A Helping Handbyvictoriawhita©
SOME tears slipped out of Victoria's eyes unbidden as she closed the door of the craft shop she'd come to think of as her second home. She brushed them away as she walked toward her car. She just needed to make it home and then she could let all the tears out. She didn't look back as she walked away. Would it be possible to get around town and avoid this street for a while so she wouldn't have to be reminded.
VICTORIA was glad the parking lot was mostly empty, so no one would notice her tears. It had been snowing and she pulled her coat around her tighter to stay warm. She'd have to use the same coat for another winter. Now with loosing her job she wouldn't be able to afford that new coat she had been eyeing in the window, or the trip to her parents for Christmas. She couldn't think about that now, or she would really start crying. The tears made her cheeks feel even more cold and she continued to brush them away as they trickled from her eyes.
HER job had fit her perfectly and had been a God-send. Alexandra was a friend and a co-worker and and found her the job. Working at the craft store was interesting, and allowed her to meet lots of people, paid well, and gave her a discount on supplies for her own scrapbooking and cross stitching addictions. The store wasn't doing well, and as the newest employee she was also the first to be cut. She tried not to be angry at Alexandra as she reached for her keys, but it was hard not to take this personally.
THE keys were usually in the front pocket of her purse. Where were they? She reached for the door handle to see if she had left the car unlocked? No, it was firmly locked. She must have just been distracted and placed them in her bag instead and she searched her bag. It must have been snowing a while, the snow had piled up on the windshield. Victoria wasn't a winter person and got no joy out of cleaning off the car and waiting for it to warm up. The tears flowed freely now as the frustration inside her built. She stepped forward to place her bag on the hood of the car to look better but as she did so her right foot slipped on some ice.
JERRY came to this strip mall every Friday at the same time. He would pick up his cleaning and drop off his clothes for the week and get his errands done. He had spent more time visiting with Mr. Wong in the cleaners then he wanted. As he started the car again he let the car sit for a while to warm up and spied a young woman leave the craft store. She seemed upset as she walked across the near empty parking lot. His first thoughts were how beautiful she was. But she seemed to be upset and crying. He wondered what happened?
JERRY was ready to pull away when he saw her slip on the ice. Jerry quickly got out of his car and went to her, offering her his hand. "May I be of some assitance?" he asked as he noticed her desheveled appearance from the fall. She looked up at the stranger talking to her. She's hoped she could be alone in her humiliation but even that wasn't possible. Her tears continued stronger this time from the humiliation and the pain in her ankle.
THINKING to himself, she is even more beautiful up close. He couldn't tell the color of her eyes because she tried to avoid eye contact. Her long, curly hair made him want to run his fingers through it. Her face looked so sad he promised himself he would give her something to smile about. He reached down and helped her to her feet. Brushing the snow off her well worn jacket. She looked liked she was freezing. Is that all she had to keep herself warm?
JERRY'S heart melted, he wanted to help her as he saw her tears and hands shaking. He didn't know why or how, but he knew that he must help her through this ordeal. She tried to gracefully to stand on one foot wincing as she put pressure on the other foot. She forced the tears to stop and after self consiously wiping her tears she looked into the face of her rescuer.
HIS eyes caught her attention first. They were filled with kindness. His hair was short with some gray in it. He was certainly older then herself. He was handsome and wore a winter coat that looked to be eternally warm for the cold seemed to have no affect on him. She smiled, not because the pain had eased but because his eyes seemed to tell her that he was safe.
HE must have thought she was feeling better though because he let go of her arm which forced her to place weight on her twisted ankle and she cried out in pain. He grabbed for her again with both arms to steady her. She caught his arm before she could fall again. The only good part of this pain was that he would think the pain was from the ankle only and she wouldn't have to explain her internal pain.
"WHERE does it hurt?" He asked. The kindness in his voice matched the kindness in his eyes. SHE wanted to tell him about all her pain but wasn't very good at asking for help, instead said, "I seem to have twisted my ankle. If you can help me get in the car I can get home and get some ice on it." She didn't want to inconvenience this kind stranger any more than needed.
"I don't think you should put any weight on it at all. I don't think you're in any shape to drive," he spoke softly.
"OH, I'm sure it will be fine once I get out of this freezing weather." she spoke more harshly then she meant to. She could feel herself on the edge of tears and needed desperately to have a good cry and she preferred it to not be in front of this stranger again.
"WELL, at least let me clean off your car and get it started for you. Give me your keys." His kind voice didn't show that he had noticed her harshness. She fumbled in her purse, looking for her keys and trying to maintain her balance. She was starting to get into a panic because the keys weren't there. She was unable to restrain her tears. This was too much.
"I can't find my keys." Victoria said through the sobs.
"YOU need to get warm, come sit in my car. You can look for them there." Guiding her the short distance to his now warm car, Jerry helped her in the front seat. Feeling her next to him, hearing her sobs, and knowing she was in such pain was having a profound affect on Jerry. He couldn't remember when the last time a woman made him feel this way.
"YOU can empty your purse onto the front seat there and look for your keys. While you are doing that, I will clean off your car." Victoria looked up, tears streaming down her face, and could only nod. Taking the brush from his car, Jerry started to clean off her windows. As he cleaned the driver side window, he noticed the keys still in the ignition. He tried each door but the car was securely locked and with the weather as bad as it was, there would not be anyone available for hours to help her, except himself.
WALKING back to his car, Jerry slid into the front seat next to her. She looked as if she had the troubles of the world on her shoulders. Too much pain for one so young and so beautiful.
"EXCUSE me Ms, I found your keys." She looked up surprised as his words. "They are still in your car."
SEEING her look of disbelief and continued sobs, Jerry reached out and touched her shoulder gently. knowing no words will ease her pain, but a soft touch might. "I don't believe I have introduced myself yet, I am Jerry." He reached down and grabbed her hand. His were large and warm, hers, small and cold. Their eyes met again and she saw kindness and warmth. He saw beauty and pain.
SHE responded, "I am Victoria. Thank you for all that you have done, but I am taking up too much of your time. You have been very kind."
"NONSENSE Victoria, I have nothing but time. It's okay to ask for help. What kind of gentleman would I be if I left a beautiful damsel in distress alone in the cold." Laughing lightly. "Why don't I drive you home, you can put your foot up, call for a locksmith, and I will come back to wait for him."
HE wanted to get to know her better. He wanted to know what is causing her so much pain. He knew he could help, he must help. Victoria couldn't respond right away. She had no idea what to say. She knew she should probably get out of the car immediately but it was so warm, and his eyes were so kind. Maybe she could just rest here a moment and then she could think more clearly.
SEEING the confusion in her eyes, Jerry rests his hand on her shoulder again, "Listen Victoria, you need help right now. I know that you are hesitant to receive help from strangers, but in this case you don't have much choice. Your ankle needs attention and your keys are locked in your car. Please let me help you. I promise I will be the perfect gentleman."
VICTORIA felt numb from all that has happened to her. She nodded slowly to the man next to her. She wished he would take her hand, she felt so weak and needed something strong to hold on to, "I hate to admit that you are right. If you have time I will at least take you up on your offer for a ride to my apartment." Jerry was relieved and smiled.
"DIRECT my humble chariot and I will take you home."
"IT'S only an apartment. I live at 1429 Maple, next to Doppins Deli," she said as she slumped back into the seat. Jerry put the car into gear and began the trek to her home through the thickening snow. The trip was made in almost silence. Both were filled with thoughts, but neither wanted to relate them to the other.
JERRY'S thoughts were jumbled. So many things were running through his mind. He wondered what happened in the Craft Store that caused her to start crying. and hoped she'd continue to let him help her. She looked so beautiful and so vulnerable. He wondered if she would ever want to be with an old man like him.
VICTORIA closed her eyes but instead of worrying about the pain she thought about how handsome her rescuer was. She turned her head toward him to see if he was wearing a wedding ring. He wasn't. Why was she so relieved? She had started to believe all the good men were taken. She noticed his hands looked strong and she relaxed. THEY arrived at her apartment without further incidence, Jerry helped her out of the car. She winced when she put her foot down, crying out. Without asking or listening to her protests, Jerry lifted her into his arms and carried her to her door. Thinking to himself how she had fit perfectly into her arms. Setting her down carefully while holding her arm he remembered, "Let me guess, your apartment key is in your car?"
SHE looked up at him, seeing the awareness of a potential problem registered on his face. She smiled slightly, "I always keep a spare in my purse pocket." Finding it and handing it to him. She unlocked the door but when she started to open it, he again picked her up and carried her in. He noted that there were no objections this time. He set her down gently on her couch.
HE helped her with her coat before propping her foot on some pillows. Getting some ice for her ankle was the first order of business and he didn't wait for her permission to get some ice from the kitchen. Her apartment had a lived in feel to it. He could tell from comparing the living room to the kitchen that she knew how to make a house a home but needed help with the dishes. "I like your place. I feel comfortable here," he said as he tucked the ice around her ankle, "There now, that should get you settled enough for the time being. Let's call that locksmith, and I will go back and wait for him." He kept his hand rested on her leg enjoying the closeness to her.
SHE remembered how close she was to tears before but now the presence of this man made her forget that she had lost her job, and she enjoyed every moment of this attention. This certainly didn't happen often and she probably wouldn't ever see him again.
"I'D feel terrible if you went out of your way even more tonight. I'll take care of things in the morning. You've already done so much." She hoped she sounded more insistent then she felt. She selfishly didn't want to deal with the snow, the locksmith, or seeing 'her shop' tomorrow with a sore ankle. She leaned forward and put her hand on his saying, "Thank you for all you've done. You may have restored my faith in men. I won't forget you."
SHE withdrew her hand and she almost wished he hadn't promised to be a gentleman. She had made no such promises. She must seem like such a baby to him, why would he even look twice at her. Her kind gesture only reaffirmed his decision to help her more. Jerry was falling for this young woman. He had not felt this way in a long time. HE had made up his mind that he would continue to help her until she kicked him out. "I won't have you up and around on your ankle tomorrow. Impossible," he decided to just take charge and not give her a choice. "Where is the phone book?" He easily found it before she had a chance to answer.
SHE tried to make objections but he brushed them aside with his hand and dialed the number. He seemed to have forgotten about her as he made plans and headed back out the door. Oddly, she didn't want him to leave. He promised to return with the keys shortly, and she trusted that he would. And if he was up to no good and the keys never returned, she knew she could turn in a very detailed physical description of the handsome man.
NOW that he was gone the full weight of the day hit her again. The tears started again as she thought about her lost job and her car stuck out in the snow. But the couch was comfortable and Jerry's smile still kept her warm. She didn't mean to fall asleep on the couch but she did.
JERRY returned with the keys. It had taken a while and he wasn't sure what to do to return the keys. He knocked lightly on her door, but he didn't hear Victoria's voice. Would it be okay if he let himself in? He didn't want her hobbling to the door and hurting her ankle more. He used the key to let himself in. She had fallen asleep on the couch. The ice had fallen off and was laying on the floor. She looked so peaceful.
HONESTLY he had hoped for a chance to get to know her better and had lots of questions to ask. No, this wasn't the time. He looked around for a blanket to spread over her. Well, he at least had a good excuse to satisfy his curiosity to see her bedroom. She did need a blanket if she would spent the night on the couch. The desk overflowed with crafts. Well, that explained the craft store.
THE room was nicely decorated, and there was lots of photographs around. He grabbed the comforter from the unmade bed. He hadn't thought she could be more beautiful but she was. He knelt beside her, spreading the comforter around her, and couldn't resist a kiss on her cheek. He hoped he hadn't stepped out of her defenition of a gentleman but he didn't regret it.
JERRY wrote her a note saying he would make arrangements to pick up her car tomorrow morning. And he would be by to check on her. HE whispered, "Good Night my angel," as he slipped the keys back into his pocket, walked out and locked the door behind him.
JERRY was up bright and early the next morning. He wanted to get his things done so he could take a cab to pick up Victoria's car. He hardly slept all night. All he could think about is this heavenly angel he had met yesterday. He dreamed about kissing her, holding her in his arms, taking care of her. If he continued to think about her, he wouldn't get anything done. So he busied himself and finished his tasks in record time.
HE called for the cab and waited. The cab whisked him away to the strip mall where Victoria's car was parked. He brushed off the snow and started the car. He decided to stop and pick up breakfast for her along the way. He arrived a little after 9 AM wondering if she was awake.
JERRY lightly tapped on the door and listened. He heard a faint voice say, "Who is it?" "IT'S me, Jerry. I'm coming in." Not wanting her to get up, he used the key to open the door. "I brought your car over and decided to pick some breakfast up. Hope you like bagels and cream cheese?"
SHE must have stayed on the couch the whole night because everything was as he left it. "Good Morning Sunshine, how are you feeling this morning?"
"OH, much better, thank you." She had read his note and hobbled around enough to get her long hair under control. She had wanted to look good if he came by but didn't want to give away her anticipation. She had learned that he was a man who would get whatever he wanted. She couldn't help but wish that he wanted her. She had settled back down to the couch and was reading a book when he arrived.
SHE tried to stand as he entered, trying to appear strong. She hadn't anticipated how much it would hurt. Her pain was strong enough that she couldn't hide it. She cried out as softly as she could while slipping down onto the couch. Jerry quickly moved to her. He sat on the coffee table opposite her.
"YOU don't need to be brave for me. It's obviously still hurting. Let's put it up again." He lifted her foot beside him onto the coffee table. He kept his hand resting on her ankle rubbing his thumb on it while she talked.
"I really can't thank you enough for all that you've done for me. I'm terribly embarassed that I need so much taking care of, but I'm also terribly grateful to you. Thank you." She owed so much to this handsome man. She wanted him to know that.
"I wish I could kiss it all better," he replied. She felt her cheeks blush at his comment. Imagining kissing this man was what she first imagined as he had walked into the room. Could he read her thoughts? Were they his thoughts too? HE grinned as he turned their attention to the bag of bagels he had brought. It was fun to see her blush. He wondered how he could help her with not only her ankle but her inner pain as well. She seemed to want to appear self-sufficient. He handed her a bagel and placed the orange juice on the arm of the couch where she could reach it.
"THAT was very sweet of you to think of returning with a breakfast in hand. Are you always this thoughtful?" She hoped her question would lead to finding out more about this man.
"I aim to please," he replied lightheartedly.
"SORRY I fell asleep on you last night. How did it go with the locksmith and picking up the car? Although I certainly had no expectation that you would do either." She felt he had gone above and beyond her expectation. Maybe this is a taste of true chivalry.
"THE car is safe and sound, and open, in front of your apartment. And here are your keys." He handed her the keys, a little reluctant to give up this piece of her life. She was obviously hungry and maybe hadn't even had supper the night before. The bagel disappeared quickly.
"YOU are my knight in shining armour. Thank you." She leaned forward and rubbed her hand on his knee. "So Jerry, you're not going to leave me here alone are you? A whole day with my foot up is no fun without someone to enjoy it with." He grinned at her comment. It was exactly how he had planned on spending his day but hadn't known how to ask her. Taking care of his beautiful Victoria.
HE was happy that she had remembered his name. "I have no other plans for the day, so I guess I'm all yours," he meant that in more ways than one. He placed his hand again on her ankle, stroking it gently. The touch of her skin sent shivers through his whole body.
TURNING back to her, Jerry touched her cheek "Victoria, I'd feel honored if you told me about your tears yesterday."
VICTORIA eyes him suspiciously before answering. What could he mean? "I guess I hurt my ankle more then I thought I had, and the tears came because of the pain in my ankle."
"NO Victoria, I wasn't talking about those tears but the ones that you were crying before you fell down," Jerry answered. "Listen Vicotria, I know I am a stranger to you. We just met yesterday under other than optimal circumstances. But, sometimes it is best to let it out." He said this earnestly, wanting to make her more comfortable, wanting to help. Smiling he said, "Telling me all your sorrows may help with that bad ole ankle. I am a great listener, and I can't think of anyone I would rather listen to then you Victoria."