Chapter 15 - Sam
Two weeks later and no job prospects had me feeling anxious. Sally was growing quickly, and she had an appetite like a growing boy. She was going to break my bank if I didn’t find employment soon. Of course, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about stopping in at Bernacki’s every morning for breakfast. I could eat a lot cheaper, but those cinnamon rolls and kolaches were amazing. I’d missed them during the years I’d been away. Plus, I got to chat with Mr. B some mornings. It was a glorious day outside, and I refused to let my jobless situation get me down. I pulled on some clothes, gave Sally a kiss on her nose, and half walked, half jogged to the bakery.
A brown Pekinese dog was tied up just outside the bakery, so I knelt and gave it a pet before going inside. The tinkling bell announced my arrival. There was a line at the counter, and I noticed a man I’d seen a lot when growing up in town sitting at one of the tables reading the paper and drinking coffee. I should have known him, but his name wouldn’t come to me. As I approached the front of the line, the man smiled and waved at me. I waved back. It was my time to order, so I did and when the girl with the braces gave me my sack of sugar, I turned to see the old guy waving me over to his table. I figured I’d be neighborly and say hello. He looked pretty harmless.
“You don’t remember me. Do you?” he said as I approached.
“I know your face, but can’t remember your name. Sorry,” I said.
“Wallingford,” he said. “I think you young ‘uns call me Old Man Wallingford, but my buddies call me Wally.” He pointed across the table and said, “Have a seat. Make an old man’s day.”
I pulled the chair out and sat. I spread a napkin and pulled my kolache out of the bag. “Yeah, I remember now. That’s your dog out there isn’t it. Billy Jo, Bobby Sue, something like that?” I said. I took a bite and then drank some of the delicious coffee.
“Billy Bob. He’s getting on up there in dog years. It’ll be a sad day when he goes. But that’s not something to think about on such a fine day. I remember you and your mom used to come in here back in the day. How is she doing?”
“Oh, she’s a…”
“Is she alright?” He looked concerned. I had a big lump in my throat. I hadn’t talked to anyone who knew my parents in a long time.
“She died,” I said, “not long after my dad died from a heart attack.”
“Honey, I’m so sorry. She was a sweet woman. Always had a nice word for Billy Bob and me. I didn’t know about either of your parents. You poor thing. Did you inherit their house? Is that why you’re here?”
People in small towns get right to the point. I’d forgotten how intrusive they can be, all in the name of being nice. I was feeling defensive, though. He was probably really concerned.
“No, they had moved away before all that happened. We lived over on Breaker.”
“Where the new condos are?” he a...