Lynn and the Leatherman

by Susan Barrett

Hope this is not too long for a short story and that you will forgive the formatting........... Lynn and the Leatherman-by Susan Barrett

        Sophia Tecchi entered the little fabric shop, just like she did every Thursday morning. She liked the "girl", Evelyn, that ran the place. She always kept the shelves dusted and the place clean, was always friendly to her, hired lots of part-timers and even let them bring their babies to work. Sophia made it a habit of going in there every Thursday.Even if she didn't need anything, she'd buy a package of buttons, or another spool of white thread.

        She'd seen that woman Lynn now for about half a year. Lynn and her husband had moved into Hazleton from the city, they lived on the low end of the hill in a little bungalow, and Mama T. had heard her husband had turned the shed out back into a leather shop, though she'd not gone there yet. It wasn't as if she was nosey, or disinterested, but the walk from the bottom of the hill to her house at the top could be a long one on a clear day, could seem to take forever when the humidity was high.

        On this clear, sunny spring day, as she stood across the cutting table from Lynn, she got the impression that all was not right in Lynn's world. She watched Lynn turn and reach up for that bolt of fabric. There was something not right in the way the young woman moved. She'd flinched, then used her other hand to take down the narrow bolt of fabric. At first, Mama T.thought it was, maybe, that Lynn had her period, she remembered what that was like, but no, this was something else. Why did it seem so familiar? Then she remembered. It must have been 30 years ago, her own daughter-in-law, her namesake Sophie, she'd seen her walk like that once, just once.

        Lynn turned with the fabric and as she gently unwrapped it and spread it out to measure, her shirtsleeves rode up, not much at all, but enough for Sophia to see bruises running up her wrists, and fingers broken long ago.

        That's when Sophia took a closer look at her face while she measured and cut the brown corduroy. That nose had been broken before and her cheekbone looked funny too, no amount of make-up hid that. She smiled at the girl and thanked her as they walked to the cash register where the manager, Evelyn, waited.

        "Nice fabric. Would you like me to send it up to the house for you, Mrs.Tecchi? " Asked the woman.

"Si, yes, thank-a you so much." Then, quickly "And today, I give everyone a hug, eh? " She reached right over and gave Lynn the first one, just to confirm her suspicions. She could tell by the reaction, some of those ribs were cracked.

"Also, today I give everyone a tip." She said, handing Lynn a $5.00 bill first, then the manager, another and addressing the manager she said, "She's a good one .You gonna keep her around, si?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am. She's got a job here as long as she wants one." was the reply, and with that reply, Mama Tecchi left the shop, turned and walked down the hill.

        Main Street was so pretty now that the chestnut trees were mature. She remembered when she first got to town so long ago, that they'd been little more than saplings running down the middle of the street and that the street wasn't even paved then. Now look at them. It made here glad to know that harvesting those nuts not only employed some of Hazelton's men, but that they got shipped and sold up North, in the big cities. Everyone made some money from that.

        She passed the park with its enormous Elm tree. She and Julia, (God rest her soul) had decided long ago that a nice shade tree was the best choice for the park. She laughed to herself as she recalled how Julia had an exact replica of their village fountain in Italy made. It had been shipped over in sections and how Julia had burst into tears when the men had unpacked it, thinking it had been broken en route.

        They'd decided long ago, that the Park should be across the street from the Cemetary and somehow, it all became the center of town. She liked the idea that no matter if you were walking up the hill or down, the flat spot at the halfway point of Main Street was the ideal resting-place, be it temporary or permanent.

Mama Tecchi knew where all the bodies were buried.

        Sophia wasn't thinking about resting just then. Oh, no. Her thoughts came back to that girl at the fabric store, Lynn and those bruises. Not the ones on the outside, but the ones that didn't show.

Where was that bungalow again? The base of the hill seemed lower somehow she was thinking when it came into view.

        It was set back from the rest of the buildings and rather than disappearing, it only highlighted it to her as she turned the corner onto the front yard. The lawn needed a good mowing and the front door hung open, an invitation to enter as far as she was concerned, so she did.

        The house, while clean, was sparsley furnished and missing those little things that make a house a home. From somewhere deep inside, she heard two little voices. She could tell it was singing, but it had been so long since she'd heard baby talk, she couldn't understand the words.

        They were in the tidy kitchen, at least, she could tell it had been clean this morning. The refrigerator door was wide open, broken eggs across the floor towards the stove with its' front burner on high. On the floor in front of the stove, she saw a plate with a raw broken egg on it. She was frozen in shock when she saw those two little children there. The littlest one couldn't have even been 2 years old and the older one, maybe 4?

They were singing and having a little parade, but the big one was wielding a French knife, it's long blade shining in the morning light. He was waving it around and singing.

        She took a deep breath, smoothly walked into the kitchen, came up behind the two of them, then quickly plucked the thing from his hand.

"HEY!" he yelped. "That's MY sword. I'm a pirate!"

"Madonna Mia" she said under her breath. Then, loud enough to hear. "So, use a stick." Then turned off the burner.

"NO. NO. WAIT! I GOT TO COOK BREAKFASTSEE?" He picked up the plate of broken egg."SEE?"

"You need a pan. Go get one for me. That's a good boy. Now, go shut the icebox door."

She cooked the eggs and let them make their own toast, then sat them at the table and cleaned up the broken eggs from the floor.

"Where's a-you Papa?"

"Who?"

"Your daddie."

When she said the word daddie, it was if the room went dark. The older child became quite somber and said. "He's in the shop, don't bother him."

The little one said. "S-h-h-h." then pointed his little finger out the back door.

Out back. A narrow cement walkway led to the storage shed. An extension cord hung from the rear of the house like an orange clothesline, linking house to shed.

She approached it, wondering what sort of man would close himself off from his children like that. She'd been in the house with those two babies for more than half an hour. Perhaps, she thought, he'd had some sort of accident.

The door was shut tight. She had to put her old shoulder into it just to get it to budge.

She knocked as she opened the door. Smoke billowed out.

"Hello, are-a you open?" She knew what leather smelled like, but this place stank like burnt rope, the cloud lingering in the air. A single light at the workbench was the only illumination. She barely saw him rising from his knees there in the dark, behind the half partition at the rear of the shed. So, he'd been cleaning, or building something there, that almost explained the unsupervised children to her, almost made some sense. Almost, until he got up from his knees. That's when Mama T. saw "he" was a woman. She stood, wiping the back of her hand across her mouth. No modesty with this one. She faced the old woman, glaring at her, as she buttoned her shirt back up.

"I just-a met you children, they're very sweet." said Sophia.

"Lady, do I LOOK like somebody's mother to you?" was the reply.

"No dear, not-a now, but the light's not-a so good in here."

That's when he walked out, zipping up his pants.

Sophia began. "Sorry to interrupt, eh? I heard-a you were the new leatherman in-a town. I was-a looking for a wallet for my grandson. His birthday is-a coming up-a soon."

He appproached her quickly. He looked at her through bloodshot eyes, took a wallet from its' hook on the wall, thrust it into her chest and said. "That's the sort of wallet I make, custom and sewn all by hand. If it's what you want, I can make you one by next week. When's the kid's birthday?"

"Two weeks from-a today."

"Fine, come back Wednesday after next. That's Twenty U. S. dollars, half up front."

She gave him a $10. Had to ask for a receipt, twice and he showed her the door without so much as a thank-you for your buisness. He closed the heavy door so quickly behind her it bumped her backside, popping her out into the cool, fresh air and then she heard him say, "Now, where were we again?"

Madonna Mia, Sophia thought, what a pig.

Oh, she didn't like him. No, not one little bit.

She re-entered the house, sat at the kitchen table and wrote a note in case the pig came in, then said to the children. "How would you like-a to go to the park-a with me, then we'll go see your mama at work".

Their eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning and they nearly sailed out of the house and up the hill together to the park.

        Sophia was glad the park was only halfway up the hill. She appreciated the big Elm and it's shade as she sat on the bench, watching the children play in the sandbox there in the fenced in area. By the time she glanced at her watch, it was almost noon.

"Let's take your mama to lunch, yes? "

They bounced up and down, clapping their little hands. She took that as a yes and as they left the park, she wondered where they got all that energy. She wouldn't mind some of it now herself.

        Lynn was surprised to say the least, when she saw her two children walk into the fabric store with old Mrs. Tecchi. Even more so when she heard Mrs. Tecchi tell, not even ask, no, but tell Evelyn the Manager that she was being taken to lunch. When she saw that, she didn't dare protest.

"Come along little mother, get your handbag, we're all-a going to lunch now."

Lynn was still a little confused by the whole, sudden thing and looked to Evelyn on her way towards the door.

Evelyn only smiled and waved her off. " Have a nice lunch Lynn, see you when you get back."

They exited the store and hadn't gone more than a few paces when the big Lincoln pulled up alongside them.

"Ah" Mrs. Tecchi said. "Jimmy, am I-a glad-a to see you. You're just in-a time to take us to lunch, at Joseph's, si?"

Jimmy K.was her loyal, long-time chauffer/gardener. He always seemed to show up at just the right time, every time.

        He stood at the open door and didn't bat an eye as the two little filthy children jumped in before Mrs.Tecchi and Lynn.

"Why don't we take-a the long way Jimmy, past the Orchard. Have-a we missed the train?"

"Splendid idea, ma'am."Came his expected reply.

He slowly wound his way back up the long hill on roads he'd driven for so many years.

The two women chatted in the back and the bigger of the two children, (Sophia had finally learned his name was Martin), looked out the window, asking in typical 3 year old fashion, what everything was.

        Jimmy K. pulled the car over at one of the high spots and handed Martin a set of binoculars, showed him what they were for, then showed him where the train would soon be. Sure enough, a train pulled into their view before long and the chatty child was estatic as any 3-year-old could be.

        When the entire length of the freight train had passed from view, they continued on their trip to "the Orchard."

        Lynn sat in awe as the car came around the bend in the road. She'd heard there was an orchard somewhere outside of town, but hadn't any idea where it was, never imagined the enormity of it all.

There, on the southwestern slope, as far as the eye could see, were rows upon rows of fruit and nut trees. They came to a stop by a grove of nearly flowering peach trees and a large barren gap.

Sophia explained to Lynn and the children. "Jimmy K.'s father, James (God rest his soul), planted most of these originally, eh? Then, when they stopped producing and had to be-a replaced, Jimmy drove with him to Upstate New York and brought back 100 trees to replace-a them with. He's-a going upstate tommorow to get 50 more. He's going to put them in-a that empty spot there.

Jimmy interrupted her then, pointing to the existing peach trees and saying softly. "This is their last year, I'm afraid. This whole section will need to be replaced next spring."

"Well-a then," she replied, "You know-a what to do, I'll leave it all in-a your capable hands."

All the while, Martin was running around singing "Peach trees, peach trees." Then finally, "What are peaches?"

Jimmy said to him. "Would you like to come back when we plant them? You can help. Maybe your mama will bring you back to watch Benny digging the holes tommorow or Saturday." Then,"Come on now, let's get back into the car and I'll take you all to lunch."

        They arrived at the resturant and did not have to wait before they were seated. Mrs. Tecchi barely heard the waitress say to the maitre'd that those dirty, barefoot children didn't belong in a "place like this", then the girl was sent to the kitchen, lucky to still have a job.

        Sophia hadn't even noticed they weren't wearing shoes! She made eye contact with the maitre'd who came over quickly. "Please have Jimmy come in, " she said to him, and when he did, she asked him to go and buy them each a pair. "I can't break the dress code, now-a can I? What-a sort of example would I set?"

He walked back out to the limo, smiling. She never stopped amazing him.

After he left, Lynn walked her children to the restroom and took her time washing their little faces and hands. Martin was still singing "Peach trees, peach trees."

        When the trio came back to the table, the salad was already set out, and before it was gone, Jimmy had returned. That's what Sophia liked about him the most. He always knew what to do, and he did it very well, just like his father James had done for her own Joseph for so many years. (God rest their souls.)

Lynn sat in stunned amazement at the old woman.

Who was this old lady who could just walk into her life and treat her better than she'd been treated in a long time?

Who was this old woman who could pluck her out of work with a wave from her boss, charm her two usually timid children, get her into this resturant. She had the respect of everyone in town for Pete's sake. How'd she do that? Lynn made a silent promise to herself to grill Evelyn about her when she got back to work. Back to work, that thought brought her back to reality quick enough.

"Mrs. Tecchi, I don't mean to be rude, but I really should be getting back to work."

"Nonsense dear, we came-a here to eat-a lunch." replied Sophia. "I ordered us-a the lunch special. We're lucky, they make-a the best Neopolitan Veal chops here. Don't-a worry, I ordered Ministrone soup for the children. It'll give that-a waitress something to do later." She said, with just a hint of a wicked smile.

         Mrs. T. was right. The Veal was extrordinary. When they were finished, they all had canoli, the women sipping coffee. Martin still sang about peach trees and the baby made them laugh poking at his canoli until he tasted it, then he ate it all.

"Martin," asked Sophia. "How would-a you like a peach tree of your own?" and over Lynn's polite protestations, "I think a peach tree would-a be a nice addition to your front-a yard. You rent from Mr. D'Augustino, is that-a right?"

"Yes."

"Well then, I think-a that's settled. Cheque please." She said, raising an ancient finger to the waiter, and placed a dollar bill on the table as a tip.

      The waiter and the maitre'd had a quick conversation in hushed tones, and momentarily the waiter returned, tray in hand.

" Your cheque ma'am?" More of a question than a statement as he placed the tray in front of her.

Sophia never even flipped the paper over, simply signed the back of it in her flowing script. Sophia T. then said to the waiter;"This is a nice-a place, why do you use such a cheap-a-pen?"

He blushed, he stuttered, she smiled and said, "No matter." and they all rose to leave. As they approached the door, Sophia drew out another dollar bill, handed it to the maitre'd, and said, "Nice lunch. Grazi."

        The Lincoln was there waiting, with Jimmy K. standing by the open door. As he pulled out of the parking lot, Sophia said to him, "Why don't we take-a Lynn and her children home-a first?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

The littlest child, Bobby, climbed onto Sophias' lap and fell right asleep, quickly followed by Martin, sprawled out on the cars' carpeted floor.

        It didn't take him long to get to the bottom of the hill, and soon they were in front of the bungalow.

Jimmy K. eased the big Lincoln in close to the curb.

"Make-a sure they get in alright, Jimmy."

Sophia didn't really have to tell him that. Jimmy had such a good heart, she knew he would have done it anyway.

He opened the rear, passenger side door, kneeled and reached in. Martin barely stirred as Jimmy gently lifted him onto his arm. Bobby's reaction was the same as Jimmy cradled the youngster in his other arm.

Lynn stepped out last, quietly closed the door, and then led the giant man who carried both her sons into the house. Sophia never heard the muffled racket coming from inside.

Jimmy soon emerged from inside, no smile on his face, and slid into the driver's seat.

"Did-a you meet the husband?"

"Yes ma'am. Real piece of work, isn't he?"

"I thought it was-a me."

"No ma'am."

"I think he beats her."

"I think you're right, Ma'am."

"H-m-m-mRemind-a me to call Evelyn when-a we get a-home, Jimmy."

"I think Lynn should-a pick up another day, yes?" she said to Evelyn on the phone."You by yourself tomorrow, eh?"

"Well, no, Mrs. Tecchi, Maureen usually comes in on Fridays but if you want Lynn in, well, then, that's alright with me. I'll call Maureen"

"Oh, you keep-a Maureen in-a for tomorrow," Sophia interrupted."I'll a-tell you what. I'll a-have-a Jimmy come down and pick-a you up. Close up-a the store when he gets a-there. He'll-a take you over to Lynn's house. Ask-a her about tomorrow, and don't take a-no for an answer. I'm sure that she'll a-be full of a-questions about me. I haven't told her I own a-the fabric store or-a the resturaunt. Let's a-keep the fabric store part quiet for a while, yes? You're a good a-girl. Bye-bye now." And hung up the phone.

She wrote something on a piece of stiff, white cardboard, then called for Jimmy. She told him what she wanted him to do .He should stay out of the leathermans sight, wait for Evelyn, then make sure that she got home safely. She handed him the little sign, then sent him on his way.

   He handed the sign to Evelyn. "She wants you to put it in the window tommorow                                                                                                      

It read: GOOD TODAY ONLY, ALL ITEMS 50% OFF

"Oh, That'll liven up the place, now won't it Jimmy?"laughed Evelyn.

" I suppose it will Ev. Did you send up Sophias' bundle yet?"

"No, I was going to do it myself after work today."

"Good.Give it here."

"Give me a minute, I'll get it ready right now." She said, then put the paper money with the week's receipts in the bundle, and handed it to Jimmy.

She left $50.00 in the register, in case someone broke in at night. Sophias' hope always was that $50.00 would appease them. She shut off the lights, locked the door, and they continued on their "mission" to Lynn's house.

Evelyn walked up the flagstone path to the front door, now closed.

Whatever was going on inside stopped when the doorbell rang.

"Answer it, well, answer it, what are you waiting for, you lazy cow." Was what she heard.

Lynn appeared at the door, wet faced and puffy-eyed. "This isn't a good time for me."

"I'm sorry to barge in like this, dear. I would have asked you at work, butwell here I am, and I really need to talk to you now."She said, as she let herself into the house.

                There was an overturned chair; books and magazines littered the hardwood floor. Evelyn saw that husband of hers walking out the back door. "I'm not done with you yet." is what she heard him say on his way out.

Lynn was overly apologetic, but Evelyn hushed her in motherly fashion, righted the chair and then sat in it.

"Now as I was saying dear. I've gotten myself into a bit of a situation I'm afraid, and I find myself in need of your help. Please say you will."

Lynn sat speechless and nodded.

" I need you to work tomorrow. I can get you a sitter. My daughter Kathy has children the same age as yours. I know she wouldn't mind."

" I'll need to talk it over with my husband. I'm not sure what to say right now. Can I call you later with my answer?"Lynns' voice shook.

Evelyn replied "Well I'm in a bit of a rush. Let's go out and ask him. It would be a load off my mind if we could resolve it now,"and without waiting for a response, rose from the chair and walked out the back door.

     As Evelyn opened the shop door, she heard his voice." What part of don't ever come in here don't you understand, you idiot?"

Who knows what he would have said next if he hadn't looked up to see Evelyn there.

" I can see you're busy. I'll get right to the point. I need your wife at work tomorrow."

"Well, you can't have her. We don't have a babysitter for those little brats."

" I can arrange a sitter."

"Well, I'm not going to pay for it."

"That won't be necessary, I realize that this is on short notice. I'll cover the expense myself."

"So you want to pull my wife out of the house on short notice, huh? What's in it for me, huh? Where's my compensation for all this?"

"Oh, I'm prepared to offer her time and a half for the day, maybe even a nice bonus as well."

The word bonus shut him up, got that puny, selfish brain of his working, and he grudgingly agreed.

   Evelyn made sure that Lynn was in front of her as the two women left the shop. "I'll see you in the morning. I can't thank you enough, Lynn." She said as she left.

      Jimmy stood there with the door open for her. He touched her on the arm as she entered the car. "You're shaking, everything go o.k?"

"I'll tell you in a minute, let's get out of here." she said, and as he pulled the Lincoln into traffic, she said, "I could really vent on you right now you, you 'male' you." and Jimmy K., wonderful Jimmy K. only said, "We're not all like that. You know that. Try not to think about him, try to focus on Lynn.I don't know why, but I think it's all going to work out, Evelyn.You ready for me to take you home now?"

Then, a little later, "Did you see the boys?"

When she said no, you could almost see thunderclouds forming over Jimmy's head, his mood got so dark.

He drove her home without saying another word.

He was leaving for upstate New York in the morning and just this one time, he wished he could back out.

Friday morning.

Jimmy walked from the house to the Orchard that morning; Benny was there with a small crew of men digging holes for the new saplings.

           Benny was as loyal to the Tecchi family as he was. Benny's father Arlotto would have probably never gotten into the Landscaping buisness if it weren't for Joseph Tecchi loaning him the money for his first truck and the Orchardists equipment. Benny and Jimmy played together as kids. They were less than a year apart in age. They kept each other out of trouble more than once .Got each other in trouble more than once too, messing around in that orchard.

One time, Jimmy recalled, they couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 years old, they were picking Horse Chestnuts.The'd been pitching those spiny nuts at each other. One thing led to another, and pretty soon, they were lobbing chestnuts into the back of the horse drawn cart with the help of their slingshots. They were doing pretty good, too, until one of the nuts hit the horse in the butt. She reared up and took off at a full gallop, men chasing her and nuts bouncing off the cart all the way down the hill, till the axle broke and the cart overturned.

They knew it was over, they turned to run, and ran right into the unsmiling 6'4", 200lb. Frame of Benny's dad, Arlotto.He could have stripped and whipped them both right there, but it was their lucky day.

He grabbed each of them by an ear and briskly walked them up to the Tecchi home at the top of the hill, just under two miles away.

Old Joseph had seen them coming up the driveway, and was standing outside when they all got up to the front of the house. He patiently listened to the whole story. "My horse! You hurt my Dusty?" he'd bellowed at the boys, then gone around the back, gotten into his car, and before he left to check on her, said to Arlotto, "Don't do anything until I get back." and so, there they stood, with Arlotto holding onto their ears for an eternity.

The wait was scarrier than the actual punishment.

When Joseph returned, Jimmys father James was driving the car and the three men stood there, towering over Benny and Jimmy.

The punishment?

It was decided that they would do the work of the horse for the rest of that day, and all of the next. They were given buckets, told to pick up all of the chestnuts that had spilt and carry them up to the top of the hill, two buckets at a time.

More than one way to build character in a little person, Jimmy thought.

Now one was an Orchardist and one was a Gardener, both working for the most influential person in all of Hazelton.

Jimmy asked Benny to go over to the bungalow when he was done at the orchard and put a hole in the yard for Martins peach tree. Then he addressed the whole work crew.

"We should be back from upstate by early tomorrow. With any luck, we can get them all set in by tomorrow night, Sophia's putting on a thing at the park after Church on Sunday.Hot dogs, pie eating contest, you know how she likes to get the whole community together. I'll see you all there, It'll be nice to see all of your families again."

       Jimmy and Benny got into Bennys' old truck and made the trip up to Rome, New York together. Jimmy told Benny all about Lynn and the Leatherman on the way.

They loaded up the trees and lashed a canvas tarp across the top of the truck so the trees wouldn't dry out on the way back. They took a quick power nap in the truck, and, true to Jimmys word, they were back in Hazelton by early Saturday morning.

Late Saturday afternoon.

The holes are dug; the trees are set in and watered. The work crew has gone home for the weekend, and Benny is down at the bungalow to dig one last hole for the peach tree.

Sophia is there and Martin is with her, still mesmerised by the whole, hole digging, tree planting experience of the day.

Sophia says to Benny, "You make a nice deep hole, yes? Bigger, Benito, nice and a deep-a si?"

Benny always calls her Mama.

"Mama, come on, how deep do you want me to dig? It's already big enough to sail a ship in now!"He says, teasing her (with the most respect.)

"Better too big than-a too small, eh, Benito?" then, "That's-a good. Now, where's a-the tree?"

He goes to the back of the truck and looks around.

"Oh, mama, I can't believe it. I must have left it up in the Orchard! I'm so sorry, I'll go get it right now."

"No, no." she replies,"you can-a do it tomorrow after Church.You're tired. You go home, and we'll see you at Church in the morning. You leave-a the shovel here, it'll be alright until then."

Sunday morning.

Sophia is in Church. She sees Lynn with her two sons, but is not surprised not to see her husband there.

The old woman is the first to leave. She likes to listen to the organ music as she walks over to the cemetary to visit Joseph.

But today is different. For some reason, she walks to the bottom of the hill instead, and finds herself at the bungalow and as she stands there, "he" comes out clad in nothing but a pair of pajama bottoms.

He is livid. He screams at her."What do you want? What are you doing here? Are you responsible for this hole? Who told you that you could put this hole in my yard, you stupid old broad?"

He comes at her, flailing his arms and screaming. His anger unbalances him. He is at the edge of the hole now, still ranting. He reaches out to grab her by the arm, maybe he wants to drag her closer to the hole, but he is too close. The earth gives way under his foot and as he falls into the hole, Sophia hears his neck snap then some of the earth follows him in and covers most of his body up.

She steps closer to the edge, puts an old hand on the shovel to steady herself and looks in, then kicks in a little dirt, just enough to cover up the rest of his body.

She looks up and sees Benny and Jimmy just stepping around the corner onto the lawn. Jimmy has a tiny sapling peach tree in his arm about as big around as a pencil.

Benny is the first to speak."Mama, what's going on?"

Without batting an eye, she replies,"Look-a now. Just-a look, what do we need such a big hole for such a little tree. Look at how deep it is. You could sail a boat in here!"

Jimmy puts down the tree and takes Sophia by the arm as Benny takes the shovel from her hand and looks at her with raised eyebrows.

"I don't know what I was thinking Mama.I must have been more tired than I thought. You're so right, let me fill it in right now."

Sophia looks at Jimmy and says. "I'm going to go back to the shop, see how he's doing on my grandsons' present."

Jimmy and Benny exchange glances. Benny peeks in the hole, rolls his eyes, and really pushes in the dirt.

Sophia enteres the shop and sits down at his workbench. It does not take her long to find his cashbox. She puts $500.00 in it and replaces it where she found it.

She says to Jimmy. "Tomorrow, you go to Mr. D'Augustino and give a-him a years' rent on this place, and tell him it's always been on-a his books."

Jimmy gently closes the door behind her as they leave the shed and they get back into the front yard just in time to see Lynn turn the corner with her two sons.

Benny has set the tree. Martin starts to sing "Peach trees, peach trees," and he and his little brother have another little parade around the tree.

Lynn is standing next to Sohpia. "Mrs. Tecchi, I can't thank you enough."

Sophia waves her off. "It was a-nothing."

Then says to them all "Come along a-now, let's all a-go to the park, eh?"

Like I said before, Mama Tecchi knows where all the bodies are buried

                                                The End

                      Lynn and the Leatherman-by Susan Barrett 2005

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