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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chapter 11

Hey you in there.  I felt you move again today.  It made me want to smile.  It was the only thing that made me want to smile today.  But at least I know where I stand though it is an awful strange place to be. 

I’m sitting in this room.  It’s still daylight and there’s a real window that the light comes in.  There’s no bars over the glass and the window really opens and closes.  I must have messed with it five minutes before Roman asked me if I wondered how it worked. 

“No.  I remember how windows work,” I told him.  “It’s just been so long since I’d been in a place that the windows opened and closed that I guess I’m acting stupid over it.” 

I heard someone gasp and I turned around too quick.  I had thought it was just Roman there.  It was that girl … woman … whatever she is.  When Roman caught me before I could get face planted she made a huge fuss.  I thought at first she was mad because Roman had helped me but it turns out – and this is the strange part – that she was upset that I had tripped and started fussing about me not eating properly and all sorts of other noise.  It was bad enough that she started sounding like the chickens that seem to run all over around here. 

Here. I guess I better explain.  I should probably go back and erase this page and start over but I don’t want to waste the pencil to do it.  And that’s another thing but I’ll get to it when I get to it.  First though I need to find something to call you.  You’re real and you deserve a name.  The problem is I don’t know what flavor you are yet so whatever I call you it can’t be something that says that you’re definitely one thing or the other because what if I call you one flavor in this book only to have you turn out to be the other flavor?  No, that wouldn’t be good.  I know, I’ll call you Bean.  That’s about what you started off being though you are bigger than that now.  Plus that is what Tim used to call me when I was very little because he had a lisp and couldn’t say Narcissa until the doctor’s fixed the thing that was wrong with his tongue. 

So Bean, how do you like it in there?  Nice and cozy?  I hope so.  I’m feeling a little cozy out here.  Let me tell you how I got here. 

The snow piled really deep for two days.  I had had to go back out in it even though it hadn’t been easy.  I tried to be careful for your sake but it wasn’t easy.  It was too cold in the box, there was frost on the walls and not even using all of the covers that Roman had left kept my feet and hands from hurting.  So out I went and sure enough I fell a couple of times but not on my fat belly.  When I felt myself falling I made sure to fall on my behind.  That wasn’t great either but at least you didn’t get squashed. 

On the third day I ate some of the crackers.  I wasn’t happy about it.  I kept thinking about our money getting all used up too fast.  But you were making me hungry and not in a good way.  I’m not complaining.  It isn’t your fault.  That’s just the way things happen so that you can grow and be healthy.  When you come out you’ll cry to let me know when you need to be fed.  Right now all you can do is make me hungry to let me know.  That’s ok.  I can deal with it.  It lets me know you are still ok in there, especially when you don’t wiggle around for a while. 

I had one more bag of soup that I put a lot of water in to make it go as far as possible.  That’s what I had that night and then the box was empty except for the books and pencils that I hadn’t touched.  I knew that I couldn’t stay anymore and planned to try and follow the trail out the next day. 

The problem is that on the fourth day a wind began to blow and by mid-morning it was blowing so hard I wasn’t sure if I could walk straight in it.  I’ve seen bad wind living down on the docks but I’d never seen one like this.  Plus it was blowing the snow all around.  I drank some warm water and saw that the water barrel was almost empty too.  I knew one way or the other I would definitely have to do something soon.  I didn’t think much about Roman not coming back at that point.  I just figured that Alex had had his way.  I wasn’t surprised by it.  Well maybe a little but I figured that Roman had just overestimated his Dad wanting to talk to me and get whatever answers he thought he would want.  Roman is a strange duck as Mother Mary would say.  That’s what she called people that are different in a way that goes counter to what we know to be normal for how people act in the city. 

Day five I wake up and though I’m hungry enough to be sick I hold it in.  No use in making it worse on ourselves; and puking never solved anything.  But the wind did do one thing and that was to blow away all of the snow and to dry everything up.  That was fine by me.  I gathered up what I could and put it in my bag.  I also borrowed one of the blankets, the one that Roman left from his pack.  I folded the others neatly and left them in the trunk where they’d been.  I also tore a page out of the back of this book and left a note explaining that just in case Roman ever came that way again that I wanted to apologize to him for taking his blanket and the book and pencils and eating the rest of the food and not paying for any of it but that I hadn’t liked to just leave money laying around as that wasn’t very smart.  And that if we ever did run into each other again that he wouldn’t even have to show an IOU, that I would pay him what I owed as I would forever set that money aside to make sure that I could.  I also explained that I would pay for the food too only I’d probably have to save up for that since I wasn’t sure what prices were in the area and that I trusted him not to rip me off down the road.  I thanked him for getting me away from the city and that I couldn’t have gotten this far on my own this fast.  I put the note in the food box and just relied on someone finding it and passing it along as I gathered it was some kind of way station his family used.  Then I started walking. 

It was cold.  In fact it was so cold I got off the path and stuck to the trees.  That wasn’t any better temperature wise but it did keep the wind from whipping around me too much.  I still had to try and deal with the blanket and I did that by making a hole that I had found in the center of the blanket big enough so that I could stick my head through.  Not great but better than I had been.  It was slow going trying to make my way through trees and bushes though. 

Crossing nearly frozen streams was not fun either.  I almost got wet more times than I want to admit and then the rock I was using to cross the last stream tilted and one of my feet slid all the way in.  Talk about cold.  It was just about as bad as the baths that Mother Mary would make us take in winter right before the doctor would come for the monthly physical.  Like ice cubes mixed up with melted snowman.  It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to find some place and try and dry off; my foot was actually not just numb but hurt deep inside. 

It was late afternoon and I was tired so I also figured it was as good a time as any to find a place to stop for the night.  I hadn’t seen a building or even a piece of a building so I knew it would be another camp in the open kind of night.  The one thing I hadn’t thought of was how to make a fire.  I mean I had no food so it isn’t like I was going to cook plus I hated to take more after I’d eaten all the food and even taken the book and pencil without paying for it.  Alex’s comment about me being a whore with scruples popped into my head.  Not that I would have done it any different but at the time, being cold and wet made me a little irritated at my scruples too. 

I found a strangely clean area off the trail and crawled under what looked like an oversized Christmas tree.  I worried about animals but then decided no self-respecting animal would be out on a night like it was looking to be and even if they were there wasn’t much I could do about it so I used my hand to clean an area off and then using little rocks that I found I made what looked like a miniature fire ring.  Then I decided to try something that I had read in one of the magazines that Alex had left.  I made a little teepee out of tinder – that’s really what they called it in the article – and then took two rocks and tried to strike them together to make a spark. 

I must have been at it a while when I finally threw the rocks down and said aloud, “That is a whole lot harder than they make it sound.” 

I heard a snort and a man’s voice say, “It sure is.”  

I jumped up and nearly knocked myself out on the limb that I had hung my piece of plastic on.  The man gave a whistle and despite the stars swimming in my eyes, grabbed my bag and tried to take off.  I got three steps before I went down again and this time I knocked the wind out of me.  I still tried to get up and get going but they reached me before I could. 

“Whoa there.  Easy.  Three hippos with five o’clock shadows.  Remember?” 

I turned and still trying to scoot back and suddenly I recognized Roman.  It still took me a bit because his face was definitely messed up. 

“Holy cow!  You and Alex must have really got into it,” was all I could think to say. 

His voice was a little nasally when he answered, “It was something like that.  I found your note.” 

He was being so reasonable that I was confused.  “Oh.  Uh, hang on.  I’ve got it here in an envelope.” 

“You’ve got what in an envelope.” 

“The money I owe you.  I told you that you’d …” 

“Oh.  Don’t worry about it.  I probably owe you for not getting back before the food ran out.” 

“Uh … well … I … look I ate it all.  I didn’t mean to.  I meant to save at least the crackers but Bean kept saying …” 

One of the men growled, “Who’s Bean?” 

I definitely knew that tone.  I tried to get up and run but Roman was on me before I could even get up good and he said, “Stop Thorn.  Saul always sounds like that.  Stop I said.  He’s promised to hear you out.” 

“Bull.  More than likely Alex has already given his version and if I know him he’s turned it so it makes him sound like the victim in all this.”  I saw Roman blanch and I nodded.  “Let me guess, he got the drop on you and got to your family first.  I figured that was his plan … you would have thought you would have seen it too after he tried to deck you from behind that first night in that box.” 

I heard some muttering from the other men that had come to stand around and I got real quiet.  To Roman I said, “I’ll fight.  You tell them I’ll fight.  If Alex was smart he would have at least warned them that I fight dirty.” 

“Thorn I already told you my family isn’t like that.” 

“Alex …” 

“OK, so Alex has gone off the deep end but don’t judge the rest of us by the way he’s acted lately.  You have to remember that people are in shock over this whole thing.  They sent Alex away acting one way and now … it’s hard for them to believe.” 

“What about that guy … the one named Fletcher … that was watching Alex?  What does he say?” 

“Fletcher … wait … how do you know about Fletcher?” 

I rolled my eyes and snapped, “Don’t you listen to nothing?  I told you that Alex spent more time complaining than anything else … and I mean after a while totally anything else and don’t expect me to explain that to a man, you should know what I mean.  He didn’t say much in total – it was always the same old thing over and over – but he did mention a few names and apparently this guy Fletcher gave him the green willies.” 

“The what?  Green willies?” 

“You know … he was sick and jealous at the same time with a side order of heebie jeebies.  In addition to Fletcher watching him all the time he said something about Fletcher always being able to draw women when he didn’t deserve to and never having to pay for them or something like that.” 

I heard one of the mean say quietly, “Dammit.  Ain’t that some shit.” 

Roman snapped, “Hey!” 

And all I could do is roll my eyes again and say, “You have got to be the strangest man I have ever met on this side of Mother Mary’s house.  My ears are not going to fall off just ‘cause some guy cusses.  Not to mention you did a fair share of it yourself … and so did Alex.  Anyone with sense knows that it’s better to let men blow off some steam with a curse than it is to have them hold it in and eventually pop you instead.” 

Roman made another face and said, “Will you stop saying things like that?  You make all men sound … sound …” 

“Like men?” 

The man named Saul snorted and said, “Get up off the ground Roman; this is going nowhere with the tramp.  And neither are we, at least tonight.  We’ll camp here; it’s as good a place as any.” 

Well, for men they do all right for themselves when it comes to setting up their beds and cooking.  I was still suspicious that they’d ask for something as payment.  I also wondered where Alex was.  It also didn’t help that the men kept looking at me and sneering.  That didn’t really bother me but I was pretty sure that most of them were thinking that I should provide the entertainment and I wasn’t having any of that. 

I kept trying to scoot back real slow and not get noticed but the men kept looking at Roman with one of those looks that are supposed to say something but mostly look irritated.  He finally sighed and said, “Thorn, who’s Bean?” 


“You said that there was some guy named Bean and …” 

“Oh.  Bean isn’t a guy … well Bean might be a guy eventually but maybe not.  I don’t know what flavor Bean is yet.  I just didn’t want to go around calling Bean ‘it’ or ‘you’ or whatever.  I want them to know that I think they’re a real person and take them seriously right for the get go.” 


The guy that had cussed said, “She’s talking about it … the … the … uh …” 

“Baby,” I said hugging my middle where you’re all nice and safe.  “Bean is going to know …” 

Saul snapped, “Are you playing a game?” 

The tone was still gruff and scary but had lost its nasty edge.  “One, I don’t know what game you think I’m playing and two, from my side of things it would be awful stupid to play any kind of game.  You don’t strike me as the sort that puts up with that much.” 

He snorted again.  Roman said, “Saul isn’t so no stories.  If he asks you something just tell him.  Even if the truth gets you in trouble it’s better to be honest in trouble that lie and get in worse trouble.” 

“Oh please, like I don’t know that.  Did Alex ever come clean about the loan shark thing?  I still don’t know how he could fool me like that when he liked to complain so much.  I caught him in a couple of fibs but they seemed pretty tame compared to the story he made up to avoid having your family find out that he got beat up by Emerald’s enforcers for beating me … uh …” 

I slipped.  I didn’t mean to.  It’s just when you start telling the truth it’s hard to not tell all of the truth. 

Quietly Roman said, “Yeah.  And you can stop covering for him.  That’s one of the things that Fletcher found out about that he didn’t tell me.” 

He looked really upset by that so I said, “Well, I knew you two were brothers but I didn’t know you were twins until y’all started going on and on about Alex being fifteen minutes older.  There were a couple of twins at Mother Mary’s and they had this thing …” 

One of the men snickered. 

“Not that kind of thing though as a man that would be the first to enter your mind.  No, it’s that … well … it was weird.  They knew when the other was in trouble and how they were feeling and stuff like that.  I guess it’s just like that for twins so the Fletcher guy didn’t tell you because he didn’t want you hurting any more than you already were.” 

“Who said I was hurting?” Roman snapped. 

“Oh Brother.  If you hadn’t cared you wouldn’t have bothered trying to save Alex in the first place.  Then you would have let him run off all those times he threatened to.  You also wouldn’t have gotten so silly and offended when … when he said some of the things he did.”  I shook my head.  “I just thought it was brother stuff but …” 

“Will you stop that?  Everyone always makes such a big deal about us being twins.  We’re nothing alike.  We’ve never been anything alike.” 

“Well pardon me.  So you’re fraternal or whatever.  You’re still brothers.  Don’t be a dork and try and deny that.” 

Saul growled, “Will you two shut up?  There’s been enough arguing over the last couple of days to last a lifetime.” 

“You think this is something?  You should have heard him and Alex go at it.  It was enough to give a stone wall a headache.” 

Saul growled.  Seriously.  He did it so good that I looked around because I thought there was a wild animal out in the woods.  I’m not one for comedy routines.  In fact if you had told some of the sisters or Mother Mary that I made someone laugh they would have probably gone into shock but somehow or other the look on my face must have done it for Roman because he made some weird noise and I could tell he was trying not to laugh.  I looked at him and then at Saul and I decided to scoot back a little ways out of the blast zone.  But then I heard a wheezy sort of noise from Saul and knew for sure that while I had thought I knew everything there is about men, this family was going to teach me something about crazy men. 

All I could do was shake my head and get quiet.  Trusting a man’s good nature too far is a recipe for disaster. Slowly, trying not to draw attention to myself I moved as far away as I could without them getting hacked off.  Roman came to sit beside me again and I told him, “Stop that.” 

“Stop what?” 

I whispered, “This … whatever you are doing.  Look, maybe your family is different but that doesn’t mean that they are just going to look the other way.  You’ll … you’ll get a reputation.” 

Roman looked surprised and then looked like he wanted to laugh again.  “I’ll get a reputation?” 

“Don’t be stupid.  We both know what I am … or at least what I used to be.  They know it too but they may not know I never mean to go back to that life.  I don’t blame them for thinking what they think, they just don’t know how determined I am to change things for Bean’s sake.  But I am not crazy enough to think that I’ll ever completely shed the reputation of that old life.  I’m going to find a safe place for Bean and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Bean is safe for life … Bean isn’t going to have to live through what I have.  I’ll put up with whatever I have to for Bean’s sake.  But … but Bean won’t have a choice but to be with me until they are old enough to look after themselves.  But you do so just … just stop it.  I’m going to make Bean strong enough so that what people call me won’t bother them.  There’s no need for you to have to be that kind of strong.  So just … stop.” 

“Stop what?” 

“Being … weird … nice … you know what I mean.  It isn’t natural for men.  You could hurt yourself straining like that.  And stop sitting by me like I need someone to protect me.  I’ve looked after me for a long time now.  And I’ll look after Bean too.  I’m not looking to make any contract ever again.  I don’t need you turning yourself into some kind of stupid sacrificial lamb or whatever.  They’re your family.  Don’t make me pay for your pain on top of all the other pain that I know is coming and what has already passed.  I’m … I’m sorry … about Alex I mean.  But the way he is isn’t my fault … and I can’t fix him either.  I’ve got as much as I can handle just fixing things for Bean.” 

Roman got serious.  “Thorn, you have to be the only person in the world that thinks I give a rip about anything, least of all Alex.  And that includes my family.  There’s things you don’t know … all …” He stopped and sighed deeply.  “Look, I know it is asking a lot for you to trust me but something has to be done.  I don’t know how old you are and I don’t care what Alex says, it does matter.  And that … that kid you’re carrying.  They are family … my niece or nephew.  That matters too.  And it is going to matter to Dad and Mom and the rest of them as soon as they get over their shock and accept it.” 

I shook my head.  “But they won’t accept it.  Even you asked if Bean was really put there by Alex.” 

He sighed.  “It’s going to take a while.  Let them get to know you …” 



“I said no.  That would just make it worse.  I’m sorry I have to do this Roman because even though you are a man I don’t want to hurt you; I guess I believe that you’re different but this only makes things harder so here it is … Alex wasn’t the first, he was just the last and I didn’t have any illusions about him either.  He was just a customer and that is all.  I’ve been a whore for … for a long time … too long.  No, it wasn’t my choice and no I’m not going to explain it to you so don’t bother asking.  Sometimes the only thing that you can do with the bad stuff is to throw it away and not go digging it back out.  Stop thinking about yesterday.  Don’t worry about a tomorrow that may not come.  Survive today, it’s all you’ve got.  And that’s what I’m trying to do for me.” 

“I thought you were trying to find a safe place.” 

“I am.  For Bean.  But there’s nothing like that out there for me.  Too much … look, this is about Bean.  That’s all.  You can’t make it right and you can’t fix me.  I’m … I’m like that woman in that book … Scarlet Letter.  Only this isn’t some story that tells a moral, it’s just life and life sucks for 99.9% of the world’s population.  I just want to give Bean a chance to beat the odds.  And I can’t do it if I have to worry about you screwing up your life trying to play … whatever loopy part you’re trying to play.  I’m not Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, or anyone else that needs rescuing.  And this isn’t a fairy tale.  I’m a whore and that is all anyone is ever going to see me as.  So back off.  Go back to your family where you belong.  I’ll … do whatever this thing is that you think your family needs but … but then it is going to be time for me to … to leave.” 

“But you said …” 

“I know what I said.  But I’m seeing it isn’t possible.  Alex has made it impossible.  My past makes it impossible.  I need to learn stuff so that I can take care of Bean right and then …” 

“Then what?” 

“I don’t know.  I just know that whatever it is I can’t just sit around waiting for someone else to find it for me.  I’ve got to do this for myself … and for Bean.  And you need to go back to whatever your life was before you found out about Bean.  It’s just no good for you to do anything else.”


  1. Finally got to read this tonight, the roof over the deck is now tar papered and about ready for shingles :).

  2. Great Chapter Kathy thanks