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The Brooklyn Dodger, Ch 3, That's Life
by Jesus Puppy 
02/06/08
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The Brooklyn Dodger
Chapter Three

That's Life

I woke up disoriented, kept telling myself it was only a dream, and I almost started to believe it. I kept thinking how dad would be in the kitchen making pancakes for breakfast. I could even smell them cooking.

I felt something wet touch my face. It was cold and rough, but felt good on my forehead. When I opened my eyes, I knew it wasn't a dream.

"It's ok," Stevie said, wiping my face with a damp cloth. "It's alright, just rest."

I fell back against the pillows, and then beyond them into darkness.

* * *

I was reading the paper as dad came in.

"I'm home," he said in a cheerful voice. "And guess what, I got the job. We are headed for the big time again."

He tossed his jacket on the couch beside me. I looked at it and saw blood. Then I looked up and saw my dad, his head smashed in, blood poured down what was left his face.


"NO!" I screamed as I sat up, drenched in sweat. A hand pushed me back gently.

"It's ok, Dodger," a soft voice said. "You're alright, it was just a dream. You're awake now."

I looked up at the sound and saw Stevie sitting there beside me, a sad, understanding smile on her face. The light sparkled in her eye as a tear rolled off her cheek. I laid back again, closing my eyes.

"It happened, didn't it?" I whispered, still praying it was a only dream, but knowing it wasn't. "My dad is really dead, isn't he?"

"I wish I could say no," a voice said calmly. I turned my head and saw Preacher sitting in the chair beside my bed. "But I can't. Yes, Dodger, your dad's dead."

As he looked at me then, his eyes has the same sad, understanding look as Stevie's had. I rolled over and looked back up at the ceiling.

"That look," I started to say, trying to change the subject. "You're brother and sister."

"You just figure that out?" Stevie said, her hand lightly touching my arm, comforting.

"Two kids with blue eyes are common enough," I said. "But that look. Understanding loss, knowing it first hand."

Preacher sighed heavily, then stood and walked around the bed to rest an arm on his sister's shoulder. She, in turn, looked up and smiled.

"I was only eleven when our parents died," Preacher started. "The kid here had just turned four. We survived, and believe it or not, so will you."

His words seemed cold, but as I looked at him, his frown turned to a smile. Sad still, but a smile. I thought about it for a second and realized he was right, I would survive.

"It was rough at first," he went on then. "They wouldn't let us go to the funeral, just being kids, and no family to watch us. Looking back on it I am glad they didn't. I hate funerals, all that crying, and they always say a bunch of fancy words that make it seem so phony."

"They will probably send dad's body to Canada," I said, trying not to cry. "They have a family plot up there. That's what my dad did when Mother passed away."

It got quiet then, too quiet. I looked over at Stevie, she had fallen asleep on the edge of the bed. She looked so peaceful laying there.

Preacher and I sat there talking for what seemed like hours. He told me how the state had put them in a group home, then tried to split them up in less than a few months. He had run away, taking his sister with him. He said it was rough, but compared to the way I had grown up, it sounded more like torture.

"That's what life is," he said, "Some are lucky and some aren't. But that's life."

I fell asleep myself then, thinking of God playing games with fate, and men falling, some as aces, others as suicide kings.

* * *

I was startled awake from a dream where aces laughed, and threw roses at dead, bloody kings. I laid back again trying to forget the strangeness of it-- the coldness of reality.

"Yo, Dodger, you awake?" Cycle said as he stuck his head in the door to my room.

"Sure," I told him, wanting the company just then. He jumped on the bed hard enough to bounce. I felt like laughing at him, but all I could manage was a weak smile.

"So, tell me your story," I said after the bed stopped shaking.

"The same old stuff really," Cycle started after a bit. "My dad went to the store one night and never came back. I was only nine. Mom got a job working in a night-club to make ends meet. At the age of twelve, I stole a bike. I figured that was way of things. That bike became my way out, racing is the way I cope with things."

I looked at him and found he wasn't smiling, his face sad, expressionless. Then his eye sparkled and he went on.

"Others have it worse," he said, "At least I have my mom. And my bike," he added with a smile.

"What about the others, the triplets, Mike, Tim? He looks more like a rich kid."

"He is," Cycle said as a matter of fact. "The Gophers were abandoned, and if not for Preacher, they would be in Juvenile housing. If not for Mike's aunt taking him and his sister, they would be too. His parents just dropped them off one day. Marco and Marcia's folks are still together, so is Kong's, but being poor is rougher on foreigners." He stopped for second and looked over at me.

"Hey dude," he sighed. "It is the same with everyone, even News. He seems to have it made. Rich family, nice home, anything he wants is his just for asking. Except a family that loves him. If not for the gang, who knows. Everyone has their problems, it is how you handle it that counts."

We sat there a minute, not saying much, when Larry came to the door, Peter right behind him.

"How are you doing?" Pete asked. "Feel like a game of card?"

"Sure thing," I said jumping out of bed. "Be right there."

"Poncho and Lefty," Cycle said as the other two headed back to the living room. "You won't see one without the other."

"Never?"

"Never. They even double date." As we got to the living room they must have heard him.

"We're partners," they both said at the same time, then started to laugh. We played a hand of spades, and started another when the door opened.

"You should be resting, not playing cards." Stevie said, as her and Marcia came in carrying a bag of groceries.

"I feel fine," I told her, then sat back and shook my head, looking down. "Besides, playing cards keeps me from thinking, laying in bed doesn't."

"Well," she said with a hurt look on her face. "Just take it easy, ok?"

"Alright," I said, and sat there, trying not to think, and failed.

"My brother called the court people, they will try getting you in first thing tomorrow." Stevie said, then looking down she got quiet. "They will find you a temporary until something better comes along."

"Don't sweat it," Cycle said, seeing my confused look. "Preacher will work it out."

And he did, apparently

* * *

Court was nothing like I was use to; a stuffy judge, silent jury, and a bunch of dopey reporters asking you question you couldn't answer anyway. Instead, I went into a case workers office, and she asked me a few questions about my dad, the place we lived, and our finances.

I told her how my dad had paid a year's rent in advance, and how I had money in my own accounts, as well as funds in dad's. I had even brought the bank books to show her. I hadn't thought of how much money I actually had, until after adding it up. We were actually better off than dad had told me.

I tried to tell her how dad had wanted to move so we could get a new start. He had set up my bank account for any emergencies. Then I got quite. A lump in my throat making it hard to speak.

"If this isn't an emergency, I don't know what is."

She had been writing things down up to that point, but then stopped and reached across the desk and touched my arm.

"Don't worry," she said. "From what you have told me, everything will be fine. Right now, I need you to get yourself pulled together."

She stood up then and went to the door. Preacher came in and sat down in the chair next to me, Cycle taking a seat on the arm of my chair.

"So what's the verdict?" Cycle asked.

"The verdict is," the worker looked sternly at him as she took her seat once more. "If you don't get off that chair arm, you can wait in the hall."

Some one laughed, it was Tim, leaning against the wall by the door. Cycle just grinned, then shook his head while he stood up, and the woman went on.

"Usually, we would place a child into temporary housing until arrangements are made. Permanent housing in foster care, if not placing them with relatives."

"Put him in my custody," Preacher cut in. "I'll see to it that he is taken care of."

"That's very commendable, Mr. Preacher," the worker said. "But you already have the Jamison boys to look after."

"Then put him in my name," Stevie said quickly, moving up to stand beside her brother. "I can take care of him better than any mother you can find."

"Or wife," Cycle laughed, which got him a cold stare from Stevie.

"That's very well, Stephanie, but you're not even as old as Roger. Now if you will let me finish," the woman said as everyone quieted down. "That is the usual procedure, but, and here is the good part, he already has a place to live and funds if anything is needed." No one moved. "Provided of course, if you can stay of trouble?"

"Sure," I said, not quite understanding yet.

"I'll see to it personally," Cycle said, sitting back down on the chair arm.

The case worker threw her arms in the air, looking at Preacher and pointing at Cycle she said, "Get him out of here." She went on to say she would work with the attorneys to get my dad's accounts into my name, and would get back with me in a few days to do the final signing. Then she told me to go as well. "No need having you sit around here. I will check in on you in a few day for the formal home visit. Other than that, stay out of trouble."

* * *

I sat on the steps to the Social Service Office, trying to let everything sink in. I was still not sure how things had work as they had. Unless the state just didn't want to deal with it.

"So what you plan to do now?" Cycle asked as he sat down beside me. I could see Marty playing catch with the triplets in a grass-lot park across the street.

"I don't really know," I replied. "I wasn't expecting it to turn out this way." I sat there thinking for a second. "I still need to call my grandparents and tell them what happened. Then make arrangements to send my dad's body. . ."

It was quiet for minute, then a shadow passed in front of me and I looked up to see Preacher standing there.

"Don't worry about that," he said. "I'll help you with it tomorrow. Just take it easy today."

"Maybe I'll just go for walk then," I said, "I do have a lot to think about. Some things to get straight in my head. I can't believe he is really gone. Just the other day we were laughing at the robots in Star Wars."

"It's ok," he reached out a hand, putting it on my shoulder. "If you want some one to talk to--"

"I'll know to find you." I said, I just need time alone to think is all."

As the guys were walking across the street, Stevie sat down beside me, placed a hand on my arm, and asked, "You sure you don't want some one to talk to?"

"I'm alright," I told her, though it almost felt like a lie. "I just need time."

"About what I said in there earlier," she start to say.

"Don't worry about it," I said before she could say anything else. I looked in her eyes and smiled. "I understand, and thanks."

* * *

I wound up walking along the canal, then down to the docks. I sat there for an hour or so, just watching the reflection of the clouds on the water. I heard some one walk up behind me after a while and looked back to see Tim standing there. I turned back to the water, throwing a rock.

"They say you know everything," I said after a moment. "Tell me. Why did he do it?"

"One of a million reasons," he said, sitting down on a crate behind me. "The pain of losing his wife. You know what that did to him. The pressure of losing his job, or the thought of losing you as well. Maybe he ran over a dog on his way home and it set it all off." He jumped off the crate and leaned against it with a heavy sigh.

I don't know Dodger, maybe everything together was too much," he went on after a moment. "Truth is, why would anyone want to kill themselves. Life may have its problems, but dying never solves them, just makes it harder on those left behind. Good or bad, it doesn't matter, it is all the same in the end. Things happen, we call that life."

I heard him move behind me, taking a step as if to leave, then stopped. After a moment of silence, he went on. "Your dad wrote a letter before he did it, the Police had it, but I though you might want it. It's at your place when you get there-- if it is still important."

I didn't hear him leave, but I knew he was gone. It started to rain after a while, but I just sat there, thinking of life. When I did get home, an hour or so later, I found the letter on the coffee table. I picked it up and walked to the window. I could see Preacher standing in the rain, under a light across the street. Keeping a watch on the neighborhood, I thought, or on me.

They call it life, I thought, looking down at the envelope in my hand. Stevie, Preacher, they knew. Cycle, Tim, they all knew. "Everyone has problems," Cycle had said, "It's what you do with it that counts." Good or bad, it's life.

I looked at the letter again, then threw it in the trash and laid down on the couch. I didn't want to know anymore. I just laid there staring at the ceiling, listening to the rain fall outside the window.

Relax, I thought, trying to forget. Then, as if someone else was in the room listening, I said in a calm voice, "I'm home."

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Kathleen Langridge 04 Jun 2011
Very real, very believable. Now I care what happens to Dodger. Where is he, what is happening in his life, did he let Stevie mother him, even just a little? Did God show up? I know He was there but did Dodger ever meet Him? More, please, more.
Edy T Johnson  07 Feb 2008
This is captivating reading. The story unfolds with bits and pieces, like a puzzle to put together. Tell us more.




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