Horatio Benice, Chapter 2

March 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

2.  Earlier that Day

“Brian Albert McDinn, get in this house this instant!” Fran McDinn’s voice cut through the gathering dusk like an arrow.  “It’s time for Supper!”

“I’ll be there in a minute!” he shouted back across the vacant lot that separated their house from the Benice House.  “I’m almost done!”

Mr. Benice had converted his garage into a small bakery in his prime.  But for the better part of Brian’s lifetime, the ovens sat cold and dark in the garage.  The mice had long ago polished off the remaining crumbs, and they had nibbled through an electrical cord or two.

It was in this building where Brian had been spending his time.  He had devoted 3 hours after school everyday for the past week to cleaning up the bakery.  He was the kind of kid who always had his next get-rich-quick scheme all worked out.

His latest attempt involved baking biscuits for the kids at school.  He planned to take them to school in his lunch box and sell them for $.50 each.  When Horatio heard about his scheme, he offered the use of his ovens if Brian could get the place cleaned up and the ovens in working order.

He stood for a minute and looked at the bakery.  The stainless steel ovens gleamed in the gathering darkness.  Maybe tomorrow his dad could come check them out and make sure they were safe and clean enough.  He hated to leave the job when he was so close to being done, but it was getting dark and his mother’s voice sounded pretty serious.

With that thought, Brian closed up the bakery.  He wanted to say goodnight, but from the look of the house, Horatio was either asleep or away.  Not a single light was on.  He took one last look around.  He really did want to get the bakery ready; but he wouldn’t mind bumping into Jamie Towertall, either.  She sometimes cleaned for the old man, and now and then they would talk before going their separate ways when their work was done.  He saw her at school sometimes, but they never had the chance to talk there.  She was in 8th grade, he was in 7th.

He jumped on his bike and minutes later he was ready for supper.

“I’m glad you help out like you do over there, Brian” said his mother as she spooned mashed potatoes onto his plate, “but did you forget you have the Halloween party tonight?”

“No, I remembered; it’s just that I’m so close!  Could you come with me tomorrow, dad, to check out the ovens like you said you would?”

Eddie McDinn put down the paper he was looking at and turned his attention to his only child.  “If it wasn’t for Horatio Benice giving us his day-olds when you were in diapers, I don’t know how we would have made it!  I’ll take a look tomorrow.  I’ve been wanting to see Mr. Benice for awhile anyway.  Maybe I’ll offer him a ride to church on Sunday.”

“I just don’t understand” interjected Fran “why don’t you just use our oven instead of bothering poor old Horatio?  It’s already clean and ready to go!”

“Aw mom, all the kids at school know Mr. Benice.  Everyone thinks there’s magic in his ovens, that’s why his bread was always so good.”

“Well, I think it’s ridiculous” she shot back.  “You’ve never even had his bread.  He stopped baking when I was pregnant with you”.

“Fran, you have to admit, it was really good bread” Eddie joined in.  “For all Horatio has done for us, for Wellman, cleaning up his bakery for one last go is the least we can do.  Let the old man go out knowing that he left a legacy, is that too much to ask?”

Overpowered, Fran passed the bread and changed the subject.  “The party’s at 6:00 Brian.  It’s almost 5:30.”

Brian quietly ate his potatoes and a piece of ham.  His thoughts turned to the party and the Halloween dance.  Maybe he’d get to dance with Jamie tonight.


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