"Harvey," says Shal, "Shane, that grandson of yours is a diplomat."
"Yep, he's a marvel, 14 going on 40. I'm proud of that kid. We talked, and I believe he will spend part of Christmas break with me. He said he'd take the train down from Seattle. They don't get down here very often, and it was hard for Sarah to lose her mother. I think she crawled in a hole for a while. And I was useless."
"She and I spoke," Ollie said, "she said she understood that you weren't available to comfort her after Liz passed, for you were grieving, and the family was walking on eggs."
"Yeah, I think our Sunday get-together helped-- thank you guys for being there."
"People lightened up after a while," Shal says. "I got a kick out of Shane when his uncle began talking politics, and people began returning to the food table. Shane got people back on track by telling the story Liz told him. Did you hear it?"
"What was it," asks Simad.
"Once in the lab, someone sent in a urine sample, only it was peach juice, and the lab tech went ballistic, thinking the doner would soon be in a diabetic coma. The joker quickly told what he had done, and all ended well."
"Yeah," said Harvey, "Once Liz and a couple of nurses teamed up with the lab techs, and rigged a catapult to see who could lob a breakfast sweet roll into a cup of coffee. The bagel won, only it needed the cream cheese for ballast."
"You guys must have had fun."
"Yeah, we did."
"Remember that, Harvey," Ollie said.
"I do. Liz nursed people for twenty years. I'm glad she had a break to do her own thing. I'm getting better, I've been playing music when I come home from work instead of having six beers."
"Good for you."
"Hey, Simad," says Shal, "How's the novel coming?"
"I finished it Sunday after I came home from Harvey's. Life's too short to fool around."
"Here, here," Everyone stood up and applauded."
"Okay," says Ollie," leaving the group to go into the house. "I have chilled champagne ready for the occasion."
She returned with a bottle and glasses." "One should always celebrate their successes. It gives the brain happy juice." She turned to Shal and handed him the bottle, "Would you pop the cork?"
He gently removed the cork without squirting champagne. "See, I didn't bruise it."
He fills the glasses Ollie holds, and everyone toasts Simad and settles back into their chairs. Most take a slice of cheese and a cracker that Ollie had supplied that day.
"I'm proud of you guys," Ollie said. "We agreed when we set this meeting place up that it would be a place to honor positivity. That it would be a safe place to fall. Don’t think you can’t bring anything to the table though—concerns, injuries, hurts, we’re here to support.”
“Yeah, said Sally, we could all see that the world had become a bit wonkey, and what if we could walk into a yard, sit under a maple tree, and find solace, gratitude, and support. This is like a secret garden. I can relax here. Simad, I am so proud of you. Tinkie, you went for your dream. By the way, how’s it coming?”
“Better than I had imagined. I can lose myself there, almost as good as here, except there I’m building up muscle and Alan is there. I’m crazy over him, but he treats me like a kid.
“He’ll wake up and smell the coffee one of these days Twinkie,” says Shal. “You’ll see. I feel it in my bones.”
“You overcame your resistance to complete your work, Simad, and I believe Sunday provided a good place for Harvey’s family. It seemed that everyone left in a jovial mood. The kids played so well, maybe they won’t be afraid to come to Grandpa’s place now."
"I read,” said Simad, “ that the largest self-published moneymaker was 50 Shades of Grey."
'That tells you what people want." Says Twinkie."
"But I'm a Sci-Fi writer," says Simad."
"Throw in some sex, Simad," says Harvey.
"Come to think of it," says Shal, "The Martain was Sci-fi, self-published, made 3 mil, had no sex, and the film version made a ton of money.”
"Honestly," Simad sighed. "I'm having something like buyer's remorse. While I wanted that book finished, and I was happy to get a publisher, I'm worried it will not sell. And the company will depend on me to market it, and I'm terrible at marketing."
"Take a break Shal. We’re here today to honor your success right now. And when you go home, print out copies for us. "I'll read it and give my honest opinion--and a review, not that I'm an expert or anything. But don't you read it. You'll find something to change. the rabbit jumped out of the hot, don't stuff him back in. And you know Simad, you won't please everybody. Books are a matter of taste, and interest.”
Thanks, Shal. I don't need charity. I need talent."
"Stop it, Simad," Sally virtually yelled. "You are arguing for your limitations. You know that creating something out of nothing is a task many cannot do. You also know that skill can be learned. If you have the imagination to complete an entire book, you must have something in that head of yours. Plus, it's not over until the fat lady sings."
[Sigh]. "You're right, Sally, I'm whining."
"We gave you permission to do it. Simad," says Ollie. "Just don't stay there."
"I'm just worried. And I need the money."
"Those are reasonable fears, Simad," says Ollie, "that's the trouble with putting out work to be scrutinized. Of course, you will worry."
"Guess I just want to be liked."
"Doesn't everybody? I always laugh at some of those design shows on TV," says Shal. "The MCs will say, "Knock our socks off, like the contestants aren't trying to do just that."
"Why do you think we are drinking champagne, Simad? You have done what many cannot do. You found a publisher, completed your novel, and are now having a letdown. It is logical."
"Thanks Spock. I think I will begin my next book. I felt depressed when I completed that one. Got any ideas?"
"Yeah," says Harvey, "have an astronaut get wounded on Mars, left dead by his crew, and must survive on potatoes fertilized by his own excrement."
"Everybody laughed. "That's been done, Harvey!"