FRIENDS OF AIE - AUTHOR OF THE MONTH - DANIEL SCHIAVELLO
Now for the Good News is a compilation of twelve short stories written by various writers throughout the United States. The stories regard Americans helping each other in difficult circumstances.
Love Carries the Day
Our family lives in a subdivision, and our close neighbors have always been friends. When the Covid-19 epidemic hit, many of our neighbors were caught in stark surprise as no one ever expected such a thing to happen. My wife and I are retired and living quite comfortably, so the change was not nearly as difficult for us.
The funny thing about being retired right now, it’s not a whole lot different than before the pandemic. As long as they keep our pensions coming, the only real difference is that we now wear masks to go grocery shopping. And oh yes, my gym went out of business so my belt size appears to be growing.
Neighbors on both sides of our house are young families, and both have very young children. You can imagine how hard they were hit. At first, my wife and I baked a lot more than usual and walked around to the neighboring houses handing out loaves of homemade bread, pies, and other items like casseroles and raw vegetables from our home garden. Before the pandemic, we were already friends, but now, we were all one big family. What else could we do? I remember thinking that this was the difference between other countries and our great nation. We are one big American family, so helping out our neighbors was a no-brainer for us. It wasn’t long after we began delivering food to our local friends that something extraordinary happened.
At first, people saw us walking around carrying food and stopped to talk to us. And in some cases, they came out of their houses to join us and help with the deliveries. We made more friends in those first few weeks than ever before. The feeling of camaraderie and goodwill just grew and grew until it exploded.
That was when we had our first “front yard” barbeque. Like most people, we usually had our little family outdoor parties in the backyard, but for some reason, my wife and I just looked at each other and knew. We knew that we needed to say something to our community. What we said was, “Hey, are you hungry? Food is ready!”
It didn’t hurt too much that the aroma from the lean hamburger patties was going door to door with its enticing invitation or that everyone everywhere loves a good cheeseburger. This worked so well that we told everyone that we would have cookouts every Friday afternoon, and that is precisely what we did.
People came and brought more food, and the community potluck was born. Before long, we thought about buying one of those big garage freezers to put all the leftovers. (You know, the ones with the door that opens upwards instead of right or left.) Folks brought so much food that there was always lots to save for next time or even the next day. In the end, we even started carrying some of the delicious leftover party food back to other hungry folks around the subdivision. Honestly, I have never seen so many happy smiling faces.
Not three weeks later, a lot of our neighbors began to offer free services. Charlie down the street was a mechanic and had a pretty good setup going in his home garage and began fixing cars for the cost of the parts. Dave and Shelly were hospital employees and helped out with everything from information to where to go if you just had to see a doctor. During those early days, the doctor scene became a bit sketchy, and some people couldn’t even find their regular doctor and needed help. It went on like this for weeks. I couldn’t help noticing that it was growing. What we had started had a huge domino effect and blossomed into a full service and loving family of unknown numbers.
As of this writing, our community lacks nothing, and many people started asking this question. “Why didn’t we do this before?” New friendships were popping up all over the place, and one couple who met at one of our potluck parties even became engaged to be married. So it seems we American families are unified, and love carries the day.
In the end, we dedicated our downstairs study to the cause, and it became the nerve center for what had exploded into the most incredible outreach we had ever seen here in our little subdivision. When anyone needed something, whether they could pay or even chip in, they got it. It was just that simple. Volunteers came pouring in, and nobody here went without. Goodwill and friendship ruled the day, and one night, while watching the news on TV, there it was. The story of our little outreach had hit the big time. Then came the call from the governor of our state congratulating us and asking us to help his office set up copies of our winning system in other nearby cities. This event created work from home jobs for many whose careers had just faded away, so goodwill again showed us the way. We learned that love is much more powerful than anything else, and unity has always been the answer.
By Morgan Chambers
"Watch Out for Falling Lizards" is a nonfiction novel written by RSH, regarding the life and adventures of Keith Huntington. It was written while RSH lived in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. This book is intended for mature readers. Genre - Adult Humor / Biography
I Wanted to Love Her
To be honest, my first thought was, damn! Do I love her that much? I really didn't want to stay in that house. After looking around the house for a few more minutes, I really didn't want to stay in that house! The house was wide open. Anybody or any animal could just walk in, fly-in, or slither in. I didn't care for that too much. The mosquitoes were horrendous, fricking everywhere! I didn't know if I could do it. I lit a cigarette and thought for a minute and thought, okay, I can stay here for a little while. I'll just think of it as camping, just not camping in Wisconsin. I asked Hoa, "Are there snakes in the Mekong?" Hoa said, "Yes." I asked, “How big?” Hoa said, "About 2-3 meters." I had to convert metric into non-metric. Damn, that's like 6-9 feet! That's not cool! I then asked if there were any spiders? Hoa said, "Yes." She raised her hands and motioned from very little to around the size of a basketball. That's also not cool! I don't mind snakes and spiders. I just don't like them on me when I sleep. Hoa showed me where we were to sleep. Her mother said that we can sleep together!! It was a little room with a bed frame and a thin mattress, but it did have a mosquito net.
I asked Hoa, how do you shower here? Hoa took me to a little room near the back of the house, divided into two areas. In one area, you went to the bathroom. It had a toilet that didn't work, so you had to use gravity to get the waste down. In the second area, there were two 40-gallon buckets with water in them. The family had an electric pump that pumped water from the Mekong River into the buckets, and that's how you showered. You just took a pitcher of water and got yourself wet, put on your shampoo and soap, and rinsed off. This was going to be interesting!
And how do you think Hoa's family washed their clothes and dishes? If you guessed clean water they bought from the general store, you would be wrong. They washed everything with water from the Mekong River.
I Don't Care Much for Sleeping with Snakes
It was January, and we were in the Mekong. I put Michelle down to sleep. I told her two bedtime stories that night, and she was fast asleep. I got out of bed and tucked in the mosquito net under the mattress. I walked to the front of the house and had a cigarette. I went back to the small bedroom, took a drink from my water bottle, and looked up. Shit, a fricking snake!! There was a 2-3m black snake on the empty rice bags above the mosquito net that my daughter and I were sleeping under. I got back into bed and made sure Michelle was alright, and I kept looking up. Do I get my camera out and try to take some pictures? I don’t know. What if the snake comes at me? I'm such a pussy! I got out of bed and grabbed my camera, and I ran around to the other side of the wood wall. I got a chair to stand on, so I could get a better view of the snake. By the time I turned the damn camera on and got the picture focused, the snake slid up the side of the wall and out of the house. Damn!!! I was glad the snake didn’t move the other way, though. That wouldn’t have been good!
A couple of days later, Michelle woke me up early to go to the bathroom. I looked at the clock, and it was 5:29 a.m. I took her to the bathroom, and we crawled back into bed and snuggled for some time before she fell back asleep. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I got out of bed, lit a cigarette, put on my shoes, and grabbed my MP3. I whispered to Hoa, who was sleeping with our son Michael in the house's front room under a big mosquito net. I said that I’m going to take a walk and get some coffee. She said, “We have coffee here!” I ignored her and turned and left. I have selective hearing. I got it from my dad. It's an excellent disorder as far as disorders go!
I got to the edge of the front paved part of the house and saw the ice sitting there. Every morning the iceman drops off a block of ice right on the ground. It’s kind of like the newspaper being delivered to your house every morning, but not really. I picked the ice up and carried it through to the back of the house and poured some water over it to get all the dirt and shit off that was stuck to it. Then into the cooler.
I then left the house and headed down the pathway through the Mekong. The sun was just starting to show a little light. I got halfway down the dirt path and turned on my MP3. I had only one thing in mind―Tea for One. I made it down to the small café around the corner of the pathway. Good, there were only a few people there. I hated it when the cafe was crowded. The sun was starting to rise. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen! The orange, red, and pink colors surrounding the sun were stunning. I ordered my coffee and waited for it to drip.
I sat there, watching that gorgeous sunrise listening to Zep, and my mind started to wonder about my life. When would my last sunrise be? What have I done with my life? Would anyone know I was here? Is that important to me? Why/Why not? Would my children be alright in life? Would I fear the last days of my life? Is there a God? Are French poodles really from France?
My father-in-law had just died a few weeks earlier and saw his last sunrise. What went through his mind? Was he scared? Since having children, I started thinking more and more about some serious matters in life. I need to start taking better care of myself, so I can be around to see my children succeed. That means quitting smoking cigarettes.