Second Chances Chapter 6

[Explanatory post here.]

Chapter 6: Haven

The next morning Nate walked through the front door of Chauncey Bible Church. He heard the sound of a hammer emanating from the sanctuary and followed the noise. He found Pastor McPherson on the stage pounding away at something on the floor.

“Uh, Pastor?” Nate asked as soon as the other man paused.

He looked up. “Nate, it’s good to see you.” The Pastor stood and offered his hand.

Nate took the hand and shook it firmly. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” he asked, “I can come back if it is.”

“It’s not a problem at all,” McPherson put the hammer down, “There’s a loose board I keep stepping on. I was just fixing it.”

“You do the repair work around here, too?”

McPherson laughed. “I serve any way I can. Sometimes it’s less glamorous than others.”

“I see that.”

The pastor sad on one of the steps that led up to the stage and signaled Nate to follow suit. “So what’s on your mind, Mr. Lassiter?” he asked as soon as Nate had taken his seat.

“I need some advice.”

“I kind of figured that. What do you need?”

“I’m not entirely sure. I’m having a hard time making sense of what I’ve done with my life and I don’t know how to make it better.”

“What would be better?”

“Huh?”

“What is your definition of a better life?”

“I’m not entirely sure right now.”

McPherson smiled. “Then I think we need to do a little more work on this.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tell me why you’re here in Chauncey.”

“Apparently I’m running away from my life.”

“Do you believe that?”

Nate shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure what I believe anymore. It’s all just kind of a blur.”

“So why did you say that?”

“Mostly,” he paused, “Mostly because that’s what Emma told me I’m doing.”

“Ah,” the pastor nodded. “Emma’s a smart woman.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

“But she’s not you. She can’t tell you why you did what you did; she can only tell you why she thinks you did what you did.”

Nate sat in silence for a long moment and stared at the floor. “You’re right,” he finally responded, “I guess I shouldn’t take her word as the only explanation.”

“Now, keep in mind, it could be the correct explanation,” McPherson cautioned, “But I still want to hear from you first.”

“Okay.”

“So tell me about your life back in Chicago.”

“I worked as a manager at a corporate headquarters for a large bank. I still lived a few miles away from where I grew up, so I knew my way around. Most of the people I grew up around were still there, so I had a lot of friends and acquaintances.”

“Sounds pretty good, actually.”

“Yeah. I was also about to propose to my girlfriend.”

“Ah,” the pastor paused for a long moment. “Tell me about that.”

“I met Julia about three years ago at a party for a mutual friend of ours. We talked for a while, but nothing really seemed to happen. I thought she was gorgeous, but didn’t tell her. I didn’t want to come on too strong, you know.”

“I can understand.”

“I didn’t see her for about a year, then that mutual friend set us up and we started dating.”

McPherson chuckled. “You didn’t see her for a year after you met her, then dated for two years before deciding to ask her to marry you?”

“That sounds about right.”

“You’re right about not wanting to come on too strong.”

“I’ve always believed that it was best to think things through, I guess. If you just do things on impulse you’ll make a lot of mistakes.”

“But you miss out on a lot of what life has to offer, too.”

“I guess.”

“So what made you finally decide to propose?”

“It seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, she’s attractive, intelligent, very good at what she does and we got along very well together. How could I pass up an opportunity like that?”

“You take the pragmatic approach to relationships, I see.”

“I’ve never believed in doing things on impulse, like I said.”

“So why are you in Kansas right now?”

Nate’s mouth opened, then closed quickly. He stared at the floor for several long heartbeats, completely unable to come up with an answer. “I guess I can’t tell you anything about that,” he finally admitted, “It’s so unlike me. I don’t think anybody else saw it coming. For that matter, I didn’t see it coming.”

“What led up to this one moment of impulse, then?”

“A combination of things, I guess. I was working six-day weeks. Whenever I tried to take a Saturday off I’d invariably be called into the office to deal with something. If I had proposed to Julia I would have had to give up Molly,” Nate paused as the pastor lifted an inquisitive eyebrow, “Molly’s my dog. I’ve had her since she was a puppy. Julia’s allergic to dogs, though.”

“Ah. Go on.”

“It’s kind of stupid, but I think the last straw was when she told me I shouldn’t get a car that I’ve wanted to get for a very, very long time.”

“What kind of car?”

“A 1958 Cadillac Eldorado. There was one advertised that I found just a few miles from my house. But Julia didn’t think I needed to waste my money on something silly like that, so I figured if I was going to propose, I probably shouldn’t get the car.”

“I don’t mean to draw conclusions based on this little bit of information,” McPherson said, carefully choosing his words, “But it seems like she’s a bit on the controlling side.”

Nate frowned. “I don’t really think she is. She’s about as pragmatic as I am, so to her buying a fifty year old car didn’t make any sense. I fully understand that.”

“Okay, if that’s what you believe.”

“Why, should I believe differently?”

The pastor shrugged, “I don’t know. It’s like I said. If you spend all your time thinking about why you should or shouldn’t do something, you’ll miss out on life.”

“So you think I should have bought the car?”

“I wasn’t talking about the car.”

“So what were you talking about?”

“Life.”

Nate looked at the other man for a long moment, feeling very confused. “What?”

“You want to know what I think?”

“That’s why I came in here, I suppose.”

“I think that you have spent so much time worrying about making the ‘right’ decision that you never decided what you wanted out of life. And by the time you realized that, you knew it was far too late to change unless you did something radical.”

“And that’s why I’m in Kansas right now?”

McPherson nodded. “That’s why you’re in Kansas right now.”

“Huh.”

“Unfortunately you’re going to have to make a few more decisions now.”

“Like what to do now that I’m here?”

“Among other things.”

Nate sighed. “Do you think I should go back to Chicago and deal with this?”

“I think,” the pastor rubbed his chin speculatively for a moment, “I think you need to make sure you talk to everyone you hurt by leaving, especially Julia, but beyond that I can’t tell you what to do.”

“I’m on my own in this, then?”

“You’re not on your own. I just can’t make your decision for you. You need to be a man and take responsibility for your actions.”

“You sound like my father.”

McPherson smiled. “I am a father. We all get a book of parenting catch phrases to use when our first child is born. It covers any and all situations.”

Nate laughed. “I’ve always suspected there was something like that.”

“So tell me about your father.”

“Why?”

“I’m just curious.”

“Well, he’s a patent attorney. He’s actually very successful and worked for the same company for nearly forty years. He married my mother when they were both twenty-three and I was born a few years later.” Nate realized something he hadn’t given much thought to and decided to add it in. “I got my pragmatism from him, I suppose. He never made a decision without thinking it through long and hard, and never let me do anything different, either.”

“Was he a good father?”

“He was a good provider,” Nate shrugged. “His goal in life was to retire early and enjoy ‘the good life,’ as he called it. About a year ago he did exactly that. Of course that meant he spent a lot of time at the office, but he still tried to teach me about life when he wasn’t at work. Overall I’d say he was a pretty good father. Why do you ask?”

McPherson tilted his head back and looked at the ceiling for a moment. “One of the hardest things about growing up and being a man,” he said slowly, carefully, “Is knowing which signals to take from our fathers. A boy learns how to be a man from his father, so if the father’s definition of being a man is to work all the time, his son will tend to believe the same thing. Having a job and working every day of the week is not the true definition of manhood, however.”

“My father wasn’t like that.”

“Maybe not. I was simply explaining that as an example. It’s one that I have seen all too often in my life, so it’s the easiest to explain.”

Nate decided to let curiosity get the better of him. “So what’s a real man?”

The pastor turned and looked at Nate. “A real man? A real man is someone who provides for his family and puts food on the table. But he does so with the knowledge that his chief responsibility is to raise and teach his children about life and to love and cherish his wife, assuming he does have a family.”

“My dad taught me a lot,” Nate responded, “He wasn’t absent from my life.”

“Hey,” McPherson held his hand up, “You asked me what it means to be a man. I was simply giving you my thoughts. I can’t tell you about your father because I don’t know him and I wasn’t there when you were growing up.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s not a problem.”

“So,” a new question came to Nate’s mind, “What do you mean when you say a man has to raise and teach his children?”

“In ancient Israel it was a father’s job to instruct his son in the Torah,” the pastor said, “In learning from the holy book the boy learned morals and decency. When it was time for the boy to learn a trade he often learned from his father, working as an apprentice. A young boy learned almost everything he needed to know about life, religion and work directly from his father. That is a tradition our own society does not have.”

“I…” Nate wasn’t sure how to respond. “Um, sure.”

“I’m sorry for bringing that up,” the pastor stood up, “It was a bit off the subject and probably means nothing to you right now.”

“That’s fine,” Nate stood, “I’ve been thinking exclusively about my problems for the past few days. It’s nice to have a different subject to think about.”

“Good, good,” McPherson slapped Nate on the shoulder. “Look, I’m sorry to do this, but I have a meeting in about an hour that I have to prepare for.”

“No problem. I didn’t want to take up too much of your time.”

“Again, it’s why I’m here. Stop back in anytime.”

“I might just take you up on that.”

The two men shook hands and Nate walked out of the building.

 *  *  *

As he pulled into his driveway, Nate saw a vaguely familiar Lincoln sedan parked in front of the house. A man was stood on the porch, back turned to him. Nate shut his car off and got out, figuring there was only one person that could be standing on the porch.

“Um, can I help you, Sir?” he asked.

The man turned around. He appeared to be about seventy, well dressed and proper. “Are you Nate Lassiter?”

“Yes. And you are?”

The other man stepped off the porch and held out his hand. “Richard Rockafeller,” he said, confirming Nate’s suspicions. “Ruth Evans tells me you’re a banker from Chicago.”

“Ruth Evans?”

“She owns this house.”

“Oh,” the name clicked in his head, “Emma’s Aunt Ruth.”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“So what can I do for you?”

“I assume that if you’re planning on staying in town you’ll be needing a job.”

Nate shrugged, “I suppose so.”

“I might just have an opening for you at the bank.”

“As what?”

“My loan officer is about to retire and I don’t have anyone who can take his place.”

Nate raised an eyebrow. “I’m not exactly licensed to bank in Kansas.”

“If you want the job I’ll get everything set up for you.”

Nate thought about the proposition for a moment. “I’m not sure,” he wavered slightly, but decided to be candid, “How long I’m going to be here. I might leave again tomorrow.”

The old banker laughed. “I used to say the same thing myself. Mabel, my wife, took it as a threat for the first twenty years or so, but she eventually realized I wasn’t going anywhere.”

“Where else would you prefer living?”

“I came from New York City, son. I met Mabel during the war and we got married as soon as I was cashiered. She wanted to live the simple life and I decided to go along with her. Always thought it would be temporary.”

“So this place grows on you, is that it?”

“Like a weed, son. Like a weed.”

“I’ll have to remember that.”

Rockafeller looked down at the piece of paper in his hand and abruptly changed the subject. “I was going to leave this for you,” he explained, “I didn’t have your phone number and I wanted to talk to you.”

“Well, I’m here now. And I don’t have much of anything to do.”

“Let me see what I can do to change that.” The older man gestured at the Lincoln. “Get in, I’ll drive.”

Nate opened the door and slid into the plush, leather passenger seat. “This is a pretty nice ride,” he commented as he buckled his seatbelt.

“Of course,” Rockafeller responded, “It’s a Lincoln.”

“Good point.”

The older man started the car and pulled out of the driveway. He remained silent until they got to the end of Leonard Road. “So, what brings you here, anyway, Mr. Lassiter?” he asked as the car turned onto Shackner.

“That’s kind of a complicated story,” Nate responded, unsure of what to tell and how much to let out. “I think it comes down the fact that I realized I didn’t want to live the life I had always thought I wanted.”

“What do you mean?”

“I was successful at a young age. I was about to propose to my girlfriend, and would almost certainly have gotten a positive response. I had the future my mother and father worked hard to give me when I was growing up.”

“And you didn’t want it?”

“Exactly.”

Rockafeller chuckled. “I’ll tell you a secret, Mr. Lassiter, if you’re willing to hear.”

“Go ahead.”

“I don’t let on much, and I’d certainly rather not have the folks around here know it, but I rather like it here. Mabel was the one who made me come here, but I think I was the one who didn’t want to leave in the end.”

“Why?”

“Tell you what. If you’re still here in a year or so, you tell me.”

Nate smiled. “Will do.”

The car came to a stop in front of a brick building sitting on the north side of Main Street directly across the street from the restaurant where he had met Emma. A sign in front of the building proclaimed it housed the Chauncey National Bank, a name which Nate assumed was far more grandiose than the business inside deserved. Rockafeller shut the car off and the pair got out.

“This, as I’m assuming you already figured out, is the bank,” the older man said, holding out his hand as if to direct Nate to look at a distant spot on the horizon.

“I doubt I would have gotten my Masters in finance if I couldn’t identify one of these,” the younger man responded flippantly.

Rockafeller turned and gave him a disapproving look. “I don’t like sarcasm, Mr. Lassiter.”

“Sorry.”

“I’ll allow it this time. Just remember that in the future.”

“I will.”

“Good.”

They mounted the steps that led to the entrance and walked into the building. A thoroughly modern lobby greeted them, much to Nate’s surprise. To the left stood a counter with two teller stations, each equipped with what appeared to be a brand-new computer. On the other side of a tile walkway from the counter sat a pair of desks, each occupied by a banker busily working on a high-quality laptop. Three offices were behind the desks, separated from the main business floor by a glass partition. At the far end of the counter a hallway led to what Nate assumed was the vault and safety deposit boxes. Everything was well-lit and sparkling, giving the impression that the bank had been built shortly before his arrival in town.

“What do you think, Mr. Lassiter?”

“It’s very nice,” Nate responded, genuinely impressed.

“Thank you.” the other man turned toward the teller station. “Michelle?”

A head popped up over the top of the counter. Attached to it was a young woman, about eighteen or nineteen years of age. She, like the rest of the bank, appeared to be quite bright and cheery. “Yes, Mr. Rockafeller?” she asked.

“What were you doing down there?”

She produced a handful of papers and offered a sheepish grin. “I kind of dropped a few things.”

“Ah,” Rockafeller chuckled, “Still having problems with that, are we?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I’d like you to meet someone, Michelle.” He turned to Nate. “This is Nate Lassiter. He’s considering taking the position of loan officer.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Lassiter,” she said, holding out her hand.

Nate stepped forward and shook it. “Nice to meet you.”

“Michelle has been working here for nearly eight years,” the older man said helpfully, “She’s a model employee, even if she does drop the occasional stack of papers.”

Nate looked at Rockafeller in confusion, then turned to the woman. “Um, if you don’t mind,” he said, unable to come up with a way to properly phrase his question.

Michelle laughed. “I’m twenty-five,” she explained, “But everyone says I look like I’m nineteen.”

“Ah.”

Rockafeller turned to the other two people in the room. “This is Bill Pearson,” he said, gesturing to the man at the desk on the left. “He’s my assistant manager and often fills in the role of personal banker.”

Bill stood up and offered his hand. “Good to see you again,” Nate said, shaking the hand firmly.

“You know each other?”

“We met briefly at church on Sunday,” the assistant manager explained.

“I see.” Rockafeller turned to the other desk. “And this is John Snyder. He’s the man you’ll be replacing if you choose to take the job.”

The loan officer stood up slowly on creaking joints. It was immediately obvious to Nate why he was retiring, as there was almost no way he could be much younger than eighty. “Pleased to meet you.”

“And you,” Nate replied, gently shaking the offered hand.

“You won’t have to use this desk if you don’t want to, though,” Rockafeller said. “John is supposed to be using the office on the far left, but he never does.”

“Don’t like puttin’ up walls,” the loan officer explained, “Can’t do a good job when you’re closed in. It’s not very neighborly, not very honest.”

Nate nodded silently, deciding it was best to simply agree.

“Well,” Rockafeller said, “That’s the bank. If you want I can take you back, you can think about it and then let me know tomorrow or Wednesday.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Nate said, nodding.

The pair turned and walked out of the building. As they got back into the car the older man turned to Nate. “I’m usually not this informal,” he said, “It’s just not every day a banker from Chicago shows up in town. I felt it would be best to take advantage of the situation.”

“I understand.”

“Good, then.” He started the car and pulled back onto Main Street. The made the drive back to the house in silence. Both men simply stared out the windshield, lost in their own thoughts.

As the car pulled up to the driveway Nate saw a familiar black pickup parked behind his Acura. “Emma’s here,” he commented for no particular reason.

Rockafeller pulled the Lincoln around the truck and stopped. He put the car into park and looked over at his passenger. “Want a piece of advice, Mr. Lassiter?”

“I suppose it can’t hurt.”

“Stay away from that woman. She’s bad news.”

Nate raised an eyebrow. “How?”

“She’s bad news. She’ll only cause you trouble.”

“How?”

“You know she was married, right?”

“Some guy named Charlie. She told me about that.”

“Well what she didn’t tell you was how she forced him to come up here from Texas, then decided she’d had enough of him and dragged his name all through the mud until he had no choice but divorce her and leave town.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Nate said, opening the door and getting out.

“Michelle is a very nice girl,” the other man said before Nate had a chance to close the door, “And she’s about your age.”

“What are you getting at?”

“There aren’t too many young men around here.”

“Look,” Nate said, shaking his head, “Offering me a job is one thing, but I believe this is out of line. I left my girlfriend of two years back in Chicago less than a week ago. I still have the engagement ring I was going to give her in my car. Now is not the right time.”

“Oh,” the old man seemed genuinely embarrassed, “I’m sorry for bringing it up, then.”

“It’s okay.” Nate closed the door before any response could come. The Lincoln sped down the driveway and off down Leonard Road.

Shaking his head, Nate turned back to the house and stepped up onto the porch. He pulled the key from his pocket only to realize the door was standing open. Pulling the screen door open, he stepped inside.

“Hello?” he asked.

“In here,” Emma’s voice came from the sitting room.

He stepped around the corner and found her lying on the couch. Molly lay on the floor in front of her, allowing Emma to lazily rub her back. The TV was on and tuned to a History Channel program.

“How did you get in?”

“I have a key.”

“Ah.”

“But you really don’t need to lock the door. No one’s going to break in.”

“I think I can disprove that statement.”

She shot him a quizzical glance, then laughed as she got the joke. “It’s not breaking in if you have a key.”

He rolled his eyes. “Right.”

Emma held up the remote and pointed it at his speakers. “How do you work this monstrosity you call a sound system?”

“Don’t you have to be at work?”

“Half day.”

“Why?”

“Because the school wanted it that way.”

“Ah. So you decided to come over here and watch a program on the fall of the Roman Empire in digital surround sound?”

“I’m sure we can find a movie or something to watch.”

“Okay. Move over.”

She swung her legs off the couch, narrowly avoiding kicking Molly in the process. Nate took the remote from her and sat down on the opposite side. He turned the sound system on, then turned to her with a shrug. “It’s going to be a lot cooler when the widescreen TV gets here.”

“I’ll bet.”

Nate flipped through the channels until he found a movie they could both agree on. They sat in silence for a while, staring at the tiny picture accompanied by his massive speakers. When the first commercial break came, Emma turned and looked at him.

“Aunt Ruth tells me she talked to Richard Rockafeller down at the bank about getting you a job.”

“Yeah. That’s where I was when you got here.”

“So what do you think?”

“It’s a nice bank.”

“About Rockafeller.”

“Seems like a nice enough guy. Didn’t seem the least bit uppity to me.”

“Well, you’re from the big city, too. But just wait. You’ll see.”

“Okay.” Nate looked at her for a long moment.

“What?” she finally asked, seemingly uncomfortable.

“I don’t know if I should mention this, but he doesn’t seem to like you very much.”

She chuckled. “No, no he doesn’t. How could you tell?”

Nate shrugged. “It was mostly a body language thing. He really seemed sure of himself when he told me to stay away from you. He said you were bad news, and I could tell from the way he said it that he really meant it.”

“I see,” she responded, laughing. “Really good at picking up nonverbal clues, are you?”

“Well…I don’t like to boast, but yeah. I am.”

“And modest, too. You’re the total package.”

“Oh, and he suggested I hook up with the girl who works at the bank.”

“Did you tell him you just walked out on your fiancee?”

“Yes. I suggested he not bring that topic of conversation up again any time soon.” He decided not to quibble over the actual state of his relationship with Julia. It was close enough to an engagement to let the comment slide.

She rubbed her chin speculatively. “He’s not going to like that. I’d watch my back around him if I were you.”

“Well it was impolite.”

“That’s his way, though. Most people around here just let him get away with it. They figure there’s no point in starting a fuss.”

“So what do you do?”

“I don’t have to do anything. He doesn’t acknowledge me when he sees me.”

“Why?”

“Eh,” she shrugged, “It goes back to my divorce. He took Charlie’s side and refused to believe I had a reason to do it. Funny thing was, Charlie didn’t want anybody to take his side. He knew it had to end.”

“And now the people around here don’t like you?”

“Most people don’t mind me, actually. It’s just that the ones who think I’m no good are pretty vocal about it. And a lot of people kind of hold me at arms’ length because of that. It’s easier than getting into the middle of things, you know.”

“Why do you put up with that?”

“I kind of got used to it after a while, I guess. It’s really not so bad as long as I avoid people like Rockafeller.”

“Seems to me that that’s a pretty rotten way to live.”

“What, so you think I should just up and leave, like…” she trailed off.

“Like what, like me?”

“Yeah,” she stuck her chin out at him in a gesture of defiance, “Like you.”

“What, I’m some sort of monster because I left Chicago?”

“You can’t just run away from your problems. Running away never solves anything.”

“Sometimes time and distance are all you can put between you and your problems, though.” He paused. “What’s the old saying, ‘time heals all wounds?'”

“Something like that,” she reluctantly agreed.

“How much of a future did you really have here, anyway? You could have left at any time and not had any problems.”

“But that’s not the way I do things.”

“Wait.”

“What?”

“When I tell you about the things I’ve done I have to take your reaction as the final word,” he crossed his arms over his chest, “But when you tell me about your life everything I say is wrong. How is that fair?”

“Hmm,” she looked down at the floor for a moment, “I suppose you’re right. Maybe we shouldn’t try to deal with this right now.”

“Good idea.”

“You hungry?” she neatly changed the subject.

“Yeah, I guess I am.”

“What do you have to eat in this place?”

“Let’s go take a look.”

They got off the couch and headed into the kitchen. Emma started rummaging through his pantry, shaking her head in disappointment with what she found. She then turned to the refrigerator and opened it. Her expression indicated she was equally disgusted with what she found inside.

“Problems?” Nate asked.

“Yeah,” she closed the door and straightened up, “Your food.”

“So what do you want me to do about it?”

“Well, we can always go to the store.”

“I suppose.” Nate walked back into the sitting room and turned off the television and sound system. He reached down and rubbed Molly between the ears. “I’m going to be gone for a little while, girl. Be good.”

Emma was already standing in the driveway when Nate stepped out onto the porch. “I’m driving,” she announced.

“Why do you get to have all the fun?”

“Because I said so.”

“That’s a lousy argument.”

“Get in the truck.” She narrowed her eyes and pointed at the passenger door.

He shrugged. “Okay.”

Laughing, Emma walked around the truck and opened the door. He opened up his door and they both hopped up into the cab. The big pickup sped out of the driveway and they headed into town in silence.

Nate stared out the window, still unsure of what to make of his new surroundings. He had so far only really met four new people in Chauncey, but he was beginning to feel he understood a little about the town. The one thing he definitely knew was that nothing around him ended up being as it seemed the first time he looked. More and more he found himself fascinated with the town and the people he had met so far. He wanted to know what caused Rockafeller to stay. He wanted to know what kept Emma from leaving. Somehow he thought that he could learn a lot about both of those questions from McPherson if he stayed.

In some small corner of his mind Nate also thought McPherson might also be able to tell him why he was there, if he stuck around long enough. After only two short conversations Nate was convinced the man had a lot to teach. Whatever other conclusions he could draw about his reasons for leaving, Nate knew it meant he had a lot to learn.

He looked over at Emma and wondered how much he could learn from her. She had seemed so strong, so confident that afternoon in the diner. Now he had seen some of her vulnerabilities. Maybe, he suddenly realized, she stayed in Chauncey for the same reasons she said he had left Chicago. Maybe she was just as scared of life as he was. Maybe he had run away from the things that scared him and she had simply hidden from her own fears.

She turned and looked at him. “What?”

“What?”

“You were looking at me. I would like to know why.”

“No reason. Just thinking.”

“About anything in particular?”

“Life, the universe, you know. The little questions.”

“Ah. And what part of the universe do I fit into?”

“At the moment you make up a fairly large slice of it, actually.”

“I’m flattered.”

“Don’t get too cocky. My universe shrank a whole lot in the last week.”

“Hmm.” Without further comment she pulled the truck into a spot in front of the store and shut the engine off.

They got out of the truck and walked into the store. Nate had stopped in on his first night in town, but hadn’t stayed long, as he felt very uncomfortable in the alien environment. This time he wandered around the shelves for a few minutes and took in the building. It was smaller than the supermarkets he was used to and had a less varied stock, but it was otherwise very nice. Everything was clean, bright and well lit. The owners and employees obviously took pride in their environment. Pride and hard work appeared to be common themes in Chauncey.

He was inspecting the produce in the back of the store when something caught his attention. A bulletin board labeled “Community News” hung on the wall. The bulletin board was covered with notices and little snippets from what appeared to be the local paper. In the middle of the board was a white piece of paper with the words “CAR FOR SALE, CLASSIC” written in bold across the top. Directly below those words was a picture of a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

Carefully, slowly, as if afraid that the sign were an apparition which would disappear if he got too close, Nate walked up to the board. The bottom of the piece of paper was separated into ten little strips with a phone number. Two slips were already gone, and Nate pulled one off with a sinking feeling that he was already too late.

 

He spun around and walked quickly to the front of the store, searching for Emma. She was standing next to a wire rack of paperback books next to the checkout counter.

“Emma!”

“What?” she spun around, looking frightened.

“I need to make a phone call, and then I may need you to drive me somewhere.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know yet. Just hold on.” He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and walked towards the front door. Emma, confused, followed close behind.

One thought on “Second Chances Chapter 6

  1. Rockafeller seems too obviously the obligatory villain here. “I don’t like sarcasm”, when he’s just said something that actively invites it? Meh, toxic person, leave well alone.

    In fact… it’s hard to describe, but I get the impression that you’ve started with the plot and then gone out and fetched characters who’d fill the roles, rather than starting with characters and seeing what plot they generate. Which isn’t a terrible thing but sometimes it gets a bit obvious.

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