Sunday, October 23, 2016


Get off your grass,
You simple man!

You are not an ostrich
Hiding in its fears.

A circular posture
Crowned in darkness

Cannot get you what you need
Oh, useless muse

You sing songs of desire,
Loneliness, and starvation.

Get out of your cellar
Your lofty perch is the highest of the low

It's not about you.

You exist to serve, and in serving
You meet your own need.

Trust in the Lord or the Universe or
Something Greater than yourself.

Lose your ego and your self-defeat;
You will not be happy

Until you serve another.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Want a Faster Email Response from Your Professor? Follow These Four Tips

Email makes taking classes so much easier these days. Among other things, you can reach out to your instructors about an assignment or grade with a few keystrokes.

However, email can make users careless. Students sometimes fire off messages without putting much thought into them, leaving instructors scratching their heads as to what the student is asking and how best to respond.
You can give your instructors all the information they need by following four easy steps:
1. Tell us which class you are in.
Believe it or not, you instructor probably doesn't teach just one class. Full-time professors may teach anywhere from four to seven classes, or more, at a time. Adjunct instructors may teach several classes at different institutions. So, even if the instructor recognizes your name, he or she may not associate it with a particular class.
You can tell the instructor precisely which class you are in by including the course section number in your email.
Most college courses have a course number and a course section number (CSN). For example, the course number may tell you the course name and level, such as "English 101" or "Business Administration 250." But there may be hundreds of individual courses, or sections, and your professor may be teaching several at the same time. 
At some institutions, a CSN may look something like this: EN101-001 or BA250-327N. At other institutions, the number may be a more generic series of numbers, such as 32466. 
Where do you find the CSN? Try looking in the course catalog or the list of courses you are currently taking. If you are taking an online course, the section number can usually be found on the course home page or menu. 
2. Send emails only from your college email account.
In the modern world, people have many different email accounts, and sometimes those accounts are linked for convenience. But if your instructor receives an email from your personal or work account, she has no way of knowing if the sender is you or someone else. She also has no way of knowing who else has access to your account: your spouse, your children, or your employer.
Your college account should not be shared with anyone. Your instructor must be able to respond with the confidence that you and only you are receiving the messages.
For this reason, many instructors will respond to emails only if they are sent from the student’s school account.
3. Be specific about what you are asking.
“Hey, prof, I don’t understand the assignment” tells us very little. “Hey, prof, I don’t understand the Week 6 assignment” tells us only a little more.
If you really want to blow your instructor’s mind, write something like, “The Week 6 assignment asks us to write in third person, but I don’t know what this means. Can you show me some examples?”
The more specific you can be, the more specific a response you will get. 
Otherwise, you may receive a ton of information you don’t need. Even worse, the instructor may ask for clarification, which means you have to send another email with more detailed information anyway.
And while you can ask as many questions as you want, it may be more meaningful to focus on one at a time. Make sure you understand the instructor’s response before going on to another concern. You can always send another email later.
4. Be polite.
This one should go without saying, yet I sometimes receive emails which make demands or even threats—usually over a low grade.
No one likes to receive a low grade. If you receive one, it's okay to be upset. But this is also an opportunity to practice your readiness for a professional career by keeping your emotions in check. Instead of writing, “I don’t agree with my grade. I’m going to file an appeal,” write something like, “I was stunned to see I had received a D. Did I miss something?”
If, after receiving the instructor’s response, you still feel you have been wronged and have evidence to support your claim, by all means you should file an appeal. But making threats comes across as childish and can shut down communication with the person who is most interested in helping you succeed: your instructor.
Always practice the Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated. Even better, practice what Dr. Tony Alessandra calls the Platinum Rule—treat others as they want to be treated.
If you follow these steps, your educational experience will be immensely improved by helping us help you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Thesis Statement: This One Sentence Can Make or Break Your Essay

Below is another of my posts on college writing. This post originally ran on the Grantham Blog in 2015.
Here’s a quick quiz.
Let’s say you are writing a paper for one of your college courses on whether or not colleges and universities should change their grading systems.
Which of the following would make the best thesis statement?
A. This essay will discuss whether or not colleges and universities should abolish grades. 
B. In my opinion, colleges and universities should do away with grades altogether. 
C. The traditional grading system of A-F does not adequately measure student achievement inside and outside of the classroom. 
D. Should colleges and universities change their grading systems?
Before you select an answer, let’s get a clear understanding of what a thesis statement is and what it is not.
Get to the Point
A thesis statement is the most important part of an essay. It is the central idea of the paper—the “thing” you most want to get across. In a persuasive essay, it is the idea you want your readers to accept.
In other words, it is the point of your paper distilled down to one sentence or twoat most.
A thesis statement must be specific. It does not leave room for readers to guess what you mean or for you to weasel out of a position by saying, “Well, it’s just my opinion.”
This can be a challenge because, in writing an essay,  you commit yourself to a position. A position in writing is like a position in baseball: you must be standing in the right place (or on the right base) to get home. If you are in the wrong place or too slow in getting to the next base, you will be “out.”
Unlike baseball, there are rarely winners and losers in writing. Writers try to express some universal truth that their readers can agree on. If you can get your readers to agree, we are all “winners.”
But in order to find that truth, you have to take a position.
Don’t Argue with Me (Well, Yes You Can)
A thesis statement must also be arguable, which means someone can, in fact, disagree with you. This, too, is a challenge because most people feel uncomfortable when others disagree with them. Who wants to be told we’re wrong?
However, a good writer prepares to take that risk. He/she does this by showing confidence in the position and welcomes the opportunity to address others who hold different views.
Don’t Just Lie There. Get Up and Move!
A thesis statement should propel the reader forward. It should make the reader curious about how the writer arrived at this conclusion.
These statements are active, not passive (“This paper will discuss …”). They engage the reader in dialogue, making the reader feel he or she has a stake in the issue.
Last, a thesis statement is never a question. It is by definition a statement. It ends in a period. Think of a thesis statement as the answer to a question.
Drumroll, please!
It should be obvious that the correct answer is C. It is the only answer that meets all of the above criteria: It is specific and arguable. It propels the reader forward, and it is not a question.
Does this mean that the thesis statement has all the answers? Absolutely not.
One can easily argue the opposite position—that grades provide students with easily identifiable goals and employers with a quick measure of an applicant’s academic record, for example.
Because this counterargument exists, the writer now has a clear job: to convince the reader(s) to take his/her side.
And the best part of a thesis statement? If you distill your entire paper down to one sentence, you now know where you're going and so does your reader.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Blacklist: Topics to AVOID for your college paper

Last week, we talked about how to pick a topic for your college essay. This week, we talk about topics to AVOID. 
This article originally appeared on the Grantham Blog in 2014.

One of the challenges students face in college writing is topic selection.
Some instructors determine in advance what topics their students are allowed to write about; others give students a more or less free rein.
The good thing about such a course is that you may get to write about a topic that already interests you. The bad thing? You have to choose your topic wisely.
The Blacklist of Topics
Some instructors allow students to write about anything they wish; others discourage certain topics or ban them outright. Often called “the Blacklist,” these topics rarely result in good college essays. Although the Blacklist varies from professor to professor, it commonly includes the following topics:
  • abortion
  • stem cell research
  • same-sex marriage
  • legalization of marijuana or other drugs
  • gun control/gun issues in general
  • any sports-related topic
  • death penalty
Topics like these should be avoided for three reasons:
1. "Not This Topic Again!"
Students often select these topics because they aren’t sure what else to write about and they can easily find information about the topics via a quick search of the Internet.
However, students with nothing new to say about abortion or the legalization of marijuana often lapse into summary, merely repeating what their sources have already said instead of making an original argument. Professors cringe when they get such papers. Some want to tear out what little hair they have left.
Other times, students are so dead set on their position that they make questionable claims. If you support the legalization of marijuana because you tried it and turned out just fine, you might want to consider whether or not it is advisable to admit to engaging in an activity that is still illegal in some states.
And it’s tough to make an original argument about divisive issues, which leads us to Reason No. 2:
2. "You're Wrong, and I'll Prove It!"
“Hot button” topics polarize readers who already have strong opinions about them. You can turn on the television and watch most any debate on gun control turn into a shouting match.
Some instructors also have strong opinions about certain issues. Your argument to the contrary is not likely to change their minds, which defeats the purpose of writing the argument. But aren’t professors supposed to be objective?  Yes and no. Professors are human beings, too. The last thing any writer wants to do is bore or antagonize the audience.
Besides, if you have strong feelings on a topic and aren't willing to change your mind, what makes you think your readers will change theirs?
3. Preaching to the Choir
Some topics matter only to readers who already have a strong interest in them.  For example, if you want to argue that so-and-so should be considered the greatest baseball player ever, your audience is already limited to fans of baseball.  
Even so, only fans of that particular player or those who believe someone else should be considered the greatest are likely to care.  (And, in the latter case, you are unlikely to convince them otherwise — see No. 2, above). For other readers, it simply won’t matter who the “greatest player” is.
So, if you can’t write about these topics, what should you write about?  
Begin with your own life and your community. What interests you enough that you want to know more about it? What problems do you see need that need to be addressed? Browse your college databases to get a sense of what topics are relevant to your field of study.
If you have any concerns about whether or not your topic is on the Blacklist, ask your instructor before you proceed. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

How to Choose a Winning College Essay Topic

Sorry it's been a while since this blog was active. There are some big changes afoot in Greg Gildersleeve Land, including a new Power Club website. Meanwhile, I'm returning to this blog and expanding the focus. Since all writing is connected (at least in my mind), and good writers should be able to do a variety of things, I'm including some non-superhero and non-how-to-be-a-writer topics. 
This first offering addresses something that vexes college students everywhere. It originally appeared on the Grantham Blog. Enjoy.

Writing a persuasive paper or a researched argument can be a daunting task for online students, particularly when you’re given the freedom to choose your own topic.  What topic should you pick when the sky is the limit?
So, you pick a hot subject of the day. You go online, find sources both for and against the topic, write your paper, make sure everything is cited properly, and sit back in anticipation of the A that is surely yours.
Then the paper comes back.
“I got a C!”  What’s up with that?
You did everything the instructor wanted, didn’t you?
Well, yes and no.                     
From someone who has graded hundreds of papers, here are three factors to consider when choosing an essay topic.
Hot Topics are Lukewarm
The problem with selecting a “hot” topic is that you must have something new to say about it.  When instructors ask for an argument, they are not looking for a summary of what other sources say or a rehash of others’ arguments.  They want you to bring something new to the academic conversation.
No “Safe” Topics
To write well, you must take risks.  Writing means exposing some aspect of your soul, your thinking, or your inner world to an audience who is going to react to it. 
For example: When I was in college... I was (and still am) a huge fan of Star Trek.  However, I grew up with the notion that a science fiction television and movie series was not worthy of “serious” discussion in school.  Then, during my freshman year, I took an upper-level course called Transformations of Myth through Time.
One of the required readings was Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  In this influential scholarly work, Campbell identifies the paradigm of the hero—a universal pattern that occurs in the heroic literature and mythologies of diverse cultures throughout history.  To me, this paradigm sounded eerily familiar: It reminded me of the back story of Star Trek’s iconic Vulcan character, Mr. Spock.  
So, I wrote a paper showing how Spock’s fictional history could easily be plugged into Campbell’s paradigm. Comparing and contrasting a popular modern character to ancient and universal themes increased my own understanding and appreciation of Star Trek.  It also held significant implications for readers.
Guess what?  I got an A.
When you write a college-level essay, you must look beyond your immediate audience (your professor) and consider who, in a larger context, should read your words.
“Safe” topics won’t take you there.  They ask nothing of the reader because they ask nothing of you, the writer.
Dare to Be Original
Select a topic in which you have a deep, personal interest.   Better yet: draw a topic from your own life—something that excites or annoys you.  A topic you care about is one you will invest the time and effort to research.  It is one you probably already know a great deal about.  It also has significant consequences for your audience, should they accept your viewpoint.
That isn’t to say your topic must be earth shaking.  In fact, the smaller, “quieter,” and off-the-wall topics sometimes work best.
Look for connections between your own life and interests and the material you are studying.  Write something original. Write something you would want to read.
Apprehensive about whether or not the topic will go over well with the professor?
Ask first.  Professors don’t bite. They love it when students save themselves (and the professor) time by troubleshooting a topic first.
Keep in mind that your professor has probably read hundreds or thousands of papers on those hot topics that have been covered to death.  Dare to be different.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Hard to believe this is my first post of 2016. I'm still writing fiction and working on a Power Club sequel. In the meantime, here's a poem that really has nothing to do with PC. Enjoy!

I have no manifest destiny,
No higher calling
That makes me better than you.
The work I struggle to perfect
May not live on.
It may wither and die
Like yesterday’s songs.
It may change lives,
But, if it does,
It will be as ripples of love and hope.
Those grazed by the ripples
Will think my grand ideas theirs,
And so they should.
Take ownership of life;
If you remember me at all,
Remember me with kindness.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Damon and the Forbidden Neighborhood: A Power Club Halloween Story (Part 2 of 2)

        When Damon reached the curb, he took a shallow breath. This trick he had recently learned made the darkspace thin enough so he could see if any cars were coming. There were none, so he burst into a run. As he crossed the street, he heard the voices of the others. It sounded like they were cheering him on, so he ran faster.
          It took longer to reach the other side of the street than Damon had thought. Sometimes it was difficult for him to judge distances inside the darkspace, and there were no bushes or trees or houses to indicate how close he was to the other side. Finally, he reached the other curb. A fireplug appeared in view, as his darkspace surrounded it to let him know he had made it.
           Damon walked up the street a ways, thinking he must surely be where the others were by now. Why hadn’t they appeared inside his darkspace? Then he realized they were probably scared of it, like people sometimes were, and were making sure they stayed outside of it. He decided to make the darkspace go away and tell everyone it was safe to be inside the darkness. Then maybe they could go trick-or treating inside the darkspace. He laughed as he imagined going up to someone’s house, knocking on the door, and scaring people, who would only see a cloud of darkness! That, he decided, would be the best trick ever!
          But when he inhaled and made the darkspace go away, he was stunned.
          None of the houses on this block looked familiar, and none of them had their porch lights on.
          Oh, no! I’ve crossed the boulevard, he realized. That’s why it took so long to cross the street. It wasn’t the street at all. I’m in the Forbidden Neighborhood.
          But it was no big deal, he thought. He’d just go back the way he came. He turned to walk down the hill, but something blocked his path. In the darkness—no streetlights were even on—he strained to see what was ambling toward him. The figure looked no bigger than a kid, maybe a year or two older than he was, but it was very skinny and lurched as it walked. Damon thought it was just some guy out trick or treating, but when the figure was close enough to see clearly, Damon jumped back.
          The first thing he noticed was a toothless mouth drawn tight across a bony face. Dead eyes stared at him from underneath wisps of hair which hung limp across an exposed skull. The figure was clad in what must have once been a tee-shirt and jeans but were now rags. A bony, rotted hand reached out toward Damon.
          “Th-that’s a neat costume!” Damon said, hoping it was a costume.
          The figure strained to speak. “Giiiiimmeeee caaaan-dee!”
          Damon realized the figure was pointing to his bag of candy. Too terrified to move, Damon could only joke, “D-don’t zombies eat brains?”       
          The figure lunged, moving faster than Damon thought possible. But it was off-balance and Damon easily stepped aside. All Damon would have to do now, he thought, was run back toward his side of the district. But before he could take another step, he heard a scraping sound from the middle of the street. He glanced over and saw a manhole cover being shifted. Then, to Damon’s horror, another figure much like the first emerged.
          This zombie had no hair at all, and its jaw hung lopsided on the bottom of its skull. The sight so revolted Damon, he thought he might throw up. But now a third zombie appeared from somewhere behind Damon—this one was missing its head, but its exposed rib cage, outstretched arms and bony legs were coming right toward him. The zombies made a noise which sounded like chanting and moaning, and a horrible smell permeated the air. To Damon, it smelled like rotten eggs and bad breath—the smell of death.
          Damon wanted to run as fast as he could back to his side of the district, but he was too scared to move. Instead, he exhaled and the darkspace came, surrounding him. He felt safe, at last. The zombies would not be able to find him in the cloud of darkness.
          The second zombie wandered inside the darkspace and appeared momentarily confused. A noseless face sniffed the air, and then it reached out and grabbed Damon by the sleeve of his costume. “Weee smeeeellll youuu!” it taunted through its lopsided jaw.
          Damon somehow shook loose and found he could move again. The darkspace was not helping him, so he inhaled, making it go away. Then he tossed the bag of candy on the ground in front of the second zombie. “Here! Take it!” he screamed.
          “Tooo laaaate!” said the third zombie, whose somehow seemed to be talking without a mouth or even head. “Waaaant toooo eaaaat youuuu!”
          Damon screamed as loud as he could, thinking he might scare the zombies away, but they did not leave.
          Someone—or something—landed on the sidewalk a few feet away from him. It snarled as it grabbled the headless zombie and tossed him into a nearby yard. The new arrival moved so fast Damon couldn’t see what it was at first, but, finally it stopped and growled at the two remaining zombies. Fangs protruded from a maw below a ridged snout. Yellow eyes peered out from dark fur, as the creature swiped at the two zombies with huge claws.
          A werewolf! Damon thought, his heart pounding faster than ever.
          The zombies ambled away as fast as they could. But now the werewolf turned and faced Damon.
          Damon remembered seeing a movie about a werewolf when he was a little kid. It had given him nightmares for a week. Now the nightmare was standing before him. Damon was too scared to even exhale.
          But there was something odd about this werewolf. Its eyes consisted of round, black circles surrounded by deep yellow, yet somehow they looked kind. A large, hairy paw scooped Damon’s bag of candy off the sidewalk. I guess werewolves like candy, too, Damon thought. But then the werewolf did something totally unexpected. It held the bag out toward Damon. Is . . . is it giving it back to me?
          The werewolf glanced over its shoulder and then nodded urgently toward the bag. Damon carefully reached forward to take the bag, but something appeared in the sky. It looked like a flaming bottle rocket. It flew between Damon and the werewolf and struck the bag of candy, causing it to burst into flames. The werewolf dropped the bag, and Damon could only watch as fire consumed all the candy he had gotten.  Damon glanced warily at the werewolf, who seemed just puzzled as he was.
          From the yard where the headless zombie had been thrown, a new creature appeared. Damon rubbed his eyes. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The new creature was clad in an old-time suit with a vest and trousers. It appeared human except for its head, which looked just like a jack-o-lantern with an evil grin. Damon didn’t know whether to laugh or be scared. In one of the creature’s hands, it appeared to be carrying something on fire. It made an eerie sound as it reached back like a ball player and tossed the ball of flame, which barely missed Damon.
          Damon and the werewolf ran in opposite directions, but Damon got only a few feet when he saw second jack-o-lantern coming toward him, its arms outstretched to make sure Damon couldn’t get away. He looked back and saw the werewolf confronting a third jack-o-lantern.
          “We was just havin’ fun with the kid, wolfie” the third jack-o-lantern said. “You shoulda’ minded your own business!”
          It struck Damon as odd that the jack-o-lantern didn’t have a creepy voice. It had the deep-nasal voice of a boy in his early teens.
          “Yeah,” the second jack-o-lantern said, “now we’ll just have our fun with you!” This creature, too, sounded like a teenager. It made another pitcher toss, and hurled a ball of flame past the werewolf, grazing its shoulder. The werewolf howled in pain as it danced around, trying to put out the fire in its fur.
          Damon didn’t know what to do. He turned to run, but the third jack-o-lantern cut him off. “Not so fast, kid,” it said. “You’re in the wrong neighborhood, so you’re next!”
          A strange idea occurred to Damon: These weren’t real monsters at all, but powered kids, like him, who probably had some sort of shape-changing power. Real monsters don’t make threats, he concluded. Zombies may be able to smell him in the dark, but he wondered if jack-o-lanterns could. He exhaled, and the darkspace came—spreading over him, the werewolf, and all three jack-o-lanterns. The first two stopped advancing on the werewolf, and the third, likewise, stopped moving behind Damon.  Their hands flailed about in a vain attempt to grab onto something.
          Damon realized he could run back to his side now, and he would reach the boulevard before the monster-kids had a chance to react. But then he noticed the werewolf, who had managed to put out the fire on its shoulder and was also feeling around in the dark, confused. Whatever this creature was—another kid or something else—it had tried to help Damon. He couldn’t just leave it.
          He concentrated, opening a soundspace directly to the werewolf. He didn’t know if the werewolf could even understand speech, but he tried anyway. “Hey! Follow me! Follow the sound of my voice!” The werewolf perked up and nodded. Damon then turned and ran as fast as he could down the hill, occasionally saying “This way! This way!” so the werewolf wouldn’t get lost. Damon did not slow down until the fireplug he had seen before reappeared inside the darkspace.
          He came to a stop at the edge of the curb, but, once again, he did not know what to do. If he sent the darkspace away, would the werewolf turn on him? Damon was trying to remember the movie he had seen so long ago. In it, the werewolf was just like an animal; it couldn’t control itself or think like a person. Yet this werewolf had tried to help him.
          But as Damon turned to tell the creature it could stop running, he noticed it no longer looked like a werewolf. It looked like a kid, about his age—a very hairy kid, to be sure, with mounds of hair shedding on the sidewalk behind him. The snout had shrunk into a normal-sized nose, and the fangs had become smaller, less menacing. “Please,” the boy said in a voice which was half growl, half human, “whatever you’re doing, make it go away so I can see again.” He sounded almost afraid.
          Damon inhaled, and the darkspace vanished.
          The boy blinked several times as his eyes grew accustomed to the bright light under the street lamp. Damon watched, amazed, as the boy continued to transform. The dark fur was replaced by blonde hair, cut neatly in bangs. His yellow and black eyes were now green. Most importantly, the boy stood before him almost naked, expect for some cut-off shorts.
          Not knowing what else to say, Damon asked, “Aren’t you cold?”
          The boy shrugged. “Not yet. I still have some of the wolf blood in me. I’ll transform back in a few minutes, as soon as you’re safely across the street.  But that’s a neat trick you did back there. Did you make the Pickett brothers blind, too?
          “Pickett brothers?”
          “Those three guys. First they were zombies and then they were jack-o-lanterns. They love to terrorize the neighborhood on Halloween. That’s why no one goes out trick-or-treating.”
          Damon smiled, realizing he was right after all: Those kids weren’t monsters. They were just powered kids, like him. Damon explained what his darkspace could do, and then asked the boy if he was a shape-shifter, too.
          “Sort of,” the boy said, sounding dejected. “But I can only turn into something like a werewolf. It’s good for Halloween, I suppose. I may not be able to go trick-or-treating, but I can still get out. I was leaping across some rooftops when I heard you scream.”
          Leaping across rooftops. The idea thrilled Damon. He recalled how Kyle could teleport and Vee could run at super-speed. “I wish I could leap across rooftops,” he said, absently.
          “I wish I could do what you can do,” the boy replied. “Then  I could live in the regular part of the district instead of here, in the Forbidden Neighborhood.”
          Damon wished he still had his bag of candy so he could offer the boy some candy for helping him. Instead, he said, “Why don’t you come across the boulevard with me? We’ll pick up some more Halloween bags at my house and go trick-or-treating together?”
          The boy shook his head. “I can’t,” he said, pointing to his leg. Damon hadn’t noticed the boy was wearing a metal ankle bracelet with a single, glowing red light in the center. “All the powered kids in the Forbidden Neighborhood have to wear them,” he said. “It’s how the district keeps us on this side.”
          Damon suddenly felt angry. All the rules he had to live by—like not being allowed to use his power in public—were nothing compared to what this poor kid had to live with. Damon could at least go where he pleased and could go out trick-or-treating with his friends.
          Speaking of his friends, Damon thought they must have wondered what had happened to him by now. So Damon and the boy said their goodbyes. Before he ran back across the boulevard, however, Damon asked the boy, “What’s your name?”
          The boy’s face lit up, as if it had been a long time since anyone had asked him his name. “Eduardo," he answered. "Call me Eddie."
          Damon told the boy his name and wondered if they would ever meet again as he ran back to his side of the district. When he reached the curb, he found his brother waiting for him.
          “Damon! There you are!” Eldon shouted with a sigh of relief. “Where’ve you been? We saw your darkspace cross the boulevard and yelled that you were going the wrong way. Didn’t you hear us?”
          Damon admitted he had, but the thin darkspace had garbled their voices. “I thought you were cheering me on,” he said sheepishly.
          “Cheering you on!” Eldon seemed more annoyed than angry. “Don’t ever do that again! You almost gave me a heart attack.”
          Damon didn’t know if it was possible for a kid Eldon’s age to have a heart attack. He looked around. “Hey, where are the others?”
          “Oh, they got bored waiting for you,” was the answer. “They went to Kyle’s house to play video games.”
          “Why did you wait for me?”
          Eldon looked dumbfounded. “Damon, you’re my brother. If anything happened to you, I don’t know what I’d do.”
          Damon was genuinely touched, and he felt ashamed that he had earlier thought of “losing” Eldon while trick-or-treating by running ahead of him. Suddenly, going out dressed as a twin skeleton didn’t seem so bad, after all.
          “Come on,” Damon said, as he started up the street.
          “Where are we going?” asked Eldon.
          “Back home. I need to get another bag so we can keep trick or treating.”
          Eldon stared at him in disbelief. “Trick-or-treating? Just you and me?”
          “Sure,” Damon said. “I’ll race ya!” He took off, but he deliberately ran slowly so Eldon could catch up.