Saturday, August 24, 2013
Dear Jon - Chapter # 4
Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a herd of dairy goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, two dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.
Enough about me now, let`s dive into some romance shall we?
Cherry closed in on me. Every damned bit of wood in Theodore Bartlett`s office was cherry. Even the window frames and the legs of the chair my nephew sat in were cherry. I ran my finger around the damp collar of my shirt. The kid was quiet, I`ll give him that. He just sat there in his knickers, matching grey jacket and bow tie, playing with a set of steel cars and trucks, the arm of the ostentatious leather chair his highway. Was I ever that young? When had I changed from being Jon Porter the son to Jon Porter the freak? I think I was born this way. Popular theories disagreed. It was hard to look at the boy running a steel school bus up and down his thigh and imagine him already having his sexual preferences locked down. He looked up at me. My throat got tight.
“. . .wife and I were more than happy to have him until you arrived.”
“What`s his name?” I asked and died a little inside. My own sister`s kid and I didn`t know his name. Attorney Bartlett seemed to think I was a bastard as well. I could tell. His fat lips compressed slightly.
“Andrew,” he informed me. The kid glanced up from his silent play at the sound of his name. Shit but his silence was spooky. “Andrew David Porter, born on the fifteenth of June, nineteen forty-one to one Elizabeth Jean Porter,” the lawyer said, shuffling some papers to draw my stare from Andrew back to him. He was a fat man in a blue suit who reminded me of a blueberry about to burst. “I have the lad’s birth certificate here as well as the last will and testament. I`m assuming you and your sister didn`t discuss the responsibilities that come with being in loco parentis.”
“Uhm, no, we never discussed anything about the boy,” I whispered and tugged at the knot strangling my adams apple. “She and I – Well, we had a falling out many years ago. I- Uhm- She never told me she was expecting. Where`s the father? I mean- She did know the father, right? Where the hell is the bastard?! Why didn`t he step up and marry her?!”
“The father is named as one David Randolph Brooks. He enlisted and served in the Army until his unit came under fire. He is now listed as missing in action and presumed dead.”
“Shit,” I coughed weakly, lunging for the coffee set resting on a cherry tea-cart. Andrew peeked at me and mouthed the word ‘shit’ as his bus ran forward and back. I poured some coffee. The lid on the china pot rattled loudly. Brown liquid slopped over the sides of the delicate tea cup. I tossed the brew back like it was a double shot of whiskey. It tasted like ball bearing grease and had the same consistency as it slid down my throat. “What do I do with him now?”
Mr. Bartlett and his blue suit leaned forward. I heard his chair cry out at the movement. Andrew was still whispering ‘shit’ over and over. I contemplated leaping through the window in a desperate suicide bid but we were on the ground floor.
“Well, we can handle this a few ways,” Attorney Blueberry grumbled, obviously displeased with me. He couldn`t be more displeased with me than I was. “Since you are legally named the boys guardian until he reaches his majority you could, of course, keep him as you sister wished. Barring that, you can offer him up for adoption or take him to the state home for orphaned and unwanted children in Grayson Corners. I know a wonderful couple that would love to adopt him,” the lawyer said.
Jesus, the home for orphaned and unwanted children . . .
Was I really contemplating putting my nephew into a place like that? I stood up. Andrew jerked his gaze from his toys. I began to pace, rubbing the back of my neck so vigorously it hurt. Nothing could be heard but my footfalls on the hardwood, the steady tick-tock of a cherry clock on a cherry shelf, and the whisperings of a child.
“There is no rush to decide right now, Mr. Porter,” Bartlett interjected into my circuit of his office, “The funeral will be in three days. Let`s get Betty interned properly, take a few days to recover, and then come back here say next Monday?”
My head bobbed up and down.
“Fine, fine,” the lawyer mumbled, rearranging more papers atop his cherry desk. I wondered if his crapper was crafted from cherry wood. “I have a folder here for you. Some basic paperwork, copies of Betty`s will, outstanding debts, banking information, etcetera. Martin`s Funeral Parlor will be handling the service per Betty`s wishes. Please take a moment to look over the papers I`ve given you. Inside,” the blueberry pushed to his feet and shoved a manila folder at me. I took it as though it might turn into a scorpion, “You`ll also find the letter Betty instructed me to ensure you got. If you do nothing else tonight, please read that. It might explain things for you. Here`s the key to her bungalow. It`s out along Route Six, four miles past the poultry farm.”
I stared at the silver key resting in my right hand. It was cold on my palm. I looked over at Andrew. He was sitting there, his sandy hair plastered to his head with more Brylcreem than I use in a year and his green eyes round and unsure.
Stuffing the house key into my breast pocket, I plopped my hat onto my head and offered the kid my hand. He gave the lawyer a long uncertain look.
“Go ahead, Andy,” Bartlett cajoled, “This is your uncle Jon. He`s come to take care of you.”
Take care of him? Shit, I couldn`t take care of myself let alone take care of-
That tiny hand slipping into mine about undid me.