Joe and Keppler and the Very Long Story
It had been six days since Grandpa Jim had begun his story. His stories were always lengthy. Joe thought this might be because Grandpa preferred telling stories to living life, now that he was ninety-seven.
“And then we walked through the door, and what do you think we saw?”
Grandpa paused here. In the past, Keppler had wondered if refusing to say “I don’t know” or “What?” would halt the storytelling mid-stream, but it turned out not to be true. If he said nothing, Grandpa would eventually sigh, run his fingers through his hair and begin a new, different story. Ever since the that happened, Keppler had always answered quickly.
“What did you see, Grandpa Jim?”
“We saw sixteen Nazis!”
He paused for effect.
“But, as you remember, this was 1982, so they weren’t real Nazis. I asked Bill, ‘Where did these Nazis come from?’ and he said, ‘This is a film. It’s Schindler’s List. You watched it yesterday.’ That answered my second question which was going to be, ‘Why are these Nazis in a box?'”
Keppler thought Grandpa’s stories were likely not true. They were too fantastical. They took place at many different points in history–from the Civil War to Vietnam–and different places–one had taken place inside Jack Bishop’s liver, although even Grandpa had admitted that one was more symbolic than anything.
Keppler had to remain awake for the entire story. Grandpa would have been very offended if he had fallen asleep or wandered off, and Keppler had no wish to offend Grandpa, who wasn’t getting any younger. Joe, on the other hand, had learned the secret of dozing during the inessential parts–which were usually signified by the phrases, “That reminds me…” and “Carthage McCullum always said…”–and waking up just before essential plot points–preceded by a deep, raspy breath or a slight yelp–were unveiled. Of course, Grandpa didn’t care if Joe slept, but Joe didn’t want to miss it all. Grandpa wasn’t getting any younger.
Grandpa make a high pitched sound and Joe awoke.
“And that’s how the Indians got what they deserved.”
Keppler told Grandpa that he’d really enjoyed the story. On the way home, he asked Keppler why every story had to end with the Indians getting what they deserved, but, of course, Joe didn’t answer.