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Authors: Darryl Nyznyk

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BOOK: Mary’s Son
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“It’s not ours,” M.J. answered sheepishly. “My mom says we got to take care of ours and leave to others what’s theirs.”

“Yeah, M.J., and where’s that gotten you? A father who’s a drunk and hardly ever around and a life where you got nothin’ and will never have anything.” He chuckled, turned, and stepped slowly back to the window frame. His mind wandered for a moment. In his early years Jared had been one of the “lucky kids” in the Sink because he’d actually had a father at home. He had a father who worked and cared for his family, a father who was there. But that ended a year ago, and he was just like all the rest now.

Jared turned back to M.J. “You think doing the right thing will help you and your sisters get outta here.” He laughed sadly. “No way, M.J. We’ll be here forever unless we take what we need.”

“That’s not true, Jared. We’re workin’ hard to get outta here,” M.J. said.

“You ever seen anyone leave other than by jail or just runnin’ out on others?” Jared sneered bitterly. He leaned against the window frame and stared again at the lights on the hill.
“This is our life,” he said angrily. “We got to make our own way. Like they do on the hill,” he pointed. “And we’ve got to make them pay for what they’ve taken from us.”

“They aren’t stealin’, Jared,” M.J. offered.

Jared turned slowly, shaking his head, while Burner and Hammer sat quietly, not wanting to get in the way of what Jared was going to do to M.J.

“What do you think they’re doing?” Jared asked. “They do whatever it takes, and they don’t consider it stealing. Money’s the only reason they get respect, so they get it however they can. They got the bucks, and we don’t. We’re going to even things out a bit.”

Burner spoke up softly, “Maybe M.J.’s right. No one’s been able to get close to one of the big houses before. They got cops.…”

Jared turned sharply. “What’s wrong with you guys? Don’t you get it? This is our chance. We do this, something nobody else could do, and we’re somethin’ here. We’re not the dirt under Jonas Stone’s boots anymore like everyone else is. We won’t have to work for him for slave wages, afraid of being fired. We could make our own way.”

Jared stared at his friends. They bowed their heads, ashamed of their fears.

“They owe us!” he said angrily. “We’ve got to take it ’cause they sure aren’t going to hand it over. We got no choice.”

Hammer and Burner nodded and turned to M.J. The youngest of the group had no more words. He knew his mother was right, but these were his friends…his best friends…the friends who would be there for him when he needed them. His code of responsibility to them would not let him turn away. M.J. eyed each of them before he nodded and joined them.

- 2 -
 

The next morning, in the house on the hill above the rail yard, Sarah Stone woke and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She stretched lazily and glanced around her oversized bedroom. The eleven-year-old had a private bathroom and a walk-in closet the size of most bedrooms. She lay amid satin sheets and a plush goose down comforter on her queen-sized canopy bed, her long, curly hair strewn about her. Slowly, she pushed herself up onto her elbows and looked toward her window, where she saw streaks of rain. She frowned at the weather and immediately began to consider her options for the day.

 

“Anna,” she called.

When there was no response, she called again, this time a little louder.

Again no response.

“Anna!” she finally shouted and leaned over to her bed-stand to angrily press a call button.

Within seconds her door burst open, and Anna, a pretty, olive-skinned girl in her early twenties ran in, breathing hard.

“You are awake, Miss Sarah,” Anna said, trying to smile.

“Yes. I want to get up, now,” Sarah responded haughtily and threw off her covers.

“Shall I start a bath, Miss Sarah?”

“Yes, and get my blue denim outfit. I’m going to the mall today.”

Anna raised her eyebrows, turned toward the bathroom, and smiled. She knew something Sarah had apparently forgotten, and she relished the thought of Sarah’s bitter disappointment when the spoiled girl realized she wasn’t going anywhere today. It wasn’t that Anna was a mean person. She didn’t like for people to be sad. It was simply that Sarah was such an obnoxious brat, who treated all the hired help so badly that some of them, Anna included, actually smiled when the young mistress suffered disappointment. Anna had heard the young girl hadn’t always been this way. When her mother was alive, she had been such a pleasant child, some of the older help said. But that was long ago, and the only Sarah Anna knew was the current version; and she didn’t like her very much.

“Is my father home?” Sarah asked. She was standing in front of her mirror, frowning, testing her look of superiority
before she turned back to Anna.

“Yes, Miss Sarah.”

“Good. Tell him I’d like him to take me to the mall today.”

“He’s in a meeting in his study, Miss Sarah. He said no one was to disturb him.” Anna smiled as she turned to the girl’s closet.

“But, it’s Sunday.…” Sarah pouted for a moment before she realized she was showing weakness. She turned again to Anna, who was making the bed and laying out the blue outfit.

“Well…then tell Brockton to have the car ready out front,” Sarah rallied.

“Oh…did you forget, Miss Sarah? Mr. Brockton quit last night. He believed it was you who poured jalapeño sauce in his tea. He was very angry. Miss Grundick will look tomorrow for a new driver for you,” Anna said before walking back to the bathroom.

Sarah turned to hide her disappointment. She hated the thought of being cooped up in the house all day.

Sarah had, indeed, sabotaged Brockton Smith’s tea. It was just a joke. He should never have taken it so seriously. Anyway, she never cared all that much for Mr. Smith. He was always such a grouch. She smiled as she remembered the look on his face when he first tasted the extra-hot jalapeño in his
tea. It was that look of bulging eyes set wide in his quickly reddening face, mottled by sudden drops of perspiration, that made the prank and her current predicament almost bearable. Sarah turned and walked slowly to her window, where she tried to think of something else to do on this rain-spattered day.

“Will that be all, Miss Sarah?”

“Yes…for now,” she answered.

Sarah stared absently through the water rivulets, contemplating her ill fortune, when suddenly she caught sight of a plump little man standing on the sidewalk, outside the grounds of her home. He wore a dark suit and a round-top, narrow-brimmed bowler set high atop a shock of white hair. He clutched a small black case in one hand and seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.

The man stood in front of a granite-pillared, wrought-iron gate that guarded the Stone estate. The rain, now pouring, plastered his beard and the hair beneath the hat. He glanced up and squinted as if he was noticing for the first time that it was raining.

Sarah leaned closer to the glass to get a better look, but her breath fogged the pane. She rubbed the glass quickly and shifted position, only to find that the man now held a black umbrella above his head. At least she believed he held the umbrella because no other explanation for its existence came
to her mind. The umbrella was open and suspended at the proper height to protect the man from the rain. It looked, however, as if he wasn’t holding it—as if it really was just hanging above his head, until he finally seemed to reach out and grab the handle. But Sarah knew that couldn’t be. He must have been holding it all along and had simply opened and lifted it above his head while she wiped the window. When the heavy gate began to swing open in front of him, even though he appeared to make no movement toward it, Sarah knew something strange was happening.

She followed the man’s progress through the gate, up the driveway, and toward the front door, until she was sure he was coming to visit. She then jumped away from the window, ran to her closet to don her robe and slippers, and ran out the door. This visit was sure to occupy at least a part of her morning.

 

THE plump man stood a shade less than five feet five inches tall. His weight was something he never discussed, for he knew it was too much. His ruddy cheeks and button nose were framed by long white hair and a beard. His round face seemed always to be smiling. The man pushed his wire-rim glasses firmly onto the bridge of his nose as he found himself standing before two massive doors. He closed and leaned his
umbrella against the door jamb, shook the water from himself, grabbed the heavy gold knocker, and struck the door twice.

 

Within a minute, one of the doors swung open, and the little man grinned cheerily at a tall, very thin man with sharp, hawk-like features. The tall man held his head very high, and the little man wondered how, with his head so high, the tall man could see him.

“May I help you?” the tall man asked with a proper English accent.

“Good day, Sir.” The little man bowed slightly and reached to tip his hat, only to find that he no longer wore one. He turned quickly in search of the wayward derby on the walk and driveway behind him but saw nothing. He shrugged absently and turned back to the doorman.

“Yes!” the doorman said expectantly, distaste clearly etched on his face.

“Good day, Sir,” the little man started again with a broad smile. “My name is Nicholas. I understand that you are looking for someone to care for the child of the house.”

The doorman dropped his head slightly to stare down his beak nose and get a better look at Nicholas. His eyes worked their way down to Nicholas’s feet, where he stopped suddenly and frowned at the sight of the little man’s white tennis shoes.

“They’re really quite comfortable,” Nicholas said.

“One moment.” The doorman was clearly unimpressed. He swung the door shut and turned away. Before the door could close, Nicholas jammed the tip of his umbrella between the door and its threshold. He pushed the door open slowly and walked into the great hall, his shoes squeaking on the polished marble floor.

“This is quite a place,” Nicholas whispered to himself.

His shoes continued to squeak loudly as he made his way around the hall. So large was the foyer that he finally had to stop and view its overwhelming wonder from where he stood. His eyes took in all the grand beauty until they finally landed at the top of the magnificent staircase, where Sarah was standing, staring at him. He smiled and waved.

“Well, good morning…Sarah, isn’t it? Sarah Stone?”

Sarah stared, dumbfounded, first because the plump man knew her name and second because he wore black, hard-soled oxford shoes on his feet. She could have sworn he’d entered the house with white tennis shoes that squeaked when he walked, yet now his shoes weren’t white, and they certainly weren’t tennis shoes. Before Sarah could gather her wits and say something, the doorman returned to the foyer.

“Come this way,” the doorman instructed.

Nicholas winked at Sarah and followed the doorman into a large room lined with dark mahogany floor-to-ceiling
shelves stacked neatly with books. At the far side of the room, which Nicholas deduced was the library, was a large L-shaped black leather couch that surrounded a low-standing mahogany coffee table with several over-sized volumes splayed across its top. In the two near corners of the room were writing tables of the same dark wood, each accompanied by two ornately carved chairs with cushions covered in dark velvet on the seats. The doorman ushered Nicholas to one of the writing tables, handed him a form and pen, and motioned him to take a seat. Nicholas obliged the man with a cheery smile.

“Fill this out before Miss Grundick arrives,” the doorman instructed.

“Yes…thank you, Mr.…er.… What is your name, my good man?”

“Stevens,” he responded haughtily.

“Stevens…oh, yes, Stevens, thank you.” Stevens turned to leave when Nicholas suddenly remembered something. “Oh…Stevens,” he said, “You’re not Jonathan Stevens of Yorkshire, are you?”

Stevens turned abruptly, shocked by Nicholas’s innocent question.

Nicholas continued, “Ah…I knew it. Do you remember as a boy when you always wanted to leave crumb cakes for Santa instead of cookies?”

Stevens brightened. “Why, yes. How…” he started.

“That was a good choice, my boy. Really quite tasty,” Nicholas interrupted and patted his ample belly.

“Did you really like…” Stevens forgot himself for an instant before his smile disappeared again and he returned to his former demeanor. “Yes…well, Miss Grundick will be here shortly,” he said. “You’d better complete the form.”

“Yes…of course. Well, we’ll talk later…Jonathan. Thank you.”

Stevens turned sharply and scurried out of the room.

BOOK: Mary’s Son
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