Arriving early in order to give me the opportunity to review my notes on the assigned readings in preparation for today’s lecture, I was barely aware of the continuing influx of other students slowly filing to their seats, until the lecture hall held all those still enrolled in the course. The opening of a side door garnered my attention and I observed, without some amusement, Dr. Young enter, meander to the lectern, open his notes, and commence his presentation on the “Importance of Money” and “Money as a Social Contract.” How well he should know, since his “special” private lesson on money as a social contract that night in the Milwaukee motel room. The “contract” with me was for the “works” and I’d made certain he received more than his money’s worth.
Stepping from behind the lectern to emphasize a salient point in the readings, his gaze landed on me, lingered longer than it should’ve, and, when I smiled back at him acknowledging his visual contact, he stood just a moment longer, and scooted back behind the lectern, using it as not only a comfort zone but as a shield to what I’d wager, a growing erection, which might not be totally concealed by his clothing. Grow it would, that delicate instrument of his, not in monstrous proportion, but equally the size of mine. He was a “grower,” not a “shower.”
Connie and John were true to their promise and obligations, one or the other accompanying me on my first few dates. A notification by cell phone, a download of the profile, picture, likes and dislikes of the date, and the type of engagement would be sent; and opened with a revolving password so I could then determine if I wanted to accept or reject the contract. I opted to work Friday nights, Saturday nights, and one night (sans overnight) during the week, reserving Sunday and Wednesday evenings as time for me to spend with Will. Although I was home most afternoons when he arrived home from school and we still did our homework together, I felt he needed some “special” time with me, where he’d receive the entire focus of my attention.
Mrs. Fuller would meet the bus the weekday night I worked and wait at the house until I arrived home. Friday and Saturday nights (especially if I had an overnight engagement), she would stay at the house with Will. We fixed up the spare bedroom, the one that used to be Momma’s, for her. It was inconvenient enough to stay overnight, much less sleep on a couch, so that room became her room and she was quite pleased.
Wednesday night was “wing ding” night where we could gorge ourselves on all-you-can-eat chicken wings at one of the local sports bars. It spared me fixing a supper that evening and satisfied one of Will’s delights, going out to eat as much as he wished. If I felt it may be too much, I’d suggest one of the fast food places or a nicer restaurant, giving him additional exposure to eating out in public. He loved watching people and delighted when someone would speak to him. Sundays were reserved for going to the movies, plays or concerts at the university, or any other activity he might choose. If he had a difficult time in deciding, I’d steer him in the direction of a cultural activity such as a museum, or a physical activity. The university swimming pool provided an open swim for university students and families, so we took advantage of it. If you live in a university town, why not take advantage of the opportunities it offers?
It was my hope Will would gather some friends, but he was cautious, apprehensive about approaching other youngsters his age or size. In many cases, those he did, after he began visiting with him and they realized his limitations, excuses would be made, abandonment, leaving him alone wondering why they’d leave him – after all, he liked them! Times such as those, he’d return to me for solace, a hug and reassurance he was just fine, the problem was with the others.
In addition to the weekly salary, deposited in the bank in a savings and checking account, I began accumulating more cash than I wished to have around. I raised Mrs. Fuller’s “gratuity” (she refused to call it a salary) and put the rest in a shoe box in my closet. Connie cautioned me, during my training period, that flashy cars, expensive rings, and other objects tend to draw the attention of thieves and the IRS and that’s the last group you want on your ass. I guess he figured if I kept a low profile and lived in a non-descripted house, there’d be little danger from the former.
Christmas was another matter, however! This year, with my new job, there was money to purchase new clothes for Will, a new toboggan, and a laptop for the two of us to use for personal work, games, movies, etc. There was no way in hell I’d let him use my business PC for any of that- nope, couldn’t take a chance! He seemed more thrilled with the stocking filled with goodies hanging at his door in the morning when he awakened. Perhaps it was the new watch hidden in the toe. Mrs. Fuller received a new Hamilton Beach® electric roaster from us and a gift card at a local big box store. She insisted we come back later for dinner.
“You two are not about to spend Christmas alone, so I expect you to be here,” she ordered after she hugged us and thanked us for the gifts.
We walked across the street as we saw the other family members of hers began arriving. The closer we came, the more tenuous and nervous Will became, reaching over finally to clasp my hand, tightly, seeking an anchor point. I squeezed back and winked at him, hoping to provide him with the “everything will be alright” reassurance he needed. Mrs. Fuller met us at the door, hugging us tightly, led us inside and took our coats. The house was full of people. Five of her six children were home and there was joy in that house! Those that weren’t in the kitchen helping with the meal, were in the living room visiting, or tucked away in various rooms of the big house. It was a little overwhelming to Will, as he slowly slipped half-way behind me, securing his hand in mine, fearful he’d be swallowed alive by this mass of strangers in front of him.
I felt him give a tug on my hand and looking down as he looked back, shifting his gaze to a man in a military uniform, raising his level of anxiety. Will remembered too well his experience with the police that day in the pool and was fearful of it happening again.
“He’s in the military,” I clarified, “not the police. Besides, he’s Mrs. Fuller’s son, Clyde.” Clyde was just recently divorced, his wife deciding she wanted nothing more to do with the military life, and spending time alone while he was deployed to some far and distant land.
Well, that made things all better! The words barely left my mouth, when Clyde rose, motioned to a young man about Will’s age to join him, and the two of them walked over to meet us. The young man with him was dark haired, wore glasses, slight of frame, and not bad looking overall, but not what one would call a “knock-out,” more ordinary, even nerdy, but handsome for a young man.
“Jason,” Clyde said, greeting me as Will and I stood, “it’s been a lot of years since I last saw you. You must’ve been, maybe five, at the time? Let me extend my condolences to you on the loss of your mom,” and, looking at a very shy, Will, added, “this handsome man must be the Will, Mom speaks so highly of.” His remark brought a faint, tight-lipped smile from Will, but he refused to release my hand!
“This is my son, Charles Junior or ‘Charlie’. Charlie say ‘hi’ to Jay and Will.”
Charlie stood a moment, his gaze intent on Will, standing next to me, staring just as intently back as if each were assessing the other before risking any contact, physical or otherwise!
I began saying, “Will gets a little bashful around strangers,” when from the corner of my eye, I saw Charlie very slowly, cautiously, extend a hand to Will and when there was no reciprocation, stepped forward, and gently released Will’s hand from mine, securing it in his own, and began leading him away. Clyde, observing me becoming anxious concerning Will’s easy departure, held a finger to his lips and shook his head from side to side as the two of them, hand in hand, walked into the family room and found chairs next to a card table.
“Charlie doesn’t make friends very easily; in fact, he rarely has any friends for very long. He’s so darned smart others began avoiding him after a while because he’s way beyond them. What other kid, ten going on eleven, speaks three languages, plays classical piano, and has lived in just about every country in Europe?” he said with some exasperation.
“Well, Will has some definite learning disabilities or, as his teachers call it, ‘is mentally challenged’ so it won’t take long for him to soon become bored or disinterested with Will,” I responded sadly.
“I wouldn’t count on that,” said Mrs. Fuller from behind me. Neither of us heard her approach, each focusing our attention and concerns on the two boys. “I think it’s just what the doctor ordered for each of them.”
I heard Will laugh and another someone giggle, that I conjectured was Charlie, as he rose, walked to a cupboard, and retrieved some sort of board game. It didn’t take two minutes until they were side by side, head to head, deep in the process of learning and playing some sort of game together. Will wonders never cease?
When dinner was announced, the adults took places at the dining room table, while “kids” tables were scattered throughout the family room. Mrs. Fuller ordered the younger ones through the buffet line first before allowing the rest of us to proceed. There was so much to eat, turkey, stuffing, escalloped corn and oysters, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, various salads, rolls, and condiments. In addition there were several varieties of pies and bars for dessert. I was just stepping forward to give Will a hand, when he and Charlie came through, Charlie quietly leading the way. I watched as Will held his plate, Charlie pointing at a specific dish or piece of turkey, and when receiving approval, placed it on Will’s plate. When they each had a plate full, plus a small one for a variety of desserts, Will followed Charlie to a table in the corner where they sat, visited, and ate together as if they’d known each other all of their lives.
The adult table jabbered just as much as the “kids” tables, trying to catch up on the family gossip, discussing Clyde’s recent divorce, complimenting the food, and laughing about holidays and good times past. As they did, I’d glance into the family room to surreptitiously check on Will and Charlie. At one point, Charlie leaned over, said something to Will, Will nodded negatively, and Charlie scooped up something from his own plate, and when Will opened his mouth, fed him a taste. Will smiled, so Charlie got up from the table, came to the buffet, garnered a small dessert plate, scooped a healthy portion of escalloped oysters on it, returned to their table, and set it in front of Will. Charlie would really be good for Will if they were neighbors instead of just this one time!
After dinner the two of them spent time playing, not only a board game, but a couple of card games. Soon, all too soon, it was time for Charlie and his dad to leave and for Will and me to go home also. Both of the boys had a great afternoon and after promises to keep in touch through “Nanna” Fuller, hugged each other, and brought the afternoon to a close. Clyde was on a sixty day family leave to square things away and would be deployed again after that. He hoped it would be stateside, for Charlie’s sake.
That night, before retiring to bed, as I sat on the couch reading, Will stepped up gave me my customary hug, sat a minute thinking, and finally announced, “Jay, you’re still my best friend, but Charlie is now my ‘second’ best friend,” and went to bed!
Christmas break gave me plenty of opportunity to work, but I rejected most of them, except New Year’s, while Will was off from public school. I picked up a Thursday evening, a Friday night, and Saturday night (New Year’s) for engagements. Evidently, I was more than adequate for a date since my tips far exceeded my expectations. The New Year’s date was an all-nighter and I earned every cent. Mrs. Fuller agreed to spend the night with Will, since I told her I wasn’t certain what time I’d be home. My date, although refined, gentle, and non-abusive was none-the-less almost more than I could handle. His length and girth exceeded Connie’s and, even though I prepped him and me well by stretching and lubrication, when I straddled his stomach, slowly letting his hard shaft slip into me, there was still a great deal of pain and discomfort. A couple of times during the night, after another ride on the bologna pony he possessed, I was fearful, if I didn’t clench my cheeks tight on the way home, I’d leave a mess in the van that transported me.
Tired, hungry, and with an ass burning like a red-hot poker was thrust up and deep, I sort of staggered up the steps leading to the kitchen entrance from the garage, and quietly stepped in, coming face to face with Mrs. Fuller. She looked me over with a discerning eye, appraised my condition, and ordered, “Jay, get yourself into the tub for a good hot soak in a bath laden with bath oil to relieve the stress, pain, and help you heal. Once you’re dried, apply some Preparation H® to hasten the healing process and shrink those stretched and damaged tissues.”
How in the hell did she know? Not once have I mentioned or has she asked what I did for money other than “Customer Service” for the Cockaigne Agency.
Refreshed by the bath and relieved by the application of the salve, I checked on Will, and with great trepidation, returned to the kitchen, where Mrs. Fuller, sitting at the kitchen table sipping on a cup of hot tea, bade me sit, and poured me one also.
We sat quietly, she patient, me pensive, trying to determine what and how much I must reveal should she begin questioning me or if I should deny my profession, fearing she’d be repulsed and disengage from us, leaving me in a quandary concerning Will. Instead of being brave and forthright, I quietly said, “thanks” and continued sipping my tea.
“You’re entirely welcome,” came the soft response, “but we need to have a bit of chit-chat, you and me, concerning your real occupation.”
My gut tightened, my throat turned desert dry, and my skin rippled with waves of apprehensive shivers as I valiantly, but unsuccessfully attempted to steel my resolve. Not once, since I began my lucrative career, did I have a problem with a client, refusing or accepting them, never revealing who I truly was, but this was Mrs. Fuller, Will’s caregiver in my absence, our surrogate mother, and Momma’s closest friend. What would we ever do if I were to lose not only her services, but her friendship and trust?
“How did you know?” I inquired hesitantly.
Shaking her head in amused disbelief at my question, she coughed out a laugh, responding, “First of all ‘Customer Service’ representatives don’t pay their brother’s sitter in one hundred dollar bills. Two hundred and fifty dollar a week salaries, a second clue, couldn’t give you the fine clothing, expensive colognes, or the fine arts experiences I overhear you visiting with Will about, and let’s face it, you can’t con and old con Jay. I’ve been there, done that, and survived.”
I cautiously placed my cup back on the table, not really certain what I’d just heard, but as she continued, I was exactly correct in what I heard and what I understood it to mean! Bonnie Fuller did her time on the streets and was no stranger to the ways to sooth the aches and pains of a hard nights work!
“Only two other people on earth knew or know of what I’m about to speak; one is dead and the other resides in a nursing home. I believe I can trust you to keep in confidence what you’ll soon know yourself. Your mother gave me refuge in my time of need and desperation, with the full support of your daddy. Everything I needed to know in order to survive and make my way in this world, I learned from her.”
Not only was I completely flummoxed by her revelation, but it was all I could do to remain seated without toppling to the floor!
“Surprised, aren’t you?” she snorted. “All of us have our little secrets to hide from others and sometimes from ourselves. Many are found out, but just as many never see the light of day, remaining sequestered in the catacombs of the mind of the secret keeper and such is the one you now hold- yours and mine, not to be revealed to family, friends, and perhaps, only perhaps, to the one you truly love.”
Bonnie was a young runaway turning tricks on a cold, blustery early winter night in Milwaukee, when a ‘john’ abused her, snatched back his payment, and the rest of the nights meager take, and left her almost naked and injured in a back alley. Fortunately, another, more experienced lady of the evening, on her way home from an evening tryst, stumbled upon her and took her to her apartment.
“Are you ready for your next shock of the evening?” Bonnie parried.
I wasn’t all that certain my emotions could handle much more, but I nodded continuance, dreading what she’d reveal next.
To be continued.
Thank you for reading “Where there’s Will, There’s a Way” Chapter Nine –“Bringing in the sheaves” (Christian hymn – Knowles Shaw and George A. Minor)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental or used in a fictional content.
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