Leroy

Introduction
I want to tell you a story about Leroy. You will meet his first wife, his mother and his last wife. Life has a way of bringing back what you give to it. “Raise a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will return to it” states the Bible. I don’t doubt Leroy was loved, but he wasn’t shown. He might have been raised in church, adored by all the members of the church, but being loved for who you are and being worshipped are two very different things in this life. A mother and Father determine the very important things in a child’s life. Sometimes there is only a Mother present, sometimes only a Father. Often the absent parent is the hero because as we know the grass is supposed to be greener on the other side. A Pastor, teachers, friends all play a part in our emotional makeup. How you live, the things you see and imitate determine how you think and feel about life and the role you play in life. It is only later in life that you make up your own mind about how you will believe and things you will accept. It is a sad day when you realize you are the captain of your own ship and your ship is way off course. Some people never admit they alone are responsible for who they are. They spend a lifetime playing the blame game.

13 year old Leroy sat in the front row of the church next to his mother Francis. He was the son of the only mechanic in town. His Father did not come to church. However, his mother was a regular at the Baptist church, every Sunday morning. She made Leroy come with her every time. His father did not participate in Leroy’s life.
Leroy didn’t believe in God. He just sat there obediently to please his mother. He learned early to sit still and pretend to listen. He would bow his head in prayer, knowing full well Francis was watching to make sure his eyes were completely closed. Francis would beat him like a stranger if he made one misstep, so he was careful to do what was expected of him. He was everyone’s darling, the perfect little gentleman. All the ladies loved him and showered his mother with praise for raising such a good son. You could already tell at his early age he would be a good looking man. He was honing his skills to impress the ladies even as a little boy. Leroy loved how they praised his every move! The attention made him seek out opportunities to get all those hugs and praises. He did not get many of those at home. Francis was very strict and not affectionate towards the boy.
One Sunday after services, Francis sent Leroy back into the church to get her shawl that she had forgotten from the Sunday school room. Leroy hurried into the room and saw the Reverend Marshall passionately kissing Loretta Glass. This would not have been an issue except that Reverend Marshall was married to Betty Marshall, not Loretta Glass.
Loretta was a 16 year old high school girl with huge breast and a behind like a barrel. The reverend’s hands were roaming all over her butt, squeezing it hard as he was kissing her. Leroy stopped quick and stepped out of the room. He bit his lip, unsure of what to do. His heart was beating hard at the reality of what he had just seen.

He couldn’t go back without that shawl; his mother would kill him…so he knocked loudly until someone yelled come in. The Reverend Marshall looked at him suspiciously wondering if he saw anything, “What do you need Leroy?” “My Mama sent me in to get her shawl she forgot in here sir. It is on that chair right there” pointing to the chair, trying not to make eye contact with the Pastor. The Reverend picked it up and tossed it to Leroy. “Well alright, hurry on back to your Mama and we will see yall next Sunday.” Leroy said “Yes sir” as he ran from the room. He thought about the situation on the walk home. He normally didn’t listen too much to the sermons. Seemed to him that all the Reverend Marshall ever told everyone how they were all going to hell. It was Sunday after Sunday of 3 boring hymns being sung, 35 minutes of the reverend yelling don’t do this and don’t do that, prayers, then the offering baskets would pass by and people would put money into it every service. Leroy thought about it for a minute longer.
He noticed that the Reverend only worked 2 days a week, perhaps 3, if someone died. It didn’t seem like a bad job. He drove a big blue Cadillac and his wife and kids were always well dressed in the latest fashions. They had a beautiful home and everything anyone could hope to want…now it even appeared the Reverend also gets to kiss and fondle the young girls in his congregation. Yes, it looked like an awesome job. Leroy was rethinking his career choices for his future.
People in town assumed that Leroy would take over the family business when he grew up; however, Leroy knew that was far from true. Number one there was no relationship with his father, and number two he had no interest in cars or machines. His brain didn’t seem to work like other people’s brain. He didn’t read too well and his math skills were really bad.
Even if he had wanted to learn his father’s trade, his father had no desire to interact with Leroy. He had made that painfully clear to the boy time after time. It was almost like not having a father. Leroy had quit feeling bad about it long ago. It was confusing for him when he was younger because everyone in the town seemed to admire his father so much. How could such a good man abandon his wife and only child? Leroy never could make sense of it. So he focused on being a good son to his mama. Leroy’s father, Frank, the mechanic, loved his work and had his own shop. It was the only one of its kind in town. He made a lot of money but he did not lavish it on his wife and son. He was a gambler and a drinker. Good at one, bad at the other. He didn’t misbehave in his own town though, he would drive 35 miles north to Clever Springs to give his half of his money to poker players and the other half to a waitress named Deena. He was considered a big spender in that town… had all his party friends call him Luke, instead of Frank.
Frank was a total failure in his family. He had abandoned his duties as husband and father after Leroy was born. His own Mother was so disappointed that they didn’t have a girl child that she didn’t want anything to do with her grandson because of her displeasure. “Boys just grow up and disappoint you.” his Mama had said looking through the nursery window at the sleeping child.
Frank couldn’t stand all the crying and screaming the kid did. He couldn’t get any rest, because Francis was up and down all night interrupting his sleep. Francis gave all her attention to the baby day and night, then had the nerve to say she was tired when he would come home. He finally washed his hands of the whole situation one day after going out of town to buy supplies. He had happened upon this little juke joint where he met the love of his life.

Frank was smart enough not to give up his clientele. He made a fortune cheating folks out of good car parts. Even if nothing was wrong he would find or create something. They trusted him completely. It was pretty sad actually that grown men could be taken advantage of so easily. It was bad enough the defenseless, helpless women could be conned but even the men who didn’t want to get their hands dirty paid dearly at settling up time. But Frank figured, their loss was his tremendous gain. Not only did he replace good parts, he sold the extra used ones or reused them, still charging everyone high prices. The community didn’t realize Frank was a pig, a true swindler and con artist. He took advantage of every single customer that came to his garage door. He was not discriminating; he cheated them all, equally.
To survive, Leroy’s mother Francis took in wash for the local boarding house in town and did seamstress work . She also baby sat 2 children for working parents 5 days a week and was paid to fix meals for the elderly couple that lived next door. Their daughter had approached Francis one day and asked her to keep an eye out for them. “I am concerned for my folks but I have a life too” the daughter complained. Francis knew she rarely saw the daughter there. “My Mom looks so frail; I don’t think she remembers to eat.” “Well I understand you don’t have time to come very often. I would be willing to help you look after them but you’d have to pay me $40.00 a week” Francis stated. The girl looked relieved and said “Oh yes, yes! That would be great!” Francis thought she may have not asked enough money because of the girl’s excitement so she added “But for that price you will have to buy the groceries and still pay their bills.” The girl’s forehead wrinkled and said “Let me talk to my husband about how much more we can afford to pay.
But honestly any amount would be better than me having to come to town to check on them all the time.” Francis nodded but didn’t smile. “Tell your husband for $53.00 a week I will take care of both of them, that means buying their groceries and writing out their bills and taking care of the house and laundry. My boy will cut the yard.” The girl nodded and said “Thank you so much. Here is $43.00 to get you started and I will get you the rest on Friday if that is okay?” Francis smiled. She wanted to dance in the street.
She would be able to give up two of her other jobs with this extra money coming in.
Everyone thought she was just helpful and had a benevolent heart. They didn’t realize she wasn’t volunteering her time or talents. In a time when women didn’t work, Francis was working 4 jobs to keep her and her son eating. Her husband paid the mortgage but gave her no other money! So she had to get creative to find money to buy groceries and clothing and shoes for Leroy. She loved her son but didn’t smother him with affection because she didn’t want him to get soft, and she also didn’t have the time. Frank had abandoned the family once his mama died. The day he stepped out of their lives, Francis found a dime on the street. She picked it up and put it in her pocket. From that day she collected dimes. Once she got a dollar’s worth she would cash it in for a dollar bill, then five ones for a five dollar bill. Once she saved to a $10.00 bill she would sew it into a quilt that she had. No one knew the money was in there except Francis.

She walked everywhere she went because Frank had the only car and would never allow her to drive it or even ride in it. When he went out of town on Thursday evenings, he did not return until she had left for church on Sunday. The one time she confronted him many years ago, he slapped her so hard it busted her mouth open. She never asked again. Leroy saw the entire thing. He wanted to help his mama but his father had picked up a hammer and said “Come on boy, I’ll smash your ugly melon head in before you can reach me.” Leroy bowed his head, and then knelt down to help his mama off the ground. He was 7 years old.
Frank’s Mama was hopeful the second child would be a girl. She was in bad health and was living with them and Francis was taking care of her.

Frank quit having sexual relations with Francis after she got pregnant the second time. He had overheard a conversation Francis had with his mama. Francis had stated “This baby may be a boy too. You should love your grandchildren. They are part of you. Don’t be so mean.” Frank was furious for her talking to his mama like that and didn’t speak to her for 2 days. When Francis was in her second trimester she told her Motherinlaw, “I really feel like this one is going to be another boy. He is pressing on my side like Leroy did!” Later that night Frank pushed Francis down the stairs on purpose causing her to lose the baby. He told the doctors they both were at the top of the stairs and he had felt dizzy, lost his balance and accidently fell into her. The doctors never called the Sheriff about the incident because the husband said it was an accident. The baby was a girl.There was no funeral for the baby. Francis never told anyone that Frank actually smiled at her before pushing her down the stairs.

After that “accident” was when Frank’s Mother died in her sleep. Immediately Frank discovered a new life in Clever Springs. He could be a big man in another town! Even though he was barely 5’2, people there looked up to him. All the money he threw around bought him popularity and friends. He was free to drink and laugh. There was no one to argue with him. As a matter of fact, he believed he loved Deena, a sweet little waitress. She absolutely refused to run away with him. He loved buying her expensive gifts and she was so grateful when she received them. Deena was beautiful unlike that homely moose looking woman at his home. He shuddered to think of Francis. She was a cold fish. The day his Mother died she had fixed a huge meal as if she was celebrating and she had the nerve to smile and be almost giddy; that was the day he knew he hated her. His mother had lived with them and yes Francis had taken care of her to her last day but that’s what wives are supposed to do. He still wasn’t sure if Francis had helped his mother to die. He had a nightmare the night of the funeral that she put a pillow over his defenseless mother’s face and smothered her to death. It could have been a message from his mama, from the grave. After that dream he never trusted Francis again, couldn’t stand the sight of her. If he had wanted to have sex with her it would have been just to punish her and “of course the cow would probably get pregnant again on purpose” Leroy thought to himself. Just the thought was revolting enough to make him despise her.
He didn’t know she would survive the push he gave her down the stairs. It was just dumb luck that she lived. A concussion, a broken leg and broken arm was all she got for probably killing his poor mama.

He had to keep the mechanic shop open to pay for his other life and he so slept on a cot in the shop. He could never be unfaithful to Deena, not even with his legal wife. He cringed at the thought… he wouldn’t touch Francis with another man’s tool. She disgusted him. Besides, Deena gave him everything he needed. She was a real woman and knew how to make him feel like the only man in the world! They danced to the local bands, ate the finest food. It was pure magic. He hated to leave her but he had to come back weekly and make his money. This arrangement worked out for Deena too, as she had family she spent time with while Frank was away. As long as Frank paid the $39.00 mortgage on the house, Francis managed to get by so he never questioned her. And she kept his secret that he had disengaged from his family years ago and was living a double life. Frank knew it wasn’t love that made her keep his secret, it was fear. Fear of the community discovering she was a murderer. He just knew in his heart, she had probably killed his mama.
Sometimes Frank wondered if old moose face had a man on the side. He hadn’t handed her money in years, yet the lights stay on, there was always food on the table, and she and the kid were always dressed nice. He would walk thru the house on Sundays while she was a church just to see if anything was missing, but nothing was ever out of place or unkempt. Sometimes he would look through papers and look for photographs anything to prove she was cheating on him so he could beat her, then divorce her. But there was never any sign of anything in the wrong. When guilt would creep into his mind, he would just remind himself of his poor Mama, and the hatred for Francis would return.
If Deena ever agreed to be his wife, he would file for divorce and move to Clever Springs. He had been saving for years, waiting on Deena to give him the go ahead.
Francis and Leroy were alone most of the Leroy’s life. Frank didn’t speak to or interact with them when he was home. He would get a plate of food and take it to the shop to eat, or sometimes never come inside, and then go to sleep on a cot at the garage. He had a television and a radio in the shop and a bathroom, so he had no desire to come inside. He had never seen a report card for Leroy, a light bill for the house, nothing about that house interested him. He had 3 more years and the house would be paid for. Hopefully Deena would agree to marry him before then.
Leroy could not become the man of the house. He was not smart and learned slower than most. However, he had a charismatic personality and learned early to be a charmer.
His teachers at school would always choose Leroy to run errands to get out of class. I guess they didn’t realize by pampering him they were all depriving him of an education. If he said he didn’t feel well, usually on test days, he was excused to the nurse’s office, no questions asked. The nurse would let him lay down in a dark room until his illness passed to go to the next class. He could convince most women to give in to him. He learned that at any early age. He just didn’t know what he wanted yet.

Leroy’s life had been centered around church but he considered it a chance to show off his singing talent. He still didn’t believe in God but he could perform and sing worship songs that would make people throw themselves at the altar and give their life to Jesus. He put on a great show, just as he discovered Reverend Marshall did. “There was no way Reverend Marshall could believe all that stuff he preached and be kissing a 16 year old girl” Leroy thought to himself with a grin.

At 16 he really began noticing girls and noticed that they made him feel stupid and awkward. One girl in particular Claire Smyler caught his attention. He carried her books and brought her flowers that he picked for her nearly every day for a month. He liked her but something inside him wanted her to be his girlfriend.
Claire was liked by everyone. She was friendly and easy to talk to. She had a younger sister and her mother and father both worked long hours at a local print shop that they owned. Claire was involved in all types of extra activities at school and church. She enjoyed staying busy and helping other.
Leroy went out of his way to get her to notice him. He would bump into her on purpose, apologize then smile that beautiful smile. She liked his looks instantly.
His blue eyes were piercing and his brown hair was dark. He was quiet handsome. It wasn’t long before they were boyfriend and girlfriend, to the dismay of other teenager boys who loved her from a distance and many teenage girls who secretly liked Leroy.
Claire talked so much and Leroy had to pretend to listen so he could kiss her. He loved kissing her. His body would react to the kisses, making him feel funny, in a good way. It took almost a year, but eventually she made him promise he would marry her if she let him explore her body. He agreed to anything and everything just for a chance to become a man. Claire was beautiful with hair so blonde it looked white and huge green eyes. If he had believed in angels he would have thought she was one. He wasn’t in love with her; however, he was obsessed with having her near him. Only he had the right to touch her body and she let him boss her around and make decisions for them both. They had spoke of their future. He wanted to be a Reverend and she wanted to work at for a dentist.
The first time they had sex, she hadn’t meant for it to happen. She thought he would stop or she could stop him; but he was a like an animal and did not stop, forcing himself inside her. It hurt but it was over in a minute. That first time was a doozey. Two months later, on his 17th birthday Claire announced that she was pregnant. Leroy was so angry. She had wrecked everything! Not only did he have to face her family, he had to face his mother and oh crap what a nightmare that would be. Leroy looked at Claire’s face, all red and swollen from crying. “You look like a monster! You are so ugly. Why would I want to spend the rest of my life with you? Why would you try to trick me into marriage like this? I hate you. It’s probably not even mine. Who else have you been fooling around with Claire?” he said coldly. After staring at him in shock and disbelief, Claire ran home wailing and sobbing.

Leroy sat there fuming. His mother asked him what was wrong and he didn’t answer her. “Something about that girl aint right Leroy. You best leave her alone.” Francis said as she went back inside. In less than an hour, Claire’s father came busting through the front door. He didn’t knock nor announce his presence. Francis came rushing in to see what was going on. Claire’s father stood there glaring at Leroy then in a barely audible voice that huge man said, “Get your coat son, you have a wedding to attend!” Francis threw her hand up in protest but then as if the silent facts had slapped her in the face, she dropped her hand and looked at the floor. She didn’t even get her own coat, just removed her apron, picked up her purse at the door and followed them out to his car. They rode in silence. The justice of the peace was already at Claire’s house. He was her mother’s brother, Claire’s uncle. He was there for dinner but available for emergency weddings.

In a matter of minutes, they were pronounced man and wife. Claire’s mother brought her suitcase in with her clothing packed. “You can come back later for the rest of your things.” she said not looking at her daughter. There were no tears on her mother’s face, just a disgusted frown.Claire’s father did not give them a ride in his car back. After the quick ceremony, he walked over in silence to the front door and held the door open for them to leave. There would be no rice thrown, no punch, no cake, not even a single word of encouragement for the new life they were starting together. They all three walked the 1 ½ miles back to Leroy’s parent’s home. Claire was clutching the marriage license in her hand that her Uncle had signed. It all happened so fast, she felt like her head was spinning. Leroy’s mother started yelling at her. It was hard to focus; but she thought she heard her say, “You will have to quit school immediately Claire and take over the washing and cooking. I can’t afford to feed another person without help. I refuse to let Leroy quit school and ruin his life because of a jezebel like you.” Francis said sternly. “You will be responsible for cleaning the neighbor’s house and doing their laundry.”
Claire just said yes ma’am. She had loved Leroy so much and he had convinced her after nearly 12 months of begging and pleading that he loved her and that a man had “needs”. It was when he hinted that another girl would take care of him if she didn’t, that she finally gave in to him and his needs. Immediately, she got pregnant. He was the one who told her she couldn’t get pregnant on the first time! She should be angry with him, yet He was treating her like she did something wrong. He wasn’t speaking to her and his mother screamed at her every time she looked at her. It was like being in prison. Two days later, Leroy’s father Frank came home. He and Leroy got into a terrible argument.
He told Leroy he was a loser and would never amount to anything, then he said for them to get out of his house. Francis spoke up for the first time and said “Absolutely not! My son lives here, you don’t. He is welcomed to stay here as long as he wants.”
Frank drew his hand back to hit Francis and Leroy grabbed his father’s hand in mid swing, and stopped him. Frank looked at both of them, then walked out of the house. He was too hung over to fight a man and he refuse to lose to a kid. Frank got back in his car and left. He drove back to Clever Springs. Claire’s heart was beating out of her chest. Her father had never struck her mother and the whole scene was so scary for her. She felt a little sorry for Leroy and tried to talk to him, to comfort him. He pushed by her and then said “Every bit of this is your fault. You make me sick Claire. I wish you were dead. You‘ve ruined everything.”
Leroy went out that night and didn’t come home until the next day. He reeked of alcohol and perfume. Francis didn’t say anything to him and when Claire tried to talk to him Francis intervened, pushing her backwards, and said “You are the cause of his stress girl, just mind your business!” When Claire tried to speak up for herself, Francis threw a book at her; hitting her in the side of the head. No one had ever struck Claire in her whole life and she was stunned. Her mindset was to march home and tell her Daddy that someone had struck her in anger! She knew her family would be appalled once she explained how she was being treated and now she had be struck in anger. Her parents would never tolerate this! Claire walked all the way to her parent’s house but her mother still wasn’t ready to talk to her. She sent her sister outside to tell her to go away. “She will contact you when she can look at you.” her sister spitefully repeated “She’s so embarrassed Claire. She now says she knew you’d be the one to turn out bad.” Claire was devastated. She knew that her baby sister was just repeating what she had heard her Mama say.
Claire knew her sister loved her. Suddenly her sister slipped her a pink envelope which she recognized as her own life savings. In all the turmoil she had forgotten about the money she had been saving all her life. She thanked her but her sister closed the door without saying anything to her. Her sister’s eyes had been wide with fear and confusion. “I love you Sissy” Claire yelled thru the door, but there was no response. Claire’s tears began to fall. Her family had turned their back on her, deserted her and she had nowhere to go. Absentmindedly she started to walk, turned down the street away from Leroy’s house and continued to walk. To herself Claire wondered aloud, how could her life have turned out like this? She was always a good girl, made good grades in school, went to church, and was on the pep squad. She never smoked, or cussed. Everything had been so good until she met Leroy. He had ruined her. Her belief in him had ruined her too.
Now she was alone, abandoned, mistreated. Leroy hated her, his mother hated her, her own family hated her. She felt empty like there was no baby inside of her. Claire continued to walk. She had 43 dollars to her name. It was birthday, Christmas, babysitting and allowance money she had saved for all her life.
She walked out of the city and down the roads. A family picked up her up and drove her about 20 miles outside of the city. They bought her some food at a diner but they left her there when she went to the bathroom. They left a note and a 5 dollar bill on the table for her, “We figure you ran away from home. Go home sweetie. It will work out”
She had noticed the help wanted sign in the door when they entered so she asked the waitress about it. The waitress laughed at her and said, “No one is gonna hire you sugar, you are obviously pregnant.” “But just a few months” she protested.
“Yes but its a few months too many!” the waitress responded. Claire got up to leave and the waitress handed her a bag of chips and a sandwich to take with her. “Go back home honey.” the waitress said.
Claire shook her head sadly and said “there is no one to go home to.” and she left and started walking again. A young sheriff’s deputy picked her up and took her to edge of the next town; there she hitched a ride with another family that was traveling east. They were nice and fed her and let her ride over 125 miles with them. It wasn’t long before Claire was over 300 miles away from everyone that hated her.

She was sick to her stomach and began vomiting on the side of the road. Apparently some stopped to help her and then took her to a hospital, when she woke up the nurse was sitting next to her bed. “We need to know your name so we can contact your family dear” the nurse said sweetly. “My name is Angela Cole. I have no family.” she answered. The nurse patted her hand and said “Bless your heart! It will be alright Angela. Don’t you be scared. We are taking good care of you!”
The doctor came in and talked to her. He was very kind. “I understand you don’t have any family.” she nodded. “What are you planning on doing about the baby Angela?” she looked at the doctor and tears stung her eyes. “I don’t know what to do about either of us sir. Can you help me find a home for the baby once it gets here? I can’t take care of a baby. I don’t even have a job to take care of myself.” The doctor smiled at her and said “Angela are you sure you don’t have anyone we can call?” She shook her head no. The doctor sighed and said for her to let him make a phone call. He knew some people that might be interested. Within a few minutes he came back smiling and said that the Dake family would be in soon to see her. They must have raced over to the hospital because they got there quick. They explained that they couldn’t have children and they wanted to adopt. They asked about her situation and she told them the baby’s father died and that she had no family.
They were so moved by her story that they offered her to live with them until the baby came, then they would give her money to relocate in faraway city so she could make a fresh start. She didn’t even need to think about it. She agreed immediately. The next day she was released to the Dake family. They had a beautiful home on a lakefront.

Their cook fixed her anything she wanted and the Dakes treated her like family. It was a relief to have some peace. Sometimes she missed her mama but then she remembered what a disappointment she was to her family and she decided to shut the door to her past. Mrs. Dake taught her how to paint, how to write calligraphy, how to appreciate music, Bach and Mendel were her favorites. She exposed her to poetry and the writings of many famous playwrites. An entire new world opened for her. The chef taught her how to cook and how to shop for food. The maid taught her how to cut hair since she cut Mr. and Mrs. Dakes hair monthly.
It was a complete education that would stay with her forever.
The baby was born 6 months later. She did not know if it was a boy or girl. She didn’t want to know. It was a pretty horrible experience for the young girl. The pain was too awful for words, then when she woke up it was over. She recuperated for 4 days at the hospital then a car, with a private nurse, was sent for her to take her to the airport, then on to her new home nearly 375 miles away. The ride on the airplane was scary but thanks to the nurse, she slept most of the way. Her new home was an apartment on the 10th floor in Fairbank, Connecticut. The Dakes paid for the nurse to be with her for 6 weeks during her recovery time. They had also paid off the mortgage on the apartment. It was paid for in full, completely in her name. Much like the marriage license she had held less than a year earlier. However, this time the paper gave her a different new life and new name. Angela Cole owned a 3 bedroom 3 bath, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room and pantry. It was a huge apartment. All she would have to do was pay the electric bill and buy groceries.
The Dakes had provided a hefty bank account for her so it would be a year before she would even need to look for work. She was sad to see the nurse go but she knew it would be the start of a new life for her.
The first thing Claire did in her new life was to go to a hair salon. They cut her hair short and died it black. A local sandwich shop hired her to work in the kitchen in the afternoons. She enrolled in technical school to learn to be a secretary. The classes were 3 mornings a week. She embroidered Angela on all her shirts so that she could remember not to call herself Claire, and people would call her Angela. She joined a large church where eventually she taught Sunday school to teenagers and did volunteer work in the food pantry. Her Pastor’s wife had helped her get a soup lunch started for the homeless. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday they would have soup and sandwiches for the homeless. It broke her heart to see so many hungry people. Angela made it her duty to tell everyone that they should all pull together to help feed the hungry.
She volunteered to cook and serve if the they would buy the food. The congregation rallied behind her and donated all of the ingredients. Many women joined her to help cook and serve. On Thursdays she would give free haircuts to the poor.
Many men over the years tried to get to know Angela but she flatly refused to have a boyfriend or husband. She spent her life taking care of others and doing good through out the world. Angela moved forward; living her life to never look back, with no regrets. A high school teacher she had admired quoted something that stuck with her “Always help if you can and certainly do no harm.” So she grew up with that mindset to “do no harm.”
Had her parents supported her in the crisis she had found herself in, her life may have turned out differently. Perhaps, she would have stayed married to Leroy and lived miserably with his mother and had a few more kids. But in reality, her leaving and starting over helped hundreds of thousands of poor, hungry, homeless people and then she witnessed to them about Jesus. She remembered in the Bible it said you can’t talk to people about salvation if they can’t hear you over the rumbling of their empty stomach! Angela spent her life giving and taking care of God’s children.
Angela volunteered to go on a missionary trip to New Guinea in 1970. The trip was to take medical supplies, food and Bibles to missionary’s already there. She replaced another woman that lived there as a missionary and lived the rest of her life in New Guinea teaching others about Jesus, and helping meet their needs.

No one in her hometown ever knew what became of Claire. The sheriff talked to Leroy but no report was ever made. The sheriff told her parents she probably ran off with the baby’s real father. After a year, the Sheriff interviewed everyone again but the case was classified as a runaway and basically closed.

Leroy’s mother died 3 years after Claire disappeared, leaving Leroy on his own. His father did not even come to the funeral. Frank had closed up shop and quietly disappeared, selling the house just as quickly. Leroy discovered he was homeless by the sign in the yard that said “SOLD”. He went to Reverend Marshall who took him in. For several months
Leroy tried to apprentice under Reverend Marshall, who was sick to tears of Leroy. He couldn’t make him understand that even though they both believed the same, they could not let the congregation know or their cover would be blown. Leroy was reckless and weak. Reverend Marshall considered Leroy a boil on his butt and encouraged him to enroll in bible school and to even find a different church. He couldn’t stand the lazy boy. All he did was eat and loaf around. He wouldn’t even help around the church for his keep. The reverend finally told him he needed to go away.

Leroy was fuming after their talk, he was walking down main street when he saw Brenda, through a window at a soda shop where she was sitting alone reading a book. He slid into her booth and prepared to destroy her life.

Brenda James married Leroy out of pity, more than love. She knew his wife had disappeared probably either dead or as everyone said runaway. It was never disclosed that she was pregnant. Brenda knew from Leroy that his mama was very sick. Brenda’s family had moved away leaving her with a great aunt. Times were hard and they had too many mouths to feed so they dumped her on her great aunt under the pretense of leaving her to help her aunt. She didn’t have much of a life in this small town, just school and home. Her great aunt let her go to church once in a while but not often. She loved school because it gave her an insight to another life that she dreamed of. Adventures, fun, laughter…all the things her aunt could not and would not allow her.
Brenda’s great aunt jumped at the chance to marry her off. None of her family came; it was a simple as Leroy’s first marriage.
Leroy and Brenda were living in a cottage behind someone’s house, The Kings (a family from the church) had offered them a place to stay until they could get on their feet.
Leroy had wanted to give his mama another grandchild. The grandchild she asked about before her death. She also mentioned a quilt several times, but Leroy didn’t know what in the world she was talking about. He just covered her up with the quilt. She still kept trying to say something about that quilt but he assumed her mind had just left her. Once she died he burned that quilt. He could never have used it after it covered his mother’s dead body. Just the thought made him ill. He hated that quilt anyhow. She was always working on it and the damn thing was so heavy. He shook his head just thinking about it. The filler must have been good cause it burned like it was full of money.
.

Brenda was so much like Leroy’s Mama. She did everything for him, pushed him thru Bible College, did his homework for him, and worked 2 jobs while he basically goofed off. He was a C student and that was pushing it.
The day he got his certificate, it was Brenda who felt like she had graduated from 2 years of Bible College. She had written all of his papers, made cheat sheets for his test and read all the books and told him what they said. Brenda always made excuses for Leroy. He just needs a helping hand, she would think to herself. He just needs to catch a break; only to find out, he was lazy and wanted everyone else to do things for him. He loved to act like an awesome, amazing person, but someone else was always doing all the work and he would find a way to get the glory.

They got their first job at a small church in Texas. The church provided a parish and a small salary. The conditions were that Brenda had to clean the church, play the piano and watch the kids in the nursery on Wednesday night service.
Apparently everything was big in Texas including the breast on many of the women in the church. Leroy had his choice of loose women and he plowed right thru them. He was charming as he gave each sermon, reading thru the notes that Brenda had composed for him. Smiling largely, hesitating at the points that Brenda had written “Pause for dramatic affect”
or laughing when Brenda had noted “insert laugh here”. Leroy was able to follow Brenda’s clues and hints to perfection. He was so personable and convincing. The public loved him. Men wanted to play golf with him, their wives wanted to have sex with him.
The offerings were large and many curious people came to see the new handsome Pastor. In less than 3 months, 2 deacons came to the front door to tell the Pastor he was fired and to get out of the Parish by morning. He had been fooling around with both of the deacons wives and the women had gotten into a cat fight downtown square in front of everyone! It was a huge embarrassment to the town and the church.

As appalled as she was, Brenda couldn’t leave him, she was pregnant.

The next town they wound up at was about 35 miles away. It was a pretty large town. The Pastor of the Baptist church was very old and had been trying to retire for years. Leroy had explained to him that it was a huge misunderstanding at the first place and they wouldn’t even let him explain that all he had been doing was counseling the ladies. The Pastor laughed and told him it was hard to fight jealousy and that he himself had been run off from a few churches for “counseling the ladies.” Leroy began working as an assistant Pastor for him, the plan was to gradually take over and allow the reigning Pastor to retire. The people took to Leroy quickly and he tried hard to stay away from the females but temptation overwhelmed him and he found himself again involved with several females, one just 16 years old. Brenda had their first daughter in January and the 16 year old announced her pregnancy in March. Leroy, Brenda and the new baby left town in the middle of that same cold March night. The next morning was the first time Leroy ever hit Brenda. She demanded that he stop acting like he had a lust demon in him and be a real husband and a real man of a real God.

Leroy beat her severely, blackening both her eyes as he broke her nose and the bones under her left eye. Her hearing in her left ear also was now gone as were 3 teeth on that side. He had come completely unglued; telling her he would kill her if she ever tried to leave. She knew she couldn’t leave, she was pregnant again already. Leroy wouldn’t leave her alone. She never even had time to heal from the birth of their first child before he was at her again. It wasn’t love, it was control. Leroy was scared if she left, he couldn’t pull off the sermons. At least she was good for that. He constantly complained to her that she couldn’t do anything right but she knew it was just a form of his abuse. He called her fat and ugly. But unless she was pregnant, she was always the same 98 lbs she had always been when he met her. If she left a cup in the sink he called her a filthy pig, he constantly berated her cooking and cleaning skills although every place they lived she had made as clean and beautiful as she could. Brenda quit making excuses for Leroy after he started beating her. She knew there were no excuses for how he was treating her. Brenda had read about other women who had been abused and she recognized nothing she could ever do would please Leroy. He was a miserable person and wanted her to be that way too. Brenda worked extra hard to be a good wife and mother to his children. The women of every church they had worked at came to her and told her how lucky she was to be married to a saint. At least she didn’t have the same problems they did because she had a good man, a godly man. She would smile and nod her head. “Lord if they only knew!” she would say aloud when she was alone. It was a full time job running behind him trying to make Leroy look good, or trying to clean up his messes. Once at a church get together, the men were having a theological discussion, when suddenly a visitor started questioning Leroy’s career and Brenda saw Leroy seeking her help with a look across the room.
Brenda grasps her bulging belly and cried out “Husband Please I think I need to go. I have a pain!” Leroy rushed to her side and several of the people helped her to the car. Leroy explained this had been a delicate pregnancy and he appreciated their help.

As soon as they left Leroy flew into a rage. One of the men thought he had recognized Leroy from a church down South and he was trying to question him to see if it was him. Brenda’s reaction saved Leroy’s face. He was able to use the situation to gain sympathy until things smoothed over. However, once again Leroy was his own undoing and they had to leave. His high sex drive coupled with unlimited supply of available (married, single, widowed) women got him hot water again.
Year after year they traveled across the country and back again; going from church to church, town to town, city to city. It was exhausting and Brenda was so tired.
Finally when it seemed they had worked at every Baptist church, they happened upon a town that had a Methodist church that was looking for a Pastor. Leroy had explained that his wife had been involved in a terrible car accident that she had caused by driving irresponsibly. She had ran a red light, causing another car to hit her. (He told her what he had told the deacons that hired him because he had to explain her facial injuries. He couldn’t very well say he beat her stupid ass.) She heard Leroy talking to the deacons outside of the car “Of course he understood that she couldn’t been seen in public until she healed up, he completely understood and yes she would still clean the church and keep the grounds cut and clean. And of course take care of the Parish” Brenda could see them all shaking hands. How many times had she seen that hand shake. The handshake that confirms we have entered into a deal. How she wished just once Leroy would be honest and tell the deacons “I will be your leader and you will be my congregation until I literally screw your women and you run me off.” Brenda’s heart was grave. She could feel the heaviness in her chest as she sighed and thought “Here we go again.”
The Parish was filthy; the last resident had left in a huge hurry and left most of his belongings. Brenda had to box up their things and clean before she could unpack their own things and set them up. She worked for nearly 3 days straight, dare not sleeping, to get things in order and to keep Leroy from getting upset and beating her again. The beatings made Leroy feel powerful. Of course once he realized she let him get away with doing it, he did it more often. Ultimately he learned to hit her where it would not show, the bruises were to her ribs and back and thighs. He was growing meaner and meaner as they went from church to church. The last beating nearly killed her. He choked her so hard and long that she passed out. He was afraid he had killed her, when she came too he beat her again for scaring him.
After their 4th child, Leroy began to abuse the children, slapping their little faces, pushing them down, cussing at them. Little Victoria got in trouble at school because the teacher asked what her mother’s name was and she said “My daddy calls her bitch, but I call her mama.” The teacher paddled her and then sent her to the office for another spanking before they called Brenda to come pick her up. It was then that Brenda knew she had to get away from Leroy to save her children. The girls were so sweet and emotional. They had watched their father beat their mother so many times that they were terrified of him. They were so traumatized, so nervous, not knowing if all hell would break loose every single night. Brenda would put them to bed immediately after dinner to keep them out of Leroy’s way. She taught the girls to pray, when Daddy did bad things to Mama.
The job at the Methodist church seemed to be going well. Brenda had studied up on what Methodist believed and was able to write sermons that ministered to the congregation. Leroy’s eloquent presentations were received beautifully. As a matter of a fact almost in appreciation of her hard work and loyalty, Leroy gave her a present! One month after they arrived at the Methodist church he gave her…a sexually transmitted disease.

Brenda took the girls by bus to a neighboring town and was seen by a doctor who charged her $25.00 to explain she had a sexually transmitted disease. The doctor told her if she was going to be a whore she should be more careful. She didn’t bother to tell him she was the loyal wife of a husband that couldn’t keep his manhood at home. She didn’t bother to tell him Leroy was the only man she had ever been with. She just took the lecture and accept the man’s opinion of her. Brenda was horrified but at least he gave her a prescription to help rid her of the disease. On the bus ride back home Brenda was calm. She stopped by the grocery store to pick up some groceries for dinner. Fortunately she made it home before Leroy did and had dinner on the table when he got home.

Brenda had arranged for the 3 older girls to spend the night with the McKenzies. The baby was being kept by Mrs. Odell one of the church ladies. The standing rib roast was beautiful and all the vegetables turned out perfect. This was Leroy’s favorite meal. What an amazing anniversary dinner this would be! Brenda had candles lit, the good china she had borrowed from Mrs. Odell was on the table. It was stunning!
When Leroy came home and sat down to eat dinner, he asked why it was so quiet and where were the rest of the bitches. Brenda told him she wanted to be alone with him. He snorted nearly spitting his bourbon out and said “Don’t be a acting like a slut Brenda. You are all used up and you know I only come to you if noone else is available.”
Brenda ignored his statement and ate dinner as he ate. When he finished he shoved his plate away as usual. She asked if he wanted some peach and cranberry cobbler and he said yes. He did love her peach cranberry cobbler. Leroy had always demanded a desert with every evening meal.
He was saying something about her getting his notes ready for the Sunday sermon but she didn’t hear him clearly. She came back into the room with his cobbler and poured him some coffee. He tore into the mound of cobbler like a kid in an ice cream shop, it was all over his face. Suddenly, he looked at her and said “Why do you look so different?” “What do you mean?” she asked sweetly. He said “Well for one thing you are looking me in the eye, you never do that anymore. You look like you have a secret? What have you got to feel so damn cocky about?” Brenda went and sat back down in her seat, then she smiled a big smile and said in an cheerful voice “It’s no secret Leroy! I am finally free of you. No more beatings, no more cheating, lying, stealing, no more abuse of any kind from you Leroy.” She let out a long sigh and said “I’m free of you Leroy”. He burst out laughing and said “In your dreams whore. I have already told you if you ever try to leave me I will kill you. Kill you dead! They will never find your body. I promise they will have to look in all 40 states to find all the pieces of your body!” Then a scowl came on his face, “ I guess you just need a beating Brenda! Why do you make me do this to you? Why? Do you enjoy tasting your own blood? Do you enjoy making me beat the shit out of you?” Brenda didn’t answer immediately.

Then calmly she said “Today is our anniversary Leroy. 10 years ago today I married you believing I could help you. I thought all you needed was a good woman to help you realize your dream of being a preacher. I didn’t know then that you didn’t believe in God. But Leroy there really is a God and you are about to meet him.”
Leroy stood up, unbuckled his belt and reached to take it off as he usually did to start the beatings, but as he turned to pull his belt a pain hit his right side. He looked at Brenda and said “What have you done?”She looked him in the eye and peacefully said “I have killed you Leroy. I have saved my life and my children’s lives and the lives of all the people in the world that you will ever come in contact with and try to destroy! You probably should talk to God and tell him you were wrong about Him and try to make amends while there is still time.” Leroy’s face was red with pain and rage, “You Bitch! You can’t kill me. I will make you pay for…” then he sat down in the dining room chair and died. She heard the death rattle, the last breath leave his body about 5 minutes after he died.
Brenda sat there with him for hours to make sure he was dead. She got up and tidied the dishes at the table, leaving Leroy’s plate and glass in place, and then cleaned the kitchen, she had time so she swept the floor and finished the laundry.

She then went to Leroy’s study and wrote a long letter to the church, from Leroy.
In the letter, He expressed remorse for all the pain and embarrassment that he had caused his wife, 4 children and the church. He explained that he knew that he had committed adultery more times than he could count but that he had truly only loved his wife. He explained in the letter that he had stolen thousands of dollars of the churches money that was supposed to be used for bills. He stated the money was used so that he could pay off some naughty women and buy their silence, you know with him being a preacher and all. He apologized to all of the Deacons except for Brother Smith. He had never messed with his wife, because she was older than he preferred his lovers to be. However, he did apologize to Brother Smith for using his money to buy a hotel room with Brother Raegle’s wife. He apologized to the Sheriff for deflowering his 17 year old daughter but denied ever touching his son. Last but not least he asked all of them to be checked for sexual diseases as someone had given him one and he was concerned for the population of the church. Leroy said in his letter that his conscious would not let him live with himself and he hoped they would find a way to forgive him. He asked them to help his wife and children find a new life without him.

Brenda signed the letter, just as she had signed everything for him, written every sermon note for him, everything. No one ever challenged the fact that Leroy had written the letter.
Brenda went to bed as usual and when she woke up, she called the Sheriff to let them know her husband was at the dining room table dead.
Embarrassment kept the church or the Sheriff from disclosing the letter, but good old Doctor Corak got a lot of business and antibiotics were flowing thru the town. The coroner said it looked like a heart attack or suicide. However, for the public’s knowledge, it was called heart attack. On the other hand, the Sheriff and the Doctor who pronounced him dead knew that most heart attack victims didn’t leave notes.
Brenda and her 4 children were quietly relocated to another town about 100 miles away. The deacons had found her a house and paid the rent on it for a couple of months and moved her belongings for her.
She refused their money, as she had thousands of dollars that her dead husband had already stolen from them. Leroy was buried in a deserted cemetery outside of town and not even given a head stone. There was no funeral. The church handled the situation with a stunned silence.
Brenda finally got that job at Sears she had always wanted. She started as a stock clerk working the midnight shift but quickly moved up the ranks to floor supervisor. Brenda became the first female manager in their area.
She remarried another man 3 years after Leroy’s death. His name was Tucker Brine and he worked at a tire manufacturing company. He was a good decent man and loved Brenda and the girls.
From the front porch of their home, Brenda watched Tucker spraying the laughing girls with the water hose she looked at her new life and she thought of Leroy one last time, “You always said I would get what I deserved Leroy. I guess you are finally right.”

She looked up in the sky towards heaven and sighed, and then shaking her head, she looked down at the ground towards hell and smiled… “There is no way you made it to heaven Leroy. Not if you got what you deserved.”

The EndPlayboy King

Weekend Edition – A Writer’s Technical Nightmare Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

I enjoyed reading this! I had two Mondays last week 😦
I am wondering about iCloud and drop box. Need to use some back up but don’t know which one to trust. Very nice post!

Live to Write - Write to Live

The spinning pinwheel of death - so pretty, and yet, so deadly The spinning pinwheel of death – so pretty, and yet, so deadly

Stand By: Technical Difficulties Ahead

Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to over the last few days – whether online, or in “real life” – has had similarly disparaging things to say about the past week. Perhaps it was the transition from summer to autumn, or the adjustment to the start of another school year (which seems to affect everyone, whether or not they have school-aged children), or just something run amuck in the stars. Whatever it was, I truly hope it has run its course and will not continue to trouble us as we step into September in earnest.

I closed out my work week with a rather terrifying technology snafu. Late on Thursday, my wireless “magic trackpad” developed a mind of its own. Instead of obediently responding to the taps and swipes of my fingers, it began jumping…

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Class B Dependent

airborn copterJaneece was a happily married woman with 3 children, ages 5, 3 and 19 months. She had been married for over 2 1/2 years to her best friend, lover, and soul mate. He had the same values she had, loved her children as his own, including the one they had together. Errol did not want her to work outside the home, which thrilled her so she could raise their children.
They lived modestly because of one income but they were happy. Errol’s job took him away, a lot, but he was always so pleased to come home and the family was so excited to welcome him home.
Errol had explained as much about his job to Janeece when he was dating her. “ I’m in the Army. It’s all very secretive. We are not allowed to discuss work matters as it could be a danger to National Security. So you are going to have to trust me, a lot.” he said sincerely. Janeece did trust him, she adored him and hung on his every word. He was the kindest, smartest, most wonderful man she had ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was a fantastic husband and Father.
Life with Errol was like a dream come true. His eyes had filled with tears when he found out she was pregnant. Janeece’s life had a troubled enough start to appreciate the good life that she had now.
Her first husband, Junior, had taken a job as long distance truck driver. On his first trip out of North Carolina to Los Angeles, California, he fell in love with a girl that worked at a deli. He came immediately back to North Carolina and told Janeece. “I’m sorry but I have got to be honest. I never loved you like I should. I thought I ought to do the right thing when you got pregnant with Danny, so I married you. I was miserable but before I could get out you got pregnant with Amy. I thought I was trapped forever until I met Desiree.
She said, ‘Your wife will make you pay lots of child support but it will be worth it to be with me.’ She really loves me. I came here for a divorce then I am moving to Los Angeles to be with her.”
He was looking at the floor the entire conversation and twisting his Natural Light baseball cap in his hand as he was talking. Janeece was stunned, but could not cry.
Junior turned to the kids and said “Aint none of this yall’s fault. Daddy will come see you when I’m on this side of the country.”
“Go on Junior. Just Git!” Janeece said, finally finding her voice and dismissing him. Junior left but she noticed he was smiling as he hauled ass out of the driveway.
Her Mother took the news horribly. She broke down sobbing, “Oh Lord Janeece what are you gonna do? You aint never worked a day in your life. You will never find another husband. Nobody will want you since you have two kids. Men want their own kids. And don’t think you can pawn them off on me. I aint able to watch them.”
Janeece was quiet while her mama raved on. She had tuned her out until her Mother hit the kitchen table with her fist and screamed, “Are you listening to me girl?”
Janeece jumped and said, “Yes ma’am. I just have a headache. I think I need to lie down.”
“Well this aint no time to be laying down girl.”
“Mama please just go on home. I will figure this out.” This offended her Mother so she huffed and stormed out of the door; slamming it behind her.

The next morning Janeece spoke to her neighbor and explained that Junior had left her for another woman. She asked if she could see the job section of the newspaper and the neighbor offered it straight away. She found an ad for a diner needing a waitress.
The neighbor agreed to watch the kids for her to go and inquire about the job. She had to take the bus because Junior had driven away in their only means of transportation .
The manager of the diner was exhausted. His waitress staff and cashier had abandoned him for three soldiers. The girls called out sick for three but he had been told by regular diners that they had seen the three girls about town with the soldiers having a big time. He had called his Mother and Sister in to fill in for the girls but it made for a hard day when they didn’t know what they were doing.
Janeece barely introduced herself to the manager before he blurted out, “Can you start right now?”
“I don’t know I have to call the sitter.” Janeece answered.
The manager pointed to the telephone. The neighbor lady agreed to watch the kids so Janeece put on the apron, began cleaning tables and taking orders. It was definitely on the job training but she caught on quick. By the end of breakfast she had made $52.00 in tips. If lunch was half that good she would make enough money to take care of her children. Lunch was busier than breakfast. Janeece went straight home and paid the neighbor for babysitting. The children loved Mrs. Overly and she was thrilled to be making the extra money.
Two weeks into her new life, a tow truck pulls up in front of her house. Junior’s Ford pickup was on the flat bed. A luxury car had pulled up at the same time as the tow truck. A very well dressed man knocked on the front door. “Can I help you?” Janeece asked thru the screen door.
“Are you Janeece?“
She nodded yes, wondering what Junior had gotten himself into.
“My name is Everette Hould. I own the trucking company your husband Junior worked for.” the man said thru the door.
Janeece opened the door and stared at the man. “Worked for?” she asked.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this ma’am but Junior has been killed.”
“What happened?” Janeece asked with almost a whisper.
“Well, ma’am it appears that Junior got involved with a young lady in California on his trip to deliver our product. The lady was married and Junior was shot and killed by the lady’s husband.”
Janeece rest her head against the door frame but she did not cry. “Oh my goodness.” she finally said in a soft voice.
“I, um, I wanted to bring the truck back to you and I wanted to give you this check for $1500.00. This money is Juniors last paycheck and the one I was holding. He didn’t have any life insurance, so the company paid to have him cremated. If you want the remains I can have them sent to you.”
“What happens if I don’t take them?” Janeece asked.
“I don’t rightly know. I think the Coroners office holds them for 3 years then disposes of them. Unless you are going to have a burial I don’t see where you would need them. I understand Junior didn’t have any other family.”
“That’s right.” Janeece whispered.
“You’ve got time to think about it, but if it were my decision, I would let them stay there. California is so big, you might not even get his actual remains back. I’m sorry this happen to you ma’am.” he said shifting from one leg to another.
It was apparent he was eager to leave.
“Thank you for letting me know.” Janeece said as she took the keys from the tow truck driver who had walked up during the conversation, then she shut the door. She didn’t cry for Junior but for her children that lost a father. At first he had been an honorable man but he lost his way as time went by. He was never a great husband. Like he had admitted, he never loved her the way she loved him. He drank and ran around on her constantly.
It was lonelier living with him then it ever was with him gone.
Over the next few months Janeece learned to organize the children’s schedule, pay the bills, the rent, the electric bill . Military guys came in on a regular basis and she was asked out on hundreds of dates per week but she just smiled and told them she appreciated the offer but no she didn’t date. There was a bucket in the kitchen where she threw the telephone numbers that men wrote on napkins and tiny pieces of paper trying to entice her and occasionally a Rose was delivered in a bud vase for her but she still never yielded to a single request. The manager told her that he didn’t want to lose her but to remember she was still young enough to marry again. She would just smile and continue working. It wasn’t open for discussion. He would laugh and say, “When you least expect it you will find someone.”

Almost six months to the day that Junior died and when she least expected it, she met someone. It was a Friday morning after the breakfast rush, a man came in and asked for coffee. He was a big muscular man, as least 6’4 with a shining bald head and sharp blue eyes. He was wearing jeans and a button up cotton shirt. He smelled like sunshine. He caught Janeece’s eye.
“WWhat can I get you sir?” she asked shyly.
He smiled and showed the whitest teeth she had ever seen. “I will have coffee and orange juice please.”
Janeece managed to get back to the counter and steady herself. That was the most handsome man she had ever seen and the café was always crawling with men.
She calmed down and brought his beverages. “If you like omelets we make very good ones.”
“Which one is your favorite?” he asked with a smile.
“Oh, I, I guess ham and cheese.” Janeece stuttered.
“Well then I will have that, with hash browns and no toast.”
She smiled and nodded her head. “ Thank you.” she said as an after thought when she was walking away. She managed to serve him breakfast and noticed he watched her as she moved around the café cleaning tables and taking orders. Janeece returned to his table to ask if he wanted more coffee.
“Yes, please. You were right about the omelet. It was very tasty.”
“I’m glad you liked it.”
“Do you work every day?” he asked.
“Well yes, I just started here a couple of months ago. I work breakfast and lunch, Monday thru Friday.”
“Well Janeece I will just have to start eating here. I am new to the area and needed to find a place so I wouldn’t starve to death.” he said with a big smile.
Janeece was not feeling as nervous but wondered for a second how he knew her name. She looked down and remembered the name tag that was pinned to her shirt, and smiled.
“You wont starve here sir.” she said and smiled again.
“My name is Fresco, Errol Fresco.”
“It’s very nice to meet you.”
“Pleasure is mine.”

Two months had gone by and the owner was starting to complain the café was looking like a funeral home with all the flowers. Errol unleashed floral hell on Janeece until she finally agreed to go to dinner with him. She assumed if she took the kids he would be discouraged and not want to see her again. On the contrary, he was delighted.
Errol made arrangements to take them all to a family oriented establishment name Charos, where they had games and pizza. Errol loved to play the games with the kids and even got Janeece to participate. It was fun and she looked forward to their time as much as her kids did. Errol refused to let her pay for anything which really made it a treat.
It became a regular weekend activity for about 4 weekends straight until Errol announced that it was time to go to work.
“I am afraid I can’t tell you much dear. I am in a secret unit. All of our activities are top secret and it would endanger national security if I shared with you what I actually do. I actually work for the C.I.A., through the Army and I took an oath to my country that what was government information would remain top secret. As soon as my missions are over I will always come right back to you. I am falling in love with you and these two kids Janeece. Please tell me you will wait for me.”
“Oh yes!” she cried, choked with emotion.
Errol was gone an agonizing 6 weeks. He showed up at her house unannounced in the middle of the night still in uniform.“Errol?” Janeece asked at the door.
“Yes it’s me dear, open up!”
Janeece flung the door opened and grabbed her man. “Oh my goodness! I have missed you so much!”
“Marry me.” Errol said excitedly. “I love you. You love me, those kids adore me and I love them.”
“Well, I, yes, yes I will marry you.”
He kissed her passionately then let her go. “I’ve got to get back to the base and debrief. I just had to see you and ask you. It’s been eating me up wondering if you would say yes.”
She smiled and blew him another kiss as he walked away. Janeece did not see Errol for three more days until Wednesday. He picked her up after work and gave her a ride home. “I have a surprise for you Missy.” he said with a grin.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I will go get the kids from Mavis and you go in and take a bath and get prettied up. We have a wedding to go to.”
“Who is getting married?” she asked.
“We are, silly girl!”
Janeece’s mouth fell open. She had thought they would have a long engagement and then plan a wedding, there was no rush.“Errol there is so much I don’t know about you and you don’t even know my middle name.”
“Janeece. I know everything I need to know about you. I love you and don’t want to spend one more day without you and your kids in my life. Don’t you know I can give you a better life. You shouldn’t have to work in that diner slinging hash for just enough money pay the bills. Aren’t you ashamed that you buy your kids clothes at the thrift store and that Mavis the neighbor is practically raising your children?”
Putting it in those terms made Janeece feel very small and humiliated. Tears began to fall down her cheeks. “I have been doing the best that I can under the circumstances.” she said.
“Well circumstances have changed. I love you and I want to be your husband and your children’s father.”
“Yes, I love you too and I do want to marry you.” Janeece said with a smile.
She turned, looked out the window. They didn’t speak again until they reached her house.
Janeece hurried up and bathed and changed into a spring dress. She did her hair and makeup and could hear Errol laughing with the children. He was getting them dressed into some new clothes he had bought them. “Show your Mama how nice you look!” he said sweetly.
“Oh they look adorable!” Janeece said aloud. Danny had on a little boys suit, tie included and Amy had on a lacy dress with sandals.
They all drove to a nearby park where people were waiting. Janeece’s family was not present but about 20 people were there including an Army Chaplain. It was a beautiful arrangement and Janeece was blown away by the preparation. “These are my friends and their spouses from work.” Errol whispered in her ear. Errol held Amy and Janeece held Danny’s hand during the ceremony. It was brief but beautiful. When the Chaplain asked if anyone had any reason these two should not be joined, Errol had given a nervous exaggerated gaze around the audience, drawing huge laughter from the crowd. Then they were pronounced husband and wife and sealed it with a kiss.
A reception was held at the local armory. Food and beer and other beverages were set up and it was the best surprise Janeece had ever had in her life. Her diamond ring was small but so pretty and the matching wedding band just sealed it with another kiss.
Janeece and Errol finally slept together on their wedding night. It was magical.
They did not have their first argument until 10 hours later, when Janeece rose to get ready for work.
Errol sat up in bed and asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’ve got to go to work honey” Janeece answered.
“You are my wife and you don’t work anymore.”
“Errol. I can not leave them in a lurch like that. I have not given them any notice to find another waitress.” Janeece pleaded. “Just please let me work out a couple of weeks notice.”
“Nope. No wife of mine slings hash. I will take care of this.” Errol said picking up the telephone. Errol explained to the manager that Janeece would not be coming back and that she sent word that she was sorry for not giving a notice as she should have done and he hung up.
Janeece’s cheeks were on fire from embarrassment. “That man gave me a job when I had no experience. He gave me an opportunity that many would not. I can’t do this to him.”
“Well, are you interested in what he had to day Janeece? He said it was just as well, that you were a terrible waitress and he had gotten so many complaints on you that he was looking to replace you anyhow. You saved him the trouble.”
Janeece knew he had just lied to her face, she locked herself in the bathroom and had a good cry. Danny knocked on the door and asked, “Mama are you crying. It’s okay.”
She responded, “I’m not crying sweetheart. My stomach hurts a little. I will be right out.”
Janeece washed her face and came out to see Danny and Amy sitting by the door. They often did this when they were all three home and she was out of their sight.
It probably had something to do with their daddy never coming back.
“Mama we want to ask you something. Is it okay if we call Mr. Errol, Daddy? We want him to be our Daddy.” Danny asked with a grin. Amy got excited and started jumping up and down saying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.”
Errol appeared in the door and said, “Hey who is calling my name?” The kids squealed and ran to him. Irritated Janeece couldn’t help but muster a smile looking at the three of them. It made her heart happy to see her children so ecstatic. “ Get up here and give Daddy a kiss Mama.” Errol said with a smile. She did.
The next few months flew by. Errol moved them to a nice house out of the city limits. It had a pool and a garden. He closed Janeece’s checking account and they just had one account that was in his name. “I handle all the bills anyhow, it just makes sense. I will make sure you have money if you need anything.”
Errol was very controlling. He had a system and he demanded they stay with the system.
He was a neat freak and expected the house to be inspection ready every day when he got home. There were no excuses, she wasn’t working outside of the home. However, he was the most amazing husband and father. He genuinely made them feel he loved them and they adored him right back. He participated in homework, sports activities and even insisted on them attending church. “My family is the most important thing in my life” he would boast to anyone who spoke to him. He was especially proud of little Riley but showed no partiality with the other two children which made Janeece glow with happiness.

They had several pool parties during the summer time when his coworkers would come over and bring their wives. She had heard one of the guys tell Errol, “Man you really got it going on buddy. A fine looking class B dependent and she can cook.” Errol punched the guy in the stomach, and told him to get out. Janeece assumed the guy was being vulgar so she was please her husband defended her honor. She never questioned Errol about the situation because it upset him very much.
The following week Janeece found out she was pregnant. Errol was delighted.
“Oh my God woman this is wonderful news!” he picked her up and spun her around until she was dizzy. “I love you so much Janeece. Now our family will be complete.” This made her cry happy tears.
Two weeks after that Errol was out the door for another secret mission. This mission lasted eight weeks and three days. Janeece had been to the local family clinic in his absence to see the doctor. He had said she was doing well and to continue to eat right and take her vitamins. Each time Errol headed out for a secret mission it was time for her to see the doctor so she never got to see a military doctor. Janeece did not mind, the local clinic had very nice people there.
“Timing is everything!” Errol would say with a laugh. He had been home 15 minutes when Janeece’s water had broken. Errol did not take her to the local hospital. He drove her to the hospital 20 miles in the opposite direction to give birth to their Son, Riley.
His explanation was that he had researched the local hospitals and heard horror stories and would only accept the best for his wife and child.
He was able to stay two weeks before being called out on a mission. Janeece tried to be strong but a military wife’s life was hard. She missed him so much when he was gone.
Errol had some times spoken about getting a different job but said he would probably have to wait until retirement because of the nature of his job being so sensitive. “They will probably want to keep the unit together for the duration of our careers. We know too much.”
Janeece could not get upset, she knew he was in a top secret position when she married him, and he would be worth the wait of retirement.
Two ½ years later on April 19th, one of Errol’s coworkers, Jeremy appeared at their door in uniform, his hat in his hand. “ Janeece, I’m sorry to tell ya this but, Errol, Errol is dead.”
Janeece sat down in the closest chair and looked back at the door. “What in the world did you just say to me?”
“Errol fell out of a helicopter and he is dead.”
“Where is he at now?” she asked quietly.
“I reckon they have him at the military hospital.” Jeremy said quietly. He hesitated for a moment then ran to his truck, slinging rocks and dust as he left.
Janeece gathered up the children and put them in the car. She headed straight for the military base and asked for the hospital at the gate. The MP’s escorted her and the children to the hospital area where Errol’s body was being held. Janeece passed another woman that had been crying. She also had two children. Her heart went out to the woman. She wondered if her husband might have been involved in the accident that killed her own husband. Janeece was escorted to a small room. A doctor came in with the two MP’s.
“Is this some kind of sick joke?” the doctor asked.
Janeece’s eyes flew open as she said “Excuse me! I have just been told my husband is dead after falling from helicopter.”
The doctor looked at the MP’s and said, “Mr. Fresco’s wife just identified his body not 5 minutes ago and this isn’t her. It could possibly be his class B dependent.”
Janeece took her drivers license out and showed them her name, Janeece Fresco. “Look this is me, Janeece Fresco. I am Errol’s wife. Now can I please see my husband?
“And what is a class B dependent?”
He turns and said “Miss, apparently you are what is known in these parts as a Class B dependent. That is when someone is married but they have someone on the side. I’m afraid you are the side.”
Janeece gasped! And bit her hand to keep from screaming.
The doctor shook his head and walked out with the MPs. They came back in and said they had orders to escort her off the base.
“There must be somewhere you can take me, some department that can confirm I am his wife. Please!” she begged. She was trying not to cry so she did not upset the children worse. The military police took her to an undisclosed location and asked her to wait in an office. After an hour an important looking, young man came in and asked her to explain what was going on. She told him the date they were married, by a Chaplain Updegraff, where they were married and celebrated the after wedding at the Nation Guard building. She explained they had a house, and gave the address. She was a stay at home mom, he was always away on secret missions but they made it work because they loved each other. The man left with the notes he took, then came back with in the hour.
“Ma’am this military base does not have a Chaplain Updegraff. Jump Master Errol Fresco did not do secret missions. He taught people to jump out of airplanes. I do not have any other way to say this other than you have been duped by a master mind of trickery. You have no military monies coming to you by his untimely death. I can only apologize to you on behalf of the United States Military. The Military Police will see you to your vehicle.”
“I am not asking for military monies. I want to see my husband.” Janeece said, voice cracking.
“I’m sorry ma’am. I can not allow that.” the man said gently.
Janeece pulled Riley to the front between her and the man. “This is his son. Please allow me to take him to his father.” The man looked miserable and said, “No good can come from a small child seeing his father dead on a gurney ma’am.”
Janeece fainted.

When she was revived, the man gave her an address to carry her marriage license and identification to. “Perhaps they can get to the bottom of this situation ma’am. Are you able to drive yourself and the children home?”
She nodded her head yes and accepted the piece of paper from him. “there has to be an explanation for all of this. My husband is a good, honorable man.”
The man did not speak, he simply opened the door showing her the way out. He had heard of men having multiple “families” and the idea sickened him. He did not even have one family. It never happened for him, yet bastards like this Fresco character could pull it off, at least until something as small as death put a stop to it. He had no doubt the woman was telling the truth, the little boy looked exactly like his father and she was too hysterical to be making up everything she was trying to say. He sat down at his desk computer and began to do some research.
A few hours later he walked into the examiners office and stared at the dead man. “You probably can’t hear me you miserable prick but you are busted. One wife knows you were a liar and a cheat and soon the other wife will know too. You will be remembered as a fraud. Rest in peace asshole.” he mumbled sarcastically as he left the room.
Janeece got the kids into bed and sat in Errol’s chair in the living room. She was shaking just enough to notice it. A decanter of bourbon was on the bar where Errol always wanted it. She walked over and poured herself two fingers and put two pieces of ice into the highball glass. That is how he trained her to fix his drink. She raised the glass to her lips to drink, but the smell nauseated her. She sat the glass down on the bar and walked into his home office. His desk was locked as usual, top secret and all. Janeece went and found a crow bar and a hammer and was headed back to the office when the door bell rang. She answered the door with them in her hand. It was the young man from the base that had given her an address to take her marriage license and her identification to.
“Mrs. Fresco. I’m Ralph Peterson from this afternoon.”
“Yes, I remember you sir.” surprised he would be at her door.
“May I come in?”
She did not answer, she just unlocked the screen door and stepped aside.
He noticed what she was holding and asked, “What are you doing with those tools?”
“I’m going to open my husbands locked desk.”
He reached into his pocket and produced a key ring with numerous keys. “This may be less intrusive to the wood and nails.”
She recognized her husbands keys and she turned and walked towards the office. Mr. Peterson followed her. She pointed to the desk as if he couldn’t see it sitting in the room.
“This is probably extremely inappropriate Mrs. Fresco. I couldn’t quit thinking about what has happened to you and I wanted to check and see if you were okay.”
“Please just call me Janeece. I might not be Mrs.Fresco.” she said.
He nodded and found it was the last the key that unlocked the desk. Errol Fresco was a brave son of a bitch. He used his real name with Janeece. Too cocky to believe he would ever be found out, he had a real marriage license but never filed it at the court house, therefore making their marriage not legal. Their son, Riley’s birth certificate was also in the desk and he had used his real name when he signed it, so Peterson knew at least Janeece would get some support for the child. All of the bills, checking and savings account… the records were there in the desk. Everything including the house and cars were in his name and Janeece’s maiden name. He must have had a very good friend at the bank to pull that off.
“That is good news Janeece. At least you can keep the house and the cars.” Peterson said lightly, then he added an “Oh No!”
Unfortunately he had just found pictures of Fresco’s other families. He had two other families. The lady that came to claim his body was his legal wife who had two children, and it appeared that he had a wife in Costa Rica with two children. He had pictures and marriage licenses and birth certificates for them all. He was very organized.
Peterson attempted to explain what he was finding but Janeece was turning grey. The kind of grey you turn when you are about to die, the kind of grey when the blood is leaving your body. Peterson jumped to his feet and grabbed her by the shoulders. “Don’t you dare die. You have 3 beautiful children that need their Mother. Do you want them raised by strangers in foster care, divided up so they will never be together again? Dig deep ma’am, for your children, don’t leave them like he did. Don’t abandon the ones you gave birth to. This situation is horribly unfair but you will injure the children far worse with you losing your will to survive this.” He shook her a little to drive his point home.
Janeece’s eyes were wide with shock as if she were seeing the situation for the first time.
She sat down on the floor and he sat with her.
“I did not imagine any of these past 2 ½ years. Who married us?”
Peterson shook his head and reached in his jacket and took out a picture. “Is this the Chaplain Updegraff you mentioned.”
Janeece shook her head yes. “He can tell you all about it. He married us!”
“His name is Paulo Updegraff. He is in the same unit Fresco was in. He is not a Chaplain or in any way connected with a higher power. He has no authority to marry anyone. That is probably why Fresco never officially filed the marriage license.”
“But why? My God why did he do this to me? To us?”
“I don’t know Janeece. Some men are greedy bastards and they want it all. They somehow assume they are God’s gift to women and think all the women belong to them.”
Janeece got up off of the floor and walked over to the desk. There was an envelope with pictures of Errol having sex with several different women. She had hoped it was before they met, but then suddenly realized he was wearing a shirt she had purchased for him just a few months before in a number of the pictures. Again, she fainted.
Peterson picked her up and took her to the couch, then found the bathroom and got a cold towel to put on her forehead.
“I’m sorry I don’t know why I keep fainting.” she said apologetically.
“I suspect you may be pregnant again Janeece.” he said “I have a sister that has five kids and every single time she goes to the grocery store she faints.”
Janeece didn’t comprehend what he said but she smiled weakly and said, “this just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it?”
By the end of the night Peterson had figured up that Fresco had $1850 dollars in cash in the desk drawer, $5000 in savings, $750.00 in bonds and $1500.00 in his checking account.
“I need you to go with me to close out these accounts and cash in these bonds immediately Janeece. If you don’t there is a chance you wont get anything until there is a hearing to determine paternity for young Riley. I am just afraid wife number one might try to latch onto any money or property in his name once she regains her senses from the talk I am going to have with her after we leave the bank tomorrow.
“A hearing? I can’t afford an attorney. No one can take my Riley from me can they?””
“ No one can take Riley. You don’t have to afford an attorney. I will be your attorney.”
“You are an attorney?”
Peterson smiled and said, “Not only am I an Attorney, I am the best attorney in the United States Army.”
Janeece sighed and said, “Well thank God. I need the best of something right now.”
She laid down on the couch and began to cry. He sat down in a chair across from her and passed her tissues and listened to her story. He watched as she gathered up all the pictures of Fresco from the living room, then he watched her cry again. In all the years he had been alive, he had never felt the compassion that he felt for this woman.
All night, she talked, she cried, she nearly fainted 2 or 3 more times. He allowed her to grieve without destroying herself. Janeece did not know it but this would all turn out for the best for her and the children, Peterson would see to that. He would end up being a real husband and father. A man that she needed and deserved.

After word

Every women in the world needs a friend like Peterson. He was there when the chips were down and helped her thru the very bad times.
He was able to secure the money for her that was in the bank for her family and he had the Airborne Unit shook up quiet a bit by removing their fake chaplain and exposing those that had Class B Dependents.
In the next year he married Janeece and raised her children as his own. They transferred across the country to make a new life in Washington State. Peterson legally adopted all of the children and they were married in a huge Christian church and hand carried the license to the court house.

You got the thong man

Thong Man
She’d been mad before but this time was different. This time she had the proof in her hands. A teeny tiny pair of thong panties from under the seat of her car. Rodger had used her car last night because his tire was low and he didn’t have time to fool with it.
Raye Lynn was a heft 200 lbs and had nothing to lose but weight. Rodger walked in, threw his lunch box on the coffee table and sat down in his favorite chair to take off his boots. Raye Lynn was calmer than she thought she would be.
“Whew what a day.” Rodger said trying to make conversation.
“Good thing you didn’t have to work over time like you did yesterday.”
Rodger laughed and said, “Yep. I’ll sleep good tonight.”
Raye Lynn smiled and said, “I’m sure you will.”
He looked at her kind of side ways and asked, “What’s wrong with you? What are you mad about now? Raye all I do is work like a dog in that ship yard and come home to a constantly mad woman.”
“I never said I was mad Rodger.” she said with a grin.
“You don’t have to Raye, you’re my wife, don’t you think I know you after all these years?”
That comment took her by surprise. She was expecting him to be mean, instead he sounded sincere.
She got up and poured him a glass of tea. “Are you ready to eat? Or do you want to shower first?”
“I’m rank, think I will shower first. It was hotter than hell today.” Rodger said as he headed for the bathroom.
Raye Lynn sat down on the couch. Twenty two years of marriage, four kids, three grandkids, they had made quite a life. She couldn’t kill Rodger simply because the kids would never forgive her; but she had known for years he cheated, today’s find just confirmed what she already knew. She didn’t cry, scream or throw a fit, just sat on her spot on the couch.
Rodger came back in after his shower wearing shorts and a t-shirt. “Lord that feels so much better.”
She smiled and went to fix his dinner plate. He liked to eat dinner in his chair, then watch the evening news. Usually Ray Lynn would go read a book or play on the computer but tonight she sat there with him watching the news. The world was literally going to hell. War in so many countries, threats of violence, murders, missing persons, confusing weather, hot up north, cold in the south everything was chaos.
“How do you watch this night after night?” Raye Lynn asked Rodger.
“I have to so I know what to protect you from Raye.”
“Why do you talk like that Rodger? Why do you say things to me like that when you are cheating on me with other women?” Raye Lynn suddenly cried out.
Rodger yelled, “What in the sam hell are you talking about Raye?”
Raye Lynn threw the thong panties at him. “This is what I am talking about!”
“What in the hell is that thing?” Rodger asked honestly.
Raye Lynn became furious, “Don’t insult my intelligence Rodger. You know good and well those are some skinny woman’s panties and I found them in the car this morning. How could you?”
Rodger picked up the telephone and dialed a number. “Here boy this one is yours and I am not covering for you.”
He handed the telephone to Raye Lynn. “Hello?”
“Hey Mom what’s going on over there?”
Rodger said, “Go ahead Raye ;ask him what he borrowed from us while I was working a double last night?”
Raye Lynn felt her cheeks get hot with embarrassment, “What did you borrow last night?”
Her son said, “I borrowed the car from Dad. I know I didn’t put any gas in it, sorry about that.”
Raye Lynn burst into tears and handed Rodger the telephone back. He grinned and said, “Well boy you’ve made your Mama cry.”
“For crying out loud, I’ll put gas in it next time.” their son yelled.
Rodger laughed and said, “Okay Son. Love you.” and hung up the telephone.
Raye Lynn was crying and she asked Rodger to forgive her. He pulled her down into the chair with him and told her, “Raye, in all of these years. I never cheated on you. I came close a few times when I used to go to the Crystal Pistol and drink beer but it was just flirting. I didn’t let it go any further because I love you. I swear to God I have never cheated one time.”
Raye Lynn said, “I’ve been accusing you in my mind for so many years. I thought cause I gained weight, you quit loving me.”
Rodger shook his head no. “No ma’am I never quit loving you. You are the reason I still get up and go to that shipyard after all these years. I love every ounce of you.”
They sat there for a few minutes, then Rodger asked, “I forgot to ask you, did you poison my dinner tonight?”
Raye Lynn laughed and said, “We will both know in a few hours I guess.”
Rodger laughed and pulled her to him for a kiss.

Unhappy hour

Daniel’s face turned red as his drunk buddy recalled their evening. Winston was always an arrogant ass but he didnt have to say those things in front of Beverly. She was a lady. Someone’s opinion that he valued and it simply embarrassed him for her to hear his childish antics.
He tried not to meet her glance. “Change the subject Winston” he urges quietly.
“No way sir. You are the man. Girls falling all over him, bet he got 6 telephone numbers and man did Sassy put a whopper of a kiss on him. I don’t even like that Stripper but it was so hot it made me jealous.”
Daniel’s face turned red as he looked up at Beverly. She looked sad and disappointed.
“Just shut up Winston. I’m serious.”
Beverly turned her back to the group.
“Can’t take the boy talk?” Steve asked with a crooked grin.
She shook her head.
Ten minutes later Doug and Daniel both asked her to dance at the same time, both men stepping back and offering to allow the other man the chance to dance with her.
“I decide who I dance with!” She said bluntly, taking Doug’s hand and not looking Daniel in the face. Daniel watched them as they walked onto the dance floor. He walked to the other side of the bar but never took his eyes off of her.
He loved her but he would never have her. She was unavailable permanently to him. He had gotten too drunk once and poured out his heart before and forced her to accept his kiss in front of 50 people. She didn’t refuse him but as soon as he went to the men’s room, she left. The next day he ran into her at the grocery store, he tried to apologize but that just made it worse…she was surprised and hurt.
“Sorry you kissed me?” She whispered.
“That’s not what I meant, I mean, I think I embarrassed myself, I mean you. Damn cut me some slack here Bev. I don’t know how to talk to you.”
“I think you said it just fine” she said looking down at the floor.
He started to add to what he had said but she walked away.
“Damn!” He said out loud.

***

Beverly was older but still a beautiful woman. She would come in the bar on Friday once in awhile but she didn’t drink. She just wanted to be around people, she was lonely. The bar had karaoke every weekend so she enjoyed that. She loved to laugh and have a good time with everyone. At the end of every night she went home alone.

Wayne was a heavy drinker, he had the personality of a rock but he was gorgeous. He was like a wounded child. Sylvia wanted to take him in her arms and shield him from the world. He drank beer after beer, smoked cigarette after cigarette, the drunker he got the more he regaled her with tales of his life. He bragged he had left a trail of his seed across the country and Mexico and Cuba. He said he believes the count is 16 if he is correct.
********all she could think that there was 16 children of various ages raised without the benefit of a daddy. But the more he talked…the better off She realized the kids were.
He bragged of doing more acid than all the people in the bar. He admits he still smokes pot daily. “I lived like a freakin animal in my sail boat…crappin in a bucket and all. I finally bought me a house. I’ve had more sex than anyone, but it comes with consequences, just got the silver bullet last week, not the first std I’ve had but I hate when I get one. It’s my own fault. I get too drunk and ‘just okay ‘ lookin starts to be ‘good lookin’and well I gotta weakness…but I try to be smarter today than I was yesterday.”
Sylvia regarded him with pity and compassion. She found herself encouraging him even when he told her his new girlfriend was “really fat…she makes you look skinny.” Sylvia was a little overweight but not obese. She didn’t bother to be insulted by Wayne, he didn’t mean her harm. He liked her. The night he shared with her that he had killed a lot of people when he was in the military, her heart broke. He was so damaged. Helping people, helping hurting people, it was her duty but she had let Wayne inside her heart…it was personal the way he shared such intimate details, like he was allowing her to hold this information for him so he didn’t have to carry it. She never, ever wanted to have sex with him but she felt almost a responsibility for him sometimes.

They texted frequently and she would say, “I miss your handsome face. ” he would respond, “funny how I avoid reflections of it.”

One night he had too much to drink and a barely legal, barely covered girl was in the bar. He made a beeline for her and offered to take her fishing, the same line he had used on Sylvia. and Sylvia was offended. He held up his cellphone to take a picture of the girl and Sylvia snapped. She flew at him in a rage, “stop! Stop being a whore.”
The
Girl was shocked and quickly moved away. Wayne asked, “What? What’s wrong.” Sylvia faced her feelings for the first time and said ,”don’t disrespect me.you know I love you.” He said, “I know and I like that.”
“Just stop talking to me Wayne!”
The next day he sent her a text, “I love my girlfriend. I know you are a good woman but she beat you to it. She’s a fat girl but I don’t care.”
She responded with, “I can still love you if I want to and there is nothing you can do about it.” He said I want to talk to you in person and she said no!i will cry.” He said “ok but you have to know I love you too.”
There were no more text that night…she was correct, she cried.

He was at the bar when she walked in…he waited to see if anyone would join her, then he walked over to sit down next to her. “I’ve got a girlfriend now.”
“Don’t talk to me about her Wayne. In my mind she’s not real. I can still love you if I want too ” she said stubbornly.
“She came all the way to mobile to pick me up. No woman has ever done that for me. Nobody has ever done anything but take from me…me and Mr. No jangles (She assumed by his sudden grin this was the name for his penis)
She sighed.
“I guess you don’t want to hear this.” He sad with a sad look,
“No, but you can tell me anything you need to ”
” it’s just she is so…big. I mean I love her. We met on pof and she posted all of these skinny younger pictures of her. I couldn’t wait to meet her, then I did and she’s huge…shallow Hal type of huge.”
“Wayne when you have sex with a skinny girl and the end result is the climax…when you have sex with a fat girl the end result is the same you climax. Is the feeling the same?”
He said “yes, but a big girl can’t get in all the positions I like.”
She smiled and before she could give a response…the big girl walked in. He looked like he had been hit with a landrover, “this is sheryl.”
I shook her hand and said “so nice to meet you, I’m Wayne’s friend Sylvia.”She shook but made an ugly face, apparently she’s heard of her.
In 5 minutes they left, Sylvia sent him a text that said you didn’t have to introduce us, that was mean!
He answered”I was shocked she found me…she must have GPS on my ass.”

End chapter one

Dinner with Ernest Hemingway

Earnest Hemmingway

 

 

 

Dinner with Ernest Hemingway

 

I had dinner with Ernest Hemingway last night. He told me to stop procrastinating and read his damn books! Haha! I laughed so hard tea nearly came out of my nose. I like him. I feel a sense of kinsman ship with him. I don’t understand it but he was weird in a way that reminds me of myself.

I don’t remember how dinner started. It was like being in a movie that I began watching once it had already begun playing. I asked him why did he kill himself and he said it was appropriate. It was “The End” and he had nothing more to give. I felt sad when he said that but he studied my face gravely, then laughed at my sympathy, “Don’t feel sorry for me. I had a good life. I owed a lot of people money but none of them have come after me for it!” I laughed and shook my head. “I too have a saying…Heaven, Georgia Power can’t find you there!” He grinned and said, “My saying was better!” we both cracked up laughing.
“So what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked me with a serious look. I took a sip of tea and looked him in the eye. “I wanted to talk to you. You are a writer and I want to be better writer. So I figured, if I’m going, I might as well go to the top! I admire you. Your attitude was nonchalant, you enjoyed your life. You didn’t seem to stress or sweat the small stuff. If you did, you didn’t show it.” He gave a sigh of relief and said, “Thank God! I was afraid the suicide would be a dead giveaway that I was stressed!” I guess I looked shocked because he laughed and said “ You are so easy to tease!! I was human. I had stress, my own kind of stress and when it was time to leave, like Frankie, I did it my way!” I smiled at his snippet. He continued, “You are a lot like me though…your thinking is aggressive, you are narrow minded at times, creative and you hate criticism. That is why you will be a great writer.” “You were a great writer” I gushed. “I know” he said smugly “And you have Daddy issues!” “I know.” I said grimly. “I have always loved older men” He chuckled.
I told him that I felt he described my feelings exactly when he said in one of his books; ‘Sometimes I would start a new story and could not get it going. Then I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think. I would say to myself: “all you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know. So finally, I would write a true sentence and go on from there. It was a wonderful feeling when I had worked well.”
He smiled and asked “You’ve been to Paris?” I laughed and said “Lord No! Not even Paris, Georgia! I’ve been to Florida but I felt the same way you must have felt. Happy and fulfilled when I had a great day of writing and finding that peace, except for the fact my peace came from looking at the Gulf of Mexico.” He nodded his head in agreement. “As writers we have to find that place, that safe place we can go and start a new story without the fear of losing the first story.” I nodded with agreement and said, “Sometimes I start a story and I hit a wall. I cannot go any further. It feels wrong, like I am fighting the idea, trying to force it out. But in the end, it wins the wrestling match, I tap out every time. I have to walk away from it and try something different.”
He looked at me and said “Haven’t you heard? You were not meant to write every story. They are not all of yours to tell.” I threw my hands up and said “Why do I feel that I need to be writing down everything that comes out of your mouth?” He took a long drink and sat the glass down. “Who was it that said age and experience will overcome youth and enthusiasm every time?” We both smiled. I answered, “Neither of us can claim that one!” He rolled his eyes and snickered.
He asked “Did you always know you were a writer?” I hesitated then proceeded slowly trying to find the right words. “I have always loved to tell stories. I love to hear people laugh. I love to make them laugh! In my family we all have a great sense of humor and storytelling was just what we all did to entertain each other. When we all got together we would tell stories about our childhood, about each other, and about Mama beating the daylights out of us and anyone else who got in her path. Did you know our entire family was barred from the Waffle House in Columbus, Georgia because Mama threw a woman through a plate glass window one night?” He laughed heartily and said “I had heard stories but thought they were a little farfetched for such a small woman!” I vigorously shook my head no and said “That little Puerto Rican woman was a hand full of good grief when she was younger! I’ve seen her make grown men cry! Anyhow after my brothers and I grew up we could retell the stories without being in fear for our lives. We even learned to exaggerate and embellish the stories for a larger laugh or gasp if we had to; but our family was so darn crazy we didn’t need much embellishment! That is one of the reasons that bartending was such a great job for me. I was able to do what I loved (tell jokes and stories) and get paid for it, but the problem always started after 11 pm.” I said seriously. His eyes widened and he leaned it as to hear a great trade secret. “What happened after 11pm?” I leaned in too and whispered, “Everyone was drunk by then and turned into a bunch of non-tipping assholes.” He laughed out loud and said sarcastically, “Now there is a visual; a bar full of assholes.” “Not just assholes, non-tipping assholes. People quit tipping after they get drunk, or they do it absentmindedly. One guy may give you a five dollar bill, or a few coins from his change; or worse, no tip at all! It was a crap shoot to see how much money I made.
I had some regular customers that tipped well and helped me raise my kids on those tips. But looking back it was a hard way to make a living.” I think I struck a nerve with him. He had a faraway look, perhaps remembering one or two thousand of the bar maids in his lifetime. He frowned a little and said “I think I was a terrible tipper, all of the time! Before I published my book I was broke, after I was published I was cheap.” My eyes widened and I said “Well then every barmaid will remember you forever. It is burned in their minds those who never tipped, those who tipped a little and those who tipped excellent. You probably would have gotten more rum in your cola if you had tipped better!” “Trust me, I had enough rum in my cola!” he said with a roar of laughter. His eyes twinkled when he laughed and it made me blush. I feel like if we had been friends in another time I would have called him Cheevie because he just looked mischievous!
“So you didn’t answer my question, did you always know you were a writer?” he asked again. I said “Yes. I knew it was in me. So many crazy situations were happening in my life, I knew they needed to be recorded because no one would believe it was real, some of it I didn’t want anyone to know about but I figured I’d tell my own version of the truth. And let the world decide.” He looked at me and said “Remember what they taught you in the Police Academy about six people seeing the same accident and yet you will get six different statements from those six different people and you will wonder if they all saw the same accident?” I nodded yes; he continued, “Life is like that. Some may see you as a hero, others a coward, some may see a drunk, some may see a person who enjoys drinking. It doesn’t matter how they see you, it doesn’t change who you are.
You can’t be all things to all people and you will certainly never please everyone. It is not possible. Even if you write down your version of the truth, you will never convince everyone or anyone of your guilt or innocence. People believe what they want and especially if it makes them look good or makes you look bad.” Suddenly it hit me, “Hey! How did you know I was a Police Officer and went to the academy?” He just smiled mischievously.
It was so easy to sit and talk to him. “You know I had a list of questions I wanted to ask you about writing but they are pretty much fading away.” I said sullenly. “We have plenty of time. This is just the first course.”
“I thought we would be talking about all of your books and what  you were thinking when you wrote them.” He turned the question back on me, “What do you think about when you write stories?” I bit my lip and said “You know… I tried to explain this to my Mama when I wrote the short story about Leroy. The boy who wanted to grow up and be a preacher; he didn’t believe in God but he saw all the perks to being preacher by watching an immoral preacher. It was a great story but I don’t feel like I even wrote it. It just came to me and I couldn’t stop until I was finished. My sweet Mama was so mad at me! She asked me why did it have to be a preacher? Why couldn’t it be a plumber or an attorney? I told her that I didn’t pick the stories, they chose me.” He smiled and said “Exactly. You are the tool that is being used to bring the story to print. We are the middle man so to speak.” I sat there in amazement. Finally! I was finally able to talk to someone who understood what I had been feeling and could explain some of it to me!

“You know this is one of the most enjoyable and memorable nights of my life.” I gushed. He raised his glass to me, “I’m delighted to be a part of it.” “How do I improve my talent?” “Write, fish and drink” he answered. My cheeks were suddenly hot with embarrassment. Those were the 3 words I had written down one day when I was reading about him on the Internet. The article had stated he liked to write in the morning, fish in the afternoon and drink at night. As if baring my soul I offered, “My addiction is food. I wasn’t judging you for drinking. It was the fishing I had a problem with.” He laughed at my comment. “Now, I’m teasing you! I admired you for living your life, something I have always been afraid to do.” He sighed. “ Stop being afraid lamb. Life is for living. Put a little of that admiration in your coffee dear and drink it. You’ve got some talent. Here’s your scoop. You need to be more descriptive in your stories. You have got to read and reread what you have written. You don’t enjoy doing that, because you just want to finish the story. It is like the story you wrote entitled Danni. It is a good story but you were so damn scared you would forget, you did an outline to keep it fresh, then you walked away from it, like it was finished. Don’t quit. Write every day. It helps you grow as a writer. Read other writer’s work. Learn some grammar. You write like you talk and that is not always appropriate for your stories, unless you are writing southern television shows.”  I smiled and shook my head in agreement. “I know everything you are saying is correct. It is almost like I am scared of my own stories. I remember hearing of an actor who didn’t like to watch her own movies; she said it creeped her out. I feel somewhat the same way. When I read what I’ve written it is like I am seeing it for the first time.”

He smiled and said “You are seeing it for the first time as the reader, not the writer.”
Suddenly, it was as though a tree had fallen on my head and I thought to myself, “Wow! I am getting writing advice from Ernest Hemingway, now how cool is that?”
Even though I cannot remember one bite of food or another sip of iced tea. Dinner seemed to be coming to an end and I felt a panic. I didn’t want it to end. He was so funny and easy to talk to. “Speak!” He commanded. I blushed and blurted out “Normally, I don’t share this part of my life with others because they just didn’t understand that I loved to write. They don’t “get it.”
My own Son said “That’s awesome, but I think I will wait for the movie Ma” when I tried to show him my first short story.  My feelings were hurt that he didn’t want to read it but I had to pretend like it was okay. It was my dream not his. My daughter humors me by reading almost everything I write. She is an amazing editor, really calling me out on my mistakes. ‘Take out this sentence, this doesn’t make sense, then, it was really good Mom.’ I think it boost my confidence when she is around to help me. I just don’t trust too many people with my work…it’s personal. The few other people I let read my stories said they were “nice.” Nice is not what I was hoping for unfortunately.”
He smiled and said “Not everyone is going to understand why you do what you do. If you have one person who can help you to not murder your dream, then you are blessed.”  My turn came to ask him a question, “Do you remember the first time someone asked you if you were a writer?” I asked eagerly. “Oh yes. I was writing on a cocktail napkin…no wait that was in a book I wrote…A moveable feast.” We laughed because that is the very book I am reading now, he continued.
“As a teenager, I would keep a list of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to do. As I grew, the list grew. My cousin found the list and made terrible fun of me asking ‘so what? Do you think you are a famous writer ?’ I said “yes!” defiantly and strange as it sounds, I knew from that moment writing would be what I would do with my life. I think I felt the same way you did when that waiter at the Thai restaurant asked if you were a writer and you answered yes for the first time.”
I smiled remembering that day. “I had taken my notebook out to jot down some little memory when he came to take my order. He talked all the way thru my lunch. It was interesting but intrusive at the same time. I don’t remember tasting one bite of that expensive lunch! How do you know these things about me without me telling you?” He smiled and said “Aren’t you the one who said men think they know everything? I just happen to!” I rolled my eyes at him and we laughed.
Yes, he was very much the kind of person that I would have enjoyed being friends with if we had been born, same time, same place. He was funny, smart, handsome and easy to talk with. I felt I was dining with a lifelong friend who was giving me advice from his heart. “Every experience is an opportunity. Good or bad, own it. The peace you get from the Gulf of Mexico can be found in other things too. You don’t have to drive to the beach just to get a soul cleansing. Peace can be found in something as simple as a 1941 nickel, or a baby picture, you get to choose what determines you or destroys you. Up until this moment you have been a mess, always concerned about public opinion. Screw the public. They don’t have to answer for your decisions, you do. All you want them to do is buy your stories!”
Tears welled up in my eyes. Dang! I didn’t want to cry in front of him. “You can cry if you want. Remember that boyfriend you had that told everyone you were a crier. That you cried all the time? He was a real jerk! It’s okay to cry, your tears are an expression of who you are. You are sensitive, irrational at times, emotional, caring and always on the look- out for opportunity to do what is right. Truth is in you and all around you. You just have to open your spiritual eyes to be able to see it.
That turtle that you keep worrying about, the one that always crosses that busy road, he does it…because he can. He knows if he makes it, there is more to his life on the other side. When you see him dead on the road; instead of pity, you should feel pride that he died trying to get to the other side.” “I never thought of it that way.” I responded in almost a whisper. “I’m just not normal!”
He looked somber and said “You are a writer. The normal ship sailed without you long ago.” I gasped! “You didn’t say that! You got that from Pinterest! Terri Main said that! I‘ve got it on my Vision board!” His laughter was like a lion’s roar, loud and strong. It filled our space and embraced us! “Inspiration can be found anywhere! It is one of the few things in life that is free.” He took my hand and raised it to his lips. “It was a pleasure. Summon me at your will. I have plenty of time on my hands” he winked at me and smiled. As he stood to leave, he looked down at me and said, “Oh and Arlene, read my books and stories before admiring me or my work. I was just a man.” I smiled, and then he was gone.

The End?