other than black or grey?”

“Oh Jesus Clyde, shutup. You are a gossipy old woman.”

Someone asked, “Who’s she looking for?”

“Oh, oh, Maki, it looks like she wants you.” Clyde pointed a crooked index finger in the direction of Kirsti Maki.


As Kirsti walked down the hallway of Tapiola Elementary towards Principal Destrampe’s office, her mind raced. What could she possibly want? I’m having a bad enough day as it is what with Tony Erickson vomiting during the math quiz this morning. He could have at least turned his head and hit the floor, but no, he had to vomit all over his desk and in the process get some splatter in Susie Diaz’s hair. As she stepped into the office, Kirsti caught Destrampe dabbing her eyes. The principal turned and motioned for Kirsti to sit at the round conference table.

“Mrs. Maki, Kirsti, I’m sorry to interrupt your lunch break, but this couldn’t wait. Before I get into it, this has nothing to do with you. Well it does, but you haven’t done anything wrong.”  The principal slid aside the African violet that occupied the center of the table. “I called you in because I need to talk to you about Illini Isaacson.”

“Oh?” Kirsti pictured the unpopular, slightly pudgy third grader that sat in the third row fourth seat. “She’s out today. Is everything ok?”

Destrampe reached and grasped Kirsti’s right hand. Tears swelled. “No, not at all. She um….she passed away this morning.”

Kirsti inhaled.  The shock hit her like a bucket of ice water after a hot sauna. “What? What do you mean? What happened?”

“Car accident.” She released Kirsti’s hand. “Now there are some details that we will have to deal with.”


“Yes.” Destrampe ran her hand across the table top. “Apprently, Illini could have, would have made it except that her parents refused a blood transfusion.”

“What? They refused?”

Principal Destrampe nodded, “Religious reasons.”


Kirsti stomped into the teacher’s lounge. Clyde Jalkanen started to say something funny and stopped when he saw the expression on her face. She walked into the women’s room, slammed shut the stall door, and flushed to drown out the vulgarity that slipped past her pinched lips.

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Kirsti – Illini

The presence of Principal Destrampe in the teacher’s lounge doorway put a quick end to the lunch time conversation. The dour faced principal surveyed the lounge and upon locating Kirsti Maki motioned for her to follow.

As Kirsti followed the gray haired senior staff member down the hallway of Tapiola Elementary, her mind raced. Had she done something wrong? Was there some type of parental complaint? What did Mrs. Destrampe want?

Entering her office, Principal Destrampe gestured for Kirsti to sit at the round conference table and delicately closed the door. “Mrs. Maki, Kirsti, this has nothing to do with you. Well it does, but you haven’t done anything wrong.”  Destrampe sat across the table from Kisti and slid aside the African violet that separated the two. She adjusted her grey blazer, leaned forward and folded her hands. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that Illini Isaacson has been in and out of school lately.” She paused. “Her father was in and Illini is out for the remainder of the year.”

“Oh?” Kirsti pictured the unpopular, slightly pudgy third grader that sat in the third row fourth seat. “Is everything ok?”

Destrampe looked away, “Not exactly. Seems that the girl has an advanced stage of cancer.” She took in a deep breath. “The doctors have given her a bad prognosis. The father mentioned weeks.”

Kirsti inhaled.  The shock hit her like a bucket of ice water after a hot sauna. She started to hyperventilate.

Destrampe reached across and placed a hand on Kirsti’s. “Do you need some time? I can get someone to watch your class for you.” The principal’s dark eyes glistened.

“No, no. I’m ok. I’ll just sit a minute and catch my breath.  I’ll be fine.” Kirsti said as she fought back tears.

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