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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Paving the Road to Hell – Roady Series Episode 29

I should have paid attention to the storm brewing. I should have known that a boy that troubled was bound to spread trouble and the trouble went like this.
For some reason the Grangetown public works department saw to it that July was the month to finally pave the streets of the scraggly neighborhood at the edge of town. The streets weren’t actually unpaved, but they might as well have been for how cracked, crumbled and potholed they were.
Stan cursed up a storm every morning and night. I was right there with him. The construction crew with all their noisy equipment clogged my way out even at seven in the morning. Then, they randomly closed the road or worse abandoned their work for days leaving gaping holes, shredded layers of pavement and even a section of sticky tar that looked like someone screwed up the recipe. I had to keep Roady on a leash again because there was too much going on, men and trucks.
“It’ll just be a little while,” I consoled him as I walked him. He was a freestyle dog. The leash was a double confinement. He couldn’t run and he couldn’t choose his own way. Taking him on the job site wasn’t an option because I’m working indoors now and Jerry won’t allow it. That meant his days were spent, lounging around with the boys as they sweated the hot day away playing on an old wii system that Stan bought off a friend. Mostly Junior played and the rest watched him. I got roped into playing Mario Kart against him. I beat him which he handled well saying he helped me win. Liam yanked the controller from Junior’s hand.
“You won’t beat me,” he said. “And I’m not helping you.”
“Okay little man,” I said. I’m a little taken aback by the hostility in his voice and I decide I’ll let him win. At least that was the plan. He’s no good at it though and kept driving off the track. There’s nothing I could do but win. He threw the controller down. His brothers yelled at him.
“If you broke it, I’m going to kill you!” Clinton said picking it up like it was a baby.
Liam yelled back, his face bright red. The next thing I knew, they all grabbed for the same controller. They were going to break it.
“Who wants an ice pop?” I said. Four faces turn my way. Liam still scowled. I went to the kitchen to get the pops. When I came back, Liam was gone and then I noticed, so was Roady.

Read this series from episode 1 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

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

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.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Too Hot to Handle – Roady Series episode 6

No one minds that Roady sits at my feet. I watch the dryer spin as though if I look away, it will stop. Liam is transfixed on my face. I reach in my pocket and hand him three quarters.
“Get yourself a snack,” I say pointing across the room. He finally breaks his stare and wanders over to the vending machine.
All of a sudden there’s a baby wailing. It’s Linda with the baby on her hip and a huge bag of clothes over her shoulder with another one that she’s pushing with her foot. She’s about to drop the screaming baby as her foot gets tangled in the drawstring on the bag. I dash over intending to grab the bag but to my dismay, it is the baby that ends up in my arms. The baby stares up at me mid-scream and then buries her wet face on my shoulder.
“Oh my gosh, thank you! This bag was throwing off my balance. I would have dropped her!”
I do not want this baby nuzzling her snot into my shirt. This can’t be happening. Linda starts to laugh. “Looks like you have another shirt to wash.”
I reach for the bags, and hand over the baby. “Don’t you have another one these?”
“Yes, my little April flower. She’s with Jake. You know I married Jake right?”
“Yeah, I know. Congratulations.” I move away and drop the bags at an open washer. A long table divides washers from dryers. Liam has taken my place watching the cloths spin eating nacho chips one at a time from a small bag. Those blankets have to be done soon.
“I’m here most every day,” Linda says from the other side of the table leaning just so, that her V-neck T-shirt shows off what she’s got bound up in her bra. I can’t help but look. She knows. I don’t really want to flashback to those summer nights down by the lake but there’s no stopping it. We had a spot on a thick carpet of moss. Had a blanket hidden in the hole of the oak tree. When it was hot we could swim in the lake under the moonlight. Doesn’t get any better than that. “We’re in an apartment right now but Jake just got promoted to Lead.” She smiles with sweet innocence like since she’s talking about her husband whatever wicked thought I’m having is all mine. “He’s working the weekend shift, twelve hours a day. Stan works it too you know, in the shipping area. He helped Jake get the job. He’s a good guy, Stan.”
Liam stops eating his chips and looks over at Linda.
“What?” she says. “I’m talking about your papa but it’s all good. Don’t give me that look.”
Good thing she’s looking at Liam’s face because I’m sure mine has got a few choice words written across it.
“So anyway Tyler, why don’t you stop by on the weekend. The kids will be with Mom this Sunday so that they go to church. It’s just because she wants to show off her grand babies though, and gossip in the nursery. So what about it? We have some catching up to do.”
“I’ll be gone by Sunday,” I say. Liam throws the rest of the chips on the floor and stamps on the bag but before I can deal with him, Linda says, “With your mom in ICU still? She’s not going to be out of the hospital for a couple weeks I guess. You do know she broke her leg in like five places, almost lost a lung, and they had to take something out, spleen maybe, a kidney?”
Liam comes over to the table. “How do you know? Have you seen her?”
“Well no,” Linda says switching the baby to the opposite hip. “My aunt Janey works in the hospital. Haven’t you seen her yet?”
“Kids aren’t allowed,” he says catching a little of Junior’s attitude like a parrot.
“Who told you that? Of course kids are allowed. Every mama wants to see her kids. Makes her get better.” She flashes me a reprising look. “Why haven’t you taken them to see her?”
“I just got to town at lunchtime.”
“You haven’t seen your mother yet?”
A buzzer goes off. The clothes are done. I turn away and start pulling the blazing hot blankets out. I have to put them on the table. They’re almost too hot to handle. Lucky we didn’t start a fire. But there’s Linda with her own fire of judgement still giving me a look, like I’m a heel and for sure she made the right choice choosing a hard working, dedicated man like Jake who just got a promotion.
“You ain’t leaving on Sunday,” she said patting the baby’s back. “You come around and say Hi. It’s the least you can do after ditching me like I’m some dog you got tired of.” With that Roady makes a whimper and I realize the poor thing needs to go outside and do his business.
“Come on Liam,” I say not giving Linda another glance. “Let’s take Roady to the ball field to run around.”
We step outside and Liam says, “You did good not being mixed up with the likes of her.” How did a nine year old figure that out?


Read this series from episode 1 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 in the author.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Brothers Grime – Roady Series 5

“Can we go see Mama.” It’s the first time Liam has spoken. I’ve been wondering when he would talk. He’s only a year younger than Junior but nothing like him. Actually nothing like the rest of his brothers. His dark cowlick hair contrasts with their towheads.
“No kids are allowed,” Junior says. “So you’re just going to have to cry yourself asleep another night.”
Liam sulks in silence.
I don’t want to think about visiting Mom. I should. I should be rushing over there, see how she is, if she needs anything. But instead I let these brats keep me busy, getting them to wash dishes, sweep the floors, get the sheets and blankets off the beds and into the washer. It’s not till later after they are all showered that I realize, the blankets aren’t going to dry on the line in one afternoon.
“You’re a damn fool for washing blankets on a cloudy cold day,” Stan said.
“They smelled,” I said. “Probably full of fleas.” I saw some red welts on their legs when they finally got the dirt washed off.
“The only thing with fleas around here is that scrappy mutt.”
Roady has curled up under the kitchen table watching our every move.
“Get him out of my house,” Stan says.
I give a quick whistle and Roady is at my side. “I’m going to the laundromat. Be back in a few.”
The boys look at me then at Stan. I know they’re hoping he’ll order me to take them again, but Stan is unscrewing the cap of a beer, pleased with himself because it appears that I’ve obeyed his command about getting Roady out of the house.
As I take a step toward the back door, I see Junior cross the floor, go up to his father and pull the beer from his hand. He takes a big gulp.
“You little shit,” Stan says with a proud laugh yanking it back. Junior flashes me a look.
I’m not getting involved in this drama. I’m not. Junior’s face falls as he sees I’m not reacting. What does he want from me? I don’t have anything to give him. What does he think?
“Junior, how about you come and give me a hand getting the blankets off the line.”
He scowls. “I got better things to do than girl’s work.”
“He’s got you there,” Stan says sneering and handing the beer back to Junior for another gulp.
“I’ll go,” Liam says.
I head out the door before Stan has a chance to make the remark I know is burning on his lips. I hear Stan and Junior laughing as the door closes.
Liam doesn’t talk when I pile up blankets in his arms.
As we drive into town, I feel his eyes on me. “Go ahead and speak if you’ve got something to say.” I glance over at him.
“I look like you,” he says.
“Yeah.”
“That means we’re real brothers.”
I want to tell him that it’s just the luck of the draw with DNA. That he is more their brother than mine. But when I glance over again, I see a little smile on his face. Imagine that someone thinks being like me is a good thing.


See previous posts, in 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 in the author.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Something From Nothing – Roady Series 3

Some people get away with being obnoxious. They hold the ticket, “that’s just how he is”. The only ones validating that ticket are the poor people around him who have given up. As I look around the ‘home’ Mom and Stan have made, it’s clear that everyone here has given up and looks to me that my oldest half brother Stanley Junior takes after his pop in all the wrong ways.
“Where’d you get that mangy mutt?” Junior sneers. I haven’t seen him in four years and this is what he says? I ignore him and his father. Roady hides behind my legs.
Little Jason jumps up and puts his arms around Roady, crouching on the floor, also hiding behind my legs.
Stan tries to stare me down but then concedes to his need for me.
“Why don’t you see if you can fix something to eat? I’m all out of cereal.”
Four sets of eyes are now on me, the dog forgotten.
Why anyone would think I can cook, I don’t know. I was left to scrounge for my own meals more than once when I was their age though so maybe I can come up with something. I go to the galley kitchen. Among the bowls, spoons, and cups, are pots with crusted red, brown, and green stuff in them stacked in the sink, on the counters; evidence that at some point more than just the now empty box of Cheerios was eaten.
I open a cupboard and find a box of spaghetti. In the fridge, there’s an empty milk carton, mustard and ketchup, peanut butter, a twelve pack of beer and a bottle of wine. Dried egg yolk on the bottom shelf suggests once there were eggs. In the freezer, ice.
I boil a pot of water and cook up the spaghetti then squirt the ketchup on the whole thing. It’s an instant meal I remember well. They eat it up like it’s the best thing they ever ate.
“You need some food in this house,” I tell Stan who is on his next beer and crashed into a ragged recliner, the television now blasting a talk show with people yelling at each other.
“Yeah, get some. Good idea.”
All the boys look at me with hopeful eyes. I can’t escape that kind of focus. How can I hide that I don’t have a whole lot of cash but I can tell Stan isn’t about to hand me even twenty bucks.
“And take them with you,” Stan adds. “Lord knows I need a break.”


See previous posts, in 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 in the author.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Home Not Sweet Home – Roady Series episode 2

I named the dog “Roady”, short for “Road Kill”. I should have named him Roady Junior with me being Roady Senior since my mad dash to rescue the pup almost cost me my life. When I pull up the muddy driveway of Stan and Mom’s newest house, Roady whines.
“Yeah buddy, I’m not too happy about it either.”
A twisted vine with clusters of green leaves is stretching from a dry, old dogwood to the gutters of the house where it wraps around the drain spout full and bushy. Looks like poison ivy to me. I’m about to get out of my car when a rusty, rumbling pick-up pulls next to me.
“Move your damn car,” Stan yells. “Park over on the grass.”
Grass? All I can see are some patches of weeds gripping the ground, flat and broad leafed between gravel scattered in the dirt. Maybe once it was all gravel. Now it’s hard to see where the driveway ends and the ‘grass’ begins. I pull to the side and get out.
Stan walks right on past me without another word. I follow him with Roady at my heel. Inside, four sets of eyes swivel from the television and fix not on me but Roady.
“A dog!” five year old Jason yells.
Stan comes back from the kitchen with a beer in his hand. “No.”

(This picks up from the previous post -“Life Altering Collision)