***about 7:45 PM***
Well, I see she still has that little Sprint. Surprised it's still running after all this time; would think it would be wrecked by now, knowing her driving habits. Always seems like the crazy go untouched while the safe drivers get in all the accidents... I suppose I should try her door...... oh, the times we had; especially down in Oregon... oh, to be back in college again... oh well, here goes nothing.
<knock, knock>(door opens)
... "Jim?" (Billie appears rather surprised) "Where have you been? You look a bit different after five years. Come in, sit. I'll start some French Vanilla coffee."
"Thanks... it sounds great. I had a few friends in Chicago. We had been writing off and on and I was told that I could always come and stay with a few of them if I wanted. Well, you know how it all was. I had to get out. So, Chicago it was. I had saved up enough money to fly to Chicago, so I did. When I got there, disappointment laughed at me... When I finally found where my friends live, I found that it was in the slums. The slums... not me. So, I walked away, until I saw a church; it looked inviting. I went in and talked to a few people in the office. They were able to put me up for a bit, until I was able to get a place of my own... I've been saving up since then... I've been foolish, running away like I did... It's not something I plan on doing again anytime soon."
"Do you know how much your mom was looking for you when after you left? She called me every night for a good three weeks; and about once a week for a couple of months after that."
"She got professionals in on it also... A friend of mine helped me keep my anonymity." "Yeah, well, don't plan on getting into that house anytime soon either, cause she is really pissed."
I see no ring... single! "That -- in fact -- is partly why I'm here. When a guy doesn't pay rent for five years, the managers are going to rent the apartment to someone else. Hence, I need a place to stay until I save enough money."
"Sure, you're always welcome here. It'll be nice having someone around, kinda like when you were always hanging out around here. You know, it sure got lonely around here when you closed up and started staying home."
"Good to have good coffee again, Billie. Sure can make a guy feel at home... You know, I actually came back with the intention of going back to my folks, but just couldn't do it... Anyway, I'll start looking for work tomorrow."
"Are you hungry? I have some leftovers in the fridge."
"Yeah. I'm not too picky right now."
"You're bound to run into them sooner or later, you know."
"I'll hide as long as I can... long enough to be sure it'll be ok. Anything good on TV tonight?"
"The listing should be on top of the TV."
"Hey, Fiddler On The Roof is on tomorrow night."
"Yeah. Sometimes I wonder what ever happened to tradition. Have we all gotten lost in change; in fixing that which needs no fixing; that we fail to remember, to hold onto, that which has served people well for a long time? I like living in the states, but to be able to get back to traditions would be nice."
"Let's get back to the tradition of movie night then. Popcorn, no butter, no salt, root beer, sitting on the floor."
She has a good idea. Look at that smile... She has always been there for me, and it would appear that she always will be there for me. "Sounds good, Billie. Where you working lately, by the way?"
"I finally got that job in the daycare across the street. They have some of the sweetest kids there."
What... why is she looking at me like that. hmmm. "I'll have to stop over there tomorrow and check it out. When would be a good time to stop by?"
"Mid-afternoon. That's when we let the kids outside to play. Or, if you want, we do crafts about eleven thirty. You've always liked kids... I think you would have what it takes to do the job. Just recently, one of the employees had to quit, and, quite frankly, it would help to have a guy there to help out. You've always been so good with little kids; I think you should try talking to Joan, the supervisor."
"I'll think about it." Do I really want to work with little kids all day long? I suppose I could go and take a look. No harm in that. "I think I'll go to bed early. This day has been a bit too hectic. And, also, I'm going to try to go to the daycare tomorrow with you and observe."
"Sounds great. We need to be there at about 7:30. See you in the morning."
Argh! Yep, it's 6:30 AM all right... toooo early. Gotta get up get ready. Hope towels in same place. What is smell? Coffee, yep, coffee, good. shower. ahhh, nice. get dressed, clean clothes, thank Bobbie. coffee.
"Good morning Bobbie. Thanks for washing my clothes last night. I hadn't thought much about it. Is that French Vanilla I smell? You're wonderful. Scrambled eggs and cheese, my favorite!"
"Then have a seat. The eggs should be done real soon. Don't forget to shave; there is a package of disposable razors under the sink. I'm glad I ironed that shirt. Don't even think about wearing that tie. Here's your eggs. Eat quickly, I'd like to get there a bit early today so I can introduce you to Joan."
"Thanks." A day within the working community. Should be an interesting change after being laid off. Good eggs; she always was a good cook. It's nice to have company and to wake up to the smell of coffee.
"Joan, I would like you to meet Jim Sanders, a good friend of mine. He just moved back, and is interested in finding employment. I told him about the possible opening here and invited him to come and help out today."
"Good to meet you Jim. Have you ever worked in a daycare facility before?"
"Yes. My mother used to supervise a daycare, and I would always go help out after school. Since then, I have helped teach kids in Sunday school. Here are the addresses of the two churches that I have helped out at as well as that of my mother. Though I did not have a lot of interaction with the kids while I helped her, I learned a lot in the way of how to deal with them by observing."
"Just listen up and you'll do fine. Any questions - ask. Any doubt about anything, ask. A kid tells you it's time to do something, double check. I hope you enjoy the kids as much as we do."
"Thank you, Joan. Billie, could you show me around quickly?"
"Here comes one of the trouble makers. Keep an eye on him, Jim. And be as nice as you possibly can to his mother. She's not the easiest person to deal with."
"Hi Miss. Billie."
"Mike, I'd like you to meet Jim..."
"Hi Mr. Jim."
"...he'll be helping today."
"Hi Mike. It's nice to meet you. How'bout if you go play and I'll be over in a few minutes."
"Ok, Mr. Jim"
"Billie, does he address everyone like that?"
"Yep, get used to it."
"So, do you like the chicken, Jim?"
"Well, it's a lot better than what I've had in the past five years. I was even tempted to try some of the food the kids were having for lunch; how good it looked. I love what you have done with the spices. Let me tell ya, it's been over five years that I've been cooking for myself, and I still don't have much luck."
"Jim, it has been a month since you got back. Are you going to face your parents at all?"
"Why should I?"
"Well, today I saw your mom walk into the office. I talked to Joan afterwards about Beth, and she said that Beth is applying for daycare for her adopted son."
"Yeah, I guess I should at least call. Let's see, 867- 37... shoot, what were the last two numbers..."
"Thanks. 17. Here goes absolutely nothing."
"Hello," (comes a female voice from the phone).
"Excuse me, who is this?"
"Th-This is Jim. I've come back from Chicago and thought it about time to call you."
(A barely audible voice is heard on the phone), "Tom, pick up the other phone," (now distinct), "who are you staying with?"
"I'm with Bobbie, mom. There was a moment on the plane when I thought about trying to come home, but I felt it a better idea to try Bobbie's place. In fact, you would not have gotten this call had it not been for Bobbie. Ashamed is how I feel right now; ashamed about what I've done, filled with regret about my actions five years ago, not having left any indication as to where I had gone."
"Son," (comes a male voice), "we have been worried about you. We missed you on Sundays at the table. We feared and questioned about what responsibility we might need to take for your not leaving anything saying where you had gone. But, no matter what you have done, you are always, I repeat always, welcome in this home."
"Mom, Bobbie says that she saw you in the daycare today, and that you had a little boy with you."
"Yes, he's from France. He came to the US with his parents, and when they got here, the parents experienced a lot of financial trouble, not knowing how the system works and not knowing English too well. CPS took the child, put him into an orphanage, and here he is now. Those years we lived in France really helps a lot, surprisingly."
"It ends out that I'm working at the daycare now. I happened to be outside with the kids when you were there."
"That's great. I wish I could be back with the kids, but you know how it is... one bad person can ruin a business."
"I was wondering why you would be coming to the daycare as opposed to putting him in your own. Say, would it be possible for Bobbie and I to come over to dinner tomorrow night? You could tell us what happened to your daycare and what all is going on now, and what has happened in the past five years."
"That sounds great, son," (comes the male voice again), "we would love to see you. You know the time we eat dinner. See you then."
"Till tomorrow, Bye."
"Well, that was sure a lot easier than expected."
"We'll find out tomorrow."
"Mr. Jim, are you sad?"
"No Mike, I'm not sad. I just have a lot to think about."
"Can I go outside and play in the sandbox, Mr. Jim?"
"We're about to do some finger painting, so how about you go over to the table and sit down."
"Bobbie, you ready?"
"Just a minute. You could get the Jello out of the fridge and take it out to the car."
"I'll wait for you outside."
"You know, Bobbie, that was one of the best nights I've ever had with them. And wasn't that meal just something else. She really went all out on that."
"I'm still trying to get over the idea of them getting gifts for you... the bathrobe, new slippers, even a gorgeous sapphire ring. The money they must have spent for the ring alone, not to mention the meal."
"I'm just glad they liked your Jello dish. I love your smile, Bobbie. I can truly say that you have turned my life around, again. What would I do without you."
"I saw 'Benny and June' in the library today and checked it out. You want to watch it?"
"Yeah, sounds great."
(-copyright Brian David Smith All Rights Reserved)