The Stupid Boy and the Outsider Chapter 12
It's camping day!!! I'm so excited for what I had planned for today. We were packing up the van when I saw a car pull up and Kristine getting out of the passenger seat.
"Hey baby," she said when she stepped out.
"Hey." Was she coming? She didn't say she was last night. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, I talked to my dad last night and I got him to rent me, Francis, and Cindy an RV for this camping trip."
"Francis and Cindy wanna go camping? And what RV?" She pulled up in a car not an RV.
"Well, that's why I'm here. Daddy couldn't get the RV until tomorrow, so I'm here to get some directions or something so that we can meet up with you guys tomorrow."
I got dad to map out some directions for whoever was gonna drive them up tomorrow and we were off. The sun was just rising and it took us about an hour before we could get to our first destination.
We went to a diner first for some breakfast, which was delicious by the way. Iwas scoffing down my food like there was no tomorrow. When dad gave the go Igrabbed Jackie's hand and rushed her out of the diner. Mr. and Mrs. M would fill in everyone else while we're gone.
I'd been to the library to use the computers this past Wednesday to look up Jackie's dad's old bookstore. Surprisingly it was still there. I even got Mrs. M to tell me some other stuff like where Jackie's birth mom used to work and looked those up too. I kind of didn't want to look up her mom's old work place because of that suicide letter she left Jackie, but Jackie still loves her mom so she'd love to visit.
Jackie complained the whole way to the bookstore, but when we got there I just pointed and said, "Look."
She didn't say anything so I looked over at her. I think she was shocked... or just speechless, hey maybe even both. I took her by the hand and led her inside. It was small, but there were thousands of books. The coffee area probably had enough seats for 10 people, but it still looked roomy and comfortable. There were three workers that I could see, two at the coffee counter since they seemed to have the most customers and one at another counter. I guess it was for the book sales. Everything looked new. I would have expected everything or at least some stuff to look old and used.
"Good morning," the man behind the counter greeted us as we stepped through the door.
"Good morning," we greeted back.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" I asked Jackie. "Go look for a book."
She looked so happy going through the aisles. I don't know if it was because this was her dad's old store or if it was because she was about to buy a book. She really likes books. I decided to take a look around too. It was pretty early and we were the only customers in the book section.
"It's good to know there are young people that are so interested in books that they'd come in here at 7:30 in the morning," the guy behind the counter said.
I turned to tell him that Jackie was more into books than I was, but when Iturned something else caught my eye. Behind the man were two picture frames. One held a photograph of an Asian man and the other was a newspaper article.
"Hey Jackie come here."
She walked up to me a book in her hand. "What is it?"
"Isn't that your dad?" I asked pointing to the newspaper clipping. I recognized him from the picture Jackie showed me.
The guy behind the counter looked at us before reaching for the clipping. "This is your father?" He asked.
"Yeah it is," she said after taking a closer look. She had a smile on her face, but it slowly drifted away. "It's an obituary," she said.
Richard B. Anderson, 26, of Miller Avenue died Thursday evening on the way to Valenti General Hospital after being hit by a drunk driver.
Anderson was born in Valenti Hospital in 1966 and has never left New Jersey.
He worked as a stock boy and cashier in a little book store before taking over in '91. He struggled to save hoping to one day give his family the home they need.
Surviving are his wife of five years, Elisabeth Anderson and a daughter, 3 year old Jaclyn.
Services are 10:30 am to 2:00 pm Monday in St. Joseph's Church. Burial is in Woodrest Cemetery.
"I wonder who wrote it," I said.
"I did," the man behind the counter said. "It's not really well written, but he was my mentor while I was in college and I thought this would be a nice way to repay him."
"Your mentor? Really?" Jackie asked.
"You sound surprised." I'm surprised too. I mean, he was just a shop owner."Grab a seat," the guy said. "I'm Mark by the way," he paused to think for amoment. "You called her Jackie didn't you?" I just nodded. "But Jaclyn is your real name isn't it?" She nodded like a little kid nods when they're asked if they want to go into Wonka's factory. "How much do you know about your dad?"
"All I know is he got this shop from Mr. Leong, he loves books, he died in acar accented when I was three, and what he looks like from an old picture of the two of us in front of this shop."
"Hmm... well, he definitely loved this store. Said he got a job here when he was still in high school and never left. He did love reading too, books were his life before you or your mom came along."
"Have you ever met my mom?" Jackie asked with a smile on her face.
"Just once I think and another time at the funeral, but your dad talked about her a lot. They were high school sweethearts and she had a really nice voice,"Mark said. "Well, that's what he's told me. I'm not sure if she really did have a nice voice or if your dad was so in love he didn't realize she was a bad singer, but I'm sure his hearing was fine."
Jackie laughed a little at his joke before saying, "I remember her singing to me once, but I'm not sure if she was really a good singer or if it's just me wanting to think she was a good singer." Her face looked like she was thinking about it, like she was trying her hardest to remember it.
"Don't taint your thoughts with bad inferences. To you and Richard her voice was beautiful." His words brought back a smile to Jackie's face.
"So, how did you meet my dad?" She asked.
"Well, I was in here studying for a final. I think it was my first year in college. I was cursing to myself because I was getting so frustrated. Your dad came up to me, we started talking about things not related to school, and somehow he was quizzing me on the exam material." Mark laughed at the thought. "Your dad definitely had ways of making you do things you didn't want to do... in a good way of course. I don't think you would have gotten away with anything if he were still here."
Mark and I looked at Jackie as the happy smile on Jackie's face turned into asad one from his last sentence. "So you bought this store after he passed away?" I asked. It sounded like a good subject change until I hit that last part. I really need to think before I talk sometimes.
"Not right away," Mark said. "I was still in college. I was a business major. After I met Richard I wanted to change to an English major, but he told me that I would do a lot better in business and that I could always minor in English if I really wanted to. That's what kept me in college for so long. It's a good thing I followed his advice, if I didn't I wouldn't know how to go about buying this place.
"Did you know they turned this into a flower shop?" Jackie had a smile on her face as she remembered telling me that that's what they probably did to the shop. "Yup, so I bought it and designed it so that it looked like it did when Mr. Leong owned it. I knew your dad would have wanted it to look the same."
I looked at my watch we'd been here for a while. "Umm... sorry to rush you guys, but we kinda have to go."
"Oh, okay, I'll just pay for this and we'll go," Jackie said as she placed the book next to the register.
"You don't have to pay for it. Just think of it as a gift," Mark said placing the chairs on the side.
"You already gave me a gift by telling me more about my dad. I would feel bad for just taking it."
"How about 50 percent off?"
Jackie sighed. "Okay." She paid for the book. "It was really nice meeting you," Jackie said as we headed out.
When we got outside I pulled out the piece of paper again to find out where we needed to go. Without saying anything I grabbed Jackie by the hand and lead her to our next destination.
We were getting closer to another diner when Jackie said, "This isn't where everyone's waiting for us. We had dinner at Tory's Diner, not Willie's Diner."
"I know," I said as we walked inside. We stood there for a moment, I could smell the pie baking in the kitchen area and I suddenly wanted one. I think Ishould tell Jackie why we're here while we eat some.
"Hey there kids, would you like to sit in a booth?" A waitress with a tag that said Deloris, asked us. She had a southern accent.
Before either of us could say anything, an elderly waitress about forty or fifty was about to passed by. When she looked at Jackie she dropped the tray she was holding. "Sweet mother Mary," she said.
"Carmen, are you alright?" Deloris asked her. "You look like you just saw a ghost."
Instead of answering Carmen, I guess that's her name since that lady called her that, walked up to Jackie and cupped her face. Jackie looked a little scared.
"What's your name?" Carmen asked Jackie.
"J-Jackie," she stuttered.
"Are you Elisabeth's baby girl?"
"Are you psychic or something?" Okay now I know that sounded stupid. Think first Joe, then you talk, not the other way around!
They both looked at me like I was crazy. Jackie just laughed a little before saying, "Elisabeth Anderson was my mom."
"Elisabeth?" Deloris asked. "You mean the one that..." she trailed off as Carmen cut her off.
"Yes that's the one," she said with a smile. "Come sit over here at the counter. Do you want some pie? I'll get you some. What's your name sweetie?"She walked to the back yelling out to whoever was back there to get her some slices of pie.
"Umm... Jaclyn and this is my friend, Joe," she said.
"Oh yeah, Jaclyn, that's right," Carmen said as she walked over to a phone to called someone.
"Who is she calling?" Jackie asked me.
"How should I know?"
"Benny," Carmen said into the phone. "Benny, will you listen to me? I don't care what you're watching, I have something..." I guess this Benny person cut her off. "I don't care what game it is, I don't care if you're watching porn! But you better turn it off so that you can bring me something or else you'll need that porn for the next month."
"Eww," I said. I looked over at Jackie and she was turned away from Carmen and towards me. She was trying not to laugh.
"Now listen, I want you to go into the room and there will be a book in the shoe box with all my letters and bills. I want you to bring it here, now." She finished strong and hung up the phone without saying goodbye. I guess if she didn't Benny would continue watching his game. "Here are your blueberry pies, they're on the house so don't even think of trying to give me money," she said when she brought them over. "Well, now what brings you here? I see you went over to Mark's store," she said pointing to the bag with Jackie's new book inside.
"My friend brought me here," Jackie said pointing to me. "I'm not sure if he brought me here to the diner on purpose or not."
I had my mouth filled with pie. It was better than I thought. I quickly swallowed. "Well, I thought it would be nice to see something that had some history involving your parents. You already told me where your real dad used to work, so I asked your mom about where your real mom used to work, what city and all that stuff. I looked them up at the library and planned this trip... and camping," I explained.
"Well, isn't that a sweet thing of your boyfriend to do," Carmen said. I almost choked on the piece of pie I just put in my mouth.
"He's not my boyfriend, we're best friends."
"Well, whatever, I'm just glad that you're here."
"So," Jackie said. "How do you know my mom? I know she was a waitress. Is this where she worked?"
"Mmhmm." Jackie mouthed an oh as she took a bite of her pie for the first time."I know it's not the most glamorous job, but she and your daddy needed the money. I worked with her from when she started until... well, you know." Jackie just nodded. "All the other workers that worked with us quit as time passed, they found better jobs, except for Deloris, but she only knew Elisabeth for about a week right Dee?"
"That's right," she said as her southern accent seemed to get thicker in just those two words. "I forgot what she looked like, but I remember her voice. Sang like an angle." She gave a nod and continued with her job. This brought a smile to Jackie's face.
"There's that no good husband of mine. He's probably gonna stick around just to watch whatever he was watching earlier." Soon a husky guy came walking into the diner.
"Here's that book you wanted," he said in a gruff voice as he threw the book to Carmen and walked over to a stool closest to the TV.
"That man don't pay any attention to anything other than sports," Carmen said with her hand on her hips, shaking her head. "Anyway, I wanted to give this to you. Your mom left it here on accident before she... you know. I never got achance to give it to her."
Jackie took the book. It was brown and plain. When she opened it there was alot of writing in it. Maybe it was a journal. I finished my pie and looked at Jackie's. It only had that one piece taken from it. So I reached over and took it.
"Don't take someone's food before you ask them," Carmen scolded.
"No it's okay, take it." So I did.
"So what is that?" I said pointing to the book with my fork.
"It looks like poems or songs," Jackie said flipping through the pages.
"That's right," Carmen said. "Your mom would sit right where you're sitting on her breaks and write songs. She said she had music to them too, but I guess she worked on those at home."
"I have them," Jackie said mesmerized by the book. "Thank you so much," she said looking up at Carmen. I could see some tears in her eyes, but she was smiling.
Carmen walked around the counter to give Jackie a hug. "You look so much like your mom. I almost had a heart attack 'cause I thought you were a ghost." They both let out a little laugh before hugging again.
I finished Jackie's pie and looked at my watch again, time for destination number three. "We should be going now," I said. "We need to leave town by noon if we want to get to the camp site and be set up before the sun goes down."
"Okay," Jackie said. She turned back to Carmen and said, "Thank you again. This means the world to me."
"Take care you two," Carmen said as we left the diner.
I pulled out the paper again to look at the directions I wrote down.
"Now where are you taking me?" Jackie asked.
I looked up from the paper and said, "You'll see."