The Precedent Fruit Will Bare
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Introduction: The world began by our need for one another. America as we well know was formed by the perseverance of souls like the Irish who longed for freedom from bondage. Joseph O’ Kelly a child who’s life and participation in the IRA became as many a Irish wonder . The strife leads his world to effect others although he never realized . He was part of the link that will forever bind souls together. A story of how lives are on the axis of a circle in motion. As the earth turns so do we which seems to be a three hundred sixty degree ;maybe more often then we can comprehend with our lives being guided by unsupervised hands. The wind of change may sweep away foot prints but someone’s world has already turned by those who have been.
Unenviable War unequivocally in the making as Frances listened with ears perked while Mr. Grady the town banker looking at his gold pocket watch led the conversation. With his brass studded shoes and double breast suite he stood out in the crowd enough but undoubtedly thought that he should be heard as well.
Frances reached for his other shoe to shine when he darted him a stern look. “ Ah, lad don’t interrupt me now!” “The war is upon us.” “ Why with the continual fighting on the streets we have but wait for the big bomb!” he said in a gruff voice while watching the ladies reactions. They gasped moving away while the men moved closer in. “Mind you my bank is safe and any thing one puts to the test with me will surely survive this cause.” “ I having the great sense to put my vaults under ground you see.” “ Yes my ladies and gents I have made the extreme sacrifice to build them well disregarding the cost.” he bragged his shoulders almost busting through his suite from his self-sense of testosterone.
The town clattered with cars as the rain poured down in gallons. Frances gathered his stool and shine kit heading for home. Thinking no need in fighting the cold for the people’s chance of giving him a glance was slim with the wet and dreary weather.
Pitching the last of the coal on the fire he rubbed his hands together to get some feeling back. His breath a vapor as he searched the house for some thing he could call food. Finding a stale bun that his mum’s suitors must have missed he sat down at the table. Pinching off the corners that had darkened from mold he ate it in a hurry for the bitter taste of hunger had rose in his throat.
Hearing the familiar cough of Mr. Dobbs he looked up to see his mother in her gown and coat kissing him good-bye. As she shuffled back to bed she gave a glance at herself in the mirror straightening the shoulder on her grungy house coat and pushing her matted hair from her eyes with no words exchanged she grabbed her friend the bottle on her way.
Frances looked out the window toward town its lighted buildings glistened against the starless sky. The October winds were bringing the end to color leaving the steel gray rocks and boulders their only wall with no protection from the blistering cold. Hearing the roar of the waves crash against the cliffs he searched for a better barrier between his skin and the howling wind that waited.
Joe would be there as always waiting in the same place they met every night for he was more faithful then a pet and more comfortable to have around then an old pair of shoes. Joe happened in on Frances misfortune one night as one of his mother’s drunken suitors held to the edge of the house stabbing him in the stomach with a stick for having ate the chips and fish that the man had brought with him. Joe being of short temper for the likes of a grown man pushing his weight about a young boy stoned him in the head until Frances could make his escape. Frances precarious nature and preposterous environment had predisposed him to solely rely on Joe.
His mother’s drinking had worsened through the years and her means of providing had been interrupted by the fancy house down town. Checking on her before leaving he exhaled with contempt at the sight of her half nude body across the bed with her arm wrapped around the empty liquor bottle. Putting out her cigarette he left quietly turning out the kerosene lamp.
The alley remained the corridors for drunkards and woman of disrepute. David O’Toole a husky old drunkard cuddled up like a baby with his bottle. With his having a temper like a wild cat when woken from his binge Frances leaned against the wall to gingerly pass him.
The warmth from the night air already burning as one of the men pitched a tire on the fire while the thick black smoke choked the flames, sparks flew into the air like fire flies escaping a fruit jar. Frances peered through the darkness recognizing Joe’s lanky silhouette as he heard his voice sharply blare over the roar of the men although fourteen he carried him self well among adults.
Darting back just in time to escape the wad of tobacco Joe spit on the ground Frances gave out a yelp. “Ugh, you ole’ cuss you almost got me shoes!” Joe burst a sound that howled through the dark alley like a catfight; Bent over with laughter he held to his side. “Ah, me lad have you came to rescue ye ol’ chap?” “Right on time I may add.” “Me hope for a ration here with no avail but for the grace of Mary my backbone would cut me belly.” “ No one here seems to have a morsel of bread” Joe exclaimed. “ The bloody likes of them having such a thing,” he laughed.
As they made their way through the alley hollow coughs drummed like beating empty barrels in the wet night air. They played kick with an empty can clanging it across the street while Joe the wiser of the two made plans for their next meal.
The streets not as crowded with prey making small pickings for food so they hustled through the trash for any thing eatable. Finding a half eaten sandwich Joe picked off the undesirable part handed it to Frances. “Oh no, I couldn’t Joe you have nothing while I ate a bun me mum left. You take it.” Joe not taking the chance to ask again swallowed hard to get it down in one gulp. “Thanks buddy but the next one is on me,” he said in a muffled voice while he wiped the crumbs from his mouth with the back of his hand.
Frances looked at Joe with admiration knowing he would be the closest thing he would find to having a father in his life. The town’s recollections were of a soldier on leave who had been taken in by his mother’s fancy for men in uniform. How ever her tell much different as she described in detail their great love affair ending with them secretly marrying in a small town over the hills but she insist that she found it unnecessary to validate a certificate of such events. She was adamant in believing that he would still be there had it not been for the war. Whatever the case his pale face would flare with the jest of being called a bastard child.
Joe far less lucky had his father who worked in the near by distillery. He was a loud short stocky boisterous man that spent most of his free time at the pub gambling and picking up young women. He had the soul of a hollow tree and didn’t fancy himself rearing a snotty nose boy.
His mother had died three years back from cholera. He could barely remember her face as she lie dying her tangerine hair sticking against her fair white skin as she tried to whisper words of hope. He remembers the cold smell of death on her breath as she drew him in closer. He swore then as he lay his head at her bosom crying that he would never cry again.
Spending the night on the banks of the ocean Joe rose early to awaken Frances. “Wake up you are going to miss the most beautiful sunrise yet!” he exclaimed. Frances rose slowly from his bed under the cliff rubbing his eyes to focus. The sky lay in a haze of rainbow colors of lucent purple, green and pink as the horizon met the crisp blue sea the tide’s white foam sprayed against the moss-covered rocks beneath their feet.
“ There, out there is America and some day my friend we shall see for ourselves those streets of gold and rivers of milk and honey. “ “That’s where every child lives in a mansion and under every window lays fields of deep purple grapes and harvest of sweet wet honeydew waiting to be picked.” “ When I go Frances I promise I will take you with me.” As they stood gazing at the sight Frances all of a sudden startled his self with a thought. “Oh, I must go mum will be mad as a raged dog if I’m late for church!
Hurrying through town he passed Mr. O’Toole as he was just rising from his bed in the street. Frances dropped his head in fear for his wiry long hair and gruff long beard always had a pair of pejorative eyes piercing out from them. Walking swiftly without looking up as the old man let out a grumble Frances picked up speed to pass.
Like usual arriving to a cold house he wasted no time in slicking back his hair with cold water and splashing a bit about his face while rubbing some behind his ears. Just in time changing his shirt when his mother darted her head through the kitchen doorway with a cigarette propped in the corner of her mouth when she began to muffle disapproval. “You best be on your way.” “ You boys lying out all night will come to no good.” “ I’m sure what you were doing will merit three hale Mary’s when you get there” she bitterly spit out looking down at him with condemnation.
Pressing her hand against the cowlick standing up on his head like a feather, she lowered her voice “Be sure to say hello to the father for me.” “ Can you not do something with that?” “ I swear be Jesus you embarrass me the way you go out.” “ Have you eaten? ” She spit on her hand raking it across his head as Frances flinched.“ I’ve saved a bit of lamb chop Mr. Dobbs brought for me.” “ He takes care of me so.” “ I don’t know where we would be with out him.” “You should be more grateful and show him more respect when he comes, after all he feeds me not counting the fact that he lets us stay here as if it were our own.” “ Instead you shy away when ever he says anything to ya.”
Like a dragon blowing gray smoke out its nostrils she puffed as she rattled on complaining while Frances thoughts took him back to a few nights before.
Mischievously they had followed Mr. Dobbs to his destination, the fancy house in town. Highly decorated with white high back wicker chairs it was purposely painted a bright yellow making it stand out among the dark brick buildings holding its status of being the cause of many a good man going wrong.
Stacking wooden crates to reach the windowsill Joe Wiping the glass with his hand peered in letting out a snort to keep from laughing. “Look, look its Mr. Dobbs.” “ Boy he surely has a big white biscuit for an arse.” “ Well it’s so bright the moon would hide in shame.”
Frances tipped the crate over with his foot while trying to catch a glance when the snap of the dry wood scattered sewer rats as they made their way for hiding. “Let me see Joe, I can’t getta look.” his voice jolted as he tumbled off the box. “Ah, Lad” Joe inspired “This my good mother would say is down right fornication.” “ Look, there she is Frances the most beautiful lady this town has seen.” “ Here takes a look yourself.” he moved over giving him a push up.
Once more Frances lifts him self with the windowsill his chin barely reached the edge. His eyes squinted as he gave out a gasp watching her let down her silky glistening coal black hair. As it rests upon her creamy white shoulders she slowly tantalizingly unfastened her guarder belt while Mr. Dobbs lay spread out on the bed, his mound of belly hiding his minuet privates.
France’s heart melted like chocolate in warm hands when he gazed at her fair face. Her velvet blue eyes sparkled as they came across the money on the bedside table. Just as he was about to speak his foot slipped once again slinging them both against the house. Mr. Dobbs as large and slow a man as he was showed little effort retrieving his pants while wrestling to the window for a look.
Joe fled out while Frances fell behind. “Come on!” “ Come on, hurry!” Joe hooted. France’s feet sped across the wet street without any improvement on gaining distance his large blue eyes set in fear. “Wait, wait for me!” he yelled back. As they cut the corner both boys slid to a stop taking the time to let out a gut busting reverberating laugh that echoed the desolate street like a hauling dog on a silent night. “Did ya get ah look at his face Frances?” “ His eyes looked like to poached eggs!” “ That Dobbs sure gets around he does and sure likes ‘em young.” he chuckled.
Frances grew silent giving a stray yellow cat that had wrapped it self around his leg a kick. “Me da wouldn’t be there I know that much.” “ He loved mum she told me so.” Feeling his disappointment Joe put his arm around his neck ruffling the top of his head with his fist. “Come on now we have our work cut out for us tonight the streets are all but dead.”
As Frances continued to day dream his thoughts were interrupted by his mother’s voice.” Hurry up I said before they think I’m not up to standards of a good Catholic woman letting my son wander in at any hour to services!” He rushed out the door and scurried on to church.
With Frances gone Joe pilfered about the street watching the bustle of the crowd hurdle at the corner waiting as few small cars choked and cough their way down the narrow cobble stone street. He kept a keen eye on a lady absorbed in conversation while she loosely dangled her purse over her wrist.
Carving his way through the crowd snatching her purse from her unexpected hand he darted through the alley while the rattle of a police officer’s whistle clipped the background.
Springing through puddles and trashing his way through garbage he loped the Iron Gate ahead. Knowing his pursuer’s weakness he sprang for joy as the officer waddled his way forward. Bowing then clicking his heels and a tip of his hat in jest he vanished into the fog. Showing no remorse for there were two kinds those who had and those who had not which neither money nor looks did he have to survive the harsh actuality of the cities callous undaunted hands.
Unlike Frances who could steal the heart of a woman faster than her purse Joe had to be more cunning. Having no charm of a pleasant face a mother would long to adorn nor the heart melting eyes of sapphire blue that lay under the shade of fluttering long lashes he did the best a fourteen year old could being cast to the wind. His flaming red hair cut in a bowl about his head ostracized his stern green eyes and pencil style nose.
Discarding the purse he put the three shillings in his pocket heading for home to find as always his father gone and the cupboards bare. Reaching for his rusted can he kept in a crate under the bed he poured the money out on the table. Figuring in his head at this rate he would never see America as he pondered on what he could do to add to his savings. Four pounds would hardly be the fair for such a trip for him and Frances much less board them until they could find work. Hearing the creek of the front door he rushed to gather the money as his father’s wheezing cough came nearer.
His father unknowing that he was there proceeded into the kitchen where he sat down at the table with his new crystal goblet. Having the desire for finer things in life he admired with a gleam in his eye the magical iridescence of its clear cut while the filtered light cascaded a rainbow of colors against his hand. Smiling with greed he placed it on the shelf with the others above the window.
He seldom made money with his gambling but often found himself taking in possession material things instead from unexpected debtors when their luck ran out. Crystal being a delighted desire he welcomed the face of Mr. Dobbs often into the pub. An educated man who seemed to have more money then common sense.
Joe watched his father from his bedroom doorway as he sat down for a cup of tea while waiting for the pan of water to warm he had on the stove for bathing. The dishpan bobbed and rattled against the fire as the steam began to rise. He dare not join him with out first declaring his mood. When his father broke out in song he knew it would be a good time to make his presence known. “Hello da, I see you have had good luck again last night.” “ The goblet is beautiful,” he said as he eased himself to the table.
Without a glance his father rolled up his sleeve and began to flex his muscle. With a yawn he responded. “Whew, I am tired.” “Saturdays seem to be the worse for me.” “ By the way I will be gone this weekend coming.” “ Ms. Wright has been so kind as to invite me over again with a few friends to her estate to celebrate her good fortune with her new investment.” “ The poor widow has had her share of mishaps.” “ I am happy that her luck has turned for the better.” while drawing the water from the pan he continued. “ You know as usual with your coming and going I can’t afford to keep the house open for fear of someone taking what little I have managed to collect.” “ I am sure you can cope until I return.”
Joe spied a package next to the sink smelling the aroma of fresh cooked fish he took a deep breath through his nose. “Yes” he said without taking his eyes off the brown wrapper, which reaped of grease. His stomach began to wither as he waited for the invitation. “ Go ahead and eat but leave me plenty for I am famished myself.” “ I wasn’t expecting you would be here so we will have to share what little I have”. He happily searched out two plates lying open the package on the table. Reaching under the sink for his father’s usual whiskey he had with tea he opened the crate to find he had a new case. His father often confiscated bottles of liquor from his place of work whenever the chance arose.
As he ravished the meat his father continued to dress. “ What are your plans for tonight? “ “I will be having a young sweet friend over after I leave the pub”. He said licking his lips while rubbing his hand vigorously. “So you understand the draw backs of your presence.” “ How would it look to her to see a man bring a lady in to this situation?” “ She may get the idea that I am but a poor widow looking for a mother for my child”. He mumbled.
While Joe cleared the table the air could be cut with a knife as his father waited for his answer. “ I’ll be gone soon.” “ I just come home to check something.” “ Besides tonight is the opening of the play at the new theatre.” Sweeping the crumbs from the table he replaced the chair disturbing the pan of water his father was washing in. “ Hey clumsy, watch out!” “ Now look what you have done.” The water pooled to the middle of the table seeping through the crack on to the floor.
Joe not dawdling long after cleaning the mess arrived at town pleased to find he was facing the girl from the fancy house. As he passed through the lower class of town he glanced up to see her hanging laundry on a line connected to two buildings. She seeing his extraction as he gaped at the brightly colored clothing floating in the air giggled calling out as she dropped an article to the ground. “Can you get that for me please!” she yelled down. “I’ll be right there.”
Joe picked up the garment without hesitating. The silky wet material felt soothing in his hand. As he raised it to his cheek she approached him. “ Uh, thank you. I will take it now.” He felt his ears warm as she gave him a stare. Never had he seen such a romantic slip let a long felt such softness. Shyly keeping his eyes toward the alley he slowly handed it to her. “I’ve seen you around before. Where do you live?” she required. “I live a ways out toward the back side of town.” “ I’ve seen you also.” “ Don’t you work at the yellow house down town?” putting her hand on her hip she replied. “Um huh, I remember you now.”
“ Did I not see you the other night running toward the street?” “ Yes, you know I think it was Saturday night.” “Yes I am sure it was you.” “The light was dim but I am sure.” “ You were with a younger boy.” Joe’s face light up with embarrassment, he had been caught. “ No you must be mistaken.” “ I was no where near town at that time!” “ Why, by nine thirty I was tucked in me bed as usual.”
She let out a loud laugh tossing her hair to the side. “ Oh, I see and what if I say I didn’t tell you the time.” “ What then do you say?” He stuttered shifting feet and became silent for a moment. “Oh, I just assumed you were talking of late that was all.”
When they made eye contact Joe’s heart skipped. “And how is your young friend?” Noticing his embarrassment she quickly continued on. “ I see he is not with you today.” Eagerly he replied. “Oh Frances he is fine.” “He is a child that I befriended feeling sorry for him.” “ He has a hard time of things.”
She shifted the basket in her hand and asked, “So what’s your name?” “ Mine is Emma.” “ I came here with my sister Gertrude and her friend Harold Von Hoke” “ We are from Germany originally.” “ Our mother died when I was young and father passed two years ago.” “ I have lived with her ever since.”
Joe happy to change the subject responded quickly. “ My name would be Joseph and I live with my da down the road away.” “He works at the near distillery.” “My mum passed a few years ago also I hate to say”. “My da’s name is Michael O’Kelley a fine gambler at the pub.” He boasted. “ You may have heard of him.” Her expression changed. “ Oh I see.” “ Yes I believe my sister may know him.” “Well I must hurry.” “ It was nice to meet you Joseph Kelley.” With that she swept up the stairs leaving Joe remembering the sweet smell of lavender from her freshly washed hair.
He ran the rest of the way to the church to catch Frances before he left. His heart zealous with laughter he began to whistle picking up a stick raking it to a tune across the iron gate that enclosed the church. “Pa, pa pa, pa “ he sang. “So fair her eyes that gave me a glance, the young lass as fresh as the morning sun, for this my heart of love has sung.”
Frances barreled out of church waving with a spread eagle grin flashing papers in the air. “Joe! I’ve been picked!” “I’ve been picked Joe!” He yelled as he darted in front of everyone coming out of the door. “Picked for what for Christ sakes?” he answered with a puzzled look. “All mum has to do is sign the paper and I can be a alter boy.” “ I’m sure she will because she has been anxious for me to be some body.”
Joe’s expression wasn’t of approval. “I see, and what about us? “ “When will you have time for us then?” Frances punched him on the arm. “Oh, Joe I will always have time for us.” Joe’s once over whelming joy was erased by the fact of being alone. Although he wanted to believe that Frances needed him he had a fear of being left behind. “Come on we have a lot to do.” “ There is the new play starting to night and I got to figure out how we are gonna get in.”
Stopping long enough to read the sign that Mr. Grady placed in the bank window Joe had an idea. “You know my money has no way of gaining interest in that ol’ can.” “ I just wonder what if I place it in here for a while?” “ I wonder if I might make interest?” “ Let’s go see.”
They entered the bank only to have Mr. Grady rushing to their side. “Here, here boys!” “ What could the like of you want here?” ’ “This is a bank!” “ Now go on with your self.” He said as he pulled at the shoulder of Joe’s coat. “Wait a minute I have money I want to invest.” Joe answered in a hurry. Mr. Grady pushed harder. “Now son what kind of money could you possibly have?” “ Look at cha.” “Now go on before you bother my customers.” “If you truly have money to invest then send your parents”.
Joe pressed to keep his feet steady on the floor but Mr. Grady the stronger had them both out side before he could say another word. “Now go on before I have to call reinforcements! ”He quarreled as he gave them one last push. Frances fell face down on the pavement as Joe tumbled next to him loosing his slingshot he kept in his pocket. “ I have a good notion of going back in there and darting him with this!” he spurts out. “Come on let’s just go.” “ Its not worth the fight.” Dusting themselves off they went on their way.
Running for shelter from the downpour of rain they waded their way through the street’s muddy puddles to the theatre. “ I don’t know how we will enter,” Joe panted a breath as they raced on.” But we will!” “Rest a sure we will not miss it!” Reaching the building they were bombarded with a parade of excited people carrying dark umbrellas as they slowly moved their way indoor. The whole town at controversy with the talk of the sing and dance play portraying a half nude Nunn resisting the devil’s temptations. The rumor involved the whispers of the main actress being the lady of the yellow house down town.
Edging their way about the crowd to the corner of the building they found a low set window just waiting to be picked. Joe made a clicking sound with his tongue. “This is it.” “ If I’m not mistaken it leads to the storage room and from there we can make our way up to the loft.” He reached in his pocket pulling out an old knife his uncle had given him before he died. The blades were all broken but one and Joe only kept it for sentimental reasons. “ I always knew this thing would come in handy for something.”
The window was sealed from the outside with putty. “You go about watching for any one coming this way and if they do give me a whistle while I get this job out of the way.” Frances shrugged his shoulders shaking the cold rain from his hair. “ You think it will work Joe?” “ It looks pretty much sealed to me.” Joe wiped the blade across the edge of his hand “ah, Lad leave it to me.” “ Where there is a need there is away.”” Now go on your way before someone comes.”
Joe stood patiently gauging at the window while the gutter from the building rushed waves of water over the top of his shoes. His shivering hands stiffened as he continued to remove the sticky matter from the blade of his knife wiping it on to his pants. Frances stood at the corner of the building shaking off the water from one leg then the other trying to keep warm as he peered up and down the street. The crowd had thinned to a small few that dodged the rain coming from their parked cars on the street to the safety of the elaborate balloon canvas that covered the gold painted double doors where an usher in a black tux took their tickets and rushed them in.
Just as Joe popped the last of the seal from the window Frances spotted two officers headed their way. “Whew, whew, he let out but no noise could he make with his face drenched with rain. As he turned to run the officers caught a glimpse of him and came to investigate. “ Joe, Joe here they come!” he spit out but by then they were upon him. Joe not hearing a sound for the roar of the rain smilingly raised the window. “There we go buddy!” He said with joy only to turn around in alarm at the sight of the two men in black uniforms holding either arm of Frances as he kicked to free himself.
“Ok, you conniving little thieves we have caught you in the act now!” The gruff officer wailed. “I guess you intend to tell the yarn that you were washing windows.” Joe stammered to think of something as he sized them up it being apparent there was no reason to run for they looked to be in good health. Frances gave a pitiful look toward Joe for some kind of help knowing the consequences he would face if his mother found out but Joe for ones was out of a plan. “Uh, uh, we uh.” the officer interrupted “ We will talk about it down town.” he said as he gave a jerk on Joe’s arm.
With the boys arms folded behind their back they walked with out struggle when they heard the click of heels on the steps next door where two young ladies stood watching the commotion. The younger turned to the other in conversation motioning her hand toward them. The older threw her cigarette on the ground and immediately addressed them. “ Excuse me kind sirs.” “ I am afraid there has been a grave injustice done for these boys work for me.” “What may I ask do you have them charged with?”
The officers wrestled them over to where the ladies stood. “ Good evening ma’am”. The one officer said with a tip of his hat.” We have found these scamps in the act of prying this window open.” “ For what we can’t be sure.” “ But from the looks of them it couldn‘t be for the good.” “You say they work for you?” he questioned with raised brows. The younger lady clasped her hand around the oldest ones wrist whispering in her ear; with that the woman continued. “Yes indeed they do.” “For it was quite stifling in here .” “ I had ask that they might raise the window for some much needed air.” “How could I know there would be such a spectacle made of the matter?” “ I found it quite chivalrous that they bothered with such a prevalent thing for my sake with the treacherous weather.” she smiled.
Coming into the light Joe’s eyes sprang open as a cheese-eating grin came over his face for the young lady that had rescued them was Emma. Shaking himself loose from their grip he replied “Nothing to great a task for such a lady, ma’am.” the whole time watching Emma while she in return had a gleam in her eye as she cast a smile his way.
As the officers released their grips from the boys the woman went on. “We thank you for your service officers and it gives me great relief to know such masculine men protect our well being.” The officers smiled like teenage boys falling all over each other as they bid her good bye.
Emma ran down the stairs leading Joe by the hand to come inside. Frances stayed close on their heels. Her sister light another cigarette and fiddled with the match cover. “Emma I suppose you should show your young friends that we have a door and prefer the next time they use it.” She frowned. Joe and Frances looked up pitifully dripping puddles of water on the hardwood floor. “ They’re drenched.” “ We must look for a towel.” she motioned for an usher to gather one as she sized them up.