He Rose on a Golden Wing… Canto 6

Chopin – Polonaise in G Minor
Needless to say, Valerie missed school again on Friday.  Everybody, even Mom, talked to her like she was an unexploded bomb all that day.  Except for Dilsey Murphy when she called.
“Val?  Do I need to get somebody else as a sitter?”
“You know you already told me you would.  I’m sorry you had a bad night last night, but this is too short of a notice.  I don’t think I can get anybody else.  You wouldn’t want to mess up Tim’s whole love life, would you?”
Well, she had to seriously think about that one for a second.  But then it made her laugh.
“No.  I seriously want you to tame the wild beast for me.  And besides, I was looking forward to playing games with Troy Zeffer and reading books to him and stuff.”
“Thank you.  I owe you a big one after this.”
“Well, wait and see how you feel about it after an evening with Tim.  You may curse me after that.”
It was Dilsey’s turn to laugh.  “Thanks, Val.  You’re the best.”
“I know.”
Her life was basically destroyed and she would have to live with having a nervous breakdown in front of her worst enemy.  And she had destroyed Uncle Dash too.  How was she ever going to make things up to him?   But talking with Dilsey had definitely been helpful.  It was good that Dils had not let her get away with anything, just because of a little old world-ending meltdown and depression.
The next day she showed up right on time at the Zeffer house.
Pat Zeffer met her at the door before she even knocked.
“Ah, hello, Valerie.  I’m so glad you could make it tonight… in spite of…”
“Oh, you heard about it?”
“I’m sorry, dear.  I know you probably don’t want to talk about it.  In fact, are you sure you are up for this tonight?”
“Actually, I need this.”
“Well, please come on in.  You know, Troy was excited when he learned you would be his sitter for tonight.  You know how much he loves you.”
“Well, I love him too.  Very much.  He looks so much like Ray.”
“Oh, you think so too?”
“Of course.  He has Ray’s dark-chocolate eyes and adorable dimples.”
The comment made Pat smile and draw in a deep breath before letting out a small sigh.
“It makes me ache in my heart to look at him sometimes,” the doting grandmother said.  They both moved into the compact little living room and seated themselves together on the couch.
“It seems like forever since Ray’s been missing,” Valerie said carefully.
“Ah, yes.  That…”
“Has anybody ever found a clue to…?”
“No.  Never.  He has disappeared as completely as if he was never born.”
Valerie swallowed what might’ve come out as a sob.  This old woman knew how she felt about Ray, but she did not want to add to any burdens.  Ray had simply vanished shortly after Troy was born.  No ransom or suicide notes.  No goodbyes.  He didn’t take the car.  Or any money.  Or anything that Pat or the police could determine.
His mother had always said, “An angel must have took him straight to Heaven, like Elijah.”
But the truth was probably far more sinister than that.
Anyway, little Troy came waddling in with his toy tiger in hand.  On seeing Valerie, he dropped the toy and gave her a big hug.  She then pulled him onto her lap and cuddled him a little.
“Valerie, I know what happened at the father/daughter dance.  I would understand if you need me to cancel my plans with Roy Withers in Clarion tonight.  In fact, I’m available to talk to if you need a friend to talk to about losing loved ones.”
“Honestly, Pat, I’m all right to stay with this little guy tonight.  I wouldn’t have come if I thought I couldn’t handle it.”
“If you’re absolutely sure.  But, you know, starting the sentence with Honestly is how someone starts telling a half-truth.  Or, a whole untruth.”
“You deserve to spend some time with Roy.  He’s a widower, and he probably needs you to make him laugh as much as you need to tell him some funny things.”
“Okay.  If you’re sure you’ll be all right.”
“We’ll be fine, Troy and me.  I need him to make me laugh as much as he probably needs to do something funny.”
“Okay.  Bedtime at 8:00. And get him at least a little damp in the bathtub if you possibly can.”
Mrs. Zeffer jingled her keys goodbye at Troy and was off to Clarion for whatever kind of romantic adventure lonely old grandparents could have.
“So, I do someting funny now?” Troy asked.
“Deet-da-deet dah-diddly-waaaagh!” he sang.  His puckered little face had Ray’s dark brown eyes and Ray’s dimples.  And as she stared at his chuckling face while he cracked himself up, She suddenly remembered how much she missed sweet, gentle Ray Zeffer.  He and Carla Sears of Belle City had made this little boy while they were still young and in high school.  Carla’s parents hated Ray for it.  They forbid the two young lovers from getting married.  But they were against abortion.  And they made the young couple miserable.  Up until Ray suddenly disappeared.  Then they took over the lives of both Carla and her baby son.
“Va-ahl-urrr-eee. I canst breathe!” complained Troy.
Realizing her error, she released him from the bone-crushing hug she had put on him.
“Vaaahluuurrreee?  Why is you sad?”  He was still trying to make her laugh.
She gently pulled him back into a more comfortable hug.  And then she cried.  It would last for an hour more.

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Filed under family, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

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