The Happy Man in The Lemonade Suit

Fiction by Robert Kostanczuk

The idea was to be a vision -- a curiosity, to be sure.
Being an inconsequential oddball wasn’t the goal.
The mission had much more meat to it.
It was all about becoming a difference-maker who would be envied by those who wished they had come up with the concept.
It also was about inducing soft waves of warmth. It was about eliciting the radiance of a solar symphony.
Yes, Wendell Wykowski would prompt onlookers to think one clear thought: “There goes a self-assured person who just wants to spread a little sunshine.”
There was work to be done -- work that was fun, and also meaningful.
Hungry for change in his life, Wendell Wykowski had figuratively rolled up his sleeves and was getting to work.
The task would be accomplished with a crisp, lightweight suit that radiated the promise of bright summer days.
The jacket’s showy vertical stripes were colored forest green and banana yellow.
The yellow stripes, which were slightly broader, stood out.
Wendell’s sharply creased pants were a  solid color flashing the same sunny hue.
Topping off the jaunty look was a Gay ’90s straw hat with a wide white band.
The inaugural stroll around the neighborhood in his finery took place on a glorious early June day that reminded him of his youth.
There was sensory awakening of the highest order: The smell of sweet warm grass, the cardinal’s melodic chirp, the glint of sun off an iced-tea pitcher … it all harkened back to nostalgic days of long ago.
Deep down, Wendell knew he was trying to recapture the buoyancy of those times with his new, colorful ritual. Whistling frolicsome tunes down the sidewalks was part of it; “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” would be called into service on a regular basis.
One block from Wendell’s house, a young woman washing her sporty car in the driveway offered the first feedback.
“Nice suit,” she beamed, giving Wendell a playful thumbs up as he passed by.
“Thank you my dear,” Wendell smiled back. “That’s one fine Mustang you’re washing.”
The words came out in a slight British accent.
Wendell laughed to himself: He was a blue-collar Hoosier trying to be pithy in an oh-so British way.
Mr. Wykowski was much more steel-mill Midwest than cosmopolitan London.
His face screamed that.
It was weathered, slightly puffy around the eyes, and accented by a bulbous nose reminiscent of actor Karl Malden.
Wendell felt enlivened by the success of Malden -- a regular Joe from the steel town of Gary, Indiana.
Malden won an Academy Award.
A giant nose didn’t stop Malden from becoming a star: Wendell Wykowski often leaned on that fact when life knocked him down because of his looks.    
                                                                                * * *

Before heading out on that first morning of the first walk, Wendell gave himself the once-over.
A full-length mirror on a closet door was enlisted.
The jacket was fine, but what to wear under it?
“Here, try this. This will work,” said his wife, Millie.
She thought his outfit -- and transformation -- was silly, but had gone to The Gap and bought a dark green T-shirt to go with the suit.
Millie couldn’t bear to add more garish yellow to the mix.
After donning his wife’s purchase, Wendell completed the ensemble with lemon-colored socks and pearly white shoes boasting silver buckles.                                                                           “Those are very senior citizen,” Millie drolly said as she gently squeezed her husband’s shoulder on his way out the front door.
“Hey, I’m 66 -- I can’t totally escape the ol’ geezer duds,” Wendell replied, giving a wave without looking back.
The plan was to get out of the house on a regular basis to amble down the streets surrounding him, and show off a bit.
He would dish good cheer, and a good deed, if the situation arose.
About 20 minutes an outing; that’s what it would take, alternating between mornings and afternoons.
Wendell thought he could hit the streets about every other day while the weather was good.
Feel-good moments would be amassed by those he encountered.
This, he believed, would keep him relevant.
Redemption was at hand.
Who could not like the bright, solar stripes of his jacket?
Wendell was recently retired.
The boredom, it turned out, was depressing him.
On this first day for the new venture, he chose to buy a treat for a lucky kid, if the quaint little ice cream truck was puttering about in the vicinity.
“Hello Stanley,” he shouted to a pal who was mowing his lawn. “Your grass is very healthy.”
Stanley wiped his brow and honed in on Wendell’s dapper outfit.
“Hey, Wendell, are you in a barbershop quartet?” he queried.
“Nope,” Wendell replied. “Just thought I’d wear something fun on this glorious morning.”
Accenting his style with a stately walking cane had been briefly entertained, but dropped, due to concern that it would be an over-the-top bauble.                                                                * * *The strolls were meant to be an almost daily occurrence, with one or two days being skipped each week -- no need to overextend a good thing.
On this inaugural day, a woman jogger in the street ran up alongside of him as he whisked his way down the shady sidewalk.
“I like your outfit; it’s electric,” she said, before picking up the pace and flicking a goodbye wave at him.
Wendell welcomed the attention. She was slightly younger than him, and attractive in her pink tank top and matching running shorts.
“Take care, dear,” he responded as she turned a corner, turning her head slightly to look back.
When Wendell returned from his initial outing, Millie was at the kitchen sink.
“How did it go? What kind of looks did you get?” she asked, not looking up from washing a pan.
“It was positive; felt good,” Wendell replied.
Millie was relieved, although careful not to show it.
She had worried that her husband would be seen as crazily eccentric to the neighborhood, rather than well-meaning.
But he seemed genuinely pleased with the trial run.
In fact, Wendell hadn’t realized such a level of contentment for quite a while.
Retirement from a construction job had come only a year earlier, but the void caused by being jobless had seemed to stretch into eternity.
His only child -- daughter Rose -- was well into a marketing career that forged her independence from mom and dad.
Loneliness, and a sense of aimlessness, had been enveloping Wendell.
He never dreamed he’d miss being a bricklayer so much.
He often cursed the job. But it turned out such work actually constituted the good ol’ days.
Wendell just didn’t know it at the time.
Millie had grown increasingly concerned about him the last few months.
He was developing strange habits, such as spending too much time making sure the front door was locked at night.
He would stare at the deadbolt lock for a few seconds, walk away for a bit, then return and stare at it again.
That ritual was repeated several times before Wendell could finally ease into his recliner for the rest of the evening and watch TV.
He would also spend an inordinate amount of time washing his hands and washing dishes
in the sink.
Millie feared her husband had an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
She prayed that his metamorphosis into a spry ambassador of goodwill would hopefully fill part of the void in his life.
If striding around the neighborhood in a loud outfit settled his fevered mind down just a little, it would all be worth it.
She prayed the chaotic clothing and new persona would spin him into a better place.
So far, it was working.                                                                                                      
On one walk, Wendell let Mrs. Krylock know where he had just seen her missing dog.          
Mrs. Krylock found Bentley at the corner of Oak and Lincoln -- just where Wendell said the beagle had been.
“Thank you so much,” she told him. “And, by the way, I love your clothes. We need something colorful to shake up our block.”
He tipped his hat to Mrs. Krylock and continued walking.
The good feeling didn’t last for long, though.
As he moved under a birch tree, Wendell remembered the time he had missed Rose’s high school basketball game because he was too tired from work.
He truly was exhausted, but regretted not sucking it up and getting to the game.
She played well that evening, scoring 15 points.
He should have gone.
The memory made him wince.
Missing her game wasn’t the first time he had blown an opportunity to experience a quality moment with Rose.
A nagging notion that he could have been a better father often surfaced -- like it was doing today, on his walk.
The worst part was the possibility that he might have been selfish with his time, at his daughter’s expense.
Selfish -- that stung.
He lost his concentration and almost tripped on a bumpy piece of sidewalk in front of what used to be the old corner grocery store from his youth.
He did his best to brush off the scuff mark from the tip of his glossy white shoe with quick strokes of his fingertips.
A little girl who had been playing jump rope by her house approached him.
“Hey mister, I like your lemonade suit,” she said with a broad smile.
“Well, thank you young lady,” Wendell responded. “I like your pretty top with the purple polka dots.”
He asked her name.
“Beatrice,” she answered.
“Such a lovely name,” Wendell said, bending down to say the words at her eye level.
The girl couldn’t have been more than 6 years old.
She made his day.
Wendell loved the term “lemonade suit.”
Beatrice interpreted his getup in a spontaneous, childlike way.
It gave credence to everything he was doing.
Running his fingers down the buttons of his jacket to ensure that all were buttoned, the merry man in the lemonade suit resumed his walk, taking one last glance back at Beatrice. The lass had resumed jumping rope by herself.
Beatrice had put a spring in his gait.
Mr. Wykowski carried on the crusade the next day, this time with a pink carnation in his lapel.
There was more good cheer waiting to be dispensed.                                    
Wendell tipped his straw hat to a mailman, who was parked at a mailbox.                    
“Where’d ya get the outfit?” the postal worker shouted, making sure he was heard outside the confines of his vehicle.
“Got it in Florida, on vacation,” Wendell said.
He remembered the day well.
He and his wife had stopped in a quaint clothing store in a beachfront town.
The store sold some novelty clothes, such as Nehru jackets and super-flared women’s pants.
The striped jacket and solid yellow pants that Wendell eventually bought were on a mannequin in the back of the place.
He liked the size of the jacket’s stripes -- about a half-inch wide for the deep green; an inch for the sun-colored band. Big and bold.
He grabbed a sleeve to feel the cotton material. The suit had the seersucker look that he loved.
His wife sensed he had a growing attachment to the vibrant monstrosity on the mannequin.
“You don’t actually like that, do you?” Millie asked in disbelief.
“As a matter of fact, I kinda do,” Wendell confirmed.
Through a stroke of luck, the suit outfit accommodated his proportions.
Wendell had emerged from a makeshift fitting room to model it for Millie.
“The shoulders are a tad baggy; but other than that, there’s nothing major that’s wrong,” she said with only a whiff of enthusiasm. “The pants perhaps need to be shortened an inch.”
Cash was paid for the garb.
Total: $279, and some change -- a small price to pay for something that offered a new lease on life.                                                                  

                                                                              * * *

For the first three weeks of his mini-journeys, things went swimmingly for the strolling Mr. Wykowski.
Some folks did double takes because of the dynamic duds.
It was June 26th when Wendell took his excursions a step further, developing a theme
song for them.
He would play it in his head for that extra bounce.
Dating back to the 1960s, the tune was called “Hello Hello” by The Sopwith Camel.
It ranked as perky, light pop-rock -- a vaudevillian’s delight.
There also was English flavor, as if it could find favor as a sing-along in a pub across the Atlantic:
Hello, hello,
I like your smile.
Hello, hello,
Shall we talk awhile?
The song entered his noggin on an overcast day.
He happened to look up through a maple tree and suddenly saw shards of sunlight breaking through the leafy canopy.
“Hello Hello” meandered into his mind.
Life was getting better.
But there were still many hours during the week that needed to be filled.
Radiating merriment in the neighborhood wouldn’t be enough, but it was enough for now.   Before heading out the door on one particularly humid day, he stuffed some bite-sized pieces of wrapped taffy into a suit pocket to hand out to children.
Such an opportunity arose at the Cape Cod-style home of Ann Beastings, who was hosting a swimming pool party for her 8-year-old son and his friends.
The fun was taking place on the front lawn in a small inflatable swimming pool.
“Here you go, kids. Come and get some treats,” Wendell called to the children while reaching in his pocket for the taffy.
The children ran to him, cupping their hands as Wendell filled them.
“What do you say kids? You tell the gentleman ‘thank you,’ ” Mrs. Beastings yelled from the front door.
She knew Wendell.
They had sometimes talked home maintenance before he became the guy walking her streets in attention-grabbing yellow.
She liked him, although the new clothes and personality transformation made her think Wendell was spiraling into eccentricity.
After Wendell left the pool party, he was several houses away from Mrs. Beastings’ home when a harsh yell jolted him.
“Hey weirdo, you gonna hand out candy at schoolyards next?” a teen boy hollered.
It was Kyle Tinecki. It was around noon.
Tinecki stood with two or three guy friends who were laughing across the street from Wendell.
Flustered, Mr. Wykowski stopped walking and merely stared at the boys in dazed confusion.
“Yeah, I’m talking to you; you’re a weird dude in a weird suit,” Tinecki shouted.
The whole confrontation was surreal for the Lemonade Man.
He was hurt.
“What do you mean?” he yelled back at the tormentor.
The words came out in a wavering voice.
“You’re strange; that’s what I mean,” the teen shot back. “You keep walkin’ around here in that ugly costume. You some kinda clown?”
Wendell didn’t know what to say.
He was mad, but more depressed.
Taking a deep breath and nervously adjusting the buttons on his natty suit, Wendell started moving away.
There was an effort to be unhurried, so some dignity could be salvaged.                              
However, Wendell felt rotten.
Everything had come crashing down.                                              
The walk home seemed endless.
He felt creepy.                                                                                          
Wendell took one last look at the intruder from about a half-block away.
Tinecki was still there in his white T-shirt, blue jeans and long, scraggly hair.
He was wiry, with thick eyebrows and piercing eyes.
He seemed to be just staring at Wendell.
It was well known in the neighborhood that Tinecki was a bad apple. He was suspended from high school more than once.
Now, Wendell was experiencing for himself what school officials were facing.
At dinner that night, Millie easily sensed her husband was in another world.
“You all right?” she asked over roast beef and mashed potatoes.
“I’m fine,” Wendell lied, managing a tepid smile.
“Something go wrong on your walk today?” Millie knowingly asked.                                    
“Nah, I guess I’m just kind of tired and crabby,” he replied.
Supper was quickly over.
“You do look tired; get some rest,” Millie said as she started clearing the kitchen table.
Wendell went to bed early that night. Just before his head hit the pillow, a glance was directed toward the spreading-cheer jacket and complementary pants draped across an easy chair in the corner of the bedroom.
The suit’s stripes didn’t seem as radiant.
The straw hat on an adjoining ottoman seemed silly, as did the pearl-white “senior citizen” shoes on the floor, right below the hat.
Was he a doddering old fool?
Wendell was forced to wrestle with the question.
The following morning, an unexpected rush of energy got him out of bed earlier than planned.
His dad used to say, “When you fall off the horse, get right back on it.”
It was now July, and Wendell was forcing himself to don the happy suit and get outside in the toasty weather.
About 10 minutes into his jaunt, he spotted some neighborhood kids knocking a tennis ball around the street with rackets.
A coveted remembrance was shaken loose. The tennis ball kick-started a memory of him using the bouncy thing for something quite different.
“Hey, you want something new to play with that ball?” he said, entering the street for an up-close-and personal talk.
“What do ya mean?” asked Chester Klapdon, an 11-year-old whom Wendell had greeted on previous walks.
Asking for the ball, and then having it tossed his way, Wendell intended to give a demonstration.
“When I was a kid like you, my friends and I used to play a game in which you threw the ball downward at the point of the curb, and have it fly off,” Wendell explained. “It was just a matter of hitting it against the curb -- the rounded top part of the concrete curb.”
Little Chester was roped in: “What was the game called?”
“We just called the game hitting it against the curb,” came the answer.                                        
“That’s pretty dopey,” the boy chuckled.
Wendell saw the humor.                                                                                                  
“Yeah, I guess it wasn’t a very creative name,” he said with a grin. “Let me see if I still have the knack.”
Wendell took off his jacket and handed it to one of Chester’s friends to hold.
The senior citizen knew he could toss the ball much better in just the T-shirt he wore underneath.
Winding up his right arm, Wendell bent down to chuck the tennis ball at the apex of the curb.
He hit the curb’s top point, dead on.
The ball flew all the way across the street.
“We’d have an outfielder standing on the sidewalk, way across on the other side of the street; if the ball went over his head, it was a home run,” Wendell told Chester. “There was also an infielder in the street. If the ball came off of the curb skittering along the ground, the infielder would have to catch it cleanly or else it was an error. No baseball gloves; you caught the tennis ball bare-handed.”
Chester and his buddies seemed fairly impressed at the primitive, but intriguing, game from yesteryear.
“I remember the curb being somewhat rounded on the top edge that faced the street. But it wasn’t rounded to the extent where it didn’t have a little point -- a sweet spot,” Wendell said, closing his eyes as he tried to picture it in his mind. “I seem to recall the curbs we played on weren’t totally smooth -- they might have had a little of a gravelly surface.”
Wendell noticed Chester and his friends were losing interest.
“Oh yeah, just one more thing,” Wendell smiled with an air of sweet remembrance. “If you didn’t throw the ball with enough accuracy, it would skim the very top of the curb and shoot backwards, and you’d have to go chase it.”
Putting his jacket back on, Wendell was leaving with mild optimism that Chester and
company would eventually be seen trying out his new game on a summer’s day somewhere down the road.
But mocking chatter rolled in like jagged waves from a few yards away.
It was Kyle Tinecki and his cohorts.
The bully from the local high school was back.
“What a dumb game from the Stone Age,” Tinecki said in a booming voice.
Wendell’s bounce-back moment with Chester was ruined.
He said goodbye to Chester and his mates, before heading home, not looking back at Tinecki.
“Don’t worry Mr. Wykowski,” Chester said as he ran up to Wendell. “That idiot has bullied me before. I don’t let it bother me.”
Wendell answered quietly: “You’re a good kid.”
Chester was chubby, with a thick tuft of red hair matching an exuberant disposition.
“By the way, how did that kid bully you?” Wendell asked, turning back toward Chester.
“He called me fat,” the boy answered. “Then he threw a rubber ball at my head, and it broke my glasses.”
The man in the lemonade suit offered support, although he sensed Chester was self-assured: “You’re not fat; he’s just mean.”
Wendell left after patting Chester on the head.
Rounding a corner at the end of the block, Mr. Wykowski started feeling sorry for himself.
“Why am I getting picked on?” he wondered.                                                                  
His thoughts were interrupted by something he felt hitting his upper back.            
He looked behind him and saw a huge, wet piece of wadded-up chewing gum on the ground.
Then, he heard laughing and glanced over to see Tinecki running away from behind some shrubbery along the side of a ranch home.
Wendell could only muster a feeble retort after becoming the target of the tossed gum.
“Stop it; just stop it,” he yelled with a cry in his voice.
Wendell felt vulnerable.
He hated it.
Taking off his jacket, he noticed a wet spot on a yellow stripe where the pink gum had struck.
It was a sickening feeling.
There was nothing to do but go home and gather himself.
After coming through the front door, he cried.
He sat down on the living-room couch and cried. The breaking point had been reached.
He wondered if the gum stain would come completely out. The stain engulfed him.
There must be a way to get it totally it out, he concluded.
That resolution made him feel slightly better. Wendell bemoaned how something that started out great had flipped into something freakish.
A kid throwing stuff at him; that was a new low -- something to feel dirty about.
His hands trembled. He was afraid to go out anymore, for fear of running into the bully.
Two weeks later, Kyle Tinecki found himself wondering where the stupid guy in the yellow suit had gone.
Tinecki had roamed the blocks in Wendell’s old territory to inflict more torment, but the old dude was not to be seen.
For just a couple of seconds, the uselessness -- the sadness -- of his efforts flashed across his consciousness, but not long enough to derail his mission.
He’d be back.
On a Saturday in the beginning of August, Tinecki was also going to head out again.
His mother spent half of the morning yelling at him; chiding him for not doing his homework, for staying out too late the night before.
Tinecki thought she didn’t like him much.
Perhaps his father would have treated him better.
But Dad was gone; he had problems with alcohol and deserted the family when Tinecki was only 9.
Tinecki dwelled on his absentee father for a few minutes before rummaging around his messy bedroom for a halfway-clean T-shirt.
He found one on the floor beneath a poster of a swimsuit model.
Looking into a dresser mirror, the youth pulled the hair back off his forehead to reveal two or three more pimples that weren’t there yesterday.
“Crap,” he said to himself in disgust before hitting the streets.
The day was sunny.
Tinecki’s disposition wasn’t.
It would get even worse when he made it to Lilac Avenue, where Wendell Wykowski lived.
Tinecki gazed up in astonishment at a banner strung above the street, tied to lofty tree branches.
Its hand-painted lettering read: LILAC AVENUE BLOCK PARTY -- MR. LEMONADE SUIT DAY
Then, the noise of the party came into focus.
Kids chattering.
Oldies rock ’n’ roll playing.
Picnic tables being moved into position … .
Smoke wafted from grills. Mrs. Krylock could be seen holding Bentley, the playful pooch found by Wendell.
Tinecki couldn’t believe what was unfolding in front of him: People were liking the aging fool!
The very idea made the young man reel.
Tinecki’s day was ruined.
The coming together of the neighborhood on behalf of a foe was a major blow.
It burned inside Tinecki’s brain.
The block party was essentially Chester’s idea.
He planted the seed for the party; his mother firmed up the concept.
Chester told her he felt bad for Mr. Wykowski because he was getting picked on.                       Chester said all Mr. Wykowski was doing was trying to make people happy.                
He said Mr. Wykowski should have a party to lift his mood.                                          
Chester’s mother said it should be a block party.
On this unusually cool Saturday in August, a lot of neighborhood folks had turned out on the blocked-off avenue.
They were backing Mr. Lemonade Suit.
As Tinecki stood a few yards from the happy bustle of the bash, he felt like an outsider.
“Hey young man,” said a voice from behind.
Tinecki snapped out of his mental fog.
The voice belonged to Wendell Wykowski.
“Just wanted to tell you that it’s depressing being a bully,” Wendell said calmly. “Don’t waste time hurting people.”
Wendell didn’t wait for a full reaction from Tinecki.
Instead, he waded purposefully into the brunt of the street-party commotion.
Not looking back, Wendell heard a clipped retort from his adversary: “Go on, get out of here, old man. I don’t need … .”
As he got farther from Tinecki, he reminded himself that the gathering in front of him was in his name.
It was a godsend. No excursions by the Lemonade Man had been taken in recent days. Rather, Wendell moped about the house.
The stain from the wad of bubble gum came out of his suit, though. On one rainy night -- while sitting in the living room recliner -- Wendell got the mark out with laundry detergent on a wet washcloth. He rinsed with another wet washcloth.
More peace of mind was supplied by the block party.
Wendell came to it in a crimson polo shirt and uncool plaid shorts.
But Millie showed up, carrying his yellow-and-green jacket.
“Here, slip this on: How could you not wear this?” she mildly scolded.
Her husband did indeed put it on, although the colors clashed with his deep red shirt, and didn’t fit those Bermuda shorts.
It was no big deal. Wendell felt that his public still wanted to see him.
The Lemonade Suit Man was not dead, he surmised.
The whole day legitimized Mr. Wykowski.                                                                

                                                                                    * * *

The partygoers noticed Tinecki standing at the rim of the merriment.
His encounter with the Lemonade Man was over.
Tinecki hung out for several minutes trying to figure out what to do.
He muttered “screw it” to himself. A swell of frustration washed over him.
Then, emptiness. Tinecki slowly moved away from the block party.
He dropped his moist chewing gum on a nearby sidewalk in hopes it would stick to someone’s shoe.
Tinecki turned his gaze toward the street party.
He saw Wendell Wykowski laughing with neighbors -- having a good time.
The old man won, Tinecki thought to himself.
Tinecki was furious, depressed and restless.
As he left the area, Wendell was reveling in the clear peace of mind he had attained.
Things were good.
It was time to toss a yellow tennis ball against the curb. Chester and his friends were ready to give it a go.
“I’ll go first,” Wendell said as he held the ball aloft in a celebratory moment of unbridled joy. “Chester, you play infield. Get a couple of your friends to stand at the other side of the street and play outfield.
Chester interrupted the start of the game.
“I’m gonna egg Tinecki’s house,” Chester said proudly.
“Do what?” Wendell asked.
“Throw eggs at his house. He deserves it,” Chester said earnestly while tightening his shoelaces.
Wendell was ashamed that -- just for a few seconds -- he thought raw eggs on his tormentor’s home would be a good idea.
“No, you can’t do that,” he reconsidered. “Promise you won’t do that.”
Chester gave in. He liked the old guy standing in front of him.
“Nah, I won’t do it,” he assured.
“Why do you think Tinecki is such a bully?” Wendell asked the boy.
The senior citizen was hoping a child’s view could be revelatory.
“I don’t know … I think he’s just miserable,” Chester shrugged.
“That’s a pretty good explanation,” Wendell said.
He actually did think it was insightful.
Wendell knew that one day he would seek out Tinecki and try to make peace with him.
The affable senior citizen was somehow emotionally linked now to his torturer -- for better or worse.
Alienated from the festivities of the block party, Tinecki was just about to walk through his front door.
Once inside, he dipped into his refrigerator, retrieving four eggs, and gingerly placing two in the right pocket of his windbreaker and two in the left.
He then strode outside with a firm sense of purpose.
Damage, he vowed, would be done.                                                                          

                                                                               * * *

On Lilac Avenue, Wendell was returning to the business at hand after his conversation with Chester.
Lost in thought and conversation for several minutes, Wendell realized he still held the tennis ball in his hand.                                                                                            
“Go on: Try to put it over our heads for a home run,” Chester urged.
“I don’t think you can do it,” the kid teased.
“Oh yeah -- watch this,” came the declaration as Wendell loosened up his right arm by rotating it in exaggerated circles. He was about to put on a show.
It was game time again. Zeroing in on the curb’s peak, Wendell hurled the ball down at it.
There was clean contact.
Wendell felt exhilaration. All was right with heaven and earth. He was winning again, just like he did as a kid.
The ball bounced high into the royal blue sky.
It ascended until meshing with the sun’s golden glow.                                                          

Robert Kostanczuk is a former full-time entertainment/features reporter for the Post-Tribune daily newspaper of northwest Indiana. He won first place for “Best Personality Profile” in a 1992 competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Indianapolis chapter. Robert’s flash fiction “Coming Along Swimmingly” appeared in “Beyond Words” international literary magazine (Issue 13; April 2021): Beyond Words Publishing House; Berlin, Germany. Twisted affection was the subject matter of his short story “Steve Loved Her to Pieces,” published online by The Chamber Magazine in February 2022. Robert lives in Crown Point, Indiana.

Published 2nd March, 2023.

. H O L D E R . R E W A R D S .