By Ted Dewey
Breakfast was over at SAM’S PLACE. The old- man, was up and around, but barely. Each day, he was becoming noticeably weaker. The end” was drawing near and he knew it
The three men were seated at the table on the back porch. Laura had retreated to the hothouse. There would be a wedding in town this afternoon, and she would supply the flowers.
Sam cleared1 his throat and looked from one face to the other. “Well, what is the verdict? Am I forgiven?”
Bill slowly nodded his head and answered. “We have talked it over and we can find nothing to forgive. We would see no reason for you to fabricate such a story, and somehow it all seems to add up.”
“It is Bill and me, that should be forgiven,” Joe added. “We took a lot for granted. We were; just kids, and mother was mighty angry. I guess she had a right to be. It was natural that we took her side. We didn’t give you a chance!”
Sam got to his feet and extended a hand to each of the boys. “Then let s start all over again. It’s better late than never!” The three hands joined together – six eyes were brimming with tears. No words were needed. The three men sat down and remained silent for a moment Then Sam spoke: “Boys, I know I don’t have much time left, and now I know that I will rest much better knowing that I have made peace with my two sons. When Laura located you and talked you into coming, I was not only very surprised, but tickled pink. It was my great desire? to make peace with you and once more gain your respect.”
Sam drew a white handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his eyes He continued “I wanted! to give you both something to remember me by, something good, something that would make you proud of me. For two long nights, I lay awake wondering. What do you give a couple of young men that have everything? I asked! myself. Your mother was quite a wealthy woman. When we parted, I left her a lot of money. You boys would be loaded.”
A slow grin, spread over Sam’s face. “This must sound crazy to you, but it tickled hell out of me when you told me you were busted!”
Neither man answered. They sat staring at the old man. There was a puzzled look on both their faces.
Sam continued. “My will is all made out. Laura, gets most everything. She deserves it. She has been very kind to me and has been a regular little princess, these last two years
But there is one thing, that I have reserved for my two sons. And it might be worth a pile of money!”
He paused for a moment, reached in his shirt pocket and drew out something. He laid it on the table. It was a LOVE POTION bulb.
“That,” he said slowly. “is what I am talking about. There is something in it, that puts the mind at ease and gets it going in the right direction. It takes away hate and fear. Replaces it with love and affection. It could change the whole world!” He picked out one of the kernels and turned it around between his thumb and finger. “Don’t look like much, does it?”
Joe answered. “We talked about that today It must contain, some powerful drug. Am I right?”
The old! man slowly shook his head, “Somehow the word drug has a nasty ring to it. I don’t know whether or not it is a drug, but it sure as hell contains something!”
“Have you had! a chemical, analysis run on it?” Bill asked
Sam nodded. “I have » friend here in town that is a chemist. He ran some tests on it. It contains no known drug, so he says.”
“How about some unknown one?” Joe asked
Sam shook his head “We don’t know. I guess when you are testing for a drug, and you don’t know the make or model, it gets quite complicated, but it contains no known drug, that is for sure “
“How about side effects?” Bill asked.
Sam shook his head. “Nothing bad No hangover, and it is not habit forming. This, I have learned from experience.”
Joe grinned. “One more question Just how far does this stuff go? Does it affect the body as well as the mind!? Does it stimulate sex?”
Sam Bishop grinned. “Sex, is part of love, isn’t it?”
Joe blushed. “I think I understand what you mean, but answer me this. When people get past their prime and slow down, does this stuff give them a boost?”
“Definitely! A couple of these little kernels a day to a woman that is fading like a fallen rose and will bloom all over again. Double the dosage and in a week’s time, look out! If she doesn’t have a man, she will go looking for one.”
“How about the older men? Does it do anything for them?” Bill asked. “Or does It just fill their- head up with ideas? The man has got to have it somewhere besides in his noggin.”
“I know what you mean.” Sam took a handkerchief out of his pocket and; wiped his forehead. “Whatever a man loses to make him potent, this stuff will start up the machinery that will make him like new again I have been experimenting with this for- almost twenty years, and now I have most of the answers. I figured there must be a way to make a pile of dough, out of this project. I was Just about ready to begin when this damn cancer got me.
But I did write a book that tells everything. So, this is my gift to you. This project I leave to both of you, lock, stock, and barrel. And I hope you make a million!”
Two weeks had gone by, since Bill and Joe had arrived at Sam’s Place. For the last three days the old man had remained bedridden. His face was flushed, his eyes had a glassy look. Everyone knew the end was near.
Bill had taken over the outside chores Taking care of the hot-house and hauling the fruit and vegetables to market. Joe, was playing the part of a male nurse, helping take care of the old man.
It was Saturday afternoon, and the day was sunny and bright. Bill had gone to town after groceries. Joe and Laura were seated at the table under the orange tree; a cold glass of orange juice in front of each of them.
With every passing day, Joe felt himself falling for this pretty young lady. Each day, she was becoming more beautiful Now that she had a couple of good helpers, she had plenty of time to take care of herself.
Joe toyed with the glass in his hand, glancing up now and then to take a peek at the girl in front of him.
Laura’s short cut curly brown hair was neatly combed. Under the big blue eyes was a trace of eye shadow. The pearly white teeth were bright and glistening. The tired look had vanished.
“God, you look pretty today.” Joe told her. “You are a very beautiful woman.”
“Thanks, Joe. Now that I have some help around here, I can spend a little time on myself. I was, getting about worn out.”
“How come” Joe asked, “that a beautiful girl like you, turns out to be a house-keeper? You look more like a model in a big department store. Either that, or a movie star!”
Laure smiled. “Keep talking, flattery will get you anywhere!”
“I am not kidding.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I would love to hear it.”
“I don’t think you would find it very interesting.”
“Let me be the judge of that.”
“What would you like to know about me?”
Joe grinned, “Everything! Start back when you were a little kid. Where were you born? What did your parents do?”
Laura picked up her glass and took a swallow of the orange juice. She set the glass down and for a moment sat staring at the man across the table. “There is some of my past,” she said slowly, “that I am not too proud of. Talking about it, will probably bring back a lot of unpleasant memories.”
“Then let’s talk about something else.”
The girl shook her head. “No, I will tell you. Otherwise, you will think I was really bad.”
“Get going. I am a good listener!”
“Just what do you want to know? Go ahead and ask me a few questions.”
“Okay, how old are you, Laura?”
“Twenty five, coming on twenty six.”
“I don’t even know your last name.”
“Adams. Laura Lorena Adams.”
“Are you a native? Were you born here?”
“No, I was born and raised in Texas – deep in the heart of Texas.”
“I don’t detect any Texas draw.”
“I must have lost it somewhere along the way.”
“How long have you been here in Yuma?”
Laura? closed; her eyes and leaned back in the chair. “It’s been a little over two years. I went to work for your father shortly after I came here.”
“And you have no relatives; here?”
Laura slowly shook her head. “I don’t have any relatives anywhere, Joe. I was an orphan and no one wanted me, I guess.”
“Whatever brought you out here?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Just curious, I guess, but it does seem odd that a pretty young thing like you, would be here all by yourself.”
Laura sighed, “Maybe it would do me good to talk about it. I have kept everything bottled up for so long.”
“Sometimes it’s good to get a load off your chest.”
“I guess I might just as well. I’ll cut it as short as I can. My childhood days weren’t happy ones. I spent most of my time in an orphanage. I got tired of staying there, so I pulled out.
“I was just thirteen. I painted up my face so as I would look older and got a job in a restaurant. It was sort of a roadhouse, far out in the country. The people there sort of adopted me. I was there for two years.
“I bought me a guitar and learned to play it. I practiced singing, mostly country and western. Everyone said I was good and I entertained when I was not waiting on tables.
“As I grew older, I wanted to get out of there. There were very few young people in that neighborhood, and no good-looking boys about my age. Then one day, a big bus stopped there. The big red letters on the side of It read, DARREL GAINS AND HIS TEXAS RANGERS.
“It was a traveling band and they were just passing through. They stopped for dinner. I sang for them. I guess they were quite impressed, for they gave me a big hand
“Darrel Gaines, was the leader of the band. He was young and handsome. I fell for him. They stayed there and entertained for about a week. When they pulled out, I went with them.
“Darrel had a wife somewhere. But getting married didn’t seem too important to me. I guess; I was star struck and had big dreams of the future.
“We had good times and bad. Darrel couldn’t leave the bottle alone. Also he used hard drugs, taking anything that was available. I wanted to get away from them but I had nowhere to go.
“The years; passed. Then one day we came here to Yuma. We got a job playing; in one of the local clubs. We were staying at a motel out on thirty second street. That was our last night together.
“That night I had a terrible headache. I guess I was lucky. I took a couple of aspirins and curled up on the couch. I was watching the ten o’clock news on T.V. and got the surprise of my life. There had been a terrible wreck.. Our bus had left the road, rolled over and burst into flames. Everyone was killed.”
Laura quit talking and wiped her eyes.
“I had about twenty dollars Almost broke and nowhere to go. I bought a newspaper and went through the want ads. I answered the one that; read. ‘Housekeeper Wanted. Board, room and salary.’ I got the job and have been here ever since.”
Laura quit talking for a moment, then smiled. “Anything else you would like to know?”
Joe shook his head. “I think you covered most everything. And thanks a lot! You sure have nothing to be ashamed of.” He stood up and helped the girl to her feet. “You sure haven’t had a very happy life.”
Laura looked up at him. “These last couple of years, hasn’t been so bad. I have had a roof over my head and knew where the next meal was coming from. And your father, Joe has been so kind to me. I love him like he was my real father. I will miss him so much.”
Joe nodded. “I know what you mean. Bill and myself, have also had some tough breaks these- last few years. Maybe it’s about time that lady luck starts smiling down on us. At least let’s hope she does.”
“I am in favor of that. And now that you know all about me, why don’t we talk about something else?”
“Okay, and there is, something else.” Joe reached in his shirt pocket and drew out several small sections of the bulb that grew in the hothouse. He laid them down on the table. “What do you know about these little fellers?” he asked.
Laura picked up one of the sections and turned it around in her hand. “Looks like Garlic, doesn’t it?”
“It sure? does. But you know darn well it isn’t. Pop has told Bill and me all about it. I was just wondering what you knew about the stuff.”
Laura smiled. “Your father told me quite a story about these things. He calls it a love potion that works by putting it in either food or drink. Is that what he told you?”
Joe nodded. “Yes, And it makes quite a story. I can see no reason for him to fabricate such a yarn.”
“Don’t you believe him Joe?”
“Yes, but he might have gotten carried away, a bit.”
“Your father don’t lie!”
“I didn’t mean that. He thinks the stuff is worth a lot of money and could be marketed. I wish I was as certain about this as he is.”
“He should know. He had a very personal experience with it. Do you understand?”
“Yes, and I guess that is about what it would take to make one out of me. Bill and I have had a tough break, these last few years. We lost a lot of money on holding a lot of big gas guzzling cars. We thought they would come back.”
The trace of a smile, crept over the face of Laura Adams. “If you want to make sure, Joe. Why don’t you take some of it yourself?”
“And! what would I do, Laura. Fall in love with myself?”
The smile broadened “I would be glad to help. We could run an experiment.”
“You and me?”
“No one would need to know. Besides I think it would be fun. I do like you, Joe. A lot!”
Joe slid around the table and looked down into the deep blue eyes. He gently kissed the curved red lips. Already, life was more: beautiful!