Friday, June 02, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twelve)

Grandma Shaw was indeed surprised by Tucker’s sudden appearance in her driveway. But Tucker was her only grandchild, so she did what any grandmother would do, she took him in. He seemed to her to be a little lost and down-in-the-dumps, so Grandma Shaw was exceptionally patient. Yet after three months of sitting on the sofa watching television all day while eating her out of house and home, Tucker’s grace period ran out.

Grandma Shaw inquired around town about work and discovered that Garrison Montgomery (Prissy’s father) was looking for a handy man/gardener/errand boy. She went straight over to the bank and struck a deal with Garrison. Tucker would work five days a week from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm and would basically do whatever it was that Garrison Montgomery needed done. Tucker would earn $10 an hour. His lunch would be provided. A pretty good deal for a recently-released ex-convict (although Grandma Shaw forgot to mention that minor detail to Mr. Montgomery).

Tucker was not happy when Grandma Shaw told him the news, but the more he argued, the deeper she dug in her heals, and eventually she wore him down. After all, he had learned a few skills in prison such as painting, basic carpentry, and ceramics, although that last one might not be very helpful.

So began Tucker’s first real job on the first Monday of summer vacation. Prissy slept in until noon that day then lazily made her way down to the kitchen for something to eat. Through the big windows of the kitchen that looked out onto the back lawn, Prissy saw him. He was on a ladder with a bucket of paint in one hand and a paint brush in the other. He had taken his shirt off and was precariously perched as he strained to reach the top of one of the round columns on the back veranda. The muscles in his chest and arms caught her attention, but it was the tattoo that gave her a sudden rush of excitement and danger and adventure. It was a dragon. The tail formed a circle around his belly button, and the dragon’s body rippled vertically up the middle of Tucker’s chest, the flames from its mouth forming a circle around a small black heart.

Prissy Montgomery smiled. This was not going to be another boring summer.

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