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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Doggy Comfort – Roady Series #36

A shot rang out. Even in my semi-conscious state, I’m sure I heard it. There’s nothing like bullets to level the playing field.
“He’s got a gun,” I hear.
“And I’m aiming at your sorry ass. Now get the hell out of here before I call your uncle Pete over here and make him do his job for a change.”
Stan. There’s a loud scrambling and the sound of the car engine revving.
The blows have stopped but the pain has only started.
“Shit,” Stan said. “They damn near killed you.”
That’s the last thing I heard.

A cold trickle of water down my neck makes me open my eyes.
On the couch. It hurts to breath. It hurts to think. I won’t even try to move. I feel a warm lick on my hand. There’s Roady. I can’t see him, somethings wrong with my eyes, but he lets me know he’s there. It’s comfort worth a thousand words from a person.

I hear murmuring, no not murmuring. Mom is arguing with Stan saying he should take me to the hospital.
“He doesn’t have insurance. They’ll make me pay.”
“They won’t!” She yells back. “He’s an adult. He’s going to die for God’s sake. I’m calling 911.”
“Calm down!” Stan yelled. “He would have been dead already if that were true. Just let him lie still. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
I’m not sure there will be a tomorrow for me. The shooting pains I’m feeling make me tired, weak, not sure if I can keep breathing. Suddenly, I feel like I’m choking. I involuntarily cough which sends stars before my eyes and the taste of blood on my lips.
“Stan look!” my mother cried. “He’s coughing up blood.”
The boys are crying. “Go ahead,” Stan says. “Call.”
Hospitals are my nemesis. If not for my mother needing to be in the hospital, I wouldn’t be here, in a hospital. The only good thing about my near death experience is my most faithful visitor, Anne.
I nearly jump out of my skin when instead of Anne, Linda walks into the room.


Read the full story – Choose “Roady Series “ in categories.

This post is part of a continuing fictional series based on a character in a novel by Clare Graith titled “Kill Words” crafted during NaNoWriMo 2020. Enjoy more of Clare’s writing at claregraith.com.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Judged and Guilty- Roady Series Episode 31

I thought things might settle down for a while but I was wrong. Mom plays nurse to Roady who soaks up her attention like I never did a nice thing for him. He lounges on the couch, with a hand knit pillow under his head. Mom strokes his fur and he gives a contented groan. It may have a lot to do with the pain killers, but he doesn’t seem to know that. If she gets up, he follows her with his eyes and gives a gruff if she goes into the next room. She hobbles using a cane. If he hears the cane go silent, then he starts to bark.

I can’t believe what I’m witnessing. He associates the blissful high of the meds with her presence. As I’m taking this in, there’s a knock at the door. I open it to the sheriff. He delivers a subpoena to Mom. She’s to testify in court as part of a suit against the other driver in the accident.

A week later, Roady is weaned off the meds but he still whimpers when my mother leaves the house. The boys get dropped off at Vacation Bible School conveniently starting this morning. Mom and I go to the courthouse.

I sit on a hard wood bench like I’m in church waiting as Mom is briefed on what to expect. I brought a handbook on electrical installations that Jerry lent to me. I’m focused on studying circuit diagrams when I look up. Across the way, in the front row, there’s Anne.
Of course, I should have expected her to be here. She doesn’t see me. I wonder if I should sit further back, hide.
She has not called or texted since our last conversation. With Roady’s accident and all that brought on, I haven’t thought about what to do. Should I do something? She told me not to come back which meant she didn’t want to see me again, right? I don’t even know exactly what went wrong. That’s worth knowing if I can muster the courage.
She turns and catches my eye. There’s no smile or wave, and I realize, the pained look on her face is not because of me. It’s for Bobby. I hope my face reflects that I understand but I never know for sure what I’m communicating to her. My track record isn’t that great.

I listen as Mom gives her testimony. When she gets to the part where she sees the other car coming through the red light and knows the motorcyclist doesn’t “have a chance in hell” to get out of the way, I hear soft sobbing from a woman sitting next to Anne. Must be Bobby’s mother. Anne is gripping her hand and her head is bowed, clearly crying too.
For some reason this scene of grief makes me feel guilty. Who am I to be moving in on this sweet woman who lost her first love? I’m a louse. I need to leave town, escape a new trail of mistakes. It’s time.


Read the “Roady Series” from the beginning by choosing it in categories. Learn more about the author at “ClareGraith.com”

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Private Property – Roady Series Episode 30

There’s a space between calm and disaster, a blessed space; the moment before the trial is fully understood. A deep subconsciousness that has run ahead, greeted the trouble but kept it a secret. Then the mind catches up and there’s no reprieve.

I have that moment when I ask where Roady is. Junior and I lock eyes and I know we have perceived disaster at the same time. He throws down the game controller and runs out the back door.
“Liam!” I call. “Liam!” No answer. Junior comes up next to me as I walk up the gravel driveway.
“No sign of them in the back,” he says.
My eyes are on a man with an orange fluorescent vest coming towards us. He is carrying something in his arms. It’s not a boy. My relief is fleeting when I see Roady’s head lolled to the side, his tongue hanging.
“This your dog?” He comes up the drive to us. “Shouldn’t let him run loose.”
One of his paws is sticky black with tar.
“Don’t talk to my brother like that!” Junior shouts with the bravado of a full grown man.
“Just saying,” the man said.
“Get the hell off this property,”Junior says.
Roady makes a soft, whistling whine as he is handed over to me. The man trudges off. I am frozen. I can’t move. I can’t think. I see Roady’s chest barely lifting for a breath.
“Is he okay?” Junior says his voice wavering, a tear runs down his face. He brushes it aside like a mosquito.
“I’ve got to get him to a vet.” My brain engages. I carry Roady to the car, lay him carefully in the back seat on my sleeping bag. Junior slides in next to him.

The vet tells me that technically Roady’s injuries are not life threatening. He broke his back leg in three places, has a cracked rib, heavy bruising. The problem is to put him back together is not cheap and there’s still a high risk of infection. The rib may have splintered, it could be much worse once they opened him up.
“What do you want to do?”
There’s Roady laid out on the stainless steel table. I see that small body and I see a dog who defied death once, who accepted me as a friend, showed me loyalty, comfort, a listening ear like no person ever had. I know what I’m going to do and it will cost me all I’ve saved and even my gas money stash. I came with barely a dollar in my pocket. It looks like that’s the way I’ll return. Not what I hoped for but I need this dog to live, need him more than money.


Read the “Roady Series” from the beginning by choosing it in categories at the header of this blog.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

The Cost of Lost – Roady Series 18

Roadie still sleeps with me in the car and it’s a good thing. I lay awake trying not to think how that brief moment of closeness with Anne unlocked a longing I’d rather keep dormant. Roady’s doggy snoring makes me smile. When his legs start twitching in his sleep I think he is dreaming about running through woods and fields with not a care in the world.
“I’m right there with you,” I say. He gives a doggy response and I take it as “let’s do it.”
But I’m working tomorrow. Roady will go with me and he likes to wander around the build sites so he’ll be happy at least.

Next morning, I’m cutting rafters and hauling wood; the softness of Anne washed from my mind. Jerry keeps me busy. I don’t know why but he stops and shows me how to do even simple tasks better. Actually not better, I know I’m doing well. I mean any builder worth his salt has to make clean cuts, exact angles. But he says, “Not there yet.” Then shows me what I did that made it less than perfect. Does perfect really matter? Slight imperfections won’t show. He hovers near me so I have to concentrate.
“Gary didn’t do you any favors with how he trained you,” he says.
I don’t remember ever mentioning who I apprenticed under.
“You’re surprised I knew it was Gary?”
“Well, Yeah.”
“You think I’d hire you on to work with my crew if I didn’t check into your history?”
I wonder what he means by ‘history’. Did he contact Gary and find out about the accident? Why am I still working if he knew that?
“It’s a small world, especially around here. I knew who you were the moment I came upon you. You look just like your dad. Hard worker, just like you, but he got lost. We were friends though.”
“Friends?”
Jerry nods. “High school. We all had dreams. Really felt bad that he couldn’t see them through.”
I can’t think now. I measure over and over without starting a cut. “What was his dream?”
“You were young when he passed on?”
“Ten, but he wasn’t around since I was five.”
“Damn shame to lose a father at that age.”
He’s not answering my question and now I’m consumed by wanting to know. I put down my square and turn to him. He adjusts his hat, wiping sweat off his brow.
“John always wanted to build a house, a solid little house in a clearing in the woods. He thought he would have a workshop and make enough money to raise his kids. Maybe have a small farm.”
That’s my dream. Well at least the house part.
“He was always making something with his hands back then, custom mailboxes, signs, furniture.”
“What happened?” I don’t think much about my dad. All I remember was the yelling and my sister Emily reading me stories saying, “It’s not really daddy. It’s the drunk man who looks like him.” She told me just to stay under the bed and tomorrow real daddy would be back. Then one day, he wasn’t back and neither was the drunk one. Emily stopped reading me stories, so I started reading alone. When I found her drinking my dad’s whiskey, I asked her if drunk Emily was going to go away too. Drunk and high Emily did, when social services caught up to Mom. Neither of us were enrolled in school and it was clear we were half starved and mostly on our own. That was the year I lost. I don’t remember one moment of it except a blur of anxiety. Emily told me years later that I was in a foster home, a different one than her. I was returned to Mom but Emily stayed with her new family.
“I don’t know that it’s my place to tell you,” Jerry says.
I stare at him, not moving. He’s going to tell me because I’m not doing another thing until he does.
“It was in the news, you could find out all you want to know son, just do some digging.”
“Should I? Or should a friend of his tell me?”
Jerry sighs. He picks up the square and starts marking out a cut. “Should’ve never started talking this way.”
“Well you have.”
He gives another deep sigh. Roady comes up to us and sits as though he should be a witness. “As I was saying. John was handy, a craftsman. He would be proud of you.”
I don’t even know how to take that. Can a man feel pride in a son he never took an interest in?
“He had a good business going on. We’d all work at job sites but he would go home and make stuff. He ended up getting a deal with a builder to make a fancy carved bench swing for inside a gazebo. He did well of course, so they started ordering more. Too much for him to keep up. He didn’t know how to say no. So Gary and I helped him.”
Something inside me shifts, a premonition of what is to come makes my breathing falter. I hear inside my mind, “No!” Before there is a reason to speak it.
“Carving and being artistic is not my thing so I worked on sanding and staining,” Jerry goes on. “John did the designs and he and Gary assembled and installed them. We were all making money on it but driving ourselves into the ground, especially John. He wouldn’t quit till everything was right. He would double check every installation except one night, he came down with the flu and couldn’t inspect all those that Gary did.”
There was that catch in my lungs again.
“Your mama had to drive him home he was so taken with fever. Probably sick the whole time. Story has it that next day, one of the contractors was showing off, he was a heavy man and he jumped on the swing like it was a horse. The swing separated from the chains and dropped. The man broke his neck, died instantly. It was a freak accident.”
He pauses. A million thoughts go through my mind.
“That was the end of the business but worse yet your dad could never get passed the man dying. Blamed himself. He told me that he should have finished checking all the benches. There was another bench before that one that he had to tighten the bolts, seemed like it wasn’t finished. God forgive me but I wanted to kill Gary that day. They checked the rest and found them all loose. Officially John was the installer. He took the blame. There were no charges but he never got over it. That’s when the drinking became a thing. That’s when we lost him.” He looks at me with deep sorrow that must have been dwelling in his heart for a long time. For a split second, I want to give him a hug or him to give me a hug but it passes in a flash. “So you wanted to know and now you do.” He gives Roady a good scratch on the neck and walks off.


DON’T miss another episode in this series, subscribe now! Binge READ Episodes 1- 17 by choosing the category- “Roady Series” – Find it in the drop down “menu” at the header of this blog.
This post is fiction based on the back story of a supporting character in a novel in process by Clare Graith. See ClareGraith.com for more info about the author.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Side-swiped by the Dog – Roady Episode 13

Roady likes Mom. I don’t know why but it bugs the hell out of me.
Stan starts his weekend shift the same day Mom is discharged from the hospital. She hobbles into the house and crashes into the recliner. JJ hangs on the arm of the chair. Carson jumps around showing Mom his ninja moves. Junior and Liam go out to the yard after mumbling simple hellos. I watch Liam copying Junior’s gait. As I turn back, Roady comes running around my legs and stops at Mom’s feet.
“A dog? How did you pull that off?” She pets the scruff of Roady’s neck and he gives a happy groan.
“Roady,” I call to the dog.
He hesitates a second, then comes to me. I hate the stab of pain I feel at his pause. It’s one of the worse feelings to have. You know when all the cells in your body scream that someone else has what is yours, has stolen what was yours and you want to rip it back no matter the cost. It starts with a simple observation like Roady running right up to Mom, taking to her just like he took to me. Then the thought creeps up behind it, ‘so Roady’s attention to you is not special, means nothing’. I tell myself, ‘it’s in his nature to be friendly’ and ‘why would it bother me that the dog thinks Mom is nice? She generally is’.
But then she seems to know just how to scratch him and I’m under an avalanche of feeling stupid that I thought the dog really distinguished me from any other person. A fire of resentment is set off that bursts into jealousy. Now I’m standing here. The dog wants to go back to Mom for another scratch and I’m holding him in my petty desire to call him my own. I turn and join Liam and Junior outside throwing rocks into a trash can. You never know what is round the next corner and I seem to get side-swiped more than my fair share.

DON’T miss another episode in this series, subscribe now! READ Episodes 1- 12 by choosing the category- “Roady Series” – Find it in the drop down “menu” at the header of this blog.
This post is fiction based on the back story of a supporting character in a novel in process by Clare Graith. See ClareGraith.com for more info about the author.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Troubled Building – Roady Series episode 12

There are times when the best thing to do is take a walk in the woods. I’ve had a big breakfast including bacon I didn’t order, now all I can think of is to get out of town. I toss Roady the bacon I saved for him. He catches it in the air and chomps on it like it’s chewing gum.

My old stomping grounds, unmarked trails in the woods are a few minutes down the county road. As I get closer, it’s clear something has changed. Trees are spaced out like tufts of hair on an old man’s head with the sharp angles of rooftops and fresh sided houses filling in the gaps. There’s muddy streets snaking through it all. My mouth gapes at the barrenness of the landscape. There’s a temporary sign at the entrance to the new neighborhood, “Woodland Acres- plots for sale”. The ‘woodlands’ are a ghost now. Suburbia has found its way to our small town.

I drive passed the first few completed houses. They’re huge. Who around here can afford these places?
When I get to the first house under construction I’m drawn to the beginnings of the framework for a gabled roof with multiple dormers. I stop the car. No one seems to be around. I get out. Roady bounds ahead scouting the piles of wood, a pallet of shingles and rolls of roof paper. I walk around. It’s late morning and the sun has already started baking the pale yellow rafters. The smell of them reaches my nose and I feel immediate comfort. I touch the rafters waiting to be cut. At the end of one, I find what looks like a rafter square but it’s not the simple right angled ruler I’ve used before. It has level bubbles and a slide angle. I place it on a rafter and adjust it for a standard gable 1/3 pitch.
“Hello there!” I hear a voice behind me and nearly jump out of my skin.
“I was just looking…”
“You we’re doing more than looking,” a sandy grey haired man says to me. He’s got on a black Tennessee Titans T-shirt, well worn jeans and a cowboy hat. “Do you know something about how to use that?”
“I do.” It’s a stretch since I’ve never used this type of square but I think I’ve figured it out.
“What else you know?”
“Dry wall, crown molding.”
“Wood floors?”
“I’ve watched it done a dozen times.”
The man takes off his hat and scratches his head.
“What do you think about getting some work under the table? You look strong. Can you work hard?”
“Yes, sir,” I say.
He puts the hat back on and extends his hand, “Jerry Smith, glad to make your acquaintance.”
I take his hand in disbelief that this is really happening.
“I’ve got too many of these projects going and it’s been hard keeping skilled workers. Half the help have regular day jobs and are only showing up on the weekends. What about you? Can you be available to work during the week, say Tuesday thru Thursday?”
“I could, for a few weeks.”
Jerry stares at me for a moment. “Okay, I’ll go with that.”
We shake on it and I whistle for Roady. He doesn’t come. I call him. He doesn’t come.
An awful panic rises up in me. I try following his paw prints in the mud but they fade away into the weeds.
“Lot a places for a dog to get into,” Jerry says as he walks away. “He’ll come back.”
He says it without the words ‘eventually, maybe tomorrow’ but that’s what I hear. Jerry doesn’t know Roady is an adventurous dog, a careless, happy-go-lucky dog. All the good fortune of the day is swept out of my mind and I’m left with the strongest desperation I’ve ever known. All this for a dog. What is the matter with me? My lips are dry and my whistle fading as I go all around the build site. But my hopes plummet as I see the field of wild grasses spreading out over a little hill with house after house in various stages of completion. Maybe I kept him too long on the leash and he decided to go his own way.
I’m about ready to get more emotional than a grown man should when I feel a tug. There’s Roady yanking at my pant leg. He looks up at me as if to say, “You dope. What were you thinking? I’m right here.”

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

The Dog Knows – Roady Series- episode 10

There’s no money that can replace the value of a good dog. Yes, at this moment if someone offered me ten thousand dollars for Roady, I would say go to hell. This dog has spent the day tied to the scraggly, poison ivy infested dogwood and yet his tail wags and his tongue lolls ready to give me dog slobber kisses. How is that? Meanwhile I really want to walk out on these rowdy, ungrateful, messed up people.
If I was paid twenty thousand dollars I would not take this job willingly.
But I’m not getting paid, as a matter of fact I’m losing money right and left; hog tied by the word ‘family’ and some stupid thought planted at vacation Bible school, the one time my seven year old self was dragged there, something about honoring your parents or God would kill you right in the prime of your life. Try as I might to ditch that crazy threat hanging over my head, I can’t seem to find it in me to not say ‘no’, to not allow myself to be used. I always thought doing the right thing would feel better than this. Something is not lining up with this situation. I think the dog gets it. The way he stretches his paw over my chest as I try to find sleep, it’s like he’s telling me he’s got my back.

DON’T miss another episode in this series, subscribe now! READ Episodes 1- 9 by choosing the category- “Roady Series” – Find it in the drop down “menu” at the header of this blog.
See ClareGraith.com for more info about the author.