Joshua's parents were divorced, his mother was a drunk, and his brother just came around when he wasn't angry at the world. The town always seemed to have minor problems. He thought things were never going to change. Soon enough, this boy did miracles that Joshua couldn't believe anyone could do. Day after day, things happened but nobody had faith in Robert until he did the impossible. He was the town prodigy, changed the lives of many people, and even brought romance into Joshua's life. No one thought that it was possible, least of all, Joshua Buckly. This is his story.
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Robert FryThe Miracle Boy from Britain
By Tristyn L. Dalrymple
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Tristyn L. Dalrymple
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt was 1944, in the years of World War II. Things were hard, fathers were scarce, and nothing good was on the television.
Welcome to Bakersfield.
Robert walked off the train and paused. He looked to his right and then his left. California seemed pretty dull for the first few seconds until he noticed me sitting at a table outside a diner playing cards. There I was, alone and frustrated. I looked over and saw him staring at me from the distance. He decided to walk in my direction and bother me.
"Hello, I'm Robert Fry."
I did not answer.
"I'm from London."
I ignored him again in the hopes that he would just leave me be.
"What's your name?"
Turned out I was wrong. Robert dropped his rather large bag and sat right next to me. I could feel his breath running down the front of my shirt. My chest was getting warm and still I was ignoring him. It was hard to bare his annoyance, but I held back.
"What are you doing?" He reached his hand towards my jack of hearts. He hovered over me, taking away all of my sunlight. I had to say something.
"What do you think you are doing, boy? This is my table, my cards, and my alone time. Can't you go bother somebody else?"
"I'm Robert Fry."
"I know who you are, stupid. You already told me your name. What do you want?"
Robert smiled at me.
"A friend who will listen."
Now, I am not quite sure what that meant, but I felt bad for the poor kid so I let him hover a bit longer.
"My name is Joshua Thomas Buckly. You can sit for a while, but when I say scram, you scram, got it?"
A half hour passed and the sun began to die down. The trees got ready for bed and the coyotes made a lot of noise. The town cooled down and everything seemed peaceful. The diner was serving dinner and all the regulars began to show up. The drunks were going to overstay their welcome and the cops parked along the fields. Robert never left my side. He just sat there and watched me over and over again while I shuffled my deck of cards. Since he hadn't gotten the hint to leave I decided to get up and leave him.
He began to follow me. I turned around and looked him eye to eye. I was mad but you couldn't tell because the diner lights shone in my eyes.
"Go home, Robert."
He kept following me and smiling. I hated that he was smiling. He knew he was bugging me. I was about to turn around and punch him. I kept walking away while he dragged behind. Finally, I gave in and turned around again to say something. At that moment I had realized that when I did, I didn't recognize him. He wasn't one of the boys from town. I had never seen him before but he didn't look lost. I made small talk to find out a few facts. I wasn't sure how much I trusted myself being alone with a stranger.
"Tell me something about yourself, Robert. How old are you?"
"Thirteen. Today's my birthday."
"No kidding? Why aren't you at home with your folks? What on earth are you doing all the way over here? Isn't London in another country?
"So, you were listening to me, eh?"
I grinned and rolled my eyes.
"Yes, it's in England. Two years ago my mum got on a boat with my sister and I and left London. When my father went off to war, my mum wanted to protect us from the bombing in Britain.
"What happened to you?"
"Well, when we got to America, we got on a train. When the train reached its destination, we had to transfer onto another in a layover wait. When it came we started to walk towards the train headed for Portsmouth, Ohio, when a bustle of people went by and I accidentally lost sight of where my mum and sister were heading. Instead of looking for them, I decided to just meet them on the train that we were supposed to transfer to. Little did I know, it was the wrong train that I got on and I eventually wound up here, in Bakersfield. During the ride on the train, knowing that I took the wrong one, I had the slightest feeling of depression come over me."
"How do you know what depressing is? You can't get that stupid smile off your face. Why are you so happy anyway?"
This kid was smarter than I had imagined for being thirteen years old. As much as he bugged the crap out of me, his story was interesting and somehow I couldn't stop asking questions. I was curious and he was only a bit younger than I was. Robert moved closer to me and put his hand on my shoulder.
"My mum told me shortly before I got lost that she loved me and that we would always be together."
I kept talking and talking because we grew from small talk into his whole life story. I decided to go on.
"So two years you've been travelling alone? Aren't you scared to death, boy?"
"Not really. The past two years haven't been so bad. I stayed with different families and just told them I was on an adventure. They took me in for a few weeks, and eventually they'd feel bad and give me a few pounds. People don't have much right now because of the war, but they sure were generous to me. Actually, America is quite fascinating."
"Really? I don't see how that is. It's pretty dull to me but the stars are beautiful out here and the ocean reminds us that we are safe from what's on the other side."
"That's beautiful. Do you write?" Robert asked.
"No, I want to be a magician."
I had no idea what I was going to do with this kid and I couldn't just leave him all by himself with nowhere to go. I was only about six months older than Robert and figured I would be some kind of role model for him. Dinner was soon, anyway, so I decided to take him home with me.
"Want to come to dinner with me, Robert? My family is broken and my parents are divorced but I'm sure you'll be welcome for tonight."
"I would love to, thank you. Why is your family broken?"
I ignored him completely.
"Alright, well, come on now. We don't want to be late."
He didn't pry after that. Just stood there then followed me home. It was silent most of the way. We took a lot of shortcuts and every time we heard a noise he laughed. Once again he found ways to bug me but I didn't say a word. He would look at me every few minutes and I knew he wanted to say something, but didn't. Finally, the smallest dosage of words came out of his mouth.
"What was that you were doing back there with those cards?"
"Magic, Robert, magic. Pretty neat, huh?"
"Yes." He grinned.
"I've been trying to pull a penny out of my ears for days but it seems to not be working. Ticks me off, to be honest."
"So, why don't you write?"
"What's your obsession with writin, boy? I don't write. Look at me. Does it look like I write?"
Robert shrugged and put his hands in his pants pockets. I examined him a bit closer as we walked down the tracks. He was short with dark brown hair, but had the bluest eyes. He wore his pants cuffed at the bottom and his shoes were two different kinds. I also noticed a small black and white picture sticking out of his back pocket of an older woman with long hair wearing a dress. He seemed to remember it was back there because he kept taking it out and staring at it and then putting it back. Five minutes later and he'd start all over again.
"Say, what's in that bag of yours, Robert? Looks impossible to carry around longer than a few miles. It's not easy walking around these roads with that."
He paused for a moment to remember.
"A couple of shirts, a Bible, some souvenirs I picked up along my journey, and a book about Ireland."
"Why a book of Ireland?"
"To look at the pictures. I think it's beautiful."
"You are a strange boy, Robert."
He looked confused, like no one has ever called him strange before. I find that hard to believe with the way he stalks people. He was stalking me at least. Too bad I had what appeared to be some feelings and decided to give him a break. He finally decided to respond.
"Well what did you expect? I don't understand."
I smiled at him and laughed really hard. "A friend who will listen."
He looked at me with the funniest face.
"Hey, are you mocking me?" he frowned.
I kept laughing and then he pushed me. I pushed him back, swung him beside me, and wrapped my arm around his neck. From that moment on I knew we were going to be best friends. I didn't know why but I usually had a sense for those kinds of things. Not sure where he was going to stay, but I wanted him to stick around. He bugged me but I didn't care. I wanted to know more about him and where he came from. He was companionship and the only friend I had since school let out.
We arrived at my house where my brother Benjamin was frantically pacing on the front porch. Benny was a tall kid. He had brown hair like Robert but his eyes were of no pretty color. Grayish with a ring of yellow, and he was built, too. Not like me, of course. I'm somewhat tall. Taller than Robert, at least, and probably stronger. I have blonde hair, which doesn't seem to run in the family, but my eyes are green like my father's.
"Benny, what are you doing? Sit down before you trip and hurt yourself, stupid!" Benny looked over and saw me. He ran towards me screaming.
"Where were you? I was gettin worried sick; it's getting dark outside! If mother knew you were gone this long she'd have a fit! Who is this? You shouldn't be bringin strangers home. As your big brother I need to watch out for you."
It was hard to get a word in with all his jabber, but I pushed in a few sentences. "Whoa, whoa, calm down, Benny. Robert isn't a stranger, he's my friend. I met him today at the diner."
Benny got this dark look in his eyes. "I thought I told you to stay away from the diner in the evening. All the drunks are there. It's dangerous."
I pretended not to listen and grabbed Robert's hand. We walked up the porch steps and looked at the house leaving my brother to himself. The only thought at that point was the reaction I would get from my mother. It was worth a try.
Chapter TwoI opened the screen door and peered inside. Robert peeked through under me, trying to get a better look. I was searching for any sign of my mother but couldn't see her anywhere. Robert burst open the door without asking me and bolted inside. I took a deep breath and followed.
Robert looked around the house and fancied it. It wasn't anything fancy. I guess it was because our living room and kitchen looked like an antique shop. My mother was always collecting things that she had found interesting over the years. I couldn't help but notice that Robert also held a strong fascination with the woman in the kitchen tied to her stove. She was singing ancient hymns from who knows when. She stood and danced while making chicken and Robert just gazed at her. It was like having a new gift for Christmas and not being able to play with it.
She was a young and single mother. Since my parents got divorced she never stopped working. I begged her one day to stay home because I was sick, but instead she left me with the neighbors. That was a nightmare, especially since they don't do nothing but sleep all day and stay up all night. Like bats, they creeped me out.
"Hello mamma, I'm home. This is my new friend." She turned around and noticed me with the dirty boy, and God knows what she was thinking.
"Hello Ms. Buckly, I'm Robert Fry. Nice to meet you."
She was confused and looked very deep in thought like she knew something we didn't.
"I'm sorry, but I know every family in town and I've never heard of Fry before. Where are you from?" my mother interrogated.
"London? You mean England?! What on earth are you doing so far from home? Where is your family?" Robert didn't respond. He just stood there smiling and shaking from the temperature of our house. It was a bit chilly but I didn't seem to mind it as much as him. Then my mother spoke again. "Alright, Robert, would you like to stay for dinner? I'm making chicken, potatoes, and vegetables."
"I would love to, Miss Buckly, thank you."
We washed our hands and took a seat. My brother walked in and rolled his eyes at Robert. He wasn't too thrilled with his stay, but that's just because he's mad. He doesn't eat because he has a condition. He gets sick when he eats so he just sits around and drinks beer all day.
We sat at the table for what seemed to be hours as Robert told our family about London and growing up. He told us about getting separated from his family and his travels the past two years. He bragged about the families that took him in and how unselfish they were. I still couldn't imagine an eleven-year-old alone for more than an hour. Still, Robert talked and talked and we all listened. Out of nowhere my mother began to tear up and left the table. She walked down the hall for a minute and into another room.
"Did I say something wrong?" Robert asked. Poor kid doesn't know that he needs to be taken care of properly with a family.
"No, Robert. You said nothing wrong. My mother is upset because you are here without your parents."
"You're not supposed to be alone, Robert. It doesn't work that way." I started to raise my voice. My family has always had anger problems but I couldn't help it. He was making me angry and acting naïve. Of course he knew why my mother was upset, how couldn't he? "Robert, you need to go to Ohio to find your mother."
He looked at me very fast.
"No. My work isn't done here."
My nerves were shaking and I clenched my fists. He was a cool kid but he was acting completely oblivious to everything around him. I pounded a fist on the table.
"What do you mean you work isn't done here?" I demanded. "I thought you were just travelling, Robert. You're thirteen years old!"
"You told me your family is broken. I decided that I want to fix it."
"GO HOME, ROBERT!"
I stormed into my bedroom and started to tear up like my mother had. I didn't want him to go. I had finally made a friend, but he couldn't stick around. He made my mother sad and that wasn't okay with me. He put her in charge of him and I am sure she didn't want that burden. It was hard enough with my father gone. I stuck my face in my pillow until I thought he had gone.
Two hours later I left my room and found my mother in the kitchen sitting in the corner, alone.
"Mother, are you okay?
She was holding, clutching her necklace that her best friend gave to her when they were six. Her best friend died of pneumonia at age eighteen. They had always promised each other that they would run away together at age twenty-one and get drunk at a park for the first time with their boyfriends. That never happened. Instead, my mother drank alone at her best friend's tombstone. Sad story and she never talks about it.
"Mother, are you okay? You aren't talking to me."
She slowly looked up at me and pulled her hair behind her ear. "Where is Robert?"
"We got into a fight and I told him to go home. He said he wanted to fix things, but I said no. So he left and I went into my room for a while."
She had the look of terror on her face and I knew I had done something I'd regret later. I put my head down and my hands behind my back and muttered, "Sorry mom."
"Oh my goodness, Joshua. Why would you do that? Robert is just a child, he's thirteen! He can't wander out in the dark by himself."
"He's done it before. He's done it for two years, mother." I was being stubborn and selfish, but I knew she was right. She's always right. So we put our shoes on and went out to find him.
I opened the front door to start the search and there he was. Didn't shock me, he was just really strange. He was sitting on the steps picking at his hands. He turned around when he heard the door shut behind me.
"Robert what are you doing here? Didn't I tell you to go home?"
"Yes." was his reply.
"But why didn't you? Why didn't you run away? Most kids would have."
"You need me. You're a broken family and I need to fix it." "You are so unusual. Come inside. And nothing can be fixed, Robert. It's been like this for years now. If my parents can't change things, then you can't either!" I finalized. We walked inside and that boy was still smiling. "Stop smiling, Robert, please. You're giving me a headache."
My mother walked us in and gave Robert a hug. She seemed relieved that we didn't have to have a search party for him. It was just too easy. Robert was like an angel. He kind of made things better for us that night. I felt a sudden sense of calm, which was unusual because I was not a happy kid. My mother took Robert into the adjacent room to get him settled. I followed behind, being nosy, but I figured I could. Besides, he's my best friend and nobody else's.
Excerpted from Robert Fry by Tristyn L. Dalrymple Copyright © 2010 by Tristyn L. Dalrymple. Excerpted by permission.
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