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Deborah, Your Old Friend

By Earnest Long

Copyright 2017 Earnest Long

Smashwords Edition

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Grandma looked oddly at her three grandchildren that had come to visit. They were sitting in a large living room with large windows and a large front garden. In the living room, there were some large easy chairs as well as a bed made up to rest on during the day. And the children had sometimes indeed rested on this bed during the day and slept that grandma had said they could and was a good thing for them. At the back of the house, there was a small garden. And a gardener came to attend this. The house was on a hillside from which you could just about see a lake in the fold of the valley below. The rest of the land below them hadn't been built on because of environmental regulations to protect the area around the lake. This row of houses of which grandma's house was one was part a development built in the 1930s before they made the regulations. Or it was excluded somehow from them. Grandma had told them how it excluded them in one of the chats she had with them. And when she had asked again if the children could repeat what she had said to them about this, she was disappointed that they had forgotten. Really, they just smiled at her.

"You're going to be visiting your uncle Jake, I hear," grandma said.

"Yes," the three children said.

Seeing the happy faces recently with cake put in them, grandma gave them all a most lovely smile.

"Still," she said, "I just need to see your parents about your journey before you leave."

Then with a tired sigh, she said to them, "Why don't you go and see if your cases are properly packed again?"

The children went to their rooms to check their cases that had clothes and an overnight bag of toiletries and soap in them. A few minutes later, the parents came in grandma's big living room.

"Now," said their grandma. "I might just call in the children to hear me tell you this as well. They can hear it for themselves as well as you can. This is when they will see it anyway when you go."

The father went to the door that led to the passageway where the bedrooms were. And he shouted for the children to come. The children came in and sat down. There was one boy and two girls. The girls wore floral dresses and the boy was more casually dressed. Once they had come in from their packing and sat in the chairs, grandma then began talking about their journey. Grandma was about seventy, thin plainly sprightly woman with grey hair. Only recently had she began feeling a little tired.

"There are two routes you can take on your journey. And I suggest you take the main route only. This is so you can see Uncle Jake. He will be looking forward to you visiting him. And don't no matter what else you do take the minor road that leads through the other valley. It may appear shorter but it isn't. And you never know what might happen to you if you do take it...."

"What do you mean?"

The youngest girl said this.

"Do you mean there are monsters there?"

She said this in all seriousness as if to get a proper answer.

"Yes, sweetness," her grandma laughed. "And they will come and bite you!"

At that, they got up and collected their suitcases from their rooms. And soon they were driving out of grandma's house and on their way on their journey.

After 5 minutes in the car, their father said, "We are just going to stop off and pick up Deborah. Deborah your old friend is here. She is the tubby blond haired girl who is older than you are. You used to meet her sometimes. She lives in the road down from us. But she's near where we are now. And she wants a lift back to her house. This is when it's only a road or two from us and we're both going the same way."

The children nodded in the back.

"Really," said the father. "The reason I'm telling you this is that we are going to have to make a detour and not just go the route that grandma said. It will mean going down the minor road in the other valley."

There was a chorus of disapproval from the children in the back.

"Grandma said," they all said several times and other things like this.

"Don't worry," said the father. "We won't go the whole way down the valley if that's what's worrying you."

The children quietened down. And indeed, after about another 10 minutes going down the other valley that they had turned off with the children looking disconsolately at the signposts whilst their father laughed, a big-breasted blonde-haired girl was standing now waiting to get in by the side of the road. She gently undid the door and moved almost imperceptibly into the back seat with them. Really, she had to sit a bit uncomfortably to one side. But then, she reassured the others that she was not uncomfortable.

Deborah passed some conversation with the parents and then looked towards the children. Their parents had to tell her that they were very tired when they had left early that morning that explained their lack of conversation. One of the children tried to say that it was because they were worried about their father's obtuse behaviour that they had been quiet and shut up. Their father turned and made some sarcastic quite threatening remark to them in the back. Yet, not everybody might have heard it properly. This was for talking like that. Then, his wife looked awkward. And she apologised to Deborah for her husband's behaviour. This is when as well she was only with them because they had offered her a lift that it was also rude.

After, more time passed in general silence for the occupants except for the steady hum of the wheels going along the road. Yet, there was some conversation between the youngest daughter and Deborah when the youngest daughter had escaped unscathed from the sarcastic off-putting comments. So the youngest daughter was the only one happy to speak. Now, as well, the father began to tell a story.

He told this marvellous story. And he laughed when he saw the children looking as well at Deborah and her prettiness.

The story went that there were two rich landowners who lived next door to each other 100 years ago. And then his narrative wound round world events familiar from history books but told in a different way to history classes. There was this monster kept in a top room and another character that reminded the children in small but telling ways that you might think it was really their father. And he was talking about himself in the third person. As well, he was saying that this character was the good twin brother. Eventually, he finished the story and looked back for appreciation. But the children were still glowering from his remarks earlier. And when their dear father or as he was of old seemed upset by this lack of appreciation and was really quite emotional about it as well, his children apologised also emotional and upset. Really, it was all very emotional, upsetting and embarrassing.

"Can you stop to let me out," said Deborah. "I need to go for a while away from you. You and your children are really too much."

Their father swung into a gas station he could see and Deborah got out. The pump attendant came up to the father at the window and asked him if he wanted some gas to which the father told him to give them some. After they had their gas, their father pulled on to another part of the forecourt that looked a bit like a parking lot for customers. There was a shop in the gas station but their father told them not to get anything from it and they could go and walk to the village shop. He explained that it would be cheaper and they could get more things there. Also, he said that they were to look around and appreciate what they could see. And he said that he had grown up in this area, played in the streets as a boy and walked across these fields and they should feel what he did as a boy that he wanted them to have for themselves. This was despite this harsh old world that there was and which everybody knew about even younger and younger now.

The children asked why grandma had said not to go by this route. And they asked as well if it had anything to do with his story that they had just heard. This was that it might be true. But their father would only say that if they saw a grotesque looking man who looked like him, then they were to ignore him and come back to the gas station.

"Please now, just walk around, walk across some of these fields and don't be angry I took the wrong route as you think. Grandma doesn't really know anything. Did you know that? She's only on old foolish woman and she was only saying that besides. There is no harm. It is just that if you see somebody who looks like me but you don't think it is actually me, come back then to the gas station here. Deborah should be getting back to us to continue with the journey. But if we don't see her in a few hours' time still, then we'll leave her."

The children wandered around the village. They walked down one road until it appeared to come to nothing. This was when the road had no more houses or farm buildings. Then, the children walked back up it again the direction they came and parted company and went down another road. Or rather, there were about five or six roads that led out. All of these had quite pretty houses along them and some farm buildings, barns and they could see a modern tractor in a farmyard they passed as well. They walked down all of them with their young legs and their curiosity taking them backwards and forwards. In the end really, their legs did feel tired and their concentration waned. At least then, they had been out the car for an hour. They all arrived back at the gas station and the forecourt.

It had been a mildly interesting diversion even if worried at times that they would meet this man. At the gas station forecourt, their father asked if they had walked in any of the fields. Embarrassed, the son that the father appeared to be more talking to than the girls and despite him trying to avoid his gaze replied that he had. This was when the girls had been reluctant to go across them as well. Though, he had only been with them on the first road. And they had refused to answer the annoying boy's questions. Though, this was just until they told him they didn't have sensible shoes like him to go across and they didn't want to get their dresses dirty. So he could have gone in the fields after leaving his sisters. The father appeared disconsolate and upset. He did when the boy did not say what field he'd been across that the father would have recognised from his own childhood. Then, the boy's mother intervened and asked him why he had upset his father when he was so much looking forward to hearing what his son would have to say. And then it all stumbled out that he had been walking with his sisters and he blamed his sisters. This was all almost in tears he was as well that he said this. His mother told his father that he was just tired and had been upset generally recently.

"We're waiting here for Deborah. She's coming back here in a moment."

The father said this finally. Then, they all sat on the edge of the back seats with the windows open. Their father alone looked down the road to see if he could see Deborah.

Just at that moment, without a word to start with, Deborah got back in to her position on the back seat and their mother shouted for their father to come in from the side of the road where he had been looking for her but not seen her come back.

"I would really prefer just to talk to you and not your husband for now," said Deborah to their mother.

"Oh," said the mother getting out.

They both then got out and talked. And Deborah said that her children might as well hear what she had to say. But she did not want to say anything to their father again calling him an old buffoon. After she had finished saying that, she said something more as well.

She said that she had seen the man they were talking about.

Then she said some more about their meeting.

"He says it'll be OK if you pay him 100. That it is just to say sorry for everything. As well, this money is to say you're not coming to see him just because you might have something against him he might be thinking otherwise. This is oddly but just as he could do. Still as well, he would accept a gift in recompense for what you did to him years ago. He would really just accept some money from you and then it will be OK. And this is though only if it is indeed your intention to be reconciled."

"Really! Do you mean that you've met him?"

The mother said this surprised and put out.

"Yes, I did meet him," said Deborah. "And he told me that."

"Did he say anything about my husband and what had happened between them in the past?"

"He just said that if you give him 100, he might forgive and forget."

"But did he say anything else? How was he?"

"He seemed quite a good person. And really, he was not so bad. Nor did he look as bad as your husband said he did. It was not such a bad scar. Possibly, it was a long time ago and everyone's forgotten about it by now."

"All right," said the mother getting her purse out her handbag.

The mother gave Deborah the money. And Deborah went around the corner outside the gas station forecourt towards the village shop where she had said he would be. After a short while, she returned, everybody got back in and they drove off.

On the way back to their home, they all said nothing tired. This was nobody said anything else for the whole journey and they merrily in their father's driving went along minor roads. They did until the road widened a bit as they came to the town where they all lived. Then, there was a short built up bit that began to look familiar to all of them from previous journeys. There was just a moment as well when their mother reminded their father to drop Deborah off first and their father shook the wheel to go down the road that went past her house.

As Deborah got out, the mother made a little bit more conversation. This was just what she normally said to round off the journey and the holiday before everyone got back into the house. It was just she did it because you couldn't comment once you got in. Really, you couldn't. This was with the familiar smells and things you could see in your house and your memory coming back of them you had beforehand. Also, you had to do all the unpacking. As well, you would want to do the unpacking straight away and get it over with. This is before you could have a rest and put your feet up. So doubly, you did not want to say anything except just as you was ending the journey. As well, it was before you fully got into the house. And their mother thought Deborah might appreciate this as well.

"One hundred was only the change in my purse," said the mother. "I really expected...."

"Perhaps, I should have asked for more," said Deborah laughing and tired now.

"So did you meet him? Or was this all a con?"

Their mother said this furiously to her.

Deborah made sure she'd gotten out now before she spoke. This was despite being tired that she still had this presence of mind as if a seasoned crook.

"Yes, I actually did meet him. And I think he said he wanted to kill you. I had to bluff and say that I didn't know you. He just about believed me fortunately."

"You did that for us," said their mother.

"Yes, and you had already offered me a free ride home."

"But...," said their mother, "we just wanted your company."

Still, or but again, Deborah had slammed the door on all of them.

The End


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