Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.” Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman, writer
I don’t know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me” Duke of Wellington, in reference to his own army.
If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world. Vance Havner
The continuing Saturday posting The Disinclined Purveyor of Sequential Art, Chapter Five, if you want to start at the beginning (and I have no idea why you would not) click here for Chapter 1.
Gary pulled open the box and the key fell into his hand. He studied the key for a few seconds, it was larger than a typical key, brass colored with no lettering or marks. He dropped it onto the table from a few inches above the surface and it gave an almost musical note. He looked inside the inner chamber of the box to see if there was anything else. No nothing.
“Now that is a clue.” Sharon said alternating between an intense scrutiny of the key and looking at Gary to see what he would do next.
Gary did not know what to say at first, so he did what his mother did every time she talked about his father and his best friend Gary. He rolled his eyes and sighed.
“What?” Sharon said after a few seconds. “Do you know why that key was in the box, or what it opens, or why your father wanted you to have it.”
“No but knowing my father it will turn out to be something incredibly stupid and immature, especially if he let Gary influence him in any way, shape or form.”
“What are you talking, this has got to be some sort of clue, lead, trace or hint to where your father and god father are or at least where they went.”
“No it is probably just the key to Gary’s secret stash of vintage Playboy magazines or something like it.”
“What are you talking about?” Sharon almost shouted.
Gary was shocked, how come this girl, who had never even met his father, care so much about where he was. He looked around the shop quickly and realized it was empty, and decided to lay it all out for her. “My father’s best friend Gary, was an idiot. They have known each other since kindergarten, and my father never got into trouble unless Gary was around.”
“That can’t be true, I am sure your father was just as much to blame Gary.”
“No, no, no.” Gary shook his head strenuously and vehemently continued. “Every story either of them ever told, weather together or apart, and every story I have ever heard from my mother, or Uncle Chet, or my grandparents started out with ‘Gary had this idea’. Now sure my father went along with all the stupid things but Gary was and always will be the one who started the trouble. Heck he barely made it out of high school, never finished college and borrowed the money from my father to open up this arm pit.” He said motioning around the store. “In fact that is one of the reasons my parent split up, because Gary was slow in paying them back, and when he did some of the checks bounced.”
“But, that does not mean, that this,” and she picked up the key from the table “will not help us find your father. No personal notes, but you said that every year your father sent you a coin, well guess what no coin this year, but this key.” Sharon held it up in her hand displaying it. “The key is important, it means something, and the fact that your father is not around, but he still wanted you to have it, means something. What if they are in trouble somewhere, and this leads you to them. What if he was counting on you to help them get out of whatever jam they are in?”
Gary leaned across the table and put his hand out. Sharon placed the key in his hand.
“My father wants my help, ha.” Gary slammed the key down on the table. “Ha, ha, that is a good one. My father left the house when I was ten, and I would come to see him here in this stupid store, one week every summer and he would drive an hour once a month to come see me. He left me high and dry, my mother had to teach me to drive, she did everything for me but my father could not be bothered. His research into computers and high resolution television research was way too important. He never came to a single soccer game, or to my graduation from high school or a single birthday since he moved out. Even before he moved out he would work late all the time and miss more things then he got home for, heck my Uncle Chet who is a raving nut job Marine Corp reject taught me how to ride a bike, because my father was too busy working on a “new” interactive video game input device. You know what happened to that new input device three years later? Three years of my father’s life, three years where he invested everything into a stupid game controller.” Gary was angrier now then he had ever let himself be in his life. “The revolutionary input device my father worked on failed miserably and he lost his job. He left home six months later and never came back.” Gary threw the key across the shop and it hit some Batman comics and dropped to silently to the carpeted floor . “So I don’t care where he is, or if he wants me to find him, because he never cared for me.” Gary stormed across the shop, and grabbed his coat, he was about to go out the front door when he thought of something. “Lock up the place and take the rest of the week off.”
Sharon went to the store every day for the next week. No Gary, she even went into the upstairs apartment and she saw that he had come back the night after the blow up and some of his drawers were open in his room and some clothes were gone. His old F-150 pick-up truck which he kept parked in the rear of the store was gone from its normal spot. She kept running the store, she took the delivery on Wednesday and closed the store when she had to go to class, but other than that she kept the store open as much as she could. She did not know what else to do, but she wanted to keep the store running. She had found the deposit slips and was putting the end of the day deposits in the bank. It was eight days later when Gary showed back up. She was talking to a couple of the regulars about the new Justice League movie when she heard the door to the upstairs apartment open.
“So are you guys going to the midnight showing?” She asked. All of them said they were, and they invited her along, Sharon begged off saying she would be home with her family when the movie came out on Christmas Day but maybe they would make a second run when she came back. All the boys agreed, a few of them a little too enthusiastically, but she shrugged it off. She left the counter and said she had to talk to the boss, the guys looked over at Gary and moved towards the big table. It was clear to Sharon that most of the customers did not like Gary, they had not told her in so many words, but they did call his god father Cool Gary and were always asking when he would be coming back. To this she would always shrug, the few times they asked the younger Gary he would give his typical answer, ‘don’t know, but I wish it was right now.’ The few that had pressed further than that got a grumpy non-committal mumble from him before he walked away.
Gary made his way towards the two comfortable chairs in the corner and Sharon walked over and sat down in one as he took the other.
They both started to say ‘I am sorry’ but they stopped and laughed.
“Me first.” Gary said. “I am sorry I walked out on you, I am sorry I lost my temper, and I am sorry I have been such a jerk, basically since I met you. Every day you come in here with a positive outlook and all I do is give you grief and throw myself a pity party.”
Sharon just smiled back and nodded.
“I looked over the deposit slips, thanks for keeping the store up and running.”
“It was no problem really.” Sharon said. “I want to apologize to you, it is not really any of my business about your father and all. I was being nosey, it probably comes from being the baby of a family of six, and we were always getting wrapped up in each other’s problems, I guess I just have a lack of boundaries when it comes to people I care about.”
This caused Gary to look up at her in surprise. Sharon realized what she said and tried to cover it up quickly. “I mean you are my boss and all.”
Gary smiled and nodded, he may not have the best track record with girls, but he let her bow out that last part gracefully. Gary held up the key. Sharon leaned forward in the chair. “I went home and stayed with my mom for a couple of days and talked to her about all this.” He said putting the key down on the little table between the chairs and then motioning around the place. “She said I needed to work this out, get some closure with my Dad, if I could.”
“So what are we going to do?” Sharon said leaning forward even more so she was almost out of the chair.
“Well for now, we are going to put the key out of our minds, and when I think I am ready we will figure out what this opens, if we can.”
Sharon heard this processed it quickly and made a sour face, just as quickly she smiled a knowing smile.
“What, I just saw a thought cross your mind, what was it?”
“I just remembered something my Dad use to say.”
“What was that?” Gary said leaning forward.
“You cannot start someone’s adventure for them.”
“Who is your Dad, Yoda?”
Sharon smiled. “Maybe.”