Deacon chuckled, a ribald joke weaving its way up through his befuddled mind. He fought to control it, but couldn’t. “Hell, as long as she rubs it in private, who the f**k cares?”
Andy’s laugh boomed out, startling the other students who were engrossed in another argument about the next flat.
“Aw, shit, Mr. D, you’re too funny!” He dropped his voice confidentially. “She can rub anything she wants to.”
“Well don’t tell me, tell her!”
Deacon laughed happily as they exchanged a slap and a tap. Of all these kids, Andy was the most like he had been, back in the day. Tall and lanky, sun bleached blond hair, dark eyes and a broad smile. He was one smart kid, very adept and creative. He had a successful career ahead of him if he got pushed in the right direction. Deacon thought he knew which way to turn him. He realized that here he could make a difference, he could help these kids the way Mrs. Rooney had helped him. Between her and Mrs. Sanderson, they’d given him the confidence and the ability to make something of himself.
“Hey, Andy, when do you graduate?”
“End of December, Mr. D.”
He shook his head sadly. “Can’t seem to find anyone hiring. Set’s my thing. I want to work in a professional shop, get some solid experience.”
“Got a portfolio I can look at?”
“Bring it to me tomorrow. I’ll look it over. I might be able to hook you up with something.”
Bernie would kill him, but he’d be sending him talent. Andy was raw, and would need shepherding. He’d call it payback for giving out his number to Frieda. Already Deacon was planning to sub-let his apartment to the kid, and fix him up with a job working for Bernie and Maxie.
Andy returned to his crew, eager to impress Deacon. The kid was smart and capable, a little full of himself, just like Deacon was at that age.
God, was I ever that green?
Where had that young, idealistic man gone? Into business, where he’d been ripped off, cheated and castigated repeatedly over the years. Bernie had the personality that such things didn’t bother him. Maxie always gave as good as she got. She was unaffected by rudeness and ill humored people. Deacon took everything to heart. Bernie told him he was too sensitive to be in business.
“You got to be a hard nosed, Yankee bastard like me, to make it in business these days. You’re the artistic type, you don’t belong dealing with people.”
Bernie was right about that. It was Deacon’s artistry and Bernie’s moxie that kept them afloat the first couple of years. Then their reputation grew, also due to Deacon’s abilities to bring a life to a set. Was he willing to give all that up? No, but he could cut down his contact.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Kacy was sitting by him again.
“My thoughts aren’t worth that much.”
She studied his face, a worried frown playing at her eyes. “Deacon, do you want me to take you home?”
“I’m all alright, just drifting into memories. I look at these kids, it’s like seeing myself. I feel so damn old. Was I ever that idealistic?”
“Bound to have been. I was, and naive. I’m surprised I’ve survived in this business. Lots of folks, it just eats them up and spits them out.”
“You’ve got too much spunk to let anyone spit you out. I’d like to see them try.”
“You would not! Pieces tend to fly when I get angry. Little bits of people careen around, bouncing off walls. Not at all pretty. What’s really on your mind?” She could read him so accurately, it was unnerving.
“Kind of private thoughts I’d rather not share here.”
“If you don’t want to tell me, say so.” Her feelings were getting hurt.
Turning her head so he could gaze into her eyes, he leaned forward. “No, I don’t mind telling you, just not here.” He emphasized the last word so she would understand it was environmental, not emotional. “I’ll tell you about it later, okay? Scout’s honor.”
“Well, the word of a Boy Scout, I must, in fact, trust. I’ll hold you to that promise, Deacon.” She stood up, walking back to her crew, giving a little twitch to her rear end just for his benefit.
The day finally drew to a close, everyone packed up their supplies, put them in the shed and took their tools with them. The security men showed up before the workers went home, keeping track of who left when, being sure that no one went in after hours who weren’t authorized to be there. Dino was taking no chances.
With everyone accounted for, Dino activated the alarm and locked the doors. It was as secure as it could be, he only hoped it would be enough.
Kacy, Deacon and Dino had dinner at Dino’s house, prepared by Nancy. She and Everett were excited to announce they had found a condo not far away, which was fairly reasonably priced and were investing in it.
“You kids will be able to use it any time you want,” Nancy told Kacy and Deacon. “We want you to think of it as home.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes