A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

4: A Hard-Workin’ Man

Stacy Lawrence liked life in Thurmont, mainly because there was little drama. The worst that she had to deal with was the occasional bar Romeo trying to pick her up while she was working. So far, they had all taken “no” for an answer.

She was surprised she needed this slower pace of life. It gave her a chance to take a deep breath, regroup, and rebuild her life. Having her car break down on Catoctin Mountain might be the best thing to happen to her since she divorced Jack, Peter’s father. She hadn’t even bothered to tell Jack that she and Peter were moving. He hadn’t paid any alimony or child support, so she didn’t feel she owed him anything.

Peter was making new friends. He had been thrilled to discover Thurmont had a skateboard park that was close enough to their apartment that he could go on his own.

Stacy finished her work closing the tavern, locked up the place, and went upstairs to her apartment. She had stopped in earlier during her break to make dinner for Peter and put him to bed, so the place was quiet and dark when she entered.

She turned on a lamp next to an old armchair and sat down. She soaked in the quiet. She enjoyed her job, but it was noisy. After work, she just wanted to get off her feet and enjoy the quiet. She picked up a novel by Sherryl Woods and started reading until she fell asleep.

She woke the next morning and saw Peter watching television and eating cereal. “Good morning, kiddo,” she said, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“Hi, Mom.”

“I’m going to the library for some new books today. Do you want to come along?” she asked.

She was off today and tomorrow, and she planned to enjoy it.

“Can I get some DVDs?”

“I suppose so.”


It was a sunny day, so the walk to the library was pleasant, and Stacy was happy to be spending time with Peter. She was working so many hours that she didn’t get to see him much, and when she did, it tended to be in the apartment or the tavern.

At the library, Peter hurried off to the DVDs while Stacy strolled through the stacks, looking for something that caught her eye. As she walked by one of the large windows that looked out on a back porch, she heard a trio of musicians playing music.

She walked out onto the porch to listen. About a dozen people were gathered around, sitting in chairs.

“They’re pretty good, aren’t they?”

Stacy looked over her shoulder and saw Bobby Hennessey, the older man who had helped her when her car broke down on Catoctin Mountain. He had also given her a good recommendation to Kevin at the tavern to help her get her job.

She smiled at him. “I’m surprised. I thought libraries were supposed to be quiet.”

“Technically, these people aren’t in the library.” He paused. “How’s the new job?”

“Busy, but I like it. The tips are good, and I can use all the money I can earn right now.”

“Why’s that? It’s a lot cheaper to live here than in Montgomery County.”

Stacy nodded. “It is, but I have a lot of debt that Peter’s father left me with.”

“Doesn’t he pay support or alimony?”

Stacy snorted. “He’s supposed to, but you have to be working to do that. So, I’m having to work 50 hours a week. It helps that I can live above the tavern. It makes it easier for me to watch over Peter.”

“Watch over? When I was a kid, I’d come home from school, do my homework, and disappear until dark with my friends. Sometimes, my mom didn’t even know where I was.”

Stacy put her hands on her hips. “When was that? The 60s?”

He pointed to himself. “I guess I’m doing pretty good for a dinosaur.”

“I didn’t mean it that way; although, you never did tell me your age.”

“And don’t think I will now.”

“You can’t be that old.”

Bobby shrugged.

A man walked by and clapped Bobby on the back. The man had thin, white hair and a full beard and mustache. He wore a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran. “Haven’t seen you at the legion lately.”

“I was there two nights ago, Mack,” Bobby told him.

“Well, I wasn’t there.”

“I know. Why do you think I went then?” Mack laughed. “Mack, this is Stacy Lawrence. She’s new in town.”

Mack turned to Stacy and smiled. “How do you do, young lady?” It had been a while since she’d been called young, and even longer since she felt it. If this man was a Vietnam Veteran, he must be in his 70s.

“Nice to meet you,” Stacy replied.

“What brings you to Thurmont?”

“I was looking for a new start, and Bobby convinced me to give this place a try.”

Mack nodded. “Yeah, he got out for a while, but now that he’s back, he’s our best advertisement for the place.” The musicians started playing a new song. Mack turned back to Bobby. “I’ve got to go, but stop by and see me.”

Bobby nodded. Mack left and Stacy said, “Does everyone in town know you?”

He shrugged. “Maybe not everyone. I think the kindergartners at the primary school haven’t had the pleasure yet.”


Two days later, Peter came in from playing at Community Park, excited. “Mom…Mom, Bobby offered me a job.”

“What? Who?”

“Bobby. You know, the man who helped us on the mountain. He asked me if I wanted to help him on his farm.”

Stacy laid down the clothes she was folding, trying to take in what Peter had just told her.

“You’re too young to have a job.” He was only 12.

“No, I’m not. Besides, he said it wouldn’t be too much. I can help you now, so you don’t have to work so much.”

Stacy hugged her son. “That’s sweet, Peter, but I don’t know. I think Bobby was just being nice.”

“Please, mom. Bobby said it wouldn’t be too hard, but I had to ask your permission. He’s in the tavern waiting to hear what you say.”

This was all coming at Stacy so quickly that she could barely take it in.          

She went downstairs and saw Bobby talking with a couple at one of the tables. When he saw her, he excused himself and walked over to her.

“I can’t tell if you are mad,” he said.

“I’m not mad, but why would you offer my son a job?”

“He asked.”

“Peter asked you for a job?”

Bobby shrugged. “Well, he asked me for a recommendation like I gave you because he wanted to help out, so you weren’t working so much. I admire his enthusiasm, but he’s not likely to find work at his age, so I offered. I have plenty of odd jobs around the place that a boy his age can do.”

Stacy shook her head. Peter wanted to work to help her. She also didn’t want to discourage his initiative, but she wasn’t sure it was the best thing for him.

“I can’t be running him up the mountain every day, even if I wanted him working,” she said.

Bobby grinned. “No worry there. I can pick him up and bring him home.”


“I grew up on a farm, but I never had to run one. There’s a lot that needs doing, and honestly, there are other things I’d rather do.”

Stacy nodded. “I know. I spent my summers with my grandparents in Western Maryland, helping them on their farm when I was growing up.”

Maybe that was why she was enjoying Thurmont. It reminded her of her summers in Western Maryland.

“I never took you as a country girl,” Bobby said.

“I’m not anymore, but it is the reason I like animals.”

Bobby nodded, but said nothing.

Stacy sighed. “Fine, we’ll see how it goes.”

Bobby put a hand on her shoulder. “It will be good for him.”

“I hope so. I don’t want him to grow up like his father.”

Stacy looked over toward the kitchen and saw Peter standing, waiting. She nodded. He cheered.


Peter took well to his new job. He was tired some evenings when Bobby dropped him off, but he never complained. From Peter’s description, Bobby had him doing odd jobs around the farm. If he didn’t know how to do them, Bobby showed him how and watched him until he got it right. Most of them were just basic chores. Peter said he enjoyed feeding the animals the best because he got to spend time with them, and they appreciated him more since he was feeding them.

After his first week as a working man, Bobby brought Peter home, and the boy came into the apartment with a smile on his face. He handed Stacy an envelope filled with money.

“That’s my first week’s pay, minus $20,” Peter said. “I want you to have it. I want to help out, so you don’t have to work so much.”

Stacy looked over at Bobby. “He earned it all. He’s a hard worker and a quick learner.”

Peter smiled at the compliment. Stacy did, too, as she passed the envelope back to Peter. “I can’t take this. Like Bobby said, you earned it. It’s yours.”

“But I want to help,” Peter said, with a bit of pleading in his voice.

“Uh, Stacy, can I ask you something over here, please?” Bobby said.

“Right now?”

Bobby nodded. She walked over and he whispered, “He’s been excited about giving that money to you since day one. It’s the reason he took the job.”

“I can’t take his money, though. It wouldn’t be right.”

“You’ll hurt his feelings if you don’t,” Bobby warned her. “He’s stepping up. He said since he’s the man of the house, he’s doing what he can. If you won’t take it, it will discourage him. Take it. Open the boy a savings account for when he gets older and wants a car or needs money for college. You don’t need to tell him that, though.”

Stacy looked at Bobby, then Peter. She couldn’t believe that her baby was growing up. She walked over and swept him into her arms and hugged him tightly as she cried.

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