The Apple Orchard
Monday morning I headed into the nearest town where I worked in the local supermarket. I started by bagging and stocking shelves and now I'm a cashier. My grandparents think I progressed fast, but I worked hard. My boss liked the fact that I didn't need someone to tell me what to do. My dad always said hard work will pay off and I guess he was right.
When I arrived at the store, Mr. Thomas, my boss introduced me to the new boy and asked that I show him what had to be done. I introduced myself and began to show him where the stock was kept, how to rotate the stock and the importance of making sure the area was clean. "If you have any questions, let me know. On week-ends you'll need to help me at the cash register. Most of the locals shop on Friday evening and Saturday. I'll need you to help bag the groceries and some of the shoppers will want you to help carry their bags to their cars."
Leaving him to do his job I watched as he restocked the shelves. I couldn't help to noticed that he was a good looking lad. The blond hair and blue eyes that sparkled seem to hide a mischievous personality that could provide a lot of fun.
At 1, Mr. Thomas told me to take my lunch break and he'd man the cash register as needed. "Take Tony with you. We don't look too busy so I won't need a packer"
"Tony, let's go to lunch. We've 45 minutes so I usually go to the cafe across the street. They're cheap and quick" I said smiling.
"You go ahead. I think I'll skip lunch."
"No. Mr. Thomas always pays for lunch the first day you work here. So I got it"
Reluctantly, Tony followed me to the diner. As we entered, Anna indicated to take any seat. I wanted to find out more about Tony so I selected a booth in the far corner. I looked at Tony, and something wasn't right. He was very nervous. "I don't know what to order."
"How about I order for both of us?" He seemed agreeable, so I ordered a milk shake, 1/2 lb cheese burger and a large order of fries. When the food came, Tony looked at the food like a hungry dog looks at a steak. "Dig right in, they have the best hamburgers in town." and he did. I was half way done with mine and Tony was finished with his and half of the fries. The shake was consumed all at one time. I indicated to Anna to bring another shake for Tony.
Anna must have recognized that Tony was very hungry. "Jim, the cook read the order wrong, can either of you handle another burger. It's on the house".
"Sure we can after all were growing boys."
Anna brought the burger and sat it down in the middle of the table. I noticed Tony not taking his eyes off the burger. I was still eating mine, in a low voice, "Tony, if you think you could eat that go ahead. I'll be lucky to finish this and these fries." I pushed the burger over to Tony and took my plate of fries and added half to his.
Tony looked down at the table and I noticed his shoulders shaking a little. I lifted his head and he had tears in his eyes. "Tony what's the matter?"
"This is the most food I've eaten in the past five days. I was attending the college over in Edgemont when my grandparents were in an accident. They both died. I've been staying with them since I was 10 years old. I had to quit college since I had no money to pay my tuition. I couldn't find a job in Edgemont so I started to travel east. When I landed here, I noticed a sign in the store's window offering a job as stock boy. I spoke to Mr. Thomas and he hired me. Today was my first day."
"Where do you stay when you aren't at work?"
"I'm not sure where I'll stay. Last night I slept in the woods. I think maybe I can rig some shelter there. I don't know if that'll work or not."
Sometimes I believe in angels and this is just the time. "Look Tony, how about you staying with me till you get sorted out. I don't have much, it's a shack on my grandfather's farm but you're welcome to share it."
"Thanks Jim. As soon as I get paid I'll start looking for my own place."
"We need to get back or Mr. Thomas will think we aren't coming back." I paid Anna for the lunch and included enough money to cover the extra hamburger. "Thanks Anna, you a have good heart."
Returning to the store, Tony thanked Mr. Thomas for the lunch. Mr. Thomas looked at me as to say 'what was that all about'. I just smiled as I watched Tony put on his apron and go back to work. Stepping up to the cash register, knowing Mr. Thomas was going to ask me what that was all about, I took the initiative. "Tony had no money for lunch so I told him you always paid for lunch the first day. I thought if I offered he'd refuse, so I said what I did."
Mr. Thomas patted me on the back and went to his office.
We closed the store at 9. "Have you ever ridden a motorcycle before?"
"No. But I always wanted to ride one, why?"
The words were no sooner out of his mouth when he saw my motorcycle. I chuckled as he became aware that was going to be his ride. I took it slow and soon I pulled in front of my shack. He chuckled when he saw the sign I put next to the door, 'be it ever so humble, this is my shack.'
When I entered, I was surprised to see grandfather there. "Hi Grandfather I didn't expect to see you here."
"Well I thought you might need the cot. The bed is too small for two." I must have looked perplexed. Laughing, "Mr. Thomas called. He told us to be prepared for a guest. I think he may have seen you with this young man leaving."
"Oh, Grandfather, excuse me. This is Tony and he started to work at the store today. Until he finds his own place I thought he could stay here."
"That's what your grandmother and I figured. When you get cleaned up, come on down. Supper will be ready in 20 minutes so hurry."
And we did a quick wash, then a walk to grandmother's kitchen. You could smell the rich aroma of chicken and dumplings as we entered. Grandmother welcomed Tony and winked at me. I blushed and thankfully Tony didn't see it. Dinner was great as usual. My grandmother was a great cook and her apple pie was the best. I couldn't believe the amount of food Tony ate. He couldn't stop telling my grandmother that was the best chicken and dumplings he had ever eaten. I was glad because I got to take the left over's home.
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