Apresent for Grandpa

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story set in a small town, where a young man is desperately wanting to give his Grandfather the best birthday present ever. Warning, this is a family oriented tear-jerk.

Submitted: November 24, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 24, 2011



Jason A. Fusco about 5,000 words

PO box 386

Bridger, Mt. 59014



A Present for Grandpa



A Present for Grandpa

Paul Bentley lived in a small rural farm town in the northwest named Shallow Creek. He moved there five years prior from the big city with his Father, Mother and Grand Father. It was quiet there, peaceful. If you wanted to know what was going on in town, all you would really have to do is walk up to the local café in the morning to hear what the latest buzz was, and if you heard it from Mrs. Shepard, well it was good as gospel. Mrs. Shepard was a nice lady well into her sixties. She lived across the street with her husband Steve. He was an active sort that you could usually find out side tinkering in his garage on projects and repairs for neighbors and friends, or outback chopping wood for the upcoming winter. Steve had an air of pride about him, and deservingly so. Not only was he a great mechanic, but as people would say, “He made the best whisky this side of the world.”

All together there were about eight-hundred people in their little town and the common thought was that there did not need to be anymore. Most of the community had been there most of their lives and would be just happy as hell to wind up in the local cemetery up on Briar road after they had past. Over all, the little town had everything that it needed to sustain a normal life there. Up on Main Street there was the barber shop, a bank, grocery store and other odds and ends that opened for a time and then would close and be replaced with another business that would try their luck at prosperity. One of the more popular shops though, was Nick’s Hardware. This, along with the barber shop is where all of the older men folk would gather to discuss the serious business of the town. Of course that serious business was about as serious as what the women were discussing down at the café, who was sleeping with who, who got drunk and wrecked, and of course let’s not forget the local heroes of the town, the Shallow Creek Bulldogs. There was always something to speak on a serious matter about when it came to the local football team who never once managed to make it to state for the playoffs in the town’s history. Yes this place had all the amenities needed, even the local law enforcement could be seen early in the morning having coffee with the other men over at Nick’s. Nick in Paul’s book was a really nice guy. Always had a smile on his face and welcomed you into his store just like you were going over to his house for Christmas dinner or some special gathering that involved a lot of joy and happiness. Sometimes, Paul would find himself stopping in just to say hi and have a cup of Nick’s special coffee. Of course there really was nothing that great about it, it was just the atmosphere in which it was served in that made it so great. But, weather you were buying goods or just stopping in to shoot the breeze, it was always offered and always fresh.

Paul, being only twenty-three, worked outside of town in the city about thirty miles away at a music shop. There you could find every C.D. that had ever been made, and if they did not have it they could get it. He loved his job, always meeting new people and always having good music to listen too. Often he would day dream about going back to the city and leaving the little town that he now called home, but his parents and Grand-Father needed him there, and so, he was happy to stay and help.

Saturday’s was always the busiest day of the week. People were always coming in and buying the latest C.D. or movie. Even kids would go in and browse through the video games section or buy one of the many posters that they had for sale. But this Saturday was different. Paul was getting off and heading home early. Usually he would stay and close at Ten o’clock, but not today. No he was going home and getting ready for Sunday which would bring in the Grandfather’s seventieth birthday. He loved his Grandfather, often spending as much time as he could with him knowing that he would not be around much longer. They would stay up late on the front porch in the summer and Paul would listen to him tell stories from the war and how life was way back when. What a life the old man had lived, and in some cases, it was a miracle that he was still alive. But none the less he was. Still happy and healthy and still had no problem going out and helping Pauls’ Father out in the garage with things. Every once in a while, he would see his Grandfather come from across the street from Mr. Shepard place, of course those days Grandpa would go to bed early as he was a little tipsy from drinking too much over at Steve’s garage discussing “this and that and the other thing” as his Grandpa always would say. It didn’t matter though; Paul would always help him up the stairs and into bed on those nights.

Paul got home at seven o’clock that Saturday. His mother was working in the kitchen and getting ready for Grandpa’s birthday dinner. “Hay Ma I’m home.” Paul said as he walked in through the front door. “Smells good in hear, what ya got goin on?””

His Mother, Sally, looked at him and grimaced a little.

“You know damn well tomorrow is your Grandpa’s birthday; you could have come home a little earlier to help ya know.”

Paul shook his head and grinned,

“Ma I got off five hours early, and then I went over to that hunting store Grandpa likes and bought his Birthday present. Look.”

Paul reached into the bag he was carrying and pulled out a forty-four caliber black powder pistol. Paul had it custom made with his Grandfather’s name and birthdate inscribed on the barrel. Along with it, he had purchased a cleaning kit and some black powder, balls and caps. Everything his Granddad needed to shoot right away, or set up in the handsome display case that Paul had also purchased.

“What in hell is he going to do with that?”

“This is just like the one he used to have; you remember the one that got stolen from him twenty years ago?”

“Yes I remember, I suppose he will like it just fine.”

Seeing Paul’s excitement calmed her mood. Her grimace subsided into a pleasant smile and she continued to chop up the vegetables that she was working on for Grandpa’s favorite chili. Paul walked into the living room and saw his Father sitting in his chair watching the news.

“What’s happinen pops?”

“Hay Pauli, how go’s it?”

“Fine Dad, hay check out what I got Grandpa.”

Paul knew his Father would appreciate the gift a lot more than his Mother would. She was never big on guns and things of that nature, so Paul and his Father kept theirs in a safe down in the basement where Paul’s Mother never ventured.

“Wow, now this is nice. Dad is going to love it.”

His Father examined the gun and aimed it at the television set with a smile on his face. He ran his hand along the inscription on the barrel and smiled thinking how great it is going to be to see it up on the mantel above the basement fire-place.

“Well you better go and put this up before Dad gets back.”

He handed the gun back to Paul and grabbed the remote to change the channel.

“Do you think he will like it?”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“Well yeah I know I would, but I was thinking that since his dad gave him the one that was stolen that this might be a little out of line.”

“Oh hell no, no you give that to him, it will be just fine he will love it, probably more than the original.”

“Sweet. Well I am off to take a shower, hey where is Grandpa anyways?”

“Oh he is over at Steve’s. Steve cracked open a bottle of the best to share with Dad tonight on account of his birthday and all. So you know what that means.”

“Yeah I guess so.”

Paul turned around and headed downstairs to his room. Placing his Grandpa’s gift under the bed, he started getting ready to wash the day from himself and prepare for the next day’s events.

Six am came way too early. Paul had quite an ordeal the night before getting his Grandpa to bed as he had been over drinking with Steve for most of the night. It didn’t matter though; he was excited to get ready for his Grandfather’s day of celebration. He went upstairs and grabbed himself a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. His Mother was already up and about getting her famous chili ready for the big birthday lunch.

“Pauli when you are awake can you go over to Nick’s house and see if he is coming?”

“Ma! You know I hate it when you call me that.”

“Well your Father calls you that all of the time cranky pants.”

“Yeah but that’s different.”

His Mother smiled and continued, thinking to herself that she got one over on him first thing. It was a little game that they played to see who could draw “first blood”. It was harmless and they both new it so it was never made to be a bad thing. They would just giggle to themselves and walk away. One time when Paul was younger, they had a family get together. He got up early and meticulously took a razor and cut the bottoms out of all the Styrofoam cups and placed them back on the table. So, when his mother poured the drinks, the bottom would come out and make a great mess everywhere. They still to this day look at the bottom of all the cups, even the glass ones, to see if Paul had been messing around with them.

After Paul had a few cups of coffee and some breakfast in his system, he went outside and walked down to Nick’s house. Nick answered the door before Paul even had a chance to knock.

“Hay Paul how is it going this morning?”

“Fine, fine, Ma wanted to know if you were coming over for Grandpa’s birthday lunch.”

“Sure thing, I just have to do some things at the store and I’ll be over around eleven-thirty.”

“Awesome, she is at home getting the chili ready.”

Nick smiled and rubbed his belly. He was one of the many people that enjoyed his mom’s cooking, especially her chili.

“Well Paul you know I would not miss that for the world, I’ll see ya in a bit OK?”

“Sure thing Nick. I better be getting back to see if Dad needs any help. See ya soon.”

Paul started heading back home when he saw Mr. Shepard opening his garage. He was wearing his Sunday best, new bib overalls and a bright red flannel shirt with his cleanest boots on.

“Hey Paul!”

“Hey Mr. Shepard.”

“Hay you commin over for Grandpa’s party, or did you two cover that one last night?”

Paul smiled as he said it to assure Steve that there was no malice to his words.

“Yeah the Mrs. And I will be over after a bit.”

“OK. I’ll see ya around lunch time.”

Paul gave a wave and went up the stairs of the front porch and sat down next to his dad who was puffing on his pipe. Paul pulled out a cigarette, lit it and exhaled in a way that said he was very happy with the way things were going today.

“Ya know if Ma see’s you smoking, she is gonna have your ass.”

“Oh she will have it anyways.”

“What’s the score today?”

“One to nothing. Her favor. She got me with the Pauli crap already this morning.”

Paul’s Father grinned and looked at him as if to say “you have get up early to get that old bird” He knew well that there were only a few select people in the world that could get away with calling him Pauli.

“That’s ok though, I will let her win today, but tomorrow, it is on!”

They both had a bit of a laugh as Paul flicked his smoke and went inside.

By now, his Mother had the table all set and the chili was just about finished. The house was filled with the aroma of his mom’s cooking and it was making him hungry.

“Ma everyone will be here at around eleven-thirty.”

“Oh good, that is perfect. Grandpa is up and in the living room if ya want to go and say happy birthday.”

“Well yeah, duh.”

“Don’t be a smart ass Paul.”

“Sorry Ma, just playin.”

Paul went in to see his Grandpa. He was sitting in the recliner and watching a fishing show on the television.

“Hay Grandpa, happy birthday!”

“Hay Pauli how’s my favorite grandson this morning?”

“Ah ya know just hangin out. Excited about your birthday?”

“Ah bull shit, another year of getting older. Sometime soon this old fool is going to go to rest for good.”

Paul didn’t like his grandpa talking like that. It made him realize that he was right and would not be there forever. But, Paul shrugged it off and chalked it up to him drinking too much the night before, and he was just hung over a bit.

“Well, not today, at least not until you have your party, ok you old fart?”

Paul and his Grandpa chuckled, as Paul’s Grandpa just looked over and winked at him as if to say” I ain’t going nowhere any time soon.” Paul was happy for him. This was going to be the best birthday ever.

Eleven-thirty rolled around and the guests started to arrive. First it was Mr. and Mrs. Shepard from across the street. Then a few moments later, Nick showed up. All of them had gifts in hand and Mrs. Shepard was armed to the hilt with her homemade apple pie and a big birthday cake with seventy candles on it. Paul’s Mom looked at the caked with large eyes and a look of astonishment on her face.

“Did you bring a fan to blow out all those?”

“Oh I know there are a lot, but I just could not resist, I am sure we will manage.”

“Is it your triple fudge eruption cake?”

“Why of course, would I bring anything less?”

They both smiled and giggled a bit. Mrs. Shepard joined Paul’s mom in the kitchen and the men went down to the basement to join Paul and his dad. The men sat around the fireplace and sipped on some of Mr. Shepard’s finest, toasting to Paul’s Grandpa for making it seventy years. The women on the other hand were upstairs jabbering about their spouses and what was going on in town lately. Steve looked over at Paul’s Grandpa who was sitting on a saddle chair and enjoying all of the company.

“Ya know Skip, one of these days I am going to have to show you how to make this hooch.”

“Well, you better leave that up to the younger folk, hell it would never make it to the bottle anyways!”

They all got a laugh out of it, except for Paul. He didn’t really see the necessity of putting booze high on a pedestal. But, he sat quietly and sipped his all the same. He was never one to drink, only a little on special occasions, and this was one of them.

Shortly after Noon, Paul’s mother called them all to come upstairs. There was plenty of talk from all about how good it smelled in the kitchen and how everyone was looking forward to filling their bellies with Mrs. Bentley’s cooking. After they sat down and gave thanks, they all dug in and ate until they could eat no more. Steve sat back in his chair and put his hands on his stomach.

“That was some damn fine vittles ya ladies cooked up there.”

“Well there is plenty left, you will simply have to take some home with you.”

“Oh for sure, you know I can’t turn that down.”

Nick, who was full himself, and being the gentlemen that he was thanked Sally and Mrs. Shepard for the meal again and started to clear the plates from the table. Sally reached over and gently smacked Nick’s hand.

“Oh no you don’t Nick, you’re a guest, let us get that. Paul can you give me a hand with the dishes?”

Paul wiped his mouth with a napkin and placed it in his empty bowl.

“Sure Ma. That is what I live for.”

Mrs. Shepard looked over at Paul, seeing that he would rather retire to the living room with the older men and join in their festivities of discussing the proper way to get out of paying taxes and how to be a good quarter back and such.

“Oh let him be Sally, I’ll help you. We can take care of this in no time at all.”

“I suppose your right, go on Paul, we can get this.”

Paul smiled and left the dining room to join his Dad and the others in the living room. Although he was enjoying himself, he felt a little out of place in the conversation. He didn’t live in the realm of reality that the older guys lived in, but he still enjoyed being considered as one of their equals. Nick looked over at Paul just sitting there with nothing really to say. Having pity in him and remembering that age he brought him into the conversation.

“So are you going to take some time off of work to do a little hunting this season Paul?”

Paul’s face lit up at the chance to join in.

“I was thinking about it, but I don’t know. I still have to sight in my rifle and all, besides they have me managing the store now and it has me pretty busy.”

“Well if you want to go, let me know, I got some new high grade ammo coming in next month that would suite ya just fine. Maybe we could make weekend out of it if ya want to. Maybe we can get old Steve and Skip to go to, we can take my camper up to the old woods behind Rocky creek.”

Paul smiled at the thought of going hunting with Nick, Mr. Shepard and his Grandpa. Just he and the guys seemed like a fine idea to him.

“Ya know, I think I might. Besides, it would be good to get away for a weekend. Hell, I might even buy a new scope from ya. You got any new ones in?”

“Oh not really, but anything you want I can order for you. I tell you what, try the ones that they have out in the city, and let me know which one you want and I will order it for ya at a discount.”

Nick gave him a smile and a wink and nodded his head to in assurance that he would make that happen for him.

“Really? Damn that will be nice. Thanks a lot Nick.”

Paul’s smile stretched from ear to ear and his mind was filled with excitement, so much that he almost forgot about the reason that they were all there. As the conversation shifted from hunting to football, Paul excused himself and made his way back to the kitchen where his Mom and Mrs. Shepard where lighting the candles on the cake.

“Holy crap Ma, that looks more like a forest fire than a birthday cake.”

“Oh shut up and come on, we need a man’s voice to sing with us.”

Paul, his Mother and Mrs. Shepard walked into the living room with the cake singing Happy Birthday to Paul’s Grandfather. Skip looked in amazement of the size of the cake and all of the fire that was atop it. He drew the biggest breath that he could and blew even harder. To everyone’s shock, all seventy of the candles went out and smoke rose from the top of the cake and filled the surrounding air like a fog on top of a pond in the early morning hours. Everyone cheered and clapped as the cake was brought back into the kitchen to get cut into pieces for everyone to consume. Paul got up and ran downstairs to grab his present for his Grandfather almost tripping over the chair that was left out from the table.

“Dammit Paul, slow down before you kill us all.”

“Sorry ma!”

Sally smiled and shook her head, knowing how excited her son was to be giving his Grandpa such an important gift. Paul ascended the stairs with his gift in hand and a proud look on his face as if to say” look hear what I did”. Skip was ordered to stay in the living room while everybody went and got their gifts ready to present to him. After they were all ready, Nick was the first to give his present.

“Here ya go Skip, happy birthday.”

He handed over a box wrapped in blue wrapping paper. Skip shook it in a joking manner and then tore the paper off and opened the box the see what was inside.

“This isn’t one of those damned singing fish is it?”

Nick threw his hands in the air and laughed.

“Awe he guessed it!”

Everyone laughed and motioned for him to open it up. Skips eyes widened as much as they could, making his eyebrows stand straight up to see the gift that was given to him. He proudly pulled out an assortment of hand tied fishing flies and a card that read, “To my pal Skip, may you always have the best of luck down on the lake, from your friend, Nick.” Also there was a gift card to Nicks store for a Hundred dollars. Skips face showed great gratitude and appreciation for what Nick had done for him. Fly fishing was one of his favorite past times, and Nick had taken the time to personally tie all seventy brand new fly’s for him.

“Gee Nick I don’t know what to say.”

“Hell lets go fishin! That’s what I say!”

Paul’s dad Harry was happy for his father to receive such a thoughtful thing on his birthday. Nick received a few pats on the back for such a great presentation. Paul looked at his Grandpa and nearly shed a tear as to how happy it made his Grandpa to have such thoughtful friends. Next Mr. and Mrs. Shepard handed over there presents to the honored one of the day. First Skip opened up Mrs. Shepard’s gift, wrapped in bright green paper and a light weight small box, Skip tore off the paper to reveal a box from some shop out in the west called Buffalo Things. He opened up the box and in it, was a pair of mittens, made from Buffalo hide.

“Those should keep your hands nice and warm this winter Skip. We have some friends out west and they suggested these. Also, they are lined with a special material for your arthritis. I think it has some kind of copper thread in them or something, but they will keep you warm that’s for sure.”

“Wow these are some dandies. I don’t think I have felt the likes of something like this ever in my life!”

Skip put them on and held them up so everyone could see. As he held up his hands Mrs. Shepard went over and gave him a hug.

“Hay now Skip, she is spoken for.”

Steve laughed as he grabbed his present from beneath his chair to give to Skip. Taking off his new mittens, Paul’s Grandpa reached over and grabbed ahold of the box that Steve was handing him. Skip looked over at Steve with a grin. Steve had an evil little smile on his face and a little chuckle on his breath.

“Go on ya old coot, open it up.”

“I am I am. I ain’t getting any younger ya know, and neither are you ya cantankerous son of a bitch.”

Steve was Skip’s best friend. They were always heckling each other back and forth about just about anything. It was almost like Paul and his Mother’s competition “first blood”. Under the plain brown paper was a handcrafted wooden box. As skip admired the box and the burnt inscription on it “Shepard’s Best” he knew what was inside. He opened the lid to the box and inside was a rustic brown bottle with a cork in the top. On the bottle was a label that had been made special for this particular bottle of hooch. The label was a tan color with bold black letter’s that read “Shepard’s Best, Aged since 1965”

“Good God Steve! Are you trying to put me in an early grave? This is over thirty years old!”

“Yes it is, and it will make you live another thirty as well!”

Steve had been brewing his own whisky for over forty years. But this batch was special. This came from a batch that him and his daddy made right before his father past on. There were only two other bottle’s left in existence and the last brew him and his Father made together. Making whisky was a family tradition handed down for generations with the Shepard’s, but was now finished as Mr. and Mrs. Shepard were unable to have any children. So this was no ordinary bottle that you could just run down to the local store and grab off of the shelf. Paul’s heart was filled to capacity with joy and emotion to see his Grandpa receiving such an array of wonderful things from his friends and family. Finale though, the moment that Paul had been waiting for so anxiously had come. He reached out to his Grandpa with gift in hand.

“Here Grandpa. Happy Birthday. Hope you like it, it is one a kind.”

“Whatever it is Paul I am sure that it will be a great as you are.”

They both smiled and relished the closeness that they both shared. As Skip opened up Paul’s present, he lifted the box a few times, feeling the weight of what was inside.

“What is it a safe?”

“Just open it, you’ll see.”

The Box came open and Skip’s face lost all expression. He reached in and brandished the revolver that his Grandson had given him. He looked up at Paul, and with a tears forming and starting to run, and reached out to him in embrace. Paul hugged his Grandpa and whispered in to his ear.

“Happy birthday you old fart.”

“Thank you Paul, thank you.”

The room fell silent to what was happening with Paul and his grandpa. Both of them had tears running down their cheeks which were quickly wiped away in an attempt to not let anyone else see. But it was to no avail. Everybody knew how much that gun meant to him. The original was given to him from his Father, and when it was stolen, it broke his heart. That was the only thing he had to remember his Father by, and now, his Grandson had replaced it to fill the empty space that was left when the last memory of his Father was taken away.

“This, uh, this will look so good above the fireplace downstairs. I really can’t believe this. I know it is rude Paul, but how…”

“Don’t worry yourself about it Grandpa, just enjoy it.”

“Oh I will, I just can’t … Ya know what? To hell with all of this, let’s have a drink of Shepard’s Finest to Paul! The best Damn Grandson a guy could ask for!”

Everybody was definitely in agreement to that. Paul’s mother gazed upon her son with pride. She felt such satisfaction in how Paul had held on to what was important in life, family. Paul’s Father took Paul by the hand and shook it firmly.

“Well done son, well done.”

Paul’s heart was filled with joy and he felt that nothing, no matter what was to happen in life would come between what he and his Grandfather had shared. A bond so strong that not even death itself could breach its solid doors. Paul sat back on the couch and sipped the thirty year old whisky and thought to himself that if the rest of the world had friends and family like this, the world would be such a better place. But the fact remained that this was his life, his reality, and not everybody in the world held on to the things in life that Paul and his family held onto. Not everybody had friends and family that they could count on. But, the world will keep spinning in spite of the fact that we all learn, we all grow and no matter what we do, we all have something that we cherish.

Later that evening, Paul was getting ready for bed. After he brushed his teeth and washed his face, he went upstairs and sat on the front porch gazing at the clear sky. He looked in awe at the heavens that were above him and with that he said a small prayer.

“Lord, I pray with every fiber in my being that even though Grandpas time as well as everyone’s will end on this earth, please let my life be as great as my Grandpa’s when I get old.”

© Copyright 2018 ministerofgod1972. All rights reserved.

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