Uncle Vinson was staring off at the setting sun, watching slow moving clouds run their shadows over the green and brown hillside.

He was pulling on his pipe, with a bit of smoke and smell spreading outward.

I knew if I got too close my eyes would water.
I also knew full well, he did not have the courage to stoke the pipe when Aunt Barbie was around. She had a way of climbing up and down his tall frame and making him smaller.

I had asked him a question, that seemed to settle on him, he chewed it a bit and spat it back.

“Now, young man, I know you want the easy way, the easy answer. One that does not require blisters and hardship. One where Lady Luck smiles on you. That is human nature. But, for most of us walking the face of the planet, luck only occurs when we are not looking for it. Pry up a rock, dig a hole, cross your fingers and hope to die, and you still will not find luck.”

He reached up to stroke his chin and said,
“Just imagine me when I was your age. I was strapped and full of piss, just like you. But, I was not blessed with a handsome face, curly hair, or even a good singing voice. Many of the other kids were faster, stronger. In my mind, they were the lucky ones.”

Now, Uncle Vinson had a pointing finger and continued,
“No doubt, you have heard of ‘rich man’ or ‘white privilege’. But, there has never been anyone born running to their graves that did not get a broken heart or damaged soul along the way. Even that ‘rich man’ your kind is so jealous of, I bet his heart and dreams were dashed at some point.””So, Jessie! Here boy! Look at me! The secrets to life are real simple, though they are not easy!”

He had my full earshot right then.

“You work harder than the pretty boy, the rich boy, the smarter boy, and you will stand out! You tell the truth every damned time your mouth flies open! If you piss someone off, maybe it was too much truth, back off next time! The man, woman, child standing next to you deserves your respect, and be damned what color they are! And, finally, you can turn the other cheek one time for a bully, but the next time he pushes, put him back into his mother’s womb with everything you have. You are not protecting yourself against him, you are protecting others from him in his future!”

Uncle Vinson knew his voice was loud enough now to attract attention, but went on,
“One more thing! Are you hearing me boy? You and I go fishing tomorrow morning, I supply the boat, bait, and fixings, but only if your Aunt Barbies does NOT find out bout this here pipe! Deal?”Been a few decades now, and I wish the young ones around me could hear my Uncle Vinson, it might help tomorrow come.Life is pretty simple when you work hard and let petty feelings slide down the sewer.