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    Mac Rountree
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Discovering Home - 10. Pray for a Boring Day

Chapter 10

Desire for Boredom

 

There was a pause of the telephone line. Mark waited.

“Monsieur Harden, you are asking me to assist you in committing a crime. I would be disbarred if I undertook such an action.”

“I am not asking you to facilitate a crime. I am only asking how we can make this happen. Legally…. or as close to legal as possible. The end result has to be a document we can take to the government so that Ehud can get citizenship papers and a passport.”

Mark knew he had started the conversation on the wrong foot. He was wound up. Talking about buying Ehud from his parents and then smuggling him into France had not been the best opening gambit. There was another long pause.

“Was Ehud born in a hospital or at home?”

“I will ask him.”

“It will be easier if there is a birth certificate. That way, we won’t have to get others involved to testify to his birth. Perhaps it is in the records at the synagogue. Call me after you find out that piece of information, and then we can devise a strategy.”

“Many thanks, Monsieur Jenner-Ward.”

Yonatan hung up the telephone, paused for a few seconds, then he picked it up again and called Tante Rachel.

“Tante, I need to meet with you as soon as possible. May I visit you at home as this is a rather sensitive topic.”

Sufiyan was unhappy about Mark taking the car without being chauffeured. Sufiyan was convinced that Mark would either wreck the car, it would be stolen, or Mark would be kidnapped. Or even worse, all three would happen. Sufiyan drew detailed maps for Mark to follow. Mark thought the level of detail was ridiculous because it was less than a mile away. Mark felt at home behind the steering wheel; he missed driving around in his truck, but it didn’t take him long to have a new appreciation for Sufiyan’s maps and instructions. The streets in the old parts of Algiers were a maze.

Mark was greeted at the door by a handsome, strapping gentleman who bowed and then motioned him to the patio where Tante Rachel was waiting. Mark bowed, and she indicated a chair for him to sit. She clapped her hands twice and cold drinks appeared. She spoke to her servant girl and the man who greeted Mark at the door, and they disappeared. The aunt spoke quietly because she didn’t trust that her staff wouldn’t share what was being discussed.

Mark asked about Ehud’s birth without disclosing why he needed the information.

“He was born in Algiers. His mother became sick, so I sent a vehicle to bring her home to take care of her. I didn’t trust those Ethiopians to know how to deliver a baby. They know how to deliver elephant calves, but I didn’t believe they had the necessary equipment at their hospital if there was a problem. Mariam stayed with me while her husband stayed in Ethiopia. That is when he became a Muslim. He went to tribal witch doctors and the Iman asking for potions and spells to ensure that his child was healthy. The fool. He only needed to pray to Yahweh. The infidel.”

Mark sat and listened to her ramble about all of the troubles with her daughter and family. She was as loquacious as Uncle Samuel. Mark had received the information he needed. As she came up for air, Mark interjected that he appreciated the information but that he needed to leave.

“You didn’t tell me why you needed this information. I know that Ehud is living with you, and we are telling no one. Those crazy people my son-in-law associates with makes it unsafe.”

Mark thanked her again and took his leave. The man at the door asked if Mark knew how to get home safely.

“Let me ride with you, Master. I can make sure you get there safely. The mistress will pay for me to take a taxi home. We must keep you safe.”

Mark was happy with the offer and said that he would pay. Mark told the man where he lived, and they traveled through the city. The man exhibited a natural curiosity and asked questions about who lived in the house and how they were related. Mark instinctively played his cards close and said he had two children and lived with Dr. Lillie-L’Oranise. He had no reason not to trust the man, but Mark didn’t know him to give more information.

They arrived at the house, and Mark invited him inside while they called a taxi. Belinda and Ehud came running into the house while Mark was on the phone. Ehud suddenly stopped and gave the man a quizzical look. He then smiled and bowed to him.

“Monsieur Masam, I am surprised to see you again. I didn’t know you lived in Algiers.”

Monsieur Masam straightened his back and formally shook Ehud’s hand. He then excused himself and said he would wait outside for the taxi. Mark could tell that the man was trying to play cool but was rattled by seeing Ehud. Mark thanked the man for riding home with him. The man was nonplussed as he quickly exited the house.

Belinda grabbed Ehud’s hand and pulled him along as they scampered toward the patio. Robert walked out of his room, and his mopey disposition garnered Mark’s attention.

“What’s going on, Robert? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine; why wouldn’t I be?”

“Just asking, Skippy. You seem a little dejected.”

“I want to go home.”

Mark was startled. His son had been so joyous and excited since arriving in Algiers and was suddenly unhappy and wanted to return to North Carolina.

“Can you call Uncle Joe and ask him if I can come home?”

“I think we need to talk. Come with me.”

Mark put his arm over Robert’s shoulder and led him to the front room. Mark asked him what was causing his distress. Robert sat but said nothing.

“Robert, talk to me, son. Tell me what is so wrong that you want to go back to North Carolina.”

“I just want to go live with Uncle Joe. I miss him.”

“This seems rather sudden. If you left, I would miss you so much. So would Belinda.”

Robert snorted but didn’t speak.

“Well, you will need to talk with me before I can consider this further. This is a huge change, and I don’t understand.”

“Can I call Uncle Joe to talk with him?”

“Yes, remember the time change difference. Wait until mid-afternoon to call. Do you need me to help you with the call?”

“I have already looked up how to make the call. I can do it on my own. Dad, I need to have a private conversation with him.”

“Okay. You know I love you, right?”

“Yes, I love you too.”

Robert wouldn’t look Mark in the eyes. He asked to be excused and walked back to his room, where he closed the door. Mark thought he saw tears in Robert’s eyes. Mark got up from the sofa and walked to the patio, where he saw Belinda and Ehud playing in the water. They were laughing and giggling. Again, Mark was taken with how beautiful Ehud was. Mark sat lost in thought until the children came out of the water. They sat at the table, whispered to each other, and then started snickering at something Belinda had said. They acted as if Mark wasn’t present.

Cecilia brought food out for lunch and announced that Master Robert said he wasn’t hungry. Mark knew that he needed to talk with Dan as soon as he arrived home from the hospital. Something was seriously wrong.

Sufiyan came onto the patio and asked to speak with Mr. Mark. Mark could sense the urgency in his voice.

“That man, he was looking in the windows of the house. I drove the car into the compound and was closing the gates when I saw him looking into the bedroom windows. I didn’t let him see me, but I could tell he was checking everything. He was up to no good, Mr. Mark.”

“Thank you, Sufiyan.”

Mark was distressed with that bit of information. He picked up the telephone and dialed Tante Rachel’s number. Her maid said that she was taking her afternoon nap and would return the call later. Mark’s brain started racing. Who was this man, and was Tante Rachel safe? Was his family safe? Mark swallowed twice and then knew he needed to talk with Ehud. They settled on the patio after Mark told Belinda that he needed a private conversation with Ehud. Ehud was nervous and fidgety.

“You knew that man who came to the house with me. How do you know him?”

“He and my father knew each other. He would often come to the house, and he and my father would sit in the yard and talk. They would shake hands afterward, and he would leave.”

“When was the last time you saw him?”

“It was probably a year ago. Monsieur Masam and my father talked one day, they shook hands, and my father wished him safe travels.”

“Do you know if he is Muslim or Jewish?”

“I don’t know. Why? Is something wrong?”

“I am not sure, Ehud. Please don’t leave the compound without Sufiyan, Dan, or me. Okay?”

“Okay, Pere Mark.”

 

Robert was not at the dinner table with Erin, Ehud, and Belinda. He said he wasn’t hungry. Mark lightly tapped on Robert’s bedroom door, and when there wasn’t an answer, he opened the door and saw his son was asleep. Mark decided not to awaken him. Maybe he would be better tomorrow.

Dan arrived home and sat at the dining table where he and Mark were served a late dinner by Cecilia. Mark took a big gulp of wine and decided to dive into the conversation. Normally, dinner conversation was reserved for social, cultural, or amusing tales, but never business. Tonight, was an exception. Mark related his conversation with Monsieur Jenner-Ward and his visit to Tante Rachel. He then told Mark about Monsieur Masam and Sufiyan’s concerns.

Then Mark related Robert’s problem. Dan wasn’t surprised.

“You know that Belinda makes eyes at Ehud, don’t you?” Mark was surprised that he hadn’t noticed.

“Ehud is taken with Belinda. I am just thankful that they are pre-adolescent, and nothing is going to come of this.”

Mark was startled by Dan’s nonchalance. This boy wasn’t going to do anything with his daughter. Mark had to stop and reframe his thinking. They were two males. No one could get pregnant. Of course, Belinda was way too young for that even to be a consideration. Mark’s brain was a mass of dissonance. He had never thought of Belinda growing up. She was still a child. And a precocious one at that.

“It must be puppy-love, Dan.”

“What is puppy-love?”

“It is just two children who like each other. There is nothing to worry about.”

“I think there is. Do you want my opinion of what is bothering Robert?”

The light bulb went off in Mark’s brain.

“No, they are all too young. Robert is not jealous. There is no reason.”

Dan looked at his husband. He was incredibly handsome, but Dan thought he wasn’t well versed in child and adolescent psychology. The children were mature beyond their years because of the attention that Mark had paid them. They had the maturity of teenagers. Or the lack thereof.

“Okay, what do we do?”

“One thing at a time. If Ehud was born at the hospital, I will request a copy of his birth certificate. We need to talk with Monsieur Jenner-Ward to decide if it is best to have Tante Rachel as his guardian because she is his grandmother. If she doesn’t want that role, I will file for adoption. I am his uncle of sorts. Perhaps it is I am his cousin. Anyway, we will figure that out. We will then notify Ehud’s parents that he now lives with us and will wait to see if they make a move. They live in Ethiopia, and I don’t expect them to be much of a problem.”

Mark stayed quiet and listened to Dan’s rational mind lay out what they were to do.

“We need to talk with Tante Rachel about how this man came to work for her. There may be a reasonable explanation. I also want the aunts to take Belinda out for a day and leave Robert and Ehud here. Let’s try to affect some male bonding. I just hope that Belinda and Ehud haven’t been playing show and tell.”

Mark was startled by such a statement.

“She wouldn’t.”

Dan looked at Mark and smiled.

“Damn, she would. I have never seen her so giddy.”

“We were told that Ehud was found with a boy. I sensed he was gay from the minute he arrived. There is a possibility.”

“Our world has gone ca-ca again. Just when it was starting to settle in. Sometimes, I just pray for a boring day.”

Copyright © 2020 Mac Rountree; All Rights Reserved.
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

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Chapter Comments

And the problems multiply, life will certainly be interesting and I wonder what possible dangers lie ahead. Will they be relocating to Paris soon? Mysteries within mysteries!!! Well done, very enjoyable!!

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Robert is feeling isolated because he has been by the person he has championed most:  Belinda!  There may be other factors underlying his depression and I do hope we will see them resolved.  Inevitable intrigue has been introduced and we will now see how this plays out.  Great chapter!

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14 hours ago, drsawzall said:

And the problems multiply, life will certainly be interesting and I wonder what possible dangers lie ahead. Will they be relocating to Paris soon? Mysteries within mysteries!!! Well done, very enjoyable!!

Drsawzall,

There are mysteries within mysteries in this foreign land for Mark and the children.  They don't know the culture and are viewing everything through the lens of small town America.  Ehud has unintentionally introduced potential new dangers for this family.

Paris is always an option for the family.  

Thanks for reading the book.

Mac

 

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12 hours ago, pvtguy said:

Robert is feeling isolated because he has been by the person he has championed most:  Belinda!  There may be other factors underlying his depression and I do hope we will see them resolved.  Inevitable intrigue has been introduced and we will now see how this plays out.  Great chapter!

Good morning Pvtguy,

Robert's feels that his role of being the protector of his sister has diminished.  Certainly Belinda is oblivious to his feelings as she is enjoying her new playmate.  

Right always wins but intrigue in a foreign land is certainly at play.

Many thanks for reading and commenting.

Mac

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Yes I too believe Robert is feeling neglected and even isolated.  He might even be experiencing jealousy because he's always been the protector of Belinda!  His whole life has been upended and he's probably ready to return to the safe and secure atmosphere that Thomas and Joe provided!   But, the real concern now needs to be Monsieur Masam !!  That man spells trouble with a capital T.  More intrigue to this great story.  Thank you so much Mac for bringing it to us!!

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