by Who Dat
Secrets unfold as George and Joseph begin to talk (1,129 words)
|SAVED BY THE DROOL
Sitting quietly and seeing the first of the evening’s fireflies begin to speckle the edge of the not too distant woods; George and Joseph sip their sodas. The heavy snores of the Saints inside the nearby van add to the symphony of silence made by the frogs down by the pond.
“Mister…,” Josephy begins.
“Name’s George. George Fadley.”
“Ok. George," Joseph replies. "I know I’m in serious trouble here, but if you won’t call the cops I’ll do whatever you say.”
“I don’t see any reason to call the authorities Joseph.” Finishing his drink and setting the empty can on the side tray of his chair, George says, “What I want is to know who I should call if not the cops.” Lifting the gun with two fingers as if it were somehow contagious, “Where’d this come from and what is so bad in the life of a, what 14 year…”
“Fifteen. I turned fifteen last month.”
“Ok. What is so bad in the life of a fifteen-year-old boy to make him rob someone out for a walk in the park with his dogs?”
“I don’t know,” Joseph mumbles with his eyes to the ground.
“Ok, let’s start with the easy stuff,” George says gently. “You don’t want me to call the cops. I don’t….
“Please mister, I mean, George, please don’t,” Joseph says in a fast and panicked voice.
Raising his hand in a stop gesture, “Hold on there,” says George. “I’m not saying I’m calling the cops, I’m merely spelling out our situation.”
With a look signaling Joseph to wait, George continues, “You don’t want me to call the police. I don’t want to call the police. I also don’t want to leave an obviously very, um desperate fifteen-year-old young man wonderin’ the streets of Maurertown at night with no adult to keep an eye out for him. So, I ask again. If you don’t want me to call the police, I need to know your parents’ names and numbers so I can make sure you are…”
“I can give you their names but you can’t call them,” Joseph says with a bit of a snap in voice but with tears obviously welling up behind his blue-gray eyes.
“Ok, so why can’t I call them?”
“They’re dead,” Joseph says flatly.
Matter-of-factly, he adds in too cold and harsh a voice for such a young man, “And no, before you ask, I didn’t kill them. The gun belongs to my aunt who I have been living with since mom and dad were killed a year ago yesterday.”
Stunned, George can’t make any of the dozens of questions and soothing comments racing through his mind actually come out of his mouth.
The night hangs motionless as George tries to grasp the new information and figure out how best to help Joseph. The two sit silently as Joseph stares hopelessly at George and George tries to get his thoughts in order.
General, doing as all good Saints do, senses the quiet and the sadness settling in and slowly climbs out of his nest in the van and inches slowly toward the two. George sees the approaching dog and silently nods to let him know it is ok to come out. That’s only part of the solution but, although a good Saint snuggle may not fix the problem, it can always ease the pain.
Minutes pass as George thinks of how best to help Joseph without involving the police. I can’t just leave him here. I don’t want to get the cops involved if I don’t have to. God, what a tough break for a kid, both parents when has was just barely 14.
General makes progress with Joseph and before long the two are snuggling and Joseph almost smiles.
“I’m sorry about your parents Joseph. I can’t imagine anything worse for someone to experience. Are you close to your aunt?”
“Hate ‘er,” Joseph replies with a bitter tone.
“Wow, that bad eh?”
“I’m starting to understand why her and my mom hadn’t spoken in several years.”
Looking up from General, who is now almost in the chair with him, “She lives in D.C. and my family lives, lived, in Staunton. When my grandparents died six years ago, the reason for my mom and her sister to try and act civil to each other ended. Since then I hadn’t seen Aunt Diane until the case workers in Staunton told me I would be going to live with her after the funeral.”
“I guess I’m confused,” George says. “If your aunt lives in DC and you’re from Staunton, what are you doing in Maurertown?”
“I ran away, duh.”
“Headin’ to Stanton?”
Joseph looks up from General as “When the Saints Go Marching In” starts playing and George reaches into his shirt pocket to answer his cell phone.
“Hi honey,” George says as he opens the phone and places to his ear. “I know, I’m runnin’ late.”
Karen lets him know she went ahead and fed dogs and is wondering how much longer he will be. “You know General, Baby and Mamoo would probably like their dinner too.”
“I’m sure they would,” he answers. “I’ve run into a situation here and wonder if you might be up to some company for dinner?”
“Not one of those blowhards from your office always talking about how they just bought this or that I hope,” she groans.
“Awh now, you know you love Roger and Donald,” George says with a sly smile. “But, no it’s no one from the office, just someone I met here in the park that seems to be smitten with General and may want to meet the whole clan.”
Ending the conversation and retuning the phone to his pocket, George looks at Joseph who is now looking puzzled but still enjoying the attention of General. “Thought you may want something to eat while we figure out what to do,” he says. “I know I don’t have any right to tell you what to do, but you look like you could use a friend and given that you just tried to rob me with an empty gun, I would like to be sure you are in a better mind before I just let you go about your merry way.”
‘I just want to go home. I mean back to my home and my life in Staunton.”
“We’ll I could use some help getting these chairs put back in the van and General would probably like his dinner, so why don’t you help me get things packed back up and loaded and we can talk more after we eat. I live just a mile or so away and my girlfriend is a pretty good cook when she wants’ to be.”