"I want to see my son; we need ta talk. I've asked the nurses to call him for me. He should be here pretty soon. It's time for him ta face the music and jist explain ta me what was in his head over the past few months. He's got things to account ta me for, and he needs ta do it today."
"Wow!" I thought. This was a different Lucy than I had seen before. She was going to make Melvin defend his actions. This should be really good! Was I going to get to see it take place? My mouth almost drooled at the thought of it, but I knew it would be in really bad taste to stay and watch. She would surely tell me the outcome later on, I hoped.
"Would you like to be alone with Melvin, or should I stay and make sure no harm comes to you?"
"No, you had better go, my friend, because there are things I really need to say to him privately. But thanks for offering to stay; he won't hurt me physically, and I can deal with anything he might have to say to me. It would be nice if you could come back later on today, though, so you and I can talk."
Well, I reckon I would just have to wait until later to find out what she had to tell me. I had a feeling that Old Melvin was going to get a raking over the coals like he'd never had before. Ha.
In the meantime, Jackie was chomping at the bit to go see his Uncle Hank. So, after giving Lucy a hug and a pat on the hand, we left for the other side of town.
Jones and Sons Body Shop was on the outskirts of town, not too far from the city dump. It was not in what you would exactly term a great neighborhood and I sure wouldn't want to be walking through it in a late evening. It was out where the noise from banging on metal would not bother anyone.
As we entered the shop, Hank was in his office and his two sons were lounging around the coke machine. Let's see now... what were their names??? Oh, yeah, Mickey and Mike, the twin terrors looked like they were ready to rumble. They stood up and strolled over toward us.
"Hey, little Cousin... How's it a-going, anyway? Have ya come ta work? Haw, haw, haw!" This came from Mickey as he punched Jackie on the shoulder.
Jackie just grinned and rubbed his shoulder. I knew it had to hurt. I also knew Jackie had to start standing up for himself. I couldn't do it for him. I was going to have to give him a pep talk. I realized I should have already done so. My bad! Well, we needed first to see if Jackie and I could get Hank to agree to our proposal. I went into the office and left Jackie with "the boys".
"Hello, Miz Anna Belle, how are you doin' today? Say, is your friend feelin' better? I hope so; she seemed like a nice lady the day you all came over."
"Yes, thank ya, Mr. Jones. She got the flow'rs you sent and she was right pleased with 'em. The reason that me 'n' Jackie came over ta see ya today is that we'd kinda like ta work for ya a few hours a week, maybe three hours each day. We wouldn't want a lot 'a pay for it. I can do books, 'cause I kept my husband's account books when he wuz in bizness, and kept 'em good. They always balanced and he depended on me. I'd not want more than maybe twenty dollars a week. It'd be enough to where I wouldn't have ta get out every day and hunt for bottles and cans ta sell. I'd have enough that way ta keep my laundry done, and maybe have a cup of coffee when I was out and about. As you know, Jackie is real good with motors, and he'd be worth a lot more. He would jist work when I wuz here, because he kinda looks out for me when we're out travelin' around, don't cha know... I figger he would be worth at least fifteen dollars an hour, and that'd be a bargain. I see ya got lots a cars in the shop that look like they need workin' on."
"Well, I don't know, Mz. Anna Belle... fifteen an hour seems like an awful lot. Tell you what, let's make it twelve, fifty an hour and you got a deal. Of course, I'll have to take FICA and Social Security outta his wages, so he'll only be gettin' about ten an hour take home. That's a lot for somebody that don't know anything about managing money. Are you goin' to be helpin' him with that?"
"Oh, yes, you'd better believe it! Don't worry about it. Me 'n' Jackie'll work it all out," I replied. "Why don't I take a look at your books right now. I'll see what kind of a system you use."
"Er... uh... why don't we just wait until later this week. I have some place I have to be in a few minutes, and I need to take the boys with me. We... uh... we have an appointment to keep. Okay?"
"Well, sure... we'll see you day after tomorrow, then. We'll be here around nine a.m. after breakfast. Do you have a uniform for Jackie, so's he don't get grease on his clothes?"
"Yeah, he's about the same size as my boys; I'll get one from the closet for him. Here you go."
Hank Jones handed me a clean uniform and I called out to Jackie that we had to go. Jackie came out of the work area, looking a little bit frazzled, but smiling. (To be continued)