Saturday, February 23, 2013
MEET JEBEDIAH WINSTON...THE GRANDFATHER WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD
***EXCERPT FROM LEGACY UNDER FIRE***
A scowling old man jerked open the door.
Was this his grandfather? The years had carved hard times in the old man's face and he couldn't be sure. "Jebediah Winston?"
"Who wants to know?"
Sounded like the gruff old man who used to tell him tales of fire fighting in the days before firefighters became "soft."
A smile settled on Jer's face at the memory. "It's Jeremiah--"
The sharp old eyes narrowed, examining his face. Perhaps looking for something recognizable as Jeremiah had with the old man?
"I--your son and his wife adopted me as an infant..."
Something in the old man's gaze shifted. Became wary. Disbelieving.
"I have a badge." Jeremiah fumbled for the Boston Fire Department badge he had carefully removed from his turnout coat and pinned to the pocket of his slacks.
Just in case.
The old man examined the badge and, if possible, examined Jeremiah more closely. "Where did you get this?"
"My father--the man who adopted me said it belonged to his grandfather."
Tears formed in the old man's eyes. "Come in."
Jer drew a deep breath--perhaps the first one since he had knocked--and stepped inside. Very little looked as he remembered. The finely polished table and ornate mirror that used to adorn the entryway had been replaced by a plainly functional coat rack. The thick rug he used to dig his toes into down the hallway was now an inexpensive mat.
"Are my--are Skeet and Wenda here?"
Jeb stared at him for a moment longer and shook his head. "They died in an auto accident not long after you were kidnapped."
Dead. The parents he had feared--had fantasized about--had died. Was that why they didn't return?
Then something else the old man said registered in Jeremiah's brain. "I wasn't kidnapped."
The old man blinked and, for a moment, acted as if he had absorbed a physical blow. Then he limped into the living room and settled heavily in an armchair worn smooth with age. "I'd like to hear what you remember--from the time you were born."
"...I'd like to meet all your family." A frown flickered across Jebediah's brow. "If you're willing to let a grouchy old man be part of your life."
Moisture beaded in Jeremiah's eyes and he blinked it away. The parents who rejected him were dead. But the grandfather who held out hope for his return for thirty years wanted to share his life. A feeling of rightness settled around Jer's heart and relaxed the stiffness in his shoulders. "I'd like that very much, sir."
"Then you'd better call me 'grandfather'." Gruffness belied the emotion in the old man's voice.
Jeremiah smiled. Better than finding the parents who dumped him years ago, he had found a grandfather who wanted him to stay.