you never know what life will bring. you just have to be ready because how you respond can change everything. my experience has shown me that knowing when to respond from the heart and when to use your head is the art of living.
s. returned to san francisco, to the same room in the 'free house'.
one day julie called and asked him to come to her apartment at midnight.
she said, "make sure you come. it's really important." s. had never failed to come when called.
when he arrived that night julie was gone. the children were sleeping soundly in their beds; two precious cherubim. s. reverently leaned over each of them for a 'sleep tight' kiss.
but he smelled a 'rat'. he felt the teapot on the stove. it was still hot. he ran down the back stairs and down the street just knowing that julie would have waited to make sure he had come.
he caught up with her. he was furious. she looked so sheepish and guilty.
s. said, "you know, you could have told me. you could have asked me and i would have taken the boys." no excuse. then he slapped her. he had never slapped a woman in his life before and surprised himself even.
he walked slowly back to the apartment.
the next morning s. was up early. he fed the kids and took them to his room. he made a bed on the closet floor for demian. jonathan was so small that the bottom drawer of the dresser on a folded blanket was fine.
he had to think.
s. decided to drive back to new york. but how could he drive and take care of them at the same time. they were a handful.
he found anne, who thought new york was a good idea for her. anne was twenty-four with short cropped hair like jean seberg in "breathless". she was maybe a bit gay but she liked men too. she had a little pocketful of cash which would help with the gas. so off they went.
five days and nights straight he drove with little rest; no motels, no camping out, just drive and nap at rest stops by the highway sitting upright behind the wheel.
as the mobile nursery approached the big city s. was thinking hard. anne was temporary. she had said so. what was he going to do with a toddler and an infant? he didn't consider welfare since he and julie weren't married and he feared the state would take his boys.
anderson, his mentor and even 'spiritual father' was still in vermont in the little cabin in the woods just west of woodstock township. he would know what to do. he would help.
s. pulled up the dirt driveway in the $50. pink oldsmobile and stopped in a cloud of dust. kids were running around outside in the slow dusk of the woods. they all came up to the car so happily surprised to see their old 'adopted' brother. it was two years since s. had set off for the city; five years since florida. eight year old barbara, who wanted to marry him someday was now 13. 'tildy' was 18 and upstairs reading a book. robby was 16, the age s. was when they shared the farmhouse in winter park. he was nowhere to be seen. little 'pattywhack' was now seven, sally was ten and nine year old ann was now 14.
inside, bob came thumping along to the door. he had his artificial leg off as he usually did in the evenings. his face was oddly much older than s. remembered; much more white hair in his goatee. he welcomed s. with open arms, broke out a gallon of hearty burgundy and they chatted awhile. the andersons had a new baby stumbling around and the big living room was bustling with eight children. june heated up that night's 'chili' fo s. (they had all eaten already).
s. was starving and shoveled the large bowl of chili on rice with a spoon, unselfconsciously.
finally, bob asked, "so, what are your plans?"
s. had told the history of time in new york and florida; then the hegira across the states. he told about julie splitting and how he wound up with the kids.
"i don't know what to do. that's why i came here. i can't look for a job carrying two children around. what would you do in my situation?"
the glances between bob and june told s. a lot and he began to see that it would be alright. june said it,
"you can't be dragging these guys around manhattan without any money and with no place to stay."
and bob generously finished,
"i will lend you $200 (he couldn't afford). leave the boys here. get settled and come back when you do."
s. was relieved and very grateful to them. he stayed the night. the next morning they had a nice happy family breakfast. he kissed the boys, then took off down the road. the boys seemed to understand. they liked all the attention they were getting from the very very good andersons.
now comes the hard part…
two months went by before s. had his own place and a job as a messenger boy for altman's department store. $45.00 a week.
the stupid thing he did was he neglected to communicate with the andersons. then one day he got a summons from the vermont court.
s. drove up the icy driveway. bob answered the door. s. knew something was wrong immediately. bob had his marine scout sergeant glower going. his furrowed forehead and angry eyes, his very posture was forbidding. this was no happy reunion.
bob anderson signaled s. to pass into the living room where he plopped nervously into an easy chair. bob sat down solemnly and without anger in his voice, at least, explained that he and june had to turn demian and jonathan over to the state authorities. both the boys were in the same foster home in woodstock township.
s's shame and sadness and feeling of failure over this inspired him to write a short story years later at columbia university in creative writing class. i was going to insert it here but i can't find it. just as well probably, it would have depressed everyone. use your imagination… s. goes to see them and half of demian's face is black and blue from the beating one of the older boys in a fit of jealousy, gave him with a tonka truck. demain saw s. come in and just slowly walked towards him with raised arms to be picked up. then he laid his head on s's shoulder in silence. jonathan was o.k. luckily. but he had to leave them again. a heavy despair swallowed him up. "caged in this little round of skull." (thomas wolfe)
s. was staying at the 'woodstock inn' and when he returned there officer durphy clapped him in handcuffs. mr. wright, his attorney who sold out to the tates was now a states attorney. you will remember the incident of the painting called "the cinnamon tree".
sure, s. had an uncommon sense of honor and justice. he felt that a lawyer who loses a case which should easily have been won, shouldn't be paid. what happened to "posession is nine-tenths of the law" ??
did you know that in rural china everyone pays the local doctor until they get sick? when they get sick they stop bringing around the weekly basket of eggs or that delicious suckling pig. just imagine if lawyers who lose cases for their clients didn't get paid. then they might do better.
anyway, the judge in white river junction took s. into his chambers and began to pour over his books of precedents. he was a good old judge. he was looking for an excuse to dismiss the case. he found one. s. had come to vermont on a summons from the court. consequently, he couldn't be prosecuted on a different charge.