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Run Danny, Run novel Introduction

Story ID:11447
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Fiction
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:17
Person:Esther & Richard Provencher
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Contemporary Fiction – for a mature YA Audience

RUN DANNY, RUN novel Introduction
By
Esther and Richard Provencher

COPYRIGHT:
© 2017 Esther and Richard Provencher
Dester Publications. All rights reserved.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
This novel is dedicated to those children who think they are unloved and forgotten; also to former Truro, Nova Scotia Police Chief, Lonnie Murray for his insight on this manuscript. He was a good friend up until his untimely passing.

PROLOGUE:
The cryptic message, in neat handwriting, continued...
"Larry Reynolds, you have a son you never met," the letter said. "He'll be fourteen next month, the beginning of a new year. Hah!"

The readable part of the envelope was dated December 14. Except this was now June. Which meant the boy was certainly fourteen by now.

The last sentence was cruel. "I want my first child to be a son," he remembered saying so many years ago.

He and Jenny tried to talk about calling off their wedding or even postponing it. But she was furious and said things, which soured any further relationship. The memory of her angry statements still burned in his chest. Now he understood why she was so upset.

Her letter lay on the table:
“...When you spoke about walking out of my life I couldn't tell you about the baby, I was so upset. And then my father said you were from the wrong side of the tracks, among other things. You didn't have to take his comments so personal. I blamed you for everything then...for giving up on me...on us."

Larry stood up, scratching an itch. His slippers scuffled across the polished floor to the window. He leaned on the sill wishing to absorb the peacefulness outside. The sun was rising slowly over Victoria Park’s tree line, on the western edge of Truro. It looked like an egg yolk threatening to split open and cover everything with an umbrella of warmth.

He needed this precious moment. The memory of Anne 's warm embrace made him turn his head in the direction of their bedroom. What to say? She lay in their waterbed not more than 50 feet away? She's probably awake by now, wondering why he's taking so long. He could picture her chuckling to herself right now.

Larry enjoyed talking to JC, their cat or anyone passing by, a paperboy or a jogger, perhaps having their tasks interrupted by his chatter. After that he would backtrack with eyes curious as to what else was going on. His ‘chatty’ habits always made her shake her head in an amused way.

He was amazed at the way he noticed most everything; someone's new car, even the trimming of a tree. Or, a neighbor's changed hairdo. Unfortunately right now there was a creepy chill crawling all the way up the center of his back. How to tell Anne? Will she still love him? A headache began a campaign to master him.

What about his two precious children? Walt, just eleven, and a baby in the scheme of life, even though he acts more like fourteen. Will he understand when he finds out he has a brother he never met? And that someone else is a first son. Larry already told Walt he was the one with that distinct honor.

"You're my oldest child and just a hair away from being the same as a first born son," Larry had said. "That's a very precious feeling for me," he added at the time.

And Walt would chisel those words deep inside his heart. Now it was all turned around, not Walt, but perhaps someone else has the honor. Is there room for another boy in their life now? Larry wondered.

What about dear little Susan? She’s such a pretty young lady and looking forward to a great first summer with her new daddy. Will her reaction be a happy one? Will she still love him? Her new daddy is her special teddy bear, her protector from the darkness of the night. She often leaves her bedroom door ajar with the night-light on and no one makes fun of her fears.

Daddy’s the guy who chases away scary thunder and lightning bolts, and holds her close when the rain pours and clouds rumble. And who sings to her while she closes her eyes and falls asleep in his arms. How could he protect her from this? Besides, will she still turn to him in awe?

He loves his children so much, even if they were adopted only six months ago. The official papers were signed on December 17. That event in their lives became a special family Christmas present. It was so natural for them to be together, a family united with one common purpose, to love one another. And for he and Anne to grow older together, watching their children change into adults.

Will Anne truly understand? Is there enough love in her heart for another child? Will she also forgive Larry? Questions added to more questions, was quite unnerving.

*

He heard a commotion in the hallway. Someone was ambling along in a sleepy walk. Short cautious footfalls signaled it was Susan. Obviously she discovered dad wasn't in bed with mom. She probably had her usual exploratory trip into their room and jumping on the bed. Anne probably sent her. In a few moments his thoughts were confirmed.

"Mommy wants you to come back to bed, daddy."

"What about you?

"Me too," she answered. "Come on, right now." She was clutching her doll, its fixed gaze staring. Not so with Susan. Her luminous brown eyes grew larger with each new question. She absorbed everything around her.

"What's that in your hand?"

"Just something I got in the mail, pumpkin."
"Oh."

"Come here munchkins. Daddy needs a huge hug right about now. You came just in time, precious."

She liked to hear all the little nicknames he kept showering on her.

Larry leaned down making it easier for his little ‘bambino’ to climb into his lap. Her breath puffed sleepily on his cheek as she circled his neck. In a few moments she snuggled comfortably against his chest.

Looking up through half closed eyes she said, "I love you daddy."

*

Larry had met Anne just over a year ago. It was long after his involvement with Jenny was over. Any memories of their relationship had almost been forgotten over the years, blurred by work demands in various social service positions throughout Ontario.

Then a new job opportunity almost jumped at him from the newspaper classifieds. He applied, flew in for an interview and was hired. Moving to Nova Scotia was an adventure for Larry. It was this characteristic he wished to pass on to his children. To be prepared for moves, for meaningful changes in busy lives.

Would this be the first major test? He wondered.

Anne had been divorced for five years when he first met her at a church dance. She was everything he wanted. Saying he loved her was not enough to express a release of feelings, wanting to be with her and near her forever. The loneliness he had felt so long was over. Their courting was brief. He knew they were meant to spend the rest of their lives together.

Why not complete the dance before someone else spots this treasure? He told himself. They joined together as a family within three months. In fact, before the next major rainstorm he proposed. That they be joined together as one. Man, wife, a daughter and son. It was perfect. Well, at least most of them had wanted it this way.

There was another child not quite in the picture. Thirteen-year-old Roy could not accept the fact his mother wanted to marry again. It seems he always hoped his dad would get back together with his mom. When it didn't happen, Roy relented to his dad's request and moved to Halifax with him.

It was Larry’s wish that adoption of his two other children take place as soon as possible. That is, if Susan and Walt consented. They did. And of course, so did Anne. Their dad was very considerate to give up his legal rights. Larry felt bad at first, asking Walt and Susan’s natural father to give up so much. But when he saw the excitement in both their eyes, he realized it was a most reasonable request, and the natural thing to do.

The day they were officially man and wife was like a sweet-smelling bouquet of flowers. It created a wonderful garden in his heart and now this morning, weeds threatened to take over. Were things about to change very much? A cloud now gathered in the recess of Larry’s mind. It was like a finger poking around, exposing his secret. It dangled as an acrobat hanging on the edge of blackness, pointing right at his heart. What to do?

Larry read once again --
"...he was born in London, Ontario..." Jenny's words must have pounded across her keyboard, perhaps in pain as she hammered on the keyboard.

How many tears did she shed as words ripped from her heart? Did she spend restless nights thinking about her son not knowing who his father was? Their son, the little boy he never even had a chance to hold, or watch grow up. If only he had known. Would it have changed anything? Didn't she even care that just maybe they could have been a family? Maybe they could have worked something out.

Is this her form of retribution? Did she tell him now out of bitterness or anger? Larry searched for understanding in the typewritten letter. He sought refuge from the stark words:

"...I never got married and eventually couldn't discipline him anymore. He became more than a handful. I had to give him up to the Children's Aid. It was my decision. Mine alone, even though my parents thought it best. You can find him if you want, I don't really care. And yet I do. Maybe he could hook up with your family...if you could ever find him. I just don't care about him anymore. Sorry about this."
…Jenny

Now what did she mean? Larry wondered. "...If only he could find him."

*

Another noise in the hallway reached his ears. This time he knew it was Walt shuffling down the hall. The slapping sounds of his growing bare feet entered the kitchen. He was already up to a men's size nine sneaker. At five foot six, he was almost as tall as Larry. When they stood toe to toe, Walt could look directly into his father's eyes. It was because of his long legs.

The boy didn't notice his father sitting quietly nearby, watching. A few cupboards were opened as the contents of shelves were searched for something good to eat. A boy's appetite at eleven years of age was something else. Probably looking for mom's peanut butter cookies, Larry thought. Then a hesitation of sound, as Walt turned his head to his father.

"Didn't see ya dad," Walt said peering into the living room.

Larry liked being called, "dad." It made him feel like a whole person, fulfilled. To have a son like Walt was something he always dreamed about, and a son who liked to fish and camp, too. No matter if it was canoeing, hiking, or even tenting out. Bring it on, the boy could take it. "Rain or shine," became their motto. The weather reports never fazed them or cancelled any outings, once Anne said.

Walt tiptoed into the room, not wanting to disturb Susan coiled up on dad's lap. As he approached she raised her hands, pretending to ward off some menacing monster.

"I can see you," her little voice piped up. She was making scared-cat faces as she peeked through splayed fingers.

"Aarrgh!" he yelled out. Then her imaginative brother fell to the floor, writhing as if in agony. This always captured his sister's attention. She quickly scrambled from her father's lap, looking down at her brother with a serious frown. Suddenly a hand snaked up and pulled her on top of the boy.

Both tumbled around on the floor bringing a smile to Larry’s face. He watched as his children tickled and wrestled, arms and legs intertwining, noticing how gentle Walt was with his little sister.

Anne said after their divorce Walt was only six, and had to grow up quickly. Money was tight which meant they couldn’t go many places with an admission price. The family spent a lot of time on 'freebies' like picnics and playing in the park. The boy had also learned to enjoy his sister's company, like now.

"Dad. Help me," his son asked. "Quick, I'm getting eaten by an ugly creature."
"Not!" Susan 's voice said indignantly. "I'm a saber-toothed tiger."

Larry reached forward, only to lose his balance as Walt also pulled him down. Now there were three in the scramble. Grunts and cries of "Oohs" and "Ahhs" were sure to bring their mother to join in the fun. It was good being here on the floor, both children laughing as they sat on their dad's chest and tummy.

"Do you think I'm an elephant, or something?" Larry asked.

"You're an, 'or something' " Susan answered smartly.

"Tricked ya, huh?" His son was wearing a grin as wide as the sky. Then he leaned forward and placed the tip of his nose against his father's. His eyebrows lifted as he stared deeply. "Love ya," he whispered.

During these moments of pure joy, something as interruptive as a letter from a stranger out of the past was unimportant. It lay discarded and crumpled on the floor, the last paragraph almost forgotten-

PS. “Your picture was in a copy of the Truro Daily News someone sent me. Always wondered where you ended up. You might even find me if you tried. But, I'm out of your life. There's nothing here for you. It's over. Just thought you'd like to know...and oh yes, your son’s name is Danny."

*

Looking around the room Larry wondered if his newfound world was going to go up in smoke. He sat there with a bewildered look on his face. By now, his children stopped wrestling, leaving him to his thoughts, understanding he had something on his mind. From past experiences they knew dad would talk with them about it when the time was right.

Larry reviewed why he had moved to Truro, Nova Scotia after a long and successful career in Social Services in various jurisdictions in Ontario. He worked as a General Welfare Caseworker for the Town of Brampton, then joined the Provincial Government as a Family Benefits Worker, in London, Ontario.

There he earned a reputation as a caring and concerned civil servant. After his breakup with Jenny, he knew he needed a total change of scenery and decided to move to the East Coast. A previous visit several years before to Cape Breton had convinced him he'd like to live in this province one day.

Applying for and getting a position with the Colchester County Social Services Department was a stroke of luck. Someone had just retired and the supervisor was looking for someone with experience who could try to fill 'big shoes'.

Everyone seemed satisfied with his style and personality. Rapid advancement through the ranks of respect was based on his common sense approach to any situation. The best comment he had heard about himself was when someone said he had his head “screwed-on-right.” The expression was a plus and confirmed by another co-worker.

Larry had received extensive training in Child Abuse situations. He invested a lot of time and energy in making himself knowledgeable about abuse in the areas of physical and sexual situations. It was a developing field in preparing social workers to deal with an increasing problem, compounded by revelations in provincially administered training schools in the province. Serious questions of abuse against children, investigated by the RCMP already produced a lengthy report.

And Larry had been called upon several times to provide helpful input. Besides, Larry had some unpleasant memories of his own he needed to deal with. Unknown to anyone on staff, he himself had been a victim of sexual abuse at an early age by an older boy.

Through increased training he hoped to be of help to children in the community, with similar unhappy experiences. He knew his coming to Nova Scotia would challenge him in ways not yet known. And, they did. Little did he realize that his past would follow him to Nova Scotia.

His thoughts returned to Danny, the son he had not yet met. What kind of child was he? Did he have a good growing up period? Questions and more questions tossed and turned through his half-closed eyes.

There was only one thing to do right now. And that was to sit down with his wife, then children and share the contents of this letter.