The Choice is Yours

     The Choice is Yours
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -

The Problem With Airport Security
If Roy didn’t pee soon someone was going to have a mess to clean up. The cold tile floor beneath his feet didn’t seem to make matters any better.
“Arms out sir.” Roy groaned and sighed with his face pointing skyward. He reluctantly raised his arms, his shirt becoming untucked. The wand passed over his wide belly then his back and down past his sides and straddled legs.
Roy hated airport security. He hated the hassle, the lines, the idiotic workers. Oh, the workers. To think that someone actually applied for a job like this was beyond him. After all, don’t these people have a choice? Why don’t they get a real job or better yet, work their way up to management like he did?
“Out that way sir.” Finally, Roy could get to a bathroom. He slipped on his deck shoes, shoved his laptop into his bag and put his watch in his pocket as he sped through the arched exit.
“Dad! Wait up!” Eddie was trying his best to keep up, but Roy’s long stride was just too much. Eddie had never been to an airport and he didn’t have his mother to help him find his way.
“I gotta go to the John Eddie, so get the lead outta your butt! Come on, let’s move it!”
“Sorry dad.”
“Don’t be sorry, just get moving!” Why didn’t this kid get it? Jeez, he was already almost ten and he had no ambition. Always whining and complaining; stumbling over himself just to get out of the way. Maybe it was all of the time he has to spend with his mother now that the divorce was final. She’s definitely making him soft.

Chance Meeting
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -
Roy barely made it around the terminal corner when he immediately began to scan for the bathroom signs. - Concourse/Concorso A - Gates/Gatos 111-129 - Concessions/Refreshmente - Bathroom/Bano. “Yes!” Why the heck did they have to put the signs in English and Spanish? What’s next, Chinese? Those people don’t even pay taxes, why should we give them signs in their own language?
Roy took a hard left into the bathroom alcove.
“Dad! Wait up!” Eddie saw his father turn into an opening along the wall, but he didn’t see which one. Even though his carry-on bag had rollers, it kept tipping over because of the bats sticking out of the front of it.
Roy wheeled back and yelled, “Wait here if you don’t have to go! I’ll be right out.“ As soon as he ducked around to go back into the bathroom he was met by a large yellow cleaning cart. He banged his knee on the corner of it and let out a yelp. ”Crap!“ He shoved the cart backward with his foot, knocking over the broom that was leaning against it. He anxiously strode to the furthest urinal and unzipped his shorts. ”Aaaaaahhhhh! Relief!“ Roy leaned his head back and exhaled heavily with his eyes closed as his bladder slowly emptied. What a relief. As he was finishing, he lowered his head and looked over his right shoulder. What the heck?!
Eddie finally made it to the bathroom his father went into. He was desperately out of breath; his hair sticking to his forehead. As he approached the alcove opening he could see what looked like a blue tablecloth sliding behind a yellow box. As the tablecloth began to rise, he realized that it wasn’t a tablecloth at all. It was an old man wearing a blue smock. He had been bending down to pick up his broom from the floor. The broom was made of heavy wood with big red letters on the handle that read S-T-O-L-T-Z. He neatly secured the broom and pulled the yellow cleaning cart from the entrance. “Right this way young sir,” the man said kindly.
“Oh, I don’t need to go, but thanks. My dad’s in there and I’m just waiting for him.”
“OK. Suit yourself.”
“It’s my first time in an airport. I thought I lost my dad and my mom isn’t here ‘cuz they got divorced. We’re going to a big baseball game that my team is playing in. I’m a good baseball player.” Eddie knew he was rambling; just like his father said he always does, but he couldn’t stop himself. He was nervous.
“Excuse me.” A man hustled past Eddie’s bag. He pulled the bag closer to him.
“Hold on there little fella,” said the old man in the blue smock. “Have a mint.” His arm was outstretched and his palm was open. In his palm was a red and white swirled mint wrapped in plastic. He had taken it from the attendant’s tray behind him.
Eddie knew he wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, let alone take candy from them, but the old man seemed nice so he reached for it.
“Hey!” Roy yelled from the urinal as he zipped up his shorts. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Get away from that man!”
Eddie was startled and quickly withdrew his hand as if he had just touched fire. His father was marching toward him with that familiar scowl on his face. He snatched Eddie with such force that the handles of the bats in the bag he was holding clanked noisily against the tile wall as Roy pulled him outside the bathroom alcove. Roy kneeled down in front of Eddie at eye level and pressed his open right palm against the center of Eddie’s chest.
Roy spoke slowly in his best attempt to control his anger.
“I’m gonna say this to you once Eddie, so listen carefully. Do you hear me?”
“Yes sir.” Eddie nodded slowly, his eyes wide open.
“You see that old man in there?”
Eddie nodded yes again.
“He made choices Eddie. At some point in his life he decided. He chose to clean up crap in an airport bathroom. And it’s not because he’s old or because he’s black or anything. He simply made bad choices in life. Period. Now if a person like that, who has obviously ruined his life wants to offer you anything. Anything. You have the responsibility to make a choice to say no and get away from them. Do you hear me?”
“But dad, you were right there. I could see you,” Eddie mumbled. Before he could finish Roy broke in.
“Don’t you understand what I’m saying Edward?” Roy always called him Edward when he was really irritated at him. “The man in there is a nobody and he chose to be a nobody. You can’t trust those types of people and you certainly don’t want to be one of them. And quit making excuses for your actions son, you sound like Donna.”
Eddie knew that once his mother’s name was invoked the conversation could really get ugly, so he simply whispered a meek, “Yes sir.”
“OK. Grab your bag and let’s go get some lunch before the flight. Let’s get focused on the game.”
“Yes sir.”
As Eddie and Roy left for the food court the old man in the blue smock stood behind the wall of the bathroom alcove. While he was leaning on the yellow card he had heard every word that Roy had spoken.

Food for the Soul
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -
Eddie and Roy headed down toward the terminal gate and decided to find something quick to eat.
“How bout a burger Eddie?”
“Sounds good dad.”
Once they were seated at a booth and the waitress had taken their order Eddie knew what was coming next. The question.
Roy exhaled heavily the spoke in a slow even tone, “So son, how do you think what you are about to do in this baseball game will prepare you for life?” Eddie knew the lecture was to follow so he just stared at the tile checkerboard pattern on the table in front of him while the waitress slid their drink onto cardboard coasters.
“I’ll tell you how it’s going to prepare you son. Just like it prepared me. You know, I came from nothing Eddie and worked my way up to regional manager in the company. My mom was a drunk and my dad left when I was two. You’re lucky, you have me and Donna. I worked hard in school and played baseball to get my scholarship. Look at this son and look at it hard.” Roy reached inside his shirt and pulled out a silver chain with a gold emblem shaped like the letter ‘P’.
“You know what this stands for son?”
Eddie was finishing a sip of his drink. “Yes.”
“Not just Prestwick Eddie. The Prestwick University. And not just the Prestwick University. It means that I graduated at the top of my class. You see, I made a choice to be successful Eddie. A success at baseball, a success in school, a success at work and a success at life. You have the same choices to make Eddie and if you listen to me you’ll make the right ones.” As he finished his sentence the waitress came back with the burgers and fries. Eddie was relieved.
The two sat in the booth and finished their meal without much further conversation. After Roy paid the tab they heading for the gate.

It's Just a Game
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -
This was unbelievable. Unbelievable. After all of the teaching and preaching this kid just didn’t get it. How could he be so nonchalant about striking out twice already and now he’s facing a third strikeout and it doesn’t even seem to bother him?
“Get your butt in gear Number 7! Let’s go baby! Let’s gooooo!” Roy yelled at the top of his lungs while straining to see Eddie’s at-bat from his seat behind the dugout. “It’s now or never! Knock it outta tha park!”
Eddie swung hard as the pitch came toward him. The ball hit the dirt about two feet in front of home plate and the umpire yelled, “Striiiiiike threee you’re out.”
Roy was now fuming. “Dangit Edward! You couldn’t even wait for a decent pitch! What the heck man! If you’re not going to play the game right, why play at all?” The other parents in the stands began to move away from where Roy was standing and to look at him with disgust. Roy could feel their eyes upon him.
“That’s OK! Move! Get away from me you losers. If you want your kids to suck that’s fine, but I choose to push mine to meet his full potential.” It didn’t matter to Roy that everyone around him seemed to be ignoring his tirade.
The game finally ended with Eddie’s team winning by a score of 3 to 2 in the 11th inning. Roy and Eddie were in the rental car heading back to the hotel. They were almost there when Eddie said, “Hey dad, aren’t you forgetting something?”
Roy thought for a moment. “No. What?”
“You said that if we won you would take me for ice cream at Bobo’s.”
“Yeah I said that, but you struck out three times Eddie. Even though the team won you didn’t help at all. Do you think you deserve it?” Eddie sunk down in the front passenger seat and silently ran his fingers across the edges of the seatbelt.
Roy really didn’t want to take him for ice cream. He had not earned it. He could almost hear Donna’s whining voice trying to talk him into it. Telling him how Eddie had tried his best and that he was just a kid and how kids need encouragement, blah, blah, blah, blah. That was bull.
“I’ll do better next time dad. I promise,” Eddie begged.
“Oh, alright!” Roy sighed as he made a sharp U-turn. “But I’m telling you right now that you’re doing extra chores next week. Do you understand me?”
“Yes sir.” Eddie smiled and clapped his hands lightly.

Place and Time
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -
Bobo’s. What kind of name was Bobo’s? This place was in a crummy neighborhood and there was no parking. Someone was in front of the store sweeping the sidewalk by the light a street lamp.
Of all places, you wouldn’t expect a great ice cream parlor to be here. As Eddie and Roy crossed the street Roy walked behind Eddie with both hands on his shoulders. Eddie opened the door and a wind chime jingled as one to the workers behind the counter piped, “Welcome to Bobo’s!” Roy wondered how anyone in their right mind could be so chipper at almost 9:30 at night.
As they stared at the larger posters of flavors and combination Roy was growing impatient. “Whadaya want Eddie?”
“Hmmmmm.” Eddie’s eyes were wide as he looked at all the colors and flavors before him. So much yummy deliciousness to choose from. “Let’s see. I think I’ll have a vanilla cone.”
“A vanilla cone,” said Roy in disbelief. “A vanilla cone? You make me drive all the way to the ‘hood in the middle of the night for ice cream from Dodo’s or Booboo’s or whatever the heck the name of this place is and all you want is a stinkin’ vanilla cone?”
Eddie felt flush and embarrassed. “But that’s all I want dad.”
“Sheesh!” Roy threw his hands in the air. He spoke loudly and slowly to the young man behind the counter, “OK man, gimme a vanilla cone. One, single vanilla cone.”
“OK sir. One vanilla cone coming up.”
As they sat at the small raised table Eddie could not stop swiveling nervously on his stool. He knew his dad was angry and he knew he would probably never be coming back to Bobo’s.
“You done yet? Done with your vanilla cone?”
Eddie hurriedly pushed the bottom of the cone in his mouth even though he knew the piece was a little too big and he would be forced to hold his hand over his mouth to chew it. He nodded to his father and slid off the stool.
“Let’s get out of here.” Roy hiked up his shorts and walked toward the exit door with Eddie a few steps behind him. A cool breeze blew past them as they stood on the street corner waiting for the caution light to change. Roy leaned against a large wooden electrical pole while Eddie looked down at his untied shoelace. The old man in front of the store made eye contact with Roy and nodded. Roy turned his head and put his hand on Eddie’s shoulder.
A car approached the intersection and Roy noticed that it wasn’t slowing down. In fact, it was traveling fast. The car was careening toward them.
“Eddie! Look out!” Roy bent over and wrapped his arms around Eddie while trying to shove him out of the path of the oncoming car. As they tumbled to the cement curb the car was still bearing down on them. Roy was helpless. “Dad!” Eddie yelped.
The car could not stop. It would not stop. It did not stop. The collision was inevitable. As Roy cowered over Eddie on the ground the car smashed into the wooden electrical pole that Roy had been leaning against. The sound was as if a bomb went off. Glass and metal showered Roy and Eddie as the car’s engine roared noisily and the tires squealed. The rear end of the car lifted off of the ground and slammed back to the pavement with such force that the ground shook.
Then all was quiet.
“Dad. I can’t breathe. Dad.” Eddie’s muffled voice was coming from his dad’s chest. Roy didn’t realize how tightly he was squeezing Eddie. He slowly loosened his grip and turned to his left; afraid to see what disaster just occurred. The car was a mangled mess and the airbags had deployed. He turned back to Eddie and put him at arm’s length. “You OK?”
“Yeah. I think.”
“That was freaky, huh?”
Before Eddie could answer they heard a loud creaking sound. Before they could determine where the sound was coming from, CRACK! The electrical pole that the car hit had snapped. There was no time to react. No time to take cover. The pole fell squarely across Roy and Eddie with Roy taking the brunt of the blow. Both of them now lay wedged between the curb and the large pole.
“Help me.” Roy whispered. “Help.” Eddie was silent.

An Easy Choice
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -
The old man who was in front of the ice cream shop had seen the whole thing. The car, the crash, the pole falling. He scurried into Bobo’s and told the worker to call 9-1-1 immediately. Without waiting for a response he spun around and headed back to where Roy and Eddie lay.
He kneeled down next to Roy and asked, “You OK?”
“I’m pinned. Can’t move.” Roy gasped.
The old man slid over to Eddie. His eyes were closed and his head was bleeding. He knelt down to feel for a pulse by placing two fingers on Eddie’s neck. Bump-bump, bump-bump, bump-bump. Eddie was alive. The old man went back to Roy. “The boy is alive. Help is on the way.” Roy closed his eyes. The old man knew that was not a good sign. He needed to keep him alert until help came.
“What’s your name?” He said loudly. Roy’s eyes popped open. He was a little delirious and had to think for a moment.
“Roy,” he whispered.
“My name’s Henry. Henry Thornton. I work here at night.”
Eddie closed his eyes again.
Henry could see that he was losing Roy so he leaned in close. “What’s the boy’s name? Is he your son?”
“His name is Eddie. He’s my son,” Roy replied groggily. As he turned his head to face Henry he thought he was seeing things. Around Henry’s neck he saw his silver chain with the gold emblem shaped like the letter ‘P’. Did Henry rob him? How did he get it?
“Prestwick.” Roy moaned.
“Oh, this?” Henry replied while fingering the golden ‘P’. Yep. The Prestwick University. Class of ‘47.“
Roy couldn’t believe it. How could someone who graduated from Prestwick end up sweeping sidewalks. No way. As the thoughts passed through his head, the massive pole shifted. It rolled slightly from the curb and pinned Roy even further. “Aaaarrggghhh,” Roy gasped.
Henry knew he had to do something. He stood up and nervously looked around. No help in sight. This didn’t surprise him. After all, not many people came to this neighborhood late at night. He turned back toward Bobo’s and got an idea. He ran to his cart and grabbed his broom. After unscrewing the sweeping end from the handle he made his way back to Roy and Eddie.
The situation was not good. One more revolution and the pole would surely crush them both. After noticing how the pole lay between the street and the curb and how it straddled both Roy and Eddie, Henry knew he had a critical choice to make. If he lifted either end of the pole by wedging his broom handle between the curb and the pole he could save one of them. But he could only save one because once he lifted one end of the pole the other end would surely be rolled onto the other person. It was a decision he dared not make.
Henry had to think quickly. He bent down on one knee next to Roy, using the broom handle like a staff. He had no polite way of putting things to Roy so he simply spoke plainly. “Roy. I don’t think help is coming. I have a way to get one of you from under here, but only one. You hear me?” Roy’s eyes were open and he fully understood what was going on. As he contemplated, he peered at Henry. Unable to speak, his eyes traveled to the stick Henry was holding. On the stick he saw big red letters. Big red letters on the handle that read S-T-O-L-T-Z.
In a flood of recognition Roy knew just who he was looking at. No. This was impossible. What are the chances? It was the old man from the airport bathroom. The same old man who had been sweeping the sidewalk in front of Bobo’s. No.
“So. What’s it gonna be Roy?” There was very little time.
Roy leaned his head back against the cold cement and closed his eyes. He exhaled sharply. “Save me,” Roy pleaded. “Save me!”
Henry straightened himself and took a deep breath. He slowly walked to the edge of the pole and stared down. He grasped the end of the broom handle with both hands and wedged it between the sidewalk and the pole and he leaned back with all his might. The edge of the pole was lifted and began to roll. A life was saved.

Life Goes On
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -
The ambulance and police finally arrived. The sirens blared and the lights flickered. There was a flurry of activity around the car that was smashed into the pole. A gurney was rolled out of an ambulance and Henry pointed to the end of the pole. The medical workers quickly lifted the body onto the gurney and released the wheels below it. They rolled the gurney to the back entrance of the ambulance and left to tend to the other body.
As Henry stood next to the gurney in all of the chaos, he peered down at the boy’s face. He was awake now.
“How ya doin‘ little fella?” No answer.
“You’re gonna be just fine,” Henry reassured him.
“Dad?” Eddie could not see his father.
“Eddie,” Henry said. “You may never see my face again. Heck, you might not even remember me after tonight. But I know that a man once told you that we all have to make choices in life.” Henry paused and licked his lips. “And tonight I made a choice that changed your life.”
Henry then reached around his neck and unclasped his Prestwick chain. He placed the chain in Eddie’s small hand and wrapped his fist around Eddie’s.
“Goodbye Eddie. I wish you well.”
Henry slipped away and Eddie turned his head to the side in time to see Henry walk up to his cart, get behind it and push it past the street lights into the dark night.
--The End--
A Short Story by William Guidry - Copyright 2009 -

Article Source : >>William Guidry is an honest, smart, hardworking guy who has been somewhat of a renaissance man. William Guidry has worked in both a corporate setting as a chemical engineer and has also pursued many entrepreneurial ventures. He continues to focus on helping others through his ministry and his work. To read more of William Guidry’s content, go to

Posted on 2010-10-06, By: *

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