Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Tale of Lawrence Stokes, Chapter 3

The Tale of Lawrence Stokes, Chapter 3

Chapter 1: Here
Chapter 2: Here

The old man stopped rocking and a silence engulfed the group, a silence finally broken by the old man's raspy voice. "Lawrence found something."

The kids looked at the man, then at themselves, as if this latest revelation should have cleared up all the questions they had. Each child looked as confused as the next as they locked eyes on each other. No one knew what the man was talking about.

"Lawrence found what he called his secret weapon, but he never did tell anyone what that was. All I know..." the man stopped, an internal thought causing him to pause his story. "All I know is he was never the same."

"The secret weapon," the old man said after no one uttered a single word. "That weapon was for real, let me tell you. After he took that secret weapon, he was even stronger and faster than before--and I didn't think that was possible. I asked him one time what it was that gave him his extra strength. He wouldn't say," the old man shook his head as he recalled his ancient memory. "So, I did what any best friend would do--I kept asking until he was sick of me asking."

The children wondered if they would ever know what happened to Lawrence, or how he came to change. They waited patiently for the man to continue.

"No, Lawrence never did tell me everything, only that one day while he was tending to his father's milk cows, a drifter came by and gave him some sort of elixir..." The man stopped when he looked at the children's faces. "Elixir, you know, like medicine." Expressions from the children told the man they now understood. "Lawrence said the drifter told him the elix...the medicine would give him the strength of a whole team of oxen--said Lawrence would be the fastest man alive, so fast, he could swear he could fly. Lawrence asked the man how much it would cost. Nothing, the drifter said. I would be...a gift."

The old man got quiet, reverent. "Lawrence took the bottle and downed the elixir in one gulp--said it tasted like mule piss," the old man said laughing (the reverent moment gone) as he remembered the long-lost conversation between friends that occurred more than 60 years before.

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