Ryan looked up at the clock on the wall and sighed. The 48 year old couldn’t believe that only thirty minutes had passed of the eight hours he was required to put in at the Pigeon Hill Tri-County Help Center. For perhaps the hundredth time this month alone, he asked himself how he had gotten into this fix.
A few months back, he’d been involved in what he liked to refer to as a ‘traffic situation’ due to his seizures and had pulled over or rather into the middle of the road into the median, and there had been a little involvement with the police during this situation as well. And while he didn’t cause any wrecks and wasn’t given a ticket, handcuffs were involved for some strange reason and his license had been suspended for six months as well; also involving community service to prove he was an upstanding citizen and not just another crazy college student having another random reaction to their ‘weekend activities.’ So as a requirement that every citizen who had been placed into this category to prove themselves, they were required to have a hundred hours of community service in order to start the process of whatever they were trying to get out of or back to be able to be doing, which in Ryan’s case, that would be driving, and getting out of what he liked to call, getting out of being on ‘house arrest’. And while it did involve an investment of time and energy, most people had no problem meeting this task.
They volunteered a day or two a week and finished up their prerequisite fairly quickly, usually only taking a month or two to complete, because for most people, namely drunken college students, none of them also had a full-time job to clog up their schedules. Ryan however, who lived nowhere close to the Pigeon Hill Tri-County Help Center, he worked 9 hours a day, knew almost no one in town, and could only get rides to and from work during the day because his mom couldn’t take much time away from his crazy dad who was battling dementia and selfishness disease. So this meant filling his eight hour requirements at night, the worst time of all and borrowing his mom’s bike to make the 8 mile trek to ‘The Hill’ as everyone like to call it if you were from around that area…which unfortunately for Ryan, had been his high school nickname, making this requirement that much more fun, or in Ryan’s case, a nightmare.
To make matters even worse, because of time restraints, Ryan’s community service now also took up most of every weekend and all of the really good jobs were already taken by college students who had been at them a while and could do them during the day. All Ryan had been able to come up with was the graveyard shift answering phones at the help center. A job he really thought sucked the big one. After all, who wanted to spend every Saturday night listening to a bunch of loser’s problems? Especially when they could be at the movies with Charlene Darling, namely him!
Ryan had been dating Charlene for three weeks now, and while he hadn’t gotten halfway to second base, he was sure that it was only a matter of time before he went for the gold. The word was that Charlene was the kind of girl who went all the way. You just had to catch her on the right night, when she was really in the mood. At least that was what he’d heard around where he was working.
The big problem was, with most of his weekends tied up with this community service nonsense, Charlene wasn’t the type to spend her nights at home. So while she was dating Ryan, she was also going out with Eb Dawson. The Brown-haired work-a-holic was pretty sure that Eb hadn’t gotten any further with Charlene than he had, but that could change with the flip of a coin. It would be just Ryan’s luck for Eb to be the one out with her on a night when she had a major case of hot pants.
“Pigeon Hill Help Center,” Ryan said into the microphone of his headset as he answered another call.
It didn’t take more than a few seconds for Ryan to realize that this was what was considered a Class Two call. Those he could handle, as they were usually just people who were lonely and wanted someone to listen. Class One calls were people with real problems and Ryan always passed them along to the supervisor on duty without fail. He had enough problems of his own without trying to solve anyone else’s.
As he listened to his current caller’s tale of woe, Ryan’s mind drifted back to the night one of his calls had turned out to be an obscene phone call. He had only been at the center three weeks and, thankfully, the supervisors had just stopped monitoring his calls on a regular basic. The female caller had been incredibly vivid in describing her body and all the things that she wanted him to do to her, and her to him. It hadn’t even mattered that she sounded a little old, because she had given him a major hard on. By the time she was finished, Ryan had to hold a newspaper in front of him just to make his way to the bathroom.
The voice on the other end of the line this time was hardly as interesting as the one from that escort eryaman night, and Ryan was glad when he was able to finally bring it to a close. The call had lasted almost a half hour. Only a dozen more like it and he could call it a night.
“Mr. Hill, I’d like a word with you,” La-a Jenkins, the shift supervisor called out across the room. “In my office.” she added in a harder and much louder tone that meant right now.
“Great, what did I do now?” Ryan asked himself as he took off his headset and punched the code into his phone position that would list him as being unavailable for incoming calls.
Crossing the floor to the small, mug walled enclosure in the far corner, Ryan racked his brain for anything he might have done wrong and came up empty. It was an unusual feeling to not be guilty of something or other when called into the office, here or at work. He couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, it had happened.
“Yes, Mr. Hueston, I’ll see to it personally,” La-a was saying into the phone as she motioned to the empty chair in front of her desk. “No, it’s no problem at all. We’re more than happy to help out when we can. Yes, sir, you have a good night as well, and enjoy your trip.”
La-a took another minute to make an entry in the folder on her desk before turning her attention to Ryan. With nothing else to do during the short delay, Ryan reviewed what he knew of the shift supervisor. In her mid-forties, La-a Jenkins was one of the Center’s few permanent employees, having been there for over ten years. She wasn’t married, he knew, and even with all of the gossip that got traded back and forth about who was seeing who, none of it had ever involved Miss Jenkins. If she had a social life, it was kept quite private.
Not that she was unattractive, at least not bad looking for a woman her age, Ryan thought. She was probably pretty hot back when she was in high school. The Hispanic woman had a nice face, short, reddish brown braided hair and a body that, while not the kind of figure you’d find in some of the men’s magazines Ryan liked to look at, was a lot better than his mother’s or most of her friends, who were much older than Miss Jenkins’s age.
In fact, the only thing negative that Ryan could really say about the woman was that she was a little too straight-laced and talked a little too loud for his taste. The center was probably her life and when she was on shift, she ran it by the book. There were three other shift supervisors, and all of them were a lot more laid back. Still, he had to also admit that, except for one time when he’d really screwed up, La-a Jenkins hadn’t come down on him too hard. So he really didn’t have anything to complain about.
“I have a special job for you, Mr. Hill,” La-a said as she closed the folder and dropped it into the completed box on her right.
Ryan wasn’t sure he liked the sound of that. Her voice was a little too friendly and not nearly as loud as she usually was when she talked to most people around the center, something that was never a good sign.
“Don’t look do worried, Ryan, I have a feeling that this is going to be right up your alley,” La-a added as she took note of the worried look on his face.
Her use of his first name didn’t exactly inspire confidence, but then again, maybe he was reading it wrong he told himself.
“You have a car, right?”
“Unfortunately no,” he answered looking down at his shoes. “but I do have a bike which I use regularly to get back and forth to here.”
“Good enough, I’d like you to go to this address, and see a…Miss. Hueston.” she answered as she handed him a small card with the address on it.
“And what do I do when I get there?”
“Basically, the same thing you do here, listen to someone’s problems and see that they don’t get into any further ones.”
“Since when do we make personal visits?” he asked, thinking there was a lot more to this then she was telling him.
“Well normally, we don’t,” La-a admitted, “but Miss. Hueston is a very special case.
Hueston, Ryan realized, was the name of the man she had been speaking to on the phone when he came into the office.
“Look, let me put it all on the table and you’ll see how this can work to your advantage,” La-a said, he tone shifting ever so slightly.
This caused warning bells to go off in the young man’s head. It had been his experience that it was never good when someone wanted to tell you how something they needed done was to your advantage.
“Woody Hueston, is one of the single biggest contributors to this center,” La-a began. “His donations help keep us in business so to speak. So, when the situation calls for it, we’re willing to go a bit further than we normally would for other people.”
“Some pigs were more equal than others,” Ryan thought, remembering a quote from one of his English courses back in his own college days.
“So what’s the problem?” Ryan asked, when what he really was thinking, what can I get out of this?
“Before elvankent escort I go any further, I have to ask for your promise not to discuss this with anyone else. After all, Mr. Hueston is an important man and he values his privacy.” she stated. “I can count on your discretion, can’t I, Ryan?”
“Of course,” he smiled, suddenly remembering where he’d heard the name Hueston before, hearing his music on the local radio stations and on Youtube. There was a picture of him in the outer office turning over a check at some charity dinner. An old guy in his later stages of life, Ryan remembered.
“Good,” La-a smiled. “So let me explain.”
Ryan was all ears.
“From time to time, Mr. Hueston is called out of town to take care of his business and his music concerns,” she began. “When he does, he usually arranges for someone to stay over with his granddaughter Miss. Hueston while he’s away since Miss Hueston’s kids are all off to school or doing otherwise and other unfortunate events have left her flying solo. Sad to say, this afternoon he was called away somewhat unexpectedly and it wasn’t possible for him to make those arrangements. When this had happened in the past, we have provided a substitute.”
“So what’s the deal with this Miss. Hueston? What does she need with a baby-sitter?” Ryan asked. “Is she sick or something?”
“More in the area of something, I’m afraid,” La-a went on. “Miss. Hueston is a lonely woman, and when she gets too lonely, she at times has a tendency to drink a little and more so, go a little crazy with Amazon and buying pretty much anything and everything causing more problems that you can imagine not only with her bank account but with the delivery drivers transporting all those items as well. Needless to say, They’ve already filed a complaint against her too! That is something her Grandfather would rather not have happen again and it would only be for a few hours, maybe 4 or 5 at the most until your normal end time at 12. Her housekeeper has the night off, but will be home by midnight to relieve you.”
“So I’m supposed to do what exactly?”
“Just keep her company, basically,” La-a explained, “listen to her if she wants to talk and just make sure that she doesn’t have anything to drink and more so she stays off her phone or computer and away from her damn Amazon app. You’ll also be given access to her bank account to check on an hourly basis just to reaffirm that she hasn’t made any orders additionally, as her grandfather disclosed that “she’s one of the most persistent and sneakiest sob’s east of the Pacific Ocean.”
“That’s it,” she smiled. “Simple isn’t it? By the way, her Wi-Fi has been deactivated until you get there so if you want to use your phone when you get there, here’s the password.”
“Why me?” he asked. “Why not DiShonda or Billy Lee, they’ve both been here a lot longer than me?”
“Billy Lee is a nice enough kid, but I really wouldn’t trust him to go out with the dinner order, much less something like this,” La-a said. ” DiShonda is the best I have, which is exactly why I need to keep her here. I have few enough phone reps that can handle Class One calls as it is.”
That was exactly what Ryan wanted to hear. Now that he knew how much she needed his cooperation, he could gauge how much he could get for it.
“So want do I get out of this?” he asked directly.
“What do you want out of it?” she countered just as directly.
It suddenly occurred to Ryan that he really had no idea what he should ask for. Something that was reflected by the look on his face as well.
“How about I make this easy for you,” La-a offered. “You baby-sit Miss Hueston, as you put it, and I’ll count the time you spend doing it at two, no let’s make it three times the rate we count it here. I’ll even count the part of your shift you already worked.”
Ryan quickly did the math. Not counting tonight, he still had thirty-two hours of service to go. Twenty-four hours would just about wipe that out. Still, why not go for broke?
“How about we make that four times?” he said, holding his breath for the answer.
La-a didn’t give him an immediate response. Instead, she seemed to be considering her options. It was obvious that she knew that would totally complete his community service requirement towards getting his driver’s license back.
“I don’t know if I can go that far,” she hesitated, stuttering, bringing a smirk to Ryan’s face. “To be frankly honest, it’s not as if your work here has been much of an asset. But…”
Ryan couldn’t help but agree with her, not taking any offense at her assessment at all.
“But…” La-a repeated, “given that you’ll still have only 8 hour remaining, I’ll see to you it your last 8 hours are as painless as can be, and when it comes time to getting your license back, there are no ‘speedbumps’ per se to cause any problems as I know a few down there who might be able to help a little if you catch my drift. However Mr. Ryan, etimesgut escort there is one condition,” she added, grabbing his full attention. He didn’t like where this ‘however was going for some reason.
“You have to make totally sure, above all else, that Miss Hueston doesn’t get at the booze, AND” she emphasized. “If…IF there is one single purchase on Amazon for ANY amount, the deal is off and you have to come back here to finish the other twenty-four hours. Think of that as an incentive to make sure the job gets done. Do we have a deal?”
It didn’t take a moment for Ryan to say yes. After all, how hard could it be to keep one old lady from her phone and drinking Kool-Aid or chocolate milk for a few hours and watching Gomer Pyle or baseball?
The address La-a Jenkins had given him was just outside of town in the suburb of Sherwood Oaks; a small, private upper class community, populated by businessmen and professionals. It’d probably be a 20 minute bike ride but one that he’d be able to make considering the ramifications.
Wiping his brow and straightening his clothes, he’d had little trouble finding the house, a large two story colonial with a two-car garage surrounded by trees. He’d been on this side of town plenty of times in his life, but since moving back a few years ago, he still didn’t know anyone who lived in these parts.
Looking at a house though that was far beyond the apartment complex he lived in; Ryan wondered if maybe he should’ve changed clothes before coming over. La-a had said that the T-shirt and shorts he had on were fine, but now he wasn’t so sure. Some older people had a strange way of looking at things so this Miss Hueston might take his casual dress as an insult.
Well it was too late now, seeing as it was almost 8 o’clock, he thought as he rang the doorbell. If she had a problem with his clothes, there was nothing he could do about it now.
A minute passed, then two, and Ryan was beginning to think that maybe the old lady had just fallen asleep, or maybe she was hard of hearing. By the time a third minute passed and he tried the bell again, he wondered if he’d still get some extra credit for just coming out here.
“Who’s there?” a voice called out from behind the front door.
“My name is Ryan Hill,” he responded, “Miss Jenkins sent me. I’m from the Pigeon Hill Tri-County Help Center.”
Another long minute followed, during which not another sound came from behind the door. Ryan figured the old lady wasn’t going to let him in and turned to head back to his bike.
“At least I can take my time heading back to the center and kill another hour or two,” Ryan thought as he reached the porch steps
The sound of the door opening behind him caused Ryan to stop and turn around. He retraced his steps but it wasn’t until the porch light came on that he got his first real look at Miss Hueston. A look that left him greatly surprised.
Based on the picture of Mr. Hueston at the center, Ryan just naturally assumed that Miss Hueston would be about 20 years younger, maybe in her 60s. If he hadn’t already been told that the housekeeper had the night off, he would’ve assumed that she was the one standing in the doorway.
Standing six inches below his own Six foot three frame, Sarah Hueston had long flowing brown hair and a build that was even nicer that the one on La-a Jenkins. He’d remembered seeing some adult magazines on the newsstands that had women their age, not that he could’ve imagined himself looking at them, but Miss Hueston was the kind of woman they must feature. She was just that impressive. Ryan would’ve thought her even more impressive if he’d know that his guess at her age was almost seven years short, and that she’d just passed her forty-third birthday a few weeks ago.
Seeing the casual sun dress she was wearing, the sort he had seen his mom wear a hundred times, Ryan no longer felt himself underdressed. Still, he was so taken by her appearance not being what he had expected; he hadn’t heard what she’d said to him as she also looked him over.
“Are you the Grub Hub guy or are you the delivery guy for Amazon? Which is it?” Miss Hueston belted out; her purple travel mug in hand. His eyes not as good as they used to be and the night skies beginning to grow darker, Ryan could barely make out the words on the mug she had in hand which read, ‘Soul of a Mermaid, Mouth of a Sailor’, which he was beginning to believe both within the first few minutes of meeting her, although he had no complaints with either. Yet.
“If you’re not here for either of those, are you just going to stand out here all night looking silly, or are you coming in?” Sarah wailed, this time getting his full attention.
“Oh yeah,” Ryan grunted as he stepped inside into the foyer as the door closed behind him.
“I guess you drew the short straw,” Sarah said as she turned the lock.
“Whenever my grandpa goes out of town on short notice, he arranges for the help center to send someone over to baby-sit me. Usually it’s some dingy college girl.” she laughed as she led him through the hallway into a large, well furnished living room. “He’s always worried that I can’t handle myself and I’ll go on an Amazon spending bender, you see.”