Chapter 2

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Pressing the doorbell, Justin whistles a few notes of "Amazing Grace" as he twists his body around to gawk at the fading sunset splattering across the fields of tall green crops. Calculating the distance in his head, he figures he is only about two miles from his Grandparent's farm. It seemed more like hundreds.

Standing now on the Arnold's front porch, he stares into their fields all high and green with growing crops of corn and wheat surrounded by the small green hills and huge deciduous trees in the distance. Unlike the busy streets of Hickory, there were few streetlights or sounds of constant traffic, sirens or anything else out here in the country almost thirty miles from the bustling big city of Charlotte. Almost one hundred miles away from Hickory here in Union County, katydids and crickets plus the occasional rooster were the only ones guilty of disturbing the peace. Even the roar of tractors was so quiet that no one complained.

Enjoying the silence now, he leans over the bulky wood banister grinning at the Arnold's two German Shepard's fighting over a sizeable turkey leg bone in the front yard.

"Hey there Justin. Glad ya made it. Right on time, too. Don 'cha worry, now 'bout them dogs. That's not what we're gonna serve you for supper tonight," Mr. Arnold says peering at him through the silver mesh of the ancient screen door.

"Charlie, don't you be giving that boy a hard time now," Mrs. Arnold hollers with a high-pitched shrill from the back of the house in the kitchen.

"I'm not a givin' him a hard time, dear. He knows I'm only kiddin', right Justin?"

"Yes, sir," Justin replies lifting his feet across the threshold and ambling inside the dim lit foyer of the two-story white house. Breathing deeply his stomach grumbles noisily at the smell of fried chicken and boiling gravy coming from the rear of the wood home. As the screen door bangs closed behind him, he follows Mr. Arnold's quick gait around the staircase leading to the bedrooms on the second floor through a tiny dining room area into the kitchen. Glancing around the brilliantly lit yellow room, Justin blinks a few times until his eyes adjust to the fluorescent lighting in the ceiling and over the sink.

Turning around to face him, Mr. Arnold fidgets with his overalls saying, "See, look at him Evelyn. I told you these lights would be too bright in here. You ought to get enough sunlight of a day that you don't need all these bright lights anyway. You're gonna blind our company with these things."

"Now, Charlie I need to be able to see to do my sewing and cooking and...."

"And, to watch all your soaps on TV every afternoon."

"Charlie! Now you know better than that. I do a lot of work here around the house. I am not always a watchin' television. I like to leave it on for the noise – for company, 'specially with you out in the fields all day 'cept when it's rainin'."

"Oh, come on, dear. You know you like your TV. After all, where would your afternoon's be without 'The Young and the Restless'?"

"Hey, now don't forget 'The Bold and The Beautiful'," Justin says with a giggle.

"Why, son don't tell me you watch that stuff of a day. That's girl stuff. Besides, ain't you working and doin' something important like accounting work and all?"

"Sure. But the girls in the office -- I let them watch the soaps as long as they get their work done. It keeps 'em off the telephone with their husbands, boyfriends or whomever, anyway."

"I'll bet it does," Mr. Arnold says cackling.

"Now, Charlie. I told you not to give Justin a hard time. He won't ever want to come have supper with us again will you Justin?"

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