April 5, 2021
Read part 7 here.
Jack showed up at the bandstand Saturday with a backpack full of pens, envelopes, and paper. A lot of grownups were waiting, including Ms. Bergson. She’d made a sign that read, “We <3 U E G.” Jack grinned at her and waved.
“No football today?” asked Ms. Bergson.
Jack shook his head. “I got suspended. Coach Wahl said I’m getting soft and it’s hurting the team.”
Ms. Bergson put her hand on his shoulder and looked at him without blinking. “Love is tougher than football.”
That day the crowd in Town Square gave three enthusiastic shouts for Emilio Garcia. Afterward, every person wrote at least one letter to a member of Congress.
On Sunday, the pastor of the New Oslo Community Church gave a sermon about the power of love, how people could send it out into the world, how the smallest gesture anywhere could blossom everywhere. She urged her congregation to look for ways to become little radio towers, to broadcast love out of themselves with no expectation of reward but because it was a joyful thing to do. After the service, the congregation streamed to Town Square to join the three shouts for Emilio Garcia. Jack noticed that some of the same people who before had laughed at him now joined in. Even Mark Farkle, who had been dragged to the square by his mom.
Jack and Keisha collected a lot of letters that day.
On Monday, love got liftoff.
“We love you, Emilio Garcia!” roared the people of New Oslo, Minnesota. “We love you Emilio Garcia! We love you Emilio Garcia!”
Down at the end of Main Street that day, Mr. Arthur Judkins, who owned Judkins Hardware, had stepped outside his store to listen. He heard the voices, nodded once, turned himself southward, and gave three shouts of his own. His voice curled into Sally Gustavson’s cake shop two blocks down. Sally Gustavson came out from behind her counter, stepped outside, and sent the love across a vacant lot over to the Hemings’ property, where Deb Hemings was tending her garden. Deb Hemings smiled and shouted the love on its way.
The love settled gently on her rooftop and stopped there.
On Tuesday, love went farther.
From the Town Square bandstand to Mr. Judkins to Sally Gustavson to Deb Hemings to John Hemings in his workshed to Harley Adkins out jogging to the Ericson farm to the cluster of New Oslo Knitter Club members waiting for their bus to the man at the Caffeine Nation espresso stop right at the city limits.
Wednesday the love went even farther.
It was as if love, having had a taste of freedom, now wanted to gallop. It traveled from New Oslo Town Square on from person to business to farm to person.
All the way to Minneapolis.
What started as a spring had become a stream. Letters poured out of Minnesota east toward Congress..
On Thursday, when the love arrived in Minneapolis, the big city was ready. It shouted its love for Emilio Garcia.
And on Friday, love broke through.
“We love you, Emilio Garcia!” shouted Jack Jenk, Keisha Thompson, Ms. Bersgon, and the people of New Oslo, Minnesota. Even Coach Wahl and Mark Farkle.
Love rolled south.
“We love you, Emilio Garcia!” shouted Minneapolis and Des Moines and Topeka and Wichita and all the people and towns between.
Love surged south.
“We love you, Emilio Garcia!” shouted Oklahoma City and Dallas and Austin and San Antonio and all the towns right down to the border.
A mighty river of love poured south.
The story concludes next week.
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