The following appeared last year on this date on SERENDIPITY. You will read about my Columbia-American “family” member below.

Civics 101 by Rich Paschall

Most of us are Americans because we were born here. We did not have to meet any special requirements. We did have to learn about our history and our government, however.  When I was in 8th grade we had to take a Civics class. Basically, it taught us how the government works, or how it is supposed to work anyway. We were told if we did not pass Civics and a test on the Constitution, we would not graduate from Elementary School. We studied hard. Never underestimate the power of a nun tapping a three-sided ruler on the palm of her hand to put the fear of God as well as the fear of not graduating in you. You certainly did not want to take 8th grade twice with Sister Angela Rosary. Yes, I went to Catholic school.

In recent years you might wonder if they still teach Civics. There are a lot of people with very little knowledge of our history or our government. Even some of our elected officials have demonstrated a remarkable lack of knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. What if they had to pass a test to be an elected official, or even to be a citizen? How many of them would fail the test?

Those who wish to emigrate to the United States to become citizens will learn that the process is long, hard, and expensive. In the end, you must demonstrate you are a good citizen and pass a Civics test. There are a hundred questions, but you will only get ten. You must get a passing grade to become an American. OK, class, get out your Number 2 pencils and get ready to take your test. These are actual questions asked by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). No, I did not steal them. Practice tests using the actual questions are on the website for applicants to study. Will you become a citizen today?

01. How many amendments does the Constitution have? a). 27  b). 10  c). 23  d). 21
02. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.  a). westward expansion b). slavery c). oil d). sugar
03. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?  a). 9  b). 10  c). 12  d). 11
04. Who did the United States fight in World War II?  a). Japan, Germany, Italy b). Japan, China, Vietnam c). the Soviet Union, Germany, and Italy d). Austria-Hungary, Japan, Germany
05. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?  a). U.S. diplomat b). the youngest member of the Constitutional convention c). the third president of the United States d). inventor of the airplane

A flag over the Mumford.

06. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?  a). because the stripes represent the members of the Second Continental Congress b). because the stripes represent the original colonies c). because it was considered lucky to have 13 stripes on a flag d). because the stripes represent the number of signatures on the U.S. Constitution
07. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.  a). Korean War b). Mexican-American War c). World War I  d). World War II
08. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?  a). freed slaves in most Southern states b). gave the United States independence from Great Britain c). ended World War I  d). gave women the right to vote
09. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?  a). James Madison b). Abraham Lincoln c). George Washington d). Thomas Jefferson
10. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?  a). Civil War b). Spanish-American War c). Vietnam War d). World War II

Bonus Question:
Who is the current President?  a). Barack Obama b). Joe Biden c). Donald Trump d). Harry S. Truman

Put your pencils down and pass your tests forward to the angry-looking nun in the front of the room. Please note that if you picked an orange politician for the Bonus Question, you fail even if you got the 10 questions right.

Arriving at Chicago O’Hare

You may have met my friend John right here at the SERENDIPITY gathering place. He has been the subject of a few articles you may have read, although I may have just referred to him as “roomie” or roommate. He was also the inspiration for various characters that have appeared in my stories.  I also used pictures of John to illustrate some stories. Some of the pictures for a series of South American short stories were shot from the roof of John’s building in Medellin. He waited thirteen months for a visa to come to America. I collected him at Chicago O’Hare on the day he left his country for good.

He spent years learning English and assimilating into our culture. He had just one goal. He wished to become a US citizen.  It was a difficult journey.  After his application was accepted last November he studied the 100 questions while he waited for his interview and that Civics test. He was given an appointment in May for an interview and a test. By the time he went, he probably knew history and government better than some Americans. We discussed many of these events, institutions, and politicians as we waited.

One day the letter finally arrived. John had a date at the Everett Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. On June 17th he became an American. Would you have passed the test?

US Citizenship papers

Answer key: 1. a, 2. b, 3. a, 4. a, 5. a, 6. b, 7. b, 8. a. 9. d. 10. d.


A family short story by Rich Paschall

It was not like Billy’s dad to just walk into his room. At 17 years old he really expected his parents to knock first. He quickly closed out of his chat and turned around to see what his father wanted.

“What’s up, dad?” Billy began.

“Son, I think there is something you should tell me.” Billy’s father paused and waited for a response. Billy was clueless. He could not think of a thing he should say, so there was this long awkward silence as the two of them shot puzzled looks at one another.

Over the last two months, Billy’s father had noticed the nature of his son’s friendship with a handsome young classmate named Josh. They went everywhere together. They studied together and they spent hours on the phone together. Going to the movies on a Saturday night was just like the dates Billy’s dad had with his wife when they were teenagers. Billy would spend a lot of time getting ready. He picked out his best date-night-type clothes and he absolutely lit up when Josh appeared at the door. Dad felt he could not be mistaken.

empty chairs

“No, Dad, I can’t think of anything,” Billy finally said in his best “I’m innocent” voice.

“Are you gay?” his father shot back. All of a sudden something heavy fell on Billy’s chest. It must have been the weight of reality hitting him. He was unprepared.

“Yes dad,” Billy responded as boldly as he could after the truth was already out there anyway.

“And this Josh fellow, is he your boyfriend?” Billy did not want to out Josh to his father but he figured that he somehow knew so he gave up that truth too.

“Yes, dad.” Once again they stared at one another until Billy could finally throw that weight off himself and speak up.

“So, it’s OK then?” Billy asked. His dad did not want to say “yes” because it was not alright with him, but he did not want to say “no” because he recalled how difficult teenage love could be and just figured that gay teenage love was even harder. After a few moments deep in thought, Billy’s dad had a course of action in mind.

“Son, I want you to tell your mother this week. Am I clear about that?”

“No dad, please,” the boy replied in horror. “Can’t you tell her?” If his dad was not all “open-arms” about this he could not imagine his mother’s reaction. She was far more right of center than dad.

“Billy, if you think you are old enough to be making out with another boy, you are certainly old enough to man up and tell your mother exactly who you are.” At that, Billy’s dad left the room and quietly closed the door on the way out.

For the rest of the week, Billy was a nervous wreck. Every time he saw his mother he could feel a knot in his stomach. His father started shooting him angry glances for failing to tell his story. Billy did tell two people though, Josh and his sister, Mary. The latter was a tactical error, to be sure.

One night when they all happened to be at the dinner table at once, a rare occurrence for two busy parents and two teenagers, Mary could not hold her brother’s secret any longer. “So, little Billy, did you tell mom yet that you’ve been kissing boys?”

Billy’s mom immediately looked like she had seen the ghost of her dear departed mother glaring at her. “Robert, did you know about this?” Billy’s mom shouted across the room at her husband. He did not respond but she could tell after twenty-three years of marriage what the response would be. “How dare you!” she screamed at either Billy or her husband, neither was quite sure, and then she stormed out of the room.

Over the next few weeks, Billy’s parents argued often about why the boy was gay. Each thought the other had a hand in it, but only mom was mortified and angry beyond reason.

“If you had been a stronger father,” she took to telling him almost daily, “This would not have happened.”

To which he frequently responded, “I tried to discipline the boy but every time I did he would run to you and get off the hook. I would say you are the reason he’s a mama’s boy.” From there it only got worse.

After one particularly stormy session, Billy’s mom finally declared she was through. “I want a divorce. We can not continue these fights in front of the children.” Robert agreed and went to their room. A stunned Billy, eavesdropping in the next room, began to cry.

Robert called his brother and asked to stay a few days. He packed a bag and prepared to leave when Billy ran into his room. “No dad, please don’t leave. I am sorry, it’s all my fault. I’ll change, I promise. I won’t be gay anymore. Please.” Billy buckled at the knees and went down to the floor. His dad helped him up and sat him on the edge of the bed.

“Look son, my marriage was over years ago. It took something like this to point that out. You can not change this anymore than I can change who you are.” At that, he reached over to hug the boy. He planted a kiss on his forehead, got up, grabbed his bag, and walked out the door.


The following appeared last year on Fathers’ Day on SERENDIPITY.

A Father and Son story

The knocking on the door was expected. Jack got up, shuffled across the room, and opened the door for his neighbor. “Well, old-timer, I hope you have the coffee ready,” the guest said cheerfully. “Who are you calling old? If I recall correctly, you are older than I am,” Jack replied

It was true. The neighbor was in fact almost a month older.  It was Jack’s reminder whenever David called him an old-timer. The two had been friends for over 50 years and neighbors for almost 40. Now they were old and alone and sharing coffee two afternoons a week.

Conversations at Jack’s kitchen table ranged from sports to high school antics. A few stories had probably been told hundreds of times. It was not that they forgot they told the stories, it was just that they loved recalling certain memories. It was their way of passing a little time.

If David stayed on too long, he would meet up with Jack’s son, John.  It was John Junior, actually, but no one dared to call him that. He hated being referred to as a Junior and would tell you so if you tried it. Many things seemed to annoy Junoir so there was no reason to add on to it.

This was one of the days David stayed too long. Junior had arrived.

John stopped in around the same time almost every day of the week. He would ring the bell, then let himself in with his own key so his father did not have to get up. Jack liked to answer the door just for the exercise of it, but Junior was impatient.

“I see you two are drinking coffee late in the afternoon again,” John began without any greeting.

“We have a rule, no coffee after 6 PM,” David explained.

“It’s almost six now,” John declared.

“And we’re almost done now,” Jack replied.

“Well don’t be telling me how you can’t sleep at night when you are drinking coffee at this hour, because I don’t want to hear it.” Exasperation was seeping out of Junior faster than the sweat on his forehead. Following that declaration, he began his inspection like a drill sergeant checking up on hopeless recruits.

“Dad, you have put the empty coffee pot back on the hot burner again. Can’t you turn this off when you are done?” Junior looked right at David as he continued, “One day last week I had to clean this thing up. There were coffee grounds in the water section.”

“I guess I must have gotten confused and put some grounds in the wrong spot,” Jack said in an embarrassed tone.

“I guess you really need to concentrate on what you are doing,” John said. “Last week I found the soup all cooked away in the pot and the stove was still on. You are going to burn the house down one of these days if you are not careful.” Junior’s annoyance had now reached the level of full-on lecture. He reminded Jack of all the things he needed to do better. He admonished his dad for not concentrating on the task at hand and just sitting down and forgetting about things.

“I guess I better check on everything else while I am here. There’s just no telling what other problems we have going on.”

The two elderly gentlemen sat in embarrassed silence as the Junior one went from room to room looking everything over. He checked what was turned on and what was off. He looked at electric cords to make sure they were in good condition and not in the way. He took up throw rugs and moved items around. He returned to the kitchen armed with his report.

“Dad, you’ve got shoes and slippers in your path from the bed to the washroom.  You need to put those things out of the way.  Some night you are going to trip and fall.”  Jack just nodded. “You should get one of those buttons you wear to call for help.”

“They are too expensive,” Jack reasoned.

“You won’t say it’s too expensive if you fall some night and die right there on your bedroom floor,” Junior declared in a disheartening manner.

porcelain sink sunshine BW

David leaned across the kitchen table and said to Jack, “Yep, I am pretty sure you won’t have much to say then,” and he gave him a wink. John the junior one completely missed it.

“One more thing, I see you are still leaving the light on in the bathroom. Can’t you at least turn it off during the day?”

“I might not get there before dark,” Jack explained.

John shook his head. “I see I am going to have to get some night lights. OK, I can’t be spending any more time here today. I have my own things to do.” The visit had reached its peak on the Junior annoyance meter and it was time to go.

“I guess I will stop by tomorrow. Please be careful, dad”

“All right, son.” Junior was already at the door by the time Jack got out those three short words.

When John was out the door, David said, “You know if I talked to my father in that tone he would have slapped me. As a matter of fact, he is 95 now and I think he would still slap me. You should not let him talk to you like that.”

After a moment’s reflection, John explained, “Sometimes I think about how I talked to my mother as she got older. I was always impatient and frustrated. I did not like having to take so much of my time to deal with her issues. She was forgetful and as she got to 80 and beyond I should have realized how she struggled with certain things.”

Jack looked off in the distance and saw the past float by, “I guess it is true.”

“What is?” David asked.

With regret written on his face, John answered. “What goes around, comes around.”


This short story originally appeared on SERENDIPITY. It was also previously presented here. I must confess that it is one of my favorites.

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall

The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.


After he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyperactive dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee. George had to do all the chores, had to eat his meals alone.  It was not the retirement George had envisioned.

A little over two years earlier, George retired and moved from a big Midwestern city to a small town in a warm climate. This was the retirement George always wanted. He was no longer going to cut the grass. There was an association for that.  He was not going to do major repairs because there was an association for that too. And he certainly was never going to shovel snow again. Before he moved south, he sold his snowblower, gave away his shovels and winter coats, and vowed never to return north in the winter, if at all.

As the coffee was brewing, George set down a fresh bowl of water for a disinterested terrier. Then he went to the kitchen door that led into the garage.  As he started down the two steps to garage level, he reached for the button that opened the garage door. At that Jack came racing out the kitchen door and when the garage door was open just enough, he ran under it and onto the front lawn. There he ran around in a circle for a couple of minutes before looking to see what George was doing.

George was busy dragging the plastic trash can down the driveway to the street where he parked it right next to his old-fashioned mailbox.  After that, he walked back to get the recycle bins.  One bin held old newspapers and magazines and the other had some cans and bottles.  He put one on top of the other and then maneuvered them onto a two-wheel “hand truck.”  They were too low and too heavy for George to drag down the driveway.  When this task was complete, George went back inside to get his American flag, which he promptly took down to the post that held his mailbox.  On the side of the post, he had affixed a flag pole holder so his flag could be seen as he came down the street.  George would never admit that it was a reminder of where his driveway began so he could find it easily when he returned from a drive, but that is why it was there.

“Come on, Jack,” George called and the dog raced halfway to George and stopped.  It was a game and Jack expected George to play.  George was well aware of this game, every time George would move, the dog would race around in a circle and stop.  There he would wait for George to make another move and the race was on again.  George was too old for the game today and went into the garage and headed toward the kitchen door.  Jack watched carefully from the driveway.  When George hit the button to close the garage door, Jack raced inside.

On their return to the pale yellow kitchen, George put down a bowl of food for Jack.  Then he fixed some toast and took that, a cup of coffee and a newspaper he collected from the front porch and went to sit on the screened-in patio.  Jack came and laid down at his feet.  George liked reading the local news each morning.  Everything about small-town America seemed exciting to him.  He read about civic improvements, about events at the library, and about meetings at the town hall.  He read about the plans for the upcoming year and even the New Year’s party at a local hall.  George survived Christmas on his own and guessed he would not even be up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Without dear Ethel, he had no desire to stay up late.  While ringing in the New Year at a party might help bring back fond memories, they would also recall his dear wife who was gone too soon.  He was not sure he could bear that.

When the news had been devoured, George got up slowly and took his plate and coffee cup to the kitchen sink and placed them there.  He looked all around the room and could not decide on another thing to do so he thought he would go lay down awhile.  It was 10 am.  At that moment, the phone rang.

“Hello,” George said with a hint of surprise that anyone would call him.

“Hello George,” Ethel said softly.

Soon after George and Ethel moved to Florida, Ethel’s father had passed away.  He left her the big family house in rural Iowa.  It was the sort of house Ethel always wanted.  It had a big front porch where she could rock away the summer hours in her own rocking chair and a nice fireplace where she could get warm and read good books all winter.  George had no idea this is what Ethel had wanted for years, just as she had no idea he would take them to Florida on his retirement.  When she got the big Iowa house she announced to George she was moving there without him, and soon thereafter she was gone along with virtually every personal effect she could take.

Once every few months she called to see if George was OK, nothing more.

“Please come home, Ethel,” George said with a heavy dose of sadness in his voice.

“I am home,” she said and quietly hung up the phone.


There was not much visiting last year, and I don’t guess we will be visiting friends and family any time soon. We certainly have the hope that by summertime we are able to get out and visit. What will you do when friends or family come calling? Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of these memories.


Now What? by Rich Paschall

What do you do when friends come to visit?  Do you plan a nice dinner?  Do you stay in and cook or do you go out?  Do you plan some activities or do you go for spontaneity? Do you bring out old photo albums or run pictures on a computer or even on your television?  There are a lot of things you can do if it is just for a day.

What if friends and family are coming for more than a day?  A few days of guests may take a little more planning.  Maybe you want to both eat at home and go out.  Maybe you want to take your visitors around to meet other family and friends.  Maybe this is the opportunity for a lot of conversation that has been missing in your friendship in recent years.  But what if they come for a…

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WHAT’S IN A NAME? – Rich Paschall

Some people love their names, others might hate theirs. It might make you wonder, what’s in a name? Be sure to click on “view original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for more important thoughts on the topic.


Would You Change Your Name? by Rich Paschall

When I finally come around to writing a short story for SERENDIPITY, I usually get stalled at the beginning when I need to decide on character names. It seems to me that the name is important and certain names will convey certain feelings to the reader.  So, I try to choose carefully.

I liked Harold for an older character because I don’t know any younger people named Harold.  Although the most famous literary character of this century so far is named Harry, I never thought of Harry Potter as a “Harold.” But he probably is.

I inadvertently used Harold twice. I wrote a story titled Alone and actually filmed it a year later, calling the only character Harold.  This did not stop me from forgetting about it and naming another older character Harold in a series of stories that started with Soup and Sandwich

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The House Rules, by Rich Paschall

A place for everything and everything in its place.  Perhaps you have heard this old proverb or words of advice.  It was often handed out as instructions for life, usually by parents, methinks.  In the 18th century, it may have been a popular topic of preachers and local leaders.  That was an era when you were also told that cleanliness was “next to godliness.”  

The idea of cleanliness may have come out of a 1778 sermon by John Wesley.  If cleanliness will get me next to God, I am all for it.  If I have to be orderly too, this will take a good deal of work.  I wish to be neat, clean and orderly, but I am still looking for a large chunk of time to work on that.  I have been looking for that for years, in fact.

I thought of “house rules” recently while eating at the kitchen table with my young South American roommate.  Yes, he is back for more Culture Shock, but that is another story for another time.  We were feasting on one of his favorite items, chicken wings, and he was putting the bones on a small saucer.

In my head, I could hear my mother scold him, “That’s not for chicken wings, that’s for coffee cups.”  At that, she would have grabbed the saucer and replaced it with a small plate of about the same size.  “What’s the difference?” I wonder now.  Either way, we are going to wash the small plate when we are done.  If you come for coffee at my house, you will never know if that saucer once held spilled coffee (or covfefe) or chicken wing bones, as long as it is clean.

Neat dishes

That particular saucer was from a set of china my mother had for special occasions.  By the way, it was from England, not China.  Anyway, as God is my witness, I do not recall EVER eating off that set until she was gone and I was left with it and a lot of knickknacks I don’t need.  When we were younger, she had another nice set for dinner.  We also had plastic plates or TV dinners in aluminum trays.

As for the knickknacks, two might belong on top of the large stereo, another two in the dining room and one on the dresser.  Random shelves were usually populated with random knickknacks.  If one was out-of-place, there could be hell to pay, as the saying goes.  My mother and my grandmother knew exactly where these items must stand. 

There could be no variations.  It was as if the locations were handed down by God and no other place would do.  Worse yet, if something broke, we would hear about it for at least a year, maybe longer, depending on its worth and sentimental value.


I hated to touch these things, particularly in my grandmother’s apartment.  She was a stern old woman who rarely smiled, and she could let you know her displeasure at something being out-of-place with a mean look and a few terse words.  My mother could hand out the same look, but we were lucky if we only got a few words as well.  Silence was not her style.

“Why are those bells in that order?  That is not the correct order! Fix it.”

My humble reply might be, “But I thought that was the order.  I put them right back in place.”  No pleading innocent would change the fact that something was amiss.

Roomie has asked me a number of times if he could put things in a closet.  Apparently, my clutter of coffee table books and table games looks out-of-place to him (not to me) and I should not have this stuff lying around.  I usually give in to these requests because I made the rule where it belongs and it is not important enough to me that it stays there.  My books on baseball, theater, and The Doors (look them up, millennials) have been banished to darker places.

I do not do the dishes often as roomie thinks he is better at it. When they are dry, I might ask why he did not put everything away.  His usual answer is that he does not know where everything belongs.  I tell him to put it somewhere, I will find it or ask if I need it.  Would that work at your house?

You probably have several drawers in the kitchen. Is each designated for certain items? We have one for silverware, one for other kitchen gadgets and larger items (rolling-pin to chase roomie around the house like a cartoon), and one “junk drawer.” Everyone has one of these.  It is for the items not designated for somewhere else. This could be batteries, a tape measure, random tools, a flashlight, scissors, tape, matches, etc. Junk drawer items should be in the junk drawer!

It would be possible to go on about the house rules, particularly the strict ones from my mother or grandmother, but you get the point by now, or you are a hopeless case like I am.  I could not understand why my grandmother would have a certain doily to go under a lamp, and another to go under a Hummel.  (OK, go look up doily and Hummel. We’ll wait).  These doilies were not interchangeable.

Unlike the previous generations, I can not stress out about silly house rules that I made up in the first place.  With the return of roomie, even if for a brief period, there is no reason not to alter my life so we both feel comfortable.  Everything may have a place in our home, but that place can be changed tomorrow and that is OK with me.

This article originally apppeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com)

See also: “CULTURE SHOCK, Travelling to America”


This week we are reposting a short story about the accumulation of “stuff” in our lives. Be sure to click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the story. Also find a link at the bottom to an article on my thoughts to de-clutter your home.


Stuff, by Rich Paschall

Only his neighbor Jorge knew the old guy was sick.  In fact, Mr. Casten had been failing for almost two years.  Whenever Jorge saw the old man, he asked if there was anything he could do to help.  When Mr. Casten was not seen for a week, Jorge would go knock on his door.  If the old guy felt well enough he would stand in the doorway and talk for a while.  If it was morning, he would invite Jorge in for a cup of coffee.

By the time Casten had passed away, Jorge probably knew him as well as anyone.  Their little chats on the stairs, in the doorway or at the kitchen table revealed a lot about an old guy who had lived alone in the same small apartment most of his adult life.  The place was stuffed with memories and memorabilia.

Mr. Casten had collected…

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In the modern era there are many crimes committed against people, but these long standing acts of villainy remain a problem. Read and share these criminal acts so you and your friends are forewarned. Be sure to click “View original post” at the bottom to follow to follow over to SERENDIPITY to this important public warning of criminal behavior.


The Big Blanket Caper, by Rich Paschall

Crimes like this often go unreported. Perhaps there is fear of confrontation. Perhaps there is embarrassment. Perhaps the deed is temporarily forgotten in the light of dawn. It is evil, nonetheless. Victims need to come forward without fear of retribution. Action needs to be taken against the perpetrators.

The evil doers of these deeds may feign ignorance of their wicked actions. They may say to those who will care to listen to their lies that they meant no harm, if harm was done at all. HA! These especially heinous crimes should be pursued by an élite squad known as the Special Victims Unit in order to bring Law and Order back to the home.

The Big Blanket Caper

We are, of course, talking about those dishonorable reprobates who steal the covers in the night. As a victim you may find that while you were once comfortable in your own bed, a wicked and…

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SNOW HATE – By Rich Paschall

Snow is coming to us again today, so I thought it was a good time to reblog this one. I hasten to point out that Harold has no relation to the short story series of another person with the same name. Odd I should know two Harolds, right? Click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the story.


A NO H8 story by Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog

The door bell startled Howard.  He was not expecting anyone on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January.  He moved quickly to the front door and opened it to find his teenage grandson.

“Hello grandpa,” the boy blurted, “I came to shovel your snow.”  At that Billy grabbed a shovel from just inside the front door and went immediately to work.  Howard closed the door and watched him through the glass in the door.  Billy attacked the snow like he was angry at every single flake that fell from the sky.  The look on his face and the force at which he threw each shovelful of snow concerned Howard.


He went directly to the phone and called Billy’s parents.

“Hello,” came the voice of Howard’s daughter-in-law.  Madeleine was sweet, nice looking and ultimately clueless.  Her small social circle was her main…

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