A quick note from Oliver – Mr. Amala’s Soup is a child’s story that stars a quite real, little boy. His Dad is real too, and at the time was a soldier. He fought a war for us, and is home today. Thank, God.
And now, Mr. Amala’s Soup…
Tony held a pot of hot soup. His favorite neighbor, Mr. Amala had a cold, and his mother asked Tony to take him part of their dinner. The rain stopped, even though the clouds still hid a large, round moon. Tony wore two big kitchen mittens for his hands and wasn’t so sure about walking in the backyards at night. He knew the soup would be good for Mr. Amala, even though it was bad for the chicken. Tony didn’t like the night when he was alone, but he always did what his Mom and Dad asked of him.
Tonight, he was a little scared because Mr. Amala had a field of pumpkins and corn that must be crossed. Because Tony was carrying such a big pot, he could not run like he did during the day.
“Okay, Mom. I’ll be careful,” he said, and heard the door close behind him. Clouds flew over his head, and a drop of rain fell. “Boy, it sure is dark.” His voice disappeared into the night.
Tony walked into his yard, and said, “There’s my swing and my tree. That’s the jungle gym Dad put up before he went to Iraq. There’s my bike. Oops, I forgot to put that away before dinner.”
He would have to remember, because Dad was coming over tonight to help him with his homework. Tony walked to the back gate. Beyond the fence was his favorite neighbor’s pumpkin and corn patch. He could see Mr. Amala’s little house in the distance with the glow of the kitchen light. “What a dark field,” Tony said.
Buster ran up and jumped to lick his hand. “No, Buster. I wasn’t talking to you. This soup is for Mr. Amala. Mom says he has a cold, and she made it for him.” Buster sat down and watched as Tony worked his foot under the gate. Buster’s tail wagged, but Tony said, “No Buster. You can’t come. Stay, boy.”
Buster seemed to understand and lay down. He would wait because good boys have good dogs that trust them. Tony push the gate closed and began to walk. The pumpkins were large and shadowed orange, like huge, gray rocks. Rain water glistened from the moon and looked like pumpkins eyes. The vines were long and tried to trip him. He was very careful and stepped over Mr. Amala’s pumpkins.
Soon, he stood in front of the corn, high above his head. The breeze blew the plants as they waved and clattered. The night was dark inside the rows.
“Who?” a voice called out, and Tony stopped. “Who?” asked the voice again.
“Tony,” the boy answered, just a little frightened. “I’m Antonio.” He thought, maybe he should use his full name, just in case.
“Who?” the voice asked once more.
Tony was about to answer when a tiny field mouse squeaked and dashed from a hiding spot running for its hole.
“Screech!” yelled the voice, and with a mighty flap, flew off into the night.
Tony gripped the pot tighter. “Owl,” he said. “He wasn’t asking about me. He wanted Mr. Mouse for dinner.”
The mouse did not come back and thank the boy. “Good idea, Mr. Mouse,” Tony said. “That hungry owl might still be around.”
Tony walked, taking careful steps, pushing the stalks aside. With each puff of wind in the cold night, the corn rubbed and rattled. He didn’t like the noise because it sounded like someone was in the field with him.
“Who’s there?” Tony asked, his voice sounding small in the big field. The wind blew harder and a few rain drops fell. “Hello?” he said, but no one answered except the corn.
Tony wanted to run. He wanted to drop the soup pot and run home. This was awful. Owls and mice. Was someone in the corn with him? Tony was a good boy, so he walked toward Mr. Amala’s house holding the soup pot in his arms. Big rain drops hit the dry corn leaves with a plunk, plunk, plunk. The night was so dark and loud. His new shoes oozed into the mud. Tony kept walking.
Just then, a big, black crow flew up and out of the corn in a squawk and snap of its big wings. Tony yelled out and almost dropped the pot. He stepped back, his foot caught, and he went down with a mighty thunk. A corn stalk cracked in the wind and landed next to him. Tony scooted on his rump, but held the pot and did not cry out. He sat and felt the cold and the wet seep into his pants. He was muddy now, but held the pot in his arms.
Tony climbed to his feet and looked around at the tall corn shuttering in the windy night. “A bird and corn stalks,” Tony said. “Rain and mud, and a vine that tripped me. I see these every day in the sunlight, but now the sun is gone. Did they change? No. I woke up the bird and scared him. The corn is blowing in the wind, and the vines and the mud are just the same.”
The few drops of rain slowed and stopped. The clouds moved aside and uncovered the bright moon. Tony could see Mr. Amala’s yard and the tiny kitchen, and neither were very far away. He walked on, stepping high over the mounds and shouldering between the tall corn. Mr. Amala’s wife died last winter, so Mr. Amala was a widower. Tony always remembered to say hello and goodbye, and to visit whenever he could.
Tony knocked on the door. A rustle and thump came from the inside. Tony could hear a shuffle of footsteps and a meow. That was Samson, a big black cat.
“Why, Tony!” Mr. Amala said, very surprised. “What in the world are you doing out on this terrible night?”
“My Mom made you soup,” Tony answered.
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” Mr. Amala said, taking the pot from Tony’s arms. It felt good to be relieved of the heavy load. “Come in, please.” Mr. Amala was a small man with a bald head, little, round eyeglasses, and a very friendly face.
Tony stopped. “I can’t, Mr. Amala. I’m all muddy.”
The man looked at the boy’s jeans and elbows. “Oh, so you are. Never mind the mud. Come in and have some hot chocolate. I’ll drive you back home.”
Tony wanted to come in. The kitchen was so bright and nice. The air was warm and the cat was purring. He really liked Samson, even if he wasn’t a dog, and the chocolate sounded wonderful. But Tony was a good boy and he had homework. And of course, he would get everything muddy.
Then, Tony thought of the field he must cross to go home. The rows of noisy corn, the angry birds, animals running around trying to eat each other, the tripping vines, the mud and the dark. Very scary. Riding home in Mr. Amala’s car would be much nicer. But no, because that would mean Mr. Amala must go out with a cold.
“No, sir,” Tony said, a little sad. “Thank you, but I have my homework to start and my bike to put away. I’ll just walk back.”
Mr. Amala looked into the dark night. “My, my Tony. You are a good and brave boy. Thank you for walking over the soup for my supper.”
“You’re welcome. Good night.”
“Well, if you’re sure,” Mr. Amala said, nodding his head. “Please, thank your Mom for me.”
When the door closed, the night surrounded Tony once again. Suddenly, he was in the dark. Darker than before. The mud on his jeans was cold, and he trembled a little. He might be good and brave, but wondered if he’d made the right decision.
Of course, Tony could run now, and that’s just what he did. He leapt off the back porch, not bothering with the stairs, and tore through Mr. Amala’s yard. He ran into the corn and never slowed. Slap, slap, slap. Just as he broke free of the last row and into the pumpkin patch, a huge giant stood in front of him.
“Aaugh!” Tony yelled, stumbling back. A vine caught his foot and he went splat into a big pumpkin.
The giant took a step toward him. Tony was about to yell, when his Dad said, “Everything okay here, son?”
“Dad!” said Tony. “Wow, it’s you.”
“Of course, it’s me. Who did you expect?” His Dad was a big guy, and wasn’t afraid of anything. In fact, his Dad was a soldier that protected his country flying a helicopter. “What’s the matter, Tony? Were you afraid?”
Tony didn’t want to admit that he was frightened. He couldn’t be brave and be a scaredy bear, too. What should he say? He was a good, and a brave boy, but he did not lie. “Yes, Dad. I was afraid. I saw a mouse that was almost eaten, an owl that was mad at me, and a crow that didn’t like being awaken. The corn was making noise, I tripped on a vine, and it was really dark. I fell and got muddy. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?” his Dad asked. “What do you have to be sorry for?”
“Because, I was afraid,” Tony said. “Brave boys aren’t scared.”
His Dad let out one of his great, big laughs and helped Tony up. “You’ve got this all wrong, son. Everybody is afraid now and then. Sometimes, I am, too. The real deal is what you do when you’re afraid. Do you run away? Do you drop the pot of soup? Or, do you go ahead and do the best you can?”
Tony thought he understood. “I can be afraid, but if I do what’s right, being afraid doesn’t matter.”
His Dad laughed once again. “On top of everything, you’re smart, too. So, after you put your bike away, why don’t we get started on that homework?”
Tony groaned. Buster barked. He’d rather play around in Mr. Amala’s field with his Dad than do homework.
But, Tony was a good boy.
Hope you enjoyed.