TITLE: Home For Good page 2
By M. R. Davenport
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Home For Good
“Mom, mom. Mom, you can’t let this guy do this.” Bobby was sitting at the kitchen table, a stack of papers in front of him. “He’s got you. He’ll take this place from you.”
Minnie Thompson was busying herself around the stove. She hated a dirty kitchen. She was diligently cleaning behind herself while cooking breakfast. She just couldn’t seem to sit down. Of course, she was also very excited to be cooking for her only child. “Bobby, you never answered me about the sausage. How many links do you want, hun?”
“Sorry mom. Two’s plenty for me.” He smiled. It was good to be home. Despite all the problems that crept up so fast.
Minnie suddenly teared up. She took a step from the sink and bent over her son reaching her arms around her son’s neck from behind, hugging him close. He sat and took it, placing his hand on her arm, patting it. She wept openly, speaking somewhat muffled. “I just knew you wouldn’t make it home. I just knew…You wouldn’t make it out of that war alive. I just knew. Oh thank you God for my boy.” He patiently let her love him. It felt very strange. It had been a long time.
She finally broke lose, pulling her apron up to wipe her eyes. “I’m sorry sweetie.” She sniffed. “I’m so proud of you for what you’ve been doing for all those people over there.”
Bobby looked up at her from his chair, a piece of paper still in his hand. “Mom, I told you, I’ve never served in the war. I wasn’t in Iraq. I wasn’t in Afghanistan. I was a clerk stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. Well, most recently. I’ve been to four different stations over the last ten years.”
He returned to the papers in front of him, changing the subject. “Seriously mom, Petowski has really done a number on you. We need to have a lawyer look at this.” The door bell rang as he finished speaking.
“Hang on Bobby, let me get the door.” She left the kitchen.
A man in his upper fifties stood there on the porch, a Panama style straw hat in his right hand, exposing his nearly bald head. He wore a casual smoke black jacket, white button up shirt, no tie, jeans and dark brown boots. “Mornin’ Minnie. How are you this fine day?”
“Well, good mornin’ to you Chief. What brings you by this early on a Saturday?” Minnie smiled. She wiped her hands on her apron.
“Well, Minnie, I was hoping I could chat with your son. I understand he’s home from the service?” He gestured into the house behind Minnie. “Nothing serious, just haven’t seen him in a while.”
“Why certainly Chief, come on in.”
“Uh, well, I think I’d like to chat with him out here. If you don’t mind?”
Bobby stepped into view. “Sergeant Walden?” He smiled. “Been a long time.”
Minnie turned around to face her son. “He’s the Chief now Bobby.”
“Of course he is…” He looked at the Chief. “Congratulations…Chief.” Bobby emphasized the title and stepped out of the door, reaching out for a handshake. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too, Bobby. Your mother says you’re a hero.”
“Yes, well, she’s a bit of a doter.” He stood to her right and hugged her with his left arm. He looked at his mother, who beamed at him. “And somewhat of an exaggerator.”
“Yes, well…D’ya think we could have a little talk? Maybe a walk around the block while we chat?” The Chief asked.
Bobby sighed, showing his resignation. “Sure, I suppose.” He squeezed his mother again. “I’ll be back.” He nodded for the Chief to take the lead and stepped off the porch in pursuit.
At the end of the walkway, the Chief turned to his left, scooting to the curb edge of the sidewalk, allowing Bobby to walk beside him. “Saw you yesterday, sitting in your car. Keeping an eye me.”
“Naw. I was just in the area and heard a call come in for a potential fight at Gracie’s Bar.” The Chief had placed his hat back on his head. Bobby couldn’t help but think about how much he resembled a southern politician. He looked at the young man. “You handled it really well, ya know?”
“Yeah.” Bobby stayed reserved as he was wont to do. They walked a bit further. The Chief liked Bobby for several reasons. His quietness was one of them.
“What’s your plans, Bobby?” He asked.
After a pause, Bobby looked upward towards the coming corner. “I haven’t really decided yet. The first thing I have to do is straighten this mess out with Stanly Petowski. He’s trying to get mom’s house.”
“Yeah, he’d like nothing better than to get every house on every block this town has.”
The young man stopped and looked at his companion. So did the Chief. “What is it?”
“I guess I figured you were in his pocket as well. Mom said he’s the President of the City Council. Your boss.”
Walden smiled. He resumed walking. Bobby followed. “Well, I guess it was about seven years ago, the city council asked me to take the job of Chief. Maribel was retiring. I laughed at them. I told ‘em Lester Buckner had more time in and was qualified for the position. After all, we only have four officers and the Chief anyway.
“They laughed louder than I did. Lester’s a pretty good cop, but he ain’t Chief material and everybody knows it.” He squinted at a license plate on an old Chevy across the street as they turned the corner. “Not to mention that Lester was not the least bit interested in the job. At least that’s what he told me.
“I took the position temporarily until a new Chief arrived.” He glanced at Bobby. “He never arrived. I decided to make them an offer.” He smiled, looking up at the blue sky. “I run the show how I want to and twenty-five percent raise over Chief Maribel’s pay.”
“And…?” Bobby asked.
“Well, sir, they said okay.” His cell phone rang. He pulled it from his jacket pocket, looked at it, clicked a button and returned it to his pocket. “Of course at the time, Stanly wasn’t on the Council. But he has little to do with me. I work for the citizens, not him.”
“That’s nice.” bobby said.
“Nice, eh?” He shuffled a small rock off the sidewalk into the street. “I also do the hiring and firing. Without question.”
Bobby’s gate slowed. The Chief looked at him. “Lester is retiring. I think you’d make the perfect replacement.”
The young man burst out laughing. Walden never missed a step. He expected nothing less. “You could have wiped the sidewalk up with Petowski yesterday. You held your cool. I like that.”
“Petowski used wipe the sidewalk with me in High School. What makes you think I’m any different now?”
“I know.” He glanced around. “You were Special Forces.”
Bobby stopped. “You’ve been listening too much to mom.” He had that “Come on, what are you talking about?” look. “Seriously, Sergeant…Er Chief. I worked in admin the entire time I was in the Army.”
The Chief continued walking. Bobby caught up. “I’ll never forget something that happened in ‘Nam.” He looked at the young man beside him. “I had every tough guy form of training I could get. I could put down three or four guys at once.” He breathed deep. “It did me no good though. They asked me to help out a squad of guys once. It was tough. They were all a bunch weak minded, know nothing newbies except the sergeant. He never came back from that mission. He punched the clock saving those privates. I even took two shrap pieces when it was done.”
“Look, Chief, I’m sorry you had…”
“So, I told the captain to keep me away from newbies.” He stopped and looked at Bobby. “You know what he did? He started having me train the newbies as they came in country.” He began walking again. “No one I trained died except to save others.” They turned the next corner. “I know a Ranger when I seen one.” He looked at his companion. “I know you can’t talk about it. State secrets and all that.” He looked forward. “It’s safe with me.”
On the opposite side of the street there was a park. It had swing sets, teeter-totters, monkey bars and so on. Bobby reminisced. He’d played there a lot as a kid. The Chief recognized where Bobby’s mind was. “Want your kids to play there? Wanna help keep it safe?”
Bobby looked at him. “What are you a were-politician?” He smiled. The Chief laughed. He decided not to talk about his military back ground any more. He switched subjects. “Look, chief, I have a record here. That’s why I went into the army in the first place, remember? You’re the guy who talked me into it.”
“Everything was before you turned eighteen. Your record is expunged. I looked your NCIC up this morning. You’re clean as a whistle. Of course, we have to have FBI clearance, but that’s only preliminary.
“You’d make a great cop. Your experience would be invaluable.”
“Has the crime rate gotten that out of control?”
“Naw, nothing like that. But, once in a while, we need someone who knows how to handle the rowdy ones and not go nuts on them.” They were approaching Minnie’s house. The Chief stopped about thirty feet from the house’s walkway. “Look, kid. You think about what I’m saying. Call me if you have any questions or want to try it out. I’ll arrange a ride along with one of the officers and you can get an idea about it all.” The Chief shook his hand and Bobby turned towards his mother’s house. He stopped and turned around.
The Chief paused as he was unlocking his car door. “Yeah, Bobby?”
“You know a lawyer we can talk to about the deed situation on mom’s place?”
“Not around here. There’s a real estate attorney in Gaines. I’ll have Gloria call you with the number in an hour or so. I can’t remember his name, but he has a good reputation.”
“Thanks Chief. See ya soon.” Bobby waved and turned back to the house.
Cold water splashed across his face. Thompson returned to the now with a stirring, momentous pain coming from his right leg. It quickly registered where he was and what was happening to him. A small village far into the Afghan desert, the inhabitants of which, were trying to drag information from him. They had caught him trying to infiltrate a nearby terrorist training camp. He needed to confirm what the camp was being used for before the B-117s bombed it. His torturers, however, were convinced it was a far more involved mission.
“I will get what I want from you!” The small concrete room echoed the fierce demands from the terrorist leader. The torch came against his chest, slowly, first dissolving all of the hair. The smell was close. It wasn’t burning hair he smelled though. It was death. He knew he would never survive this torture. Thompson focused his attention on the gritty, moldy ceiling. It was obvious the desire for information they had would not be satisfied with what he could tell them. He was also keenly aware that if he told them why he was here and they believed him, the camp would be empty when the bombs fell. In the long run, innocent people would pay the price when the terrorists struck next time.
The torch came closer to him. He had felt each individual hair burn to his skin. He fought against the straps they had tied him down with. Must be American made, he thought. His sense of humor usually worked to help in these type of situations. It was doing little good now. He sought desperately for something to take his mind somewhere else. At the same time, he couldn’t pull his eyes from the torch as the demented wielder moved it about in a devious fashion. Thompson kept watching it, thinking that would help prepare him for it's touch.
The torch was used to cut metal. From the type of flame it produced, Thompson gathered they were using an oxy acetylene mix. The mad Lebanese kept pressing the oxy lever which increased the size of the flame. The jet like noise it made tended to lend to the mental torture of the session. As the torch cuts through the metal, this lever is pressed to blow the “slag” metal out of the way. It also increased the temperature. Thompson realized that the man was about to do some cutting on him. In his not so clear mental state, he began to hope this would take place. The terrorist had no intention of killing him. At least not yet. Not until he got what he wanted.
But the incredible pain would send him right into oblivion and for a moment, he’d be somewhere else. “Let me see how hot you get…” The broken, heavily accented voice clearly showed joy at the prospect. The torch came down on his stomach. It was the worst thing he’d ever endured.
It ended. For now. He stared into the darkness of his mother's spare bedroom, wiping sweat from his face and rubbing his scarred mid-section. He looked at the digital clock on the dresser. Oh four hundred, he thought. Time to get up anyway. He got dressed and left the house. He ran until 7 am.
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