Leigh broke the silence as she returned from taking the children to school. “I thought you had to go to the bank.”
“Yes, I better get going.”
I probably should have said more to Leigh before I left, but I just couldn’t find the words. I couldn’t sum up the courage to tell her that everything would be all right and I knew that she wasn’t interested in my patronage.
So I grabbed my binder and I headed out.
As I wandered toward the bank, out of the corner of my eye I noticed Pedro. He was sitting on the steps of the school and it appeared that he was waiting for someone. About this time, I noticed that Admiral was approaching and he waved to Pedro to come to him. Pedro smiled with glee and immediately got to his feet and ran to hug Admiral.
“Good morning,” Pedro exclaimed!
“Good morning, Pedro. Are you ready to go in and meet your new teacher,” asked Admiral?
As I viewed this encounter from afar, I could not help but think this was odd. School had been in session for almost a month. And for that matter, why would Admiral come to escort Pedro?
These thoughts were unexpectedly interrupted when Admiral turned and noticed me watching.
“Well good morning, Joseph. Off to the bank, are you?”
How does he know these things? Has Zack been talking to him as well as Paul? Did Leigh see him this morning?
“Yes, Admiral,” I responded slowly.
“Wait up for a few minutes and I will walk with you. Just let me get Pedro settled in to his new school.”
Being as Admiral has done so much for me in the past, I could not say no. So I took a seat on the curb and watched as Admiral and Pedro entered the school. Pedro had taken hold of Admiral’s hand and was skipping and singing. I vaguely remember when I used to be that excited to go to school.
As the minutes passed while I waited, my mind was in constant spin. I flashed from the thought of sitting outside the principal’s office awaiting punishment, to my daughter’s morning remarks, to Pedro’s joyful skipping, to Admiral’s request that I wait for him. If only I knew what would be the outcome today, perhaps this anxiety would subside.
Then after what seemed an eternity, Admiral reappeared from the school door and began to cross the street towards me.
“Do you remember your first day of school when you moved here to the island,” Admiral asked?
“It was the day after you and Patrick came to my house for the party. I remember watching the two of you skipping along much like Pedro.”
“Why is Pedro just now meeting his teacher?”
“Pedro has had some difficult circumstances that have kept him from attending. His mother is very ill and he has been working odd jobs around the docks to help pay her medical expenses. A boy his age should be in school, don’t you think?”
I’m not sure if this was really a question directed at me, but I nodded my head in agreement.
“How did you come to be involved,” I asked?
“Indirectly, this is what I wish to speak to you about,” he replied.
As he turned the conversation, we turned around the corner no more than a block from the bank.
“Joseph, how long have we known each other?”
“Over twenty-five years.”
“As I expressed to you last night, you have a choice to make. Right now in your mind, the deck is stacked against you. No matter which way you turn your alternatives are bleak. As I explained to you, these alternatives are not the problem, but the symptoms of your problem…”