Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chapter Forty-Two

There were those who might have said Carl Stone had been in the pocket of the Jaffe family his whole life. They would have been right, but there was a good reason. Carl owed his life to Lindsey Jaffe. Carl’s father had worked for Lindsey in his first mill. His mother had died giving birth to their only child. From the time he was a child Carl had hung around the mill. Lindsey watched Carl grow up, silently observing the harsh way the young boy was treated by his father. Any small kindness shown by Lindsey to young Carl was instantly rewarded with gratitude he never received from his own son. Lindsey encouraged Stuart to befriend Carl. “He’s about your age, Stuart. Why can’t you include him when you do things with your friends? He’s very unhappy, Stu. He hasn’t had a very pleasant life.”

When Stuart refused, his father hadn’t been surprised. He knew his son was spoiled and self-centered and had expected he would want nothing to do with the scrawny kid from the wrong side of the tracks. But he was still disappointed. And he still worried about young Carl.

One day Lindsey realized he hadn’t seen Carl around the mill for a while. When he asked his father about Carl, he was evasive. When Lindsey pressed him, he became belligerent. “What the hell are you so interested in my son for. What are you queer or something?” As Stone leaned toward him, Lindsey could smell the whiskey on his breath.

“Stone, I’ll ignore that because you’ve been drinking, but if you ever hurt that boy it will be the last thing you do. Do you understand me, Stone?”

Of course Lindsey Jaffe knew why he was so protective toward young Carl. It was because in Carl he saw himself as a young boy. Like Carl he had been grown up poor. He had been shunned by boys his own age and badly mistreated by an alcoholic father. When Lindsey looked into the boy’s eyes he saw the same pain he had lived with as a boy. For a long time he had tried to ignore the obvious. Young Carl was being physically abused. There came a day when he could not longer deny it and he knew he had to do something to save the boy as he had always wished someone would save him.

Once he’d made the decision to act the rest was easy. The first thing he did was send to Carl away to a military school in Tacoma, Washington. As he’d expected, Stone let him go without an argument. “Sure. You can send him anywhere you want. Just so long as I don’t have to pay for it. That kid is getting to be more than I want to deal with anyway.

The next thing he did was arrange to have Carl’s father killed. The job had cost him a lot of money but it was done right. No one ever suspected it was anything other than an accident.

When Carl came back from the military academy he was a young man but time had not erased the disillusionment and cynicism engendered by an abusive childhood. Lindsey Jaffe never told Carl what he’d done, but he didn’t have to. Carl knew. He was grateful and he dedicated his life to showing Lindsey Jaffe just how grateful he was. When the old man died, his son Stuart inherited that gratitude. Like his father, Stuart never realized the intensity of Carl’s devotion.



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