KINDNESS

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: DOWN-HOME


Two wealthy people, man and wife, travel through a strange South Florida neighborhood in route to a county fair. They by chance pick up two homeless teenage girls and take them to the fair, a
decision of charity and kindness that will change four lives forever.

Submitted: July 31, 2018

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Submitted: July 31, 2018

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KINDNESS

Painting & Fictional Story by: Virgil Dube’ - Copyright 2018

We are retired caregivers, my wife once a nurse practioner and I a pediatric doctor. She and I have much to look back on; especially happy we came to a positive decision that offered two other people beside us a rewarded life.

It was on an October evening in 1990 while on a mission of pleasure and adventure we had long anticipated away from Southland Medical Center in Lakeland, that my wife became frustrated and said sharply, “George Parker, why did you turn off the main highway thinking this a short cut?”

“You have a point, Abigail; it was a stupid decision. Harpesville, Florida is bigger than I remembered when I visited here as a boy twenty years ago. This neighborhood is definitely rundown, homeless people all about, many homes in shambles. Stick with me; maybe my misguided route will prove quicker to the Blake County Fair and Music Festival.”

Glancing at her watch, Abigail sighed worriedly, “I adore Doris Copeland featured to sing this night, she the current country music sensation. But it’s 7:15 and her concert starts at 8:00. I doubt we’ll make it unless we hustle more and get out of this mess … soon.”

I rolled my eyes, and replied, “We still have time, Abigail. Just be patient, you’ll see.”

“George, it’s dark … creepy; I’m scared. The quicker you get out of here, the better. Forget the festival, and Doris Copeland. I want you to drive back to Lakeland …now!”

“Hon, patience, please.”

Truthfully, I was as fearful as Abigail, driving into unknown territory with no sense of direction. I turned right and left at one dark corner after another hoping the different avenue would lead us to some junction of significance, hopefully to a lighted business district where I could at least get my bearings to get to the festival we had looked forward to attending several weeks.

Finally, I heard a rush of traffic to my left and knew I was near deliverance. I drove our Camry up a short road ramp that fed into a busy roadway terminating at an intersection and not too distant red light. Several drivers ahead of me had stopped waiting to merge into the oncoming traffic. My immediate access lane would eventually turn right at the red light, which I desired. Abigail impatient, and me antsy also assuming an extra lane might similarly turn right, I whipped around the car ahead of me and onto the roadway in a gap between cars, a chorus of cars honking igniting a rush of blaring car horns all about from sudden angry drivers … road rage incarnate. Chin lifted, I threw a stiff upper lip at my adversaries, didn’t care; was on the roadway and in position to turn right at the red light and be on my way. However, when I studied my location closer I realized I had goofed-up, was in a lane to turn left, no double lane, not right like I intended to head in the proper direction to the festival.

What must I do? I asked myself totally frustrated.

The light changed to green and I inched forward behind the car before me. The light quickly changed to red. Suddenly, people swarmed from everywhere, all probably unloaded from parked tour buses visible down the street and headed to the County Fair several blocks away. Noise heightened by tempers flaring, humanity rushed between cars to cross the highway in bunches, absolutely no order with no patrolman to manage the swarming people amidst stagnated auto traffic.

Individuals in a rush, began to bump into my car, as the light again changed. I inched forward careful not to run into anybody crazy enough to walk between my car and the car several feet in front of me.

The light changed again to red, just as I reached it. The first car to go, I knew I would get past this insanity when the light changed again to green.

Before the light again changed, our world would alter forever, as extra busloads of people materialized in mounting hordes. I lowered my window, unaware I had accidentally lowered the rear window in my haste to ask any willing passerby that might stop and answer me why the buses are unloading people this far from the fairgrounds, right in the middle of a traffic jam. Swiftly replying amidst incessant noise, one man took offense thinking I was a crazed driver cursing him. He stepped close and took a punch at me, his knuckles barely grazing my chin as I ducked back avoiding his huge hand bearing a large NFL Super Bowl ring. Before I could roll up the windows, him and another giant beside him grabbed two beleaguered girls and crammed their bodies into the open window spaces of our car, both half in and half out, frantically trying to withdraw but not able because the monsters behind kept pushing them disallowing their escape.

The light changed to green.

“Abigail, grab that bigger girl in the back window and pull her inside. I’ll yank this smaller girl inside as best I can so we can get the heck out of here.”

The two girls yanked inside, the big one sprawled on the back seat, me maneuvering the smaller girl speedily over the top of our front seat, she settling atop the big girl, horns began to blare behind us. I inched our Pontiac forward, people giving way allowing our car into the intersection just as the light changed again. I turned left because I had no choice and drove a short distance before I found an inlet to the busy highway leading back toward town and our destination. I drove toward town, seeing the main streetlights aglow, a beautiful setting of brilliant multi-color for a small town that seemed for the moment as busy as New York City.

All the while the two girls in the back seats were flailing their arms and bodies against Abigail trying to untangle and calm them, both screaming, “You’re kidnapping us. Let us out. We’ll get the law on your butts.”

“Look,” I said above their shouts, “we had no choice but pull you inside. You can thank those two monsters we’re all in this predicament. Also, you protected us from those knuckleheads trying to assault us for whatever reason I don’t know. I’ll let you out at the first place I can find … just hang in there and be quiet so I can focus where we are and where I can drop you off.”

My car settled in the right lane of the four-lane highway leading toward town. Soon, I spotted the first street to the right, Broward Avenue.

I turned right on the darkened street and drove a block. I slowed then stopped to drop to off the first girl. She slammed the door before the second girl could exit. Realizing suddenly both girls could be hostile to one another after their entanglement, I drove another two blocks and let the second girl out. Driving on I realized I was in the same large neighborhood we had earlier entered and it seemed even spookier and more dangerous after our ordeal.

Feeling suddenly guilty, and concerned for the two girls, I did a U-turn at the next dark intersection and drove back. After several blocks I approached both girls rejoined on the crumpled sidewalk and huddled close. I stopped next to the curb.

“Are you two okay?”

“Yeah,” the bigger girl answered, not so frightened of us anymore.

Abigail motioned me with her index finger, and I bent toward her.

Us nose-to-nose, she whispered, “It’s obvious, George; they’re homeless. We bent even closer. Cheek-to-cheek, we whispered between us our concern for their safety and together made a suggestion. I straightened up, then turned my attention to the two, and said, “My wife and I are headed to the Blake County Fair and Music Concert featuring Doris Copeland. Do you trust us enough to get in and ride there, maybe accompany us to see the concert?”

The younger girl said, “We have no place to go, have no money to see the concert.”

“That’s no problem,” Abigail replied. “Get in and we’ll take care of the fees, everything … that okay.”

The girls complied, stepping nervously into our car’s backseat.

We arrived at the concert as it began, and enjoyed Doris Copeland’s greatest hits she sang live, no lip-syncing. Sneaking peeks at our guests, we realized they too were in musical bliss. Later, we toured the fair, paid for the girls’ rides, and games they played, for which both won prizes, Jenny the oldest a teddy bear, and Marcia the youngest a toy bugle.

We dropped the girls off near midnight, not knowing their destinations prior to us pulling our car away. We gave them each a hundred dollar bill, wished them good luck and drove away, both of us concerned.

A year passed.

In the meantime fascinated by Harpesville and the general area, we purchased a lovely two-story house in Gable-Point on Harpesville’s north side, and moved from Lakeland into a nice neighborhood in another universe from Pine Villa Estates, the downtrodden neighborhood we had arrived and were lost a year ago.

October rolled around with the Blake County Fair in full swing, tonight’s special guest Derek Humphrey, an old-time rock-and-roller giving a concert. We headed out, but this time well aware our route to the fairground. As we drove down Main Street I suddenly remembered our encounter with the two girls, and on impulse, turned left on Broward Avenue, the road I had dropped the two girls not forgotten before leaving town.

Abigail not as scared as in the year past when we ventured blindly here, said, “I was thinking the same, George, curious if we might by accident spot Jenny and Marcia.”

I drove around as before, but not as fearful, turning at several dark street corners. After about five minutes my high beams illuminated two people standing on the sidewalk a half block ahead. I switched the lights to low beam, and approached the pair, slowed, then stopped abreast them at the curb. Abigail lowered her window to see and confirm that they were in fact Jenny and Marcia.

Abigail and I were stunned at our good luck, as were the girls clutched tightly together not sure if thugs were about to spring from the car and pounce on them.

“My goodness,” Abigail said. “Would you two like to repeat last year and accompany George and me to the concert featuring Derek Humphrey.”

The girls smiled, and nodded their heads vigorously. They almost jumped into the back seats when I got out and opened the rear doors.

The fun and excitement at the concert and following fair grounds’ rides and games better than duplicated last year, especially that this year the girls were friendlier and more at ease, almost like two of our relatives estranged a year and reconnected.

Arriving on Main Street near Pine Villa Estates, I pulled off the road, stopped, and turned to face them in the back seat, “Say, Jenny and Marcia, Abigail has cooked some tasty cookies. Would you two like to ride with us to our home and have cookies with milk before we return you here at your neighborhood?”

“Oh, yes,” both said cheerfully, almost in unison.

Jenny Peacock of African ancestry and age 17 and Marcia Ramona of Hispanic ancestry and age 13 expressed their admirations of our new home prior to us four sitting at our dining room table, eating a plate stacked with peanut butter cookies. I could tell they didn’t want to leave after an hour, the cookies devoured.

“Would you girls mind pardoning us a couple minutes? We’ll be back soon to drive you home.”

Disappointment was evident on their faces as Abigail and I left the room. Shortly, we returned and sat opposite them, both sharing quizzically at us.

“We’ve discussed something of a serious nature that involves you both. It’s something that hadn’t originated just tonight, but has been discussed between us the past year, not knowing in truth if we might ever see you two again, or knowing your living situation, which we did have suspicion of your homelessness. Stumbling upon you tonight has reaffirmed our agreement between us that we make a life altering suggestion to you.”

I paused to study the girls anticipated expressions, acknowledging they were both naïve of my hint. Finally, I said, “For biological reason, and misfortune, we have no children after twelve years of marriage. We realize you may not be under proper foster care. Therefore, Abigail and I want you two to come live here with us as adoptees. We will make all legal arrangements and take good care of you: clothe, feed, and offer you first-class education, no matter if you’ve been deprived of proper schooling in your estranged lives to date. What do you think?”

Jenny’s head dropped, and she muttered, Mr. and Mrs. Parker, I’m pregnant, about three months along.”

I glanced from Jenny to Abigail, then returned my attention to the worried girl, and said, “Would you like to talk about it, tell us who the father is … his obligations.”

“Marcia and me are under foster care, but we live between shelters, basically are homeless. When things are settled there from bad to tolerable, we stay as long as possible in a Villa home with our foster family the Blake’s, that is often drunk or stoned and abusive and does crooked things. Marcia and me have attended school, but haphazardly. We have little possessions but are clean, haven’t broken any laws. Karle and Carolyn Blake’s natural son Lamar raped me; he is my child’s father. Lamar killed a man in a barroom fight in Tampa, then a lawman trying to break up the brawl. He is in Raiford prison for life without parole and doesn’t know I’m knocked up. I don’t want him in my life, nor the baby’s’ life either.”

After an extended silence, of which we were shocked by the news, and the two girls apprehensive, Abigail looked long at me, both of us experiencing years of togetherness able to read the others’ silent thoughts. Finally, she said, “Jenny, by your manner of speaking we can tell you are naturally intelligent, you too, Marcia. Both of you please understand that who or what Lamar or his family, is, that will never change, makes it extremely important to George and me that your well-being depends on you being apart from that hostile environment. Also, whatever has happened is a matter of the past … and it must remain that way once we plow through the court system on your behalf. Thereafter, we will take care of you and Marcia, and the baby welcomed here. Now, what do you say?”

Both girls jumped from their seats and dashed around the table to embrace Abigail and me barely rising from our own seats.

*  *  *

The forthcoming years were happy and rewarding for Abigail and me from that day we adopted Jenny and Marcia, and Rebecca Mae when she was born, they taking our surname. And, the girls responded magnificently. They got a high school diploma, then worked diligently for and received college degrees, both becoming civic workers helping underprivileged and homeless people. They opened a law firm and extended their good will and service to community like the champions I recognized that night in our dining room when they devoured Abigail’s cookies.

Marcia married a nice young man from Ft. Myers. He and she settled in Harpesville down the street from George and I. Marcia with insight and she an awe-inspiring person, became a great trial lawyer.

Jenny never married. Instead, she highly intelligent became a prosecutor until she turned to politics and ran for State Senator in the Democratic Party. She won, becoming a staunch representative for The People, especially for those in true need, praising American ideals of liberty and justice for every single person and holding the American Flag high.

Rebecca Mae had her sights zeroed on her mother, following in her footsteps. She worked in the law firm office while attending high school, doing general office work and running errands initially. During college she worked as a paralegal. Graduated, she became a proficient trial lawyer, ultimately a prosecutor.

Often Abigail and I would say one to the other, “Boy, oh boy! We are so proud of our girls having survived and flourished because of kindness extended them and they acting on it.”

THE END


© Copyright 2018 Virgil Dube. All rights reserved.

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