Saturday 3 October 2015
Lonnie, always alone, sat under the bleachers during every recess and lunchbreak. There was no one he wanted to spend any time with at school, and he was able, for the most part, to hide away from Bart Price and his pair of misfit, troublemaker friends. Unexpectedly, a girl’s face appeared, smiling and happy.
‘Hi Lonnie. What are you doing under here?’ Sally Heston asked.
She was no longer the little Sally Heston that everyone knew; she had gone through a growth spurt, and now looked her age. For years when she was in elementary school, everyone referred to her as little Sally Heston because, although the same age as those who gave her the nickname, she was tiny in stature compared to others, and was often mistaken as a child of younger years than she actually was. But here was she right now, a stunning example of a teenage girl, taller, more slender, and far prettier than any of her classmates. At least that’s how she looked through Lonnie’s eyes. He blushed terribly whenever she was near – always had.
‘Hi Sally. You shouldn’t really be here . . . or get caught talking to me,’ he replied. She invited herself under the bleachers, and sat down close to Lonnie, her legs brushing up against his.
‘And why exactly is that, Lonnie? Are you embarrassed that I’m here? Or is there some other reason you don’t want me around anymore?’
Lonnie considered her questions, before replying in a matter of fact tone. ‘Bart Price will beat the crap outta me if he sees me talking to you. God knows what he’ll do to me if he sees you sitting here. Probably kill me.’
She draped her arm over his shoulders, and pulled him closer. ‘Don’t you worry about Bart Price. I’ll punch his nose if he says anything to you.’
* * * * *
He remembered the way that she looked that day. It was the first of many times that she joined him during lunchbreak, and as she’d promised, she’d punched Bart Price’s nose good and hard when she’d heard that he’d dared to bully Lonnie about them sitting together. After that, Bart and his goons left Lonnie alone, and turned their attention to another poor, unfortunate soul who was just a little bit different from them.
‘My life in memories . . . that’s all there is now . . . all I have of anything, aside from Beth.’
‘Then maybe it’s time to tell her who you are and why you’re here, Lonnie.’ The voice is his head was Sally, not as she was when he said goodbye, but as he remembered her from that day under the bleachers.
‘I’m not sure she’s ready for the truth, Sally.’
‘More likely it’s you who isn’t quite ready for the truth. But as I remember, in the face of adversity, you were always strong.’
His mind drifted back into the past.
* * * * *
‘We’ve tried, Lonnie, but things just don’t seem to be getting any better for you. Grace and I have discussed this, and we both think it’s better if we all move back east. Give you a new start somewhere where you’ll get a fair chance because nobody is holding your past over you. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea to you?’ Bob Smith looked like a man with whom nobody dared trifle. However, looks could be deceiving, and Bob was more like a man-sized teddy bear. He avoided conflict wherever possible, and preferred to talk his way out of bad situations rather than use brute strength. Trouble though, rarely found Bob. It usually took one look at him, and used its better judgement to walk away in one piece.
He was a tall and solid man, and he could hold his own in a fight, but whenever discipline was metered out in the Smith house, it was always Gracie who stepped up to punish the boys. Bob, she’d told the children, was far too soft and couldn’t be relied upon to give them what they deserved when they stepped foot out of line. Still, Lonnie didn’t like to push his uncle too far.
‘Please, Uncle Robert, please . . . can’t I just finish off school here? It’s only a few more months, and then I’ll go. Heck, I’ll even pack up the boys’ rooms, and everything they own, and I’ll do it willingly. Just let me finish this school year.’
‘Your Aunt Grace thinks it’s best if we go now, Lonnie.’
‘Oh, come on, Uncle Robert, have a heart.
‘Lonnie Corwin, don’t you go pulling at the heart strings of your poor, weak uncle like that,’ Grace said as she walked into Lonnie’s room. ‘We’ve made a decision and we’re going immediately. This is not up for consideration.’
Lonnie snapped his head around to look at the slight woman entering the room. He could see she was serious by the stern facial expression she wore.
‘If you make me go, Aunt Grace, I’ll run away. Simple as that. And you won’t see me ever again because you won’t be able to find me.’
‘That, Lonnie Corwin, won’t happen either. You know perfectly well what the judge said. If you’re not living with us, you’re going to prison for that assault on Bart Price. And sweetheart, I very much doubt that you’ll be able to look after yourself around all of those hardened criminals.’
‘You’d be surprised at what I am actually capable of, Aunt Grace,’ Lonnie replied coldly.
. . . To be continued . . .