You Gave Me a Mountain Ch. 02byDG Hear©
Thank you for all the feedback. Thanks goes out to my editors, LadyCibelle and Techsan, for their making my story a much better read.
There I was sitting in the little cafe listening to 'You Gave Me A Mountain' for the fourth time. The waitress walked up and said, "Josh, don't you think you listened to it enough times?"
I looked up and there stood Sherry. My best friend from the past. She had tears in her eyes when she looked at me. Me, I was damn near in shock.
When I had first come into the cafe, the waitress poured me a cup of coffee, said they were changing shifts and it would be a minute. I had told her that it was no problem and I would sip my coffee and listen to a few tunes till the new waitress arrived.
I had been back in town for two weeks now. I met with the banker and set up an account that both my grandparents and I could draw on for the farm business if needed. Grandpa said he wouldn't take something for nothing and made me half owner in the farm. He said when he and grandma passed on that it would all go to me.
I can't tell you how good that made me feel. We kept on the farmhand that grandpa had hired. He was doing a pretty a good job and with the both of us working it made the job a lot easier. I didn't want grandpa putting in so many hours.
We never talked much 'bout the past unless it was about the farm. I guess none of us wanted to bring up bad memories. The farm life is one that a person has to love. It's all about growing something from nothing and raising animals. When I was a kid, I would have never thought that this would be what I wanted to do with my life.
I bought myself a used pickup to get around. I was headed to the feed store; before I left, I had told my grandma that I was going to look around the town a little. Even though I hadn't been around for ten years, the town didn't change much. Sure, there were a few new buildings and a few of the older ones torn down, but as a whole it pretty much looked the same as I remembered it. I decided to stop in at the cafe for lunch.
When I saw the waitress was Sherry, I was nearly shell-shocked. The last ten years never hurt her a bit. She was still as cute as I had always remembered.
"How have you been, Josh? I heard you were moving back into town."
I just stared at her for a few seconds. "Hi, Sherry; if there was anything I ever missed from this old town, it was you. I'm sorry; I was just saying what I was thinking. It was rude of me."
"It's okay. I thought of you a number of times throughout the years also. Funny how lives are changed in an instant. If that asshole Buck would have left me alone, you might have never moved away and... Never mind, it's all in the past now. We both have our new lives now," said Sherry. "What can I get you to eat? The meat loaf is today's special. It's pretty good."
"That's fine. If you recommend it, I know it will be good," I smiled.
She left to wait on other people. It was lunchtime so I knew I wouldn't have time to talk with her. I wanted to know more about her. She didn't have a wedding ring on but I had a hard time believing that someone as pretty and nice as her wasn't hitched.
I wondered what she meant when she said new lives? She still lived here and was working in the cafe. Damn, I wish I knew what she meant by that!
When she brought my lunch, I asked her if we could talk some time, like we used to. She smiled and walked away. Later she stopped by my table with the bill and handed me another piece of paper. It had her phone number on it.
She said, "Call me any evening and maybe we can get together and talk. There's a lot I want to tell you and I want to know all about why you ended up in a prison. Yes, I heard about it and know you would have to have a good reason."
I didn't know what to think. She knew I was in prison, but still wanted to talk with me. I wondered what she wanted to tell me about her life. So many questions, but I had to finish my lunch and get back to the farm. I waved goodbye as I left the cafe. She was busy serving customers. She waved back and smiled. She put her hand up to the side of her head as though she was on the phone. I could read her lips when she said, "Call me."
When I got back to the farm I found out the tractor had broken down. Jed, our farmhand, and I spent the afternoon repairing it. We got it running and had to work late to catch-up on some of our work. We ate dinner and had to get back out and tend to the animals. By the time I got back inside it was too late to call Sherry.
I tossed and turned all night thinking about her. I don't really know why, but I figured there were so many unanswered questions. I didn't make it into town the next day to talk to her. I wanted to let her know that I was extremely busy the night before and figured it was too late to call her. As soon as I tended to the animals, I went back in the house and called her. I don't know why but I was very nervous when the phone rang.
I heard someone finally answer. It sounded like a very young boy. "Hello, Mikey here, who's this?" said the youngster.
I wasn't sure whether to say something or maybe I got a wrong number. "Hi, Mike, is there a Sherry there?" I asked rather quizzically.
I heard him yell through the phone, "Mommy, it's for you. It's a man."
"Hello, can I help you?" came the reply.
"Sherry, it's me, Josh. You said it was alright for me to call."
"Of course, silly. I thought you might call yesterday. I figured you might have changed your mind."
"The stupid tractor broke down and by the time I got in for the night I figured it was too late to call. Sherry, you're not married, are you? A little boy answered the phone and I heard him call you mom."
"That's one of the things I wanted to tell you about. Mikey's one of my pride and joys; he's five and thinks he's the man of the house. Molly's the other love of my life, she's three. Before I scare you, my husband was in the service and was killed over a year ago."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I know what it's like not to have a father - or a mother, for that fact."
"Josh, I didn't want to spring my kids on you. If you would just like for me to leave you alone, I'll understand."
"No, I like kids; I had one of my own for awhile. I really miss him."
"I don't understand," said Sherry. "Did he die, Josh?"
"No, it's a story I would prefer to tell you in person. It's pretty complicated; I really would like to see you. Would you like to get together at our old meeting hole, say Saturday around noon? You can even bring the munchkins and they can play while we talk."
"I'll have mom watch the kids Saturday, but I do want you to meet them. They're my life and I think they'll like you," said Sherry.
I laughed. "Yeah, your mom even hates me if I remember correctly. Wait till she hears you're going to come and meet with me."
"Mom never hated you. Dad did," laughed Sherry. "He's mellowed some and besides, I'm an adult woman with my own kids now. I make my own decisions and friends. You were always my best friend, Josh. I still feel at fault for you getting sent away in the first place."
"Bullshit! You weren't at fault for anything. If I had it to do all over again, I'd kick his sorry ass even farther."
"Thank you, Josh. I have two little ones to attend to now, so I'll see you at noon Saturday. It was nice talking to you, Josh."
"You too, Sherry. See you Saturday."
I had to wonder why she was so friendly to me. I've been stung so many times in my life since I last saw her that it was hard for me to trust anyone. I had to wonder if she knew about my inheritance. Besides grandma and grandpa, the only person who knew was the banker. Sherry was never that kind of person but I haven't seen her for over ten years either. I guess I would just have to be cautious.
Grandpa and I went to get some money to update some equipment and get extra money for planting extra crops.. We only needed a few thousand dollars. Instead of withdrawing the money, grandpa suggested to just borrow the money and use my inheritance as collateral. The banker agreed it was a wise idea. We could use income from the farm to pay back the loan and never have to touch the savings. I knew grandpa didn't want to use any of my money if he didn't have to. He was a really proud and honest person.
I worked hard getting things done on the farm the next couple of days. Jed turned out to be a really good worker. I was happy to have him employed on the farm with me. I knew gramps was happy with his work ethic also.
In the evenings, I thought about Sherry. I knew I really liked her when I was a teenager and I wondered just how much she had changed. Apparently, she was widowed and had two kids. I would just have to wait till Saturday. I did ask Jed if he knew her and he said that all he knew was she worked in her aunt's café. That was something new to me. I never knew her aunt owned the restaurant. Of course, as a kid, I really never went there.
He did mention that the few times he was in the café, guys would try to flirt with her but she always told them nicely that she wasn't interested. I didn't mention it but Jed was married and had a daughter who was a teenager. He and his wife just moved here about six months ago, so he wasn't really familiar with too many people in the area.
At noon on Saturday, I was walking along the pond and spotted Sherry sitting there on our old boulder. Even after all these years, this area never changed. I waved at a smiling Sherry as she waited for me at the big old rock.
She climbed off the rock and we hugged each other.
"How have you been?" I asked Sherry.
"Okay, I guess. What about you? Are you back for good?" she asked me.
"Yeah, I think so," I said. I really didn't know what to say.
"What's the matter, Josh? You look like something's bothering you."
"I've been wondering why you wanted to meet me. Is it because of the money?" I asked.
"Money? What money are you talking about?" asked Sherry.
"My dad's insurance money. I was wondering if you knew about it."
"Wait a minute! You think I wanted to see you because of some damn insurance money. I can't believe you! I can't believe I came all the way out here to see you and you accuse me of wanting some damn money."
"I'm sorry. It's just that..."
She was mad and had tears in her eyes. "I can't believe you thought that of me, of all people. I didn't know anything about your damn money. I saw you at the café listening to that song over and over and I remembered how much I used to care for you.
"You can just kiss my ass, Josh Evans! I never want to see you again."
She had tears in her eyes as she jumped up and ran across the field
"Sherry! Sherry, please let me explain. I'm sorry, God, I'm so stupid."
By then she was out of hearing range. I didn't know what to do or think. I made such a mistake in ever thinking that she would be less than honest with me. When I got home, I tried to call her over and over, but I kept getting the answering machine. I tried all day Sunday also, but she wouldn't answer. I left message after message but she never called back.
I didn't know where she lived for sure. If she still lived with her parents, I knew I couldn't go there under these circumstances. I rode by the café, but it was closed on Sunday. My grandma asked me what was wrong and I told her what I had said to Sherry.
"You always liked that girl, didn't you? She would ask me about you whenever I saw her. Of course there wasn't much I could tell her until the day I told her you were coming back to the farm to help grandpa."
"So she never knew about Dad's insurance check, did she?"
"No, no one knew except Bob at the bank and of course me and your grandpa. She must have wanted to see you just for you. Why don't you go see her at the café tomorrow and explain that it was just a misunderstanding? She really is a lovely girl," said grandma.
I remember her starting work near lunch time; I figured that she usually worked the afternoon lunch crowd, so I went in after I felt her shift had started. When she saw me come in she didn't come to my table. She sent over the other waitress. I told the girl that I wanted Sherry but she said Sherry had no desire to talk to me. I went ahead and ordered lunch just so I could watch Sherry.
How could I ever have been so stupid? Even mad she was such a pretty woman. I could tell she was talking a little flirty to a couple of the customers. I knew it was for my benefit. It did work a little, as I was a little agitated when I left.
I was back to the restaurant everyday to see Sherry. Everyday she acted about the same. I know I was getting to her. I could just feel the tension between us. Every time I would catch her looking at me, I would smile at her. She would quickly look away.
I decided not to go there on Thursday. I just stayed on the farm and worked. Grandma told me that I should not go there one day. She did say that she thought I should go on Friday and see if Sherry acted differently.
When I walked in on Friday, I saw Sherry take a quick look at me and just as quickly turn away. Sandra, the other waitress, whom I got to know seeing she waited on me all week, asked where I was yesterday.
"Who wants to know, you or Sherry?" I asked.
She didn't answer, but she did look over at Sherry.
"Listen Sandra, would you go and tell Sherry that I want to speak to her for a minute? Tell her if she doesn't want me here after today, I won't be back. She can bring me a bowl of chili with lots of crackers. If you bring me the chili, I'll have my answer."
Sandra waved to Sherry and they both went into the kitchen. It was a minute later when Sherry came out and set down a bowl of chili in front of me and reached into her apron pouch and pulled out a handful of crackers.
"What do you want, Josh?"
"I just want a chance to apologize. I was wrong! I was really wrong! I still have feelings for you after all these years and I misjudged you. Please talk with me!"
Sherry took a deep breath. "Can you come back here at six? We close then and we can talk. Right now I have customers to take care of."
"I'll be here, I promise," I smiled.
When it was time to get my bill, Sandra brought it to me. "She likes you, you know? Don't hurt her; she's been through a lot. She's my best friend and has been for years."
"Sandra, believe me when I say this. She's the last person in this world that I would ever want to hurt." I said it loud enough that I was sure Sherry heard me. I saw her smile at the lady she was waiting on. The woman wasn't even looking at her but was staring at the menu.
I came back at six, sat down and waited for the remaining customers to leave. Sherry got in my truck and we drove out to our rock.
"I'm so sorry for even thinking that you would use me in any way. It's just that you have always been so nice, pretty and sweet, and I guess I've always been me. Please forgive me."
"You did hurt me, Josh. You just seemed so sad and lonely listening to that song over and over."
"You Gave Me A Mountain?" I asked.
"Yes! It's so pretty yet so sad," said Sherry.
"It describes my life. I guess that's why I always listen to it. Right now, I want to hear about your life. I thought of you so often through the years. I often wondered what became of the cute little girl that I liked so much."
We climbed up on our boulder and sat side by side, just like we did when we were teenagers.
"Where do you want me to start?" asked Sherry.
"Anywhere, I just want to know all about you."
"Promise not to judge me? I've made a few mistakes in my life too."
"Me? Judge you? You've got to be kidding. So, what happened after high school? I figured you graduated. I remember you always saying how you wanted away from the little town and to make your splash in the big city; yet here you are still here."
"I left for awhile. Let me begin after high school. I began working for Aunt Ruth at the café. I went to community college during the morning and worked part-time at the café. It really is a nice place to work. Maybe because my aunt owns it," smiled Sherry.
"I dated a few guys that came in the cafe back then. We even got a few out-of-towners. That's where I met Joe Crawford. He came in from Boise at least once a month and we dated. He was a few years older than me, and of course was from the bigger city.
"Well, I made the mistake of having unprotected sex with him and Mikey was the result. Of course, he offered to marry me so we had a small wedding, just family, and I moved to Boise with him.
"He worked in an insurance agency with his father. I should say that his parents weren't overly fond of me. You know, the small town girl trying to trap their businessman son. Of course, it wasn't true. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have ever married him."
"What do you know now and didn't you say he was killed in the service overseas. I guess I'm pushing ahead too far aren't I?"
"First, I should mention that he belonged to the National Guard. He joined before I met him. He and his dad figured it would keep him home and look good for business at the same time. He didn't get that lucky. They called up the National Guard from his troop. He was surprised as hell that he would be going overseas. I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.
"I had Mikey and about eleven months later I was pregnant with Molly. Shortly after she was born, Joe got his papers that he would be going overseas. He went away for a few months of extra training and then was sent overseas. He was supposed to go for less than a year. About six months into his tour of duty, he was killed when a roadside bomb blew up the vehicle he was in.
"I don't think I mentioned that besides being a mother at home with the kids, I also worked part-time for his dad's insurance company. I had gotten my Associate Degree in secretarial work and I did most of my work when the kids were sleeping or playing.
"I was devastated when I received the call about his death. Here I was in a strange city with my two little kids. The only people I really knew were his friends and relatives. I wasn't close to any of them."
"My God, you climbed a few mountains of your own. I feel so sorry for you," I told Sherry.
"The biggest mountain is yet to come," Sherry told me.
I had to wonder how much worse it could get than beeing in a strange town, almost alone with two small children.
"Life in the big city was nothing like I imagined when I was growing up. The bright lights and big parties and going out dancing all the time wasn't on my itinerary. It might look good on the TV but wasn't that great in real life. I was afraid to go out and my husband was away in the service. Before that, he was gone all the time. I might have been in a larger city but I was very lonely.
"I thought about you often and how it must be in a prison. Probably a hundred times worse than I had it. I even felt bad like I was cheating on Joe by thinking of you. I was married and thinking about another man. Now looking back, that probably helped me survive.
"Okay, here it goes. You have to promise me that you will never, ever, tell another soul what you are about to hear. Do you promise?"
"Of course I promise. If you want me to keep it a secret, I can do that," I told Sherry.
"I just want you to know the truth. The only other people I've told are my parents and Susan."
"I promise, Sherry; may God strike me down if I ever tell a soul."
"I was at Joe's funeral. Of course, I had Mikey and Molly with me. After all, it was their dad that was killed. The funeral home had a nursery and watched the kids most of the time. I would go in every once in a while to check on them. Of course, you have to realize the circumstances of how I felt. I had no idea what I was going to do.