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Small Dude, A fictional short story, Part 6
The twin boys had made instant friends with the dogs, and after asking permission from their parents, the whole menagerie disappeared outside to play.
Virgil couldn't get over his meeting Maria-Helena, and he kept looking at her from the corner of his eye, still in shock, as if she wasn't real. Eventually, the rest of the group moved outside too, it was such a beautiful day ! Naturally, evreybody gathered around the newly restored Jeep truck. They all had something nice to say, and Virgil received a lot of compliments on his work, as well as more hugs and kisses from everybody. Maria-Helena gave him a hug too, for the first time and he felt a little uneasy about it, definitely troubled. Emotions were visibly running very high, especially as they admired Carmen's smiling portrait on the passenger's door. Maria was crying silently as Jorge held her, his arms wrapped around her shoulders. There was a long moment of silence that even the dogs respected, knowing instinctively that something intense was taking place. No one would dare to speak and everyone got lost in their own thoughts for a few minutes. Virgil finally broke the silence, bringing relief to the whole group :
- "OK everybody, let's go back on the porch and cook some burgers. Anybody hungry ?" The twin boys cheered,bringing a smile to everyone's face. "We got plenty of time to look at the truck later, and Jorge, I want you to take it for a spin this afternoon. Tell me if you remember how it drives. And Carlito and Javier, you get your turn too, only on the dirt road though, but you get to drive it too :
- "What about me?" said Vega. She looked very pretty in her red dress showcasing her black hair.
- "you too, everybody gets to drive Carmen's truck". That was the first time her name had been said aloud and suddenly, the whole conversation stalled again. Maria-Helena, sensing the delicate situation, came to the rescue :
- "Okay, who wants a burger and who wants a hot dog? We have some potato salad and some mixed greens salad too". Even her voice was reminiscent of Carmen's. Slowly, everybody started talking again, and Virgil lead the group away from the truck, in direction of the porch where fragrant smoke was now coming out of the grill.
Suddenly, the noise of an strident Italian horn pierced the air and a cloud of dust appeared from the dirt road as a fast car was approaching the cabin. The driver applied the emergency brake and turned the wheels sharply at the same time and the car drifted sideways for a few yards. Just as you see in the movies ! After the dust settled some, a strongly built man painfully extracted himself from the car. Virgil almost ran towards the newcommer with a large smile on his face. Both men started hugging, tapping each other's back for a long time :
_ "Good to see you my brother, Virgil said to Vinnie Jones, I'm so glad you could make it. You have no idea how happy that makes me".
- "I'm glad to see you too, lieutenant!"
- "Please, Vinnie, no more of that crap OK, the name is Virgil and nobody's pulling rank anymore. You are my comrad in arms, my brother, my friend, all right ?"
- "Sir, yes, Sir", Vinnie answered, mimicking a military salute. And then seriously :
- " I brought my Mamma along, I couldn't leave her alone, is that all right ?"
- "Of course, it's all right, my friend, where is she ?"
- "Right here in the car" Vincent said as they both walked back toward the Silver Chevy Chevelle. As they reached the passenger's side, Virgil realized there was a tiny human form inside. Vinnie opened the door and the most frail little black lady you have ever laid eyes on got out of the car, Vinnie holding both her hands so she wouldn't fall back :
- "Welcome to Florida, Ms Jones" said Virgil, I'm glad you came along. Did you have a good trip ?"
- "Oh yes, my son is a very good and careful driver". She had a soft soothing voice and a great friendly smile.
- Well, he could have fooled me, the way he got here " Virgil said with a wide smile. Then he proceeded to introduce the Conrero family to the Jones family. They had all heard about one another but had never met before. Virgil said to the Conreros :
- "Let me introduce you my brother in arms Vinnie Jones and his Mamma, from Valdosta, Georgia" Virgil said with a big smile as he had promised himself to beat Vinnie to saying it. And then :
- "Ms Jones, Vinnie, this is Carmen's family. And he introduced everyone individually, to the exception of the twins who had disappeared in the woods in company of the dogs. Because he didn't expect Vinnie's Mom nor Maria-Helena, Virgil thought about killing two birds with one stone by putting her in charge of reworking the sleeping arrangements. Proud of his good idea, he approached her :
- "Maria-Helena, I'd like to ask a favor of you,if you would ". He was nervous !
- "I'll be glad to help if I can" she said, holding eye contact with Virgil for a split second too long, which didn't escape him. And he proceeded to explain to her what he expected. She said she'd be glad to oblige. And she walked away. She returned about ten minutes later, holding a writing pad and started to explain :
- "All right, we have three bedrooms, so Ms Jones will take one, Jorge and Maria the one with an extra bed so the baby, meaning the seven years old girl can stay with them, and in the blue room with two queen beds, we'll put Vinnie in one bed and the twins will share the other. I'm sure Vinnie won't mind and if anyone can keep those boys in check, that would be him. Then Vega can sleep on the couch in the great room. Which leaves you and I and I thought we could sleep outside on the porch in those folding beds you have...
- "Wow, you certainly did your homework, thank you. Everything sounds fine to me. What don't you post your plan near the front door so everybody can see where they go" Then, he gave Maria-Helena a big smile while looking at her straight in the eye. She was wearing a loose pair of jeans and a light blue oxford shirt with an old pair of once white sneakers. Her hair was flowing around her head everytime she made a move and Virgil couldn't help but think of her as attractive. Very attractive !
In the meantime, Vinnie had taken charge of the barbecue operations outside, and a delicious smell of grilled meat floated in the air. Little by little, the whole group gathered around the grill, Vinnie goofing off with the utensils, mimicking one of those chefs you see on television. Mamma Jones didn't miss any of her son's moves, amused and carrying on her face her unconditional love for her son. Samson and Titus were sitting at Vinnies feet, both drooling heavily at the prospect of getting some of that wonderfully smelling chow. Maybe ! Then Vinnie ordered everyone to sit at the table, large enough to accomodate them all. He then transferred the cooked food onto two large dishes that he set on the table, while Maria-Helena and Vega came out of the cabin, both carrying a gigantic salad bowl. Virgil brought an assortment of drinks from the refrigerator, sodas, beer, and iced tea. He sat at one end of the table and even though he was not a religious man he said :
- "Let's pray !" Everybody held hands. "Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful gathering of family and friends and for the abundance of food. Please bless this assembly of people and provide for those less fortunate than us. We do pray you for our dear departed Carmen, hoping she is by your side, as for the way we see things from here, she certainly deserves it. We all loved her, so please, take good care of her". When he said "Amen" his voice was trembling as he was fighting his tears back .In the most natural, uncalculated way, Maria-Helena was sitting next to her host and during the prayer, they held hands. But when the blessing was over, neither one seemed to be in a hurry to let go of the other's hand...
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns