Chapter 20: The Start of Things to Come
When the morning dawned, Callie had her work cut out for her, packing lunches for all three kids plus Cade. She decided not to pack a lunch for herself, which was one less thing she had to do.
Cade told the kids about his job over breakfast and they were all very happy about it, except for Jess who generally had no idea what it meant for him to have a job. "We didn't read last night," Harley informed Cade as they ate. Cade looked at Callie.
"I figured one night off wasn't going to kill them," Callie shrugged. "I was tired from all of the cooking, and then you made me feed Lonnie, besides."
Cade was not happy that she hadn't read with the kids. "Did you kids at least do your homework?" He asked them.
"Yeah," Ashley quickly responded. "We did our homework, and I um, went ahead and read anyway," she looked down, "even though you weren't here."
Cade smiled. "I'm glad Ashley, because you need to read every day."
Callie turned away and pretended she didn't care about Cade's disappointment. She couldn't do everything. It was too difficult.
As much as Ashley had hated to read when she first started, she looked forward to it now, and she got books from the school library and read them in her bedroom at night before falling asleep. Harley wasn't as interested in reading as Ashley was; it was one of his least favorite activities.
Cade ruffled Harley's hair, "We might have to read double time tonight to make up for last night."
"No," Harley complained.
"That will teach you to tell on me," Callie thought to herself, not happy about Harley's confession to Cade about the reading.
Cade looked sternly at his son, "No more skipping your reading. You should do like your sister Ashley and read anyway."
"Yes sir," Harley said sullenly.
School was less daunting for Ashley these days. She enjoyed getting up and going to school. She was no longer as far behind the other students as she had been at first. She had made tremendous progress over time, and although she was still in resource classes, she was able to cope with her work. In addition, Cade bought clothing for all of them at the second hand store every so often, and as a result, Ashley no longer wore clothing that was too small or out of style. Although Ashley still feared ridicule from her classmates, none of them ever ridiculed her. Things were different now. All three of the children had always been dirty, smelly, and unkempt while living in the city, but not anymore.
Callie was nervous about beginning her new job today. She fussed around in the mirror, making it difficult for everyone else to use the bathroom to get ready. One small bathroom for this many people was becoming a hardship. It was amazing what things they were growing accustomed to over time, which at first had seemed like a luxury.
Cade heard a honk in the driveway and he knew that must be Lonnie. He kissed the kids and Callie goodbye and quickly left. The kids gathered their books and raced out to catch the bus soon after Cade left. Callie looked at the clock and realized that if she were going to make it into town by 8 a.m. she would need to leave soon. There wouldn't be time for her to do the breakfast dishes. She was exhausted from fixing breakfast, packing lunches, and grooming herself for work.
When Callie entered Beatrice's Diner, the place was packed. Another server, named Rhonelle, would be the one to train her. "It's as easy as pie honey," Rhonelle explained as she led Callie around.
Callie was nervous, but she caught on rather quickly and before the end of her first shift, she had managed to wait on a few tables by herself.
"Can you come in earlier tomorrow, by six?" Her manager, Lionel, asked as she was leaving.
"That's a bit early," Callie said nervously. "I thought my hours would be during the time my kids were at school."
Lionel frowned, "I could really use you at six."
He was catching Callie off guard. "I can try."
"I'd appreciate it if you would," Lionel said. He was always desperate for help, and what Callie didn't understand yet was that Lionel often took advantage of his new employees' good nature. He had planned to hire Callie on her own terms, working the hours she wanted, and then talk her into working as much as possible, even though up front that had not been the agreement.
Cade soon figured out how unorganized Lonnie really was. The first job they went to in the morning was one that Lonnie had left in limbo the night before, and Cade couldn't figure out why Lonnie hadn't just finished the job the night before, since it only took about thirty minutes that morning to finish. Cade was mechanically inclined, and as he watched Lonnie work, he picked up many things. Lonnie explained what he was doing as he went along, and Cade helped in whatever way he could.
Lonnie had planned to complete seven service calls that day, putting off some of the less pressing jobs until tomorrow, or the next day. Cade knew the layout of the town by now, so when he looked at the addresses, he realized that Lonnie planned to drive from one end of town to the other, back and forth several times, and Cade reasoned they would spend half of their day driving. Nothing in the area of the town was close together. Getting from one place to another took time. Cade quickly organized the list so that they could stop at the houses in order from east to west. "I think it will save time if we do these calls in this order," Cade explained.
Lonnie studied Cade's notes. "I usually just take the calls as they come in," Lonnie said. "It's the only fair way, and if we do it your way, it won't be fair to the customers."
"How are the customers going to know which of them called first?" Cade asked, and he remembered how Lonnie planned to put off some of his work until tomorrow or the next day anyway, so he wondered what it really mattered. "Did you tell any of these people a specific time when you would be there to do the repair work?" Cade asked.
"No," Lonnie said, scratching his head. "I quit doing that a long time ago."
"Then let's just go across town in order," Cade suggested. "It will save gasoline, time, and in the long-run, money."
"Well, we have to take the emergency jobs first" Lonnie said. "It's important."
"You've listed all of these jobs as emergencies," Cade pointed out.
Lonnie nodded, "Yeah I guess so." The more he thought about it, the more he realized Cade's suggestion made sense, even though it meant change. He was not often comfortable with change. "OK, we can try it that way."
Cade could see that Lonnie wasn't happy about the change, but he was also beginning to see why Lonnie had possibly lost so many apprentices. Lonnie obviously lacked organizational skills and working with him might prove more challenging than Cade had originally thought.
Around noon, they stopped to eat lunch. Lonnie bought a hamburger and fries at a roadside burger stand, and Cade ate the lunch Callie had packed for him.
"I can't believe your wife packed you a lunch." Lonnie said with admiration.
Cade took a bite of his sandwich. "We divide up who does what, and this is her job."
Lonnie plopped a greasy French fry in his mouth. "I can't remember the last time Angie packed me a lunch. If I asked her to, she'd freak right out." He chuckled.
Cade laughed. "Yeah Angie seems like she has a mind of her own," Cade mused. "I understand that. When I first married Callie she was young, wild, and very strong-willed, you have no idea. She was two or three handfuls, you can be sure."
Lonnie laughed, "Really?"
Cade nodded, "She's not even close to what she was," he laughed as he recalled in his mind the way Callie had been. "She's calmed down a lot." He wasn't about to confess to Lonnie how he dealt with Callie these days.
As they ate and talked, they became better friends. "You know," Lonnie finally said. "Organizing our appointments the way you did was the right thing to do, I think we're going to finish by six or seven tonight."
Cade shrugged. "Well I don't mean to tell you how to run things, but it just made sense to me for us to do it this way." He thought for a minute, "How did my grandpa do things? Did he take his appointments on a first come, first serve basis?"
Lonnie laughed, "Walt wasn't all that organized, that's for sure, he pretty much took people in the order they called for help. One thing about Walt, he prided himself on being fair."
Cade nodded. "I could sense that about him, even from what little I knew of him."
"Yeah after his wife Martha died," Lonnie sighed, "I guess that was around the time your dad and my dad were teens, Walt seemed to stop caring about a lot of things."
Cade wondered what it must have been like for Walt to lose his wife and son so close together, and to have a grandson he could never see. No wonder Walt had died before he reached seventy. What did he have left to live for?
Callie managed to arrive home from work just before the school bus arrived. The kids ran up to the house eagerly as always, and as Callie greeted them, she realized how tired and overwhelmed she felt. The breakfast dishes were still waiting for her, plus she had to make dinner, and she hadn't even considered what to make.
Callie thought how best to proceed. "Ashley," Callie called out after a few minutes, "You need to help me with the breakfast dishes, before you start on your homework."
"Dad told me my homework comes first, before anything," Ashley said nervously.
"Don't argue with me," Callie quipped. Ashley knew this didn't bode well if Callie was already ordering her to do the dishes after only her first day of work. Ashley had homework, and lots of it. Ashley put her books down in the living room and slowly did as Callie said. She began to wash the breakfast dishes while Callie changed her clothes and attempted to figure out what they could eat for dinner.
After Ashley washed the dishes, she continued helping Callie prepare dinner because Callie insisted on it. Harley worked on his homework, and Jess played with her dolls. Cade arrived home around six o'clock, about the time dinner was ready, and they gathered around the table to eat. Ashley was sullen and tired as she sat down in her chair at the table to eat. She still had a lot of homework to finish and she was feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Cade was tired from his first day on the job, but he had enjoyed it. He talked about his new job with enthusiasm as they ate, and then Callie talked about hers. After dinner, Cade stretched out on the couch, "Time to read," he said to Harley and Harley quickly retrieved his reading book, sat down on the couch next to his dad, and began reading.
Ashley was finally able to begin her homework, but she was tired and unable to focus. She had difficulty concentrating because Harley was reading aloud and Callie was making noise in the kitchen. Ashley needed some peace and quiet and she felt like crying as she looked at all of the work she had yet to complete.
Cade sat listening to Harley read, and after they finished, he noticed Ashley struggling. He wondered what the problem was and he insisted that she show him her schoolwork. When he realized she had done very little, he became angry. "Why isn't your homework done?" He demanded. "You should be almost finished by now."
Ashley was so nervous that she couldn't speak.
"Have you been goofing off?" Cade was tired and as he sat there, he suddenly felt the pressure of everything in his life crashing down around him. He was not in the mood to come home and find out that Ashley had slacked off and not completed her homework. He was tired, and as a result, he did something he had never done before, he stood up, unbuckled his belt, and yanked it off.
When Ashley saw him take his belt off, the panic buttons began to go off in her head, and she froze.
Cade doubled over the belt, "I'm not going to tolerate your goofing off. I work too damn hard to put up with this, and your mom is working hard too now. You know better than to slack off like this."
Ashley wished she could speak, but she couldn't. She was terrified. Jessica stood nearby, nervous and uneasy, and watched as Cade moved toward Ashley. Jessica knew she had to do something to stop him. "Ashley had to help mom do the dishes and cook, so she couldn't do her homework." Jessie blurted.
Cade stopped short and looked first at Jessica, and then at Ashley, suddenly feeling terrible. Ashley was shaking violently from head to toe and he realized he had terrified her. He took a deep breath and calmed down, feeling miserable that he had assumed Ashley had slacked off. "Is that true?"
Ashley nodded. "I-I d-did-n't, m-m-mean to..."
Cade examined Ashley's homework a second time, and then he cast his eyes toward the kitchen where Callie was doing the dishes. "Callie!" he called.