General Fiction posted October 19, 2014 Chapters:  ...25 26 -27- 28... 

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Lucille meets Tyrone Bradley

A chapter in the book FRIDAYS

Friday, November 10th

by Fridayauthor

Please see Author Notes below for the summary of this novel, to date. Thank you.
            Friday Number Thirteen, November 10th
            In my usual fashion I worried away the two days preceding Tyrone Bradley's first day on the job, so to speak. There were plenty of reminders of what was happening. First the court telephoned to confirm the arrangement, then the police called, then Tyrone's court-appointed attorney. Yes, I answered to all, I understood what I was doing. Yes, I would keep them advised. With each call I became less sure of my own sanity.
             A policeman delivered my mugger; his head still dressed in bandages, and promptly stood by the boy’s side, as if expecting to remain there for the entire sixty hours of penance. I managed to insist to the officer that I felt perfectly safe alone in young Mr. Bradley's company. He let out a deep sigh in demonstration of his feelings and roughly pulled the boy aside, angrily whispering something in his ear. Whatever was said, it seemed to frighten Tyrone and he nodded in response as the policeman smiled and left.
            I think it was a toss-up which of us was the more uncomfortable. Tyrone was dressed in what is apparently the costume of the times; trousers with crotch at the level of his knees, handkerchief headband and tee shirt expounding the merits of some obscure rap group. He would not meet my gaze but stood, with eyes downcast, shuffling his feet from side to side.
            Tyrone is of average height, quite muscular and looks older than his age. He has a tendency to slump and is probably as bashful as I, at least away from those of his peer group. I took a deep breath and spieled my rehearsed speech, asking for conscientious adherence to my requirements and a full effort during the time spent on my behalf. He looked off to the side, giving no indication of understanding a word I had said. I then led him out back and pointed out my garden. We both went to my garage for the necessary tools.
            At my direction Tyrone commenced pulling the now-deceased annual flowers, digging up the dahlia tubers, and hoeing the soil. While he didn't work particularly fast, he was steady and methodical. Any directions I gave did not need repeating, and were carried out correctly. I busied myself piling the debris he gathered on my mulch pile and laying out the tubers to dry.
            That was how our first afternoon proceeded. Tyrone would lug out a wheel barrow load and I would unload it with him and direct him to the next area that needed work. All of this was accomplished with a minimum of speech, mostly nods, grunts and gestures as neither of us was apparently comfortable with customary linguistic communication. Finally, after an hour and a half, Tyrone was the first to utter a full sentence.
            “Them taste good?” he asked, gesturing to a dahlia root. At first I didn't understand what he meant. Then it dawned on me, he thought I ate them! I explained dahlias were flowers. I went in the house and brought out some snapshots Emily had taken earlier in the summer. The pictures showed my prizes in full profusion. He grunted at the photographs and continued working.
            I was about to tell Tyrone he was finished for the day at five o'clock, but although he didn't wear a watch, he beat me to it.
            “Gotta split.” That was the substance of his farewell message. We had survived day-one and after a sigh of relief, I carefully entered the hours Tyrone had spent working for me in a log I was required to keep for the judge. I then collapsed into my sofa sanctuary. A police cruiser pulled away from across the street.
            Thursday and Friday, days two and three, continued in a similar fashion to day one, although I excused Tyrone early on Friday to get ready for my evening out. Conversation between employee and employer remained consistent throughout our time together. Our communications are strange indeed; I point, he nods, I scowl, he shakes his head, I smile, and he makes some facsimile of doing the same. He is a strange boy. If I hadn't experienced his actions first hand, I wouldn't have thought him capable of mugging ladies for their purses. I wonder what urgent need for money caused him to attempt to steal from me.
            A sane person should have been fearful of inviting their attacker to their property, but I dismissed any such thoughts before I suggested this remedy. After all, the police knew where Tyrone was, and he had taken on my project as an alternative to something much worse. He had no reason to cause me physical harm; just the opposite. Besides, whatever the policeman who delivered him said to his prisoner, it was obvious no good would come to Tyrone if he laid a hand on me. Hawthorn Street became a popular spot for frequent coffee and doughnut breaks for our men in blue.
            As fearful as I am about everyday things, the usual phobias of snakes, bugs, boogie men, the dark, physical pain and all the other common fears have never been ghosts in Lucille Peabody’s closet. Perhaps we all have an allotted number of anxieties to waltz with through life, but my dance card has long since been filled to capacity.
            Friday evening Mr. Anderson and I finally discussed Tyrone Bradley at length, although he failed to voice an opinion on my decision to have the boy work for me instead of going to jail. He was sympathetic about Tyrone's circumstances in general but feels strongly, and I agree, it was no excuse for his actions.
            He expressed interest in my opinion of the young man. The court had sent me Tyrone's school records which in past years had been surprisingly good but had declined drastically this current year. Additionally, there were a number of absences. While I didn't feel his working for me would make a saint of Tyrone, I was still adamant it was an improvement over jail.
            I told Mr. Anderson the amusing incident about the dahlias.

            He smiled. “Dahlias don’t grow in Tyrone Bradley’s neighborhood,” he answered.
             His remark brought home the vast difference between our worlds. Tyrone is as much an alien to my life as I am to his. When I didn’t respond, he continued.
            “You know, Miss Peabody, this is an admirable service you’re doing.”
            “I beg to disagree,” I answered, after mustering up enough courage to answer. “You’re crediting me with far more charity than I deserve. It’s my conscience that would suffer if I had been instrumental in sending the boy away. Perhaps it seems like an unselfish good deed is, but in reality, it’s a selfish motive on my part.”
            He took my hand in his and laughed. “You’re being far too hard on yourself!”
            It is most comforting to have a friend with whom I can discuss topics such as this. We’ve reached that plateau together. Our subjects are broadening by the week. Since he's met Emily we've begun discussing family and I find his feelings for his children, Philip, Jr. and Becky are not unlike my love of Emily. He tries to leave his children's worlds alone as I have my sister's family life. He discusses his business often, and his concerns about its future. I talk about school, not just the amusing incidents that were the earlier light topics of our dinners, but more serious problems with children, their learning limitations and impaired home life.
            Sarah and her family seem to be on both our minds as well, like friends we have in common. It's strange. The letters document in detail a reality absent from history books. Sarah and Ann creep into our conversation. We ask each other how they would have reacted to a given situation, or what their response might have been.
            While I still harbor concerns about our future together, I am as happy as I've ever been when I am in Mr. Anderson company. We both seem to tread delicately with one another and I truly wish we could be more open and honest about our feelings, whatever they may be.
            I get a queasy jolt in my stomach when I consider my life without this man. Yes, I admit it, though only in these pages.
            We have made vast strides from those first nervous evenings together. Amy is pleased as punch. She thinks further progress will naturally evolve until we are both free and open with one another, in all ways. She accuses me of underestimating Mr. Anderson's capacity for understanding. Sadly, I disagree.
            My reluctance to communicate with him more personally is far deeper than his ability to perceive my emotional limitations.
            There is much in my heart I could never share, and my fear of giving is undeserving of receiving unquestioned understanding in return for nothing offered. Though I am saddened to say so, the Lucille Peabody I know does not warrant love. When these thoughts creep into my conscious, I fight to dismiss them, stuffing them back where they belong, in the deep recesses of my mind. Anything that might disturb our present delightful relationship is best left unsaid.
            Little has been mentioned by either of us concerning Thanksgiving and our trip to my sister's home in New York State. We find no difficulty in filling our few Friday night hours together with active conversation but the upcoming motor trip makes me nervous. Hours in an automobile will present a much, much longer time together. Perhaps it will be a measure of our companionship to be able to spend quiet time in each other's company, if conversation wanes. That's not all that concerns me about the trip; there's Emily. I don't entirely trust my sister, in spite of what her intentions may be, to refrain from saying or doing something that will embarrass me scarlet! While she kidded me at the hospital about doing so, it would be just like her to sabotage Mr. Anderson's car and trap us together!
             I think beyond Thanksgiving, ahead to upcoming holidays, wondering if we'll be together or if Mr. Anderson will spend Christmas with his children, here or at their residences, or if I'll ever meet these occupants of his other world. Do they know of my existence? Sometimes I wonder. In spite of the closeness of our relationship, we remain strangers in some areas. There are parts of ourselves we are fearful to share or expose, and not just the secret me I reluctantly confess to in these pages. I have seen his car pass by my house when Tyrone is there and I know he is looking out for me, but neither of us mentions it. I have walked by his store, peeking in the window when it is closed, but have been too embarrassed to admit it for fear he'd think me too forward. Silly, aren't we? But it is nice to have someone who is concerned, even clandestinely.
            Amy claims I am still a child, and continues to complain I am fearful of things to which no adult would give a second thought. She says I see boogie men behind every remark, ghosts in misinterpreted actions, and silence is my protector. Perhaps she's right. Maybe I'll make a New Year’s resolution to consider sanity, see a professional, as Father Hammond once suggested. In the meantime, the world is stuck with Lucille Peabody, the quiet woman fraidy-cat, in fear of tomorrow, but in love with today!

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Lucille, age thirty-seven, is a school teacher and a near-recluse. After her mother's death, she remodeled her lifetime family home, to rid it of ghosts of the past. At the suggestion of her priest, she records her thoughts and feelings in a diary. She has developed a strong interest in old letters found in her mother's dresser. She has reluctantly agreed to weekly Friday evening dinners with a shy church acquaintance, Mr. Anderson. She had grown comfortable with his company, but is frightened of a more serious attachment. Part of her, a make-believe friend from childhood whom she calls Amy, is pushing her to stop fighting any hint of intimacy. After being mugged and hospitalized, she is recuperating at home. Feeling sympathetic toward her young assailant, she has agreed to his community service under her supervision.
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