- Joey Hobblefester Can't Readby GeraldShuler
This work has reached the exceptional level
Sometimes years pass hiding shameful secrets.
Joey Hobblefester Can't Read by GeraldShuler
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For thirty years Joey Hobblefester had worked hard to keep his secret. He had worked back-breaking manual labor as a ditch digger for Presto Plumbing to keep it. He had even learned to be such an actor in all situations that his secret was never suspected. But now it seemed there was no way to hide anymore. His eight-year-old son, Billy, was having trouble learning to read and he had asked if he could get some help from Dad. How could Joey continue faking such a thing to his own son? Shameful as it was, Joey Hobblefester had never learned to read.

“There's no shame in not being able to read all that good, son.” Joey waved his arm through the air, taking in the entire world. “This old world is too big to worry about just one little weakness. Why do you let them teachers get to you?”

“It's not the teachers.” Billy blushed slightly, revealing in the blush a secret of his own.

“Ahhh! So you need to impress a girl?” Joey punched his son softly in the arm. “Already got the Hobblefester charm. I take it this girl reads pretty good?”

“Best in the class.”

“Well, then, we better start getting you to be at least the second-best. Get your reading book and I'll teach you how to read like a champ.”

As Billy went to his room to get the book, Joey was emotionally kicking himself for allowing this to happen. How could he teach Billy to read? And what would come of it when Billy learned the truth? He had faced years of hiding from the truth but this time...

“Here it is, Dad.” Billy handed Joey a book and opened it to the page he was supposed to read tomorrow. Joey looked the page over as though he was reading it. He even turned some pages to show that he was really liking what he was reading. The picture on the page had a turtle crossing a finish line in a race. Far behind was a rabbit, huffing and puffing, trying to catch up. Joey breathed a sigh of relief. He knew this story.

“Tortoise and the Hare. Good story. Have you read it yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Well, Billy, here's what I want you to do.” Joey handed the book back to his son. “I want you to pretend like I don't know the first thing about reading.” Billy smiled at the thought. “Don't smile. Take it seriously. I want you to teach me how to read this story. Can you do that?”

“Sure.” He held the book in front of his father. “Read this first sentence.”

“How can I do that if I don't know how to read. Shoot! The first word is a mystery to me. I don't even know the first letter.”

Billy smiled again. “You're good at this, Dad. Okay. First, we have to know the alphabet.”

For the next hour, Father listened as Son taught. True to form, Joey 'acted' like there was a lot he didn't know, but Billy's teaching was actually starting to fill in a lot of those blanks in his mind. He was, for the first time in his life, learning to read. Maybe he would even be able to convince his son to keep teaching him so he could even read the Bible.

“Do you think you could keep teaching me to read? Maybe, the Bible?”

Billy, though, was ready to stop for today. He was tired.

“You can stop acting like you can't read now, Dad.” Billy put the book on the coffee table. “You really helped me be a better reader.”

“Really? How?”

“Well, when I listen to the teachers at school, I tend to let my mind wander a lot. You pretended like you needed to learn it all, so I had to work hard to keep your mind from wandering. I think maybe I should do the same thing.”

“I'm almost certain that would end up making you a better reader. You'll have that girl of yours impressed in no time.”

“That might be hard.” Billy got his little blush back. “She's the one my mind wanders to.”
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