A Long Way to No Where and Around
by A.B. Wilson Jr.
I leave my home town. I leave all my past behind. I have nothing to stay here for. I'm not sure where I'm going. It is a gray and cloudy day. There is a cold wind howling. It is mid January. I want to forget the past. I have to make a change. I have just one suitcase. I board a Greyhound bus. I stare out of the win- dow as the bus passes many different things on the road. My thoughts are empty. All my hope is gone. I'm really not sure of anything. I thought I had something, but I never really did. I ride all day and into the night. I am just taking a ride to no where. I am sleep on the bus when the driver wakes me and said "Time to wake up Mister. This is the end of the line." I stretch for a moment and ask the driver"What is the name of this town?" The driver responds "North Ridge. Population about 5000. It's nice small town. This is the end of the line for this bus. If you want to get another bus ticket. You will have to go in that building."
I said " Thank you for that information."
I get my suitcase and get of the bus. I wonder if I should continue riding. I look at the town. It is a small town. The bus terminal is not very crowded. It id 7:00AM. I appears that the sun my come out. I go to the ticket desk and I ask "Excuse Sir. Can you tell me where the nearest diner is? He responds "the nearest diner is about 4 or 5 blocks from here."
I said "Thank you."
The ticket clerk asked "Are you passing through or just visiting?"
I respond" I don't know. I guess I am here for now."
The man looked at me confused and said " This is a nice quiet town." I said "Thank you sir that is good to know."
I start to walk down the street. This is a small town. There seems to be a feeling of peace. After living in a big city this is a relief. The atmosphere in this town seems peaceful. While walking I see a woman across the street lifting boxes off of a truck. The boxes look to be heavy. I cross the street. I approach the woman and I ask " Can I help you with that?"
She looks at me startled and responds. "No. That is allright. I don't need any help from a stranger." I said " I insist. These boxes look heavy and I would just like to help."
She looks and me for a second and said "Ok, but be careful. I don't know you and I am very un- comfortable around strangers."
I said "I can understand that. I could see from across the street that you were struggling with these heavy boxes and I just want to help." She said " I could use some help. It very kind of you to offer. Just put the boxes on the front porch."
She is an attractive woman who appears to be in her mid 30s. She has a presence of strength, but is very angry and tired. The house is small and run down. I carry boxes and some furniture to the front porch. The house is on the corner of a dirt road. There is a small amount of land in the back, but it needs to be gardened. The woman and I continue take boxes off the truck and bring them to the porch.
2 children look at me working. A little boy who appears to be about 8 years old and girl who appears to be about 12 or 13 come outside. The girl ask "Mama who is that strange man help- ing you?"
The mother responds "Never mind kids. Get back in the house and finish your breakfast." The kids go back in the house. I could see the house was in need of repair. The woman said "Be careful with my stuff." She didn't any conversation. I put the stuff on the porch. While walking back toward the truck she reaches for her back and grimaces in pain.
She said " Oh the pain!" She falls to the ground. I rush to her aid to help her up and ask "Are you allright?" She struggles to regain her balance I suffered a minor back injury a few years ago. Sometimes it acts up on me. My doctor told not to do any lifting."
I said "In that case I will do this work by myself. You better sit down and relax. Let me help you to a chair."
She said in pain" I can't let you do that. I don't know you." I said " You are in pain and I don't mind help- ing. You need help and I am willing to help you."
I help her over the the chair on the porch. She sat down. She said "Thanks Mister. That is real nice of you." I asked " Are you sure you are OK." She responds" Yes. I'll be OK in a few minutes. I just need to rest."
I continue take stuff of the truck and place it on the porch. She is watching me closely. She looks tired. I have a feeling things are not good for this woman and her children. I take the last off the truck and place it on the porch. I said "That is the last of the stuff." She said "Thank you Mister. I really want to thank you very much." I said "You are quite welcome. Are you feeling better?"
She answered "I am fine now. When I sit and rest for a few minutes I feel better." She look and me and smiles and said " I don't know where you came from, but you saved me. I never would finished that work alone. I don't normally take help from strangers, but you seem honest to me."
I said I'm glad you allowed me to help." She asked " What is your name?" I responded "My name is Josh Hunt." She said "My name is Grace Wade." I shake her hand and say "It is very nice to meet you Ms.Wade."
Her hand is soft. I sense a warm feeling coming from her hand. She calls her kids outside. Grace said "Kids I want you to meet Mr.Hunt." I said " Hello. How are both of you this morning?" Grace said " This is my daughter Lisa and my son Clint. Mr.Hunt is the nice stranger who helped me finish unloading that truck." Clint said " I am 8 year old and I am going have alot of money when I grow up." I said " Good luck to you young man." Lisa said " Stop Clint. You are just a dreamer. Are you from the big city Mr.Hunt? I have al- ways wanted to go the big city." I answer " I am from a big city I guess." Lisa asked "What is it like in a big city?" Grace gets up and said " Stop asking the man questions. You kids have get ready for school." Clint said " It was nice to meet Mr.Hunt." Lisa said " It was very nice to meet you Mr. Hunt. Thank you for helping my mother." I said "It was nice meeting both of you. It was a pleasure to help your mother."
The children went back into the house. Grace looked at and asked "Can I offer you breakfast? I can't pay you. I don't have the money. I can at least offer you breakfast." I responded " Thank you. That would be nice. I would want you to go to any trouble." Grace said "You went to the trouble to help me. I was raised to return a good deed. Please come in and bring your suitcase." I said " Thank you Ms.Wade."
I walk in the house. It is a small and a lit- tle rundown. It needs some work on the inside. The house is kept warm by a fire place. The house clean. She serves me some food. I begin to eat. Grace said " I don't have much to offer, but I owe you something. You did a very nice thing for me." I said "Thank you. The food is very good. I was glad to help you. You have a very nice home." Grace said " It isn't much of a place, but it all we have. I do what I can with the little we have." Lisa and Clint came into the kitchen. Lisa said "We are ready for school Mama." Grace said "OK. You kids have a good day in school. Don't miss the bus. Clint said "Good-bye Mama. I love you."
Grace kissed both her children and said " I love both of you. Have a nice day. I will see you this afternoon."
I sat and observed the love the 3 of them shared. Despite the poverty this was a loving and happy family. Clint said "My Mama is a good Mr.Hunt." I said She certainly is a good cook." Lisa said "Good-bye Mr.Hunt. Thank you again for helping my mother." I stood up and said " You are quite welcome." Lisa and Clint left the house. Grace said "You have to excuse my children. They aren't used to seeing strangers that are nice to them. They have not seen and adult male here since their father died. I said " I'm sorry. You lost your huband?"
Grace said "Thank you. He was no good. He cheat- ed on me and was killed in a car accident about 2 years ago. When we got married. I thought he was going to be somebody. He fooled me. He was a hard worker when we first got married. He was was a poor country boy who want to go the big city. He didn't want to work hard. We had a small farm we lost it when he made some stupid deal with crook and a female. We lost everything we had. When I found out about what he was do- ing I told him to leave and never come back. We ended up loosing the farm and our income. We lost our house. He left us with nothing. When he was killed he didn't have anything. He be- came a drunk. This house and this property is owned by the Price family. I keep house for the Price. The Price family were decent enough to give me a job and a house for me and my kids to live in. The Price's a very wealthy white family that owns almost every business in this town. I clean their home and do their laundry part time. The rest comes from State aid. We were doing well until my husband ruined it for us. We are just poor now."
I said " You have a lot of courage." Grace started to cry and said " I shouldn't be telling you this. You don't need to hear about my problems. I'm sorry."
I said " You have nothing to be sorry about. I admire your courage. You gave 2 children who love you and you are taking care of yourself." Grace took a deep breath and said " I just don't like to burden you with my problems. It is rare that I meet a man who is nice these days." I said "I understand. I respect you. You have nothing to cry about."
Grace said " I can see you are honest." I asked Ms.Wade is there anything else you need done around here?" Grace responds "Yes there is. That truck has to be cleaned before I return it to the Price fam- ily. There is wood to chopped for the fireplace. Those boxes and furniture on the porch need to be put in the basement. I have to clean these rooms so I can paint at some point. " I said "I would like to help you with the work." Grace said " That is very generous of you, but I can't ask you to do that. Aren't you on vac- ation or something? Where are you staying?" I responded " I just got into town and I saw you. I really hadn't thought about where I was going to stay. I guess I could get a motel. I would really like to help you." She said "OK. Thaat would be fine." I said "I will change into some work clothes."
I changed into some work clothes. All the clothing I had left is that suitcase. Something made me want to help this family. I washed that truck and chopped wood. It is a brisk day. I wanted to make sure the house was warm. I be- gan working on putting the boxes in the base- ment like she wanted. I decided to work on some maintenance problems in the house. After about 6 hours of non stop work Grace came out and asked "Mr.Hunt are you hungry?" I said " I want to make sure you have enough wood for the fireplace." Grace said "Thank you very much Mr.Hunt. You have been very helpful." I said " I am glad to help Ms.Wade. Do you have a ladder? I would like to clean the gutters on the roof." Grace said " There is a ladder around the back. Thank you. This is very kind of you, but it is alot of work."
I found the ladder in the back. I worked on the gutters. Grace stood and watched. It was a clear brisk afternoon. It was a nice feeling to be working hard. I see the 2 children coming home from school. I see them greet their mother. It is very special. They waved to me. I continue to work. After nearly 3 hours Grace comes out- side and said " Mr.Hunt come down and have dinner with my children and I."
I come down the ladder. Grace said "You have been working all day. You must tired and hungry." I said " Yes I am tired and hungry. A little hard work never killed anybody." Grace said "Thank you Mr.Hunt." I said " You are welcome Ms.Wade."
Before we entered the house Grace said "You have been so nice today. Would you like to stay here for a while? You are more than wel- come. Unless you have made other arrangements. We don't have much room, but you are welcome to stay on the couch." I said "Ms.Wade that is very kind of you. I accept your offer. I'm sure the couch will be comfortable. That is good. I would like to do some more work around the here while I'm here. Grace said "I don't know why you are doing all this, but God Bless you. Now come inside and have some dinner.
I could feel a warmth and sense of family. It was an experience I had never felt before. I have a chance to get to know both of the children. Lisa is very artistic and want to be a fashion designer. Clint is a bright little boy who likes read and play baseball. I played catch with Clint when I wasn't working around the house. I began to feel very comfortable talking to the kids. After about 2 weeks I felt comfortable in the house. Before bed each Grace and I talked. The more I talked to her the more I admired her strength and character. Grace said "I want to thank you for the exterior paint job you did. It is wonderful. Thank you for buying the paint." I said " That was the least I could do. Your cooking gives me strength." Grace smiles and "You are wonderful. You have done so many things that would have taken me forever to do. You save me from doing so much work. God Bless you. My children and I appreciate it." I said "It has been my pleasure."
I could help looking at Grace. She is a beau- tiful well-proportioned woman. She has golden brown skin. I am attracted to her. I would miss her when she would go to work. She did not ask me any questions.
She smiled and said " I still can't figure out why you have done so much for us. Thank you. You are a special man with a big heart. I could see you were special when held me when I fell the first day we met. I can tell by your hands. Your hands make me feel safe. God Bless you Mr.Hunt."
I lost concentration looking at her beauty. I looked her standing there in that bath robe. She is the first person to call me special. Grace said "I'm tired. It was a long day at the Price Mansion. I wish could work there full time, but they only have 3 days available for me. I miss the things we used to have. I miss the farm." I said " May be good things will happen to you." Grace said "I pray to God for that. You have been a good thing. You have been wonderful to my children. They need a male influence. You have helped so much."
I said " I am more than happy to do it. I feel wonderful. I told you before I really admire you. You have been more than kind to me. I wish I could do more."
Grace said" You deserve my kindness. I hope you intend to stay." I said " I like it here. I wouldn't want to be a burden." Grace said "You are welcome you have been here 2 weeks and you have been a special blessing to my children and I. Why don't you sleep late. You have worked so hard. The kids and I will be quiet." I said " I would start working on those cabinet tomorrow." Grace said you will have plenty if time for that. You should relax some time. Good night Mr.Hunt and God Bless you. I said "Good night Ms.Wade."
She said I was special. Nobody ever said I was special. Some of my mistakes could hardly me called special. I felt so good I was giving my time and enegry to this wonderful family.
I could barely sleep thinking about Grace. She is a living inspiration to me. She is struggling and yet she stays positive. I at one in my life had every thing and continued to be negative. I know now that is why I lost it.
The next morning I can here Grace and her children in the kitchen. Grace said " Lisa and Clint please don't disturb Mr. Hunt. He needs his rest." Lisa asked "Mama is Mr.Hunt going to stay here for a long time?"
Grace said " I don't know. He has not discussed his plans. He is welcome to stay has long has he wants to." Clint said " I hope he does stay because he going to show me how to play baseball." Lisa said "He seems to be a nice man Mama. You have been alone for a long time." Grace said " Young lady. What are you talking about. I am an adult and you are 13 years old. It is not right for you to talk about such things." Clint said " She watches some all those kissy shows on television." Lisa said " I just want you to b happy Mama." Grace said " I have enough problems. Mr.Hunt has been wonderful. I have only know him for 2 weeks." Grace takes a deep breath and said " Look you kids go to school and don't worry about me." Lisa said " OK Mama. I love you." They hug. Clint said " I love you Mama." Grace said "I love you my big boy." They hug.
The kids leave the house. I pretended to be asleep. I listened to the entire conversation. I am laying thinking about what a lovely person Grace is. I decided to get up. Grace walks into the living room. Grace said " I thought you would sleep late and relax." I said " I would rather work. I like keeping busy. Keeping busy helps me relax." Grace asked " You do want some breakfast? I responded "No. Not right now. May be later. I want to get started on the work have to do." Grace said "Ok. I will start rearranging the stuff in my room, so you can fix my closet.
I wasn't hungry because I could stop thinking about her. I was nervous about working in her room. I was going fix the shelves in her closet. I knocked on the door to her room. I asked " Can I come in?" She answered "Yes"
She is standing on a small chair reaching the shelves in her closet when I walk in. She was still wearing that pink robe. She has her back to me. I am looking at her from top to bottom. My heart is pounding. and my hands swet. She attempts to reach to high and nearly falls from the chair. She falls into my arms. She turns and looks at me. Our eyes meet. My body is trem- bling. I am shaking all over. I asked "Are you all right."
She answers " Yes I am fine. Thanks to you. I continue to hold her and we look at each other Grace said "You saved me from getting hurt. Thank you." I am focusing on her. I continue to hold her in my arms. I respond I'm not sure how I feel. You feel so good." Grace said " I feel safe in you hands. I've had that feeling of safety with you from the first day I met you." Grace asked " Can you please kiss me?" I kiss her passionately on the lips. I hug her and take a deep breath. I said "I am sorry. You are so wonderful." Grace said "You are wonderful. I have wanted this for a while. I haven't had a man touch me like this for a long time. I was attrected to you since we met for the first time. When you touched me for the first time I had a feeling you were special." I said " You are a very special lady. You are so beautiful." Grace said " Not me. I am just poor country woman with 2 kids." I said " You are more than just any woman. You have character and strength. I want you." Grace looks into my eyes and said " I want to make love with you."
I remove her pink robe and I remove her night gown. She removes my shirt. I pick her up. I feel her shaking. I carry over to the bed. She removes my trousers. I caress her beautiful body. We kiss some more. It the best feeling in the world. Her passion fills me with joy and ecstacy. Being with her has taught me all things are possible regardless of the situation. Her basic values brought me back to reality. All of my mistakes and past stupidity is a distant memory.
After hours of passion " I said I love you Grace and God Bless you." Grace said " I love you Josh." I said "I thank God for making it possible for me to meet you. You have made my life mean something wonderful." I kiss her again. I did go a long way to no where and around. (smile)