A Man on an Island Ch. 07byTaLtos6©
***This is the last chapter of this story. In a little time - in the story after this - some of these characters will appear in "A Red Maple Leaf & Ten Orchids" which will restart shortly and go to its conclusion.
The conversation was difficult and just a little tearful for Cale and very tearful for his daughter. Samantha had been through a lot in the last couple of years and some and that involved a lot of quick growing up, but she now recognized that she was perhaps not the center of the known universe. He didn't ask, but he learned that his ex-wife had died of cancer the year before last. Hearing this, he was far more concerned about how his daughter had handled it -- and as it had turned out, she'd done not too badly.
"I already took your advice and I decided that I needed more education," she said, "Then I sat down and thought about everything. I found out how much support you'd been paying and then I waited. Mom always used to pick these fights with me ,so the next time that she flew into a rage, I asked her where the money was -- what you'd paid and I demanded to see how it had benefitted me, other than to keep her drunk and sleeping.
She'd invested a lot of it, so I told her that I wanted my share -- something so that I could go to school."
"Did she give you anything?" Cale asked, but Samantha said no.
"Not at first," she said, "but I got all there was when she died. She left everything to me, and most of it was a mess, but between that and what I'd saved from working, I got it done.
I'm not ready to take on the world quite yet, or anytime soon," she said, "but I'm now a registered animal groomer and I know my way around a vet's office. The trouble is that I haven't found any work yet, and I'll be out of an apartment by the New Year."
Her voice dropped off a bit then, "I know that I haven't been the best experience in fatherhood for you Dad, and I never really understood until I found the letters that you'd written to me -- boxes of them - and then I began to get a clue that maybe my life wasn't all your fault.
I wanted to call you a long time ago and, ... well, Taylor isn't exactly a distinctive name. There aren't very many Cale Taylors around, but you don't list your name like that, and I was stuck looking at a lot of C. Taylors, so it took a while, and then I had a short list of about fifty in this province, after I separated out the ones in the city or in places that I knew that you wouldn't be living.
I only got up the nerve to start calling this month, since I won't have anywhere to live soon. Look Dad, I know that I always asked you for money, and I was pretty much a spoiled shit to you about it before, but is there any way that you can help me a little?"
She sniffled, "God, I feel like such a creep to even ask ..."
Sylvia watched Cale as he thought while speaking to Samantha through the entire call and the look that she saw there made her get up to bring him a pad of paper and a pen. They exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, and during a part where they were just talking a little, Sylvia took the pad and wrote a few things. When he saw that she'd written, he smiled and she beamed back at him.
"Sam?" he asked, "Listen, this call is going to jack your bill like crazy. Can you handle horses, grooming and regular handling?"
"Sure," she said, "why?"
Samantha loaded up her ancient Forerunner with all of her worldly possessions. Her 'apartment' was really only a room that she rented, and after selling off everything that she could after her mother's death so that she had money to live while she went to school and worked at whatever she could find, there hadn't been much left and she didn't need or want most of what there was. She had a very few things that were dear to her, like her little notebook PC. She'd wanted a regular laptop but if she'd learned anything while being on her own in life, it was that being frugal was like chicken soup as a form of medicine - in almost all cases, it couldn't hurt.
She was so glad now that she'd made the effort to try to find her father. There had been a couple of phone calls over the last two days, and a ton of emails and for the first time in a long time, she felt a little hope. She had nothing too specific to go on, other than the possibility of some work to start with for someone named Sylvia, who she surmised was her father's girlfriend by the sound of it.
She locked everything up and handed in her key as she walked outside. The weather looked like shit on the way and she was headed off to fill her tank before she left town. Her wheels had been a stroke of good luck. The thing didn't look like all that much, but mechanically, it was far better than sound, since the previous owner had wanted it for off-road play originally. The gas mileage wasn't great, but as ugly wheels go, the thing was a tank.
With a full load of gas, she was off on the first part of this strange little journey, on her way to the airport to collect someone who was arriving from the UK after living in Yorkshire for a couple of years. Beyond that, she had a map and from what she'd heard, this Siobhan person was on her way to the same place that she was and had grown up there, so directions shouldn't be a problem, since she'd have a guide.
The traffic and the parking around the airport were the first challenges, and she found herself running as she looked for the Arrivals area, once she'd figured out which terminal she needed to be in. Her time cushion had been almost eaten up in all of the farting around.
Sylvia's daughter was almost the last one on the flight to clear Customs and she worried a little. The flight had gotten off late and they'd arrived even farther behind schedule. But she took it as a bit of a blessing, knowing her luck that the flight hadn't been scrubbed or diverted to another airport due to the approaching storm. That was going to be an adjustment, she thought. She hadn't been home during the winter in two years.
She also wondered about her transportation home. She'd been prepared to be met by her mother, but the plans had changed almost at the last minute, and now she was going to be picked up by a stranger. Her mother had said that Christmas had sort of snuck up on her this year and she'd be in town picking up groceries and doing some last-minute shopping.
When she stepped out of the baggage pickup area, she was looking at an almost-empty Arrivals hall due to a delay in the arrival of the next incoming flight. The people that she did see were leaving for the most part. Siobhan was getting a sinking feeling.
But then she saw someone running down the length of the hall, and when she saw that there was almost nobody there, the person slowed and looked around.
Samantha thought that maybe she was in the wrong place again. The name of the person that she was to meet wasn't one that she'd ever heard before and she had a vague notion that it sounded a little East Indian or something and she saw almost no one like that here. There was only one young woman in sight, and she didn't look much like that, though she did have long dark hair.
Their paths took them each on a general course toward the other and Samantha finally just shrugged and held up her piece of cardboard.
To her amazement, the other woman nodded smiling and pointed to herself and they walked toward each other. "This is you?" Samantha asked, and she pointed to the last name to be sure.
"Yes," Siobhan smiled, "In person. Are you Samantha Fletcher?"
"Yup," she laughed a little, "Sam I am."
Siobhan smiled as she tried to develop more of a first impression out of what she saw. Sam was a little taller than she was, she guessed after mentally subtracting the footwear. The thick-soled punk boots gave her a few inches more and Sam's tight black jeans accentuated her leanness.
What Siobhan saw was leanness, though not necessarily thinness. She guessed that Sam had maybe two inches on her without the boots, and though she didn't look heavy in any way, there was a sense that Sam outweighed her by a fair margin somehow, and Siobhan didn't understand that -- though it was her impression all the same.
Siobhan wasn't large and the overall effect that she saw in Samantha was one of quiet confidence as she stood regarding her with violet eyes under short, spiky, died red hair that almost lit the area around her, she thought. That hair had a look that gave the impression that she might have woken up only an hour or so before, but she knew that it was only from a tube of styling gel.
She wore a short biker's jacket with about a ton of hardware hanging from it in various places that she could see where it peeked out from under an open lined and hooded jacket. Under that, Siobhan couldn't make out the lettering on the faded black T-shirt, though the spikes of the dog collar showing through the scarf that she wore sure held her eye for a moment. She looked down and noticed that Sam was wearing thin black leather gloves with cut-off fingers.
Black eye- liner over black eye-shadow gave her a striking look as did the two thin gold rings in her nose; one through her right nostril and one through the septum. Three earrings in her left ear and the five more hanging at various heights in the rim of her right ear completed the facial scenery for her -- oh, she thought, and there was that dull black lipstick which lent her lips the dusty texture of the inside of a black rose's petal.
Siobhan had seen and met many people of all sorts during her time in Europe, but she'd never seen this style here very much. She normally found those who followed the fashion to be a little self-destructive in their styles of recreation and so she'd never had much of any dealings with them at that level.
But she found that the liked Sam instantly -- even doubting after a moment that she could help it.
From Sam's side, there was something about this girl which told her that she had absolutely no business being in the heavily-industrialized and gritty urban environment where she herself could thrive. Her hair was long and an almost-black shade of deep brown and it hung around a face that seemed pretty in its features, though it could be said that none of those features were remarkable in their beauty.
The combination, however -- well that was strikingly so, and Sam found herself having to give Siobhan points for it. The rest of her was hidden in a long fall coat which Sam knew wasn't going to do very much to keep her warm, but she guessed that it was the best that the woman could likely do -- if she was coming from out of the English countryside where it grew cold in a damp sort of way and snowed little if anything more than a centimeter or two most times.
She smiled to herself. If this girl hadn't gotten a look outside through a window during their approach to land, she was in for one hell of a rude awakening in just a few minutes.
"How do you pronounce your name again? I'm sorry," Sam said, "but ..."
"Mac Domhnaill," Siobhan grinned, "It's Irish and Scottish. My mom says it in a more common and modern form for most people -- McDonnell - but I just make it a point to suffer through as people torture it."
"It sounds fine to me when it's spoken," Sam shrugged, "It just scared the crap out of me to try to read it and copy it down from the email that I got. I'm very sorry if I made you wait. I got hung up in traffic and parking."
"I didn't get out until only a couple of minutes ago," Siobhan said, "I think I was about the last one to be cleared. I was afraid that you'd come and gone without me." She saw the uncomfortable look and knew the cause right away, "You were asking more for my first name, weren't you?"
Sam looked down, "Yeah, sorry again."
"No worries, Sam," she said as she spoke her name clearly for her. "Hey, ever since I was little, I've been a real stickler over my name being spoken correctly. But that was then. If it makes it a little easier to remember, there is an Engish version. I can't imagine you being stuck in a car with me for an hour and having to struggle with a name that you'll forget as soon as we get going. Just call me Judy, ok?"
Sam stared then with a small smile just curling her lips, "Judy? That name translates to 'Judy'?" When Siobhan nodded, Sam laughed a little, "That is so cool. But I think I can get the hang of Siobhan.
We should get going though. The weather's getting worse and I guess we've got a drive ahead of us. It might be a good idea to hit the bathroom before we get on the road."
Siobhan nodded as they began to walk, "Unless they've made some huge changes to Airport Road, it could be quite a trip. The road goes through a few sets of hills and valleys. People are always testing the laws of physics there, thinking they can drive really well. It's alright most of the time, but worn tires, wet pavement, snow, well, let's just say that the road has claimed some victims; though that makes it sound like it's the road's fault somehow. There used to be a sign that listed the death toll on that road, along with the number of accidents. I think they put it there to get people to slow down," she shrugged.
Sam sighed, "Well we're not going to be blasting along it today, Siobhan, I can tell you that much for damn sure. I've been up and down it a couple of times before on my way to Wasaga Beach with my boyfriend at the time. Interesting scenery on a nice summer day. Now?"
She shrugged, "I guess we'll have to find out."
They took turns watching Siobhan's luggage while they used the lavatory and she got her next surprise as they neared Sam's truck. It had started out in life wearing a nice shade of dark blue. Now, the doors had both been replaced and they were different colors, just as the tailgate was when it had come out of a wrecker's yard to replace the original rusted-out one. The whole thing was flat black and ugly. But if anything, it looked purposeful and more than ready to make the drive which lay ahead of them.
"Nice," Siobhan said.
"You like it?" Sam asked, not really certain that it hadn't been sarcasm that she'd heard.
Siobhan laughed, "I love it!" She set her suitcase down and walked around it. The bumpers were long-gone, replaced by tubular steel push bars and there was an electric winch under a cover in front of the blacked-out grille. The thing sat up a little tall on its suspension and it wore heavily-cleated tires all around, "Oh, this is awesome."
She pointed to the two bumper stickers, "I get this one, but this other one, ... I don't know what it's about. I've been away for a couple of years."
There were two bumper stickers plastered a little casually across the tailgate. The first read, "Sorry for driving so close in front of you", and the one that gave her trouble read "Nobody cares about your stupid stick family."
"You'll see them around on the back windows of a lot of SUVs or vans," Sam grinned, "People glue these little stick figures there to represent their families, right down to the two dogs and a cat. It gets old after you've seen three, and you don't give a shit about their families any more than you know that they don't care about you and yours.
It's as stupid as the 'Baby on board' sticky things that people used to put on their cars -- when the baby wasn't there most of the time, and anyway, what are you going to do when you see yourself skidding toward the back of that car and you know that there's gonna be airbag deployment in another half-second because they've cut you off and then hit the brakes because there's nowhere to go in your lane either?
That's why I don't think that I'll ever paint this thing anything other than what it's wearing now. It might be butt-ugly but at least people know what they're gonna get when they see it coming." She grinned a little wickedly, "I always get the parking space and I don't know if she bought all the options and was grooving at the time, but I've really fucked up a lady's Hummer with this."
Siobhan laughed, "Really? A Hummer?"
Sam nodded, "They only look like they're the same as the Humvee that they use in the military down South. They're really no more solid than anything else -- and I've got those solid pushbars nailed right to the frame. She clipped me with her fender going by me and I had nowhere to go, but at least I was already on the brakes. I got whiplash and some scuffed paint. Her toy was a write-off with pieces of plastic scattered all over the road. I got me another fender and a can of black spray-paint the next day and I was back in business.
Besides, I kind of like the vintage Thunderdome look."
Siobhan smiled, "I think it suits you, Sam."
They put her luggage in the back, but then Sam began to rummage through one of her cardboard boxes for a moment. Siobhan was about to ask, but Sam handed her a heavy winter parka. "This used to be my boyfriend's but I kept it after we split up. That coat that you're wearing won't do you much good now Just put this over the back of the seat and it'll keep you warmer. When it's time to get out, just put it on then."
Siobhan thanked her and they got in. She got her first real look at the snowy world again at ground level as they exited the terminal parking and hit the streets.
"This is shit that I haven't seen in a couple of years," she said, "I can handle it -- I just don't have to like traveling on the roads when I have to."
Sam nodded as she hoped that the weather would thin out the traffic a bit. Her truck was a standard, and that was fine with her -- unless she had to sit in creeping traffic for long.
"Hey, how far up do we gotta go? I'm asking because I just remembered that there's a section up North of Cashtown Corners where they close the road so often during the winter that I guess they don't even bother to have a cruiser there to warn you. I've never been there in the winter, but I remember the sign that they have up there with lights on top of it. They just turn on those lights and you're screwed then. You can drive if you want to, but there'll be nobody coming for you if you get into trouble and your insurance is automatically void if you drive there then."
"I know the sign," Siobhan nodded, "We'll be turning off to the West not far before that. We're headed for the wild and woolly Mulmur Hills so that'll be even worse to drive on, but at least they don't close the roads up there too often, or nobody could get in or out until spring. This little beauty of yours has four-wheel drive and I assume that you know how to use it?"
"Hell yeah," Sam grinned, "This used to be my boyfriend's truck -- "
She looked over, "Different boyfriend.
Anyway, he owed me a lot, so he sold it to me for a couple hundred just before he went to jail, um, ... again. I really hope that he didn't expect me to be waiting for him when he got out. I didn't think much about it until later, but I think I was more in love with this truck than I ever was with him. At least it's a little fun in this when things get rough."
"This coat that I'm sitting on, "Siobhan began, "which um, ..."
There was silence then and when they looked at each other, they burst out laughing. "Other different boyfriend, right?" Siobhan grinned.
"Uh, yeah," Sam sighed, looking at the road a little uncomfortably for just a second.
Sylvia looked at the sky as they drove, "I know that it just makes more sense to have Samantha pick up Siobhan at the airport," she said, "since she has a vehicle to get them here and all, but this weather has me worried."
"I'm not totally comfortable with it either," Cale said, "but we did say that Sam might have a better Christmas here with us than alone in the city. It didn't sound to me as though she had anywhere to go. She said that she didn't know anybody where she lives. I'm afraid that I don't know her all that well myself, but she's my daughter, so ..."