The Yoda Next Door

Chapter 5, Blog 2

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


When I reached the curb, only white-haired Mrs. Fuqua was there, stuffing her recyclable plastic water bottles into the tiny tub the city provided. Her smile glowed as I put on the brakes and scanned the area for Mr. Johns.

“I told him,” she said.

“You did?” I was confused. “You told him what?”

“You know, you were just taking a break.”

“A break?”

“Yes, indeedy.”

She squeezed in another water bottle. Mrs. Fuqua, a widow for some eight or nine years, had lived next door for as long as I could remember. She must have been at least 90 years old, but she still dragged her recyclables to the curb every Thursday night.

“Mrs. Fuqua, a break? A break from what?”

“Why, a break, Chuck, from training.”

I was taken aback.


“Yes, training. You still call it training, don’t you?”

With her fist closed, she hammered in another water bottle. I scanned the block again to see if anyone else was within earshot. Then I started the interrogation.

“Mrs. Fuqua, I didn’t tell anyone I was training.”

“You didn’t have to. That snoop Mr. Johns did. He watches you every morning.”

“He watches me?”

“Yes, I see you, too. If I remember.”

“You do? I didn’t think anybody … ”

“You’re always walking when you pass my window. With your head down.”

“I am?”

“Yes. If you’re cooling off, shouldn’t you keep your head up? It would help your breathing, right?”

“Yeah, I suppose it would.”

“Yes, it does.”

“And … ”

“And you should be out here running every day. You don’t have a lot of time to mess around and skip training.”

“I don’t.”


She stopped and looked me square in the eye.

“If I were you … ”

“Yes, Mrs. Fuqua.”

“I’d think about running indoors. Maybe at the university. No ice to slip on.”

“Mrs. Fuqua, I’m 48.”

“I know. You’re just a kid. But it’s no excuse to be irresponsible about your training, is it?”

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“Get back out here tomorrow and run your ass off.”

She fished the last water bottle from her sack and proudly placed it on top of the tub.

“That Mr. Johns,” I said.

“Biggest mouth on the block,” said Mrs. Fuqua.

We laughed. I retraced my steps to the house.

… if Mr. Johns knows, then everyone on the block knows, and if everyone on the block knows …


Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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