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A Day Unlike Any Other

Trey Reely | October 2008

Band director Chuck Ruzonski was awakened from a perfect night’s sleep with a gentle nudge and a light kiss on the cheek. It was his wife, Claire. “I didn’t want you to be awakened by that annoyng alarm clock,” she said softly. In her hands was a breakfast tray loaded with more food than any one man could eat. A long-stemmed rose smiled at him from its vase. “And here is today’s paper. You’ll love the headline: ‘Stubby Neck High School Marching Band Named Best in State.’”

“Are you kidding? Let me look at that,” he said, taking the paper from her. “This is a nice picture of me if I do say so myself. I wish I had time to read the whole paper, but I have early duty and –” Before he could finish the sentence the telephone rang.


“Hey, Chuck. This is Bruce. I’ve decided to cover your morning parking lot duty just to show you how much I appreciate the great work that you do.”

“Thanks! I don’t really know what to say.” Surprised, but pleased, Chuck hung up and read the glowing newspaper article, finished his breakfast, and prepared for work.

After catching every green light, Chuck found a parking space right by the music building, something that never happened. While checking his mail in the teachers’ lounge, he grabbed a piece of angel food cake provided by the Family Dynamics Club.

“Good morning, Mr. Ruzonski.”

It was Gladys Pipps, the most ornery guidance counselor he had ever worked with.

“Good morning,” he said hesitantly, waiting for her to tell him about the latest student she supposedly had to drop because of scheduling problems.

“Chuck, I would like you to come to my office and meet Bubba Holstein and his parents. He’s an all-state tuba player from Hereford, Kansas. I told him how great our band was here, and he wants to join. Could you use him?”

“You bet your life!”

After meeting a very intelligent-looking Bubba and later leading three wonderfully energetic rehearsals, the intercom beeped.

“May I have your attention, please? The teachers’ meeting for today has been canceled.”

“This is my lucky day!” Chuck said, shaking his head in amazement.

At lunch that afternoon he sat with the principal and head football coach.

“Great performance Friday night. I really enjoyed it. I thought the opener was performed energetically and with great musicality,” said the principal.

“And I thought your rendition of Barber’s Adagio for Strings was simply the most exquisite performance I have ever heard on the marching field. It was worth giving up the halftime pep talk to stay and hear it,” added the coach.

“Oh by the way,” the principal said, “I got a call today from the Krepsbach Corporation, and they’re donating $10,000 to the band for the Disney World trip.”

Chuck floated a foot off the ground the rest of the day, and just when he thought things could not get any better, as he took roll last period he noticed that Damien Deville, a sociopathic trumpet player was absent, clearing the way for a trouble-free rehearsal.

At 3:15 his office telephone rang. It was the school secretary, and she was whispering. “Mr. Ruzonski, there is a man here who is dressed like he’s from the Middle East and says he must see you immediately. Should I send him over?”

“Sure,” he said, thinking that this was bound to be more good news – maybe a rich oil baron from Saudi Arabia.

A few minutes later a slightly grizzled, gray-bearded man wearing a long, flowing robe entered Chuck’s office.

They shook hands. “May I help you?” Chuck inquired, fully hoping it was he who would receive the help. It was, after all, his lucky day.

“Let me introduce myself. I’m Saint Peter.”

“Saint Peter?”

“I must apologize for not talking to you sooner. I hope your day has been wonderful anyway. Has it?”

“Frankly, it feels like I’ve died and gone to heaven, but –”

“Well, it just so happens that’s what I’ve come to talk to you about.”