(c) all rights reserved · 3TC · Fandango's One Word Challenge (FOWC) · fiction · retirement · The Haunted Wordsmith · Word of the Day Challenge


Image by esudroff from Pixabay

Newly retired US Secretary of Defense Cray Davis had begun his military career as a Navy seaman aboard the warship, Invictus, in 1963. He’d seen more in his years of active duty than any human should ever have to see. Cray had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor not once, but three times, by three different Presidents. Because of Cray’s valor in battle, he was a natural choice for the Secretary of Defense appointment under Jimmy Carter.

Now that he was retired, Cray wanted to stay busy but he wanted to stay busy doing things as far different from war and defense themes as possible.

On Tuesdays Cray walked by Wildflower’s Art Studio on his way to the diner two doors down. Cray was meeting some other recent retirees who had begun meeting monthly at Moe’s for coffee and coffee talk. Cray could feel his body relax and his heart slow down every time he met at Moe’s. He always left Moe’s smiling and happy he’d been there.

As he passed the art studio on the way back to his car, something made him stop and walk backwards to get a better look at the paintings in the front window. One of them was a lovely vegetable garden, which caused Cray to think yes, he was going to grow a garden this year. The other one brought a tear to Cray’s eye, which was extraordinary for Cray, as the 70 year-old tough guy, whose nickname had been Rhino for the last 50, couldn’t remember the last time he’d shed a tear. It was of an infant, in a basket, with the baby’s feet prominent. The work of the artist was so detailed the feet looked real. He swore that when he focused on the baby’s toes, they wiggled a little!

Cray was in luck as Tuesday’s the studio was open all day until 7 p.m. He walked in and saw a gentleman who was about his age sitting at an easel. The gentleman looked up as Cray approached and said, “Hello there, I’ve been expecting you.”

Surprised and confused, Cray said, “Expecting me? How’s that?”

The gentleman said, “As soon as I put my latest paintings in the window, I knew the infant one would draw someone in who was looking for change, as a newborn is a universal symbol for change.  If it was the garden painting that drew you in, you were looking to grow something on canvas.”

Without saying which painting drew him in, Cray said, “You’re not only a talented artist, you’re a wise person. Teach me.”

OK. My name is Pete. It’s 2pm now and I’m open until 7. The drawing notebooks and boxes of pastels are on the cabinet. Pick one of each out and then have a seat at that table over there. Usually the first week’s lessons are no charge, but in your case, your first month is free.”

Again surprised and confused, Cray said, “How’s that?”

As a war hero and recently retired US Secretary of Defense, you’ve earned those extra 3 free weeks. You see, my day job is being a history professor at the community college. I’ve been following your career for a long time. Pleased to meet you, Secretary of Defense Davis!”

Holding out his hand, Cray said, “Pleased to meet you also, Pete. Please, call me Cray.”

The End.


Fandango’s FOWC is pick, the Word of the Day Challenge is backward, Paula’s 3 Things Challenge words are garden, secretary, warship , and Teresa’s Haunted Wordsmith Daily Prompts are character challenge of artist, sentence starter of, “Teach me,” and the photo.

23 thoughts on “Neophyte

        1. I just read about what happened in your blog post. I’m very happy you are back and blogging again, Richard. The #500 of completed suicides PER DAY in the UK?????? Such a shocking number.

          Liked by 1 person

                1. It’s not good, but it’s better. Those numbers are troubling though. It makes me ask why are so many turning to this. Is it an indicator of a sick society that individuals want to leave it in this extreme way?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. There are so many factors to consider when trying to determine suicide rates. There’s a lot of research out there that’s worth reading if it’s an area that interests you.

                    One of the best protective factors is to ask your mum, your work colleagues, your friends, whether they have had suicidal thoughts lately. Not just those with known mental health problems, but all of them. 75% of people who commit suicide have had no connection with the mental health services.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. It is widespread and so stigmatizing that people are afraid to step forward. It’s one thing all schools need to teach from the beginning: mental health is important.

                      Liked by 1 person

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