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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

Break In – Roady Series Episode 34

I hate arriving late on the job. I stand in the doorway of a half finished entrance hall. Before me the orchestrated synchrony of men hanging dry wall, taping, plastering, sanding all going on at once. Conversations fly across the room. Jack focused on applying mud as though he were painting the Mona Lisa. Luke and Ethan are madmen with the screw gun throwing up sheets like they were made of poster board. I’m there a full minute trying to figure out where I fit in the picture when Eugene notices me.
“Nice of you to show up TyRo.”
Don’t know why they all like to call me by that nickname, my first and last name cut short. They say it like it’s a joke. No one knows what’s so funny about it but they all laugh. It’s a ‘you’re one of us’ tease though, so I go with the flow.
“Got here as soon as I could.”
Jerry comes into the room and tells me I’m on helper duty which means I’m everyone’s lackey. Same pay so really I can’t complain and by the end of the day, I’ve earned the gratitude of every man, keeping them supplied and stuff out of their way.
Jerry takes me aside. “If you can stay a couple more hours and get the place tidied up, I’ll pay you for a full day. Some clients are coming by tomorrow morning and I need the place to look organized, like a homeowner’s idea of organized.”
“Sure,” I say. I can’t believe my luck. I was already missing every dollar I lost by starting late.
Jerry tells me to lock up before I go. I don’t even put my ear buds in. The house is quiet save the occasional creak of the new structure. The sound of the broom on the floor, my dusty dry footsteps on the paper mats, the slosh of a bucket of water. These are the comfortable sounds of solitude.
I need this time to think, to consider what Anne told me, what I’m admitting to myself. How could I keep these feelings dormant for so long? Why couldn’t I face that I didn’t want to be with Linda those high school years, that it was Anne who stirred something in me that felt like a secret language, a connection that made me feel like I existed instead of how it was with Linda, swallowed up by her drive to make me be what she wanted.
The sound of tires stopping short in the dirt yard breaks my train of thought. Three doors slam. I go to the window just as Brent and Linda’s two other brothers burst through the door.
Mama was right, I should have watched my step.

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Roady Series - Tyler Back Home Tylers thoughts

After Roady’s Accident

Hope is not lost,

But it must be found,

Hunted down in the midst of places,

I don’t want to be,

Surrounded by iterations of myself,

What is it they say?

“It’s just me, myself and I,”

And a trail of sprung traps.

I could freeze,

And not take another step,

Stand my ground against misfortune.

No, not really.

I could medicate, inebriate my brain,

Check out,

But then there’s life,

Between the jaws of trouble,

There’s love, however wounding it can be,

There’s moments,

Gems,

When I reach out and touch,

And am touched,

A sensation that powers,

me for the journey.

And I know,

Yes, I have caught it in my grasp,

I won’t let go.

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A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

She Wants to Kill Me – Roady Series Episode 32

How is it that I’m standing around like a teenager while my Mom chats up a storm showing off her cast, telling her story on the courthouse steps? I can tell by her gesturing that she’s saying how much pain she endured.
I’m missing a morning of work; money I sorely need if I’m going to get out of town. I really wish she would cut the dramatics short.
“Tyler.”
I turn and there’s Anne. She comes right over to me and the next thing I know, she’s in my arms.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers in my ear. Her arms are so tight around me like I’m a life preserver and she’ll drown without me. I hold her as she softly cries into my shoulder.
“It’s just Bobby’s mom, she’s not doing so well,” Anne tells me. “She submerges me in her grief and everything feels wrong like I did something to hurt her then I’m short with you.”
I take her face in my hands. “It’s okay Anne. You’re allowed to grieve. He was your first love. You don’t owe me anything.”
She smiles through her tears. “Tyler?”
“Yes?”
“You really don’t get it do you?”
“I do and it’s okay.”
“No,” she says. “You left. I gave up.” Her face is twisted in pain. “I would have married Bobby. It would have been a lie and now he’s gone.”
Our eyes lock. I absorb all she’s said and feel deep inside me an empty place filling, pieces fitting together.
“I left,” I say. “Because there was no other way to escape Linda. Ever since that Fourth of July, you messed with my head and nothing between Linda and I was the same.”
Anne laughs, a sad laugh but then I add my laugh, only for me it starts to be truly funny. Then we are both laughing. Finally I pull her close again and we kiss.
In my peripheral vision, I see Mom giving me a little wave and right behind her, Linda with a look to kill.

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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

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

Knitting a Web Of Trouble- Roady Series Episode 16

It’s not what I expected, Mom being home. She spends all day in the recliner. All night too because she can prop the leg up that way. I expected her to be zoned out on pain killers. But all she pops is Ibuprofen and antacids and she knits. Yes, my mom has become a knitting fiend. That explains all the random afghans all over the house. I don’t tell her I half melted one at the laundromat. She’s not up and about so she won’t find it for awhile.
“What’re you looking at?” she says.
I’ve been staring at her, not realizing it. “Just didn’t know you were the crafty type.”
“I’m not. You know that. Not crafty at all. Haven’t you noticed all I can make is blankets and I’m the last one to know what size and shape. Sit and talk with me,” she says pointing to the couch.
I was going to take Roady for a walk and maybe figure out what we’ve got around to make dinner. She’s sitting there, immobile, the folding snack table next to her chair loaded with a huge plastic insulated cup of coffee, a bag of Doritos, and Hershey’s kisses. The air in the small living room is stifling. She doesn’t want the windows open because she gets cold and then can’t close them. It’s over sixty outside in the morning, summer time in my book. I sit down.
“Knitting?” The needles clink together. There’s a strand of yarn coming up out of basket on the floor.
“It all started when I bought a big bag of yarn at a garage sale. They told me to keep busy, especially my hands so it occurred to me that I could learn to knit.”
“Who told you?”
“Rehab,” she says. “You know I went through a whole program when I got pregnant with Junior.”
“You were knitting then? I don’t remember that.”
“I didn’t and I didn’t quit pills either.” She gives me a straight on look. “I’m sorry. I know I promised but I didn’t count on having babies and a husband.”
I’m stunned. Where was I when she was using? Out with Linda, being a teenager, oblivious?

“But,” Mom says. “By the time I was pregnant with Liam, my doctor was on to me and she scared me half to death saying at my age with my blood pressure I could miscarry at any moment if I kept doing what I was doing. So I started rehab again and I started knitting.”
“What about now?”
“You see me knitting.”
“But the accident. You were high.”
She puts her knitting down in her lap. “It wasn’t pills,” she says. She won’t meet eyes now and anyway I won’t look at her. “It was just a joint, okay?”
“Okay?” I raise my voice. “You’re kidding right?”
She lowers her head and starts to cry. “It’s not addictive you know.”
“Really? Cause I’m pretty sure you would be smoking right now if you had any.”
“Dammit Tyler if there were ever a time I should be smoking, eating, drinking hash it would be now. I’m in pain.”
I get up from the couch. “Keep telling yourself it’s okay. Just don’t ask Bobby’s fiancé if she’s okay with one of the drivers in the accident just being high on marijuana.” I walk to the door then look back. “And don’t ask me either.”

Binge READ Episodes 1- 15 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

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.