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‘Watch the Master’
Emma and Uncle Jim: East Point, Baltimore County, 6/24/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
The front yard, fenced at three feet, has an 18 foot sidewalk running from the covered porch to the gate, and is 24 feet wide. A sidewalk runs along the front of the fenced and gated yards to the concrete curb were the parking is full and some of the Mexicans are double parked.
“Jim! I’m going to Nationals! It’s hard and winning First Place is really hard. The judges look real close at everything and winning Second or Third is a big deal! You wan’ a recital with me?”
“Ookay—you don’t sing either?”
“Wadz a matter with you—you okay; is your voice hurt?”
“Ookay, how about hopscotch?”
“Let’s do it, Baby! Oh, and thanks for all the snacks for Nationals—its a very expensive trip and we’re car-pooling to South Carolina.”
“I bet we go through Virginia—four hours, right?”
“Okay, if we are going to South Carolina… North Carolina!”
“Open the chalk, please?”
“Thanks. How ‘bout blue, because it’s sharp?”
“Let’s do ten. How long since you last played hopscotch?”
“What are you, a hundred!?”
“I’m only seven—it will do, I’ll get big one day, and old, and get gray hair… six, seven, eight, nine—ten!” [as she charts the hopscotch board on the sidewalk across the three central blocks.]
“Okay, present, like this!” [arms spread to greet the crowd]
[narrates her skipping]
“One foot, one foot, two feet, one foot, two feet, two feet—one foot—turn and back—not backwards, not yet, back!”
“Now you do it, Jim!”
[the old man skips and hops]
“Kind of—I this Jim!”
[presents, skips and hops and poses]
“Like that—easy peasy!”
[old man skips and hopes and touches every square]
“Yeah, that’s it, good job! You’re not so old as you look!”
[closes eyes and skips the board]
“Eyes closed—no cheating...oh, sorry Mister Eye Patch, eye closed, let me get in front and watch. Don’t cheat!”
[old man tries not to sprain and ankle]
“Almost, try again, like this—you can do it!”
[old man skips blindly]
“You did it Jim—you did it. Now, backwards with eyes closed!”
[the little sprite dances backwards with eyes a squint, presents and grins]
“You can do it, Baby!”
[backwards geriatric two-legged dog hop]
“Oh, that’s funny—again, you can do better.”
[nearly complete blind hop]
“Okay. Some of us have our limitations you know. We must be nice! Now, watch The Master! I do it like this...”
[one legged, backward hop, bent over with eyes closed, hits all but one mark]
“Now you, you do this.”
[strolls down sidewalk like old man and smirks laughing]
“Good job—that’s all you! Now, sideways, cross-footed like The Master!”
[a graceful cross-stepping with a touch of ballet skips across the hopscotch board.]
“Now, you do it with confidence: present, go!”
[old stick-fighter uses a modified forward shift for thrusting and guarding and glides across the board, effecting two actual skips]
“You made the team, Baby—Nationals here we come! Now squat hops, frog hopscotch.”
[hops along like a frog waving her hands in glee over head and forward]
“No, your knees are broken?”
“Rotted like?”
“Oh, creaking like boards—I don’t wanna hear that. That’s okay, you get a bye.”
“Tired already?”
“Getting old is no joke, ha?”
“Okay, this is my dance routine.”
[Emma does her presentation and executes a three minute dance form that includes some running and tumbling on the grass and then a return to the sidewalk/stage into a spin and a graceful ballet like end pose.]
“How many cartwheels can I do?”
[sixteen in a circle about the yard]
“How about hand stands?”
“Back flips!”
“Walking bridge; for how long?”
[thirty seconds]
“Oh, I’m hot, no wonder you stopped. You have pretty good moves for a grand-pop category person. How so?”
“Like boom-boom, pop-pop?” [making punching motions]
“They hit you?”
“Oh, no way—you should do like this!”
[front kicks, chicken kicks and round kicks fly]
“Like that!”
“Oh yeah, the knees again. Who are these people?”
“Knuckleheads? What’s a knuckle head, knuckles coming out like a hand head combination?”
“Oh, that’s funny!” as she grins and taps her little knuckles against her head, “Knuckleheads, what a bunch of funny bodies!”
[MumMum comes out on the porch.]
“MumMum, look, knuckleheads—you know any knuckleheads?”
“Yeah, Baby, you’re standing right next to him.”
“Awe, that’s so cute! Come on knucklehead: hydration time!”
Into Baltimore
the man cave
‘What’s That?’
the gods of boxing
the lesser angels of our nature
on the overton railroad
fiction anthology one
the sunset saga complete
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