four

“Oh my God, Jeanne, it’s the Three Shepherds.” Dolores looked at Jeanne questioningly. “Can we take them to the barn?”
Jeanne was off the deck beckoning the three men to follow. She was pulling on them and Dolores was pushing. I watched them trot to the door but go in very slowly.
Three Shepherds. Where did they get that crazy idea? They were just three dumb farmers from Ironshire who had lost one of their lambs.
Twenty minutes later, all five came out of the barn and started prancing across the yard. They stopped by the deck. The farmer nodded at me and then talked to Jeanne.”
“If the little lamb shows up, keep it for Joseph and Mary. They began walking out the lane singing Joy to the World off key and sounding terrible.”
“What are we going to do?” Dolores cocked an ear at the ebbing music. “We should be out telling the world.”
Jeanne was shaking her head. “Both Mary and Joseph said not to. We can’t do anything they don’t approve.”
You won’t believe the rest of that morning. Three men came saying we had won gifts from some clearing house. Dolores nearly had a conniption thinking they were the Three Kings bearing gifts. They followed the same routine. Take them to the barn and send them home singing carols.
Then three women arrived with pamphlets describing the birth of the cosmos. Of course, Dolores knew right away that they were the Three Wise Men. When they left, they were singing Silent Night.
Dolores and Jeanne fell into their chairs and started on another slice of melon. I was tired of this nonsense. I talked mainly to Dolores.
“They were women, you idiot. How can they be Wise Men? This whole thing is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Dolores ignored me. She started talking to Jeanne saying she would be here early tomorrow. She gulped down the rest of her melons and waltzed down the lane.”
The next day was even worse. I had just finished enjoying my first cup of coffee on the deck. It was still dawn; everything was quiet except for two hoot owls calling each other. I leaned back at peace with the world. Then I sensed someone else was in the yard. Dolores walked up on the deck with her tablet. Before I could say anything, Jeanne appeared at the table with two cups of coffee.

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Second Coming 3

“Well, what’s going on out in the barn?” Jeanne didn’t answer. She kept on humming. I think it was Silent Night. “You know you are going overboard on this. That is not Mary and Joe out in the barn.”
Something was wrong. She was like she had five vodka and tonics and a tequila shooter. I was scratching my head wondering what I could say to snap her out when she glanced down the lane and started grinning.
I knew who it was without even looking. “It’s Dolores, isn’t it?” Jeanne smiled and I turned slowly toward the lane. Sure enough, Dolores was walking into the yard intently studying her tablet. She stopped about ten feet from our deck.
“Where are Joseph and Mary?”
Jeanne was off the deck in a flash and pulling Dolores towards the barn. I debated on following then to the barn, but I decided against it. It was all crazy and I didn’t want to get involved. Jeanne came running back, went in the house without a word and came out with my best quilt. My mom had made it especially for me.
“Mary needs this. The straw is giving her a rash.”
I started to protest but Jeanne was halfway to the barn. I slowly finished my melon and threw the rind out in the yard for the chickens.
Half an hour later they came walking to the deck. I should say dancing and singing. I think they were singing Joy to the World.
Jeanne pointed at a chair at the table. “How about a slice of melon for breakfast?”
Dolores nodded and looked at me. “How does it feel to have Joseph and Mary in your barn? I’m so excited and want to yell it from the roof tops but Joseph said not right now.”
“You both are crazier than loons. That’s Joseph and Mary Smith or Joseph and Mary Jones out in the barn. How can you be so dumb and gullible? It’s not even Christmas time. It’s June. And Bethlehem is four or five thousand miles away.”
Dolores had a dumb grin on her face. “Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice. Christmas falls in the Winter Solstice time frame. Exactly six months apart.”
Who can argue with logic like that? I was getting ready to tell her how stupid she sounded when I heard a noise. I looked to our lane and three men were coming.
“Good morning friends. We were wondering if you have seen a stray lamb. We were riding by yesterday and one escaped from our trailer. A pretty little lamb. We would love to have it back.”

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episode 2 of 7

Jeanne barely nodded. “I don’t know. It seems strange that Dolores was looking for Joseph and Mary.” She stared across the breakfast table. “You do know who Joseph and Mary are, don’t you?”
“Of course, I know about them from the bible. But that was two thousand years ago.”
The next morning, we were eating breakfast on the deck again. I had a delicious melon from the garden. I looked up. A man and a clearly pregnant woman were walking up the lane. He was holding on her elbow and helping her along. I looked at Jeanne and she was staring at the two people. I didn’t know what to do; Get up and help? Ask them what they were doing? Call the police? Call the church? But Jeanne spoke first.
“Hi, can we help you?”
“We would like a place to rest. As you can see, my wife is heavy with child. We would spend the night and be gone tomorrow.”
“My wife jumped out of her chair and went to the railing.”
“Yes, we have plenty of room for you and your wife. We have two spare bedrooms upstairs.”
“No, all we want is a barn to rest in for a while. A little hay and water to drink would be fine.”
I opened my mouth to speak again but Jeanne was already talking and leaving the deck.
“We have a nice barn and plenty of hay and clean water.” She went to the other side of Mary. “Let’s go to the barn. Let me help, please.”
I watched Jeanne guide them to the barn and disappear inside. It was ten minutes before Jeanne trotted back to the house. In a few minutes, she came out with a huge tray of food: cold fried chicken, sliced tomatoes, rye bread, butter, a glass of milk and more. She didn’t say a word. Just trotted to the barn.
I was getting ready to go to the barn when Jeanne came skipping back to the house, humming a gospel song and clapping her hands. I could tell right then she was out of her gourd.
She had seen the light. She really thought that was the original Joseph and Mary out in the barn.
I knew Jeanne had fallen into the pool at the deep end. I knew that wasn’t Joseph and Mary out in the barn and this wasn’t Bethlehem.

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Christmas Episode one

Someone was walking up our lane while we were having breakfast. When the person got closer, we recognized Dolores.
I glanced across the table at Jeanne. “What in the hell is Dolores doing walking up our lane at breakfast time?”
Jeanne didn’t answer, instead she waved at Dolores. “Dolores, how nice you came to visit. How about joining us for breakfast?”
Dolores shook her head for at least ten seconds. “Where are Joseph and Mary?”
“Who? Joseph and Mary who? What’s their last name?”
Dolores scratched her head. “I don’t know. Joseph is an out of work carpenter and Mary is going to have a baby very soon.” Dolores pulled a tablet from a bag and studied it intently.
I leaned close to Jeanne and whispered, “I think she fell from the turnip truck this morning. Sometimes her six pack is shy a can.” I turned back to Dolores. “What’s on your tablet? Does it have a GPS system?”
Dolores examined her tablet, turning it over and looking at both sides. She nodded. “Something similar. It says Joseph and Mary are here or soon will be here.”
Jeanne spoke before I could answer.
“I can assure you Joseph and Mary are not here. You sure you won’t have some breakfast with us.”
Dolores face showed befuddlement. “No, no. I must have made a mistake. Excuse me please, I have to go now.” She turned and began walking quickly out the lane. After a few steps, she broke into a trot.
“What do you think is going on?” Jeanne leaned over the railing watching Dolores trot out the lane. “Something is going on. Did you see the shooting star last night? It went directly over our house. It lit up the whole neighborhood. Was there anything about it on WBOC news this morning?”
I took my time chewing on the sausage. Something really odd was going on. Elvis was seen in Brazil last week and Trump is our president. “They said something about a large meteor or the tail end of a comet lighting up the sky. Whatever it was either burned up in the atmosphere or kept on going and escaped the earth’s gravity. It could be half way to Mars by now.”

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July Evening in 1940

A JULY EVENING (1940)

Sometimes after supper, the neighborhood children would congregate in our yard. If it were only Rudy and me, we would throw corn cobs at the bats circling over and around the corn crib. We had sold most of the corn in the spring. This was corn that was used to feed the seven thousand chickens we raised for the broiler industry. By now there were thousands of corn weevils in and around the corn. Twenty-five to fifty bats would be feasting on the weevils and any other bug that got in their way.
There was no chance of us hitting a bat. The bats would follow the corn cob up and then swerve down after the cob. Where the bats were during the day was a total mystery.
If Hilda or Ruth came, we would play “red-light green-light”, “Simon says”, “Mother may I” or some other simple game. We would play until dark. Then it was chase lightning bugs. Before pesticides and herbicides, fire flies were in the yard by the hundreds.
Bob-whites would be calling. They would usually be close by feeding in the rows of corn. Whip-poor-wills would be singing. They lived along the edge of the woods. Hoot owls would be deeper into the forest. Each owl hooting to mark his or her territory. Sometimes, late at night, a screech owl would call from a tree in our yard right outside our bedroom windows.
If most of the neighboring children came, we would play “Hit the Ricket.” Actually, it was hit the tin-can. It is a variation of hide and seek. A tin-can was placed on a brickbat. A brickbat being a broken brick. It was like home plate in baseball and was called home. The game started by someone hitting the tin-can with a bat. The person who was “it’ ran after the can while everyone ran like mad and hid.
The “it” person started searching for the others. He didn’t have to tag anyone, just see them.
After seeing someone, the “it” person ran back to home and touched the tin-can. Those caught were out of the game for the time being. The “it” person couldn’t go too far away from the tin-can. If he did, someone could run to the brickbat, pick up the bat, and hit the tin-can. This would free all the caught children. He had to catch everyone to get out of being “it.”
It was a hard job for the younger children like Rudy and me. Luckily darkness would come quickly. Everyone would go home before it was completely dark. A flashlight was a treasure that no one had. Dad had the only one at our home. A large five cell flashlight that he used to check on the chickens late at night.
Afterwards, Lois and I would come in and go straight to bed. If it was an unbearable hot night, we would all sleep on the screened-in porch.
11/13/16 500 words.

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Nocturne

NOCTURNAL

"Let’s ride over to Ocean City, get some popcorn and stroll down the boardwalk. We’ll look at all the ugly people showing off their bodies." He looked around the nearly empty snack bar and lowered his voice. "I might even park the car in a dark and isolated place."

Doris turned a page in her history textbook. "Forget it. I’m not going anywhere with you. Especially all the way to Ocean City to a mass of people on the boardwalk just to eat popcorn." She glanced at Jack for a second and then resumed looking at her history book.

Jack let thirty seconds slide by. "We could go to Assateague and hope to get bitten by the nocturne mosquito." He waited until she raised her eyes. "You have heard of the nocturne mosquito." He paused a few more seconds. "Haven’t you?"

Doris slowly nodded. "I don’t know much about it. I’ve been busy studying for a history test and haven’t had any spare time. What does it do? What God-awful disease is it spreading?"

Jack leaned back. "This is probably the only beneficial mosquito in the whole world. It only bites during the night time hours and only on Assateague Island."

Doris placed a marker in the history book and slowly closed it . "Where did this mosquito come from? How is it beneficial? It seems very strange that it would only occur on Assateague."

"Biologists aren’t sure where it came from. It’s an entirely new species." He thought for a few seconds. "It’s probably from Brazil. Some tourist brought it here from the Olympics. Rio is swarming with undiscovered species of insects and bugs."

"OK, I’ll bite. What does this mosquito spread? What is good about it other than the fact that it only bites during the nocturnal hours?"

Jack looked out the windows at the setting sun. "This mosquito carries a completely new virus. A virus that has never been seen before."

"OK, dammit. Out with it. What does this virus do?"

Jack flinched for a second. "The virus somehow increases the bitten person’s ability to learn." He paused a moment. "In most cases. It affects —-"

"Stop! If this bug bites me, I’ll become smarter?" She leaned toward Jack and glanced out the windows.

Jack nodded. "Like I said in most cases." He waited for her to interrupt. Then kept on. "Biologists and geneticists are calling this the IQ virus."

She leaned closer to Jack. "You mean I’ll be smarter if this nocturnal mosquito bites me." She thought for a few seconds. "You’ve mentioned ‘In most cases’ twice. What happens in the other cases?"

Jack leaned back a few inches. "In the other cases you have an uncontrollable urge to —." 8/28/16 Nelson Lynch

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Dale

Dale

July 2, 1942. It was a terrible day in Taylorville. Dale Wilson Lynch, age 14 drowned.

It was a day like any other day on the farm. We had dinner, the mid-day meal. Mom had made a big pot of butterbeans. I don’t know how it happened but we decided to go swimming in the creek.

I remember bits and pieces of that day. I remember the three of us walking down Gum Point Road; Dale, Lois, age12 and myself, age 9. Somewhere along the way Charles Johnson joined us. His dad was the school bus driver. Charles was the same age as Dale. I don’t know if this was pre-arranged or just a coincidence. At that time, we didn’t have electricity, running water or a telephone.

We walked to the end of Gum Point Road to the home of Mr. Flint and family where the present day Albatross Motel is located. Mr. Flint was the overseer of the construction of the big red steel boat. This is the same house that Uncle Harvey and Aunt Alice lived in when it was located on the home Lynch farm.

Wesley Flint, same age as Dale, was supposed to go swimming with us. But he had a cold and his mother wouldn’t let him come with us.

I don’t know why we didn’t go swimming right there. We got into Norman’s rowboat. Dale and Charles did the rowing. Somewhere that afternoon, someone else had joined us. I cannot for the life of me remember who it was. But there were five of us in the rowboat.

They rowed to the deepest spot in the creek. Past Teaberry’s home to where the creek makes a bend before Herring Creek. The land on either side of the creek was owned by Riddle Farm. We probably didn’t have any life preservers or anything to throw.

I don’t remember anyone diving from the rowboat. But I do remember that suddenly we missed Dale. I remember being in the bow and looking under the boat for him.

All of us ran across the field to the stables and told the men that our brother Dale was missing. Mr. Whaley, the general manager of Riddle Farm, drove out to the farm to inform mom and dad. Years later mom told me she knew something was wrong as soon as Mr. Whaley drove into the yard.

The next thing I remember, there were about a dozen people standing on the small strip of sand opposite where we thought Dale was last seen. There were ten or twelve rowboats and a few small outboards going back and forth in that general area.

They were pulling short lines with fish hooks. They were hoping to snag the body and pull it to the surface. In ten or fifteen minutes, a rowboat near the opposite shore pulled Dale to the surface. His body was hurriedly wrapped in a blanket and taken to Burbage Funeral Home. All this happened on a Thursday. Black Thursday for the Lynch family and Taylorville.

The next thing I remember was the hearse bringing Dale home. Probably on Saturday. His casket was set on sawhorses in the parlor. A big black wreath was hung on the door signifying a death in the family.

Sunday I remember bits and snatches. The screened porch was full of grieving people. Relatives and members of the Taylorville community came and went. All paying last condolences for Dale. I remember Grand Mom Elliott came and cried along with her daughter.

Boys and girls congregated around the barn. All remembering Dale. Fifty years later I met Shirley Dumutte. He had lived a mile away. He said Dale was the greatest friend he ever had.

I remember Uncle Mickey Parsons feeding the chickens and taking care of the livestock so that dad could be free.

The next day, the hearse came. Dale was taken to the Taylorville Church. His casket in front of the congregation. I remember The Old Rugged Cross was sung. Rev. Justice from St. Martins did the service.

The last song was sung and the pall bearers carried Dale to the family plot behind the church. There he was laid to rest beside his brother, Herbert Lynch. Herbert was a Christmas baby. Born December 20th, 1924. Died December 30th, 1925 from pneumonia.

Dale was gone. A few pictures and a report card from the seventh grade are all that remained. 719 8/11/15

PS

Lois and I never talked about that day. She didn’t ask me anything and I didn’t ask her. I remember seeing Charles a few times. Never asked him. I still can’t remember who the other person was in the rowboat. It’s nearly too late to ask anyone.

Mom in her later years wanted to exhume Dale and Herbert. She wanted them re-buried at Sunset Park. They would be beside her and dad for eternity.

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