Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!
The old radio brought back memories.
Deep in the recess of his mind, he remembered hearing the old music blaring from the speaker of his grandfather’s radio. Today music played on gadgets that did things that would shock his grandfather. Sometimes, it shocked him.
Turning on the old radio, he fiddled with the dial. Eventually, the static became sounds, and music from his grandfather’s favorite radio filled the air. However, now the station played not the big-band music of bygone times, but something his grandson called hip-hop spilled from the speakers. Whatever it was, he hated it and switched it off immediately.
“At least it still works.” He leaned back in the old chair and closed his eyes.
Memories from another time came floating back to him. The image of his grandfather sitting in the very chair he sat in smoking a pipe, the aroma of cherry tobacco drifting with the smoke. As he pounded away on the keys of a typewriter, the radio would be playing Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey. His dad sat in the chair in later years, and tunes from Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald drifted from that old radio. He had listened to Maynard Ferguson, Herbie Mann, and Buddy Rich. The good old days of music.
It occurred to him that he must have been about the same age as his youngest grandson was now when he stood in the office, nervous and in awe of his grandfather. The memories hung around after more than half a century of living. Now he was almost as old as his grandfather would have been at the time.
He gazed about the old office while idly playing with the glass tumbler that sat on the desk. His grandfather and father and he drank from that tumbler as they wrote, he chuckled, their ‘masterpieces.’ It was a permanent fixture on the desk, as was the bottle of whiskey or rye, or whatever the drink of the week was. He had stopped drinking decades ago but found comfort by the presence of a familiar habit.
He bore the name of his father and grandfather—Franklin James Reed, but he was now the oldest living Franklin James and had carried the nickname FJ from childhood. A good thing because everyone knew who he was.
He chuckled. “Yeah, everyone knows who I am, but do I?” That was the question he asked himself daily.
Straightening up in the chair, he gazed about the old office. It was much like a time capsule, and the deeper you looked into the long narrow room, the further you traveled back in time. The trophies and artifacts of three long careers filled every nook and cranny. The room was longer than wide and felt more like stepping into a hallway that dead-ended with a shelved cabinet against the back wall.
At least a dozen typewriters, cameras, and old film projectors sat on the shelves. Three lifetimes of work crammed into an office. One electric typewriter, his, sat among the older versions, a small contribution to the “museum,” as he called the office.
His grandfather set up the office in the latter part of the 1930s when he started working for the London Times and freelancing for the wire services. After the war, he began writing books, eventually becoming a bestselling author. Several of his books turned into movies in the 1960s. After his grandfather’s death, his father had taken over the office and used it for his writing.
While his grandfather wrote stories of spies and the government agencies of his days, his father told a different kind of tale. His books were about the everyday man and his struggle to cope with a changing world. He also wrote a few spy novels. FJ’s father’s books sold well, with two movies made from his books. Not as successful as his grandfather, but enough to give his father much the same credibility his grandfather had earned.
He, too, had followed the family tradition and became an author of spy novels as well. His best and most significant creation had been the detective series he’d created in the sixties. Eventually, it became a series and a movie. The royalties had paid for the restoration of the estate. He renovated the entire house except for the “museum.” He wanted the room as he had always remembered it, faded wallpaper, drapes, and worn carpet with the lingering scent of smoke, coffee, and whiskey.
FJ ran his fingertips along the face of the radio as memories flooded his mind. Toward the end of his life, his grandfather had asked him to write a book with him. He had done so, but his grandfather’s style was archaic to him as a young writer. He had not enjoyed the process and vowed to never co-write with anyone again. But after grandfather Franklin passed, FJ’s father found his last unfinished manuscript in one of the drawers. Together, FJ and his dad spent the next six months finishing the book, a challenge neither of them would forget. They thought they would never write together again, but they started a new project together a year later. That effort went well and the critical response was better than expected, so they wrote more books together over the next several years. Then his father passed away some years before, and he was writing alone again.
He picked up a photo of his children and grandchildren that sat on the desk. His family rarely visited the old estate. His children and grandchildren had shown no interest in writing or any creative endeavor. Instead, they focused their lives on technology and many of the trappings that went with it. He thought about all the words written within this old room and the stories that he had yet to tell, but the three generations of writers in the family would end when he passed.
Lost in thought, FJ jumped when a quiet knock on the door interrupted his reprieve. Who was here? He wasn’t expecting anyone. Turning the chair to face the room, he found his voice.
The door squeaked as it swung open a crack. “Grandpa?” He recognized the voice of his oldest grandchild, Lewis Reed.
“Yes, please come in.” He straightened up in his chair and leaned forward on the desk.
The door opened slowly, and Lewis walked in slowly. “Grandpa, I wanted to show you this. I—I wrote it.” He had a sheaf of papers in his hand.
“Come here. I don’t bite. Please show me.” Lewis gingerly held out the papers for him, and he eagerly took them.
“It’s a story. I wrote it,” Lewis repeated.
“Mmmm, yes, I see that.”
Energy returned to his old bones as he read the story while Lewis stood in front of the desk nervously shifting his weight from one foot to another and looking around the room.
When he finished, FJ looked up over the papers at his grandson. “It has good bones. There’s a good story in here, but it needs work. If you’d like, I’d love to help you work on it and teach you.”
Lewis shook his head yes, as a big grin spread across his face.
“Lewis, You were scared to show me.”
Again only a nod in response.
“I don’t blame you. Your great-granddad, granddad, and then me are all successful writers. Understandably, you were scared to try.” He pointed to the chair. “Sit down, Lewis. Don’t be scared of me. I’m old, but I’m not fragile. If your writing weren’t good, I’d have said so. The truth of the matter is I wasn’t always that good. I sucked a lot, sometimes my stuff still sucks, but I keep writing. You’ve already done the hard part. You showed it to me.”
FJ glanced over at his grandfather Franklin James Reed’s old radio. He needed to get that radio refurbished. Maybe new speakers needed to play some hip-hop for his grandson to enjoy. After all, that radio was part of the family tradition.
Please visit Kenneth on his website: http://kennethlawson.weebly.com/