Love of the LORD:
By: Hugo L.R. Reed
Chapter One: Day In, Day Out
Hector James stood and stretched letting his back and shoulders popafter a night of laying on his old mattress. He made a mental note to buy a new one, despite the fact that this was easily the hundredth time he'd made such a mental note, and he knew it would make no difference. So, he made mental note to write down the fact he needed to by a new mattress, despite the fact that this was twentieth-odd time he'd made such a mental note and knew it would make no difference.
Instead of prolonging his morning with more mental notes, Hector walked the bathroom and set about his morning routine: brushing his teeth, trimming stray hairs from his head and beard before dressing himself in a set of his work clothes. As he pulled out the red plaid shirt he intended to wear that day, he spied his suit at the back of the closet. The three-piece light grey suit was the only formal article of clothing he owned and he'd had no reason to wear the thing in eight years, which had been his graduation class' twenty-year reunion.
That had been a very miserable and dry affair and he couldn't remember for the life of him why he'd decided to go in the first place. Most of them had decided to make it out as if they were a successful business man, which made him instantly dislike each one of them whether they were lying or not. Either they were lying and were willing to seem like douchebags to be popular, just like high school, or they were telling the truth and were actuallydouchebags… again just like high school.
Maybe there was something to a reunion in the fact that you couldn't avoid being what you were when you'd been attending the school. There were certainly the geeks and popular cliques. He'd seen the group of jocks, each claiming to belong a team he had no intention of actually looking into. There had even been the stereotypically pretty girls who had built their entire self-worth on the opinion of others, and because the males were still largely horndogs with nothing better to do than ogle these girls, they felt pretty.
He snapped himself out of his memory with a shake of his head and finished dressing himself before moving to the kitchen. As he passed the coffee pot, flipped the switch to get it started. He'd owned the same coffee pot for twelve years now, and it was a great little thing. Of course, now it was hopelessly outdated, but he couldn't bring himself to replace it. Unlike the mattress, the coffee pot had never once betrayed him, and he didn't like the idea of risking a whole new relationship just to get the newest model every few years.
He placed two slices of toast into his toaster and pulled out his only pan to start preparing fried eggs. Even after all these years he never could get the eggs quite right, but he'd learned to accept his own cooking years ago. Living alone had left the aging man very little choice.
Not that he hadn't thought of getting married before, but it had been two decades ago. He'd never loved a woman like he loved Carla. She was easily the love of his life, not that there was exactly a lot of competition… or any competition really. He'd loved the woman as much as he was capable of loving another human being, and she'd loved him too, he knew that. The issue had come in when she'd also loved a dozen other men. He'd tried to set things right, but in the end she was meant to be tied down to any man, regardless of how hard they worked.
So, he'd buried himself in his work, construction. There was something very honest in craftsmanship that appealed to him. It had something to do with the idea of creating something from its base parts, or perhaps it was the way people could work with wood. Hector really liked working with wood. You could build just about anything from it and it was so flexible.
People who never worked with their hands didn't get that, because they thought of wood as a solid that refused to budge, but that just wasn't the case. Metal could be like that, and glass was even worse, but wood did bend… just a little. Still, when it came to buildings just a little ended up being a hell of a lot. He doubted there existed a human being capable of making exact measurements and a perfect cut, but wood allowed them that eight-of-an-inch wiggle room. Wood was wonderful, and definitely better then metal.
Metal was cruel and inflexible. If you were off by half-an-inch you could be totally fucked. It was the reason he'd never opted to become a mechanic or technician… too much metal. Sure, he still had to work with it, but in his position he got to deal with wood and nails far more than metal.
Hector stretched up as his little coffee pot beepeda few times, signifying that it had finished its job. He piled his eggs and toast onto a plate, and grabbed his favorite mug before heading over to the pot. He poured a large amount of the steaming liquid into his cup, taking a moment to revel in the smell of the wonderful brew. Hector didn't usually think much of others, but whoever had invented coffee had been right on the mark.
He moved to the tray by the couch, as he turned on the morning news, curious as to what had been going on in the world while he'd slept and how bad his route the site might be that morning. Unfortunately, he was stuck taking the bus to the site today as his truck was in the shop. For whatever reason the transmission on the thing had decided to start giving a weird jump when going between first and second gear. He'd never been good with cars, so he'd been forced to retire it to a shop that doubtless would charge him far too much to fix the issue. Still, he'd had little choice in the matter. It was either that or by a new truck, and he liked his truck.
The newscaster came on and started on several stories about various crimes and a murder that had happened the previous night before going on about a local animal adoption center with a transition that had all the grace and subtly of a blast of dynamite. Hector absorbed what bits and pieces he deemed important while he ate his eggs and toast. After he finished, Hector stretched and moved his dishes to the sink before heading out the door to walked to the bus stop.
In the end, he'd probably be a few minutes early to the job site, but that wasn't really such a bad thing. It was certainly better than being late.
The July morning was warm, easily in the upper eighties, but growing up in Florida had been far worse than this. He'd moved to Salt Lake City after college to finish things with Carla and finally get out from under his father's rule. Part of him always hoped his dad would understand and come to accept the choices he'd made in life, but logically he knew better. His father, Arnold, would go on several mission trips and as such would frequently be gone for months a time, during which Hector had been left to fend for himself. Sure, until he was ten he'd been appointed a guardian, but afterwards during those months he basically just looked after himself.
Still, he'd always considered his father's time away to be the real blessing, because it was far better looking after himself than to have Arnold around. Arnold was a decent father, mostly. Hector had never wanted for food or a warm home to sleep in, but Arnold's favorite pastime was beating the snot out of him, and more than once he'd had to go to the hospital. They'd always excused it as a gang fight, which were far too common in their city.
So, after college, he'd seen the chance to really start over in his life and leapt at the chance. It meant that his business degree was virtually useless now, but still, he was his own man and he got to do something he'd always been drawn to: construction. Arnold, being ex-military always insisted that things like construction and physical work were pointless. If you wanted a physical career, you went into the service, if not get a good degree. Hector had chosen the later, as he hated violence due to his father's attacks.
Still, after he'd graduated and he'd been forced out of the house, he'd realized that he had an entire world he could go to, and the one place he knew he hated no longer had any kind of a hold on him. He'd immediately explored a host of cities and fallen into construction work for two reasons; firstly as a method of defiance of his father, and secondly because every city always had construction going on. It was hard work, much harder than he'd thought it would be, and the men of his first job had teased him for a week straight about having "ladies hands."
He glanced down at them now, and had to admit they'd had a point. His hands had once been smooth and unmarked. They were the hands of an office worker, not a construction worker. Now though, they were scarred and sported bruises and puncture wounds. It wasn't a matter of carelessness either. Give it enough time and anyone will get injured on a construction site, and Hector had been on more than enough for more than long enough to get his fair share of injuries. He had no ladies hands anymore.
He reached the bus stop and sat down, enjoying the feeling of the summer air. People in Florida and Missouri suffered from heat, but it was made much worse by the humidity both states sported. 75 degrees with a high humidity was like 90 in a dry climate. He had no desire to go there, but it made him understand how people could survive places like Arizona.
Salt Lake had some fairly warm days, but it was almost always dry heat, and to him it was a simple matter of a bit of sunblock. Others sported water bottles and wet rags, and he walked through them, barely even feeling the heat. He found that he was really enjoying his time here. It was the first time he'd spent a full decade anywhere since moving out. He'd intended to stay in St. Louis at first, but after he had a falling out with a cop named Theodore Shields, Hector had decided to move on.
Honestly, he'd come to enjoy Salt Lake City. The place had a genuine feel to it, and the weather was hard to beat. The summers were comparatively cool and he loved the winters here. Not that he really liked the snow, per say, but he really enjoyed sitting in the apartment with a cup of coffee and watching the falling white flakes.
It was 5:15 when he reached the bus stop and he sat down on the bench, unearthing his iphone from his pocket. He wasn't used to that yet either. Smartphones had been around for over a decade and he was still amazed at the fact that he could carry around his entire music library in his pocket on the same device that took his phone calls. He'd grown up in the eighties and back then people had huge bricks of phones, and even those were only the people that could afford them. He never would've guessed that everyone would soon be carrying around slim little things with the power of a proper computer running through them.
He put on the Beatles Abbey Road, and lay back against the glass, simply relaxing and letting the early morning sunlight crest over his closed eyelids. Maybe it was because he'd always been a bit different, maybe it was because he appreciated simple life, but to him this moment was worth any mansion in the world a thousand times over. He managed to block out the pair of ladies that joined him at the stop and in a few minutes the bus pulled up.
As they boarded the bus, he gave the driver his fee and moved through the somehow already crowded bus and finally found an empty seat next to some dark-haired youth. He was a simple-looking youth. One thing that Hector did take note of was the boy's eyes. He was immersed in a book and Hector clearly saw the lad's bright green eyes. They were practically shining out of the kid's head and it took him several long minutes to realize the boy was probably wearing contacts, although he didn't know what contacts would make someone's eyes glow even the lit outdoors.
He put the boy out of his mind and sat back in his seat as Here Comes the Sun came up on his playlist. There was actually a talent in albums that was lost on most kids today. The Beatles had understood that when you were putting an album together it was a chance to tell a full story through the songs and the order they were arranged in. It was a lot more than simply mashing together twelve songs and calling it a day. That was the reason he disliked the ever popular "best of" CD's that were floating around through the nineties and early two thousands.
"They're good," said someone, snapping him out of his thoughts.
"Sorry?" he said, looking down and realizing that it was none other than the boy who had spoken.
"The Beatles. They're good. Not a lot of people listen to them anymore, but they had a lot of talent."
"Well," said Hector, slightly put off by the lack of tact from the boy. "I'm what they call old-school."
The boy suddenly laughed hard as if Hector had told a joke, which made him question if the lad was entirely stable.
"Sorry," said the boy, wiping a tear from his eye. "I've been somewhat old-school my whole life."
"Whole life?" Hector repeated, slightly incredulous. "You're, what fifteen?"
"I'm much, much older than I look," said the boy simply.
"So at most, you're twenty. I've got a few decades on you still, half-pint."
"I can see why you'd think so," said the boy, without explaining himself.
Hector had half a mind to yell at the boy. After all, who randomly opened conversations to a bus seatmate like this? However, his higher brain stopped him. The kid was weird, but he wasn't worth getting upset over. Hector merely leaned back and enjoyed the music until he arrived at his stop.