From the Vault-Short Fiction (Installment 3 of 5)

Today’s short story blast from the past, entitled Grandpa Stories, was written in 1991 when I was living in Los Angeles. All I can say about this one is that California must have been rubbing off on me. This one is a little different…

Grandpa Stories

By Shane Phipps (written 1/29/91)

“I can’t really begin to tell you how I felt that day,” said Grandpa. With his two beloved grandsons sitting on the rug in front of his oaken rocking chair, the old gentleman began to spin his yarn, the very tale that had been spinning in his own head for over 25 years. Seven year old Jeff and his brother Andy, 13 months his junior sat at the old man’s feet listening, with rapt attention. “Tell us, Grandpa, tell us!” “He he he,” the old man chuckled, “Well, I’ll try my best but, boys, it’s been a lot of years, yes sir, it’s been a mighty long time.”

The old man leaned back in his rocker and fidgeted with his scraggly beard, trying to weed through the hazy details of the many years. The story was a rather complicated one and, because of its sometimes mature nature, he would certainly have to tip-toe through some of its more graphic portions. But, not wanting to disappoint his young admirers, he decided he could form a tolerably toned down version.

“Well, boys,” began the old man, measuring his words with care, “it was, as I said, a long time ago.  You first must understand that times were very different back then. People didn’t act the same or look the same as they do today. Our music was different. Instead of Vanilla Ice and M.C. Hammer, we had the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. We heard different things in our music…and that’s important to remember. Our music spoke to us…it REALLY spoke to us. Also, at that time, we were mixed up in a war that no one wanted or understood. It was an altogether crazy time to be alive. But I was hanging out with a crowd that saw things the same way I did and they understood me. Really, they were the only people I knew who seemed to appreciate my point of view.They began to sort of look up to me and, after a short time, I was seen as the leader of our group. We decided to go off and live together in a commune out in the country. A whole lot of young folks were doing that in those days. You’ve probably heard the term ‘hippies’, well sir, I guess that’s what we were…to the outside world anyhow. Anyway, your grandpa started getting some crazy, far-fetched notions in his head. I say crazy and far-fetched now, but I didn’t think so then. I thought everybody ought to be free to live like me and my group were living and the way I saw things, that just couldn’t happen unless some changes were made. I mean drastic changes. There were too many ‘fat cat’ types running things in society, the way we saw it. Of course, the government and the police had a different idea but, at the time, that just didn’t matter to us. The way we had it figured, we just had to show the world our way of life no matter how wrong ‘respectable society’ said it was. After all, society hadn’t had a real chance at our way, and how fair was that?  Well, boys, your old grandpa started masterminding some plans that sometimes strayed beyond the law and, before you know it–and let this be a lesson to you, your old gramps and his friends had bitten off a good deal more than we could chew. I’ll spare you boys some of the details because I know you’ve seen the police reports and some of the pictures…

At that moment the door opened abruptly, startling the old man and the boys. “Time’s up,” said the prison guard, “visiting hours are over.” The two boys sprang up from the floor and hugged the old man tightly. “We love you, Grandpa Manson.” The old man smiled his creepy smile and replied, “I love you too, boys, see you next week.”


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