Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fireflies & Power Rings

Russell and David were ten years old and on hot summer nights like this, there wasn't anything they'd rather be doing than laying in David's backyard, staring up at the stars and watching the fireflies flash over their heads. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

"How cool would it be to get a Green Lantern ring?" Russell asked, wishing he was up there amongst the stars.

"But Earth already has its two Green Lanterns: Hal and John." David pointed out. "The only way you could get a ring is if one of them died."

"I wouldn't want one of them to have to die," Russell admitted, "but what if the Guardians of Oa decided Earth needed three protectors? Or what if they found a new planet that needed protection?"

"Then they'd send two rings to that planet and the rings would find the best protectors for that planet." David countered.

"Yeah, I know." Russell sighed. "I just think it would be cool. Because anyone can be a Green Lantern. You don't have to be special -- well you do, but you know . . . you know what I'm saying. You get that ring and you can do anything. You can fly -- you can fly in space! You just use your imagination and you can build anything and use it fix stuff or fight bad guys or help people . . . If I could be anybody, I'd be Green Lantern."

"I'd be Batman." David said.

"Why would you want to be Batman?" Russell scoffed. "Batman can't do anything."

"But I could actually be Batman. I could go train with ninjas, I could go learn science and be the best detective in the world. I could be out there being Batman while you're still waiting on that power ring to show up."

Russell flexed his right hand into a fist. On his middle finger was a plastic, make-shift power ring. It almost looked real -- until you looked closer and saw the green paint flaking off. Red plastic veins wrapped around the ring, exposing its true color. The Green Lantern emblem -- a piece of paper he had cut out of a comic book and taped onto the ring -- was bent and faded.

"In brightest day, in darkest night . . ." Russell swore the oath and shook his head, effervescent daydreams taking him up to the stars and beyond. "Green Lantern all the way, man."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I rolled my eyes. This was the fourth time this week Sallie Mae had called me. I had not yet discovered the correct combination of words that would unlock their trust in me and so here I was, answering all the same questions again.

"No. Yes. Yes. No."

It used to get my angry. Now it just bored me.

"No," I said. "I can't pay you right now. I can pay you on Friday. I get paid on Friday. Please, check your records. I have never skipped a payment. I've been late, but I've never . . . Yes, I'll hold."

Sometimes, when they put me on hold, I'll set down my phone and walk away. Invariably, by the time I've come back to my phone, the conversation has ended.

"Is this Thomas," a new voice asked.

"Scott, actually."


"My first name's Thomas, but I go by Scott."

"How do you spell that," the voice asked very sincerely.

"'Scott?'" I wondered aloud. How many ways could there be to spell Scott?

"Yes sir."

"S as in Scott. C as in Cot. O as in Oh. T as in Tea and T as in Tee."


"Yeah, I know I'm not funny. My wife tells me every day."