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Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Dangerous Talk – Roady Series – Episode 33

Mom says,

“You better watch your step son.”

I ignore her. I don’t want to hear why she gives me this advice, but she ignores my silence right back.

“This is a small town. No one’s business is secret.”

I still don’t bite.

“You know what I’m talking about,” she goes on.

“What? Because I kissed Anne in public, really? That’s a little Victorian even for our town. ”

“A little what?” She laughs. “Are you a trying to make me feel stupid? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, that’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean Mom?”

“Linda. She’s been saying things about you, making out like you and her have something going on.”

“What?”

“Then you’re there right out in front of her kissing that other girl and with Bobby being her cousin and all.”

I feel my blood pressure rise. “You know Anne,” I say. “She’s not the ‘other girl’ and what about it? Linda is married. I don’t even like her and nothings going on except in her imagination.”

“Well, that’s not what’s been said here and there. She says you got drunk together and had a wild night in the sack. Now, I don’t have anything to say about if that was right or wrong. You’re a grown man and certainly can do what you want, I’m just saying you can’t burn the candle at both ends and think you’ll get away with it.”

“She’s a liar.” I curse at myself under my breath because it was only half a lie. I remember leaving that kitchen table in her apartment and walking home. “And what about Jake? If you heard that line of bull shit so will he.”

“Well, he’s not really come home the past few weeks. That’s the other thing. Claims his dad has Alzheimer’s and he has to get the house set-up to keep him safe. Sounds like a story, you think?”

I don’t answer. I pull to a stop in the driveway. “I need to go to work.”

Mom glances over at me with a furrowed brow as though she expected that we would talk more. “Don’t be mad at me just cause I’m telling what’s going on. You need to know.”

“Got it Mom, thanks.”

She shakes her head then swings her bad leg out and shimmies out of the car. I back out and press the gas hard squealing down the new paved street. For a split second I fantasize that I’m driving off a cliff. Not a healthy thought but going blank into oblivion is a tantalizing idea. There are no cliffs around so I’m safe. But ‘safe’ is subject to interpretation and change.

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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

Get the Story Straight – Roady Series Episode #28

There are times when it might be better to quit on a day, just turn in and sleep until the sun comes up again. That’s what I should’ve done after I got my car back. Instead, I let my growling stomach take me to the back corner table at Steak N Shake.


Anne slides into the booth as soon as she puts in my order.
“You didn’t go to work today?” She asks.
I tell her the car story but she’s not buying it any more than anyone I’ve tried it on. Next person who asks, I’ll tell the truth straight up. Anne looks at me like she’s trying to decide if she should push for more information. I feel like she’s peeling back my skull and peering right into my brain.
“Look, I was out drinking last night. It was dumb. I’ve got a hangover.”
She mines my brain a little more. What is she thinking? I need to know. I can’t stand the wordless inquisition. “I’m a loser, Anne. Not the kind of person you want to be with. I don’t know why you’re interested in me anyway.”
Her face turns red, a message I don’t need words to understand. “Tyler Rowan how can you be so stupid?”
“I said it was dumb. It’s the first time in almost a year.”
“Interested in you? Is that what you think? Like you’re some kind of flavor of ice cream?”
My mouth drops open. “What?”
“Do you know what that sounds like? As if I go around kissing anyone because I’m interested in finding out what it’s like?”
“I…but…I meant that…”
“I know what you meant. This is nothing to you. We’re nothing. Just a flash in the pan to see how bright it gets.”
“No, Anne. Did you hear me? I got drunk. What is someone like you doing with me?”
“So, now I’m with you?” She stands up. “No I’m not. You’re right. Don’t come back here, okay?”
She doesn’t even give me a chance to answer before she’s gone into the back room.
This day is lining up to be one of the worst and it isn’t over. I get my order to go, stuff the egg sandwich into my mouth, then wash down some home fries with lukewarm coffee and call it breakfast at noon. At least I don’t feel like throwing up anymore. I make my way back to the house, park in my usual spot and stretch out to sleep with Roady happily squished at my side. I’m not ten minutes into closing out the day early, a fine plan on this ugly day when Liam hangs his head over the open window.
“Why you sleeping instead of working?”
“Why did you skip school today?”
He looks away. “It was Junior’s fault.”
“Really?”
“Well you skipped work.”
Time to come clean. “I drank too much last night.”
Liam’s head shoots up. “What? You don’t drink.”
“I did and I’m sorry I did it.”
“I hate you,” Liam yells then runs away.
Maybe I should have told the car story one more time.


Read from Episode 1 by choosing “Roady Series” category. Tyler is a fictional character by Clare Graith. See ClareGraith.com for more information about the author.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

A Dove of Peace or Trouble? – Roady Series Episode 25

What is it about women that they know what to do, what to say when someone is falling apart?
“You lost your father?”
“I didn’t know him.”
I go on to tell her about the accident with the swing and how it drove him to drown in alcohol and then leave us. Anne squeezes my hand even tighter. Just now I notice her thigh is pressed against mine.
Then it happens, like it should. My arm slips around her waist and I pull her close. She looks into my eyes before she closes them and we kiss, soft and sweet. Her breath is moist against my face as our lips hover in the limbo of what’s next. It’s a momentary pause, that slips easily into full searching kisses, desperate, like we waited too long, years even, to know the warmth of each other’s mouths, the heat radiating up our necks, the peachy fragrance of her lip gloss mixing with salty sweat of me. Without meaning to I press her down until we are prone on the bench and still we kiss. When I know I want more than just her kisses, I pull away. As I shift, the bench swings back and we are both dumped onto the plank wood floor of the gazebo. The swing comes from behind and clunks me in the head.
Anne breaks out in laughter. “I guess Dad had something to say about that!”
We lay there flat, under the swing. I touch the softness of her face and her smile fades. Her eyes hold a soulful dilemma. I don’t perceive it right away. I think maybe she has just thought of Bobby, but then she speaks. She lifts up the bird pendant and I know in that instant, it’s a dove. I never saw it before.
“Do you believe in God?” she asks.
“I do.” I’m not lying. I believe there is a God, but I’m fairly certain I’m not in his club.
“Do you believe in Jesus?”
“I don’t know what that means.” When I was a kid, mom dropped me off every summer to Vacation Bible school. I learned about Christmas and Easter but it never felt real to me any more than Noah and his ark. I brush a stray hair from her face. She sits up and I follow her lead. We don’t get back on the swing but move to the edge of the stairs. We are shoulder to shoulder and she grasps my hand like she doesn’t dare let it go.
“If you die would you go to heaven or hell?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I was kind of hoping I could do some extra credit along the way to pass the grade, make it to heaven or at least get to that place, what is it purgatory? Pay up for awhile, not end up burning forever.”
“That’s quite a plan,” she says with an amused smile. She rubs the pendant again.
“A dove, not a cross?” I ask her.
She looks down at the silver bird. “I can’t forget the cross or how Jesus gave himself to pay for my sins. I don’t need to wear a cross. But sometimes I forget that he has given me peace, all I need to live in this contentious world.”
“Peace?” To me that is as elusive as happiness. Just getting by everyday with a little love from my dog and once in awhile the comfort of another human being, that’s as close as I get to either.
“Peace with God. Peace from God,” Anne says with not a flicker of doubt.
In all my life I have never thought of God as a source of peace. Judgement, yes. Punishment, yes. And why not? I’ve done some bad things. Hurt people. Stolen stuff when I was really desperate. I’m trying not to be that way, trying not to make the same mistakes but really, I’m pretty good at finding new ones.
Anne is staring at me and I realize I am staring at her looking for the path she’s convinced she has. Then she does it, she unclamps her necklace and puts it around my neck.
“No,” I say trying to open the small clasp. “You just said you need this.”
She pulls my hands away. “Borrow it, until you know what it means.”
“Anne,” I say measuring my words carefully. I did not kiss her for the thrill of it. I kissed her because I want to be in that space with her, that closeness not reserved for just anyone. The connection that says, you mean more to me than just a girl I came across. The thought of losing that ground with her, is splitting me in half, but more than anything, I can’t lead her on. I can’t be dishonest. Even in my ignorance of all things Christian, I know that is a sin I will not commit.
“It won’t mean the same thing to me. I’ll think of you only, not God.”
She lifts the pendant from my throat, only a moment ago it was resting on hers, safe, holy, charged with faith. Now it is on mine where it does not belong except for the sweet sentiment in her heart.
“That’s fine. Precept on precept, faith comes.”
I laugh. To hear her even suggest I would have her kind of faith sounds ridiculous. Then I realize what a callous ass I am. Her hand freezes on the dove. I think she will rip it off and storm away from me. But, she doesn’t. She smiles, warmly.
“No worries, Tyler, I’ll pray for you.”
That is no laughing matter. I’m terrified.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Pizza Party? Roady Series Episode 17

We’re not doing anything wrong. We were going to grab a pizza at Luigi’s but when we walked into the place, a whole cheerleading squad had three tables full of high schoolers. I saw someone point at Anne and then two others turned around.
“You know them?”
She nodded. “Bobbie’s cousin and friends. Let’s go.”
We turned around and walked out. Anne said she had a Mac and cheese at home that she could reheat. No way was I going to suggest take-out from Chili’s if homemade Mac and cheese was on the menu.
That’s how I ended up at her apartment, but we’re not alone. Her roommate Danielle sits on the couch talking on her phone. I’m torn. Part of me wants to say something to Danielle when Anne disappears in her room to get an old yearbook. I want to hint that maybe she could go to her room and let Anne and I sit on the couch together instead of at the kitchen table. But then, I think maybe I should go to the kitchen sink and splash some cold water on my face. What am I thinking? We’re just talking. We’re just friends. She’s in mourning. Don’t mess it up Tyler. She’s like the only person I’ve talked to in a while that makes me feel like a real person, not a stranger. We’ve got history, good history and I welcome it after years of shallow, meaningless half friends.
She comes back and we sit side by side as she points out pictures of me which to my surprise are sprinkled throughout. I never got the yearbook. Linda did, but she was only concerned about filling it with signatures. A month after graduation it was off radar and I never even saw more than my picture which I wrote some corny poem on. Anne turns a page fast but I put my hand on it.
“Wait. Is that you?”
She’s sitting at a desk in a classic Anne posture with her hands folded and there’s my minimalist “TR” , right at the top of her hands. But what makes me stare is that the letters are enclosed in a pencil drawn heart.
“I never…” my words trail off.
“It was a long time ago. I was a teenager.” She laughs nervously then turns the page. It’s a collage of photos of the marching band. There’s Bobbie in uniform with his trombone at his side like the rifle of a soldier. Anne stares at it a moment then closed the book with a snap. “This was a bad idea, I’m sorry.”
Whatever we intended for the evening, fails. It’s like we walk this tight rope over a pool of snapping alligators. There’s no forgetting the danger just inches away.
“Thanks for dinner,” I tell her just outside her door. It’s a small landing at the top of stairs, dimly lit.
“It was one of Bobbie’s favorites.” She looks up at me and tears are forming. I pull her into a hug without thinking but she doesn’t resist. It feels good to hold her as she cries softly. “I’m sorry,” I say.
She lifts her head. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be so depressing.”
“No, you’re fine.” I tell her. I take her face in my hands and wipe the tears from under eyes. “I’m here for you.”
She studies me for a moment. “Answer me a question.”
My heart leaps in my throat. Is there anything scarier than those words from a woman? “Yes.”
“Why are you here?”
I take in a deep breath.“Does there have to be a why?”
She squints her eyes. “Yes.”
I feel the alligators nipping at my feet and choose my words carefully but before I can open my mouth, the door cracks open and Danielle’s face appears in the stream of light from the apartment.
“Sorry to bother,” she says. She looks at Anne. “Pastor Jim called twice. He texted me and said if I knew where you were. He was expecting a call from you.”
Anne puts her hand over her mouth. “Oh my gosh! I forgot!” She turns back to me and then as though we were never on the brink of the danger zone she says, “So sorry Tyler. I’ve got to go. Talk to you later? Tomorrow?” I hear the the indefinite, ‘nice knowing you’, ‘I’ve got a life without you’ in her words.
“Sure, I’m gone.” I start walking down the stairs.
She gives me a little wave, like that makes a difference. I get it. As I go down the steps, I can’t help but feel like I’m going down into the depths of everything going wrong.
She asked me why I was here because she never really invited me. I’m not filling a gap in her life. I pulled her into the gap in my life. Well, no more. Our break time chats are over and clearly meeting on a more personal basis is not going to work. It was a flash in the pan and now it’s over.

BINGE read Episodes 1- 16 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.