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What They Don’t Tell You
Flood #6
March, 1957
Slick-dressing Larry turned out to be a regular Friday night thing. Israel could not blame the man. Aunt Bell was the prettiest thing on the street. And for her part the man had money, even showed up on Christmas Eve in a big old car, brought a turkey, a ham, a gallon of wine, a set of clothes for Israel and a basketball and sneakers for Alvin, and was still there on Christmas Morning.
Aunt Bell had that shine, somewhat the opposite look that Mamma wore after Daddy had blown his heart up chopping down trees back in July.
So, it came as no surprise, one March Saturday Morning, for Larry was there from dinnertime Friday until Monday morning early when he went to work on his rentals, when Aunt Bell and Larry called him to the kitchen to sit down at the table while Alvin was upstairs in the bath. He had just returned from working for Mister Baines.
Aunt Bell began to speak as she held Larry’s hand, and the man calmed her with the other hand gently touching her shoulder and said, “Bell, let me.”
Larry then looked Israel right in the eye and said, “Israel, I have proposed to your Aunt Bell. We will be married next month and moving out to a house I’m buying in Turner Station. It’s an old town, been home to our kind for hundreds of years. It might feel more like Downhome to you. I’d like to have you…”
“No,” Israel heard himself say. “Thank you, Mister Larry, but I gotz friends here, a girl even likes me, I think. I’m down with Baines. I goes to the school and get my grades.”
Aunt Bell started to cry and Larry hugged her and looked across the table to him, “I can get you a job out there, they have schools out there.”
“My job is here. My friends are here.”
“You are serious, aren’t you?”
“Serious as a heart attack. I got a job lined up at the mattress factory—man knows Mister Baines. Got afternoon shift when I want it. I can pay ma own rent.”
“Israel,” eased Larry, “you can’t put your name on a lease until you’re 18, maybe 21.”
“You will, or Baines will—I’m good for it.”
“What about Alvin,” cried Aunt Bell, “he is so attached to you!”
Israel heard himself talk like it was a distant drum, like it wasn’t even him, but he knew it was. It was what he wanted, just never thought he’d speak it so clear to these people, “I can take a bus out there on the weekend, holidays—heard Larry talk about it enough, like it’s a surprise that your taking My Aunt out there after you spent months telling her how great it is.”
Larry threw up his hands and smiled in resignation, “I’ll sign the lease, Big Man. Just pick it out, find your room you can afford and I’ll put my name to it. And, I will drive you out to Turners—I work in the city anyhow. When you want to visit, you call me on the phone by breakfast and I’ll pick you up after work.”
“Deal,” Israel said, as he extended his hand. “I’ll go up and tell Alvin.”
The work at the mattress factory came through.
School was hard, trifling and full of fools, so that fell by the wayside steadily and he saw the last of it by age 15.
From age 14 Israel would always work at least two jobs. He had his women, but they are a man’s comforts and there’s not much sense in talking about them. His family, such as it was, would do fine out in Turners Station. But in the city he would find his way in the asphalt and concrete and flat tar roof world like he was born to it.
A man who works and has adventures will find that entire decades slip by as work and leave little impression and then come those punctuating exceptions that wake him from his toiling sleep…
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LaManoDecember 7, 2020 7:29 PM UTC

Great story. I do enjoy this kind of tale. Sometimes I like a story that doesn't make your wedding-tackle shrink in horror at some horrid if realistic ending ....