Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chapter 34


Linda saw me first and opened the car door and came over.  "Are you ok?"

"Yeah.  I guess I sprained it worse than I thought.  Most of the swelling is gone but not all of it.  And my foot and ankle look like I've been stomping grapes."

"She's going to use that crutch and that's all there is to it."

Linda looked at Sawyer and rolled her eyes.  "Down boy.  Ain't you had your coffee yet?"  Everyone chuckled and then chuckled some more when he held up a big thermos with an even bigger grin.

I was quickly introduced to Benedict and Jeannie.  Benedict was nearly twenty-one and Jeannie was nineteen.  I remembered her from school but only as a face on the student council.  Linda quietly warned me not to bring her parents up because they'd basically disowned her for dropping out of college to marry Benedict and it made her either really mad or really sad.  They'd been carrying on behind her parents' backs for a while and actually "had" to get married if you catch my drift.  I didn't say anything even after Benedict had to stop the car twice between the house and the highway so that Jeannie could jump out and puke.

"What kind of car is that?" I asked Sawyer after the second stop.

"The body is a Chevy Impala but everything else is basically a mutt.  It was Benedict's senior project.  He was hoping it would get him a scholarship to that mechanics college in Ohio but the scholarship fund ran short and he didn't make it.  He dug the body out of a gully and then took an old Diesel engine and converted it to run homemade ethanol.  Pretty slick.  He and Uncle Ben still keep it up and running and converted one of their tractors over to do the same thing."

"Wow.  He must be a really good mechanic."

"He's da ... uh ... doggone good and gets all the work he wants making decent money at it too.  Too bad Jeannie's parents only want to think a college degree makes a man."

"It doesn't.  Not even a lot of degrees makes a man if he isn't one to begin with.  I met a lot of doctors that are jerks and don't even realize it."

Finally Sawyer asked, "Uh ... you know what the sitch is?"

I nodded.  "Linda warned me not to bring up her parents and kinda said that they had to get married.  The puking just sort of clarified it.  How long have they been married?"

"About a week longer than us.  Jeannie is ok.  Better than some of the other ... uh ..."

"Yeah.  Linda said some of the wives are having trouble settling in.  Probably just town girls having to learn to live in the country."

"That might be some of it but really, it's mostly that a couple of them just didn't get as lucky as me."

He put his arm around me and grinned and I didn't know what to make of it.  He added, "If you reach into my front pocket I put some more money in that envelope so you could get what you want."

I felt bold all of a sudden and told him, "Sawyer Hartford.  I might not know much but I'm pretty sure that money isn't why you want me to put my hand in your front pocket."

Sawyer started laughing so hard he had to wipe his eyes and then laughed off and on from there to our first stop which was a multi-family yard sale in the parking lot of a closed tire store.  "Hang on," he told me.  "I'll come around and help you down."  I could have gotten down on my own but I let him help as it seemed to make him feel better ... or more in control ... or whatever it was he needed.

Jeannie was already pulling Benedict over to a table full of baby stuff.  Benedict didn't look unwilling to be pulled either.  Linda grinned and said, "Here's hoping that we don't run into anyone Jeannie knows.  She's in a good mood and that's put Benedict in a good mood so hopefully we should have fun today."

Tommy and Sawyer wandered off to talk to a guy that had a bunch of tools on his table.  I asked Linda, "What are you looking for?"

She pulled a piece of paper out of the pocket of the shirt she was wearing over a tank top and said, "Craft supplies, jars, good plastic containers, baskets big enough to use in the garden, shoe laces, zippers - well sewing supplies of all sorts really - fabric, paper goods, card games, and a bunch of other stuff like that.  What are you here looking for?"

"I'm not sure.  Sawyer sort of popped this on me at the last second.  I should probably get a couple of more pairs of jeans if I'm going to help but maybe some shorts too.  I'm making over some of those tops and stuff that were in the house ..."

"That stuff has to be like really old and gross," Linda objected.

"Some of it is nasty that's true.  But actually some of it is really nice when it comes out of the wash.  Kinda retro.  And you should see all the cute aprons and stuff.  Much better than anything we had in school.  They're fun to wear.  Oh wait ... I just thought of something."

I hobbled over to Sawyer and asked, "Can I have a piece of paper off of your notepad?  I wanna make a list of things as I think of them."

"Sure," he said eager to step away from the table he'd been standing in front of.  Below his voice he muttered, "Man, that guy wants an arm and a leg for his junk.  I hope the pawn shops aren't like that."

"Lotta people probably trying to sell stuff before the summer starts so they'll have money to deal with the kids being home all day."

"You know I never even thought ... what about your school?"

I shrugged.  "Because they are still working on the damage to the school from the riot, they said that they weren't going to require the seniors to finish out the year unless they wanted to or were on the border of failing.  I didn't want to and I wasn't anywhere near failing.  I guess I should put in a change of address form so they can mail me my diploma."

"What about graduation and all that?"

"The ceremony?  They're not having one.  They still haven't lifted the ban on large public gatherings ... at least I don't think they have.  Some people are real bent about it but it's no big deal.  To me it just meant I was that much closer to getting dumped on the street.  Not like I was ever going to be able to go to college."

"Would you want to?"

I thought about it.  "If I could get a better job maybe but ..."  He gave me a growly kind of look so I didn't say what I was going to say but instead said, "But we're planning for something else happening so I figure I'll make a job out of that and worry about the other stuff later ... if things change."

"You don't need to," Sawyer said putting his arm around me.  "When work needs to get done I'll get the job and you can run the house."

I didn't say anything and let him think what he wanted to.  There weren't a lot of places that would want to take the risk of having to insure someone like me anyway.  Then something popped into my head and I asked, "Sawyer ... what about insurance.  The state has always taken care of mine."

"Well," he said thinking about it.  "Neither of us has a job.  I suppose they can fine us but since we aren't doing anything to create income they can't collect the fines."

"Can they take the house?"

"No ... or let me say they aren't supposed to be able to.  Let me talk to Gramps and see what he says.  Try and not think about it, at least for today.  Let's have some fun.  OK?"

I looked at him and saw he needed a day of fun.  "Ok.  Sorry.  I didn't mean to be a downer."

"You didn't ... aren't.  I just want us to have some fun.  Things are going to start getting busy and there aren't going to be any more days like this for a while.  Next week ..."

Linda jogged over, "Next week Aunt Pearl wants to have a work day for the women.  There's a lot of greens and things that are going to be ready all at once and whoever helps gets a share for their household."

I looked at Sawyer and he asked, "You feel up to it?"

"Come heck or high water.  I like you Aunt Pearl and Linda and I always had fun doing our projects together in school.  She was always the one that could catch me up on things the fastest."

Tommy wandered over, "Think Benedict and Jeannie found some of what they were after.  They want to head on to the next place if you all are ready."

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