Monday, December 26, 2011

God is good... All the time.

     This summer at Leadership Camp 2011, we had several people give talks about mission work in foreign places. One of those places was Sierra Leone, a west African country. Sierra Leone is poverty stricken and filled with starvation and disease. Their economy is slowly improving, but it still has a long way to go. 
     In the Bible studies held in Sierra Leone, the preacher will often say this phrase: "God is good" and the congregation will say back "All the time." 
      This is particularly inspiring when you realize how bad of a shape they are in. Many of them have to go days without eating, yet they still are thankful for what they have. How many of us are thank God for what we have here in America? 
     Not only do we have the necessities like food on the table, clean water, and a house, but we have $1,100 computers, $300 iPods, drawers and closets full of clothes, we have multiple cars, and so on. They don't have any of that, and they're still more thankful for what they have than we are for what we have. 
     But there are several ways you can help out Sierra Leone, and one of those ways is buying this shirt.

    They're only fifteen dollars ($5 for shipping $10 for the shirt, unless you live near enough that I don't have to ship it.) and all of the profit goes to Sierra Leone, to help buy food and other necessities. They will be for sale at Winter Camp this week for $10, or you can order one. Once again, all the profit goes to Sierra Leone, and you will be helping someone or several people who are in serious need. 
     Here is some more info on Sierra Leone.
     Donations are also welcome. 
     Comment on here if you are interested in leaving a donation or buying a shirt.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rims On the Wagon (chapter 8)

Chapter 8: you can’t tell the rap what to say

                It was May 3rd, the day before the big event. Danny was petrified with fear. He didn’t know anyone in the city, and he didn’t know how he was going to get food by himself. The people of the community never thought quite that far, however, and were only concerned with how much less trouble Jacob would be getting into without an accomplice. Of course, Jacob had been without an accomplice for a while, now, and had caused plenty of trouble. They never thought quite that far, either.
                “Danny,” said Jezebel as she walked into his room, “I’m sorry it’s come to this. I hate to say I told you so, but I did.” Danny sighed and thought for a moment. “There’ll always be haters. There’ll always be peoples pullin me down. There’ll always be lepers and betraytors, and they can’t help but make me frown. The fact is, my homie, that I’mma make it on my own, now. I’mma defeat the fiery wok of doubt with a flying dragon chicken kung POW. You can’t take what I got inside, what I tried so long to hide- no, you can’t take hip hop away. You can’t tell the rap what to say. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, so I’mma tell that chef to make me two.”
                Danny had never free styled before, and he wasn’t sure where the words came from. All he knew was that he expressed his feelings better with a rhyme and a beat than he ever could with the prosaic mumblings he had previously used to communicate. The words had power, the beat had style. The combination caused not only his, but Jezebel’s feet to get a bad case of ADHD. That is to say, they both were shufflin from one side to the other long after the moment of inspiration had passed. “What was that?” Jezebel asked as she tried to get a grip on what had just happened. “That,” said Danny, “was the power of hip hop. You can’t explain it, you can’t control it. You just go with it.”
                Danny still pondered and wandered in his mind, trying to figure out what Joseph could have meant. He had always been strange, but lately he was acting like some kind of seer or shaman. Danny suddenly remembered the event at Jacob’s cousins house that day. He now understood why Mrs. James had attempted a coup d’├ętat with that cruelly misused melon. What he couldn’t understand was where that voice had come from. Now that he thought about it, Joseph didn’t seem alarmed by it at all. Of course, it’s hard to get Joseph’s attention when he’s reading Homer, so he may not have noticed at all.
                The day had finally arrived. Danny woke up at sunrise to the smell of Mrs. James’ macaronis. He had never liked those macaronis. They were much harder and doughier than what he had always been used to. He went downstairs, and was not surprised to find Mrs. James there to gloat over his departure. “Why, Danny!” she said, “you look like you’re headed to the gallows today! Why don’t you have a macaroni or four?” Danny reluctantly accepted, and was soon chewing away at the hopelessly chewy cardboard confections. “They have lots of fiber to keep you from getting hungry on your trip!” chirped Mrs. James, happily. Danny would have liked to say something in return, but his polite Amish upbringing had always taught him to be a polite Amish person. He racked his brain to figure out why on earth someone who could make the best pies and cookies in town would torture friends and family with such a culinary abomination. Perhaps I haven’t adequately described the experience for you to understand the torture he was enduring? Upon placing your fork into the stiff (yet oddly rubbery) “treat”, you unleash one of the strongest aromas of wood shavings you will ever smell. The problem here is that it’s one of those smells that you love only when it is in its proper place. It’s like a raccoon. They are cute and cuddly outside, but you bring it inside and everyone freaks out. Anyway, as you raise the fork towards your mouth, you begin to notice what looks like ground up cardboard protruding from the bite you are about to ingest. When you finally conquer your most terrifying fears and put the foul thing into your mouth, you begin to think that you accidentally scooped up a forkful of dust. The only thing to convince you otherwise is the stiff, yet rubbery consistency of the food. You then spend the next five minutes attempting to chew it, swallow, and repeat about ten more times. You can imagine to some point how enjoyable this could be.
                Danny labored at this ordeal for quite a while before finally giving up. Mrs. James glared at him with burning rage in her eyes as he walked out of the room leaving his unfinished plate on the table. She really didn’t hold it against him. She knew that he didn’t like her macaronis, but she would have preferred to have the satisfaction of watching him labor away for a few more minutes. Anyway, there was a ceremony of expulsionosity to occur at noon, when Danny would be formally removed from the community. Danny sat around and watched the clock with growing fear… ten… nine fifty-nine…… nine fifty-eight… nine fifty-seven… nine fifty-six… nine fifty-five, etc. You get the idea. Somewhere around nine fifty-four, time froze. He saw his life slowly reenacting itself in front of him. This moment seemed to last forever…. What was happening? Everything seemed to be in slow motion, and the clock hadn’t moved for what seemed like fifteen minutes. Just when Danny started to think the end of the world was beginning, his father walked into the room. “Oh.” Said his father. “The clock is stuck again.” He then walked over and gave the clock a hard kick, at which point it began moving at the proper rate again.
                Danny sat and pondered the questions that had plagued him for so long: How did this all happen? Why did he have to find that device? What was wrong with a love of hip hop? Why does this book have so many random, unnecessary descriptions of things that have nothing to do with the plot? He couldn’t seem to find the answers. I can’t give the answers now, of course, since I still have a lot of story to tell and I have to get this book to fifty thousand words by the end of the month. Actually, I did answer one of those questions by explaining why I couldn’t answer them. This book has lots of unnecessary details BECAUSE I STINKIN WANT IT TO. And because I still have forty-two thousand two hundred twenty-four words to write. Anyway. Eleven O’clock passed without further event, and twelve was looming ominously in the near future. Jezebel was a basket case with sorrow at her brother’s crime and downfall, Jacob was still too sore to get out, and Danny’s mother was busy sowing seeds of deceit in desperate hope of stopping the fatal moment from arriving. Finally, though, it arrived.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Notes from The Night.

Notes From The Night.
Last night, I woke up at 1:30 AM from a couple of hours restless sleep, tossing and turning. My mind was aglow, lit with incredible ideas, writing awesome music, creating clever and thought-provoking paintings. If you are like me, you always want more ideas and more things to create. But also, if you are like me, you don’t really want to get up at 1:30 in the morning and spend hours painting, especially if you have an English class in the morning at eight o’ clock. So I did what any rational human would do. I picked up my iPod lying on the night stand next to my bed and opened the Notes app, hoping to save my incredible ideas for later. However, when I woke up, it seemed little gnomes had unlocked my iPod and rewritten all the notes to make little/no sense. This will be a multi-part series. Anyway, here are my notes.
     1. “Reverse mullet.”
Yes, that’s all it says. However, while the casual reader might think this was the side effects of being half asleep and/or mental illness, I can see a definite possibility for a rocking new hairstyle.
2. “He’s a man- He’s the last piece of cake.” 
No comment. 

3.    “ :3 = I have a large cleft in my chin.”
This one actually has meaning. It’ll be a blog post on here next week, although it’ll be in context.
4.     “The two faced people laughing at the one faced. The back faces are secretly crying while the front faces are laughing. The ground is yellow”
This sounds like it could be deep… Probably not. It’s probably about crouton slavery, judging by the other notes I wrote last night. 
5.    “I was into Illinoise before Stevens was cool- I have a fixed gear because motors are for fools. Rimless are for chumps, I wear Ray-Ban glasses, I’m in art school- I take a lot of photography classes. I have a scruffy beard and a cool scarf, your mainstream fashion makes me want to barf. I really dig Jeff Mangum, I like the sound of him, I have a favorite band, but you’ve probably never heard of them.” 
So appearantly I was awake enough to write a poem about hipsters. Either that, or narcissistic homeless elderly people with a good taste in music and somehow are paying for art school.
Anyway, that does it for this installment of “Notes from the Night.” If you have a better title, please comment or post on our Facebook wall. It was the first thing I thought of, because it was notes… that I wrote in the night. So it made sense.
Master Chef.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rims On the Wagon (chapter 7)

Chapter 7: the toy of the devil


                Mrs. James of course had to fess up after the last interrogation. The scandal she had nightmares about for weeks was real. She couldn’t believe how terribly wrong this had all gone. For what? For the love of hip hop. She didn’t know what had possessed her for so long… what made her keep such a dark secret for so little a reward? All she could think about for days was how her life was ruined. She didn’t touch the oven for a week after the incident. She finally made it back into the kitchen, but all her macaroons and macaronis came out burnt with her rage. She finally decided she had to get even. This was all Danny Dominici’s fault. If he had kept his freckled nose out of her yard then none of this would have happened. She plotted and schemed and plotted and schemed to find a way to get back. Nothing I could say would ever do any good now. She could barely eat, let alone bake because of her horrible terrible anger. Finally, she had a brilliant idea. The next time they went into town, she slipped away again and went into the toy store…
                Danny had a weird feeling like something or someone was watching him. Preacher James hadn’t come to talk to his parents at home yet, but he had seen them talking at church the day before. As he refilled the dog’s food bowl, he saw something unusual on the ground by the house. He walked over and picked it up. It was a plastic toy… it looked like some kind of monster, with the head of an octopus and the body of a kitten. Danny couldn’t figure out what it could be. He turned it over and over in his hands- lost in thought. After a few minutes, he heard a voice behind him:  “Mister Dominici, Pokey-Moo is the toy of the devil.” “What?” Danny asked, startled. He turned around to see Preacher James standing there. “I was willing to accept your explanation for why you didn’t turn over the device at the first, but now I find you in the act of occult rituals? You had better come inside while I talk with your parents.” Danny tried to explain, but he again couldn’t get out anything more intelligent than when he got caught carrying Jezebel’s bed to the lake.
                Danny’s father had been expecting Preacher James, and was waiting in the sitting room. “Mr. Dominici, I have a hard time believing that these things could go on for this long completely unnoticed.” “What ‘things’ do you mean? Is there more than what we already know about? And, with all due respect, I might mention that we are all more than capable of missing things of this nature.” Said Mr. Dominici. Preacher James was taken a bit off guard by this statement, but quickly responded, “Mr. Dominici, I will admit that we all can let things go unnoticed, but my wife has never dabbled in the occult.” Mr. Dominici quickly asked, “Would you please tell what this is all about?” “Danny, would you bring forward the object in question?” Preacher James asked Danny. He slowly came forward and held up the toy to the preacher. “Are you aware what this is, Mr. Dominici?” “No, I haven’t seen it before. I don’t know that it looks occult, per se, though it is definitely strange.” “It is a Pokey Moo toy. Widely known by the modern world to be an occult idol. There’s no telling what evil might result when combining this hip hop nonsense with pagan rituals like this. I should correct myself: I said there is no telling, but I believe that young Danny here can tell quite easily, should he choose to. Couldn’t you, Danny?” Danny’s eyes grew wide with terror. He didn’t have the first clue what was going on, he didn’t know what the object was, and he didn’t know where it came from. “I.. I… I found it on the ground beside the porch.” He finally stammered. “Yes, we know you’re good at finding things.” Said the preacher. “You’ve ‘found’ one quite expensive device of this sort, and now you ‘find’ one even more devilish object at your very own house. Mister Dominici, you should be aware that repeat offenses of this magnitude require severe punishment. The only sentence worthy of lying and idolatry is to be expelled from the community.”
                Mrs. James now returned to a slight, remote form of normalcy. She was now capable of cooking again, though at times her macaronis came out as macaroons. She was ecstatic over Danny’s apparently imminent expulsion. That whale had proved to be more of a shark, but she had tamed it well enough to be somewhat at peace with it. She baked the hours away with a nervous ecstasy that neared euphoria, but it never quite reached that point. Every time she got close to it, the whale shark in her heart seemed to get stuck in a valve and cause it to skip a beat or two whenever she remembered the scandal that loomed over her.  The horrid scandal was the talk of the area. Even in the nearby towns the word was spreading about the preacher and his wife’s dark secret. If there had been tabloids in the Amish community, they would have been buzzing. As it was, the group of somewhat respectable ladies that Mrs. James had been a regular accomplice of were waging war with that whale shark like a swarm of piranhas.
                They say that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and Jacob was still feeling the effects of the recoil of that whale shark as it jumped out of his whirl pooling head onto Mrs. James. He had to regularly ice his ankle, his hand, his knee, his head, his lip, his ear, and his elbow to keep the swelling down. You see, for a twelve year old to be knocked off a porch by a grown woman in a fit of rage typically is not a pleasant experience. He wasn’t sure how he felt about his revenge. Of course, he was probably too numb to feel much of anything (except for a terrific headache). Jacob’s head still swam, despite being devoid of any apparent whales or piranhas. He felt avenged to a point, but past that point he felt horribly bad in a strangely not good kind of way. He hadn’t expected Danny to be kicked out of the town. He found a kind of cold comfort in the fact that he thought himself avenged. Danny hadn’t cared about him. Danny never understood him. No one really understood him, he was just so different.
                Back in Danny’s head, there were no whales. There were no sharks. There were no piranhas, no barracudas, there were no trout. If you’re wondering what WAS in Danny’s head, he had several bicuspids, a jawbone; he had a sinus cavity, a brain, two eyes, and a uvula. Of course, the fact is that most people have bicuspids, most have a jawbone, sinus cavities; a few have brains, and everyone- EVERYONE has a uvula. While many of the contents of Danny’s specific cranium are at least somewhat common, what I would like us to look at is the apparent black hole that sucked all feeling into it- never to return. Danny was about as numb as Jacob at that specific moment, though for a totally different reason. While the reason was in a way directly linked to the cause of Jacob’s numbness, the fact remains that it was a different reason. Danny was almost to the point of despair. He had no idea what he would do after he left home. Why should he feel hopeless, though? The thought occurred to him one day while he was doing a stylish jig on his bed to ward off the grumpy sad sack syndrome that had possessed him since he heard his sentence. “Why should I feel helpless?” the thought filled some of the void that the black hole had created in his otherwise normal head. “I can chase my dream!” this thought overwhelmed the black hole, until it burst forth into the verbal form of “oooooOOOOOooooOOOOOHHHH WWWEEEEEHEHEHEHHEEEEEHHHEEEEE!!!!!!!” While it may seem unusual for such a feeling to be expressed in this way, that’s the way I wrote the book, so don’t complain. You may also find it unusual for Danny to express such an apparently wide array of emotions. To this, again, I say “Don’t complain, Nimrod. You’re a mighty hunter, not a philosophicalist.” Anyway, the void and vacuum of his head was filled with hope and happiness. You could even say his hope reached the level that you could dare to call it “audacious”. The audacity of this hope drove Danny’s mind to think of completely new possibilities. He could chase his dream! He could become the rap music mogul he had dreamed of being his whole life! Of course, he hadn’t dreamed of being a rap music mogul for more than a few months, but that’s beside the point.
                Danny’s expulsion from the community was set to occur on May 4th. He almost looked forward to that day, even though he was still afraid of it. He wasn’t sure how he would make it on his own. While he was babysitting Jacob’s cousins one day, he thought to ask Joseph, “Joseph,” he asked, “what will I do when I leave? You’ve always seemed to know more than you let on.” Joseph for a moment smiled his mysterious smile, and replied, “Well, you know how all this came about. The world has been in harmony until now. The feet wore the socks, so to speak, and the socks wore the shoes. Now everything has changed. You found a shiny gadget in the grass and then PPLLLLPPPPPPTTTT!!!! The socks ate the feet; the shoes ate the socks.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rims On the Wagon (chapter 6)

I'm only posting these occasionally since I've been lazy and haven't been doing any more work on it, and I don't want to post stuff too fast and run out of stuff to post. Moving on:

Chapter 6: the whale is freed

                Jacob was still mad. Mrs. James was still in a state of mild panic. She still needed to find a way to keep Jacob from talking. Jacob still couldn’t figure out how to get this whale out of the whirlpool in his head. He finally was about to decide he needed to tell Preacher James. He just had to hope that his bad record would keep Preacher James from believing him. He knew it was a long shot, but it was the only shot he had. This whale had been swimming in circles for too long, and he was ready to free the proverbial “Willy”. Mrs. James kept an eye on Jacob whenever she had the chance. She didn’t have any idea what she could do if Jacob started to say something about it, but she had to do something if she got the chance.
                Every day Mrs. James saw Jacob walking by the house. He always looked very nervous to her. Jacob kept deciding he was going to see Preacher James, but changed his mind whenever he got to the gate. After about a week of this, he finally decided there was no turning back. Mrs. James was on the back porch talking to a member of her usual ring of gossips, and saw Jacob coming around the bend towards the house. He looked nervous, but he also looked determined this time. His jaw was set, his strides were longer. However, when he started down the lane, all that changed. He suddenly became more nervous than he had ever been on his previous attempts. His hands shook, his jaw quivered, and he got goose bumps the size of grapefruits. He was twenty yards from the gate. He was fifteen yards from the gate. He was ten, nine, eight, seven, six (is this getting old?), five, four (this is actually kinda fun), three, two, one… only a step away from the gate his legs turned to jelly. He literally crawled the last three feet, used the fence post to pull himself to his feet, and turned the latch…
                Mrs. James (who by now was watching intently from the window) almost passed out when she realized what he might be there to do. She jumped from her seat by the window and ran to the kitchen window to get a better view. Her gossip friend, who had no idea what was going on, expected she must be witnessing the source of some potential scandal and jumped to her feet to follow. In the excitement, she tripped over the coffee table- breaking the best tea set in the process. Mrs. James, hearing the crash, ran back into the room and attempted to clean up the mess. Amid the confusion she never heard the knock at the front door…
                Preacher James heard the knocking at the door from his study adjacent to the kitchen. He waited for Mrs. James to answer it, but the knock continued. He finally got to his feet and walked over to answer the door. Mrs. James heard the door open and flew into an even greater panic than before. As Preacher James uttered the words, “How are you today, young Mister Hatchbacks?” Mrs. James flew through the door, knocking Jacob completely off the porch, and smashing several flower pots in the process. “What on earth are you doing?!” Preacher James asked when he recovered himself. “I… he… ah… oh… “ was all she could reply.
                After that day, Jacob never went to the James’ house again. Of course, the story of his visit came out once everything was cleaned up. Jacob told how Danny had found a forbidden device somewhere, and was hiding it in his room. The mayhem of the event made Preacher James forget about Jacob’s misdeeds and he took Jacob’s story at full face value. No one could explain, however, what had sent Mrs. James into such a frenzy. Not even Preacher James’ best interrogation techniques could get the truth out. He finally decided she was telling the truth when she said she had been missing sleep and was having a bad dream while sleep walking. “It was awful.” She said. “I dreamed that I was baking a heavenly batch of macaroni casseroles, and a man took them and tried to throw them off the roof… I saw in slow motion as they fell towards the ground, and then realized that there was a helpless kitten sitting on top of the dish as it fell! I had to dive to catch them… and I woke up on the porch with broken pots everywhere.” No one dared to dream of the horrible truth. No one could explain how this device had come into town. Preacher James had to talk to Danny.
                “Mister Dominici,” Preacher James began when Danny answered the door. Danny felt his heart skip several beats in a row. What was the preacher doing there? “It has come to my attention that you have found a device that violates our strict rules about possessing worldly items.” Danny’s heart sank as the whale from Jacob’s whirlpooling mind sat down on it. Having a whale sitting on your heart doesn’t feel good, Danny found. “May I see the device?” the preacher asked. “Um, sure. Yes, sir.” Danny stammered and walked upstairs to get it. He brought it down for the preacher to examine. “Interesting…” Preacher James said, thoughtfully. “I’ve heard of these, I haven’t seen one up close for myself before, though. Where did you find it?” Danny tried to regain his composure and answered, “I found it in a bush beside your house.” “Beside my house?” Preacher James was taken off guard. “Yes, sir. I was walking over to see what Mrs. James had baked that day, and a strange dog jumped out at me. I ran around your house and hid behind a bush, and this was on the ground.” Preacher James finally understood the meaning of this all. He never would have imagined that something like this could happen right underneath his nose. After a pause he resumed his questioning, “When was this? Why didn’t you tell someone about it?” “I found it about three months ago. I was scared to tell anyone. Things like this aren’t allowed here. I was afraid that people would think that I bought it, and I wouldn’t be allowed to go into town with Mother and Father anymore.” Preacher James thought for a moment, and finally said, “Thank you for your time. I will be back to talk with your parents soon.”
                Preacher James’ head swam as he walked home. The whale of a rumor in fact was a whale of a fact. That whale had had mercy on Danny’s heart after its initial belly flop on his superior vena cava, and was now happily fluttering like a huge aquatic butterfly in Preacher James’ stomach. He arrived home without the familiar smell of yeast and cinnamon that he was so used to. Mrs. James still sat on the back porch sipping Darjeeling tea. She still had that panicked look on her face that had grown worse over the last several days, but now that he knew the reason he seemed to notice it for the first time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rims On the Wagon (chapter 5)

Chapter 5: the attempt of a desperate crime; the mysterious voice of mystery

                Jacob was terrified after leaving the James’ house. He wasn’t at all expecting the outburst from Mrs. James. He didn’t think this was going to turn out anything like he was expecting. Jacob racked his brain to come up with a new idea.
                Meanwhile, Mrs. James had turned into a basket case. She couldn’t even imagine the scandal that would follow if anyone found out where the device came from. Just think about how the town would talk if the wife of the preacher (who was as outspoken as anyone against this kind of thing) was found to have this kind of secret life! Imagine the disgrace it would bring Preacher James! No one would believe that the man who could spot a lie from across the universe could not know about it happening right under his very nose. She had to make sure that Jacob never told anyone else. Someone might suspect where it came from, and if Danny ever had to tell where he found it…. She couldn’t think about that possibility.
                It was almost Danny’s thirteenth birthday. It had been three months since he found the device, and just as long since he had talked to Jacob. His family wasn’t in the habit of throwing birthday parties, but it was still a gloomy thought to him that Jacob wouldn’t be there for dinner, at least. Jacob’s aunt and uncle were still on good terms with the Dominicis, and asked if Danny would mind baby-sitting for them while they went to buy some goods in town. Danny was chasing Jephtha around the yard in a game of tag. Ruth was running the other way, Bob was hiding behind a bush, and Joseph was reading a worn copy of Homer’s Illiad. What none of them (with the exception of Joseph) knew was that behind a bush on the other side of the yard, Mrs. James was waiting with a large melon. “I’ve got one shot at this.” She thought. “A good whollop in the head might just make him forget all about finding that device…” she said to herself, almost laughing a cruel laugh that would give her away to all the children in the yard. She waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, Jephtha ran across that side of the yard with Danny chasing close behind. She waited a little longer for a good shot… three… two… one… “Hey, um, Mrs. James?” I asked. “You do realize that, 1. While your character is pretty stressed out right now, this is a little more villainous than what I had planned on, and, 2. While this book doesn’t portray the Amish sub-culture 100% accurately, the characters are mostly pretty believable. If someone goes throwing melons at kids, though, people start scratching their heads, like, ‘Wait, what?’ and then no one will take me seriously. I’m leaving this up to you, but I would advise you not to throw that. Besides, I pretty much gave your hiding place away so he can see you standing there about to throw a melon at him.” Mrs. James and the kids sat there with blank looks on their faces, trying to figure out what just happened. Well, most of them did. Joseph simply smiled his knowing smile and turned to the next page of the Illiad. Mrs. James finally recovered her senses enough to drop the melon and run for her life. Danny wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t have any idea why Mrs. James would be hiding behind a bush about to throw a melon at him, and he couldn’t figure out who or what had just started talking out of nowhere. The kids went back to their game and soon forgot all about the strange incident. Well, except for Joseph, but you could probably guess that.
                When they had run until their short legs were about to give out, they sat down and played tic tac toe on the ground. Danny quickly accumulated a large collection of tics and tacs, but Ruth held a monopoly on the toes. Danny proposed a trade, since Ruth didn’t have as many tacs as him. “No, I have enough for now.” She said, sounding a bit more like Joseph than usual. “But there is a trade I will make with you. I’ll give you two toes if you promise to let me make your wish for you when you cut your birthday cake.” Danny was taken off guard by this unusual offer, but he couldn’t think of much that he wanted right about then. Of course what he wanted most was for his family to accept his new love of rap, but he couldn’t tell anyone about that. “You have come to a fork in the road of your life.” Joseph said with his ominous smile. “You must decide whether you will fight, or if you wish to be defeated and disgraced.” “Um……” Danny again didn’t know what to say. “I guess I’ll take that trade.” He said suddenly. He immediately didn’t know why he accepted, but it was too late to take back. “Here’s your toes!” Ruth squeaked, happily. Danny just sat wondering what he had just done.
                The next evening, Danny was called down for his birthday dinner. “Get down here for your birthday dinner!” his mother called. When he came downstairs, Jezebel was waiting with his parents and a stack of gifts from family and friends. Ruth was there, waiting impatiently to steal his birthday wish, and he thought he caught a glimpse of Joseph, but he wasn’t sure because when he looked again no one was there. They gathered around the table, and Danny’s family began singing “Happy Birthday” while lighting the candles. When they were done, Danny had almost forgotten his deal with Ruth, but before he had a chance to say anything she screamed “GIVE HIM CHILDREN LEST HE DIE!!!!!” Everyone stood in awkward silence for a moment before his mother asked, “How big of a piece do you want, Danny?”
                Danny had a pretty good birthday. He obviously didn’t get either of his wishes. His parents didn’t give him a bus ticket to town to embark on his hip hop dream, and he didn’t get any kids. But, despite not getting any children, he didn’t die. He was definitely glad that he didn’t die, but he still felt somewhat empty. He went out into his spot in the woods to practice. He rapped about his loneliness and isolation from the world of hip hop. He rapped about love, he rapped about doves, he rapped about rubber gloves and lizzightning bugs. He rapped about anything that rhymed. For some reason, today it just didn’t feel right. He sat down on a log and thought for a few minutes. After a little while he heard a cracking branch behind him. He turned around and saw Jezebel standing there behind a bush. Danny wasn’t too surprised, and he just thought for a minute before saying, “Hey.” Jezebel walked up and sat on the log. Finally, she said, “That was really good. But you know you can’t become a rapper. What would everyone say? These things are forbidden here.” Danny sighed. “I know… what makes it wrong, though? Why can’t we rap? Just think how happy this town could be if we all embraced hip hop!” “Maybe you’re right…” Jezebel said slowly. “I still have a bad feeling about it.”