Oh Jameson, sweet Jameson, how I haven’t missed you. These were my thoughts as I drove my jeep down the bumpy road leading to my parents house. I hated this town.
I hoped I never had to come back in all honesty. I loved my folks, like every kid should, but this town? I could do without. I watched the old signs flash by as I hit 80. Nothing had changed.
I looked in the rear view mirror as an Jameson county sheriff pulled out behind me, blue lights flashing. Nope, nothing had changed. I sighed and pulled the jeep off to the curve as the cop caught up to me, those blue lights annoying the shit out of my eyes.
Mr. Russell James Brooks got out of the sheriff car, pulling up his belt over his huge beer gut and straightening his hat like something straight out of a western. He sauntered up to my vehicle and peered in my open window like he didn’t know who I was. This whole damn town knew who I was.
“Well, well, well what do we have here?” Russell said and I fought very hard not to roll my eyes.
I even almost won.
“Still watching those Westerns, huh Russell?” I said, voice un worried. My mom would hurt him one good if he actually gave me a ticket and we both knew it.
His old face got red with embarrassment and he said the only thing that came to mind.
“That’s Mr. Brooks to you Johnny Hedge, and I’ll ask you kindly not to forget it again!”
I rolled my eyes yet again, not bothering to fight the urge and nodded, “Whatever you say Mr. Brooks, now I got to get on before my mom starts looking for me. Neither of us want that true?”
Russell shook his head, “Only you could get pulled over your first day back in town Johnny.”
I smiled, “You know me, got to keep up pretenses.” Russell’s face got serious and I knew I wasn’t going to like what he had to say next.
“Listen Johnny, things have been…rough since you left. Be careful around here ok? Let’s just say that certain people never gave up looking for ya.”
I knew exactly who these certain people were and I nodded, reaching out a hand, “Thanks man.”
Russell hesitated but he took my hand in a firm grip. We might bicker… a lot but we knew each other, Russell and I. We both came from the same place.
I pulled out after he walked away, shaking my head. Well this already wasn’t a promising day. I drove another ten miles, memories running crazy through my head as I passed down the road I had lived on my entire life.
God so much had happened here it wasn’t even funny. Car races, out running cops, running away from home. Whatever a kid could do I had done. How a trouble maker like me had got a diploma at all was a mystery. It’s not like I ever went to class. No, it definitely wasn’t because of smarts.
I shook that train of thought off before I could finish it. I wasn’t here to go down memory road, no I was here to take care of mother, who had a brain tumor. God I still remembered that phone call I had gotten a month ago.
Sitting in my apartment in Florida I glared at my cell phone as it rang, I was so comfy, curled up watching Jason X. I cursed as it kept ringing, slowly unfolding myself out of the chair and grabbing it.
“Yes?” I said curtly, this was a good part of the movie and I was missing it.
“Johnny?” The soft voice belonged to one and only person. I clenched the phone in my hand.
“Eric?” I said softly, tone disbelieving. casino oyna
I couldn’t think of one damn reason why my brother would call me. We didn’t exactly like each other.
“Mom has a brain tumor Johnny, a bad one. She can have surgery but she has no insurance and even if she did it might not work. She needs about 20 grand for the surgery. I can’t fly out there Johnny, I don’t know why I’m calling but I figured since I can’t leave you might be able to…ah hell Johnny, can you help or what?”
My brother was in the U.S. Army, and he was currently serving in Iraq. He had already used his emergency leave once when his wife had their first girl, I had heard about that from a friend that still lived in Jameson, I wasn’t sure if he could leave again. Even if he could he didn’t have the money to save mom.
“Fuck man.” I said, sighing, rubbing a hand through my blonde hair.
“Look Johnny, we both know you’re not going to let her die. Do whatever you have to do, I mean it little brother.” Eric’s voice was hard and unforgiving. He knew I had means of getting the money to save her, even if it would kill me to get it.
“Eric. You know if I go back…to him…I won’t be able to get out again.”
My voice was carefully blank. I couldn’t think about this, I couldn’t. There was no choice, I had to save my mom, end of story.
Eric sighed over the phone, “I know Johnny.”
So that was how I was here. Again. In a town I had swore I wouldn’t come back to for at least another three years.
Five years is long enough for people to forget, cool down. Two years? Not even close to enough time. My mom didn’t even know I was coming, though she probably guessed. I was bluffing to Russell about her waiting for me, I could go now, or four hours from now and she’d never know.
I pulled into my old driveway, smiling at Cletis, the old great Dane that sat by the road, as always watching out. He didn’t eve bark at my jeep. Two years or two months, Cletis could never forget this beat up hunk of junk. I pulled to a halt in front of my mom’s house.
It wasn’t big by any means, but it was the only home I can ever remember having. Two bedrooms, a big barn in the back, and two great Danes that never grew up. Add one cat and two fish and my mom had her own family, even after my brother and I left and daddy passed away.
I took a deep breath and got out of the jeep, closing the door quietly in case momma was sleeping. I walked up the front steps to my childhood home and couldn’t make myself cross the threshold. I had put my momma through so much since I turned 16, hell even before that.
I left to get away from it all, and to give her one less son to worry about. I wasn’t sure if I could put her through it all again.
As I stood there, pondering, the door swung open and my momma stood on the other side, looking at me with calm eyes and a small smile. “Well…you gonna stand outside all day? Your gonna catch your death in this weather, now come in here boy.”
I could have cried at her warm country voice. God it felt so good to be home. Ten minutes later my bags were in my old bedroom and I was sitting at the dining room table, staring across it at my momma.
She didn’t even look different. The same worry lines, that same crinkle of her eyes when she smiled, the same warm voice. The same iron clad pride and stubbornness she had held canlı casino my entire life.
This was one woman you should never mistake for a nice sweet old lady. She was 49 and she could give you a tongue lashing that made you feel like you were ten years old when you were 30. My brother and I both knew that. Granted I was only 24 and he was 28 but it still worked the same when she yelled at us.
“What are you doing here Johnny, besides giving Russell Brooks a run for his money?”
She was sipping a cup of tea and didn’t even bother to hide the fact that she somehow knew what had happened. I had been in town an hour and she already knew. I didn’t even waste my breath asking how she knew. She knew when I had lost my virginity…on the OTHER side of town. I walked in around midnight and she asked me if I had used a condom. It hadn’t even been ten minutes earlier.
“I’m here to help you get the surgery you need momma. You know why I’m here. Eric can’t be, and I love you.”
She put down the cup and stared at me across the table. After about a minute I successfully felt about two inches tall. It’s amazing how she can make you feel like crap when you hadn’t done anything wrong.
“And just how, Johnny James Hedge, do you plan on doing that?”
I hated it when she used my full name, I just plain hated it.
“Look momma I got 15,000 in my savings account that was meant to go towards college that you and daddy saved up for. We both know it’s never going to be used, I’m not going to college and I don’t see me settling down with a guy and having kids in the near…or far future. All I need is 5,000 more and well be set! I was thinking of going up to Wade Dearborn and asking him if he needed an extra hand with construction. Eric told me you had about 6 months before the surgery was a total month and that’s plenty of time!”
She just stared at me the whole time I talked. I hated it when she did that. It made everything I said feel stupid as soon as it left my mouth. Finally she sighed, the tension she was holding in her body slowly deflating until she looked as fragile and sick as she was.
“I thought…I thought you were going to…”
I stood up, walking over to her and hugging her tightly, “Mom I wouldn’t do that unless I absolutely had to. I hope you know that.” She reached up to pat my hand, “I do now son, I do now.”
Chapter two: Old friends
The next day I was up around 8 am and heading to the store. Mom hadn’t really had the energy lately to do anything and she needed groceries. I was looking at her list, walking down the canned food isle when I bumped smack into another body.
“Oh shit man I’m sorry.” I said automatically before looking up.
My body broke out in chills as Leslie McGee looked down at me.
His face was a mask of surprise as he looked at me, towering above my 5’9 frame at 6’4.
“Johnny.” He whispered, his hand reaching out towards me instinctively.
I backed up, scared and he dropped his hand.
“We’ve been looking all over the place for you Johnny boy. Where ya been?” His voice was the menacing growl I knew so well now.
“Don’t call me that Leslie, manly man.”
His face darkened instantly, “I hate it when you call me that Johnny boy. Why are you pressing your luck here? We both know I’ll beat the shit out of you in two seconds flat.”
I took a deep breath and forced kaçak casino myself to stand up straight, “Fine. Truce. I’m Johnny, not Johnny boy and your Leslie, plain and simple ok? Now can you move. Please.”
It took a lot out of me to say please to him but he didn’t move either way.
“You think I’m just gonna let you go Johnny?” His voice was actually surprised, and I rolled my eyes.
“I’m not here for you Leslie…or for him. I’m here because my momma is dying. Plain and simple. I need to get going ok? I don’t got a lot of time.”
I went to move past him and his hand wrapped around the back of my neck, pushing me harshly against the cans behind me.
“I have to tell him you’re here Johnny. You might be able to brush me off today, but you know he’ll come looking for you. Two years isn’t nearly long enough if you had hoped to be forgiven and forgotten by now.”
I looked up into his deep brown eyes and sighed, “I didn’t want to come back Leslie, not two years later, hell not even five years later. I didn’t have a choice. It was either come back, or let my momma die.”
He let me go after a second, smoothing my shirt down. I think he just wanted to touch me. After all he was the first lover I ever had before…before.
Even when I got involved with his boss, we still got to play sometimes, well all three of us. We were all so very close. It was just as hard not to reach out to him when he reached for me. Memories came flooding back and suddenly it was much easier to move away.
“Have a good day manly.”
I walked past him and Leslie had to fight not to come after me, I saw his body vibrating with the effort. He wouldn’t though, no he would report back like a good little bitch, and I knew what would happen then.
I knew I wouldn’t have long after I got back into town but damn it I thought I would have longer than this.
When I got done shopping I checked out, not unaware of the unfriendly looks I got the entire time. I wasn’t welcome in this town anymore, not after everything I had done, and I knew that.
They would deal with me because of my momma, they respected the hell out of her no matter what they thought of me.
I went and saw Wade Dearborn after that, and he of course knew of my mother’s illness. He told me he would love an extra hand, and that I could start beginning of next week. Id be making 11 bucks an hour and get about 30 hours a week.
If I kept it up for the next six months, hell the next four even my mom would be ok, maybe even have some extra if it was needed.
When I got back to the house my momma was asleep and Aunt Carol was there. She gave me a kiss as she was walking out as I was walking in.
“Make your momma some soup honey, I’ve got to run down to Fairngton, gonna get her some of that fancy pain medicine the doctor recommended.”
I knew that Fairngton was about an hour away and I was looking forward to some trips down memory lane in my old room.
I was just starting the potato soup when there was a knock at the door. I figured Aunt Carol had forgotten something and called out to come in without looking over.
“Hey Aunt Carol what did you–” I cut off as I looked up, expecting to see my Aunt Carol, instead looking up into eyes so light blue they were almost white.
My blood ran cold with fear.
“Luke.” I whispered.
Luke smiled that beautiful white smile that had stole my heart when I was 16 and flipped the lock on my front door, locking us in and taking the key out of the lock, pocketing it.
“Hey Johnny boy. We need to talk.”