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The Power of a Word

A Short Story Sample of POCbooks aka Product of Culture

The Power of a Word

After seeing a rowdy kid in town call his brother stupid, Adofo, at his impressionable young age, took something home with him that day.
The product of Adofo’s observation took root and showed itself at the dinner table when at the age of 9 years old he said to his younger sister,
“What are you, stupid?”

Akila’s lips quivered, her head and body slouched as she went into nothing less than a state of shock!

Their Grandfather took a switch from under the table and smacked it right in front of Adofo’s plate. Whack!

Grandfather said, “Apologize and sit down right now.”

Adofo did as he was told, but soon as Adofo apologized, Akila’s unmoving eyes started to trickle with water. Then she lifted her head a little bit,
“Grandpa, may I be excused?”

“Yes you can tender heart,” Grandpa softly responded.

Akila immediately stood up from the table with hands moving towards the face, no longer able to hold in her tears or whimpers; she ran to her bedroom crying.

Grandfather said, “Boy” in his no nonsense way of stating things that Adofo would get used to overtime; but not this day, “Words mean something. You wouldn’t want someone to call you a knucklehead for what you just said to your sister, do you?”

Adofo looked at the switch that Grandfather was pointing at him. His tone of voice already made its point. Adofo was no longer famished as he said earlier before dinner. No, he could no longer eat a ‘whole chicken’ by himself. His stomach became so upset that he started feeling nauseated.

“No Grandpa,” Adofo replied.

Grandfather put the switch away under the table and spoke:

“Words mean something. Words have power. Even by the Father of fathers’ words, all of this…” Grandpa pointed towards the window, as Adofo looked beyond the wood and glass, “came to be; including you. You understand?”

“Yes Grandpa.”

“Boy, all it takes is one word. You are never to call your sister stupid again. Don’t even use the word stupid or shut up in this house. Do you hear me?”

“Yes Grandpa.”

…Straits of Time…

The Play Ground

Adofo told his 5 year old son sitting by his leg at the park to play in the sandbox with the other children. Adom was content to play with his toys near his father, but he did as he was told.

As Adom walked closer to the sandbox, he looked back at his father several times, and father would nod his head. Adom went to the edge of the sandbox and stood there on the outside. He would not step inside with the other children. Dropping his toys in a good spot, he sat down on the grass. His father gave a slightly different nod, which signaled, ‘You are close enough’ and went back to reading.

It did not take long for Adom to hear words that his young little brain would not have ever thought of in thousands of years! The words, the emotions, the flipply!#$@! floppy flip language was so overwhelming from some of the children, Adom started to feel light-headed. He felt like he was sitting there for an eternity.

His father called, “Adom come and sit by me.” His son could not pick his toys up fast enough. He dropped a few as he ran back over to sit down by his father.

Adofo, “Son, Words mean something, you understand?”

Adom, “Yes Daddy.”

Adofo, “Words have power. Even by the Father of fathers’ words, all of this…” Adofo held his arms and hands out wide as his son followed his gestures to look around the park, “came to be; including you. You understand?”

Adom, “Yes Daddy.”

Adofo said next, “Son, all it takes is one word. You are never to use the language you heard today against any family member. Really, Grandfather would say there are languages that should never be used against anyone, do you hear me?

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Adom heaved a little sigh, “Yes, Dad.”

…Straits of Time…

The House of Mystery

Adom sat in what his father called the House of Mystery. Seasonally, when the music played at a fever pitch in the place, the people in the audience would go into an emotional frenzy. Some would jump up and down, while others passed out, and some would run out the House of Mystery as if their lives depended on it! As Adom looked around, there would also be some not singing, not moving, and it looked like they were sleep. Adom wondered how they could sleep with their eyes open. He was so tired at times that he wished he could learn how to sleep with his eyes open too.
However, he knew his father would have disciplined him if he ever caught him sleeping in the House of Mystery.

As his father drove them home in the sedan, he would periodically remind him, “Don’t you ever fall asleep in there.”

Adom, “Yes, dad, but sometimes I’m so tirrrreeeddddd.”

Adofo placed his right hand on his son’s shoulder; with a little squeeze, “I know son, but there is a time and place for everything, the House of Mystery is not a place for you to fall asleep.”

Adom, “Why do we have to go there?”

Adofo responded, “Remember years ago on the playground? I told you to go sit near the sandbox with the other children. You gave me the look that you did not want to go. All the same, did you learn anything?

Adom contorting his eyes and forehead, “ It is hard to remember Dad. I had a hard time thinking because of their words they used around me.”

Adofo asked, ”Do you remember what I told you when I called you back to the park bench?”

Adom smiling, “Yes Dad, ‘Son, Words have Power. You understand?’”

Adofo chuckled with his son, and said “Go on.”

Adom continued, “I was never to use language like that against anyone.”

His father then said, “Son, Words do have Power, and you need to be aware when words are doing bad things to you.” Pointing to his own right temple, “Will your mind be strong enough to defend against it?” His father paused… “Just because you don’t use words like that, it doesn’t mean you won’t be in that playground again. In fact, you will. You understand?”

Adom, “I think so Dad.”

…Straits of Time…

The  Revelation

The drive was a quiet one. His father was not sharing an insightful story where he had to figure out the solution. There was no comedy, no pun intended statements. Just the hum of the engine.

At the last traffic light before the destination, “This automobile is called an automatic. Look at my feet son.”

Adom looked at his father’s feet and hand movements as the traffic light turned green.

Adofo said next, “When I was your age, I already knew how to drive a manual shift. This type of car will be easy for you to drive.”

Adom never thought about driving before, why now? He had additional thoughts and questions, but due to his father’s countenance and silence, he kept them all to himself. He watched as they pulled into the last row of the parking lot. The sun shined brightly and warm. His father turned off the car and started taking the ignition key off the ring. He also gave Adom instructions:

“Listen very carefully Adom.” Handing him the ignition key, “I don’t know how long this will take. Still, if anyone starts towards this car and you see me nowhere around, you start it and take off down the street as fast as you can.”

Adom wanted to know why, but his voice crackled a little to ask; “Won’t I get pulled over for  speeding?”

His father responded, “Yes, Adom, you most likely will.” Before Adom could ask more questions, his father placed his hand on Adom’s shoulder, and in his voice of confidence said, “Be Strong!”

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Adofo went inside the House of Mystery.

Times passes. Seconds turn into minutes, minutes turn into an hour; an hour multiplies by 2 + 1.

Adom is awaken to the tapping of a cane on the sidewalk. Still more than a hundred yards away, Adom possessed excellent hearing. It was Mr. Shadow tapping the cane on the cement walkway. His first thoughts made him laugh to himself; remembering a long trip with his father. He once said of Mr. Shadow, “don’t let that cane fool you, he can run the ‘40’ in 6 flat.”

Then Adom felt the cool air through the crack in his window. Where did the sun go he wondered? It was only late afternoon. The clouds covered the warmth of the sun. But when he saw the positioning of 5 men around his father, he reached in his pocket to get the ignition key.

Was it the circular positioning of the men around his father that started him to sweat?

Was it the look on 3 of the men faces he saw that started his nervous energy to elevate above what his father would call Olympic levels?

Though his father was surrounded by these men, he made sure his son could see his eyes. These men took turns pointing at his father. Adom could not make out what they were saying. Maybe it was the distance, because it just sounded like a lot of mumbling. His father would respond back to these angry glares, all the while making sure Adom would not go more than a few seconds without him seeing his eyes and facial expressions.

One of the men obstructing his father from moving forward down the walkway, traced Adofo’s peering eyes and turned around to see what he was looking at; Adom at the hundred yards distance. Adom got ready to jump in the driver’s seat. All 5 of the men’s facial appearances seemed to change… Mr. Shadow was no longer leaning on his cane, he was now waving it as if it was a weapon…

Then it happened. Adom looked in his father’s eyes and facial expression. The hundred yards seem to disappear as he saw his father’s face as if he was only 2 feet away. But his father’s features also seemed to change. Adofo quickly turned his back to his son as he uttered something to Mr. Shadow.

The cane hit the ground… The finger pointing stopped as arms dropped to their owners sides… No more angry looks… Just one of shock on each of these 5 men faces.

Adofo turned around and walked past 2 of the men blocking his way. Adom returned back over to the passenger seat as his father sat down and turned the key that Adom had already placed in the ignition.

As they drove off, Adom turned around to see the men still standing there with the cane laying on the ground. He couldn’t see if they were talking or not.

‘Dad, what happened?’

“There are some relationships you have to part ways, even if they are lucrative.”

‘Huh, Lucrative?’
“This means to make you a lot of money son.”

‘They looked mad, why dad?’

“Son, tell me what you learned some time ago sitting outside the sandbox at the park?”

Adom, by designed response, kicked in, ‘Son, Words have Power. You understand?’

His father, “Yes, they do.”

Adom’s father changed the subject by giving his son a riddle to roll around in his mind. He always knew what type of riddles to task his son with solving and how long it would take him to figure them out.

…Straits of Time…

Years would go by without his father ever bringing up that strange day until his son was close to leaving in order to find his path in the world.

He started with:

“There is a man possessing Clout and Resources.
Even rabid wolves run away with their tails in-between their legs,” His father explained. “This man knows… beckons…the populous…the few…mystery…things. Yes, even the Power of a Word…

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