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Chapter Ten
Promise of a New Day

"His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone."
~ Job 41:24 ~

Except for the unappetizing in-flight meal that Jerome flatly refused to eat, the flight to Montana passed uneventfully. When Jerome got off the airplane, he saw Charlton waiting for him at the gate. Momentarily forgetting that his brother was a man of little ceremony, Charlton greeted Jerome with a great hug, which engulfed him east to west.

Never could two brothers be more different and still claim their genes from the same pool of heredity. Charlton was an emotional man, carelessly basing his actions and speech on the way he felt at any given moment. Jerome, on the other hand, exacted his emotions with cynical animosity that made people feel he questioned their sincerity. Being a man that passed most of his days indoors, Jerome looked pale and sickly in comparison to his tan-skinned brother. It was the difference between anemic florescent lighting and genuine natural sunlight. And yet, in a peculiar turn of Providence, Mr. Natural Sunlight needed Mr. Florescent Lighting to take care of him.

After freeing himself from Charlton's bear hug, Jerome lost no time getting down to business.

"Are you packed as I instructed you?" were the first words that exited Jerome's mouth. A bystander would never have guessed that fifteen years had passed since Jerome had last seen his brother.

"Sure, Jerome," replied Charlton, in a tone reminiscent of a reprimanded child. "It's sure good to see you," continued Charlton, while his older brother checked the luggage over. "I've been living alone since Charlie went away... so it really means a lot... you're coming to get me," Charlton explained haltingly. Jerome, who up to this point, had not even noticed the absence of his niece, looked up only briefly to hear what his brother was saying. Jerome was too preoccupied with the business of getting the luggage as quickly as possible onto the redeye flight back to Southern California. After all, he wasn't here to take a sightseeing tour of Montana, or even see where his younger brother had been living or what he had been doing for the past fifteen years. The way Jerome saw it, the sooner they were on the plane, the sooner they would be in Twin Yucca; the sooner they were in Twin Yucca, the sooner he could return to the daily routine of his job that he so tenaciously clung to. With hardly a word more from either brother, Jerome and Charlton boarded the plane, leaving Montana for the place Charlton would now call home: Twin Yucca, California.

It was three in the morning when the two brothers pulled up in front of Jerome's house.

"Mom forgot to turn on the outside light, again," Jerome grumbled, opening the trunk of the car and unloading Charlton's luggage. The lateness of the hour had not improved Jerome's disposition, so Charlton, not wanting to upset his brother further, chose to remain silent. Jerome was about to unlock the door, when Charlton tried the handle and discovered that it was unlocked. With a surprised "what?!" Jerome swung open the door and flipped on the light switch. Charlton watched as his brother made a quick search of the house.

"Mom's not here," announced Jerome, handing a handwritten note to Charlton. "She's at the nursing home," he informed, as though Charlton had suddenly become illiterate. "Dad's being difficult again," Jerome explained, hauling the luggage into the room that was to be Charlton's.

"How is he?" inquired Charlton, his voice so low that Jerome had to strain to hear him.


"Dad... how is he?" Charlton's voice was hesitant, as if he was afraid to hear the answer. Jerome could see the apprehension on his younger brother's face.

continued on next page...
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