Trespasser (Part XII)

“Rowan!  Get your ass up here!”

John released the trigger on his welding torch until the flame was a small blue remnant of its former glory.  After a few well practised twists, he shut off the gas flow and the flame was gone.  Quickly, because his boss was the kind of person you didn’t keep waiting, he stripped off his face guard and hurried to the foreman’s office.

“You have a phone call, John,” he was told as he entered, which was followed by; “Every second spent on that thing is money lost,” as he picked up the receiver.

“Yes sir,” he answered.  “I’ll make it quick.”

“Marsha,” he asked.  “What have I told you about calling me at work?”

“John,” Davie Robinson answered.  “I’m sorry to call you here, but I’ll make this quick.”

“No, it’s okay buddy.  What’s this about?”

“It’s about your daughter,” the other answered.  John glanced restlessly over to his boss, whose eyes had remained fixed on him from the moment he had entered.  “Can you come over after work?”

“I’m pulling doubles today, I won’t be off till late…”

“That’s okay.  Just let yourself in the back.”

“What’s all this about?  Can’t it wait until tomorrow,” he asked.

“It’s about Vanessa,” Davie replied impatiently.  “This can’t wait John.  Even now, she’s…”

“She’s what,” he answered nervously.

He didn’t get to hear what his neighbor said, however, because his boss’d had enough.  He’d only caught a couple of words, because his focus was now on his foreman.  The latter had stood up and was closing the distance between himself and the phone’s base.

“I have to go,” John said quickly, “I’m needed on the-”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence, because at that very moment, his boss pressed the disconnect button and ended their connection.

“I’m not paying you to act out ‘Gossip Girls’, he spat as he stepped just inches away from John.  “While you’re up here chatting it up with your girlfriend, you’re holding up my other workers down the line!”

“It was my wife, sir,” he stuttered.

“Don’t give me that shit, Rowan.  Unless your wife is an old black man, which I’m fairly certain she’s not and you have something you want to tell me?”  He paused, waiting for John to answer.  When the other shook his head from side to side, only then did he continue.  “Get your ass back on the floor.  You’re working extra tonight.  Oh, and in the future there will be no personal calls on company time.”

“Yes sir,” John answered softly.

“What?!”

“YES SIR,” he yelled.

“Get the fuck out of my office,” his boss grumbled.  John wasted no time complying, and as the door closed behind him, his foreman left him with one final piece of ‘wisdom’.  “…worthless piece of shit…” were the words that chased him back to his workstation.

His blood boiled.  On one hand, he knew that his friend wouldn’t call him unless something was seriously wrong.  On the other, how dare that son of a bitch talk to him that way!?  He had poured himself into his job for fifteen years, all of which he had never been late, missed any days, or had a complaint about his quality.

With twelve hours left until he’d finished both shifts, and whatever was being tacked on at the end, It was going to be a long day indeed.

Trespasser (Part X)

It had been several long days for Davie Robinson.  He knew that he should have picked up the phone and given John a call.  As soon as Andy began snapping pictures of the girl, there should have been no hesitation as to what happened next. Had he not been suffering the flu, or had he been twenty years younger, he would have stepped out and taken the camera from the strange little duck that was their new neighbor.

The truth was, he was nothing like the man who had once lived up on the hill. Unlike THAT particular gentleman, when it came to standing up for what was right, Davie was a bit of a coward.

He and his wife came from a time when it was not okay to speak one’s mind. They had been harassed for the color of their skin in those days.  Hell, their very lives had been threatened on more than one occasion!  No, even after Sammy D. made his stand, even after the black man had been given their equal rights, he simply couldn’t bring himself to take the first step.

“Davie, honey,” Keesha had finally said to him, “why don’t you just give John a call?  Talk to the man and let him deal wit him..”

It made perfect sense, of course, but there was even a reason for him not to do that.  It was an outdated reason, but he wasn’t in his normal state of mind either. The fever had spiked again, the nausea had returned, and even though his body temperature was dangerously hot, he shivered as if he had just participated in the local Polar Bear’s Challenge.

“It not our place, Keesha,” he argued without conviction.  “If they wan’ let they young’un play wit dat white boy, then it be none our biz-ness.”

She had let it go after that, but that thought was in the back of her head.  She didn’t have any love for their new neighbor.  She suspected that not many of the adults did, and much like her husband, she didn’t like to meddle in the affairs of others. That old ghost of hatred remained in her heart, just as much as it did in his, and it would take something much less innocent than taking a few pictures to spur her into action.

Some time later, after Davie had fallen into a restless sleep on the couch, she went to the kitchen, made a hot cup of tea, and mulled over whether or not she would call Marsha with their concerns.  He was right to worry.  If it had been their little one, she would have chased him off in a heartbeat.

Tea in hand, she went out to the front porch for some fresh air.

Trespasser (Part VIII)

As time is wont to do, Summer became Fall, Fall became Winter, and Winter became Spring once again. During these long months, the people of Bryer Street had become very accustomed to seeing their new neighbor, whom they came to know as Andy.

Andy was like ole Sammy D. in some ways.  After his first steps into the sun, it was more and more common to see him out for an evening walk.  At first, he would offer an awkward nod or smile as he passed.  Sometimes he muttered a shaky “Hi” or “How ya doin today”, but unsure of how to follow-up, he would make a clumsy excuse and shuffle on.

He knew more about cars than any of the residents would have ever suspected, he looked more the type to specialize in some form of computer technology, and would occasionally remark a ‘spot on’ diagnosis of a problem based on the sound an engine was making.

He gained a bit of admiration amongst the men.  It was nothing they spoke of openly, but whenever he passed, they greeted him a bit more honestly.  The women were cordial, but their trust wasn’t to be earned so easily.  They continued to watch him with wary eyes whenever he passed and their smiles only masked their true expressions as they studied his every move.

Andy was very much like Sammy, in that he quickly grew to be a fixture in the community.  Everybody knew of him within hours of his first appearance.  Each person had their own story to tell about the strange young man from up the street.

“He knows so much about cars.  It’s like he’s got the gift…”

“How can he afford to pay for that house when he never leaves for work?”

“He’s good with the children.  They seem to like him too…”

“He’s sick.  That must be why he stays home all the time!”

There were many different stories about the strange, young, Andy From Up The Street.  Some were darker than others and none were more creative than those of the wives, told on rainy days from behind the safety of their curtains.  Others were hopeful, with such imagined histories that included untold fortunes or entrepreneurial genius.

Though they spoke of possibilities, no story could be so much farther from the truth. They spoke of vast fortunes, and while he did not possess such a thing, he did have enough money to satisfy his particular needs.  They spoke of illness, and much like the pipe dreams of hidden wealth, this, too, was not completely true. Though he was ‘as fit as a fiddle’, as the previous owner of his house might have once said, there was a certain something about him that wasn’t quite right.

Andy From Up The Street, because his neighbors didn’t yet know his last name and they were coming to accept that the previous resident was truly gone, was indeed, very sick.  There was an itching inside of him that occasionally needed scratched, a desire that had to be catered to, and it had been far too long since he had given in.