I used the emotion kindness for the letter “K.”
Here is the preface and I am also posting the short story called Stewardship.
Hope you like them:
Kindness is such a basic requirement for membership in the human race that it is almost an embarrassment to list it.
“It doesn’t cost anything to be clean or respectful.”
A mom-ism that is an untenable low benchmark for how one purports oneself. I’ll add that it also does not cost a cent to be polite, approachable, or even (gasp!) friendly.
Oh, we always hear stories of kindness around the holidays and we always ask, “why can’t people do nice things like that all year long?” I personally enjoy the feeling of Christmas every bit, if not more than, the holiday itself. One of the main reasons we choose (yes my wife has once again enabled my insanity) to keep Christmas lights up in our front room all year long. I’m a total sucker for Christmas movies. Anything with a dog (that doesn’t die), anything with orphans, the elderly, or the hopeless, I will watch and smart money says I’ll be crying like a baby before it is all over.
That is why it absolutely makes me sick that someone chose to desecrate the single most personally-treasured holiday on this entire planet. Universally celebrated in some fashion or another and held closest to the little hearts of children the world over. They still see the world as an innocent place of wonder and magical possibilities. You can take shots at the Easter Bunny (no pun intended), you can really have a Turkey Shoot, but you leave Christmas alone! I speak of the proliferation of Santa slasher movies that began after 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night. He is the first writer I remember who used his quill to burst the collective bubbles of all of us waiting for St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve. By doing so, he has irreversibly destroyed an institution that was meant to last for all time. He had no human right to impinge unholy images into our children’s hopeful bright eyes. In the process he stained what is arguably the very best day of each year we are fortunate to be alive for. The unselfishness to cause such irrevocable damage to the Holiest of days is absolutely unforgivable.
I wish I had thought of it.
“Junior! Junior!” his mother yelled from the kitchen. She was hovering over a tray of homemade meatballs pulled hot from the oven. They smelled of garlic and oregano and Junior was hungry. Really hungry.
“I can hear Billy crying again. Can you please go see if his diaper needs changing?”
“Aw mom,” Junior protested.
The extended index finger emphasized his mother’s threatening tone.
“Not one word. You promised me if I got you a car, you would help make up the cost by helping me with Billy. Besides, we really couldn’t afford Maria anyway. It’s only for a few more months. With your help, I’ll be able to quit the night job soon.”
“Alright, alright.” Junior knew the futility of trying to win an argument with his mother, especially when she was right. He trudged down the dark, narrow hallway and carefully approached Billy’s room.
“Oh shit!” Junior screamed. “Mom! I’m gonna throw up! There’s poop everywhere!”
“Plenty of nose pins on the laundry line”, she offered. “Here, smear some of this under your nose,” as she tossed him the little blue jar of Vapo-Rub.
“Oh man. Stop crying.” Jesus he cries all the time. Junior approached the screaming, helpless little body. He wiped his bare back of the dried feces and carefully turned him over. Billy stopped screaming and settled into a muffled sob. Junior used another towel to clean the rest of Billy’s body. He knew that a mess this big was gonna have to be cleaned up and a bath given. He removed the soiled diaper like he was defusing a neutron bomb.
Almost telepathically, his mother bellowed from the kitchen.
“Junior, how is he? After you clean him up, you get some bleach-water towels to sanitize the room. I mean the whole room. Then……”
“I know, I know. A bath.”
“Thank you. You’re such a good boy.”
His mother returned to kneading the little pasta-potato pillows for her gnocchi primavera.
Junior spent the next half-hour cleaning up Billy’s entire room.
How the fuck do you get shit on the walls? I didn’t think your skinny little arms could throw that far.
Junior was speaking into Billy’s vacant eyes. As he lifted the tiny body, Junior had to say something, but he just couldn’t bring himself to call him by his name— Billy.
“It’s OK Grandpa, I’ll take care of you.”