Grandpa’s Pocket

Ethan Crownberry

    To Sofia and Grayson
    Take care of one another.

       And to John “QuincyAdams
[Affectionately known as Papa]
A man with an insurmountable amount of stuff in his pockets,
and the very inspiration for this story. 


From the quaint little town they call Ol’ Kinderhook

comes a story the likes only found in a book.

It’s the story of greed, and how bad greed can be,

and how sometimes we want everything that we see,

and how sometimes we simply can’t stand one another,

and sometimes we fight and throw things at each other.

So listen and learn, and take heed of my word,

this story is true, though a tad bit absurd;

but the point that it makes is one made rather clearly:

sometimes we lose sight of the things we hold dearly.


And one night it all started, on Van Buren Street,

in the house occupied by the family Van Treat.

They were all eating dinner, and shooting the breeze—

just eating and talking as much as they please.

There was Usa and Russa, twin sister and brother,

and Ersa Van Treat, the twin’s fair yet stern mother.

And Grandpa Van Treat, acting man of the house

while his daughter, fair Ersa, was without a spouse.

It was all very pleasant, and wholesome, and good;

the Van Treats loved each other like family folk should.

And they loved where they lived, every room, every door,

every lamp, every chair, every square inch of floor.


And ‘bout halfway through dinner Ersa did something dumb;

cutting down through some bread, she cut into her thumb.

Though the cut was not deep, it still bled nonetheless,

and our blood, as you know, can make quite a big mess.

So she reached for a napkin to dress up her wound,

and in seconds she had her thumb nicely cocooned.

But the blood still bled through, slightly more than a trace,

and the napkin did not seem to stay in one place.

And then Grandpa spoke up: “Can I help you, my dear?

What you need is a bandage. I‘ve got one right here.”

Then inside of the pocket on the left of his vest,

Grandpa searched around fast at his daughter’s behest.

Then he pulled out a bandage the right size and shape—

the kind that holds on to your skin like scotch-tape.


“Thank you,” said Ersa, “that’s just what I need.”

Then she reached out and grabbed it with lightening-fast speed.

Then she thought for a moment ‘bout what just transpired,

and how Grandpa, somehow, always has what’s required.

For it seemed Grandpa’s pocket had a great many things,

such as thumb-tacks, erasers, and small metal springs.

For example, last week, when she needed a pen,

and he pulled out not one but at least nine or ten.

And the day after that, when she needed some thread,

and he pulled not a strand but a spool out instead.

And the day after that, when she needed some glue,

and he pulled out a new tube of glue right on cue.


“It’s amazing,” said Ersa. “—that pocket of yours!

Does it also do windows and other odd chores?”

“Windows?” said Grandpa. “Quite surely you jest?

It’s like any other pocket you’d find on a vest.”

“Come on now!” said Ersa. “Like any! Indeed!

Then why does it always seem to have what I need?”

And then there to his left, from the crook of his eye,

Grandpa noticed young Usa waiting out his reply.

And then there to his right, Russa too was now waiting.

For an answer, quite breathlessly, they were anticipating.

So he put down his fork, and he picked up his cup.

Then he raised the left tip of his left eyebrow up.

Then he took a quick sip. Then he put the cup down.

Then he mustered a grin from his usually seen frown.


“You’re all curious,” he started. “Well, that’s natural, I guess.

You all seriously want to know about this vest I possess?

Well…a long time ago, when the economy was bad,

and jobs were quite scarce and not easily had,

I had landed a gig as an usher, by chance,

in a theater where folks come to watch people dance.

And one night on the bill was a far different act;

folks had traveled from miles, and the theater was packed.

It was Abra Kahooley—magic man of the year,

who could make any thing that he thought of appear.

And when he walked out on stage, he was quite nicely dressed:

in fact, the vest he had on was this very same vest.


And the first thing he did was reach into his pocket,

and he pulled from it quickly an expensive gold locket.

Then he knelt down to hand it to a woman in the first row,

and his reason for this, she, at first, did not know.

But she stood up to take it, despite her denial.

‘I believe this is yours,’ he had said with a smile.

Then she looked at it closely, and let out a shrill—

a shrill that gave everyone around her a chill.

Then she grabbed at the necklace she knew she had on,

and the locket once hung there was now clearly gone.

“And just how did you do that?” she asked, quite astonished,

not implying at all that his crime be admonished.

For the trick implied clearly, without much explanation,

that he’d removed it from her person without any indication.


And the first thing I thought: it was all prearranged—:

the woman and magician were quite far from estranged.

Of his magical talents, I had quickly grown leery,

but he did something next that just blew that whole theory.

He, again, checked his pocket, and pulled out a gold ring;

and toward a man three rows back gave the ring a quick fling.

Then he pulled out a watch, a rather nice one at that,

and he tossed it to a man wearing a fine leather hat.

Then he pulled out a bracelet of diamonds and gold,

and he tossed it to a woman the epitome of old.

Then he pulled out a wallet just to round off this trick;

one that’s made of black leather, and one not very thick.

And I knew it was mine, without a shadow of doubt;

for he looked at me slyly as he pulled it right out.


It was as if he could sense all the doubt I was feeling,

and how I found all his tricks to be none to appealing.

Then he tossed it my way, like in softball one pitches,

to the isle far left where I stood in my britches.

And with one hand I caught it, with a thank-you type nod;

though to thank him for stealing my wallet seemed odd.

Then I put it away. He had made his point clearly.

But the magic, I felt, was in the vest, quite sincerely.

For materializing objects is a trick inconceivable,

but to steel from your audience is quite unbelievable.


Then he pulled out more stuff that was quite large in size;

things you would not believe were it not for your eyes.

For example: a horse with a woman astride,

and a bike with two seats on which two folks could ride,

and a clown juggling pins, and a cat in a hat,

and about six—or seven more things after that.

And the audience cheered loudly as each item appeared,

but to me, the situation was far worse than I feared.

For a power like that, on its own, was disturbing,

but for one man to have it was even far more unnerving.


So I tip-toed back stage at the end of his show,

seeking out all the answers I needed to know.

Were the things that I witnessed a trick quite unreal?

Or was that pocket of his absolutely the real deal?

And right there, ‘round the corner, down the hall, not too far,

was a dressing room door ever slightly ajar.

So as quietly as I could, I peeked in through the crack,

and inside was Kahooley, in a chair, leaning back.

He was all by himself—there was no one else there.

And what I say happened next really happened—I swear!

He reached into his pocket—I tell you no lie,

and he pulled out a sandwich—a pastrami on rye—

one that looked rather fresh, like the meat was just steamed—

nicely plated and garnished—from a restaurant it seemed.”


Then, for dramatic effect, grandpa briefly stopped talking,

while the children just sat there with their mouths open gawking.

“Don’t you get it, my darlings—it was not just some trick,”

Grandpa said, waiting for the light switch in their young minds to click.

“IT WAS REAL!” he insisted, with his voice slightly higher.


All they need do is think it—reach in, and pull out;

and right out comes the thing they were thinking about.”

“So you stole it,” said Ersa. “What kind of person are you?

Is that the kind of thing you’d want your grand-kids to do?”

“Stole it!” snapped Grandpa. “Now, don’t be absurd!

‘Confiscated’, in this case, is a much better word.

For after eating his sandwich, he ran right for the john,

but for reasons unknown did not keep the vest on.

He instead draped it neatly on the back of his chair;

so I snuck in and took it without time to spare.

Then I ran down the hall, and out the back undetected,

and even came into work the next day unsuspected.”


“Well now, thanks for that story,” Ersa said with a smile.

“I don’t mean to be rude; I’m heading out in a while.

I have a Bridge game tonight and don’t want to be late.”

This was something she says when she’s got a hot date.

“You can both handle ‘clean-up’, and the dishes, I think,”

Ersa said to the kids, walking her plate to the sink.

Then Usa leaned over slowly, and just as cute as a bug,

put her arms ‘round her Grandpa and gave him a hug.

“Could I please try your pocket,” Usa whispered in his ear.

“Why, no!” he whispered bluntly. “It’s not for children, my dear.”


Then later that night, while their mom was still out,

the children, quite freely, went gallivanting about.

For tired old Grandpa went down to his room—

a room in the basement that they all called, “The Tomb”.

He had tucked in the kids, then went right straight to bed,

and went out like a light as he laid down his head.

And once Grandpa was out, and he started to snore,

he could quite easily sleep through a nuclear war.

And so downstairs they went, through the dark, slowly creeping,

through the foyer, to the kitchen, while their Grandpa lay sleeping.

They were both on a mission—on a very great quest;

their plan was quite simply to acquire Grandpa’s vest.


And there in the kitchen, stood the door to the basement

with a knob at its center in a rather odd placement.

And as quietly as she could Usa took on the job

of pulling open the door by its oddly placed knob.

And then down an old staircase they went without speaking,

lightly stepping each step to avoid any creaking.

Then down a short corridor, over a cold concrete floor,

through the darkness they shuffled ‘til they found Grandpa’s door.

And with Grandpa inside, snoring more than one should,

Usa opened the door just as quietly as she could.

Then they tip-toed inside, and, through the darkness, looked ‘round

to the places that they knew Grandpa’s vest might be found.



And in seconds they’d found it—it was not hard to spot;

it was there where it was, and wasn’t where it was not.

It was right at the foot of Grandpa’s bed near his feet.

Russa picked it up gently and began his retreat.

“I’ve got it!” he said, as he back-stepped ever lightly.

And at the sound of his voice, Grandpa stirred ever slightly.

They both stopped in their tracks. Russa clutched at his chest.

Grandpa rolled to his side and gently sighed in unrest.

Usa leered at her brother with her hands on her hips,

and she silenced him silently with a finger to her lips.

Then she motioned to leave. To the door they both crept.

To the corridor beyond Grandpa’s door they both stepped.

Then up to the kitchen they both ran in great haste;

with the vest in their hands, up the stairs they both raced.

And once back in the kitchen, Usa sealed up the basement­;

just as quietly as possible, she placed the door in its casement.


Usa turned toward her brother with a gleam in her eye;

She can no longer wait to give the vest a quick try.

“Think of something,” she insisted, “and let’s give it a quick go!”

“Ah…OK,” muttered Russa, “Oh wait! Wait! I know!”

Then he squinched up his face, like in deep concentration,

reaching into the pocket with a slight hesitation.

Then his eyebrows went up, and his eyes opened wide,

as if he’d just discovered something quite unusual inside.

Then he pulled out his hand now balled up in a fist,

and he turned it palm upward with a twist of his wrist.

And he opened his fingers slowly one at a time

to expose a small object ‘bout the size of a dime.

It was shiny and new, and wrapped up in tin foil—

wrapped up in a way that it might never spoil.


It was candy, it seemed, of some type or another.

“Were you thinking of candy?” Usa asked of her brother.

“I guess so,” Russa said, as he peeled off the wrapping,

then he started to eat it, his small lips loudly smacking.

“I was thinking of chocolate, to be more specific.

But this chocolate,” said Russa, “is none too terrific.”

“But it’s chocolate, nonetheless?” Usa asked, slightly smirking;

for if chocolate it was, grandpa’s pocket was working.

“I guess so,” Russa said. “Tastes like chocolate to me!”

Then they looked at each other with a devilish glee.

And then there in that moment, without one hint of jest,

as if to take it from each other, they both pulled on the vest.



Then they scowled at each other—a great quarrel now brewing.

“Ah, excuse me!” said Russa. “What do you think you are doing?”

“It’s my turn,” Usa snapped. “You let go of it now!”

“Well that’s rude!” Russa said. “Let go yourself, you old cow!”


“Just how dare you!” said Usa, now offended to her core,

shoving Russa so firmly it sent him down toward the floor.

And if that were not all, and was not quite enough,

Usa yanked at the vest in a manner quite rough.

And then onto his rump Russa landed quite squarely,

as his sister made off with the vest quite unfairly.


“Hey now!” yelled Russa, “Come back here with that!”

as he rose very quickly from where he’d been sat.

But his sister kept going, even quickened her pace.

Appalled by her behavior, Russa quickly took chase.

And then into the hallway they moved with great haste,

where he dived for his sister with arms ‘round her waist.

And he tackled her down using all of his weight,

as she fell to the floor with a force rather great.

And the side of her face hit the floor with a “thwap!”—

her right cheek now quite sore, like one gets from a slap.


And across the wood floor the vest slide down the hall.

She had let the vest go as she braced for her fall.

And before she could stand, Russa stood up himself,

running right ‘cross her back like a mouse ‘cross a shelf.

Then he picked up the vest with a face rather smug,

looking back at his sister laid out like a rug.


Russa turned and ran off in a manner cold-hearted.

With the vest in his hands, to the living room he darted.

Usa rose very quickly, dusting briskly her gown,

running off with great vengeance to hunt Russa down.

And once out of the hall, Russa scrambled to hide,

but could not find a place, though he’d frantically tried;

for the entrance and exit to the room were the same.

He could hear Usa coming, eerily calling his name.

There was no other choice, so with a great sense of doom,

Russa ducked behind the sofa in the middle of the room.

And very quietly he hid there, his heart beating madly,

wanting so to keep Usa from the vest very badly—

and for no other reason then the shove he’d just taken—

a small act of war that could not be mistaken.


And then suddenly an object flew right past his head,

so large had it hit him would have left him for dead.

And whatever it was, when it landed it shattered—

along the wood flooring, tiny glass pieces scattered.

Then up over the back of the sofa he peered

to assess a situation that had now grown quite weird.

And there was his sister, and in her hand was a book—

a very large photo album of old pictures once took.

And with all of her might, and with little to no thinking,


Usa threw it right at him without so much as blinking.

And it whizzed passed his head, then crashed onto a table—

a buffet style table that for years was unstable.

And every tiny little tchotchke that belonged to their mother

went flying off the table in one direction or another.

Exploding along the flooring, pieces flew in every direction—

some porcelain figurines­ from Ersa’s expensive collection.


“Are you crazy!” yelled Russa. “Boy, are you in big trouble!

Your mother’s gonna kill you when she sees all this rubble!”

“She’ll never find out,” Usa said quite gallantly.

“Once that pocket is mine, I’ll replace it all promptly.”

Then she charged at her brother in a manner unstaunched.

And she jumped and she bounced, off the couch springs she launched.

Then she flew through the air with her arms spread out wide,

and she tackled him down with a blow to one side.

Then she stood up quite quickly with a karate-type flip.

Then she reached down and ripped Grandpa’s vest from his grip.

Then she headed for the exit with her nose in the air,

walking slowly and smugly, as if with time to spare.


And Russa, having been knocked down twice in one night,

quickly pushed up both sleeves as though raring to fight.

He was so mad at Usa, he could have just choked her.

He ran to the fireplace and grabbed the iron poker.

Then he jumped in her path, pointing it right at her chest.

“I’ve had about enough,” he said. “Now, give me that vest!”

Then he rose up the poker, like a batter at bat.

“Give it up!” Russa demanded. “You spoiled little brat!”

And quite certain he meant it, Usa backed up a bit,

moving away from the spot where she could easily be hit.

Then Russa swung out so wide he nearly hit Usa’s head,

and as he swung ‘round and missed, he hit the drywall instead.


The poker was now lodged in the wall where it struck.

Russa gave it a yank, for it seemed to be stuck.

When it finally broke loose, sheetrock covered the floor,

leaving a hole in the wall now quite hard to ignore.

Then he ran toward his sister, with a fire in his eye,

raising the poker over head, crying out a war cry.

And he went right to swinging, in a mad swinging fit.

But his sister, as it were, was quit difficult to hit.

And every time that he swung he hit something he shouldn’t,

trying desperately to take down his sister but couldn’t.


An expensive old painting was the first thing to go,

falling down from the wall where it hung with one blow.

And the next thing to go was a small curio case,

shattering loudly to pieces as he swung past her face.

Then he took a few swipes, past her stomach and knees,

slashing holes in the couch ‘til it looked like Swiss cheese.

And then next went the ottoman, then the loveseat, the chair;

he swiped holes in them all like he just didn’t care.

And he swung, and he swung, but he missed with each swing,

for the art of sword fighting was just not his thing.

So he threw down the poker, and he charged down his sister,

heading toward her quite swiftly like a small angry twister.

Then he tackled her down like she had just done to him,

ripping the vest from her hands in a manner quite grim.


And as he ran from the room, Usa quickly took chase—

to the dining room they ran at a rather fast pace.

And once now both inside, Usa dived for his back—

a war cry of her own—a very ruthless attack.

And over a dining room chair they both wildly tumbled—

along the dining room floor they both violently fumbled—

until into their mother’s china cabinet they crashed,

and right down onto the dining room table it smashed.

They had made quite a mess. Every plate had been broken.

They both looked at each other with no words at all spoken.

There was no turning back. They were both in too deep.

Grandpa’s vest was a power that would never come cheap.

But if push came to shove, they had one guarantee:

they could replace the whole house with that vest if needs be.


Then up Russa stood and to the hallway he scurried.

With the vest in his clutches, to the kitchen he hurried.

Quickly dusting her gown, once again, Usa rose.

Then she took off behind him as fast as one goes.

And once there in the kitchen, all their warring raged on,

with any chance for a truce, it would seem, now far gone.

And in the heat of their battle, they had trashed the whole place,

like a renegade tornado had hit every inch of space.

They threw glasses, and dishes, and pots, pans, and lids.

It had all grown so violent for such young innocent kids.

They threw saucers, and tea cups, and forks, spoons, and knives,

which all dashed past their heads within an inch of their lives.

And every oak cabinet door had been smashed without thought.

They even broke the dinette table in half as they fought.


They put holes in the floor, and in the walls, and in the ceiling.

They had dented each appliance without remorse or bad feeling.

Then they ran from the kitchen, and up the stairs with great speed,

Russa clinging to the vest with a slight narrow lead.

And once both up the stairs their altercation got worse,

doing damage to each room almost impossible to reverse.

They broke lamps, they broke dressers, they broke end-tables galore,

to a level of great damage that no one could ignore.

And for one fleeting moment Russa let down his guard,

and his sister, at that moment, punched his stomach quite hard.

Then she yanked Grandpa’ s vest out of his hand with one yank,

and then she mowed Russa down just like a well oiled tank.


Usa made for the stairs and ran up one more flight.

To the attic she went, where there was never much light.

And she hid from her brother behind a large cardboard box,

as he charged up the stairs with all the stealth of a fox.

“Oh, you can’t hide forever,” Russa wickedly declared,

as he peered through the darkness with his vision impaired.

Usa searched around quickly for something solid to throw,

but it was hard to find anything in such lighting so low.

Then she found a small box, a foot high, and one wide,

with some lettering that said, “GRANDPA’S STUFF” on one side.

So inside Usa reached, and with her hand searched around,

and pulled out very quickly the first thing her hand found.

And without further thinking, she had gave it a good toss,

and to the far side of the attic the thing flew right across.


And in the moment it launched, she had wished she had known

that the thing she just threw should have never been thrown.

It was a bottle of liquid not known to be stable—

“Nitro Glycerin,” it stated in bold print on its label.

It was used to make dynamite, which we all know explodes,

which was used to carve tunnels out for railways and roads.

How it ended up there in that box, no one knew;

perhaps Grandpa once worked on an old tunnel making crew.


“LOOK OUT!” Usa shouted, while still clutching the vest.

Then she dove for her safety behind an old wooden chest.

And then the Nitro blew up, as one expected it would.

And the results of the explosion were not at all very good.

In Particular, it launched half the roof into space,

sending dust and debris quiet all over the place.

Usa popped up her head as all the dust dissipated,

looking around for her brother with her hopes quite deflated.

He was nowhere to be seen. She had killed her twin brother.

How on earth would she explain such a thing to her mother?


And slowly Usa walked to where the damage was its worst—

to where a window and its dormer had blown out in one burst.

And she stood near the edge of what was left of the flooring,

looking down toward the ground while a rain started pouring.

The backyard was now covered with much wood and debris,

with no trace of her brother—at least none she could see.

She had blown him to pieces. He was gone. He was dead.

There was no turning back. Usa hung her sad head.


And then suddenly behind her someone pushed at her back—

over the edge she went down like a large burlap sack.

She was two stories up, which for a kid was quite high—

a great fall from which anyone could quite easily die.

Then she felt a great tug at the vest in her grip,

and while still holding on, she flipped over in one flip.

Then she found herself hanging with both hands ‘round the vest,

letting out a loud scream from the depths of her chest.

Then she looked up and found her twin brother was there—

he was still in one piece—every cell—every hair.


“Let go!” Russa snapped, shaking the vest from her hands,

caring little how she falls, and caring little how she lands.

“Russa, please!” Usa begged. “It’s too high. I’m gonna fall!”

But Russa, obviously, was not listening to his sister all.

“Russa! Russa!” yelled Usa. “I’m your sister, for god’s sake.”

“You tried to kill me!” replied Russa, giving the vest one more shake.

“I’m so sorry,” yelled Usa. “I had no way of knowing.

I just did not know enough about the thing I was throwing.

I just grabbed it and threw it. I did not think it through.

I had no idea that thing would do the damage it would do.”


Russa paused and looked down. His twin sister was crying.

She was telling the truth—he could sense any lying.

Then he thought back to all of the times they had had,

and the thought of her not being there made him sad.

For this battle was one that neither one could now win.

And the power was not worth the death of his twin.

So he reached down one hand, with the vest in his other,

as Usa reached up and grabbed the free hand of her brother.

And with one great heave-ho, with his arm stretched at length,

Russa lifted his sister in a great feet of strength.

And up onto the ledge she was pulled safe from harm—

by what little strength left Russa had in his arm.


The twins hugged one another, and they called it a truce.

“I’m so sorry,” said Usa. “I really have no excuse.”

“Myself either,” said Russa, as they turned to head off,

then they both heard someone clear their throat with a cough.

And right there at the top of the stairs on the landing

was both Ersa and Grandpa quite unnervingly standing.

Ersa’s card game was over. Grandpa awoke from the blast.

With their mouths hanging open, they were both quite aghast.

“OH MY GOD!” shouted Ersa, “What have both of you done!”

Ersa scowled at her daughter, and then scowled at her son.


“Oh, don’t worry,” said Usa, quite so confidentially spoken.

“We can use Grandpa’s vest to fix everything we’ve broken.”

Grandpa smirked a great smirk. Then he looked at their mother.

Then he looked down at Usa. Then he looked at her brother.

“Could I have that?” asked Grandpa, reaching out for his vest.

Russa handed it to him promptly without further request.

“Was it real?” Usa asked. “Or was it just a big fake?”

starting suddenly to realize that they had made a mistake.

“It was a fake,” Grandpa answered, without much more explaining.

“It was a story I made up just for the sake of entertaining.”

“But the chocolate!” stated Russa. “It all had to be true!”

Usa, tell them what happened. Go on! You were there too.”

“Let me guess,” stated Grandpa. “You were testing the vest?”

“And you pulled out my laxative as a result of said test?”


Russa felt very foolish. Usa hung her head low.

“Alrighty then!” Ersa snapped. “Down the stairs we all go!”

But Grandpa lingered behind as they made for their rooms,

and he looked around sadly at the mess that now looms.

And in awe of the damage his grandchildren both did,

he sat down on the chest behind which Usa hid,

and he heaved a great sigh as he put on his vest,

while his stomach growled out a late snack time request.

Then he reached in his pocket—I tell you no lie,

and he pulled out a sandwich—a pastrami on rye—

one that looked rather fresh, like the meat was just steamed—

nicely plated and garnished—from a restaurant it seemed.



The End

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