At five O’clock Sammy headed home. The pope hill campus stood still listening only to his footsteps leaving its corridors. He took afternoon tutoring every week, but today he decided to go instead to Drake’s Victorian style house on Sunnyside Avenue, twelve blocks away from the campus. Sammy looked inside the elegant perimeter. Tendrils lined the walls and restlessly entwined silently around the stems of the oleander as if somehow wanting to be a part of its simply superior nature. The hibiscus alone swayed in the breeze, nothing seeking warmth along its graceful stems. The ground danced with nature. He took a step back and surveyed the house. It seemed more beautiful than Drake had described it yet it breathed no air of vivacity. It lay still and plaintive.
“You looking for Mr. Jefferson son?” the gardener peeked from below the wall.
“No, I’m looking for Drake his son,” Sammy replied relieved that it only was the gardener.
The gardener cocked his brow incredulously and laughed haughtily to himself.
“Well you’re not going to find him here my boy, Sir Drake and Mr. Jefferson left for England just now.” He coughed deeply in his chest. “I’m sure surprised anyone would ask, they left quietly you know and I’m not sure why but Mrs. Jefferson is still in the house.”
He looked into the distance and shook his unshaven head.
“Well I best get to work my boy,” then he sat down dexterously weaving dandelions next to the lonely hibiscus flowers. Sammy gripped the wall with his hands, looking down at the old man.
“Can I see Mrs. Jefferson then sir?”
“Sure.” He unlocked the Iron Gate and closed it tirelessly. “Follow the pavement straight to the front door. You know you’re the first visitor here in a long time son,” and without another glance stepped back into the garden humming to himself.
“Mr. Jefferson!” Sammy playfully combed his fingers through his black silky hair. He felt faint. “Mrs. Jefferson!”
In time the shapely figure of a thirty two year old waitress, dressed fairly modestly came running to the doorway.
“Brenda didn’t you hear the door?” she asked and swung her black curls around carelessly. “Yes how may I help you?”
Drake’s mom did look quite younger than he had described her. “If you’re looking for Drake he left more than a while ago.”
Sammy stuffed his hands in his bleached jeans. “I know,” he paused “did he leave a letter by any chance?” then he said, “My name is Samuel.” She looked clueless for a second
“Yes he did. Brenda will you bring the letter on the table please?”
She stepped on the porch and lit a cigarette.
“Do you smoke son?”
“No” Sammy replied staring in silence.
“Good. It takes away the stress for a while. I guess maybe one or two doesn’t hurt. And she sat down looking at him, through the smoke and dim evening lights. Then she graciously turned toward the garden.
“He was your friend? He never told me he had met anyone.” She sighed. “He shouldn’t have gone off like that without saying goodbye. I’m sorry.”
He glanced at her for a moment. She was so much statelier in public he thought.
“Here’s the letter.” Brenda said and hastily drew back into the dark house.
“Thanks for coming by Sam.” Mrs. Jefferson said her eyes quickly glancing down at the sun, “Take the letter it’s getting late she sat on the porch waiting for him to be out of sight, stubbed the cigarette inside the marble tray on the coffee table next to the door and quietly let the tears roll down her cheeks.
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