According to legend, anyone who stepped on Spafford’s grave would never live to see twenty-one. And, sure enough, Robbie Johnson drowned at sixteen, and Willie Eckerson shot himself at twenty.
So the day Rita Snowberger turned twenty-one we had to celebrate, although I suspect even she shared our secret disappointment.
Tony Jasnowski teaches at Bellevue University, hoping to inspire in his students an appreciation for mystery in life.
“It’s from the Mexicans,” she explained, slicing the cake.
“Mom,” I protested. “They have names.”
“I can’t remember…”
“Hugo and Gina. They’ve lived next door for more than a year.”
“They’re nice,” she admitted, “but I don’t let them in.”
Later that afternoon, the “For Sale” sign appeared next door.
Tony Jasnowski teaches English at Bellevue University in Bellevue, NE. He is grateful for those neighbors who welcomed his own immigrant parents and siblings many years ago.
He’d become predictable, springing through the patio doors unto the deck, BB gun ablaze whenever any squirrel touched a bird feeder. So this time they waited, massing along the edge of the roof overhanging the deck. When he sprang, hundreds of squirrels pounced, joined even (how ironic!) by the birds.
Tony Jasnowski teaches English at Bellevue University and tries to keep peace between all factions in his backyard and himself.
No one at the reception was more surprised they’d survived 25 years together than the couple themselves, Mr. and Mrs. Frank (“I should’ve married your sister. She had all the looks”) and Cindi (“And smarts enough not to marry you”) MacIntyre, except for maybe Fr. Steve (“One year, tops”) Rodriguez.
Tony Jasnowski teaches at Bellevue University and has been happily married for 33 years.
“I won’t be gone long this year.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus stare at the nearly empty sleigh.
“More elf layoffs?” she asks.
Santa nods, holding up the “Nice” list, covered with crossed-out names.
“Well,” she sighs, kissing his cheek and patting his belly, “somebody could do with fewer cookies, anyway.”
Tony Jasnowski teaches English at Bellevue University and still tries hard, with occasional success, to keep his name on the Nice list.
Sure, their relationship was strange: Mike sleeping each night for years in the abandoned confessional and Fr. Phil pretending not to notice, though he left a sandwich, beer, or even smokes, occasionally.
When Mike passed, Fr. Phil insisted the homeless man have a funeral mass—no matter what people said.
Tony Jasnowski teaches English at Bellevue University and writes an occasional story or poem between grading papers.