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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