(Read This Story From The Beginning By Clicking Here…)
Mom wasn’t pleased that I quit my job at Burger King. “What are you going to do now?” You can’t stay here for free,” she said while hanging jeans on the clothesline. I watched as a humming bird swooped under the porch roof to grab a drink of the sugar water that she had placed in a heart-shaped feeder. The tiny bird was no larger than a bumble bee and it seemed that I could possibly catch it in my hand if I were to slowly walk across the cement patio and reach for it.“Don’t worry, Mom. It’s just a meaningless job. I should have signed-up and collected unemployment, but I took that job because you were paranoid about my future. I could have collected $250 for sitting on my ass; instead I make less than $150 a week at Burger King. Cut me some slack. I just gave two years of my life to this nation and its economy. I need to relax a little. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since I shipped off to basic training.”
She turned her back to me and placed two wooden clothespins on my step-father’s fat ass jeans. I saw her face before she turned away from me. She had that look in her eyes again. The worry was always there—the concern about finances. The same dreadful, crow’s – feet promoting frown that now plagues my aging face. She had every right to look worried all the time. Things were hard for her and Bob. The mortgage payment was almost $400 and the electric bill had escalated to over $150 a month now that I was back at home taking long, hot showers.
The truth was, she was pissed that I was calling Anthony in Germany every night. Who was I to be spending hundreds of dollars each month just to stay in touch with an old Army buddy?“You listen to me, smart-ass,” she shouted while picking up the wicker clothes basket and walking back to the porch where I was sitting on a wooden swing. The hummingbird fluttered away. She didn’t even notice that it was feeding. “If you can spend all that money calling your friends, you can give me $75 a week to stay here.”She was right. Mom and Bob could have used the extra cash. Finances were not my worry at the time. I was still young and beautiful, besides, I had the G.I. Bill and Army College Fund at my disposal.
She went to the bathroom and started another load of clothes and I picked up the phone to make another long distance call. This time, I was only calling Huntingdon. My parents were so cheap they still had an old black phone that was not push-button. I actually had to dial the number (814) 643-4040 to reach my old friend, Jo McMeen at the “Daily News”.
“Charlie? Charlie Taylor? Is this really you?”
“Yes, Jo. I’m out of the Army now and ready to head to Penn State this Fall.”
“What’s your major, Charlie?”
“I’m undeclared. I’ve been accepted at the Altoona Branch of Penn State. I will not declare my major until my third year, when and if I’m transferred to the State College campus.”
“Do you want to be a writer? You should want to be a writer, Charlie. Would you like to go to State College for all four years?”
“Well, I would, but…”
“Give me your number. I’m going to call a few people and I’ll call you back.”
“Actually, Jo, the reason I was calling was because I’m looking for a job.”
“I’ll call you back. I can’t believe Charlie Taylor is home,” she cried.
Mom walked into the kitchen, glaring at me as I hung up the phone.
“Don’t worry so much, Mom. I was only calling Huntingdon. I think I may have a new job. See that!”
“What do you mean? What job?”
“I’m trying to get Jo McMeen to give me a job at the ‘Daily News’.”
“You know what I think about your high-class friends. Why does she want to give you a job there?” Mom asked.
“Have you ever read anything I’ve written for that paper when I was in school?”
She looked at me as if she were upset that she would no longer be receiving free Whoppers.
To be continued…