We always have fun swimming in the lake. Sorry the other guys couldn’t make it, but I need to go my grandpa is taking me fishing this afternoon. ” Kenny grabbed the towel and went to the bike. “Yeah, guess I’ll go on home, it’s not much fun swimming alone,” Justin mumbled staring at the water. “What’s wrong? ” Kenny asked when he noticed his friend looked sad. “I wish I had a grandpa, but all mine are dead. ” “Yeah, well, I need to go, see you later. ” Kenny hooked the towel on the side of his bike and left. “I’ll see you later,” Justin said, watching his friend ride in the direction of Orange Avenue.
While riding along he noticed a man struggling with something. At once, he recognized him, “That’s Mr. Cassidy,” he said, riding toward him. ” “Hey, I can help you. ” “Shut up and mind your own damned business. Why should you help me? ” He shouted, taking off his cap and scratching his head. “My parents always told me to help anytime I saw an old person struggling with something and besides, I enjoy doing it,” Justin boasted. “You want to rob me; I know what you youngsters do you take everything we old people have and then beat us to death,” he explained and thought he recognized the boy. That’s not true,” Justin whispered. “I’m not a thief. ”
“Guess you’ll beat me up, while your friends rob me,” he said, giving the grocery cart a shove and it started to turn over, but he steadied it “Mr. Cassidy, why don’t you use your truck to take your cans to the center? It would be much easier. That is if the engine runs,” Justin said snickering. “Who told you my name, Sonny? What’s yours? ” He was unaware anyone in town cared enough to know his name. After a short time, he was ready to go again. “Wait a minute, I know you,” he declared. “You know me? Justin answered surprised. “Everybody in town knows your parents. Your mother, Louise is President of the Women’s Club, and your dad, Mike owns the Anderson’s Architectural Firm.
When you go home tell your mother, the old man said hello, and I’m doing just fine,” he said, laughing and clapping his hands. “Now, go on home and don’t you bother me. ” “Okay,” Justin failed to understand what Mr. Cassidy said. He stared at the boy and wished he could tell him a secret. “Maybe someday I can. ” “Did you say something? ” Justin asked. “I only wanted to help you. ” Life is tough. We cannot always have everything we want. Now can we? ” He chuckled, giving his cart another shove. “Oh, sure,” Justin said, sitting on his bike. I was stupid talking with him. What would I have done if he had grabbed me? I could have ended up in his basement. “My Lord, if he only knew the truth,” Mr. Cassidy said, watching the boy ride the gravel road, as he sat on the grass and fell asleep. ***
Arriving home, after putting his bike in the garage, Justin went into the house to check in with Aunt Fanny or his mother, whichever one was in the kitchen. Please, don’t tell me you’ve been swimming all this time,” Louise said as Justin got a handful of cookies and a glass of milk. “Oh no, Kenny left early to go fishing with his grandpa and I didn’t want to swim alone and came home. Guess who I saw when I rode around the foothills? ” He asked, without noticing the shocked look on her face. “How should I know who you saw, since I wasn’t there? ” She waited for him to respond. “Okay, who did you see? ” She asked, waving her hands in the air. “Mom, I saw old man Cassidy, he was pushing the cart down the gravel road.
You know the ragged, old man that picks up cans and bottles around town. ” “You didn’t talk to him, well did you? ” She asked, raising her voice. “When I offered to help him, he said no and I came on home. Why are you raising your voice? ” Listen to me. Justin, you are not going near him again. Do you understand me? ” She asked, shaking her finger. “I want you to know if you go near him, you will be on restriction, because he is dangerous. ” “But Mom, but Mom,” He kept repeating, and she was adamant the old man was dangerous. “I don’t know what I would do without you,” she shouted.
“Okay, Mom. ” Don’t forget what I said,” she said going up the stairway. Running up the stairway, “Dad, will be home shortly, perhaps he can explain what’s wrong with Mom,” Justin said. When he heard the garage door open, he ran toward the kitchen to talk with his dad. “Dad, something is wrong with Mom,” Justin said before Mike got in the house. “Let me get in the house before you start telling me about your mother. Picking up his briefcase from picking up his briefcase from the passenger’s seat and went into the kitchen, he stopped long enough to put the briefcase on the table before going to the family with Justin.
Now, tell me what is wrong with your mother,” he said, sitting in his chair concerned about his wife and son. After Justin explained everything to his dad “I’ll take care of her, I don’t know why she would act like this, but, I’ll find out,” Mike said and went upstairs. *** An hour later, Mr. Cassidy woke up, rubbed his eyes and shook his head, mumbling. If they rob me, they will do it while I sleep. Once he arrived at the recycling center, unloaded the cart and collected his money, he sat on a bench debating whether he should get another load today. “That’s enough work for one day. I’m going home to get me a drink.
When he arrived home, placed the cart by the fence, entered the house, the phone was ringing. “This is Cassidy. ” “Hi there, how’re you doing? ” “No problem, I can take them. It’s good hearing from you,” Mr. Cassidy said with a hint of excitement in his voice. “Of course, you’ll know when they’re ready,” he said hanging up the phone. “That’s great. ” He said making a drink and taking it to the back porch to enjoy it. While sitting in his old chair, he stared up the tree-covered mountain behind his house. How could anyone be afraid of them? Haunted mountain, who will ever believe it? The ghost story is funny.
He thought, a slight grin covered his face. Smiling he drank the last drop, “I better finish my work,” he said going to the backyard and picked up a shovel. “What was that? ” He asked when he heard talking coming from the field, looking through the opening between the slats in the fence, he saw several boys playing in the open field behind his house and it bothered him. “Hey, boys, you have no damned business in there. Get out of there this instant! ” He screamed, waving the shovel in the air. “Don’t tell us what to do. We can play wherever we want to,” one of the boys shouted back in defiance. When you fall in one of those holes, it’ll be too late to do what you’re told. ” “You don’t scare us! ” Another boy answered. “Come on, Mark, let’s get out of here, he scares me,” the boy nearest the fence said in a low voice. “My dad said anyone that isn’t afraid of him and the mountain is a darn fool. ”
The old man shouted again, “If you fall in one of those air shafts nobody will ever find you. Did you know there are fifteen feet of water and ten feet of mud in those holes. Now get your asses moving or I’m calling the sheriff,” he said, throwing the shovel over by the fence. I want you to get off my property and leave me alone,” he said, but no one responded. For years, he had tried to get the county or the mining company to build taller fences around the pits, but they kept delaying it. “Chuck, tell him to get back in the house and mind his business,” a boy said as he grabbed rocks and threw them hitting the fence. “Alright you, little brats, I’m calling the sheriff! He’ll make you leave me alone. ” Mr. Cassidy knew he would only warn them of the dangers in the field and tell them to leave the old man alone.
“The way those stupid kids play out there, I’m surprised at least one of them hasn’t fallen into a pit. He shook his head, went in the house to get another drink and turned on the radio. While listening to the local news, the reporter said. “The Kanawha Coal Company issued a statement earlier today unveiling their plans to reopen the mines on the mountains surrounding Howardsville. This would create a hundred new jobs. ” Mr. Cassidy turned up the radio, and listened. “It will be over my dead body before they take more coal out of that mountain,” he said, turning off the radio. “There’s no reason for them to go up there. I can just see them cutting down trees and destroying everything with that heavy equipment,” he said clinching his fist.
For years there were rumors, they planned to reopen the mines, but no one thought they would ever do it. Mr. Cassidy returned to the backyard picked up the shovel and finished his work. It frustrated him to think, after these many years, they would reopen the mines. “The hell with this,” he explained, throwing the shovel over against the fence. “I can dig the rest of those holes later,” he said, going into the house to get another drink. “They are not going up there. I promised no one would ever disturb anything on that mountain. That is a promise I plan to keep in honor of my mother.
I can still taste the blackberry cobblers she made with berries we picked up there. ” He recalled spending hours with his friends on the mountain without fearing a ghost. “I need another drink,” he said going to his bar. With a drink in his hand, he returned to the back porch to plan how he could stop the coal company from drilling. “Wait a minute, I know what I can do, but I’ll need the boy’s help. ” He went into the house looked around before he sniffed the air. Oh boy, when Helen was here, her cooking and baking always kept the house smelling good, but now it smells stuffy and stale. He thought and snickered.
Mr. Cassidy returned to the porch, while sitting on the old chair, he allowed his mind to wander, thinking about the way the people in town treated him. No one ever, called him by name. They just yelled. “Hey, you get out of my way. ” He sat on the back porch and reminisced while thinking of his friend Mary Jenkins, he smiled, remembering she was in her late nineties with snow-white hair she dressed as if she was a model and looked innocent and loving as an angel. He loved her because she loved animals and always had a pet lying on her lap while sitting on the front porch waving to everybody who walked by her house.
When Mrs. Jenkins saw him, she smiled, “nice seeing you. ” He thought she did it because she was old and alone. Later, he discovered another reason for her kindness. “You’re such a nice man,” she said when he walked by her house. Smiling, he said, ‘thank you’ without paying any attention. “I need to spend time with Justin. I’m sure he is a fine young man, and we could become good buddies,” he said tears filling his eyes. “That boy could keep me alive for years. ” “It is hell being old and alone,” Mr. Cassidy declared, going in the house to fix another drink.