By now you know I try to write stories about loving couples. No cheating allowed. This story fits into the same vein. If it is not what you want to read don;t complain at the end.
I have been here all along, since my last story. I have written and discarded a number of stories, I just was not happy with the outcome.
I hope you enjoy this one
I learned about heartache at a very young age. I didn't know what a soul mate was but I knew there was something very special about the girl who lived across the farm lane from us. Her daddy worked for the man who owned that farm.
We were just two skinny little farm kids. Everyone called her Sweet Pea. The name fit her just fine. Her Mom and Dad were Mr. and Mrs Johnson.
My Dad and Uncle James, his twin brother, owned the farm we lived on. They inherited it from their dad.
My name is John S Binder Jr. Everyone called me Spud. It seemed as though everybody had a nickname, some were of the sort that children best not be caught repeating.
It was on a cloudy Friday late into the fall of the year when a group of men showed up in a truck. I didn't like their look nor the things they said. They were crude in the way they talked and their actions. One man decided to pee on the back tires of the truck, he saw me staring with my eyes wide and mouth open. He turned in my direction and shook it at me. Behavior such as that was frowned upon in our parts.
Dad walked over and spoke to him. The man replied "Sorry Kid" in a loud voice, then turned around and walked away.
Dad returned and informed me that they were from a town a ways down the road.
The man who owned the farm was through with his crops for the year and couldn't afford to pay the hired hand through to the next spring. Their agreement was that he would pay to move them to their next job if one was found within a month after letting Mr Johnson go. If there was no job the family could stay rent free until the next spring, like they did the last two winters. The Johnson's had little money left from what they had earned that year and that house was bitter cold in the winter. The siding had gaps and holes and the wind blew right through.
I looked at my dad and pleaded for him to buy the farm so they could stay there. Dad slowly shook his head and softly told me " ... we don't have that kind of money."
"Please Daddy!" I pleaded. "I can give their little ones all my toys and I have all the pennies in my piggy bank to help. Every time we find a penny we put it in the big piggy bank you gave me.
Please Daddy, some day I'm going to marry my Sweet Pea! I may be young now, but soon I'll be a man, I love her Daddy! Please don't let them take my sweetheart away!"
Sweet Pea and I had been friends for almost three years, that was how long they had lived across the road on the farm. We did everything together, we walked to and from school, attended Sunday School, we helped each other with our chores and when our work was done, weather permitting we would then play down by the gate until our mothers would call us in for supper.
The neighbors all referred to us as "the twins". It was as if we were joined at the hip. Then, there was the hair ... OH, yes, the hair. We both had flaming red hair. With the hair came the freckles, she had that a lot worse than me. There were about three hundred people on the farms and in the surrounding area. We were the only two in our world that had that flaming red hair.
When the truck was loaded it went away. Soon my Mom and Dad went over and took a basket of food for their journey. A short time later I watched, heartbroken, from my bedroom window, as Sweet Pea looked up from her window in the car and waved through her tears as they slowly drove down the road. My world can crashing down around me.
I picked at my supper that evening and went to bed soon after without being told.
The next morning as Dad and I were doing chores he explained to me that life was not fair. "Sometimes through no fault of your own, your plans can come crashing down all around you, and all you can do is to watch as it happens."
"Daddy, I may only be seven, but one day I'll find her and we'll get married. Just you wait and see."
It was only a few years later when Daddy was caught up in a piece of equipment, he came close to loosing his left arm. He was right handed so he could still do most things, his hand took years and lots of therapy before it was close to normal.
James took over the farm, he had to hire a hand to help until his children could do more.
Later when we moved to a town Mom and Dad both had to take jobs. Dad took a job at the local feed mill while Mom was hired on as a cook at the diner two blocks from home. I was still an only child. I was told that my job was to do the very best I could in school. My job was to make it through college and get a job that paid well. My job was to become somebody: they didn't want me to be a dirt poor farmer. The poor rich they called it.
Between both jobs, a small profit from the farm and odd jobs that I did we were able to purchase the "handyman special" house we were renting, and fix it up.
The mill sold lumber and things as a sideline to the feeds and other animal products. Occasionally an order would come in wrong or an item would not sell, if Dad could use it he was allowed to buy it at cost, or it was just left in stock to be sold later.
One day his car would not start after work. He really needed to pick up Mom and get her to the doctor. She was eight months along with our second baby. Tony, his boss, offered to drive him home and take them wherever they needed to go. When he pulled up in front of the house he saw the appearance. It was late summer and he knew the roof wouldn't make it through another winter.
Dad was a proud man, he would not accept charity; not any way or any how. When Dad got to work the next morning he was asked if he needed help with his car. The garage next to the mill came over and determined it was the battery. Roy the mechanic replaced it, forty dollars he told Dad; his cost. You can pay me a bit each week for it.
Now, Dad and I had a good reputation in town for carpentry skills. We worked most weekends with crews from one of the churches doing repairs for the elderly. His work was top grade every time. I was the apprentice. I was his left arm if you will. He spent as much time teaching me how to do the work as we did actually doing the job. Roy said "If you can come over to the house I have some repairs my wife has been after me to get done. We can trade work, hour for hour, to cover the labor on your car."
The next week the materials were delivered and we went to work on the following Monday, it was a holiday. We were done with the agreed upon work by noon. We continued to work until four. The new wood was painted, caulked and all the rest of the wood that surrounded the new had a coat of paint and was re-caulked where needed. Roy had worked all day at the garage and was amazed at what we had completed.
Before Roy could say anything Dad told him the way it was going to be. "A mechanic makes double what a carpenter would, therefore I need to work 2 hours for each one you do for me."
"But I only worked about an hour on your car" Roy protested.
"You can hold it in reserve in case I ever need another repair."
That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship, each of them doing more than expected for the other. After some years they decided they both owed each other so much they couldn't afford to stop being friends.
The week after the car repair Tony asked Dad into the office, "I seem to have forgotten to do your yearly review last year" he told Dad.
"The company is just barely breaking even" Dad countered.
"Oh, we are doing better than that"
It went on and on for about ten minutes before Tony got to the main subject. "I should have paid you about four thousand dollars more over the last year, by my calculations. I just happen to have a load of shingles that should cover your house. I can give them to you at cost to cover the shortfall in your wages. You will also see the raise in your next paycheck. I know you can use it with the baby soon here."They argued for the next half hour about how Dad could not accept charity, and how dangerous it was for him to be on a roof. Dad was soon called to the yard to handle a customer problem, it took two minutes. When Dad returned to the office Tony was gone for the day ... according to his secretary.
On Sunday, church was unusually full, the sermon was on helping others and graciously accepting help in return. After the sermon was finished the preacher from the church with the home repair project walked up the aisle and joined our preacher at the pulpit.
He spoke to the assembled; "In return for all the wonderful things John binder and his son Spud have done for our community we are declaring this week Binder family appreciation week. All of our workers are to be praised for their efforts and good work; we think it is right to repay them for all of their efforts..."
I looked over and saw Mom tugging urgently on Dad's arm. He bent down to hear what she had to say. His mouth dropped open and his eyes went wide. He spoke up loudly; " I'm about to give birth, I mean my wife is pregnant, WE NEED TO GO!" With that Mom led him out of the church to the car.
I could see him mumbling and fumbling with the keys, finally I read Mom's lips "Would you like me to drive?" she gently asked.
"Yes, ummm, N, NO" he stuttered.
.... There is more of this story ...