Jack Jennings was a quiet man, set in his ways. He was a bible toting, church going Catholic who appreciated the old ways. A carpenter by trade, Jack made his living working in and around the small community where he grew up.
Jack’s wife and companion for most of his fifty years was Bessie. Bessie grew up in a neighbouring community where farming was the staple. Bessie met Jack at a fundraiser dance, the two of them have been together ever since.
Jack and Bessie raised three children. Thomas, the oldest, was always kind of strange. Rather than join the school football team, Thomas chose to bury himself in the old library books at school. He didn’t have much of a social life, preferring to read about sorcerers and witchcraft. His behaviour didn’t bother Jack and Bessie. They figured it was something he was going through and he would eventually work things out. Their other children were ‘normal’, and didn’t give either Jack or Bessie any concerns to worry about.
On the morning of September 3, Jack was on his way to work. Just like every other day, he ate breakfast, the same breakfast he ate every day. His oatmeal was prepared just right, the way Bessie had lovingly prepared it for him. When he went to eat it, it tasted horrible. In fact, everything Jack ate that day had the same taste. This went on for two days. At first, Jack worried enough to make an appointment with his family doctor, but given the heavy schedule of Dr. Hastings, it would be Thursday before he could see Jack. The effects of whatever was bothering Jack faded away the day before the appointment, so he canceled it and went on with his business.
Two days later, Bessie noticed that her bed sheets had a strange odour. She stripped the bed and washed everything. Even her clothing smelled bad. When she washed every piece of clothing, including her favorite hat, the one that she wore faithfully at church every Sunday morning, the smell went away. She never thought anything of it and went on with her day.
On Thursday, Thomas went to school only to find that all his classmates were fast asleep in the hallways. Some were standing, leaning against the walls and lockers, while others were face down on the floor, unconscious to the world outside. As he walked among his fallen comrades, he gave a chuckle. “This will teach them to mess with me!” he bragged to himself. Thomas headed to his first class, only to be joined by his very sleepy classmates soon after.
“Huh? What are the doing awake? This was supposed to be permanent!” He muttered. As his classmates entered the room, they called out to ‘Meathead’, their nickname for Thomas.
Back at the parish, Father Bellamy worked hard to light the candles. No matter how hard he tried, the candles would not stay lit. At first he figured it may have been a prank, as many of the younger kids often visited the parish after school, but after replacing all the candles and then trying to light them, he still had no success.
“Think I will do something else, and come back to this later” he thought, as he poured wine from one bottle to a few smaller containers. When he finished this and had a moment to rest, he went back to the candles, which lit exactly like they were intended to.
Thomas visited the church on his way home from school. He asked Father Bellamy if anything seemed strange to him. “Hmmm, not that I can say. I had a bit of trouble lighting the candles, but you know me, old age is creeping up on me every day. Nothing that the good Lord won’t take care of” he said, much to the dismay of Thomas, who figured he had punished the old minister.
When Thomas got home, he was greeted by his mom. “What you doing home so late? Got your homework with you? Your teacher called and said that you were acting strange at school again; is everything alright?”
Thomas gave his mom a sneer and headed for his room. On the way,he turned and asked if anything seemed strange for his mom. “Not that I can recall. The sheets had a strange smell, but you know me, always trying to find a cheaper detergent.That one I tried last week left a strange odour on everything. All fixed now though!” she said.
Fuming,Thomas headed for his room. Before he reached his bedroom, he noticed that his dad was lying on the bed in his parent’s room. “You okay Dad” Thomas asked.
“Sure, everything is great. I had a problem with my taste buds this morning, but given that I recently stopped smoking, that can be accepted. I am okay son. How about you? Are you doing okay?”
Thomas was pissed with his father’s sentiment. “Why would he care how I am feeling? He doesn’t love me, he loves the other kids more!”
That night, Thomas headed for the garage once again. When he got to the garage, he noticed that things were moved. His dad had pulled the car into the bay and parked it over the star he had drawn on the floor. The candles were all tipped, some crushed by the tires. On the counter lay what was left of the old book. Just a few pages, some torn, and the cover. Next to the counter, Thomas noticed that the small potbelly stove was lit recently, a few singed pages sat on the floor next to the stove door. On the shelf there sat a small package, wrapped in gold foil with a note attached.
“We all love you Thomas. We didn’t forget your birthday. Please take this gift and value it. It contains readings from long ago. It tells stories about a special man and the miracles that he did. This book can help you reach your goals. Sorry about that tattered old book you were reading. Dad and I lit the stove so that we could work on our birthday surprise for you. It is parked here, next to the bench. Your dad’s first car. We restored it while you were at school. It’s all yours. Go out and enjoy yourself. Maybe take some friends with you. We love you” Signed Mom and Dad.
“Damn, no wonder my spells didn’t last. Mom and Dad burned the book. Damn them. But wait, they loved me enough to plan all this without me knowing. They must love me after all. I know my friends at school would love a ride in this old car, maybe I should take a ride and see what happens.”
With that, Thomas went for a cruise in his car. When he got to the hangout at the edge of town, many of the people who poked fun at Thomas came over to marvel at his beautiful car. “1969 Camaro? Is she yours?” they asked?
“Yep,all mine. Like a ride?” he returned. the car quickly filled up, and in no time, Thomas and the others became the best of friends.
Sometimes all it takes is a bit of love and understanding, and a once bitter and very confused person can be transformed into a happy, productive individual. If you don’t believe it, just ask Thomas.