Saturday, October 26, 2013
Dear Jon - Chapter # 13
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, let`s get to the romance!
I hoped to meet Ross at his shop after I spent an hour with Attorney Blueberry. Today he was Attorney Blackberry. I signed where I needed to sign to start the paperwork to be Andrew`s legal guardian. A sandy-blond head rested on my shoulder. Andy`s thumb was in his mouth, something I had never seen before. I didn`t know how me and the kid were going to make it, but somehow we would. Papers shifted. The lawyer cleared his throat several times.
“I`m glad to see that you read the letter Betty left you,” Mr. Bartlett said as he handed the neatly signed papers to his secretary for filing.
“I didn`t read it yet.” His eyes came from his pudgy fingers resting atop a stack of files to me. “I meant to,” I quickly said, “I just – things have been rather hectic. Can you tell me . . .” I had to cough the thick knot of shame out of my throat. “Can you tell what it was that took her?”
“Cancer of – well, cancer of female parts,” the portly man in the tight black suit coughed. Andrew snuggled closer, his thumb still in his mouth. I nodded. So, the same thing that had taken my mother had claimed Betty. Fucking cancer. Maybe in my lifetime they`d beat that miserable shit.
“Thank you,” I whispered, standing, suddenly desperate to be outside. The man behind the desk glanced at me as I hoisted Andy to my left hip. I sat back down.
“As you know, your signature on that paper makes us all quite happy.”
I nodded. I wasn`t sure who the ‘all’ he mentioned were, but I was glad they were happy.
“Family should step up when times are hard. After a small investigation into you and your past the court will decide if you`re suitable to be Andrew`s legal-”
“Investigation?” I sounded like a terrified brown mouse. Sweet Jesus and all the saints.
Bartlett leaned back in his seat. The chair screamed and he grimaced at the pained sound his seat had made.
“It`s to ensure the welfare of the child. The laws have changed dramatically in regard to adoption, foster parenting, and all aspects of child welfare. I`m sure you`ve got nothing to worry about.” His smile, meant to be reassuring, looked hollow. “After all, a brother taking in his sister`s orphan is an upstanding Christian thing to do. Pity you don`t have a wife yet, but perhaps one of the pretty women of your hometown will catch your eye.”
I forced my face into what hopefully looked like a smile. I offered Bartlett my hand and he took it, but it was begrudgingly. I wouldn`t hold that against him. I was a first-class louse. I admit it. Bartlett seemed happy to see me edging to the door. Probably he was just relieved to be getting close to a resolution of this whole damned mess.
I stepped out onto the sidewalk. Andy held onto my hat for me. We were parked across the street. I turned left and walked, my mind a jumbled-up mess until I heard the shop bells tinkling overhead and drew in a good snort of sawdust. Ross stepped from the backroom while tying his smock tightly around his waist. His brow furrowed and he hurried over to take Andrew from my arms. The boy went without a fuss. I rushed past the man, hit the backroom, and then slid down to the floor, my ass bumping over the knots in the pine-board wall.
Ross and Andy were chatting quietly on the other side of the door while I had a breakdown. I wept uncontrollably in a violent short burst. When the curtain of despair lifted my nose was plugged solid and my legs were knotted from sitting on them. Oddly enough, or perhaps not odd at all, Ross was there with a handkerchief and a hand up. He embraced me. Andy pattered over to join in on the hug, his arms encircling our legs.
“They`re going to investigate me before I can keep Andrew,” I whispered beside his ear. He hugged me a little tighter and then stepped briskly backwards. “They`ll find out, Ross.”
“How about you and the boy come over to my place tonight?” he asked, his grey eyes calm and serene. This was far too intimate and we both knew it. I lifted Andrew from the floor. We had to leave. Now. Before someone came in and saw what I was sure was plainly written all over my face. “I`ll cook and we can talk, maybe have a beer. I have a pond to fish in.”
“Can we go fish at the pond, Uncle Jon?”
My head rolled to the side to rest against hair an exact match for mine. I couldn`t speak right off. How had I ever thought of handing him to strangers?
“We`ll need directions,” I said. Ross escorted me to the showroom. I left with a neatly drawn map and a very excited young man. I looked at nobody as we walked. Folks didn`t stop me to pass along condolences. They just let me and Andy walk on by. Those disparaging looks and cold glances suited me fine. Andy and me – we didn`t need one damn thing from those holier-than-thou judgmental prigs, we were Porter men. All we needed was each other . . . and maybe a forty cent an hour minimum wage job.
Pausing on the sidewalk at the end of the block, Andy`s hand in mine, I looked back at the humble woodworker`s shop.
Okay. Maybe we needed one more thing.