The quiet in the house was starting to get to Rosie. Fixing lunch she thought about Fredrick and all they had experienced together. She laughed as she remembered all of the mishaps around the circus. Fredrick had always been able to stay so calm, even when things would go wrong. Rosie picked at her food. She remembered sitting with him around a small campfire. The crowds had all gone away and it was just the two of them, sitting close and just enjoying the peace. They dreamed of running away from the circus but wondered what else they could do. Most of these circus skills did not really transfer to the real world very easily. But still they dreamed of living a more stable life, having a couple of kids and someday sitting on a porch swing. Rosie wondered if that would ever happen.
Rain started to fall, slowly at first, but soon was coming down hard. Joannie ran under the pavilion at the park to find some shelter. Her dirty blonde hair was soaked. She shook herself a bit like a dog and sent out a few curses as she shook out her coat and pulled out a cigarette. She took a deep drag and only then noticed that there were three or four other people sitting around on assorted tables also trying to stay dry. She slowly inhaled the smoke and tried to remember how she had gotten here.
The entire work crew was pretty excited when they saw the rain and figured that they would be given a few hours of service for nothing. That is until the community service van pulled into the library. “We are going to clean the library today,” smiled the supervisor. “Well at least we will be dry,” a voice from the back of the van had thrown out. As the eleven men and women made their way out of the van, Michelle noticed her boyfriend inside the foyer. She had to be careful but she wanted to talk with him. Jail had made her feel so lonely. Certainly she could get a moment with him. As the group moved quickly in the door, Michelle looked around but could not see him. “Was I imagining things?” They were given assignments and set out to work. Michelle felt self conscious in the orange jumpsuit but was determined to do her work and set aside her discomfort.
Bruce looked around carefully and tried to line himself up on a bookshelf so that he could not be seen down the aisle. He shook a cigarette out and lit it and instantly felt a sense of relief and joy as the smoke filled his lungs. He was living in revelry in the moment when he felt a strong hand grab his neck. He felt his head turned against his will by the enormous black man. “I have already told you that you cannot smoke here,” the librarian said strongly and forcefully. “You will need to leave now.” Bruce decided that it was not worth making a big deal about since they would forget that they banned him by the next day. He noticed the community service workers and smiled at a young lady he had never seen before. Her dark hair and deep eyes made her look like how he always imagined Cleopatra to look. He liked the way that the orange jump suit seemed to make all of the rest of her features glow. Now he wished that he did not have to leave, but oh well.
Michelle watched Bruce being escorted out and she wondered what one did to be thrown out of a library? “But he is cute,” Michelle whispered as she returned to her work cleaning off tables and putting books on the cart. Then she noticed a jacket on the chair. She looked around to see if the owner was anywhere to be seen. The jacket was a little dirty on the outside and had a definite smell. Tobacco definitely, a little bit of cologne and was that weed she smelled? In that moment, Michelle had an idea. Grabbing the coat she made her way to a back room where she removed the jump suit and put the coat on. The coat was long enough to cover her. She pulled the hood of the jacket over her head and made her way back out into the library.
Bruce was distracted as he walked through the rain wondering where he should go and what he should do. The only dry place that he could think of where he would not be hassled was the park and he always had good friends that hung out there so he headed in that direction.
Joannie sat on a table by herself. The boys at the other table were telling stories and laughing. They were obviously being crude but that never did bother her. Still she hoped that they would not notice her. She really just felt like she wanted to be alone. As Joannie lit another cigarette she noticed another boy join the crowd. He seemed to notice her as he lit a cigarette and then was telling them a story that made them all laugh.
Rosie was cleaning up her dishes when she heard the door open. She closed her eyes and said a small prayer, and then continued doing the dishes not wanting to turn around when she heard footsteps walk into the kitchen and stop. Slowly, she turned around and gasped.
Mike finished his work around the church and decided to go out for a quick bite to eat before the meeting. The rain was letting up a bit but it was still drizzling. Mike walked to his favorite little diner and pulled up his standard booth where he could look out the window. Quickly the waitress brought him a glass of water and after confirming that he was having his usual disappeared. Mike looked out the window. His attention was drawn to what looked like a young woman wearing Bruce’s coat. Deciding that it could not possibly be Bruce’s coat he stared at the water and then took a sip. Soon his meal was before him and he prayed. He prayed for the meal and for Bruce. Most of the diner was empty and Mike was happy for the quiet.
Sarah finished her work day and sighed before she left. It looked like it had stopped raining and Sarah felt a wave of relief over not needing to get wet. Her plan was to go home, catch a quick bite to eat and get to Freedom Club. She really did not want to be late and hoped that the traffic would be clear for her to make it home quickly. With the wet roads an easy trip home was out of the question. It seems like people simply don’t know how to drive in adverse conditions. Sarah felt frustrated and very tense when she finally walked through the door. Her only thought was the hope that there was something to eat in the fridge. As she surveyed the interior of the fridge she heard her phone chirp. Not finding anything any way she made her way to the counter and looked at her phone. She did not recognize the number but decided to pick it up anyway. “Oh hi Angie. What’s going on?” There was a long pause as Angie told all about her day. “Yes I am planning on going. Just hoping to eat something first.” Another pause and then Sarah hung up. She remembered the can of soup in the cabinet and decided that was what was for dinner.
Fredrick stood tall in the kitchen in the full regalia of his ringmaster costume. In his hands were a dozen roses and an exceptionally large box of chocolates. “Rosie I have been a fool.” Rosie stood staring. He looked younger. He was sober. She wanted to believe but she also knew that her plumpness was the result of these boxes of chocolates. Forgiveness had been given too many times. “Last night I was too drunk and did not wish to see you in such an embarrassing situation. I will be different. I promise.” Rosie had heard all of that before. Fredrick stood waiting for a response. Rosie took a breath. “Sit down and I will get you a cup of coffee.” Fredrick moved to hug her but she avoided his embrace. “Sit down.” Rosie pulled a chair out. Fredrick sat the roses and chocolate on the counter and complied. The silence was heavy as Rosie made the coffee.
At the park the pavilion was filling up quickly. It was almost like someone had planned a party and invited all of those that are homeless and addicted. The voices were rowdy and there was much laughter. Joannie thought about joining in with the fun. A couple of the boys seemed interesting but she was simply not in the mood. For the first time in a very long while she felt she was in her right mind. “These people will only get me into trouble,” she thought. Noticing the rain had mostly quit, she grabbed her bags and took off for the cemetery. Joannie really loved the cemetery on a stormy day. She could not explain why but she had always been fascinated with death. Even before her mother had died she liked to wear black and most of her jewelry included skulls and crossbones.
The soup was starting to make the house smell good. “If only I had some rolls to go with this soup.” Sarah was just about to start eating when there was a knock on the door. “Never fails.” She looked at the soup longingly and went to open the door.
Michelle could hear the voices long before she got to the pavilion. Some of the voices were recognizable. None of them belonged to her boyfriend. “Where was that guy?” Stealthily, Michelle tried to mix in. With a little bit of anxiety she suddenly remembered that she as not really dressed for a party. “Hey, that’s my coat.” Michelle could not see where the voice was coming from but somehow knew that it was being directed at her.
Barely controlling the shaking in her hands, Rosie poured the coffee and brought over two cups. Setting one in front of Fredrick she sat down. “Look we only have about an hour before I have to leave for a meeting. So you need to listen carefully.” Fredrick looked stunned. “I love you. I know that you are better than you have shown yourself to be lately.” Rosie paused to gather her thoughts. “I still believe that you are the man of my dreams, but lately you have been a nightmare.” Rosie again paused. “Thank you for the flowers and the chocolates. But they will not work this time. You need to leave. I know that this is tough. But you will need to start treatment and get some clean time under your belt. Then we can start talking about getting back together.” Fredrick smiled. “Rosie you can’t mean it. Where would I go?” “Ah but I do mean it this time. I want the man that I married, not this abusive and addicted man that I have been living with for the past several years.” “I promise, Rosie, never another drop.” “Then it should be easy for you to prove.” “Where can I go?” “You can stay at the mission. They won’t even let you stay there if you have been drinking. If you can make it there for three months…” Rosie paused. “We can talk about you moving back home.” Anger flashed through Fredrick’s eyes. Rosie calmly stood up and moved toward the back door. Fredrick jumped to his feet and started to move toward Rosie until he noticed the knife in her hand. Looking at the floor, Fredrick whispered, “I’ll do it.” Rosie wept as she heard the front door shut and the car start up.
Bruce moved over next to Michelle and eyed his coat. “It’s you!” “It’s you!” She repeated back. They looked at each other as if they were long term friends. “We should get out of here.” Michelle agreed suddenly thinking that this is the first place that the police would look for her. “Where should we go? “I know an abandoned house over near the mall. “Sounds good, “ Michelle said quickly. The two took off across the park. Seeing a police car Michelle pulled her hood over her face. Bruce noticed but said nothing.