Ornery Jake (Badgers take the championship)

Even though they were long shots, the Badgers win. They are now officially the state champions. Fans leave the stadium absolutely intoxicated with this unexpected triumph. A group of other high school seniors graduating with Chester tease him that while the football team played well, it was his beautifully lit scoreboard that applied the real magic that brought about the team’s win.

As the gaggle of kids head up the hill outside the stadium with an unbridled enthusiasm, they cause such a stir that Chester’s Uncle Jake is disturbed by the commotion. He steps out onto his porch, and yells at the kids to quiet down.

In unison the kids chant, “Who’s that guy think he is to rain on our victory parade”? … (Followed by other choice insults to the old man). They are all too young to recall him as an amazing science teacher, since he retired from teaching nearly ten years earlier.

They knew him only as the grouchy guy who lived like a hermit in the old house near the top of the hill. They even had a nickname for him: “Ornery Jake”.

Chester (Jake’s nephew) was part of this unruly mini-mob, but since Jake had not seen him for nearly a decade it is doubtful that he would have even recognized his own nephew. Chester felt bad about heckling his uncle, but he was caught up in the herd mentality of his friends and did not even let on that he knew Jake -- much less be related to the old codger.

Jake responds to their taunts with a barbed dose of cold rational logic. He has seen the problems in the town coming closer and can’t understand how the townspeople could be so blind. Here are kids giddy with the results of a simple ball game -- they are clueless what is coming soon -- the doom of their wonderful town. Is he the only one in the town who “gets it”? Is he the only one in the town who cares enough to want to do something about it? Maybe he can’t do anything. After all, the town thinks he is a slightly whacky hermit who is out of touch with the town, and far more flaky than not.

In reality, he is not a “flake” and he is not a “creepy crawly slimy snake”. He just can’t bring himself to confront the town. He has not been able to even socialize with his own brother for nearly a decade.

When Jake’s wife passed away his whole world crumbled—that is the main reason he retired from teaching. He just could not deal with happy people. Their happiness only made him feel worse.


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