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Watch Keepers

Watch Keepers

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Watch Keepers

145 pages
1 hour
Jun 13, 2017


Cody Granor is a kid with spunk. He thrives on adventure and relishes challenges, like playing hoop games with the older kids at the community basketball courts. Even having cancer doesn't quell his spirit. He makes friends with a vegetable stand vendor he calls "Tomato Man," and shows off when he rides to school on the back of Tomato Man's large, loud motorcycle. When the town's real estate magnate has Tomato Man's stand torn down to make room for a fancy hotel, Cody bravely defends his new friend. When Cody's cancer puts him back into the hospital, Tomato Man camps out in Cody's hospital room. Eventually, the pair are designated the town's honorable Watch Keepers by the real estate magnate, and they become a longed-for sight as they make fresh produce deliveries on Tomato Man's impressive bike.
Jun 13, 2017

About the author

Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living. A former MacArthur Fellow, awards for her numerous books include the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Red Doc> was recently awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize and the inaugural Folio Prize. Her first full poetry collection Short Talks was published by Brick Books in 1992 and is now presented as a new edition in 2015 – Short Talks: Brick Books Classics 1.

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Watch Keepers - Anne Carson

Table of Contents


Street Fighter

Bustin’and Jammin’


Strung Tight

Star Gazing


Honorable Guard

Keeping Watch

Dandy Deliveries



Warrior Brothers

Deal the Cards

Counted and Coded

Star Dust and Light Beams

Sweet Surprises

Finals and Fireflies

Friction and Flags

Hot Coals and Fireworks

Discussion Guide for Watch Keepers


About the Author

Copyright © 2017 by Anne Carson

North Loop Press

2301 Lucien Way #415

Maitland, FL 32751


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

ISBN-13: 9781629528977

LCCN: 2016917088

Edited by Evelyn Fazio and Dorothy McRea

Photo by Marie Lynch

Printed in the United States of America

Dedicated to Brogan Ruppert and Hunter Scott for

their courage and indomitable spirits.

They were the catching force.


They stood eight abreast on the hilltop that overlooked the town—two young women and six young men, standing tall in front of their shiny new motorcycles, their helmets under their arms. All wore leather jackets with the letters Watch Keeper emblazoned in gold upon their backs. Code Man was lettered in smaller gold letters on their sleeves. They stood like statues, waiting for the fireworks to be set off behind them, the signal for everyone in town to know they had succeeded in their quest.

They had been well prepared by their leaders and they had been inspired by the legacy of Code Man. None of them had known him personally, but they had learned of his courage in their town. This day they had earned the privilege of being an honor-guard in his name, and they were proud.

Behind their line up, the fireworks started, riming the hill in flashes of gold, silver, and crimson. The honor-guard put on their helmets and started their motors, blaring like rockets.

Then, like a brigade of elite soldiers assigned to watch and to serve, they roared down the hill and into the town.

Chapter One

Street Fighter

Cody’s father hesitated in the doorway of his son’s room, lingering simply to watch him breathe. Sunlight filtered through the blinds into his room, splashing rays across his face as he lay sleeping. It was time to get Cody up for school, but the few moments of watching him sleep peacefully were treasured moments for his father. "God, I love that kid," he whispered to himself.

Cody had cancer, but after a yearlong battle, it was finally in remission. So his father, Charles Granor, known as Chuck, was taking grateful breaths as he waited for his son, his only child, to wake.

Cody turned in his covers, and grinned sheepishly at his dad. Oh, man, Dad. Are you watching me sleep again? Come on, dude. I’m awesome and you know it, Cody chuckled, threw his pillow at his dad and rolled out of the bed. As his father headed down the hallway, Cody called after him. "Dad, let’s remember to stop at Tomato Man’s stand after school today.


No problem, Chuck said, happy to do anything so Cody could be just a plain old carefree kid.

School droned on and on that day, as it did most days for Cody, who preferred the outdoors to sitting inside at a desk. But the thought of stopping at the vegetable stand kept him going. Tomato Man was his mojo. His larger-than-life personality and his big, black motorcycle took Cody far away from thinking about his cancer, and he couldn’t wait to see him.

Yo, my man! Tomato Man boomed as he spotted long-legged, gangly Cody clamoring out of his father’s car. Tomato Man grasped Cody’s thin fingers in his monster-sized hand. The nickname Tomato Man was Cody’s creation and it worked, and after a while, everyone in town was calling him that. Tomato Man wore a big red bandana tied around his head. His smile stretched wide. Sometimes Tomato Man really does look like a big ripe tomato, Cody thought.

Selling juicy ripe tomatoes all day long on a busy corner near Cody’s school was his specialty. Hey, Bro! sang out Tomato Man. Try my style. He tugged a bandana from his back pocket and tied it around Cody’s head.

Cody was ten years old, but he tried to act older. He had missed a lot of the fourth grade during his illness, and now that he was in fifth grade, he felt like he didn’t know as much as the other kids. So he tried to act tougher. And Tomato Man was his hook-up. He always gave Cody a fist-bump and, that day, like a magician pulling a surprise out of his sleeve, he had produced the perfect fix for Cody’s bald head.

At school the next day all the kids wanted a bandana like Cody’s. Man, I’m getting one tomorrow! crowed Lester, Cody’s best friend. By the end of the week, red, yellow, green and blue bandanas covered heads all over the school. It’s the latest fad, explained one of the teachers to a puzzled parent.

A new trend for Cody was eating fresh vegetables. Need some more tomatoes, Mom? Cody asked his mother the next morning at breakfast. I’ll eat them, Cody promised. My appetite’s back. It was true. Cody was feeling happier and hungrier. His face had more color, and his doctor said Cody wouldn’t need any more treatments for now.

Going through the cancer treatments was scary. Cody dreaded going to the hospital and missing so much school. He also detested lying still for the radiation treatments and having his blood drawn, especially when the nurse had a hard time finding a vein in his thin arm. But most of all, he hated being different from the other kids. Sometimes at night he punched his pillow and cried. When he took a shower, his hair came out in chunks. Then when he spotted himself in the mirror, he almost gagged. After a week of swallowing chemo pills, his food tasted like putty and his stomach bulged like a balloon. Oh, vomiting is my favorite thing to do, Cody tried to joke, but it made his nose burn and his clothes stink. And sometimes he cried while he heaved.

Still Cody was known to be a fighter. In spite of his slender frame and sickness, he thought of himself as fearless. Bruises and bloody noses were his badges. And his love of adventure, his ready grin and that reckless splash of freckles across his nose won the favor of anyone who knew him.

Challenges fed his spirit. Hey, I’m not giving up playing basketball, was Cody’s answer when the cancer was diagnosed. And it was his idea to take his chemo pills at night so he wouldn’t be nauseated during the day. He even convinced his dad to put up a net and backboard in their driveway, just so he could hone his skills enough to play with the older kids on the community courts. Long-legged and sandy-haired like his son, Chuck had played on a championship basketball team in high school, so he eagerly practiced with Cody whenever he could. The only problem was that Chuck was likely to tear up whenever he and Cody shot hoops.

Come on, Dad. Don’t go there or I’m not going to play with you, Cody would say, stopping their game with a disgusted look.

Chuck would laugh into his blush, and swipe the tears away with the back of his hand, then come up with a coaching tip for Cody from his high school days.

In time, the neighborhood kids nicknamed Cody Street Fighter after he’d joined them for a game on the community court. Man, you scruffy, Leroy, one of the better players, always teased him when Cody would knock the ball out of his hands. Because of his plucky spirit, everyone said that Cody’s chances for getting well were good.

Chapter Two

Bustin’and Jammin’

Since Tomato Man had lifted Cody’s spirits, frequent stops at the vegetable stand became routine. My man, you’re looking good! Tomato Man sang out when he spotted Cody rounding the corner the following week, his bandana around his head. Come here. Show me some skin, coached Tomato Man. As Cody flexed his arm, Tomato Man pasted an eagle tattoo sticker on his bicep. Cody straightened his shoulders and Tomato Man pulled a deck of cards from his pocket. Now, let me teach you a couple of tricks, he grinned, his eyes twinkling.

The next week Cody tried out his card tricks during lunch. How’d you do that? Lester shouted, as Cody flipped the cards and shuffled them like a pro, twitching the eagle tattoo at the same time. Slap, slap, slap

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