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Friday, April 25, 2014

FREE AT LAST


Today is a SHORT Story and hope you enjoy it as you wait for my next Continued Story to begin soon!

Free At Last
Free at Last

She had the sternest face this side of purgatory so said one of her previous students. 
 
Principal Moss had been there forever with her severe horn rimmed glasses and her black Dutch Boy haircut.

As the crows feet around the eyes and the creases in her cheeks increased, her gaze and would send shivers down one’s spine. 
 
But now that was all in the rear view mirror of my bicycle for I am “Free at Last.”

I could have used more education but it wasn’t to be.  My papa had it all planned out. 
 
As soon as I graduated from High School, I was to be on my own and start supporting myself.  Due to that ultimatum I had saved enough money to last for a month and so a job had been imperative.

Thankfully my brother Joe had been a pathfinder and had helped set me up with a job, a place to stay and some advice on where to eat.

In school I had quite a few fights, maybe five or six pretty good ones each year and a few that didn’t amount to much.  I didn’t win all of them and the worst part about losing was my brother would spend the next month teaching me how to whip my opponent in case we had another go-a-round.

The teaching sessions were worse than the fights I lost for Joe didn’t pull his punches.  In any case by the time I got out of school I could take pretty good care of myself though I still didn’t want to mess with my brother.

Something I should inject here because I will refer to it a little later is, one day as I was walking home I found a plain gold wedding band.  I had no idea who it belonged to, but always kept it in my pocket along with my keys and change. 

I started my job which was sorting mail.  I had worked in the local post office at home but that was nothing like this.  In the huge building I worked in, there were a hundred offices and we received a mail delivery three times a day. We had to sort the letters, packages, and direct special deliveries like flowers, candy, and sometimes money I suspect.

I moved into my new home that was a room located in a large frame house near the bus stop.  I could see my office building from the bus stop.  My room was on the second floor and the floor had two bathrooms, one at each end of the hall. 

One was supposed to be for women except there were no women on my floor.  They had some trouble with some of the old men thinking they were still young romantics, so they moved the women to another floor for obvious reasons.

I was told there was a refrigerator in the kitchen but not to put anything in it because it would be taken.  I soon found out that was true. I had put some sandwich meat and bread in it and the next day it was gone so that was the last time I did that.
 
I would look in the refrigerator from time to time, and there was never anything there unless someone new had moved in and hadn’t learned their lesson yet.

One of the new guests caught one of the old timers taking their stuff and it was quite a row for a while. After my food was taken I just bought what I could eat right then and there.  I guess I learned quickly the way things worked around there.

I got by with eating snacks and one good meal at the restaurant. There was a young woman at the restaurant that was most attractive and I really like her. I never said much to her but she was friendly to me. I asked her to go to the movies and she said no but to ask her again later.

Well when it was what I considered later I asked her again and she said yes. I didn’t know how to act with her even though I had been out with girls during my school years. She was different from them and I didn’t want to mess up. I went to her place and picked her up and we rode the bus to the movies.

She took me by the arm and I felt pretty good about that. When we got in the movie foyer I asked if she wanted some popcorn and she said no, it’s too salty and greasy. Well then how about something to drink and she that would be nice.

We watched the movie and I wanted to hold her hand in the worst way but I restrained myself and settled for the arm in arm on the way home. When we got to her house I wanted to have a goodnight kiss but chickened out.

As she started in she reached over and kissed my cheek and I felt I was walking on air all the way home. The next day and the whole week she acted as if we hadn’t had a date and I was a little put off by her attitude.

The next evening I came in and I saw a rough looking guy holding onto her arm and she couldn’t pull away. I walked up next to the guy and gently pulled her arm from him as I said sweetie you left your ring on the sink at home as I slipped the wedding band on her finger. I told you to always put it on after washing clothes.

Then I reached into my pocket and pulled out a plug of tobacco and my knife that was a switch blade. As I looked at him and I cut a three fourths inch chunk of plug tobacco off and stuck it into my jaw. I waved the knife back and forth and asked if he wanted anything else and gave him my best Ms Moss (the principal) stern look, and he just turned and left.

I followed him outside and as he disappeared I spit the awful tasting tobacco out of my mouth and was gagging as I repeatedly spit.

Saria brought me a glass of water and I felt better after washing my mouth out. She didn’t say anything but took my hand and led me back into the restaurant. She sat with me while I ate and when finished she said, “Can I keep?” it referring to the ring.

As usual I didn’t know how she meant it so I said, “Yes, be my guest.”

She fingered it turning it around then held it up just looking at it. She finally said maybe it will help me be left alone if guys think I’m married.

She had to get back to work and I went home trying to figure out what was going on.

I called Joe and laid the whole thing out and he said, “First you ain’t old enough to get married so get that out of your head. Second you need to get to know her better and something about her family,” and then he hung up.

After a week I couldn’t stand it so I asked why she was ignoring me and she said; “You have a hungry look like the ‘Big bad wolf’ ready to devour me and I want to take it easy but not lose you, or at least I think that is how I feel.

I told her if she would stop with the “I don’t know you attitude” I would promise to behave.  

She said as long as you have got the message then we can date. I was even more confused now. How behaved must I be? Can I kiss her now?

I tried to sleep on it for I had other things to think about.

I had moved on up and was working in the office of one of the bigger bosses. I knew some trouble was brewing which I wasn’t sure how to handle.

So once again I called on Joe to bail me out.
 
I had been sent to give a package from my boss to a client and while I was in this fancy hotel I saw my bosses’ wife with another man and they went into a room together. I asked the bell boy if he had seen them there before and he said with his hand stuck out yes. Ten dollars later I had all the details.

I told Joe all this and he said go back to the hotel and tell the bell boy to call you the next time they come in and there would be a big tip for him. Then he said something strange. Go down and buy a baseball bat.

Although I always trusted Joe’s advice but I had to say, “What for?”

He laughed and said, “For you to stretch and keep your muscles limbered up swinging the bat will take all the stiffness out of you from sitting.”

Later I had to thank him for the advice. I got the call from the bell boy and as per Joe’s instructions I rushed down to the bell boy’s side. He gave me all the information and I called my boss.

Like the snitches in the movies I placed a handkerchief over the speaker and told my boss he would be interested in what was going on in the room I was watching. I gave the room clerk twenty dollars which was a tremendous amount of money for me and told him to get lost for awhile.

A very short time later my boss showed up, and saw the bat I had leaned against the door. He took the bat and smashed the door with his shoulder. After some yelling and pleading and oh yes a few thuds my boss came out dragging the half dressed wife and took her down the back way.

I called room service and said a man had gone wild and tore up the room injuring himself in the process.

I decided to keep the bat and left. It had a few nicks in it but otherwise was still good.

At work, I received a promotion and a bonus with a note saying for services rendered. I think my boss saw the bat he left in the room and figured everything out for himself. He forgave the wife for the children’s sake and that was the last fling she ever had.

The guy got over his beating and could walk again after a few months, except with a limp.

I think knowing that the guy paid the price for his folly made it a little easier for my boss to live with his wife.

Saria and I were spending more time together and I was behaving for the most part. She had become what we shall say; more friendlier. Kisses goodnight was the norm now and hugging was alright. So I thought I was making some headway when she dropped a blockbuster on me.

She was leaving town and going back home. Before I lapsed into a mass of confusion she said the guys hitting on her had become too much and I couldn’t whip them all. She said she really cared for me but wasn’t ready for any more of a commitment.

I felt like yelling and asking her many questions but I had learned enough to know that would have been the wrong thing to do.

During this next year I had made several advances and finally had an office of my own.  I had been schooled to handle some very important contracts and am high esteemed among many of my fellow workers.

At least once a week I was writing Saria and she answered favorability.

Then I received a letter saying she was still wearing the ring I had given her and she would like to have the ceremony that went with it if I was interested in doing that.

I wrote back and said that would please me to no end. I had bought a house and it needed a woman in it and she would do just fine. A month later we were made one in the sight of God.

That was several years ago and I survived four screaming, complaining wonderful now grown children and I hear we will soon be grandparents which is fine with me. I worked hard and am now in one of the top positions in the company.

Joe had also done well where he works. From time to time I still call on him for some of his wisdom and he always comes through.
 
I owe so much to so many for all have helped me even the ones who didn’t wish me well.

One thing I can truly say and that is, it has been wonderful to be “Free at Last.”

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