Weekly Short Story: Mr. Jones

I got this particular writing prompt from here. I love stories that can have a happy ending even though I write a lot of dark material as my wife has recently pointed out. Hope you like it.

Artwork by Adobe Firefly

Mr. Jones

Billy Jones slowly opened his eyes. His mind working to try and figure out exactly what day this was. Saturday? Yes. It was Saturday he determined. The sun shone brightly through the open bedroom window and into Billy’s eyes. He squinted along with an accompanying “yep” for good measure. Billy jumped out of bed and got dressed. Saturdays were way too short to be lounging around in his house all day. He needed to get there and see what his friends and the neighborhood were up to.

The first thing Billy noticed as he left the front door slam closed was that the for sale sign was missing from the old Chapman residence. The second thing he noticed was a angry middle aged mother yelling at him to stop slamming the front door. Oops. He wondered what kind of family would move in next door. The Chapman’s were a nice enough couple but they didn’t have any kids. Billy often wished they did. Finding someone to play with on Saturday mornings would have been so much easier.

The first stop was to the local pharmacy. He didn’t need medicine exactly but they did have something he desperately needed. Chewy sweet and sour candy. It had to be a specific kind too. Ridman’s. They were simply the best. George Watkins was manning the counter as he usually did on Saturday mornings. George wasn’t a pleasant man. Billy often wondered why that was. He figured it took more energy to be unhappy and miserable than happy and content. Billy grabbed a pack of his favorite candy and set it on the counter. George grunted. Billy gave him the money. The transaction was concluded and the only sound through the whole exchange was the cash register beeping and George grunting.

Candy in hand, he walked the extra couple of blocks to Felton Court. It was a really cool new skateboard park. Billy didn’t ride skateboards and really had no interest in it. He didn’t go to the park to participate. He went for the people watching. In particular, he went to the skate park to watch Amanda Fisher. While she watched the skateboarders, Billy watched her. He was fascinated with her. She was pretty, for sure. He could feel something else when he stared at her. He wasn’t sure what it was but as long as he could get away with it, he watched. When she would glance his way he would stare off in another direction. He couldn’t make direct eye contact. He’d be found out and his fun time would be over.

Lyle Henderson slid up next to Billy. “We doing this again?” Billy jumped and looked in the direction of the speech. “Damn it, Lyle. You scared the crap out of me!” Lyle smiled from ear to ear, “It makes my day buddy. I’d ask you what you’re doing but I’m pretty sure I already know. They call that stalking, I think.” Billy laughed, “It’s not stalking. She just happens to be here at the same time I am. I don’t even talk to her.” Lyle smirks. “That’s your problem buddy. Maybe you should. Anyway, I got to roll.” Before Billy could respond, he was gone.

After leaving the skate park, Billy walked around visiting the usual spots where his friends usually hung out. It was unusually quiet today. It was the peak of vacation season so he guessed that most of them were off having fun somewhere. His family took vacations but only when they could get a “deal” which usually meant off season. The problem with that was his friends were home while he was away. There was always the xBox. Out of other options, Billy headed back home.

The old man rocking back and forth on the old Chapman porch was hard to miss. He waved at Billy. Billy returned the wave. The old man motioned for Billy to go over to him. Having nothing better to do at the moment, he decided an investigation was in order. After all, he could get the story of how this old man came to be here. There was always a story. “I’m Billy.” He said. “We share the same name young man but you can call me Bill. I always thought that Billy was a name you used for the young.” Billy sighed. “I’ve never thought about it.”

Bill motioned to the seat next to his. “Have a seat young man. Tell me all about your day. I often wonder what being young would be like now.” Billy sat down and looked over at Bill. “I’m not really supposed to talk to strangers but since you bought the Chapman house, I guess that makes it ok.” The older man smiled. “The young mind is so curious. Is that what brought you over here? Curiosity?” Bill asked. “Yes. I liked the Chapmans but they didn’t have any kids. I was hoping that whoever bought this place would have kids so I’d have some new friends.” Bill laughed. “What’s wrong with the friends you have?” “Nothing,” Billy said. “They are ok but variety is always nice.” Bill looked at Billy and smiled again. “Indeed.”

Bill gave Billy the dime store version of the things that he had done in his life. None of it seemingly glamorous or interesting. Bill took jobs selling cars, short order cook, and as bookkeeper. “Yes young man. None of these things were great professions or jobs to say the least. My life would have taken a different direction though if I would have paid attention.” Billy looked over Bill. “Paid attention to what?” Bill sat back in his rocking chair. The motion soothing his aching old bones. “Have you ever looked at someone and felt something that you couldn’t explain or understand? You just know there is something worth noticing?”

Billy felt a bit light headed. How could the old know? Was he in trouble? “I see you know what I am talking about young man.” Bill stopped rocking in his chair for a moment. His face projected trust and warmth to Billy. All of the sudden, he no longer feared that he was in trouble.

“Here is what I know about your situation Billy. No. You aren’t in trouble. I’m here to help. I’m here to tell you to follow your heart. That feeling that you can’t describe. The longing you feel to go to the park just so you can watch a girl that you never talk to. That feeling is what you’ll later discover as love. You’re too young now to realize it.” Billy looked at the ground. “You seem to know an awful lot about me. What do you mean by follow my heart?” He asked the older man.

Six weeks later…

Bill rocked back on his chair on what was shaping up to be a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Right around the time he expected it, a young Billy Jones strolled up to what used to be known as the Chapman place. He walked up onto the porch with what looked like a glow that the older man had never seen. “She said yes!” He exclaimed. “I asked her to come over to play xBox this afternoon and she said yes!” The older man’s smile could no longer be contained. Was that a tear in his eye? Not a tear of sadness Billy suspected. Perhaps, a tear of happiness. The old man looked out into the beautiful Saturday sunshine and thought to himself…

…It is amazing how much life can change when you make the right choices. Amanda Fisher was going to live.