OK, so I have not gotten loads written this morning. But sometimes a girl has to clean her shit up in order to concentrate and get down to the REAL work. So after leaving with this teaser from Mike and Esther (Homes for Heroes – Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour) I am off to do just that. As Scarlett says…
Did ya’ll know that is where I got my name? But that is another story for another day.
“I know this place looks hopeless but the deal that I struck with the city to revitalize it could be a real turning point in our work here. Most of the people that are going to return and rebuild have done so now. So, we have a better idea of where we stand. And with dozens of abandoned houses slowly rotting and being reclaimed by Mother Nature,” the young man shook his honey blond head as he nailed another piece of sheetrock into place in what had once been an elementary school.
“With tens of thousands homeless Vets…” The futility was evident in the crack of his voice as he finished driving the last nail into place before turning his wheel chair towards Esther. “Well it does not take a genius to figure this one out.”
Esther smiled at his infectious enthusiasm. Matt Duggan was a remarkable young man. Her chest tightened, the kind that any mother would be proud of. She swallowed back tears as she turned and looked around the entry way of the building that had remained vacant for over decade.
They had spent the whole morning just clearing out the rubbish including old mattresses, condoms, needles and worse. Even after a gallon of bleach the smell of human and animal refuse still lingered, but she was not certain if that was coming from the other two dozen or so rooms in the building that they had yet to tackle or if it was merely stuck in her nose and throat now.
She admired this young man’s determination and ingenuity. She was certain it took more than a bit of his sweet talking to arrange for the city to sell his charity this whole building for five dollars. Although some people might think they took advantage of him. But while there was lots of work to be done, much more than they could accomplish before the Thanksgiving grand opening of the community center portion of it, the three-storey brick building was fundamentally sound. It was mostly cleaning, repairs to the internal walls that had been soaked in the flood waters and cosmetic repairs.
In addition to her, Mike and a dozen or so of the local residents, who idealized Matt for his stalwart support of this community, several other Marines from around the country were there to help a friend, including two who were an electrician and a plumber. The plumber was a retired Vietnam Vet who along with his wife was touring much the same as Mike was except in the comfort of an RV. They had been here for a couple of weeks now. As a result water service had been restored to the derelict edifice already.
Esther noted that the back wall which might have once been used as a bulletin board for the children was almost completely finished now. But this was just the scratching the surface. The real work would be in the cafeteria and the gym. Those three ground floor rooms were the goals for the next three week before the grand opening, celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the volunteers, community members and the homeless. But even that seemed an impossibly large task in such a short time.
But then too these people had already done so much to rebuild their community and their lives. Of course, it helped that the Marine contingent did not know ‘quit.’ As daunting as it all seemed this morning, Esther considered it a pretty safe bet that it would all be finished in time.
“Ooh-rah,” she chuckled as she watched Mike lift the final piece of sheetrock into place as Matt began to nail it into place on the studs at the bottom while an older teen on a ladder put a few more into the top near what would become the ceiling once they finished.
Her fists clinched at her sides as she felt the heat rise up her neck towards her cheeks and ears. Damn, the man.
After a week of the most earth-shattering sex of her life, better than the crap that was in her favorite romances…after giving up her home and everything she knew to hop on the bike of his motorcycle and follow him across the country on this mission…after all that when Matt winked at Mike last night and teased, ‘So, Master Sergeant, is that one room or two?’ The man had blushed, looked at his boots and mumbled, ‘Two will be fine.’
She sighed as the feeling of being adrift, lost and alone once more swamped her. Perhaps flooded would be more accurate. Despair had been her best friend almost for so long that she did not know anything else. Then he had come and pushed back the clouds, shone light into her screwed-up life and given her hope that things could be better.
Only to snatch it all away with a few words. Cutting her loose from the only anchor she had felt in a long time.
‘So where do I stand with you, Master Sergeant?’ she pondered as the two men laughed at something she could not overhear.