The Reason (Chapter 35 Tough Gum)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Dim glimpses of the past made Craig stay up late at night drinking heavily, smoking cigarettes caught up in dwellings that were not meant for him. An already chewed pack of gum balled into a wad rested on the dresser.  Every night he'd chew on the flavorless wad of tough gum adding another stick of gum to it, he didn't have a reason other that it served as a reminder of his state of being. He remembered his foster parents that always took from him.  Remembering his past made him want to work.  Yup it was hard hard work that took his mind off of things.  Presently there was no work, so the memories lingered triggered by the events of the summer.  During his mid teenage years he learned alot about people that only look for weakness. That's how he built up a strong defence.  His foster parents took bites at him continually leaving him on tap like farmers under the rule of Nazi's during World War 2.  He learned a lot about how the earth runs in time.  Not just people but the actual earth and its inhabitants.  Though it was city that he lived in his foster parents owned chickens, he learned about a familiar cadence where the earth seemed to hold still, mostly during the winter.  At times the chickens wouldn't lay eggs and then sometimes they'd lay in cadence eleven one short of a dozen, it happened like clockwork.  If this was the reverse, then the reverse was beneficial for him becuase of his birth.  The family owned a blue nose pit bull named Bella, he took a liking to the dog and it was a good thing that he did becuase his foster parents never cared.  Forming an emotional attachment to the dog he promised to make sure that she didn't shit in the house.  Proud of the ownership of his dog he'd take her for walks always with her on his side, he learned a lot about pit bulls through her as they had a bad reputation.  In time with continual walking her discipline improved, she listened obediently to him that was up until the night that his foster father came home drunk.  Bella upon appearance of her owner would wag her tail, pace back and forth, and sit excitedly.  That particular night Bella had hairs on edge running up her grey haired spineas Craig's foster father beat him severely shoving him down a flight of stairs.  Bella attacked him out of loyalty to her rightful owner, as she bit she clung and try as she might Craig's foster father couldn't shake her off.  Unfortunately it would be her last living moments as the foster father sustained surgery needing bites to his arms.  Though drunk he wrapped his arms around the dog's neck and strangled her till she was a lifeless form.  Now Craig had just turned 16, he saved up enough money to buy his first car and he owned a dog that was the one thing that was really his.  After sticking up for his foster mother when she took a pounding from his foster father he got beat up pretty bad with a busted lip and broken nose.  When he was thrown down the flight of stairs it broke his front teeth and after his dog was killed it was thrown down into the basement with him.  He was locked in the basement that night with his dead dog, he would never forget his foster parents, his dog, or that night that turned him into a man.  They were a people that always took and never gave.  He remembered them particularly because they were predatory people that though they had very obvious faults never stopped looking for the fault in him.  He tried to push away all of the things that were bothering him though he knew a better way he resorted to drinking and smoking cigarettes reading Hemingway and Steinbeck.  At times like these life dragged on slowly when he needed things to pass. People in similar situations often become their own monsters.  Knowing this he prayed for a way out.

 

****

 

At Couture Paille in Menton, France Ishmael worked diligently constructing jackets made of silk.  Nearly two weeks had gone by since Hinn’s abduction and while he had not heard word he finally got an order of Camel hair canvas that he had ordered.  It was his insistence that each jacket that he constructed have an internal camel hair canvas.  Philip and Kerry used the Singer brand for their sewing however; Ishmael preferred the Husqvarna Viking, so he bought one and had the shipping expedited to their location.  Still he managed to work under conditions that needed to be tinkered in order to suit the kind of environment that he felt most productive under.  He crafted suits based on the specifications that he was given but he worked best when there were real people that gave a real view to the dimensions of the craft.  He battled briefly in his own passive way over the insistence of the use of a canvas in the suit jacket as where Kerry was going to construct jackets without a canvas.  Ishmael argued that the quality would be compromised without it even if the suits were more expensive.  He argued that the Paille brand as a tailor should be built based on the quality of his fine stitch as much as the material that was used.  Fabric was Ishmael's specialty and he knew many fabric dealers in Persian lands.  By night time two days after he began his work Phillip handed Ishmael a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon he sat on top of the table that Ishmael worked with one leg dangling off.  Stopping Ishmael mid stitch, Phillip pushed the glass of wine toward him.  “Is there a purpose?”  Ishmael asked.  “Hinn is no more, it is done” After hearing those words Ishmael was a in a state of shock he sat silent as Phillip watched and waited for a response.  As Hinn broke down in a long bout of sobbing, Phillip took short sips from his glass of wine.  Giving Ishmael the space for grieving he considered it best that he not prod him into conversation until he was ready.  He left Ishmael alone.  Minutes later Ishmael took a sip of wine, wiped his eyes, and continued to work.  

 

Alone Ishmael constructed jackets, pants, and vests his delicate fingers sewed intricately with precision.  Into the following days with long hours Ishmael had completed the order for suits.  During the first week he had discussions with Kerry Wall though she was tough on the exterior when he got to know her, he understood that she was a well guarded woman for a reason.  He took her measurements, at the time she laughed it off, she thought that he was just being gay.  Several days had gone by with him busy with work.  When he stopped working he was at an end, he was no longer a slave.  After a short moment of panic and what to do his first mission would be to reclaim the small fortune that he knew would be secure.  In Iran his family was renown within the fabric and tailoring industry and his plan was to put the inheritance into a secure account.  The retrieval of what was his would be the beginning of the rest of his life.  As a thank you Ishmael had started to craft a small wardrobe of dresses and business suits for Kerry Wall.  Phillip walked into the shop where the suits hung from hangers, as he inspected the work and the speed in which the work was completed he was not only throughly impressed he came to the conclusion that he could use a man like Ishmael, but would he want to be employed by a French tailor?  That is when Ishmael opened up a cabinet that contained the clothing that he was making for Phillip's wife.

 

****

 

Percival and Jim managed to get into the Pits at Showtime Speedway.  Jim Buck was the real star when initially it seemed impossible for Percival to get in.  Something that Jim had learned when trying to enter a place that was forbidden for outsiders to enter, was to act dumb and because it was followed with a real believable openness Jim Buck merged like he was part of the Pitt Crew.  It went so far as Jim Buck standing side by side with members and he must have looked like a family member of the drive.He was asked if he were his father he replied, “Yeah” talking quickly they were asking if he had experience and he answered in the affirmative.  Having watched Nascar and stock racing for many years he had no experience but he often learned by watching, come time to take off and putt on new tires he worked as fast as a 69 year old man in good condition could work.  Percival stood not far off with his thumbs in his pocket while his cane leaned against his leg.  “That’s some shit” he said as Jim Buck walked to him after working.  “Lets go take a seat” Jim Buck yelled into Percival’s ear.  “You worked like a young whipper snapper” Jim Buck took pride in himself, “I did get it done, didn’t I?”  As they were leaving Jim Buck lit a cigarette he waved to the Pitt crew chief as he and Percival left.  

 

Some hours later they found themselves driving in Largo Florida.  Percival took a liking to this area and although he was known for his thrift spending, and saving everything that he could for a rainy day that always stayed dry he considered buying a home in Largo, Florida.  There was a cart that sold cigars he told Jim Buck whom was driving a rental Chevrolet Tahoe to stop the suv.  Both men got out of the vehicle, Percival slower than Buck as they approached the cigar cart they were met by a man that stood roughly 5’8 with black and grey hair cleanly shaven.  From the looks of it he could have been Jim Buck or Percival’s brother but he wasn’t.  When they initiated small conversation Jim Buck read a name plate that was on a plaque on the wall behind the owner of the cigar stand.  “Burt Chaise” Jim Buck read the name on the plaque.  He put his hands on his hips Percival nodded he saw a likeness between Burt Chaise and Craig Chaise he placed one of his hands on his hips, “Are you from up north?”  Burt lost the smile that was on his face he too placed his hands on his hips, “Am I in trouble with the law or somethin”  Percival nodded no, “We aint the law.  Have a son that goes by the name of Craig?”  Now the short slick back hair cigar shop owner began to fidget.   There’s a difference between fidgeting and losing one’s composure but to a man like Percival that dealt with men breaking down for nearly fifty years he knew agitation rather than fear was the emotion.  “What did he do, that’s what your thinking.”  Percival surmised.  Burt Chaise nodded in the affirmative, “Nothing in particular, he married a Hawaiian girl, has kids with a rich art dealer,  he’s pompous but he’s a man.  I can see that he rubs you the same way that he rubs me.”  Burt placed cigars on the table he looked to both men without beating around the bush, “The truth is that I don’t know him that well and he holds it against me that I didn’t reach out to him when his mother and brothers were killed” Both Jim Buck and Percival dropped their hands from their hips.  They didn’t know about his family’s death.  Jim Buck put money on the counter of the cigar stand and it lingered there, while Burt considered things for a moment.  He tapped the top of the cigar box he looked to both men then he extended a hand, “These are free for you” Burt but the cigars inside of a bag.  Several trash trucks drove passed and one stopped on route emptying trash cans with a robotic arm.  “Le Persil still burns” Percival said softly.

 

****

 

Rebecca Cauldron and Patty Medallion drove together on route 95 south on their way to Florida for what they called a retrieval mission.  Being truthful with herself, Patty had her doubts but Rebecca didn’t she knew that Percival had a end of life crisis and whatever he had build up he gave up.  She called him a bunch of times and while they talked that one time, there had been no contact since.  Now Patricia and Rebecca were not spring chickens but it would be wrong to think that they were women without good aged looks or charm.  In her own right Patricia was very familiar with traveling on the road.  Attending horse competition after competition her truck and trailer had traveled far and wide, though Florida was never one of those destinations.  It could have been that Florida wasn’t prominent in the world of Arabian horse show competition.  Rebecca knew the 95 corridor pretty well as her and Percival preferred to drive when they vacationed rather than fly.  Driving many hours consecutively, they took turns driving while the other one slept.  They stopped when they needed to and some on purpose one of those destinations was The White House.  Now these were two women were with purpose and though they had seen their day they wanted their spouses to know something.  They took many photographs as proof of their voyage.  The further that the two women drove the more of a hum drum pattern of mesmerizing traveling was only differentiated when landscapes changed happened.  The southern states were different than cities of the north.  There are less buildings and government funding wasn’t as pervasive and the history of the farmland of the southern states gave a history that was more vast and free within the premises of the people within their own property.  Near the Georgia Florida line Rebecca was driving, she slowed down as a grey minivan was completely engulfed in flames.  A blond shapely woman stood a short distance behind the vehicle with items that were inside of the mini van with four children.  Police cruisers were parked in both front and back of the vehicle and a news van parked across the road, a reporter and a camera woman filmed live footage of the fire as it was happening.  “For the love of god!” Patricia remarked “Whatever doesn’t burn” Rebecca said quoting Percival.  Patty looked oddly to Rebecca their car was parked on the side of the road going the other way, “What does that mean?” Rebecca nodded shaking off her observation.  “It’s a saying that Percival’s father Pearl told him” Rebecca put the car into drive and they continued to drive to Pinella’s Park, Florida.

 

Comparing New England weather to Florida is the reason that most older Americans move to Florida.  Lower in sea level Florida in comparison to New England is flat.  Most of the homes are built without basements and thunder storms are renown in Florida just as blizzards are in New England .  Both women knew how to hold their own as they rented a room at the Red Roof Inn they just wanted somewhere to stay before they planned to make their move.  While Percival didn’t give his location to Rebecca, Jim Buck let their location slip while Patty played nice during a brief phone call.  In the morning Rebecca and Patty woke up early, they drove to a Dunkin bought coffee’s and donuts.  It was a Sunday, Percival always slept late on Sunday.  Rebecca sighed as the women waited in Rebecca’s Ford Expedition she checked her purse, her 22 was there.  As she grabbed it Patricia noticed what she was doing, “What are you doing?” She asked, Rebecca opened up the door to the vehicle, “I’m not going home empty handed” Patricia didn’t like the feeling in her stomach as both women walked briskly inside of the hotel.

 

****

 

Time in Hawaii seemed to slip by quickly without notice as Faith found herself in a blur.  For a pregnant woman who’s mind was overworking when it came to the matter it was still there.  Into the beginnings of her second trimester a bump in her stomach appeared she looked like she was holding water.  She sat in a courtroom as the judge went through the formality of her divorce.  Still foggy knowing that Craig didn’t want a divorce and she was unclear, she went through with the process like a virgin jumping over the edge off a cliff into a volcano.  After the proceedings Faith needed comfort and when she needed comfort she’d run to her parents house finding herself in the familiarity of family.  Over two weeks before she argued with her father while picking vegetables in the garden.  She didn’t know if he would forgive her for what she did.  October in Hawaii is the reason why New Englanders go on vacation, she thought about Craig in New England, shortly he would be moving to his vineyard in California with his children, without her. As she arrived at her parents house her father had the car parked in front of the house with the hatchback open he was putting suitcases into the car, Joanna walked out wearing a poncho and a straw hat, Faith was thrown off.  She rushed out of her car she walked up to her father whom was lugging the last suitcase into the 1986 Chevy Eurosport station wagon as he closed the hatch his daughter was standing in front of him.  He looked eye to eye with her, she looked angry.  Jan was not a dumb man, he knew that his daughter had gone through with the divorce proceedings that was why he and his wife had planned a vacation.  Caught off guard Jan pinched his daughters stomach and kissed her on the cheek, “Your getting fat” He didn’t suspect that she was pregnant.  Faith walked to her mother, “Where are you two going?”  Joanna was notoriously guilty for being soft on Faith she looked helplessly to Jan.  “We’re going on vacation for a month!” Jan told his daughter.  Faith didn’t hold back she needed security after a stressful day, “What do you mean vacation for month?  WHERE?  I need you!”  Jan looked sternly to his daughter then softly to his wife, “Joanna lets get going, we have a flight to catch.”  Joanna kissed her daughter on the cheek then she opened up the passenger door to the Eurosport  and sat patiently.  Jan walked to his daughter, “You have a key, the doors are locked.  We left the chickens out to fend for themselves but if you want, you can feed them.”  Faith’s face was red she didn’t like the answers that she was given.  “At least tell me where you two are going?”  That’s when Jan smiled he slipped on a Mexican poncho then he put on a straw hat.  “In Hawaii we’re Hawaiian we’re going to another place where we will pass as Mexicans.”  Faith put her hands on her hips, “So you’re going to Mexico?”  Jan’s smile was wide, “Nope were going to visit family at a winery in Northern California”  Faith’s jaw dropped as Jan started up the Eurosport and began his drive to Daniel K. Inouye airport.

 

****

 

Percival answered the door after there was a knock.  Now he didn’t order anything from the hotel and he wasn’t expecting visitors.  Without asking or offering a greeting Rebecca Cauldron barged through the door storming into the parlor of the hotel room.  “What the!” Percival looked to Jim Buck, “Why the hell!  Did you let her know where I was?” Jim Buck was as surprised as he was until he saw the woman standing at the door way he lifted a finger pointing in her direction, “Ask her, she’d know better than me”

 

****

 

A couple of weeks of hard work had paid off for Craig Chaise.  First were cutting wooden slabs from the downed trees, moving them, planing, belt, then palm sanding, he squared the tree boards with a table saw aided by sawhorses with rollers on top of them.  He stacked the boards with sticks placed in spaced out areas to create gaps.  Of course that work really didn’t take weeks but it served as an excuse to put off visiting Arianne and her sister Sif.  Really what he needed was separation from continual stress and endless nights of hard drinking and thinking. October entered the second week like a parked car getting rusty in the rain.He was ready to begin his move to his California Vineyard with his children.  The day of the finality of his divorce he was to meet with Faith’s parents where they would spend a month on vacation there.  It was his hope to convince them to stay permanently but he would settle for a month.  While his phone was full of messages from Arianne he had not received any from Sif nor Faith.  Hours before his flight was planned to leave he found himself standing at the front of Arianne’s house ringing the doorbell.  There was no answer, it had begun to rain, Craig rang the door bell again.  Slowly a form appeared through the stained glass, the door creaked open, it was Sif.  A walker was in front of her as she used it to move around.  The rain fell consistently but he stood still she smiled, tough tears fell from the corner of his eyes, Sif was motionless. Though stiff in movement she reached forward and held his hand, before walking through the doors he looked back and spit out the old wad of gum that he had been chewing on for weeks.  


Submitted: January 05, 2021

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