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I was watching the news on the television as I rested on the sofa. Nothing I heard caught me by surprise anymore, but, like always, they gave a number to call if anyone wanted to help in any way. I turned the television off and went to bed. I arose early the next morning and did like I always did to start my day; turn on the news channel and make a pot of coffee and then go for a walk.
More news of the disaster appeared about a tornado that struck and devastated a town and once again a plea was given asking if anyone wanted to help in any way to please call the number that appeared below.
I sat down on my sofa and took several sips of my coffee out of my travel mug. There were several minutes of world news and then more pictures of the tornado that ended the future of the city appeared. I took several more sips of my coffee and did what I haven't ever done; I reached for my telephone and called the number on the screen.
Two days went by and I was sitting in my tub enjoying a hot bath when my telephone rang. I didn't bother to get out to answer it, that's what I had an answering machine for. I listened as a voice was explaining that she was a case worker for the disaster relief organization and that I had left valuable information that was helpful and after a brief message she left her number for me to call her back.
When I finished soaking my muscles I put on my robe and called the number. A lady answered and it was the same voice that I heard on the recorder.
"Hello ma'am, my name is Henry Wadsworth Long Fellow, and I was returning your call." I said.
There was a period of hesitation on the other end.
"Is it my name that's bothering you, or did you only call me for the sole purpose of asking for my support by soliciting a donation?" I asked her. "If you did, I'm sorry, you'll be wasting your time and mine; I don't do business like that over a telephone."
"Sir, I'm sorry but we do deal with some strange individuals." The lady commented politely.
"Do you ma'am, try growing up with a name like Henry Wadsworth Long Fellow, and maybe you'll see why I've come up against my share of comedians." "For all I know, I could be talking to one now."
"I'm sorry sir for my behavior." "You called saying you had employment plus room and board for a family."
"That's correct." I told her.
"Sir we have a lady that has two children, one boy thirteen, and a girl that's eleven." "I was talking to her about an hour ago and she said she was interested."
"She wants to know how I feel about the kids, huh?" I said.
"No sir, I want to know how you feel about the kids, it's my job." She said bluntly.
"I see you've seen people that give you those suspicions you have." I responded. "Ma'am, in the real world that we all live in today, I can say the same about you." "I see things that public figures are charged with and none of them ever confessed to any wrong doings, yet they plead guilty to a lighter charge." "Wicked people lie." "That's why our legal system is backlogged; money has a way of tilting the scales of justice." "I called the number at the bottom of the screen telling the recorder that I could offer room and board for a family in exchange for employment." "If you run you're investigation and you find out that there's nothing against me, then you can call me back and we'll have this discussion all over again."
"Sir, I apologize." She said once again.
"Ma'am that's not necessary, I see where kids are killed and the first person the finger is pointed at is you." "You've got your job to do, and if you don't do it right, somebody gets hurt." "You know it, and I know it."
"Mr. Long Fellow," "I see you live roughly a hundred miles away." She reported.
"Yes ma'am" "Is that going to be a problem?"
"No sir, she's desperate, she doesn't find the armory a pleasant place to be." "If she's willing to relocate, she's going to need someone to come get her, they lost everything."
"Well, just give me a call when they're ready and I'll come pick them up." I told her.
"Sir, can I ask you why you want to help?"
"Are there more questions on the questionnaire?" I asked her question with my own.
"No sir, I get to see some good people too."
"So I'm being rated then." I stated. "Ma'am, I moved here outside of Titus last month." "The coyotes keep me company on the nights of a full moon when I sit by my fire, they sing sweet songs." "And on my walks I stop and watch the deer watch me watching them." "I live on four hundred acres and I'm usually outside chopping wood or building me my chicken coops, or my rabbit pens, and every now and then when I get bored, I work on my greenhouses for my garden." "I was watching the news and saw what that tornado did and I heard a person say if I could help in any way to please call that number, so I did and I thought I could make an offer." I answered. "I don't hang around the house much unless I'm in my study room, so I thought a family could have a place to stay and a little privacy to go along with it."
"Sir, would it be asking too much if you could come and pick them up tonight." She said.
"Maybe you should check this out with her." I exclaimed.
"Sir, she's not in any condition right now to make any demands, like I said, she's desperate."
"It's going to take me a couple of hours to get there." I stated.
"They've got nowhere to go." She said. "They'll be waiting."
When I hung up the phone I found myself driving down the road.
When I walked into the armory I introduced myself to the man at the door and he gave me the information I needed to talk to the person I needed to talk to.
"My names Henry Wadsworth Long Fellow," I told the man behind a desk "I was told to come here and pick some people up."
I saw a smile form on his lips.
"Could you give me a few minutes?" He said with his smile that he wore.
I soon heard the door open and when I turned around a young lady walked in. "Mr. Long Fellow, I'm Brenda Lambert; you and I had a brief conversation over the phone earlier this evening."
"Mrs. Lambert it's an honor to meet you." I responded.
"My, aren't we getting off to a better start." She giggled.
"I assume that's why you and I are having this conversation." I said.
"You and I have a lot in common." "You see the face and you feel better when you see the face behind the face; ma'am I can feel you reading me."
"You're not some redneck hillbilly like you pretend to be." She said.
"That depends on who you're talking to." "But judging by that rock you have on your finger and the way you're dressed, you don't do much socializing in neighborhoods that don't have security." "You're not a caseworker." I confronted her.
"Who are you;" she said "a man that owns four hundred acres of land doesn't worry about paying his taxes?"
"Are you still performing your investigation?" I asked her. "Ma'am, I've driven for two hours and I'm tired." "I'm thirty eight years old and I couldn't even begin to tell you my life story in one sentence." "It's taken me this long to get to where I'm at now, and it's going to take me that long to tell you where I've been." I said as I pulled my pad and pen out of my pocket and began writing down what I said.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"It's a habit of mine." "I used to think of things and before I got back home I forgot the things I was thinking of." "My thoughts drift and went to waste, this way I can remember them." I answered.
"I'm sorry sir" she paused and then continued "but
Excerpted from HENRY by Paulie J. Johnson. Copyright © 2013 by Paulie J. Johnson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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