Changing Directions: A Short Story, Conclusion
Handy man interview
Raha was surprised to hear his name but even more surprised when he turned to see who had called it. Amanda Brown stood holding a black and white kitten and said " I thought that was you." He asked her what she was doing there and she told him she lived there. Amanda asked if he was there for the job and he told her that he was indeed. She told Raha to come with her and she proceeded to walk him around the yard and house showing him the things that needed to be repaired. She didn't have to really point things out because the place was in such bad shape the repairs were easy to see.
" I can see a lot of work to be done here," Raha said. " Things have gotten in bad shape since my daddy died, " she replied. Raha told her he was sorry to here about her daddy and then asked how long it had been since he died. " About a year, but I don't like to talk about it much." Raha told her that it was okay, they could talk about something else. Amanda looked into the distance and gently rubbed the kitten not saying anything. It was obvious she was thinking about her dad and how much she missed him.
Not knowing what to do, Raha said, "that's a mighty fine looking kitten you have. What 's his name?" "Patches" she said. "And it's a girl." Raha tried to think of something else to say but was having a hard time thinking of anything when he heard the snap of a screen door closing. He looked around the corner and saw a gentleman walking down the sidewalk. His interview must be over he thought and began walking toward the front door. " I guess it's my time to be interviewed," he said to Amanda.
When he knocked at the door he could see someone through the class. It was Juliet walking toward the door. When she opened the door she stood still for a moment and then said, Raha?" She said she didn't put the name together since the named he had left was only Mr. Harper. He asked if he was to late for the job and she told him that it depended on what he could offer. He explained to her that he had a good knowledge of tools and how to use them. When his dad had built their house he was only 10 years old but he did learn a lot by helping his dad.
"Tell me about your background," she said. " How did you end up in Key West?" This is the question he had dreaded the whole time, but he knew it would get asked. Raha told her his story, all of it. By the time he had finished Juliet had tears running down her face. " I'm sorry " he said. " I didn't mean to make you cry, but I just wanted to be honest." She told him that it was alright and that she appreciated his honesty.
They sat there for a minute and didn't say anything. Then Raha said, " I was talking to Amanda while waiting for you to call on me. She said her daddy had died about a year ago. Do you mind me asking what happened?" Juliet just sat there as if she didn't here him ask her. "I'm sorry" he said. " I shouldn't have pried but" She cut him off and said "no it's alright. I just haven't talked about it in a while." She told her story. Her husband's name was Michael. They had been married for about 4 years when Amanda came along. Michael loved his life and they loved Key West. They had moved from Southern France to Key West on a whim. He had seen a travel brochure and thought it looked like a great place to raise a family so they moved on the spur of the moment. Things were great for them. They spent most of there time at the beach but what he truly enjoyed was working on his sailboat. He had bought an old run down sailboat with plans to fix it up and the three of them would sail around the Caribbean together.He would work for hours on the boat while Amanda crawled around on the deck. Juliet would take a book and sit in the shade so she could watch everything that was going on. They didn't have much but they were very happy with their simple life.
As the days went by Michael would become very tired. Some days it was all he could do just to get himself out of bed. He always said it was because he was working so hard at his construction job and then at the marina where the sailboat was in dry dock. However, it continued to get worse. Juliet finally convinced him to go to the doctor for a checkup. The news they got was devastating. Michael had a disease commonly called Lou Gahrig's disease. Michael eventually lost all of his movement and was confined to a wheel chair. Within a year of contracting the disease he was gone. A few weeks after Michael's death a man came to see her. He told her Michael had a life insurance policy. and he was there to settle the account. With the money she was able to buy their little house and the shop downtown. "I would much rather have Michael back," she said.
"I'm very sorry for your loss," Raha said. "I know it must have been hard on you and Amanda. "It still is hard but it's getting better with each day," she said. "I can close my eyes and see him when he was on the boat. He was so happy " "What happened to the sailboat, if you don't mind me asking?" Raha said. She told him the boat was still in dry dock at the marina. She said sometimes she will go down and just sit on the deck of the boat and remember the good times. "Sometimes I think I would like to see the boat finished" she told Raha. "It would be like a part of Michael's dream had come true," she said.
"Enough of this sad talk," she said. "Do you want the job? I can't hardly not hire you now that we've told each other our life's story." Raha accepted. She told him to be there the next day at 7:00 am.
The next few weeks passed by with Raha working hard to get the house and yard in shape and Juliet going to run her business each day. They would see each other just in passing most days but some days they would sit and talk a little. One day Raha asked Juliet if she was serious when she said that she would like to see the sailboat finished. He told her he had been to the marina to look at the boat and that it still needed a lot of work. He told her he could live on the boat while he worked it into shape. After all, he was still sleeping in his truck every night.
Juliet thought about it for a while and the next day she told him that she couldn't afford to pay him to work on the boat. He told her it would be alright. He would take living on the boat as his pay. So it was settled, Raha was going to restore the sailboat.
Raha's first thought as he stepped onto the sailboat was that he knew absolutely nothing about a sailboat. He quickly learned, however, that the people at the marina were more than happy to give advice and even add a little muscle when he really needed it. The manager of the marina had known Michael well and was very happy to see what was taking place. The boat was beginning to come to life. He also noticed that Amanda and Juliet were spending more and more time at the boat. They cleaned and painted and always seemed to bring Raha something to eat, which he really appreciated.
Refurbishing the boat became a quest for Raha. He was spending all of the money he was making working for Juliet on supplies for the boat. The more he worked on the boat the less the bad dreams came at night. They were almost gone completely now. The men at the marina were really getting involved now. On some nights there would be as many as five or six men volunteering there time to the project. Amanda loved it. It was like having a whole new family for her.
One afternoon Raha was alone on the boat when he heard someone say "What does a man from Idaho know about a sailboat?' He looked up and couldn't believe it. Randy was standing there in real life. Raha jumped from the boat and hugged Randy so hard he could hardly breathe. "How did you find me?" Raha asked. Randy explained that the army tracked him down in Germany with Raha's letter. He had come home but Raha was gone. He went to see Mr. Gammon at the store and he mentioned that Raha had said something about Key West. Randy said that he had been in Key West now for a couple of weeks trying to find him. He was just about to give up when he heard two men at a coffee shop mention what a great job Raha was doing on the boat. "I knew it had to be you they were talking about. How many Rahas are out there?" he said. "I asked the two men where I could find you and the rest is history."
Raha still couldn't believe he was actually talking to his brother. It had been three years now since he had last heard from him. And, after having been in Key West for a little over a year, here he was. The two brothers sat on the boat and talked throughout the night. Raha asked if he had heard anything about their dad but sadly he had not. Randy explained that he was on his 30 day leave and he had used up part of it looking for him. He said he could stay for two more weeks but then had to fly out to Montgomery, Alabama where he will be stationed for the next two years. He assured Raha that he would stay in touch this time. He explained that he never meant to drift away the way he did, but life just kind of happened. They decided to hire a private investigator to try to find their dad. It just really bothered both of them to not know what had become of him. Randy and Raha spent the next two weeks working on the old boat and getting back acquainted. Eventually it was time for Randy to go. They agreed to write each other once every two weeks and if Raha ever got a house with a phone that they would call each other every week.
It was sad for Raha when Randy left but he had plenty of work to keep him busy. He was still working for Juliet doing what ever she needed done. So, he would spend most of his days working and his nights he worked on the boat. This rocked on for a couple more months until Randy showed up unexpectedly one day. He told Raha that the investigator had located their dad. He was in Tuscany and doing well. He had become a Monk and was living in a Monastery. They contemplated going to see him but first Raha said he needed to finish the sailboat. About one more week and it would be ready to sail. Randy said he could stay long enough to help out and the two brothers went to work.
A week later they were ready. The marina manager had placed the boat in the water and Raha and Randy stood waiting for Juliet and Amanda. "We've come a long way brother" Randy said to Raha. "Yes we have. We truly have haven't we" Raha said. They saw Juliet and Amanda riding their bicycles toward them. Raha smiled. When they got to the boat Juliet just stood and stared at it. Amanda quickly jumped on board and was ready to go. With tears in her eyes Juliet said "This is for you Michael" and then she got on board. She kissed Raha on the cheek and said "thank you." Amanda giggled.
This was a big day. The people from the marina who had helped with the boat were all there. They watched as Juliet pulled the boat out of the marina and into open water. They all clapped and cheered. When they hit open water they raised the sails and were on their way. Juliet reached over and grabbed Raha's hand and squeezed it gently. Raha looked at her and smiled.
Raha looked around at the open water. It was beautiful. He looked at his brother and at the two girls who helped turn his life around. No longer did he have the bad dreams at night. He looked up at the sun as it shone through the clouds and he could have swore he heard Cassidy laugh and say "Welcome home Raha, welcome home."