Sunday, April 22, 2018

Divine Life #1


About a mile from Ransomville, the highway went from two lanes to a wide four-lane highway. As the Davis family drove into the city, they passed a small industrial park, an equipment rental company and a recreation complex that had tennis courts and baseball fields but not much else. They passed a restaurant called Tastee Kup that seemed to specialize in ice cream. The stoplight at the highway and Lincoln Street turned red. At that intersection was a McDonald’s and gas station, another equipment rental company, and a new housing development. The light turned green and the Davis’ continued a couple of blocks to the intersection of Poplar Street and turned left.

They passed a couple of houses and then the backside of the high school and an elementary school. They pulled up to a farmhouse-looking residence at 6th and Poplar. “We’re here,” Alan Davis said as he shut off the SUV they were in.

Alan Davis was going to the Earth-Space Science teacher at the high school. His wife, Elizabeth, was the author of the successful Honey Creek mystery series. They moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Ransomville, Kansas for the schools and small town life. Both Alan and Beth had grown up in small towns near Kansas City and wanted their kids to experience it.

Their oldest, Jeremy, was going to be a sophomore and he was fine with moving from Kansas City to a smaller town. He wasn’t fine with it but he didn’t really care. His sister, Margaret, an 8th grader, was against the move and had been complaining since their parents made the decision back in March.

Jeremy was glad they hired movers to pack and move everything. He unpacked one box then stopped to read a book he had long forgotten about. He heard furniture being moved downstairs and conversations between his parents. Maggie had closed her bedroom door, hooked up her stereo and was now listening to music. He thought about going over and espousing some brotherly advice but didn’t know what he would say.

Jeremy and Maggie had never been close despite only two years separating them. Maggie had always been outgoing and athletic while Jeremy was withdrawn and had no interest in sports. He read for a bit then went downstairs. It was about four o’clock.

“Getting everything unpacked?” Beth asked. She and Alan were putting things away in the kitchen.

“Yeah, sure,” Jeremy answered. “I’m gonna walk downtown. See what’s all down there. Maybe try to meet people.”

“Okay. Be back by six. I don’t know what we’re doing for dinner but we’ll figure it out.”

“Okay. I will.”

Jeremy left and headed two blocks over to Lincoln Avenue where the downtown area began.Unlike a lot of small towns, Ransomville had a busy and bustling downtown. Most of the buildings were limestone with the occasional brick building filling in the gaps. Jeremy stayed on the west side of Lincoln and passed by the chamber of commerce, a hair salon, and photography studio. The next building, a massive limestone one with decorated stones and large windows was the Palladian Theatre. From what Jeremy could see they could play two, maybe three, movies at a time. They had a kid-friendly movie, the popular comedy of the moment, and the independent drama that’s been getting all the acclaim.

Standing on the sidewalk, near the street, someone was handing out pamphlets to passersby. He thrust one into Jeremy’s hands. Jeremy stopped and looked at it. It was about one of the churches in town--the history, people who attended the church, random happenings, and a brief mention of possible hauntings.

“So what is this?” Jeremy asked.

“It’s a pamphlet I wrote about the old Brethren Church,” he responded. “Our historical society does a bad job with getting history out to the masses.”

“So you pick up where they drop the ball?”

“They don’t even touch the ball,” he scoffed. “I’m Nathan.”

“Jeremy.”

“You new?”

“Yeah, my family just moved here. Today actually.”

“Cool. High school?”

“Sophomore.”

“Cool times two. I’m going to be a sophomore too.”

“Nathan, Mom says to quit selling yourself on the street corner and come home,” a short girl with short curly hair came walking up to them.

“Did Mom really say that?” Nathan asked.

She shrugged. “I used my own words.”

Nathan turned back to Jeremy. “I’ll see you at school,” he pointed. “Probably have at least a couple of classes together. If you have second lunch come find me.”

“Okay,” Jeremy said.

“Savannah,” Nathan and his sister began walking down the sidewalk away from Jeremy “you know I’m not really selling myself on the street corner, right?”

“Of course. But that’s so much less embarrassing than what you are actually doing.”

Jeremy returned home. Beth caught him as he passed by the kitchen on his way upstairs. “Can you grab your sister? Dinner is about ready.”

“Sure. What are we having?”

“Spaghetti and garlic bread. Something easy.”

Jeremy went upstairs to Maggie’s room. He could still hear the music through the door. He knocked. “Maggie. Can I come in?”

A noise, maybe an answer or maybe just a grunt, came from the room.

“I’m coming in,” he turned the knob and was surprised it wasn’t locked. He was also surprised to see how much stuff she had gotten unpacked. Her books were on her shelf, posters on the wall, clothes in the closet. “You’ve gotten a lot done in an hour.”

“I figured that since this is now my home, might as well make it look like it.”

“Look, I wish that there was some kind of advice I could give you for this. I know you had to leave all your friends and being the star athlete in volleyball and track but you will make new friends and Ransomville has volleyball and track in middle school. It will be exactly the same, you’ll see. Just with less diversity and about 400 fewer kids.”

Maggie smiled. “Aaliyah has already texted me making sure we’ll keep in touch. I don’t know how to respond,” she held up her phone.

“I know I’m going to lose contact with Algernon and where else am I supposed to find a friend named Algernon?”

“Do you think you can survive having Dad be one of your teachers?”

“That’s not until next year and it should be fine. He’ll be your teacher sooner than you think,” Jeremy said. “Dinner’s ready so come downstairs.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.” Jeremy left the room and went back downstairs. She took her phone and began texting Aaliyah back: I don’t know if we can actually keep in touch but I will try. I miss you. If you get a chance, tell Mr. Tilghman that he can go to hell.



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