Chapter 1: The Beginning
I ran away from home when I was fifteen and I have been either running or looking over my shoulder ever since. My father died at work shortly after my tenth birthday. It was an industrial accident that should have, and could have, been prevented if his employer had done the things he was supposed to do. My dad was a machinist, and all the machines in the shop were old and many didn't have the proper safety guards that they were required to. When the police, and later OSHA, investigated the accident, they found the owners liable for all kinds of fines and possible criminal negligence. A good friend wanted my mother to sue them for negligence and causing the accident. She got a really good lawyer, and she ended up with five million dollars between my dad's insurance policies and the suit. Collecting the suit money was hard with all the litigation against the owners and their corporation, and it ended up that she was paid monthly out of an annuity type of thing that the court and the lawyers had control over. But she was not hurting for money though.
That was not the reason for my leaving. As I grew up from there, I became the spitting image of my father. Daniel James Connor, my father, was 6-1 and 205 lbs and a real handsome devil. Because of his poor background, he never went to college, but he had something most other poor kids didn't have; he had a brain and was smart as a whip. Even though he didn't go to college, he could figure anything out and knew how to work with his hands and his brains, so he could do any job if he was shown how once or twice. He also had the gift of gab. He could talk the birds from the trees or women out of their panties in a heartbeat. He met Rosanna Sprinkle in high school and he instantly fell in love, but she was from the wrong side of the tracks, really. My dad's family lived south of the tracks on the poor side of town, and my mother came from north of the tracks on Nob hill; naturally, everyone south of the tracks called it 'Snob Hill'.
Rosanna's father owned the local bank and a dozen other businesses in town and a few in the next town over. Besides being a banker, he also was a lawyer. It came about that, during her junior year in college, Rosanna met my father again during summer vacation. She had been messing around with a professional student named William Fenton Gates III. He was a seventh year senior and had yet to graduate, but with his family's wealth and donating lots of money to the college, he always stayed in school. Anyway, much to Mother's surprise; she missed her first period when she returned home for the summer. She immediately contacted William. He laughed at her and said he was tired of fucking her anyway and that she should find some other poor sap to marry her.
John Sprinkle was too proud to let this go unchallenged, and sought to rectify the problem and William the Second explained that if he tried to make 'Trey' marry Rosanna, he would make sure the whole affair was pasted all over our local papers indicating that Rosanna was trying to capture a prize husband, since they were much more affluent than the Sprinkles. John, my grandfather, gave in and asked Rosanna if she would submit to an abortion. She said that she would not, but she had an idea about who to capture for a husband.
Rosanna had always liked my father, so she went after him vigorously and caught him within a month. They had made love several times in that month and then she told him she was sure she was pregnant. Dad, being the gentleman he was, asked her to marry him. She accepted and that is how Elisabeth Rose Connor came to be. A year later, Daniel James Connor, Jr. was born, and then just over ten years later, I, Jason William Connor, was born. Needless to say, I was somewhat of a surprise. Becky and DJ were both in college, and I was just starting fifth grade when Dad was killed. My problem stemmed from the fact that Rosanna had always really loved Dan, but knew she could never have him, until her glorious little mistake. I think my father always knew deep in his heart that Becky was not his, but he never let on as far as I knew. He loved all of us as much as he could. Both our parents were very loving.
As I approached my fifteenth birthday, my mother was finally coming out of her depression from losing my father. Still fairly young, and definitely beautiful at 48, she started looking at me differently. I had grown over the summer of my fourteenth year, and I was six foot tall and 175 lbs when school started in the fall. I had worked on a farm over the summer and had grown a couple of inches in height, filled out, and looked much like my father did at that age. I was into wrestling and baseball, so the summer job was mainly to keep my body toned for the coming fall and spring sports.
My mother was suddenly always touching me or being very close to me. Since DJ was now in college almost a thousand miles away, and Becky was at another college almost fifteen hundred miles in the opposite direction, I was alone at home with my mom. My mom was now running around the house in a bra and panties, or in just a thin robe that was very loosely tied, and she was giving me a show of her still beautiful body. As a young teenaged male, I was thrilled that I was seeing female flesh at first, but the fact that it was my mother's body slowed things down and put a damper on my enjoyment of her form. I tried to explain to my mom that yes, she was still very beautiful, but that she was my mom and I didn't like the way she was flaunting her body at me.
Mom was very prim and proper when Becky and DJ came home from college for the holidays, but once they left, I was alone again with this woman who didn't want to take no for an answer. She kept telling me how much I was like my father; tall, blondish brown hair, and light blue eyes. She said that my eyes looked into her soul and pulled her to me with an invisible string tied to her heart. Finally, on the night of January fifth, I got the surprise of my life. I felt someone crawling in bed with me; it was my mother and she was naked. As she slid in the bed I could hear, "Oh Dan I have missed you so much. Make me a woman again; show me how much you love me Danny. I need you so much my love."
I immediately left got out of bed and hid in the basement. I knew this was bad, how could I tell my friends what had happened and not be condemned by them. Also Mom would know where to look. I had to disappear for a while until we could both think rationally and cope with this matter. Would Mom ever come out of her depression? Was she now delusional as well?
Mother worked in the mornings as an accountant at her father's bank for some of their preferred clients, so I waited until she left for work and I packed my duffel bag and headed out of town as quickly as I could. I stopped at the next town and used the ATMs at several banks and grocery stores, then turned south and started hitchhiking. I had to leave. Because I had headed east for my cash, everyone thought I went in that direction.
From there, I mainly stopped at truck stops and tried to get rides with truckers going anywhere. I had been extremely lucky that I was not picked on or assaulted as yet. I let my hair grow long, colored it dark brown, and tried to grow a beard. I made a fake scar on my cheek with a magic marker set and kept it looking fairly fresh. I definitely looked like someone else when I looked in the mirror. I had gotten to St. Louis before I saw the first Amber Alert for me. The pictures they had were from before my growth spurt and one of my dad's from a few years before his death. They were saying I should look more like my dad than the other picture, but that I was only fifteen and that I might have been kidnapped. As I was leaving St. Louis that first time, I saw a shredder at the truck stop and I shredded my student ID and ATM cards and I had never once looked to see if I had any money left in my bank account. I headed west from there and traveled all over the US and Canada for four years, working when I could find work and just trying to stay out of the limelight.
I hoped they had finally stopped looking for me by then. I was nineteen now and I wanted to settle down. I figured that a big city was the best place where I could disappear and not be noticed. I had worn the scar for so long that I guess that the permanent marker had left a faded mark on my cheek that could have been mistaken as a scar. I decided to settle in Houston, Texas, for a while, got a job in a gas station, and started reading textbooks. I wanted my GED and I wanted college too. In California, I got a driver's license under the name Ron Reagan; yeah I know, lame right, but they bought it hook, line, and sinker out there. Anyway, I got a new one with the same name once in Texas, and started working. I had applied for a social security card in California, up near Sacramento when I worked the orchards and farms picking peaches, walnuts, and pecans. I had upped my age when I got to California by two years so I could legally work the farms.
I started reading the textbooks because some asshole kids left several at the gas station and I really wanted an education. This working for peanuts and only getting shitty jobs sucked, but it did turn me into a man just like my father. I could do anything with my hands and I had the street smarts to survive. If I was showed anything once, I could to it and sometimes improve it. Anyway, a week later, the kids came back into the station wondering if they left their books there. I reached behind the counter and handed the books over. They were world geography, algebra, social studies, and Texas history books. They didn't all belong to the same kid, so I gave them back and said that they should really study if they didn't want to end up like me. I guess they took my advice to heart, because I never saw them again.
The guy who hired me had several stations in town, as well as an apartment complex and several rental homes. I asked him if he needed help at any of his other stations, or if he needed a handyman for any of his other investments. He kind of took a little pity on me and set me up as the handyman at one of the apartment complexes he had. I found out later that he had many more apartment complexes beside the one I was at. I worked as the manager by day and at the gas station by night. I lived free at the apartment and made some decent money at the station, so I got a library card and started learning English so I could pass my GED. After a year of studying, I went to a night school and said I would like to take my GED test. The guy kind of laughed at me at first, and then I asked him in a much more forceful voice if I could take the next test that was coming up. He said that he had a practice test I could take while his class was going on, so I sat in a corner and took his damn test. He couldn't believe I could ace the test, so he told me to come back the next night and he would give me another test. I told him I worked six nights a week and this was my only night off. He said to come by next week and he would have a test for me. I studied my ass off all week and come Friday evening, I was there when he came in to open the classroom. He asked how I got around, and I said, "Bike."
"Oh, you have a motorcycle?"
"No, a ten-speed bicycle; I can't afford a motor vehicle yet. That's why I need the GED, so I can get better work and go to college."
He gave me the new test before his normal class, and of the one hundred fifty questions, I got one English question wrong. Tom Smothers was impressed; he asked when I quit school and I said I had to quit in ninth grade. I said I had to work on my family's farm since my dad died. I said I came from Canada, up by Regina, but that I had been traveling for a while after the farm was sold by my mother's new husband.
"How old are you, Ron?"
"I'm 22, Mr. Smothers, I left home at eighteen before I killed that son of a bitch who married my mother, and then he sold the farm and took off with her and the money. I haven't heard from either of them since. Since I don't have the education I need, I have to excel or stay working at a gas station and as an apartment manager/handyman my whole life. I want more than that. I want a whole lot more than that. So when can I take the GED test?"
"You just did and passed with flying colors. How much money do you make, Ron? My God, your parents must have really liked that president, naming you Ron Reagan."
"I didn't think it was so great, and I think my parents hated me. I guess that being from Canada; most people wouldn't even make the connection. But to answer your question, I bring home almost two hundred every two weeks. I live in the apartment free, but I have to pay for utilities. That's why I only have a bike. Why did you want to know?"
"I think I might be able to get you into my old school, Hilton University. With your test score, and if your SAT score would be like I think it would be; I think the sky's the limit for you. Do you want me to see what I can do?"
"But how can we do that? I can't work two jobs and go to school too? I'd never be able to sleep or study. I'm sorry, but I just can't do that; there is no way I can do all that and live too. I really appreciate what you want to do, but I can't do all that and still be able to work."
"Ron, please just leave me your phone number, and I'll try to see if I can work something out. Give me your address, when you work, and the phone numbers and I will see what I can do on my end. Please let me see if I can really help you. I can see your thirst for knowledge and what your goals are, and I think I can help you achieve them, okay?"
I gave him my work and home numbers and my address. He did say that I needed to come back next week for my SAT test. I said I would try.
Well, wonder of wonders, when I got back to class the next Friday evening, I was ready for my test again. I had gone to the library, gotten some books to read, and studied for the SAT. I sat in another room with three other people and a testing proctor. I finished my test in just under three hours. The other three were still there when I left. I went home and cried; I just knew I was going to get nowhere.
On Saturday, I had to unclog a drain, replace a faucet, and re-hang a door that got busted. My boss came in about nine Saturday evening and asked how I was doing. It was payday and I hadn't even looked in the register for my check yet as it was kind of busy. When I got in I stocked shelves before the other guy's shift was over. I was reading some Shakespeare sonnets, when my boss, John Robert Ewing, came in. Everyone calls him 'Jack' though 'cause I guess John Robert usually is called Jack. Anyway, he came in and talked to me for a while, then went to the tiny office in the back. He came back out, handed me a check. He said it was my check that he hadn't gotten around to writing yet. I didn't think anything about it, and just put it away in my backpack and he left.
When I came on Sunday, there were two guys working at the station. I asked Gary what the scoop was. He was the dayshift guy who I relieved. He said that all he knew is that this guy was new and we were supposed to train him to take over a shift. I said that Jack hadn't said anything about it to me, but hey, he was the boss so I just did what I was told, trained the guy like I wanted him trained, then he left at midnight, while I worked until one. The guy, Bentley something, was with me Monday night too, but hadn't got there when I first showed up. He wasn't late; I was just early, like usual.
There were no repairs and no complaints today, so I just worked around the apartment. I still hadn't gone to the bank to cash my check and put it into my account. I had been using this one bank branch since I came to Houston, so the tellers knew me. I still had about thirty dollars left from the last payday, so I was still good. I was busy for a while Tuesday, doing some lawn mowing around the complex, and just had enough time to drop my check off at the bank and get to work.
I went into the bank, leaving my bike in the lobby with Carl, the guard. I walked up to Judy, one of the tellers, and said I wanted to deposit my check and I needed twenty for cash. My check had been the same for the last eight months, so I just filled out a regular deposit slip and handed Judy the signed check and the deposit slip. Judy looked at the check, then back up at me, and said, "Ron, you didn't add right on this slip." I looked at the slip and said, "That's right, isn't it? I get paid $364.23 every two weeks, and I take twenty out of that for my cash and deposit the rest, what's wrong with that?"
"Nothing if your check was for $364.23 like it usually is, but it's for $576.57. Are you getting paid once a month now?"
"Mr. Ewing didn't say anything about that, maybe I need to call him and see what's going on. I took my check and the deposit slip, and went over to an empty desk and called Jack at his business number. His secretary, Beverly, said she would have him on the line as soon as he got off the other line. I waited and Jack was on the line a few minutes later. "What's up, Ron?"
"Jack, I'm here at the bank and my check is for a whole lot more than just two weeks of pay. Are we now being paid by the month and someone not tell me about it?"
"No, Ron, I just felt that you needed a raise. You've worked for me for over a year now and you have never asked for more during that time, so I felt that it was time to reward that loyalty. You have never complained about anything I have ever thrown your way. I gave you the apartment complex to maintain and as a place for you to live. You have made your station run the most efficiently of all my stations. The apartment complex that had always been my worst one, as far as complaints and costs, is now my most beautiful one and I have less expense there than any other one. Everything that you have touched has prospered. I now understand that you wish to further your goals as a college man; I applaud that goal and as a result I am going to see if I can help you along the way." He paused there and I heard a couple of muffled voices like he had put his hand over the receiver. Then he came back, "Ron, just deposit the check and head for work. The man you are training is to be your replacement. Make sure he is honest and can do a good job for us. But you need to get going if you are going to get to work on time. I will see you later tonight to talk with you some more about where I see you going in our organization. See you later."
"Yes Sir, Mr. Ewing." I was really confused about all this. So Bentley was to be my replacement, but what would that do for me if I didn't have that job. And why was Jack paying me so much if I wouldn't have the station job? Too many things just didn't add up.
I hung up, went back to the desk, filled out a new deposit slip, and went back to see Judy. "Everything all straightened out, Ron?" Judy asked.
"Yes, I think so. I got a raise and I guess that some other things are going to happen too. I'm not too sure of what, but it looks like things are looking brighter than before."
"I'm so glad to hear that. I have always enjoyed our little visits and I think that good things happening for you are great; you deserve all the good luck you can get. See you in two weeks, Ron."
"Thanks, Judy, see you in two weeks," I said, as if in a daze. I thanked Carl for watching my bike and pedaled off to work. Riding a bike is a lot like running, it gives you a lot of time to think and mull things over in your mind. That was me as I was riding to work. It was only about eight blocks from the bank to the gas station I was working at, and a lot of the bank people did stop in after work to say 'hi' and get their gas and a Coke or beer for on the way home.
Edited by Regrimmett & Pepere
Proofreading by Betty R & Prissy_35503