I Will Love You Forever Pt. 2 Ch. 15bykalamazoo707©
Note: Just a very brief note to one thank all of you and two to let you know that there is no sex is this chapter. Happy New Year to all of you and may it be prosperous!!!
As the train pulled away, Isadora got another look at Saul. She looked over at Noah and took note of the thoughtful look on his face. Part of her wanted to know what he was thinking, but part of her didn't want to know. She turned her thoughts toward home and seeing her family and wondered if Noah had family to spend the holidays with.
"Mr. Jackson?" she called softly.
"Do you have plans for the holidays?" Isadora asked.
"No, I'm here on business." Noah replied.
"Would you like to come over to our house? There'll be plenty of food and mama says that there's always room for one more." Isadora said.
Noah didn't immediately respond. His plan was to meet with Whitman and a few others and then spend a quiet week at the hotel. He had thought about taking Whitman up on his offer to stay at his house, but a week with Whitman's wife glaring at him and hearing her snide comments was a little too much to bear. He knew that at some point, he would say something that would cause an argument and that he would tell Mrs. Whitman just what he thought of her.
"I think that I would enjoy that." He finally said with a smile. "I would also like to contribute to the meal." He added.
"There's no need for you to do that." Isadora replied. "Mama always makes enough to feed an army."
"Nevertheless, I insist." Noah replied.
A few minutes later, Isadora took one of the law journals out of her valise and began to read it. It was one that she had read before, but she didn't mind. She reread the notes that she had made in the corner and then the circled phrases that she hadn't really understood when she first read the journal. She noted with pride that she now understood each and every phrase and term.
Ever since she started school, she hovered between being a defense attorney and a prosecutor. The problem was that her people needed both. She wondered if it was possible to do both. If she saw Mr. Whitman, she would ask him about it.
She looked over at Noah Jackson. He was still very much an enigma to her. She had a ton of questions about him, but didn't ask. She knew that if she did, he would demand to know something about her. She turned her attention back to the Journal and began to read it. She missed the look that Noah Jackson gave her through the slits of his mostly closed eyes.
She reminded him so much of her...
'Her' was his daughter Evangeline who had been taken from him way to soon. If she had lived, she would have been Isadora's age... maybe a little older. She had that same natural curiosity about her and like Isadora, was very intelligent.
Noah felt the pang in his heart that he felt every time he thought about her and his wife Angela. Both of them were gone leaving him alone and with nothing except for his work. He pushed the feelings aside and thought about the young white man who had no qualms about doing menial labor. He recalled the day when Saul had gone to the defense of a fellow worker. He had a feeling about him then, as he did now. To this point, he had never helped a white person and wondered why.
Clearly the boy was no racist. He attended a black church, lived with a black family and did a job that was primarily held by blacks. There was one other thing. Noah noticed the way in which the boy looked at Isadora. It wasn't an outright look of interest, but the interest was there. He also wondered what they boy's story was. How he came to be in California and what his plans were. When he and Isadora got back, it was time to pay Brother Joshua and his wife a visit.
Saul helped one more family with their luggage before it was time for his shift to end. He was tired, hungry and wanted nothing more than to go home and go to bed. He checked on Harry to make sure that he was doing alright and headed toward home.
"Hey! Wait up!" Harry called after him.
Saul waited for the small, wiry black man to reach him.
"What way are you walking home?" He asked when he reached Saul.
"The way I always go home." Saul replied. "Why?"
"Don't go that way." Harry whispered looking around. "The new guy is planning to jump you."
"How do you know?" Saul asked.
"I have my ways." Harry replied.
Saul looked at Harry and grinned.
"Saul... you gonna go home your normal way ain't ya?"
"Thanks for the heads up, I'll see you tomorrow." Saul said and walked away.
"Wait a minute!" Harry called out. "What are you doin'? Didn't you hear me?"
"I heard you fine." Saul replied. "I'm not changing the way that I go home because of one idiot. The other thing is this, they'll know that you told me and they'll come after you."
"They?" Harry asked.
"Yes they." Saul replied. "I heard them talking about it today."
Harry was quiet for several seconds before he spoke again.
"I'm coming with you." He said. "I don't live but two blocks over from you and don' tell me that I don' hafta. I already knows that. Can I ask you sumthin?"
"Sure." Saul replied.
"Why don' ya just go another way home?"
Saul thought about his answer for a moment before answering.
"My father used to tell me that the one thing that a man doesn't do is to run away from trouble. He used to say that unless you face it head on, it keeps coming back. He's right about that." Saul said. "If I don't face these guys now, they'll just keep coming back. At some point, they'll catch me and we'll be at the same place. But Harry, go home; this isn't your fight."
"The hell it ain't!" Harry exclaimed. "It wasn't your fight when that man tried to say that I dropped his luggage on purpose was it?"
"No, but that was different." Saul replied.
"How so?" Harry demanded.
"You weren't going up against your own kind." Saul replied. "If you go with me, you will be."
"I'm still going with you." Harry insisted. "So let me get my pail and let's go."
Ten minutes later, they were headed toward Joshua's house. Their ears were straining to hear any sounds that were out of the ordinary. They were half way to the house when they heard the first voice. Seconds later, there was a second and then a third voice.
"Here they come." Harry whispered.
"Keep walking." Saul whispered back. "I don't want them to know that we heard them."
They had gone a few more steps when the first of the three men stepped out to their right.
"There'll be one up ahead." Saul murmured. "That makes four."
"We can take em'" Harry said. "I'm stronger than I look."
By this time, one man was behind them and they were flanked on either side. Moments later, Dewey Adams was standing in front of them blocking their way. Dewey looked at Harry first and then at Saul before he spoke.
"Well looky here. If it ain't the white boy and his nigger."
When neither Saul nor Harry said anything, Dewey asked Harry a direct question.
"What you doin' with this white boy? He ain't one of us."
"That be none of ya business." Harry replied. "Just let us be on our way."
Saul stood silent ready to move and then he realized something. The three that were with Dewey didn't want to be there. They had been either intimidated into the fight or they were having second thoughts. If he got rid of Dewey, the others would go away.
"Dewey." Saul called out. "It seems to me that the issue is between us and no one else. So why don't we let them go home and we settle this between the two of us."
"Saul!" Harry hissed. "Whatcha doin'? You see how big he is?"
Saul ignored him and taunted Dewey.
"Unless of course; you're afraid of a skinny white boy."
Dewey's eyes widened at Saul's taunt. He had heard about how Saul had gone to Harry's defense, but he hadn't believed that any more than he had believed that a white man was working amongst them. In his mind, Saul was taking a job that another black man needed.
"What do you say?" Saul asked. "Are we going to do this?"
"I'm going to kick your white ass." Dewey said.
"Probably; especially since you've got a good three inches on me and at least forty pounds." Saul said calmly. "But you aren't and won't be the last person white or black to kick my ass. I will promise you this though; I won't just stand here and let you do it. I'll do anything that I can to take your black ass down. Are you ready?"
Saul handed his lunch pail to Harry, took off his uniform jacket and rolled his sleeves up. He took the fighters stance and waited.
Dewey looked around to see where the others were. They were still standing where they had stopped. He knew that if he used them, the word would get around that he was too afraid to take the white boy on alone. But he couldn't walk away without looking like a coward either. He wasn't worried about getting into trouble for beating a white man. They were in the black part of town and no one would say or do anything to stop him except for Harry. Without warning, Dewey charged.
His face was contorted with anger and hatred at white people in general. Suddenly, he didn't care who saw him or if he went to jail or not. He didn't even care if he killed Saul. Saul now symbolized every white person who had taken from him. He became every white man that had called him a nigger and treated him as if he was no more than dirt.
As Saul waited for Dewey to make his decision, he watched him and remembered something that Jacob once told him.
"Every man has a 'tell'- a signal that lets you know that he's going to make a move. It's an unconscious thing meaning that they aren't aware that they're doing it. Look over there at that group of white men. You see the bald one?"
"I see him." Saul replied.
"He's going to start a fight with the man holding the cards." Jacob said.
"How do you know?" Saul asked intrigued.
"Look at the way his shoulders just tensed." Jacob said.
Moments later, a fight broke out and it was as Jacob had predicted. The bald headed man had initiated the fight.
"You're in a dangerous place boy." Jacob told him. "You need to know your surroundings and you have to watch people and learn their 'tells' it can save your life."
Saul kept his eyes glued on Dewey looking for a 'tell'. A moment later, he saw it. It was in his eyes. Something in them had changed. He was also acutely aware that the purpose of the fight had changed. It was no longer about a single white man taking a job; he had just become every white man. In that moment, Saul realized that he could die.
He braced himself for the charge that he knew was coming and whispered a prayer for help. Even though he knew that the hit was coming, Saul was still caught by surprise. He found himself on the ground, flat on his back and winded.
"That what you call fightin'?" Dewey sneered as he got ready for another charge.
The remaining men were silent as Saul slowly got to his feet his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. He had just learned something about his opponent. He was brute strength fueled by hatred and anger. Saul knew that he had to make his smaller size and speed work for him. When he saw Harry take a step toward him, he waved him away.
The next time Dewey charged, Saul simply moved out of the way.
"Who scared now?" Dewey asked his breath coming out in gasps.
Saul didn't reply but let Dewey come to him in three more charges before he finally took a swing at him. Dewey bellowed in anger and hatred that Saul had gotten in the first official hit of the fight. He whirled around and charged. This time he grabbed Saul around the waist and threw him to the ground. Saul struggled to get from beneath the Dewey who was now pummeling him with his fist anywhere that he could make contact. He tried to protect his head while he looked for an opening to do some damage.
Dewey let out a bellow of pain and moved enough that Saul could punch him in the face. Dewey let out another bellow and rolled off Saul. Saul looked around and saw that the other men were still standing in their places. He didn't have too long to wonder about why Dewey had cried out in pain because the big man was coming at him again.
Saul jumped to his feet just as Dewey reached him. Suddenly, Saul was back on the ground and seeing stars. Dewey had punched him on the side of the head and was kneeling beside him with his arm pulled back and hand in a tight fist ready to hit him again.
Harry had seen enough. He rushed over to Dewey and grabbed his arm just as it was moving toward Saul's face.
"Enough." He said as he strained to hold onto Dewey's arm.
Dewey shook Harry off and resumed his attack on Saul. He had managed to get two more punches in before the men who had come with him intervened.
"Don't you show up at work- you don't work there no mo'." Dewey said as he pulled away from the men holding him. "You hear me? Show up and I'll kill ya."
Dewey and the men walked away leaving Saul and Harry alone. Saul's face was a bloody, swollen mess and his eyes were swollen shut. It hurt to move.
"Can you get up?" Harry asked.
"I... I think so." Saul mumbled through swollen lips.
"Come on then." Harry said helping him to his feet.
They hadn't gotten far when they ran into Joshua who was with another man.
"Lord have mercy!" Joshua exclaimed when he saw Saul's face. "Let's get you home."
Joshua took one side and the other man the other leaving Harry to carry their belongings.
"Who did this?" Joshua asked as they walked.
"Don't worry about it." Saul mumbled.
"Nobody." Saul interrupted Harry before he could say anymore.
"Saul, who did this to you?" Joshua demanded.
"Dewey did it." Harry said before Saul could stop him. "I dunno his last name; he just started workin' at the train station a couple of weeks ago."
"Do you know where he lives?" Joshua asked.
"No sir, but he told Saul that if he came back to work he would kill him." Harry replied. "How'd you know to come?"
"Someone saw what was happening." Joshua's friend replied. "Unfortunately, they waited until the fight was over before they came for help."
Cora met them at the door and gasped when she saw Saul's face.
"Oh my lord! Get him in here!" She exclaimed. "Put him on the couch."
"I think that he'll be more comfortable in his room." Joshua said. "It isn't much further."
Saul moaned when Joshua and the man with him laid him on the bed.
"He might have a few broken ribs." The man said. "Cora, do you have any old sheets that we can cut into strips? We need to make a binder."
"I'll be back with that and some hot water." Cora said as she hurried away.
"Son, my name is Reggie. I'm Cora's nephew. Now I know that you're already in quite a bit of pain and I regret to say that I'm going to have to cause a lot more."
"Yes sir." Saul mumbled not believing that he could possibly hurt any more than he did.
"We'll be as gentle as possible, but it will help if you can move yourself. Do you think that you can do that?" Reggie asked.
"Yes sir." Saul replied as he tried to lick his dry, swollen lips.
Cora came back a few minutes later with the torn strips of sheet, a basin of warm water and a glass of water.
"We'll get you fixed up and then we'll give you some sips of water." Joshua said. "Did you get hit in the head?"
"Yes suh he did." Harry piped up. "It was at least once."
"We're going to have to keep him awake." Reggie said softly.
An hour later, Saul was bound with the sheets and his face cleaned of the blood. He had been wrong about the pain. The pain that he felt during the beating paled in comparison to the pain afterwards. He was so sleepy, but as soon as his eyes began to close; someone woke him up.
"We have to keep you awake for just a few more hours." Reggie said.
Saul lost track of how many times he had heard that and of how many times he had been asked what his name was, where he was and how many fingers he saw. Finally, after what seemed to be days; Saul was allowed to sleep.
Isadora's sense of excitement grew the closer the train got to home. She wondered how much Greenville had changed in her absence. Tired of reading, she decided to start a conversation with Noah even though she would have to answer a question about herself.
"Are you from Greenville?" she asked.
Noah looked at her and hesitated before answering.
"I was born here a long time ago." He said. "And I left a long time ago."
"How do you know Mr. Whitman?" Isadora asked.
"That is a long story." Noah replied. "Suffice it to say that it wasn't under the best of circumstances. Tell me Isadora, what drives you? I have seen determination before, but yours is beyond any that I've seen."
"I just want to succeed." Isadora replied. "I want my family to be proud of me and I want to take them away from Mississippi."
"Those are very nice and proper answers." Noah said after a moment. "I also know them to be true. But... there's more to it than that. When I watch you study, there is an intensity that is tempered with anger. I'm not going to ask what's behind the anger but I'm going to offer you a bit of hard learned wisdom.
Anger can be a very useful emotion. It can also be a hindrance to meeting your goals if it isn't kept in check. The thing about anger is that it can become a part of you without your being aware of it. When it's time to let it go, it's difficult. I'm not saying don't use the anger to your advantage. What I am saying is that you make sure that it doesn't take over."
"What happened to you?" Isadora whispered.
Noah didn't answer. Instead, he leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes.
Ernie was sitting alone watching the party when Maeve handed him a plate of food and sat down in the empty chair next to him.
"How long have you been friends with Kenji and Patricia?" She asked.
"Not long." Ernie replied after thanking her for the food.
"I thought so." Maeve replied with a smile.
"Why do you say that?" Ernie asked.
"You're tense." Maeve replied. "You really haven't interacted with anyone except for Joel and now me. I don't know if you noticed, but people just walk up to each other and say hello. You didn't which tells me that you aren't comfortable with being here."
"How long have you known them?" Ernie asked.
"A few months, but I know how you feel." Maeve replied. "It was kind of scary given what happened at school with that racist group. You do know about that don't you?"
Ernie's face burned as he tried to decide on what to tell her. It occurred to him that he couldn't lie to her. If he did, she was bound to find out the truth.
"I... I know about the group he stammered."
"It was awful!" Maeve said. "I hope that Andrew Kelly never gets out of prison. In fact; I think that everyone in the group should go to prison."
"But you can't imprison people for what they believe." Ernie said.
"No." Maeve agreed. "But what about those that knew that they were wrong? One of them broke Joel's hand!"
"I know." Ernie said softly.
"Don't you think that he should be punished for that?" Maeve asked her voice intense.
"You must be a law student." Ernie said changing the subject.
"What? Oops sorry." Maeve said blushing.
"Ernie." Patricia said from behind him. "I'm sorry that we didn't get over here sooner, but we're glad that you came."
"Thanks for inviting me." Ernie replied glad for the interruption
"Are you getting enough to eat?" Kenji asked.
"Yes, Maeve took care of that." Ernie replied.
"I have sampled the pumpkin roll." Kenji said. "It is delicious."
"I'll be sure to tell mom that you liked it." Ernie replied. "This is a really nice place." Ernie said looking around.
"It belongs to a friend of ours." Patricia replied. "She lives in another house not far from here."