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For the most recent Friday Challenge

 

For the record, since his inception Ogden has always been an Alternate Universe Jamsco. And much of this story has truth in it.

 

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The Adventures Of Ogden: Man Of The Suburb:

Two Surprise Visits

 

8:30 AM – January 1

 

The phone rang. The phone rang again, and Ogden woke up. And he groaned. His whole body, mostly his head, ached. He remembered why and then groaned again.

 

The phone rang a third time. He knew who it was, it was his fiancé, Gretta.

 

In the middle of the fourth ring, thinking it was too early, he picked it up and pressed the green button.

 

“Hi, Ogden, how are you feeling?” There was amusement in her voice.

 

“Not . . . Not great.” He said, just barely managing to keep himself from groaning again.

 

“I can believe it after the show you put on last night.”

 

“It’s nice that you show me such sympathy,” he said, not angrily. He was aware that her amusement was reasonable.

 

“Y’know” she continued, “it’s too bad it wasn’t recorded. That video would have gone bacteriological.”

 

“I think you mean ‘Viral’”, he said soberly.

 

It had all began so innocently. A simple plan: Potluck at church, followed by family board games in the fellowship hall, a midnight communion service, and then over to a friend’s house for a little New Years get-together . . . .

 

6:30 PM – December 31.

 

“Hey Ogden,” said Nathan, and Ogden greeted his brother as he walked up the steps to the side door of the church and shook his hand. It was fairly warm, nearly 30, but getting cooler quickly.

 

Ogden then looked down and shook hands with Emily, his six year old niece. She smiled “Hi, Uncle Ogden!” Ogden noticed two things:

 

First, that Nathan, as usual, had been more punctual that he was. Ever since Nathan had started going back to church again, he had been pretty regular. This had been an answer to prayer.

 

The second thing Ogden noticed was that his sister-in-law wasn’t there – at least not there at the door to greet him.

 

“Kristen?” he asked.

 

Nathan’s smile left his face and he shook his head. She still had not darkened the door. At least not in the last twenty-two years. That was another matter for prayer.

 

As they entered the church, Ogden tried to come up with a new subject. “Potluck, huh?” he said, looking grim. “I don’t know . . . it’s been a long time”

 

“Oh, c’mon, Vox, I mean Ogden!  You’ll never get a more decent meal than when a church full of decent women try to outdo each other with their best recipes.”

 

As it turned out, Nathan was right. Ogden’s favorite had been the chicken pot pie and the Oreo cream pie. And soon it was game time.

 

It’s too bad Gretta isn’t here, thought Ogden. She would have enjoyed this part, but she had to work at the hospital all night.

 

Ogden, never great at games, was soon several points behind the others at the Speed Uno table, but he was pleased with the soft spoken peace that he saw in the eyes of his brother as they played.

 

As might have been expected, Emily fared much better. At the table next to them, she got involved in a series of table hockey games and was winning her games in the mini- tournament, much to the surprised chagrin of some of the older kids.

 

And then Ogden was looked past the hockey table and he saw her – Kristen – his sister-in-law, looking a little uncomfortable as her eyes darted around the room looking for Nathan.

 

Ogden stood up, smiled awkwardly and their eyes met. He started to head to her but then realized that it would be better if –

 

“Nathan!” he whispered. Nathan looked up, followed Ogden’s eyes and then nearly knocked his chair over as he quickly went to his wife. Ogden watched as Nathan and Kristen stood looking at each other for a second and then she said, “Okay.”

 

Ogden gathered by Nathan’s silent response that much meaning was poured into that word. And the rest of their conversation was blocked from Ogden by the cheers for another Emily-win.

 

And soon they were all heading into the sanctuary for the communion service, and when the moment happened, Ogden couldn’t help but glance sideways as the plates went by. Kristen didn’t partake.

 

Ah well, at least she was being honest. Perhaps she felt she wasn’t ready. So a matter for further prayer.

 

Soon the service was over, and they were standing in the foyer. Ogden’s cell phone rang.

 

“Ogden,” –it was Gretta. “Can you go outside and look at your car?”

“Sure. Why?”

“You’ll see.”

 

Ogden made his way through the departing groups of people, and soon he was outside. There she was, standing right by his Geo Prism.

“How-?”, he began as he made is way to the top of the steps.

“They sent me home! Too few patients! Sally gave me a ride here.”

“That’s great. Can you come over to WHAUGHWHOAH – “

 

Ogden had slipped on the top step. He feet flew in front of him and sideways and he tumbled and rolled down the fifteen steps to the sidewalk. People gasped and got out of the way. Later, Ogden was pretty sure that his head only hit two or three of the steps.

 

Three seconds after he came to rest at the bottom, Gretta was there leaning over him, saying “Are you okay?” But he could see that she was barely able to keep herself from laughing. And then he heard some teenagers twenty feet away were not fighting the temptation and were openly laughing and applauding him. “Awesome!” one of them shouted before they were hushed by 92 year old Constance.

 

“Yes, I’m . . . fine.” he said, slowly getting up. Mostly.

 

Several people moved close to further inquire to his state of physical being. A stranger handed him his cell phone – “Found it on the third step from the top.”

 

With Gretta’s help, he hobbled over to his car, said Goodbye to Nathan and his family and Gretta drove him home.

 

And as she kissed him on his forehead just before she left him for the night, she smiled and asked, “So I was wondering, Ogden, . . . what’s up with you and holidays?”

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