Redeemed on Tucker Street: Chapter Four: A Rainbow in the Rain
If there was one thing about living alone I detested, it was the silence.
It was deafening.
There were days that I would turn on the air conditioner, just to hear it run. I mean, to be honest, one needs air conditioning almost year-round in Texas. That’s if you can afford it.
That reminds me. Bills had become nearly insurmountable. I canceled my phone plan. Then came the TV, then the internet. Groceries were consistently from the 99 cent store on the corner of Veterans Memorial, just the minimum that I needed to make it. Occasionally I’d buy a mango, right when the shipment from Mexico came in. That was a treat. The rent cost me $450 a month, nearly half of what I made at Wal-Mart. I had less than $500 left a month for everything else.
Eight dollars an hour, thirty-five hours a week, only stretched so far.
My life became an endless cycle of school, work, home. School, work, home. The days bled into weeks; and before I knew it, it had been three months since the officers visited my schoolroom. My eighteenth birthday came and went. Kenny brought me flowers; otherwise, it passed largely unnoticed. I didn’t want the other students to know that I was over a full year behind.
“Allie.” My manager, Traci, stopped me on my way out of work, late one Thursday night. “Allie, do you have a moment?”
“Yes.” My voice almost bent the word into a question. I was tired. Surely this wasn’t an extra project.
“Allie, as you know, you’re one of my best checkers.” She smiled at me. “I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Suzanne is moving to South Houston. She’ll be transferring to Store 435, off Highway 288.”
“Yes? Well, no, I didn’t know.” Suzanne was the managing cashier. She was an older lady, kind but very reserved.
“I can think of no better qualified checker than you, to take her place.”
“Wait, what? Me?” My full attention focused on Traci. The allure of sleep, even the thought of it, left my once-wearied brain.
“Yes, you. That is, if you want the position.”
“If I want it? Yes, yes, of course. Course. Yes! When do I star—I mean, thank you, ma’am!” I stammered.
Traci smiled. “When do you start? Well, Suzanne will begin training you at the end of this week. You’ll have two weeks before she leaves to learn.” She paused. “Also, your pay as a department manager will start on your next paycheck. Thirteen dollars an hour.”
My jaw dropped as Traci turned to go. She was always short, and to the point. She wasn’t going to stand there and watch my half-shocked, half dazed reaction.
Thirteen dollars an hour. I was rich.
Might not seem like much. But to me, those five dollars an hour were the world.
“Allie. Allie!” I heard a voice behind me in the hall. I turned.
Kenny ran to catch up with me, panting. “Allie! I’ve been legit trying to catch up with you all day.” He smiled.
“Kenny! Oh, I haven’t told you yet!”
“What!!?? Tell me, tell me, tell me. What is it? Is it good?”
“Oh yes, so good.” I grinned smugly. “I’m officially a manager.”
“Get outta here! No way! Serious?”
“Yep. Got a five dollar raise, too.” My face split into a pearly smile.
Kenny stepped back. “No way. Dude. That’s a ton. That’s AWESOME!”
“I know. But I needed it. I needed it bad.”
“Yeah, I’ve been wondering if your phone got disconnected. Tried to text you a couple of times this week, but I don’t think you got it.”
I threw him a withering glance. “I canceled that more than a month ago.”
“Really?” His steps slowed. “I didn’t realize you were having a hard time.”
“Nah. I’m not having a hard time. Just glad to have the extra, ya know.” I paused in front of my Algebra classroom. “Gotta go. Have fun.”
“You too. Proud of you, Sherlock.” Kenny winked.
I laughed. “See ya.”
Yet again, though, I had lied. To Kenny this time. God knows that I was having a hard time, a really hard time.
That’s if God actually exists.
That was another thing I wasn’t sure about. Granny had got religion, I guess you call it, late in life. Pretty much right before she died. She quit smoking, quit getting drunk, and started going to that little church on the corner all the time. Well, it’s not actually a church. It’s a little building, if you could call it that, more like a shed. I think they call it Redemption Fellowship. Some folks meet there, mostly homeless folks, on Sundays and Tuesday nights. I guess they sing and read their Bibles. I never went—was either working or sleeping.
Never really had an interest, either. Because I would think that if those church people really believed in God, in a good God, they would be sharing that goodness with the rest of us. I know a ton of people, supposedly good Christian people, that live way too wastefully, and haven’t a dime or a second to spare for anybody.
They’re the same people that turn their noses up to us on the street, that don’t give us more than a nod passing by. They’re the same ones that pretend that poverty and suffering only exists in Africa, or South America.
Granny used to say that Jesus would supply all our needs. Well, I was supplying all my own needs as far as I could tell. If Jesus or His church wanted to step in and help at any time, they were welcome.
Until then, I’ll be here waiting for the church to actually practice what they preach.