Happy Father’s Day Big Guy …

This Father’s Day post is in honor of my older brother. The big guy, was my surrogate dad for most of my childhood and teen years. It is a reprint of a short piece I wrote for his birthday in 1975.

Years later, it was rewritten in third person and used in a short story about my alter-ego … Antoinette.

I am sure he doesn’t remember, but it matters not. I remember. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This is called … The Gift

Harmonica Man Graphic 

It was late and the sticky August heat and the buzz of a mosquito kept Antoinette awake. She sat up waving her arms to ward off another attack. Exhausted, she fell back on her pillow and watched the shadows on her ceiling, worried the shadows would suddenly change and become demons.

In the background she heard the faint rumble of a freight train, its whistle long and mournful as it sped through the night.

She heard a tug boat out in the bay, its horn navigating through the summer fog, the clang of a trolley car passing under her window; a slow summer night

Then the sounds of a soulful tune floated through the air into her room; the sweet liquid sounds of Andrew’s harmonica as he sat in the big parlor chair.

Often he would wait until the family was sleeping. Wait until only the rays of the streetlights lit the room, streaming through the tiny panes of the living room window, small, square like prisms catching the yellow light and bouncing it back against the parlor walls in a brilliant splash of color.

Andrew’s music filled the room like smoke and fragrance and imaginings of catching a freight train to faraway places, sailing off into the horizon to find mystery and adventure.

Carefully, Antoinette went to the foot of her bed and peaked around the corner of the open doorway to watch him, holding her breath for fear he would see her and break the spell.

Andrew’s eyes were closed and his head pushed back into the chair, fingers and palms wrapped around the bright silver instrument, the low moan of the harmonica filled the room.

Whenever Antoinette heard the sound of a harmonica she thought of freight trains to faraway places and sailing off into the horizon, of mystery and adventure and hot sticky summer nights. The buzz of a mosquito and young girls wide-awake watching shadows dancing on the ceiling, and feeling safe.

He was back in Brooklyn, back from his summer in the country. It made her happy. When he was away the house was too quiet and she felt lonely for the sounds of his laughter, the sounds his music filling the rooms. Antoinette was indeed content to have her family around her, but it was Andrew who made her feel safe.

Slowly she slipped back into her bed smiling as he made another dark night pass without shadows or fears.

Happy Father’s Day Big Guy !

Is there a special somone besides  your father that you honor on this day?

fOIS In The City



Filed under Flash Fiction

34 responses to “Happy Father’s Day Big Guy …

  1. A beautiful tribute. In fact I think I’d like to adopt him.


    • Thanks, Shelley. All the kids in the family on two sides adopted him. Sunday, he’ll be mobbed by all of them and the grandkids as well. Maybe my sister-in-law should rent him out by the hour 🙂


  2. Aw. What a wonderful tribute, Florence. A beautifully written, emotive story. Once again, you take me back to the Brooklyn of your childhood with the boats on the water, the night sounds in the city…

    Now. Just to keep things straight in my noggin. Is this the same older brother you used to “ditch” so you and your friend could venture off on your own?

    I’d worry I was tattling on you, but I suspect Big Brother was relieved not to have his pip-squeak sister tagging along with him all day. What a glee-killer that would have been for a teen/tween male.


    • Gloria, thanks for your kind words.

      Okay … I had two older brothers. The older of the two I call the Big Guy … the middle one is the older brother I ditched and a good thing too. Actually, the Big Guy was a working adult by the time me and Petie starting our youthful adventures.

      We both had older brothers who were teens when we were in grade school and Yes … neither of them told our parents that while they were supposed to be watching us they were getting “busy” elsewhere 🙂


  3. That is really a great story. Every sentence captivated me and held my attention to the end. And what a totally cool tribute to your brother. Wow!
    Sounds cliche’, but thanks for sharing it with us.


  4. What a beautiful story! It made me long for an older brother of my own!


  5. annerallen

    Beautiful piece, Florence. Really moving.


  6. Thanks for sharing your older brother with us, Florience. I gave your blog the Liebster Award via http://rwrambling.blogspot.com/2012/06/share-blog-love.html


  7. What a lovely story! Thanks for reposting it.


  8. Thank you for sharing this lovely story!


  9. That was so lovely, Florence. I have a crappy big brother. Wanna trade?


  10. I loved your story, Florence. You are so lucky to have this older brother who means so much to you and has played suck a big role in your life. Happy Father’s Day to all the men like your brother!


  11. This was beautiful . . . have you ever submitted it to a magazine or anything? If not, then you should:)

    P.S. I’m a teacher–so I love telling people what to do;) ~Cheers


    • Jamie … not only the big guy, but the love of his life, my sister-in-law, taught. For most of his career in a Brooklyn HS, the same school where they met and fell in love.

      At one point I thought about submitting the stories of Antoinette, but as writing careers go, I have not spent time submitting them. There is a nagging voice in my head that tells me I will do something with her one of these days. Glad you enjoyed her 🙂


  12. I started reading your heartfelt words this morning and stopped. I knew I wanted to read it when I had the time to savor each and every word. Immediately the flavor touch my heart and I wanted to read faster but my mind said no. This piece deserved the respect only time at the end of a day could allow. I always love your blogs, there always so lyrical – but this one tops them all – to date. Beautiful – just beautiful.


    • Sheri, coming from a woman who reads hundreds of books a year, I am touched that you enjoyed my little story.

      I have come to a decision about my blog posts and since there are thousands who help writers “how to” everything … and a few dozens who do book reviews … I decided to let my narrative voice play a major role in how I present the topics closest to my heart … my city … my family and this incredible new career I have chosen. Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂


  13. Very moving piece of writing.


  14. christicorbett

    What a lovely story! You did such a wonderful job of describing the setting, and every emotion Antoinette was feeling, that I felt like I was right alongside her as she spied on her brother. 🙂

    Christi Corbett


  15. A haunting and evocative piece, Florence. I love the freight trains and harmonicas. They represent such a different time. My step-father, the wonderful man my mother found in her 50s, has been a strong force in my life.


  16. This is lovely, Florence. I SO enjoyed reading it. 🙂


  17. pk hrezo

    Hi Florence! So sorry I’m just now getting by. This is a great snippet. I love the line “the sweet liquid sounds of the harmonica….”
    I love the harmonica, and one day I shall learn to play it… but it has to be around a campfire. lol


    • Thanks, PK … I miss you when you are gone, but I’m always happy to see you the next time. Gotta love that sound. It’s been infused into my blood 🙂 Have a great Father’s Day with your family !!


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