Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hiding the Stranger in Hickory Valley, Part Three

Hank looked at his sister with a bit of surprise. His sixteen-year-old sister was not known for breaking rules and telling fibs. “Jennifer Marie Rivers,” he said in the tone that their parents used when one of the children had done something that they shouldn’t have. “Why did you tell Mary that this guy is our cousin, Sam?”

Jen sheepishly replied, “I’m not sure. I was just thinking about the fact that maybe Katie and he… and Sam are right. Maybe we shouldn’t let those two men find him; at least until we find out what they want and why he is afraid of them.”

While they waited, two Certified Nurses’ Aids walked by. One was a tall, middle-aged lady pushing a medicine cart. The other was younger but just as tall.

“Could you possibly trade shifts with me on Friday?” the older woman asked her associate. “A friend of mine, whom I have not seen for a long time, will be passing through. I would really like to spend a couple hours with her before she travels on.”

“I’m sorry, Renee, but I have already made plans to go to the movies with my sister. Maybe some other time,” the lady responded.

As the two workers stopped at the receptionist’s desk to drop off some papers, the one called Renee looked quite disappointed. ‘Sam’ slowly turned away from the other three kids, stepped over next to the younger CNA and commented, “I couldn’t help hearing your conversation. I know that it isn’t any of my business, but is Friday the only day that the movie you want to see playing? You and your sister will probably have a lot of opportunities to go to the movies, but your co-worker may not have many chances to see her friend.”

The woman stared at him with a surprised look on her face and said, “You’re right. It isn’t any of your business.” She turned her back on the young man.

Hank, Jen, and Katie were also looking at the boy. They all had questioning expressions on their faces. When Sam stepped back into the group Hank asked, “Do you know either of them? Why did you go over and talk to that hospital worker?”

The teen shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. It just seemed like the thing to do.” Looking back at the two workers, he saw the lady he had spoken to approach the other woman. She looked over at Sam for a second and then turned back to speak to her fellow employee.

“Renee, my sister and I could go to the movies on Saturday instead. Why don’t we switch so you can see your friend?”

A big smile appeared on Renee’s face. “Oh, thank you, Heather! I really appreciate that. I’ll trade with you sometime if you ever need me to.” There seemed to be a bit of a spring in Renee’s step as she continued on her rounds. On her way down the hall, she noticed a man trying to get some paper money to go into the vending machine. She stopped and asked him if he needed some help.

“I just wanted a cup of coffee, and this wrinkled five dollar bill is all that I have. The machine doesn’t want to pull it through,” the obviously tired and worried man complained.

Reaching into the pocket of her smock, she pulled out some change. “Here let me get it for you.”

“Thanks. That was nice of you. I appreciate that,” he said.

Renee smiled and said, “No problem. Maybe you can do a little something for someone else one of these days.”

“Yes, I hope I can,” he said as he watched the worker walk away.

This excerpt is from a young adult novel by Joan C. Kelly: Hiding the Stranger in Hickory Valley

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