A New Start
I’m walkin’ down the road with no real purpose or destination. Just tryin’ to find some work. I see a sweet girl and a young boy outside cleaning the porch and I head up to them.
"Sweepin' and sweepin'!" He bumps into me. "Hi," he says, confused.
"Hi!" I reply back, giving a friendly smile to him.
The girl comes up in a protective and cautious manner. "Hello? What are you doin' mister?"
I hesitate before deciding on explaining myself. "Well to tell you the truth ma'am, I'm lost." The girl looks skeptical, so I continue. "Well, I saw my friend over here givin' the grass a once over and I thought to myself, 'there's a man who cares about the land he stands on.' I says, 'there's a man who can tell me where I am."
The boy's face lights up. "You're at Buddy Layman's house!" Buddy states proudly as he starts pointing things out as he's talking. "There's his windows, his porch, and this girl? She's his sister!" He grins.
I chuckled at Buddy's strange way of speaking. "A fine upstanding man like yourself oughta love keepin' clean."
His face dropped at that and he looked awful scared, starting to crouch in fear. "D-don't make him get wet!"
His sister looked at me angrily and accusingly. "Are you sellin' soap or somethin' mister?!"
Quite frankly, I was confused. Since when was selling soap a bad thing? "No, ma'am, I was just try-"
"Jenny Mae! Don't let that guy wash him!" Buddy hid behind her, whose name appeared to be Jenny Mae.
"Ma'am, I wasn't tryin' to scare anybody. I'm just lookin' for work. Maybe some food or a place to stay. I'm not a big eater. A crumb here and a crumb there." I explained myself more clearly. I was starving at this point, and so the oddness of earlier wore off quite quickly in my need for food.
Buddy calmed down a little bit and Jenny Mae appeared sympathetic to my plight."Well, my daddy might have a job for you. I'll go ask him." She walked through the door and left me and Buddy for some conversation.
"What's your name mister?" He asked curiously. Friendly kid.
"C.C." I replied.
He looked deep thought for a second after that. "Ya know something C.C? I know what's up there." He points to the sky.
"And what's that, Bud?"
"Jesus lives up there." He said with awe.
My past started to bubble up in my mind, and I wince a little before quickly brushing it off. "So, you know your way around the church then?" I asked.
Buddy looked at me like I was born yesterday. "We don't got a church, C.C.! Don't you know nothin'?" He said it like it was common knowledge for everyone, even newcomers like me.
"So your mama taught you the gospel at home?"
His expression turned sad, tinged with concern. "Y...You haven't seen her, have you?" His eyes were a little hopeful, like he wished my answer was going to be that I have.
"How long's she been gone?" I inquired. I hadn't seen a woman who mentioned a son in my travels, or any that had Buddy's straw blonde hair, so I didn't think I had seen his mother.
"Just over a few months, C.C. I've been lookin, everywhere and I can't find her no where." His voice went real sad as he looked down at the ground dejected.
So, we got a boy, a girl and a father with no mother. I see opportunity. "Well, I'd imagine she's up in heaven." I offer up.
"Heaven? What's she do up there?"
"Well, I'd guess she's flyin' and singin' with the angels."
"She's flyin'?!" He repeats with awe, jumping up.
Jenny Mae and their dad walk out of the house. Buddy is still yammerin' about flyin', and he runs up to them as they approach. "Dad, mama's flyin' and singin' up there with Jesus!"
"You're gonna be flyin' too if you don't get those chores done by noon, boy." His dad says in a gruff voice. He's a man who's fairly tall, well-built and a bit on the stockier side, wearing a mechanic's overalls. I felt a small tug in my chest, an all too familiar feeling.
I can't do this. Not again.
"Hi, I’m C.C. Showers!" I extend my hand out for a handshake, and he takes it.
"Nice to meet ya. I'm Ferris. Ferris Layman." Ferris. Rolls off the tongue nicely.
I pause for a second before asking my offer. "I was just lookin' f-for some work and a place to sleep."
Ferris gives me a small smile. "Well C.C., are you willing to work for your keep?"
"Y-yes sir. Anything." I say eagerly.
He notices my cleaner-than-most clothes and raises an eyebrow. "You look like you've had a job before. What'cha do?"
"Well..." He aint gon' believe me. "Is' a preacher."
Ferris chuckles, his statement ending in a humorous tone. "Aw, you full of shit, ain't you?"
"No sir. I used to preach in Kentucky. It's not a sin to change, and I have changed." I said honestly.
He realised I was tellin' the truth and he started fumin'. "You mean a bible thumping, prayer singing heaven and hell fire preacher!?" Ferris's stance turned into a more aggressive one.
"Now hold the boat!" I hold my hands up in defense. "I don't preach no more. I left."
"You left and came here where there ain't a job for miles? What the hell did you do?" He inquired, raising his eyebrow again.
I can't say. I don't like how he's gettin' in my business. "It don't matter no more!" I blurt out before regaining my composure. "Listen I’m just tryna get by, but I can leave."
Buddy chimed in at this point, looking up at me with a hopeful tone. "Ain't you gonna stay a while C.C.?"
"Well, I mean.." I trailed off. I never got an answer, and I didn't want to impose. Jenny Mae speaks up in my defense.
"He can sleep in the barn, daddy."
"I-I don't wanna be a burden I'll just-" I start up, but Ferris cuts in before I stake my leave.
"My barn oughta be good enough for a good man to sleep in."
"I don't wanna bother-"
"C.C., I could use the help." Ferris insists.
Jenny Mae walks back inside, looking at me over her shoulder. "I'll get ya some blankets.”
"Welcome to the garage."