THE NEW KID, A Christmas Heist Story, Part 6 w/ links to parts 1-5

in #fiction4 years ago

James reached over to turn on the living room light, which he was sure he had done on his way to the shower. As the lights came up, James felt as if he had just walked into a very elaborate exhibit in a wax museum. Frozen around the room were a group of over twenty River Oaks congregation members, mostly women, and as the light revealed their well-built pastor wrapped only in a robe, the air left the room as the prepared “Surprise!” turned into a collective gasp of surprise.






Frozen that is, all except one Rosemary Lynch, grade school office manager who was busily attaching the tail end of a “welcome pastor” banner across the arch that led to the kitchen. As she turned to see what was going on, the resulting shock caused her knees to buckle and she toppled on top of Bill Jennings, who graciously attempted to catch her, knocking his surprised wife Gloria into Darcy Cudgeons, local hairdresser, who was putting the finishing touches on a bowl of ice-cream punch.

Unfortunately for Pat Glade, used car salesman and Sunday School teacher, who was sitting on the other side of the table from Darcy, Darcy's automatic reaction to almost any surprise was to throw her hands straight up, launching an avalanche of ice, soda, and sherbet that rolled across the table and onto Pat's brand new, freshly pressed khaki Dockers. In his attempt to avoid the rainbow river of frozen refreshment, Pat stood, receiving half of the load and tipping the table up, sloshing the remaining punch back toward Darcy who had the misfortune to be wearing white.

In the confusion that followed, at least one account has James dropping his towel momentarily, in an attempt to help the single Rosemary, who said she really didn't mind, as long as she was safe.

Ten minutes later, it was all over except the dry-cleaning and James, fully clothed in his only outfit, was back from the bedroom he had retreated to.
“Sorry about the banner,” Rosemary blushed.

“It's okay, I kind of like it vertically hung like that, sorry about the commotion everybody.”

“I think it would be best if we never mention this again,” Said Thelma Gardner, a long time River Oaks volunteer, “The Methodist ladies circle would just love to have a story like this about us.”

“It could have been worse,” Glenn said cheerfully.

“Yeah, it could have Thelma in the towel,” said a man's voice from the back of the room. There were laughs all around.

“I know you said that Elmer McCurdy!” Thelma chuckled.

Elmer stepped forward, “No I did not, but when I tell the Methodist ladies circle, I'm going to say I did.” Elmer hugged Thelma.

“Well, I am sorry for my unorthodox entrance, but I'm always happy to entertain.” James said. “I appreciate the warm welcome, I really do, but it's getting late, and I have a new job to start tomorrow, so, if you don't mind, I need to get to bed.”

Susan stopped on her way out, “I'll see you in the morning, unless you are bringing your own assistant on.”

“I wouldn't think of taking your job from you, especially since you seem to have all the inside secrets. I think we'll let pastor Roland worry about that next week.”

She handed him a thick binder, “I almost forgot, here's your score.”
James looked puzzled, “Score?”

“For the Christmas musical, remember? Glenn said you were forgetful. Auditions are tomorrow.” Susan smiled. “Although, we could reschedule, if we can find time, what with all the Project Barabbas stuff going on.”

James nearly choked,
“Auditions...tomorrow...will be, just fine! Sure, are you coming to audition?”

Susan laughed with a slight snort, “Me, in the kids Christmas pageant? Glenn was right about you, you are funny.”

“Kids, right! I love kids, I wouldn't miss it!” James lied.

After the last guest had left, and James checked to be sure for the third time, he tossed the score in a small trashcan beside the bed. He undressed and fell back on the mattress, staring up at the ceiling fan, “Kids? I hate kids!” he said, then turned out the lamp.

As James rolled over, he thought about his situation, tomorrow he would figure out how to contact his son's mother, Cheryl. For now, he had about a forty-eight hour head start on the Georgia Department of corrections, a belly full of good food, and a real mattress. He determined to sleep past seven for the first time he could remember and closed his eyes.

I learned in my history class, that Rogers Oklahoma was situated in its exact location because of one thing. The railroad. They had needed a stop, and Rogers was in the right place. The railroad had founded Rogers and every morning since, had run smack through it at 6 am. This on its own would not have been an issue.
The fact that River Oaks Community Church was built on its current location because the land was so cheap, being practically on the tracks, was, and at exactly six am, a southbound freight carrying empty car haulers blew through town going sixty miles an hour, horn blaring as it passed less than fifty feet outside James's bedroom window, the crossing guard on the nearby intersection clanging and flashing in time to the rhythm of the wheels.

James is a pretty heavy sleeper, he says you get to be in prison, but you also learn to respond quickly to loud sounds, like alarm bells, sirens and loud voices, because they almost always mean that something wicked is coming your way.
So, when he woke up from a dead sleep with flashing lights and what sounded to him like an alarm bell going off, James responded quickly. He jumped straight out of the bed and was standing at attention, as was required in his former environment, for a full minute before his pulse returned to normal and he looked at the clock. Awake two hours before he was ready.

He stumbled into the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of cereal and milk, then sat on the bed with a phone in his lap until the clock read seven, which he figured was late enough to contact the prison to feel out his situation. He had managed to find the number he needed, using the computer the church volunteers had set up for him in his home office, and dialed it nervously.

“Carmichael Correctional? Yes, this is...”

It was then that James stopped himself, he couldn't use his own name, obviously, but he couldn't use his current alias as Todd Crawford either. This was going to call for some quick creative thinking. Desperately he looked around the room, his eye found the cereal box.

“This is, Mills, Roman Mills, general council for one of your inmates. Yes, I'll hold.” James sat, thinking through what he would say next, when a voice he knew, came on the line, “This is Joan in the warden's office. Can I help you with something?”

“Yes, I need to ask about one of my clients, James Casey. I was informed that he suffered some sort of collapse? Is that correct.”

“Mr. Casey is currently being cared for at a local medical center. He collapsed earlier this week and is now in a coma. Who did you say you work for? I can get you clearance to visit, if you're his attorney.”

“Coma? Well, that puts a different spin on it, I mean, that is surprising. Um, I don't think I'll need that clearance yet, but I will have one of my, um, associates contact you once we have decided how to proceed.” James needed to end the call before he gave himself away. He hung up the phone and did a little dance, “He's in a coma, he's in a coma, not gonna find me, not gonna find me!”
I know what I would have been thinking in that moment, and James told me it occurred to him too. This man might die in his place, leaving James free to live a life outside prison walls.

This was an idea that he hadn't even considered up until now, but as soon as his celebration began, it ended with the thought that another man was taking his place. Sounds like somebody else I know, hmm?

Whether it was this thought, or the things that happened after that changed James Casey forever, I couldn't say. But, something in him at that moment knew, that if Todd Crawford was going to spend even one minute living the life that he, James Casey, had earned through his own choices, then James needed to make this life of his mean something. He had to be someone else.

He sat on the bed and reached into the trash can, pulling out the Christmas musical score. The last time he had performed in front of an audience was the seventh grade school play, in which he had exactly three lines, one of which he forgot, but until he could figure out what else to do, it was the only opportunity he had.


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with one word I look forward to the continuation of wonderful exchanges impatiently

Thank you bro!

Good post! I like the story. I follow and upvote you. Do same for me.

Good post thank You bro :)
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