My cure for writer's block...Ben Randall (short story)
*NOTE BEFORE READING*
When I get stuck, I will often step away and write a poem, short story, dialect piece, or article. Just some means of writing different from what I am working on. So the piece I'm posting below is a fun little short story I wrote to break my writer's block. It's not meant to be a great work of fiction haha. It's just fun and a way to step out of the intensity of the current project. I hope you enjoy it for what it is. I spaced it out a little differently to make it easier to read in blog form
One morning as I was walking to school, I watched a sweet boy’s daddy beat him, for no other reason than he was alive. He took it with such grace and humility; he was a stronger person than I. His daddy seemed hell-bent on showing him how unloved and unwanted he was. On my eighteenth birthday, a day I will never forget, he got the beating of his life. I don’t know what for, but I knew it wasn’t deserved. After that, I determined to myself next time I saw him, I was going to muster up some country courage and introduce myself. Make a new friend. He needed to know at least one person in the world who cared to know him, and it would be nice to know his name.
I saw him standing off by himself. I could see he was still in pain. He was leaning against a brick wall in his faded, torn-up blue jeans and dirty button-up shirt. On his feet were the rattiest shoes I ever saw! He was slender but strong; I reckoned from the work on his daddy’s farm, and his face was sunburned from the sun beating him up when his daddy was through. His hair was always trimmed and clean, I figured because his daddy must have feared lice. He had one black eye where his daddy punched him the day before, but it couldn’t hide his beautiful eyes.
I took a deep breath, walked my hyper self up to him, and said, “HI!” He raised his head and looked at me, puzzled. I reached out my hand and said, “I’m Becky Lynn!” He smiled and shook my hand. “Ben Randall,” he said. Now you can call me crazy, but I decided right then that boy was my future! And you better believe when I decide the universe listens! From then on, we spent every moment we could sneak away together, which was hard with the way Ben’s daddy was. Ben Randall became my best friend in the world. I learned so much from him about life and love about everything.
One day while we were fishing, I asked if he might want to come to have supper with me and my folks. I wanted him to see not all parents were like his old man was. He said he would, but his daddy expected him to have supper on the table every evening or else. My mind went right to work on how I could find a way around that! It didn’t take long for an idea to pop up!
My feet ran ahead of poor Ben without my brain even remembering to tell him what my plans was! Mr. Randall, Ben’s daddy was the local mechanic and when I saw him, I walked right up to him. “Sir, I was wondering if my folks and I could borrow your son for the evening for supper? See, he’s real smart, and he’s been helping me with my schooling. My folks are just sure I would not be graduating if it weren’t for your boy here, and I would have disgraced them. So, my folks and I want to show our appreciation with a home-cooked meal. We would be happy to send you back a plate.”
About the time I finished my last word, Ben walked up, and his daddy laid into him. “What’s this I hear, boy? Bout you being all smart now? You trying to make your old man look bad in front of the town?” Ben lowered his head; seeing where this was going, I thought it best to step in… while I had the chance to. “I heard, Mr. Randall sir, that you are the best mechanic in the county! So, we figured your boy here must have gotten all those smarts from you!” Ben looked at me, surprised, and I could see he was trying not to smile. It was obvious Mr. Randall was drunk by how bad of a time he was having getting his words out right, but he agreed “All right go he said, but don’t you embarrass me boy or there will be hell to pay tomorrow! You hear me?” “Yes sir,” Ben replied. Ben looked at me with a half-smile and shook his head. “You are Somethin’ else, Becky Lynn.”
We walked on to my place, and I introduced Ben to my folks. He was so polite and appreciative. I think they fell in love with him faster than I did! Momma made her famous fried chicken and taters, and the way Ben was eating, we figured that must have been the best meal he’d ever had! We all finished our meal and talked a little about life.
Ben and I went out back to look at the stars, there was nothin to compare to that sight. I figured he was in no hurry to get back to his daddy. “Why are you doing all this for me? I’m no one.” He said. “You are special, Ben Randall, and you’re somebody to me! Can’t you see how amazing and strong you are? How handsome and kind and smart? Also, you should know, I’ve been in love with you for a long while; long before I knew your name. I was just too scared to talk to you before. I know I’m not much to look at and I don’t expect you to love me back but”……. Before I could finish my words, he reached out, took my face in his hands, and kissed me. I forgot all I was saying, heck I even forgot to breathe! When his lips released mine, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Becky Lynn, you’re my whole world”. I brushed his face with my hand to wipe away some tears and he held my fingers to his face, closed his eyes, and took the deepest breath I’ve ever witnessed. I figured he must have been soaking up every ounce of love he could.
“Ben,” I said, feeling a little sick. You do know you have to leave now? Your daddy would never let you have a good life here. My folks and I are moving because my daddy has a new job on a ranch in California and there is no way I will leave you behind. My folks agreed to let you come with us. We will be leaving the day after your birthday. Your daddy would have no rights to you after you are eighteen so we could leave free and clear.” He lowered his head, “I know, you’re right,” he said with a sigh. “You want to go with us, don’t you Ben?” He lifted his eyes level to mine, and I saw the tears. “More than anything, it’s just abuse is the only life I’ve ever known. My momma died when I was born, so the love and kindness you and your family have shown me is the only I’ve ever experienced. To think I could get to know that for the rest of my life, it’s all so overwhelmin.” “You deserve nothing less, and I’m sorry your daddy missed out on showing you that.” I leaned in and kissed him again. There would never be too many excuses for me to kiss that boy.
The day after Ben’s 18th birthday, we moved away and Ben Randall, who was my heart, came with us. To this day, he says it was the best birthday present he ever got. My family settled on that ranch in California and Ben got a job as a ranch hand. He was such a hard worker and made such an impression on the owner that four years later the owner gave him a wonderful piece of land of his own; the man even gave him a discount on livestock so he could start his own herd. Ben proposed to me that first month, and we married later that summer.
We had been on the ranch for five years when there was an unexpected knock on our front door. I opened the door, surprised to see Mr. Randall, Ben’s daddy, in the flesh! I did not understand how he even found us, but he appeared clean and sober and he even had a beautiful wife on his arm. She turned out to be a good Christian woman wouldn’t you know, not the judgmental busy body type. She even helped him kick that demon liquor. I guess it goes to show you can’t ever tell how a person is to turn out. Once he was sure that his daddy weren’t there to harm no one, Ben was very gracious. His daddy told us how he never meant no cause no one pain, to begin with. His wife, Ben’s momma, died in childbirth and the pain of her loss was just too much for him to take, so he turned to liquor to numb the pain. And Ben had looked so much like her. It was more than Mr. Randall could bear. I’ve never seen a man more sorry.
Ben jumped right up and hugged his daddy’s neck and they cried together for a good long while and all that abuse was just forgiven. That’s the man Ben is. “Life is too short to hold on to hate, hurt, and anger,” he always says. If I’m honest, I took a lot longer to get over all I saw Mr. Randall put Ben through over the years, but I did eventually forgive him and he was a changed man. Much to everyone’s surprise, Mr. Randall turned out to be the best darn pappy to our three beautiful children anyone could have dreamed up and his wife an equal mammy. I am beyond thankful for this blessed life we now have. I imagine Ben’s momma must be somewhere up there looking down on us smiling. His momma must have had a hand in all this. I’m right proud to say Ben and I have fallen more in love every day of the last twenty-eight years.
Ben has never stopped working on our ranch with pride and passion. He’s deserved every good thing life has given since those dark days with his daddy. His eyes have never gotten less blue and I never tire of those sweet romantic kisses. Sometimes I sit outside on the porch swing before making dinner, just so I can watch Ben work in the field. I can see every scar on his back and I love him for each one he endured. I’m right thankful the good Lord thought me worthy of such a special man. And wouldn’t you know it, he still tells me at the end of every day “Becky Lynn, you’re my whole world” and I smile and look into those ocean eyes and say “and you’re mine”.
Ben Randall ©Bobbie De Leon all rights reserved