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OLD MAN JONES
 
For as far back as I can remember, I always treated Old Man Jones, my neighbor, in the worst ways. 
Each April 1st, I had the "burning paper bag with dog poop in it " tradition, and even though Old Man 
Jones never fell for it, he still had a gross pile to remove from his front stairs! He always knew that it 
was me, and always said, without anger in his voice, "Someday, you'll be sorry."
 
His driveway was next to ours and in the winter, I always shoveled our snow onto his drive, giving him 
twice the work. He never did get a snow blower, but when I was 12, just before a blizzard, one 
appeared in my driveway, with a note saying, "You might need this! " I could now delight in blowing all
the snow from my driveway, and most of my front yard, onto Old man Jones's car. I would even cut a 
wider than needed path for my mom's car just to put more snow on the dinosaur's driveway. (That's 
hat my mom always called him: "the Dinosaur.") He always knew that it was me and always said 
without anger in his voice, "Someday, you'll be sorry."
 
I keyed his car more than once. When I discovered the mint 1969 Mustang Mach series car that always 
stayed under a thick canvas cover, kept for someone, I quickly sought to learn how many pumps of my 
BB rifle it took send the metal orb through it's windows. It took all ten allowed pumps. He knew that it 
was me and said without anger in his voice, "Someday, you'll be sorry."
 
Between my vandal's rifle and slingshot, most of his home's windows had to be replaced at one time or 
another, not to mention the battered aluminum siding that still bears the myriad of little dents. He never 
complained about the shattered bird feeder or the constant supply of dead squirrels, sparrows, 
cardinals and whatever else winged its way into his yard. I do remember the tenderness that he buried 
the vermin with, though. I can't recall how many times he had to take his cat to the vet to remove a 
pellet from an infected wound, but I do remember that he always knew that it was me, and always said, 
without anger in his voice, "Someday, you'll be sorry."
 
At Christmas-time he used to set up lots of lights around his house that looked like virtual BB magnets, 
which they were. A plastic manger scene was the prime target one year, and stayed on the relic's front 
lawn until I shot the baby's face off. He knew that it was me and said without anger in his voice, 
"Someday, you'll be sorry."
 
There was this room in his house that I would look into sometimes when the old man was away. It was 
the kind of room that I would have loved to have, if my mom could ever get a real job. It was just like 
one of those "Good Housekeeping" kid's bedroom that everybody is supposed to want. I always 
figured that Jones was on the loony side, and this "keeping a cool room for a kid he didn't have" thing 
was the final proof that I needed of his senility. I never shot that window out.
 
My mom and I never much in the money department, but every year, on Christmas, a couple hundred 
dollars worth of cool stuff was left on my doorstep with "Merry Christmas " and my name written on 
each carefully wrapped gift. (That's where the BB gun came from, along with a great target setup, which 
was never needed with the shooting range next door.) My mom, too hung over each Christmas morning 
to get me up early enough to meet the Gift Bearer, said that the stuff probably came from my 
grandfather, whom she hadn't cared to talk to or see since long before I came around. There had been 
some long remembered fight over his "interference" in her affairs, of which there were many. I had 
never seen him and really didn't even know or care where he lived, so long as the goodies came.
 
One Christmas, I got up early on my own because I thought that I might want to see what my 
ancestor looked like, not to mention that I was hoping for BB's from my benefactor, 'cause Old Man 
Jones had just gotten a new bird feeder with "unbreakable" glass in it, and my Daisy was calling my 
name before the sun was up.
 
I was still rubbing sleep from my eyes, when I heard a soft shuffling on the porch. As I quietly opened 
the front door, the rising sun reflected off of an armload of carefully wrapped presents, in silver and 
gold paper, each with "Merry Christmas" and my name written on it. The arms were still holding the 
gifts, but the face was hidden by a tall package. The obscured gift bearer was unaware that I had 
opened the door, until he carefully put the gifts down. Startled, Old Man Jones stood up stiffly and 
with moistened eyes and broken voice said, "Merry Christmas."
 
"Someday" had come, and Old Man Jones could have never been more right.
 
[forwarded by Steve Hugo]
 
One of the greatest happiness's of life is the conviction that we are loved--loved for ourselves, or rather,
loved in spite of ourselves.