Saturday, November 16, 2013
Dear Jon - Chapter # 16
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.
Being a fan of music – and many other things - from the 40`s - I thought it would be keen to include the links to the songs mentioned in this story. Here`s something a little different for you, an episode of Superman! Feel free to play them as you read for atmosphere or wait until you’re done.
One of the concerns showed up at the bungalow late Friday afternoon.
Andrew and the feathered greeting committee announced the visitor`s arrival. I was seated in the kitchen, a cup of coffee at my elbow, trying to get my checkbook to say we had enough cash to cover the bills coming in at a steady rate. Tossing the pen, bills, and checkbook aside, I walked out onto the front porch to see a tall lean man in a dour brown suit exiting a black Buick hardtop. He held an alligator satchel like it was his lifeline. I immediately thought he was a travelling salesman.
He approached me waiting on that cluttered stoop, his dark brown eyes drinking in the bungalow, the kid, and the way I stood. He had a long face like a mule, and one thick eyebrow instead of two. The man was giving me a sour stomach before we had even shook hands.
“Mr. Jon Porter, I`m Augustus Smith, Child Welfare Worker out of the Chestnut Grove office building,” he said, snapping a card at me in lieu of a handshake. I read the business card several times, hoping the glob of fear behind my adam`s apple would go away before I had to speak.
“Mr. Smith, won`t you come inside?” I asked. He did. The man moved like a mongoose. He hurried inside, his dark eyes touching on the sparse furnishings and tattered wallpaper. “Is this one of your paintings?”
“Yes, I`ve been working on switching from cityscapes which I did in New York to something with a more rural-”
“Is this where you plan to live with the child?” he asked, his satchel tight to his chest.
“Well, for the moment, yes. Things are sort of up in the-”
He ran a finger over the top of the radio. I called myself all sorts of a shithead for not cleaning up better. His long nose wrinkled then he entered the kitchen, me hot on his heels. At least I had washed the dishes up after lunch.
“Would you care for some coffee?” I asked. I hoped he could smell the lingering aroma of the bacon I had fried for lunch. He shook his head, pulled out a seat, and sat down still holding his satchel as if it would shield him from a bullet. I sat down across from him.
“Do you often leave the child unattended in close proximity of a river?”
I blinked at him. “It`s a creek and Andy knows not to wade out too-”
He placed his alligator satchel on top of my paperwork, flipped it open, and then pulled out a sheaf of vellum all nicely held together with paperclips. One of my receipts fluttered to the floor. I stood up, excused myself, and went out the back door in search of my nephew. I found him sitting on the creek bank poking a toad with a stick while the geese paddled about in the shallow water.
“Andy, can you come inside? I think Superman is on.”
The boy came, but it was a slow shuffle. I guess toads are more fascinating than the man of steel. Mr. Smith shot us a sour look when we hurried past into the living room. I got the lad settled, found Clark Kent on Mutual Network, and then returned to the kitchen with my nerves beyond frayed.
My chair creaked when I sat back down. Mr. Smith had placed slim glasses on his nose.
“According to our research you are still single, is that right?”
“Do you intend to remain single?” he asked, his eyes oddly distorted through the thick glass.
“I haven`t really thought about it. Are you sure I can`t get you any-”
“Perhaps you should think about it,” he informed me curtly. Did they know? My palms grew damp. No, if they knew he would have removed Andrew from my sick clutches instantly. “The courts look much more favorably upon married couples. And this house could use a woman`s touch.”
“I know it isn`t much but it`s all the boy has known. I`m not even sure if I`m going to remain here much . . . is that a bad thing?”
“Well, your address in New York leaves a great deal to be desired. I realize that you`re an artist, but perhaps if you would relocate to a less bohemian part of the city?”
“But my studio is there. Greenwich is the heart and soul of the artistic world in New York,” I argued as gently as possible. His shoulders squared.
“It is also an area that is filled with sick degenerates. Of course, these are just my suggestions, Mr. Porter,” he sniffed. I instantly began to try to fix the mess, promising I would look into a new neighborhood before I took Andrew anywhere. That eased the man somewhat.
“Now, since being an artist is not what we in the Child Welfare System would term to be a meaningful career, I have taken the liberty of placing your name into several businesses in Hannity Hills, to show the judge who will preside over this case that you are trying to act accordingly with the laws of God and state.”Mr. Smith shoved several forms at me then handed me a fountain pen.
“What is this you want me to sign?” I asked, my thoughts in such a fog even Superman wouldn`t be able to see through them, x-ray vision or not.
“This is just a form for applying for legal guardianship for your nephew. If you could sign them at the X, I`ll begin the proceedings,” he explained. I nodded, signed where directed, stood when he replaced the forms into his satchel, and then walked him to his car.
“I`d suggest fixing up the house to the best of your abilities,” Mr. Smith said as he carefully placed his satchel to the front seat like it were a precious child. “I`ll return several times over the next few months to see if things are being done to the courts satisfaction. Oh, and when you are gainfully employed in this state, I will need to be notified so that your income tax information can be forwarded to our office. Thank you for being so cooperative and have a nice day, Mr. Porter.” He tipped his hat then jumped inside to sit beside his satchel.
The taillights on his Buick disappeared before I could make my feet move. I went inside, grabbed a wrinkled jacket and my favorite Fedora, rounded up Andy, and jumped into my car. Ross exited his home when we slid into the dirt driveway.
“I wasn`t expecting you two until later today,” he smiled as he walked over to greet us. I was barely out of the car when his grey eyes grew dark with worry. “What happened?” he asked.
Not giving two shits who might see, I threw my arms around Ross and held him right there in his driveway. Someone small tugged on my pant leg as I inhaled the aroma of Ross Coleman deep into my soul.
“Can I hug too?”
The young man was scooped up instantly.