The Sixth Man – Episode 11

thEI2U9WHXA Question For Mrs. Bradford

Steve returned and Mrs. Bradford showed him the room above the garage. During his absence she got it ready for him, although she apologized for it’s condition. It had not been occupied for ten years.

Will this be adequate for you, Mr. Joseph?” Mrs. Bradford said.

I slept in an abandoned car last night, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.

 

A month passed and the Bradford Mansion began to take on the form it once displayed. Steve did all sorts of gardening, repair, and domestic chores. There was little time for him to contemplate his lack of identity. The conversations between he and Mrs. Bradford were business-like, formal, but cordial. He was the hired help and she was the lady of the house.

At the beginning of each day she had a list of things she wanted accomplished. What he was not able to accomplish on one day was held over till the next. The list never became smaller. Steve thought she must lay awake at night and construct tasks for him. If he were any more of a man he knew he would have surely left after a week or two. But in some measure he found enjoyment in his work and likewise Mrs. Bradford was taking on a new sense or lost sense of purpose; she really enjoyed giving orders and organizing.

It was early morning. Steve walked to the sidewalk that laid a good fifty yards from the house. He grabbed the newspaper from the box and brought it back to the house. Mrs. Bradford sat at the dinning room table with her morning coffee. Steve placed the paper on the table to her side.

Sit, Mr. Joseph,” Mr. Bradford said., “and have your morning coffee with me.”

Another cup was at the table. Steve sat and Mrs. Bradford poured the coffee. She slid the cream and sugar close to his cup.

Am I fired, Mrs. Bradford?” Steve said.

She smiled. “No, dismissals take place in the den.”

That’s good to hear,” Steve said. “But sitting here with you does make me curious.”

I’ve been watching you,” Mrs. Bradford said.

I won’t take anything, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said. “You can trust me.”

I know that,” Mrs. Bradford said, “that’s not what I mean.”

So you have been observing me,” Steve said. “That sounds better.”

You see, Mr. Joseph,” Mrs. Bradford said. “You know the difference between watching and observing. You are educated beyond high school and a serious person. Subtle things don‘t escape your notice.”

Maybe I was a CPA,” Steve said.

Why would you say that?” Mrs. Bradford said.

It just seemed natural,” Steve said.

You could have said brain surgeon or lawyer and that would have carried as much weight,” Mrs. Bradford said, “but you said CPA.”

Maybe I have tax problems,” Steve said.

That’s another clue,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said. “I have never asked, but what did you do before you became a reclusive old maid?”

You are bold,” Mrs. Bradford said. “I think you are a leader and people answer to you.”

You are avoiding my inquiry, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.

You are not only bold, but persistent,” Mrs. Bradford said.

My question, Mrs. Bradford,” Steve said.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 10

P1020340081212MYNEW60WICKERSUNROOMSET[1]Tea With Mrs. Bradford

Steve walked for a mile or so. He purchased something to eat from a fast food burger joint. He spotted an abandoned car on and empty lot and slept there for the night. He returned to Mrs. Bradford’s the next morning and continued his work without notifying her he was there.

At mid morning while Steve scraped peeled paint form window trim Mrs. Bradford called out from the side door, “Mr. Joseph, perhaps some iced tea?”

Steve stepped down from the ladder and wiped his hands. “That would be greatly appreciated.”

Steve stepped inside the side door. It was a sun room with plants and white whicker furniture.

Have a seat, Mr. Joseph and I’ll bring your tea,” Mrs. Bradford said. “Would you like it sweetened and with lemon.”

Steve hesitated. “Yes, of course.”

Is something wrong, Mr. Joseph?” Mrs. Bradford said.

No,” Steve said. “What you said had a familiar ring to it, but not sure where.” Steve smiled politely.

A moment later Mrs. Bradford returned with a glass of iced tea.

You mind if I sit with you Mr. Joseph?” Mrs. Bradford said.

Not at all,” Steve said. “It will be a pleasure.”

You have uncommonly good manners for a handyman,” Mrs. Bradford said. “Either you are a charlatan of sorts or a man with breeding and secrets.”

Steve sipped the tea. “Delicious, Mr. Bradford. You are a woman of perception.”

What have I perceived?” Mr. Joseph.

I have a secret,” Steve said.

Mrs. Bradford smile politely.

You seem like a nice lady who can keep secrets,” Steve said.

My family has a closet full of skeletons,” Mrs. Bradford said.

My name is not Steve,” Steve said.

Please don’t tell me you’re Jimmy Hoffa,” Mrs. Bradford said.

When did he disappear?” Steve said and sipped the tea.

Mid seventies,” Mrs. Bradford said.

It is strange,” Steve said. “I know Hoffa, but not my name.”

You don’t know your name?” Mrs. Bradford said and sipped her iced tea.

I came to Indianapolis based on a conversation in a bar,” Steve said. “I instinctively used the term Nap town in relationship to Indianapolis. I got a bus ticket and arrived here a few days ago hoping something might jog my memory, but nothing has. I spent time in the library looking at old accounts and pouring through old high school annuals and nothing.”

Have you contacted the police?” Mrs. Bradford said.

No,” Steve said. “If I’m supposed to be in prison or jail that would be like being in a box within a box. I’d rather not know.”

A missing person’s report may have been filed on you,” Mrs. Bradford said. “You may have family looking for you and worried.”

I’ve thought of that possibility,” Steve said. “But I can’t return to anyone unless I know who I am, because I’ve considered also that perhaps it is best I remain missing.”

Mrs. Bradford sipped. “That will be locked away in my closet of secrets.” She stood and left the room.

Steve leaned in his chair to see if she was going to use the telephone. She opened a desk drawer and removed an envelope. She walked back toward the sunroom and Steve relaxed in the chair as if he didn’t watch her.

Mrs. Bradford handed the envelope to Steve. “Inside is some money. Go buy some suitable clothing. I’ll not have rabble working for me. By the time you return I’ll have the room above the garage ready for you. Your wages will be one hundred dollars a week. You will have Sundays off and you will be expected to do everything I cannot. Room and board are free.”

Steve parted the envelope. There were several twenty dollar bills in it.

That is an advance,” Mrs. Bradford said.

Steve folded the envelope and tucked it in his shirt pocket.

Go immediately,” Mrs. Bradford said. “Five blocks, a right at the light, and another block; there is a men’s clothing store. You will find more suitable works clothes there.”

Steve pressed his lips, gave Mrs. Bradford a nod, and left.

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The Sixth Man – Episode 9

thQJW2CJCQSteve’s Job

He found the house and the shrubs he slept under the night before. The next morning he walked a short distance and had breakfast. He walked back to the property where he slept. It was a mansion. It showed signs of neglect, but there were signs that someone lived there also.

He went to the door and knocked until the door opened.

An elderly lady, perhaps in he mid 70s came to the door. She was tall, thin, and makeup was caked on he face. She wore a dress. It was long and the collar was high around the neck.

What can I do for you,” she said disdainfully.

My name is Steve Joseph,” he said. “I’m looking for work.”

Go find a job,” she said.

I couldn’t help but notice that your place is a grand place, but it appears to have been neglected for a while,” Steve said. “If you can just pay me a dollar an hour…”

A dollar an hour,” she responded sharply.

Two dollars,” Steve said.

Two dollars,” she said squinting at him, “I’m frugal, but not cheap.”

Ma’am,” Steve said. “I need the work badly and I don’t want wages to be the issue.”

For 8 an hour what do you have in mind?” she said.

Well I could start by pulling weeds and planting some flowers,” Steve said. “The yard could use a good mowing and some manicuring.”

Go on,” she said.

It looks like the gutters and downspouts could be cleaned out and repaired,” Steve said. “And I’m thinking you need the trim scraped and repainted.”

You’ll find everything you need in the garage,” she said. “It’s on the back of the property on the other side of what used to be a garden.”

Am I hired?” Steve said.

Yes,’ she said. “But don’t dillydally.”

Steve worked until the sun fell below the maples to the west of the property. He knocked on the back door and the woman appeared quickly.

Ma’am,” Steve said. “I’ll be back to tomorrow. If you like I can clear the garden. I don’t think it’s too late to start one.”

I’ll be expecting you,” she said.

What time shall I be here?” Steve said.

I’m up at six,” she said, “Seven would be a good time.”

Very well,” Steve said. “I’ll be here then.

He turned away and started to walk down a brick sidewalk toward the street.

Don’t you want your pay,” she said.

Not till my work is done,” Steve said. He smiled and nodded. “Have a good evening Ma’am.”

You may call me Mrs. Bradford,” she said. “I’ll do so, Mrs. Bradford.”

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The Sixth Man – Episode 8

6036453865_2f02d9874b_z[1]Clueless In Indianapolis

Steve got off the bus in Indianapolis. It was near midnight. He walked out to the street and looked around. “You can’t tell anything by the night,” he thought. He walked back into the bus station and fell asleep on a bench.

The morning brought a light drizzle. He found a coffee shop and had breakfast. He walked aimlessly for blocks. There was nothing familiar about Indianapolis.

As Steve walked something came to his mind. When he looked at the newspaper from the man in Des Moines he quickly calculated 37 years. What happened 37 years ago?

Steve found the public library and started looking at papers 37 years ago. No headline or picture jogged his memory as he slowly ran reels of microfilmed newspaper through a projector.

It was night and he was asked to leave. He was hungry and mentally exhausted.

He bought a sandwich at a convenience store and a can of Coke. He sat on a bench in front of the store and ate. He finished and walked through an old neighborhood with large houses.

“Old money,” he said.

He found low hanging shrubs and crawled under them. He curled up with his duffle bag as a pillow and quickly fell asleep.

He woke the next morning to the sound of garbage trucks and after breakfast at a café walked back to the library. This time he poured through old yearbooks that were at least 37 years old. He was hoping for a name, a memory, a face – something. There was nothing.

As he walked from the library and down the street he was certain that Indianapolis had a place in his memory. He hoped it held a clue. On the other hand he was tortured by thinking that perhaps he may have only known someone from Indianapolis who talked about it at length and it suddenly instinctively came to mind while overhearing a barroom conversation.

A thought came to his mind, from where he did not know. “The harder you try to remember something, something in the subconscious tries to push it further away. But how can I not try hard, I’m obsessed with knowing who I am.”

“It sounds like the talk of a psychologists,” he thought. “Perhaps I was under the care of one or maybe confined to an institution.”

For the next hour he spent his time in a phone booth calling mental health facilities and institutions and inquiring if they had someone missing. All were present and accounted for.

“I was here,” he said to himself leaving the phone booth. “I know I was here. What are the odds of coming across something that might jog my memory? It is too small to calculate; I have a better chance of being stuck by lightening twice in the same day.”

Another hour of aimless walking produced nothing but tired and sore feet. “At present I have no place else to go. I guess I’m stuck here. I’ll stay until compelled to leave.”

 

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The Sixth Man – Episode 7

thCXTGKHD0An Amish Meal

Steve stood in a short line at the bus station with a duffel bag in hand waiting to buy a ticket to Indianapolis.

Bus rides are lonely, monotonous, trying, and smelly. The stench from human perspiration is somehow multiplied by a bus ride. Steve found an empty seat with no one next to him and prayed no one got on the bus to fill it. A couple of weeks earlier he could hardly stand himself. Now he was showered and clean shaven.

There are oddities about every bus ride; people who seem to have no destination except for as far as a ticket will allow them. He wondered how many were like him; looking for that one clue or spark that ignites the memories.

After an hour ride the bus pulled into a small gas station in the middle of corn fields. A young Amish man boarded and made his way back the aisle and sat next to Steve.
Steve toyed with the idea of telling the young man he was a devil worshipper hoping to drive him to another seat.

Steve turned away as the bus slowly moved onto the highway and left the gas station behind. “Amish don’t us deodorant,” Steve thought, “but on the other hand I may have turned toward my own stench.” Steve ducked his head toward his armpits and took a deep breath through his nose. “It’s the Amish guy,” he thought.

“Could I interest you in a sandwich?” the young man said.

Steve turned to him and he was holding a sandwich out toward him

“I’m fine,” Steve said. “I’ll have something at the next stop.”

“My mother made too much,” he said. “And I just want to be neighborly.”

“My name is Steve,” Steve said. He grabbed the sandwich and reached to shake the young man’s hand.

“Jacob Graber,” he said and shook Steve’s hand. “I’m heading to Elkhart, Indiana. I’m getting married,” Jacob said. “Well, what I’m really doing is bringing my wife-to-be back to Iowa and there we’ll get married.”

“Congratulations,” Steve said.

“Go ahead and eat,” Jacob said. “I don’t think it improper the eat and speak at the same time.”

Steve smiled and bit into the sandwich.

“It’s a beef roast,” Jacob said. “Nobody makes it as good as my mother.”

“So will your mother teach your wife to prepare beef this good?” Steve said.

“It will take time,” Jacob said.

“I don’t think you’re ready for marriage,” Steve said.

“Why?” Jacob grinned.

“You will have to tell your wife her roasts are just as good as your mother’s if you want to have a good marriage.”

Jacob smiled. “That’s funny, my mother gave the same advice.”

“That’s two independent sources from different genders and backgrounds,” Steve said. “So you better heed the advice.”

“Where are you going?” Jacob said.

“Indianapolis,” Steve said.

“Family?” Jacob said.

“I don’t know,” Steve said.

“That’s an odd remark,” Jacob said.

“Yeah,” Steve said, “it is odd. I don’t want to freak you out, but I don’t really know who I am. Yeah that’s right all I know at the present is that I call myself Steve Joseph. I was in Des Moines, Iowa for a while, but Indianapolis seems to jog something in me. So that’s where I’m going.”

“Have you done drugs?” Jacob said.

“I don’t know.” Steve said. “There is nothing to indicate that at all.”

Jacob removed an envelope from his pocket. He wrote his name and address on it and handed it to Steve. “When you find out who you are write me.”

“You’re a good man, Jacob,” Steve said. “Thanks for the sandwich.”

 

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The Sixth Man – Episode 6

a_pub_in_toronto[1]An Irish Goodbye

It was around 10 o’clock when Mick unlocked the back door. Steve waited for him at the bar.

“Top o’ the monrin’ to ya, Steve?” Mick said hanging his coat on a hook on the wall behind the bar. “I can smell the coffee.” Mick poured a cup for both and sat at the bar next to Steve. “Bar looks grand.”

“Thanks,” Steve said and sipped the coffee.

Mick sipped. “Good coffee.”

“Mick,” Steve said. “If I take off for a while will I have a place if I return?”

“This bar has been in the family for 50 years,” Steve said. “Nobody has occupied that room but you. I’ll hold it another 50 years.”

“Thanks,” Steve said.

“So is it to Indianapolis?” Mick said.

“Yeah,” Steve said. “Something’s there, someplace, I don’t know what, but it can’t be found from here.”

“You got the money for bus fare?” Mick said.
“Yeah,” Steve said. “I wanted to fly my private jet, but it’s being used by one of the Rockefellers this weekend. I hate loaning out to them. They never take care of things. Just because they’re rich doesn’t mean they’re neat.”

Mick chuckled. “All the time I’ve known you that’s the first joke you cracked.”

“How do you know it’s a joke,” Steve said. “I don’t.”

“When are you leaving?” Mick smiled.

“My things are packed,” Steve said. “I wanted to have a coffee with you before I left.”

“I’m glad you did that,” Mick said. He reached in his shirt pocket an removed a wad of money. He handed Steve two 100 dollar bills. “Will this help?”

“Keep it,” Steve said, “you got family.”

“You may have family too,” Mick said. “And if this can help you find yourself and them, all the better.”

Steve stashed the bills in his pocket. “I’ll pay you back.”

“It’s not a loan,” Mick said. “It’s a gift or if you like an early Christmas bonus.”

“If I don’t find what I’m looking for I’ll be back,” Steve said.

“Do you know what you’re looking for?” Mick said.

“An old high school yearbook with a guy who looks like the younger version of me,” Steve said. “Just maybe the moment I get off the bus someone will recognize me. And again maybe I’ll just find a nice Irish pub that needs a bar swab.”

Steve took one long drink from the cup of coffee. He stood and grabbed hold of the satchel at his feet. He shook Mick’s hand

Mick smiled and said. “May your days be many and your troubles be few. May all of God’s blessings descend upon you. May peace be within you and your heart be strong. May you find what you’re seeking where ever you roam.”

“I don’t think anyone has ever said anything more poetic and kind to me,” Steve said. “And if they did I couldn’t remember it anyway.”

 

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The Sixth Man – Episode 5

thS9V2F9N8Nap Town

Steve now had a home.

A broom leaned against the wall in the corner. He grabbed it and swiped away the cobwebs. He swept the pitted cement floor and pushed the dirt outside the room. He scraped it up with an old newspaper he found laying in top of a case of empty bottles. Instinctively he found the trash can and dumped the dirt.

“How did I know where that was?” Steve said. “Well, it’s a start.”

He walked up the stairs and opened the door into the bar. It was mid afternoon and the place was open, but empty.

He walked to the bar. Mick was dusting liquor bottles on the back bar.

Mick turned.

“Can you show me the ropes?” Steve said.

“Sure,” Mick smiled and for the next fifteen minutes he showed Steve what needed to be done and where things were kept.

“There is something familiar about all this,” Steve said. “But it’s not from here and it’s not from a month ago. It’s from a long, long time ago.”

“Maybe it’s from another job you had,” Mick said.

“Or maybe just from last month after all,” Steve said. “Are you sure I never said anything about my past?”

“Come to think of it,” Mick said. “One night you were sitting at the bar. You were eating a bowl of chili. And this guy says something about Indianapolis, you know the races, and you stopped eating and said to the guy, ‘You from Nap?” The guy said, no. But don’t you think that’s funny that you’d call it Nap, like you were from there all your life. It’s like something only the locals would say. I’ve never heard anybody around here call it that.”

“Nap,” Steve said, “Nap, it means nothing.”

“I don’t know,” Mick said. “It’s the only thing I could think of.”

Steve sat at the bar and cracked open a peanut from a bowl on the bar. “Did it come out natural?”

“Sure,” Mick said. “You responded to the guy like he might be an old friend. But you didn’t know each other, because when your eyes met you went blank.”

Steve tossed a peanut into his mouth. “I’m certain my name is not Steve Josephs. I got it that from a bus ticket that had St. Josephs on it. I just made the ST into Steve. That’s how I got here from St. Josephs, by bus. That leaves me to wonder if I came to St. Josephs from Indianapolis?”

“Or you could have been in a half dozen places in between,” Mick said. “Or you just overheard somebody say Nap. It may mean nothing.”

For two weeks Steve did his chores at Mick’s Bar. He worked a couple of days for Hank. He asked around the tire store if the term Nap meant anything to them. It meant nothing to any of them.

 

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