Chapter 4 : Secrets
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I stared down at two sets of eyes gaping, unblinkingly, back at me. One set was a stormy grey and the other an unnerving black.
Even my closets companions, a dog and a bird, thought I was crazy.
“How do I look?” I tucked my too long shirt into belted jeans.
I had taken a fieldtrip, earlier this morning, to the city’s homeless shelter. There I had been granted with the usual luxuries one receives at those facilities; a cold, well needed, shower, a pot of odd looking soup, and I had acquired some gently used, too large, clothes.
I was still a sight for sore eyes, and living at home I would have refused the plain pink tee-shirt I now wore, as well as the shapeless jeans, but I felt cleaner and so a little more confident in the endeavor I was about to attempt.
I took a deep breath inhaling the heavily-polluted-London air and hoping to, maybe, catch some of the industry that had, indeed, polluted it.
Scruffy came up behind me, giving my leg a little nudge, and breaking my meditative state of being. He gave me an encouraging look as though to say, ‘you can do this, I believe in you!’ In return I patted down the matted fur on top of his head, turned, and went out to face the awaiting world.
“Yes sir, I’m a hard worker and I wouldn’t ask much in the way of salary.”
My palms were sweating and my knees were shaking. It was all I could do to keep myself from caving under the mounting pressure of a job interview even as informal as this one.
“I’ll pay you a shilling an hour then. No more no less for keeping the back room clean, the store swept, and looking after inventory."
My brown eyes grew especially large as I tried to contain my astonishment for winning this small feat. “Th-th-thank you Mr. Howard,” I stammered, “ I promise you wont regret it.”
“Just be in tomorrow 7:30, sharp.” Mr. Howard grumbled in a low straggly type of voice.
“Yes Sir, you can count on me.” I fought off the urge to give the man a salute, instead I wrapped my bony arms, much to his surprise, around his beer-belly waist and ran off to tell Scruffy and Derrick of my success.
I worked at Mr. Howard’s Pharmacy for about a month and after the first week, I had purchased my sister a card and had sent it off.
Scruffy, I noticed, would sometimes disappear for a day or two.
The first time it had happened I had come home from work only to discover him having completely disappeared.
I was so distraught I had Derrick fly over the whole city looking for him, while I did my own number on the ground.
To be truthful, I didn’t come back to the warehouse till after dawn, and when I did, it was with a heavy heart and an empty soul.
But then, a few day later, like magic, he appeared again. This time slightly less scruffy and a little more fed.
Scruffy harbored many secrets. I often wondered if he had another family; one who clearly provided for him better than Derrick and me. I voiced these theories out loud, and sometimes would urge Scruffy off to his other world, but I didn’t try hard enough.
I was selfish. I needed him there, and so Scruffy always found his way back to me.
He had the awareness of human. When I talked I felt as though he were really listening, and, somehow, analyzing me. I could see his eyes looking me up and down, forming his opinions. Sometimes they were sympathetic, almost loving, other times they were critical, reminding me of all the mistake I made and had to now live with. Then there were times when he drew within, those stormy oracles two barricaded walls, guarding secrets I would never know.
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