Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Tour Comes Home...(2nd Time's the Charm!)

..."A Charming Endeavor" book tour has returned home. And for those who've followed along, (but don't sweat it if you haven't ;) I promised a final story. A fitting tale meant for capping off a month long trek covering far away lands...and a few spots just around the bend.

Some of you may remember my earlier posts featuring a young lady that I've named The Girl. A foster child who'd been paying my family routine visits over the past year and a half. Several have asked whatever happened to her, this lonesome child in search of a place to nestle upon.

And so my tour her journey begins...(Enjoy ;)

...a few months ago, a young man of seventeen, having just inhaled a final draw from a smoldering joint, dropped the flaring nub to the dust and followed it with the toe of a faded Nike. He tilted his head back, grinning at the stars, how they shivered and danced under his current state, and decided then and there to share his good cheer with a buddy of his. And what more fun than to invite his pal for a spin in Mom and Dad's car.

The drive through a wooded hillside lasted no more than thirty minutes. They passed no other vehicles, swerved to avoid a crossing deer, and rolled safely into the family driveway no worse for the wear.

The young man of seventeen stumbled out of the car, his mouth churning away about fast rides, easy girls, ditching school during final exams, and how those stars up there may in fact be aliens, their ships fleeting about like insects, just out of reach.

He left his buddy in the driveway, tiptoeing around the house to the back deck. His senses on high alert. After all, you never knew when Mom or Dad may be lingering.

The teenager's friend, who'd accompanied him on the joyride, and had quickly realized the dilemma he'd been lured into, exhaled a breath, watched it dissipate into the frosty air like fleeting spirits, considered his options, then walked into the house.

For the boy who'd been sitting in the passenger seat of the car, was a foster child of the same age. He didn't particularly care for the family he was living with. Had in fact grown weary of his "step brother's" antics of late. And there were other foster kids in the house to consider...all of them sick and tired, of being sick and tired.

Listening to the heavy breathing coming from his foster parent's bedroom, the boy quietly scooped up a nearby cell phone, and dialed his social worker's number. She'd once promised him that he could call her anytime, day or night.

...despite the hour, she answered on the third ring.

I was in my office the following afternoon, glaring at the overhead clock, when my phone started ringing. I recognized my home number, picked up the receiver.

"What's up, Hon?"

...breathing hard, "We got a call about taking in another kid," my wife said.

"What?" I huffed. "Are you outta your mind? Have you counted how many kids we already have? We're already going through eight gallons of milk a week. We'll be causing a shortage soon! We can't...Hon, no. Tell 'em to find someone else. I mean, I can't believe you'd even consider..."

"Okay, chill out. But before I turn her down, I thought maybe you'd like to know who it is. But I guess not, so..."

"Wait a minute."

My breath caught in my throat. There was something she wasn't telling me. Something in her tone. Hopeful. A bit ornery, perhaps. Something. And a thought crossed my mind.

A chill danced and jittered like a centipede along my spine, leaving a trail of goose pimples and anticipation. And when at last I spoke, my voice came out in a whisper. "It's her, isn't it?"

"It's her."

For a moment, only the sounds of our breathing could be heard over the phone line. Hers now slowing a bit, as mine drowned out the buzzing silence. But that was enough. No words were needed.

Then I asked, "What happened?"

"Her foster family ran into some trouble, got their license suspended. Sounds permanent."


"We'll have to rearrange the bedrooms to make room."


"You do realize she's a teenager now...lotta baggage. She's been getting into trouble at school."


"They told me if we can't handle her, they'll put her in the D.H."

"She'll be fine...she'll be home."



"Good, because I already told them to bring her home."

"Atta girl." I giggled like a ten year old, hung up the phone.

She was in the garage when I came home. Sitting Indian-style on a plastic tarp, sorting through her things. Her life's belongings piled into a half dozen garbage bags and an ancient blue chest, one side caved in from an angry boot. I knelt by her side. Watched as she thumbed through the pages of a dusty photo album, pictures of her mom.

A steady rain formed a veil across the open garage, the spatter of water on pavement like a steady applause.

When at last she spoke, the voice belonged to a stranger, for I hadn't heard from her in months. During that time she'd become a teenager. And yet, when she looked up, I saw The Girl who's wounded childhood had so captured our hearts. The Girl who could never return home. The Girl who's mother suffered from a severe case of schizophrenia, as did Danny Kaufman's from my book. As did mine...

"I'm tired of my things always getting thrown into garbage bags," she said.

"I'm tired of that too," I answered. "There's an empty dresser upstairs."

"I'm tired of bouncing all over the place. House after house. New schools, new rules, on and on."

"Our rules aren't so bad."

She hesitated, then, "So I'm staying here this time? For good?"

"If you'd like."

"Do I get my own room?"


"How about a TV?"

"Don't push your luck."

She grinned. I spotted a tear dangling from an eyelid. Then, "So I hear that you're a writer now. What's up with that?"

A chuckle rose from my throat, bounding out like an errant belch. "Yeah, something like that..."

We listened to the rain. Vehicles rolling by, each one carrying a unique drama all its own. Tires whining on wet pavement.

From inside the house, the sounds of Jason Castro's "Traveler" made quick work of lifting our spirits. My son the musician. His timing couldn't have been better if he'd planned the moment beforehand.

"So I'm home how?" she finally asked.

I swallowed. "Come on, let's unpack your things..."

Thanks for reading ;)

***Contest winners for those who followed along and supported my tour will be forthcoming!***



Sarah Pearson said...

Elliot, you've made me tear up. Every child should a home such as yours.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

May she find the peace her bruised soul has yearned for all these years. You and your wife are truly soldiers against the void -- the void that seems to swallow so many children these turbulent days. My prayers are with you, your new addition, and all your family, Roland

DEZMOND said...

a touching story as always, El!
Congrats on the successful end of the tour!

Cynthia Lee said...

Bless her heart. Congrats on the end of your tour!

Anne Gallagher said...

Just once Elliot, I'd like to laugh while reading your work, instead of cry.

I'm so happy for you, for The Girl. That's she's home now. You and your wife are such decent people. I could never do what you do. Takes a lot of guts.

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Sarah, thanks for your thoughts, the only problem is finding an hour or two of peace for that second WIP ;)

Hey Roland, I'm humbled by your support, thanks so much!

Hey Dez, thanks so much, the tour was exhausting, but as they say on the ball field, it's a good burn ;)

Hey Cynthia, she's getting better, more acclimated with every passing day. Thanks for your thoughts!

Hey Anne, believe it or not, I'm capable of penning quite the belly buster at times. I'll surprise you one of these days ;)


Annalisa Crawford said...

That's a lovely story.

Thanks for dropping by my blog - it's nice to meet you too!

Olivia J. Herrell said...

Yeeeeehaaaaaa! That's wonderful news, Elliot! Congratulations on your new addition and the end of your (I hope) successful book tour.

Sooo happy for you guys and especially for Her.

You are a rock star! that rebel, Olivia

Michael Offutt said...

Great story. I love the line about the centipede dancing on your spine. And for the record, those pumpkins are quite large.

Carolyn V said...

What an amazing story. Gave me goosebumps. Thanks so much for sharing.

Donna Hole said...

I'm so glad you reposted this story El. I was by about 2 hours after it first published, and couldn't read it. I'd been by several times; and was ready to leave you an e-mail asking you to send it to me that way :) Got distracted this weekend . .

I'm so happy everything is working out for your family and this intriguing young lady. You two seem to understand each other naturally. You have my best wishes that everything works out as you hope and she can use garbage bags for their intended purpose.

Happy landing pretty girl :)

Good luck to you all . .

And congratulations on a successful tour El. So many wonderful posts, filled with intriguing tidbits about one of my favorite author's. Well done Sir.


Rebecca Bradley said...

How utterly lovely

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Annalisa, and if fate has anything to do with it, she won't drive my wife and I outta our minds before graduating from high school ;)

Hey Olivia, there's been an adjustment period, all of us dealing with the nuances of a second teenager in the house, but we're getting there ;)

Hey Michael, thanks for stopping by, and yes, those pumpkins weighed on average of three hundred pounds.

Hey Carolyn, goosebumps translates into a compliment as far as I'm concerned! Thanks so much ;)

Hey Donna, yes, her and I have a rare kind of understanding that's normally shared between a father and his biological son. The similarities of our pasts will hopefully generate a positive bond for our future. Thanks for your thoughts ;)

Hey Rebecca, thanks so much for your thoughts, and for stopping by!


~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I love the emotional element that infuses your writing. I was captivated while reading this. Congrats on the book tour and the new addition to your family.

GigglesandGuns said...

Oh Elliot, Bless you and your family for helping a troubled soul.
Prayers with you all.

Jennifer said...

This was just beautiful....beautiful words, beautiful people, beautiful souls. Much love to you and your family.

Lola Sharp said...

YAY!!!!!!! I'm so happy for her. Every child deserves a forever family...and unconditional love.

Love the photo...they're all beautiful.

Anonymous said...

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Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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