Monday, November 10, 2014

Part 98

"Who is that young man?" Mr. Owen said in a way that reminded me of the Sheriff a bit.

"Cochran.  He's my friend."

"Friend?  Do you think it appropriate to have a young man here while you are alone?"

I had to try real hard to not roll my eyes.  "Jamie and Shane are here all the time and no one has said anything."

I opened the door and could have kicked myself when Mr. Owen said, "As to that, I had my reservations about that practice from the beginning.  When Uncle Joseph was well enough to supervise it was not a problem but apparently it has become one."

"Not because I wanted one or encouraged it," I snapped.  "I can't believe those two would think I was some stupid bone to fight over.  For one thing Jamie already has a ... a ... a thing or whatever you want to call it.  And for another the only reason ... and I mean the only reason ... that Shane wants a ... a thing ... is because he doesn't have one.  It has nothing to do with me at all ... he just wants what he sees the other guys have.  He all but admitted it when he didn't come around after I told him to go take a flying leap if that was the kind of friendship he and Jamie were after ... or if he was only around to make sure that Jamie didn't get more than his fair share."

I was getting really wound up and angry again.  Stupid I know but apparently Mr. Owen accepted it for what it was ... honest, righteous indignation.  "Well, as to that, boys will be boys.  You didn't have to encourage it because you didn't discourage it."

I made a face.  "I shouldn't have to always assume that guys that act like my friends are after ... you know ... other stuff.  I thought I left all those weirdos behind in the city.  I mean Jamie and Shane didn't, you know, do the weird stuff but the goal is the same."

"In a word, yes, you need to always wonder.  You may not intentionally encourage them but men have needs and sometimes these needs overreach their commonsense and upbringing."

That was so outrageously unfair I nearly screamed with frustration.  He sensed it and smiled gently - or gently for him anyway.  I imagine he probably thought he was speaking to me the way a father would which only made me itch to kick something even more.  Dad would have never said that I was the one that had all the thinking and behaving to do, more than once I heard him tell Toddie that it was his responsibility as a man to behave properly regardless of the signals he thought the girl was giving off.  And that if he didn't he was going to kick his butt from there to Tulsa.

"Deandra Dawn, I know that it isn't something you intentionally caused or encouraged.  I've been concerned at how suprisingly unworldly you are considering what you've been through.  However, because it doesn't seem that you can see the problem - regardless of your innocence - I'm being forced to put my foot down and intervene."

I knew what that meant.  "You don't want Jamie or Shane to come around anymore."

He sighed regretfully.  "No.  I don't.  I would have preferred some other course of action but after finding out that they let the situation become such a problem between them that they failed to complete the job I gave them - which was to let everyone know about the work detail - I don't feel I have any other choice.  You'll probably see Adam and Isaiah from time to time, at least until Uncle Joseph is well enough to chaperone once again, but until then I think it best if the boys keep their distance."

"Well they can just continue to keep their distance after Mr. Svenson starts coming around too.  It was just plain wrong for them to act like my friend when they really weren't.  How am I supposed to trust them anyway?  None of you Misters ever treated my family like that." He opened his mouth to speak but I kept right on going.  "I know you think I'm a kid.  I know you think I don't know much.  And maybe you're right about it kinda sorta.  But what I know, I know.  I know I'm not your family.  I know it was probably stupid to come up here with all my dreams.  I know that you were just protecting your family - and are this time too - when you turned me away at the gate.  But I also know you made the decision to help me even though technically you had no reason to.  I know you've looked after me, maybe more than I know, despite not being family.  I thought Jamie and Shane were like you and Mr. Svenson.  I know that was stupid but it is what I thought.  I also know I don't want to stop being friends with you and Mr. Svenson and the rest of the Misters just because Jamie and Shane were stupid and ... and weird."

He suprised me by patting my shoulder.  "We're all still friends here and like you I want to keep it that way.  I suppose that you've forgotten that Jamie and Todd were like two peas in a pod ... there was a reason for that that hasn't changed much despite the times.  I expected a little more maturity out of Shane but as you say, he misses what he thinks some of the other men have.  Both of them are at that stage of manhood when the way they feel sometimes overshoots their commonsense.  And you being a pretty thing that isn't near as fragile as the females they are used to dealing with ... well it has caused them to forget that you deserve the same respect they would expect for their sisters.  I aim to make sure they realize the error of their ways."

The way he said it made my face get hot.  I also almost felt sorry for James and Shane.  Mr. Owen isn't exactly a lightweight when it comes to the authority department and handing out consequences.  But what he said next made my face get even hotter.  "Now about that young man ... Cochran ... I've heard both good things and ... concerning things ... about him.  Nevertheless I have seen he is a hardworker and I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.  However, I want you to keep in mind that just like with Jamie and Shane, you need to ... to be ... hmmm ..."

"Don't lead him on?"

Mr. Owen nodded.  "Whether you mean to or not.  Now I'm dropping this.  It's stirring up my acid reflux.  Normally I leave my wife to handle the girls.  Less gray hair that way."

He was grinning so I grinned back or at least gave him a small one.  I didn't have to agree with everything he said not to understand he meant well.

He left after telling me that there was another work detail scheduled for the next day and where the meet up was to be.  Not too coincidentally Cochran came back dragging the limb right as Mr. Owen headed off down the forestry road.

After he'd gotten the limb all the way to the door he said, "Know why we felt someone watching us."

"Who was it?"

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