Pronghorn, Chapter 33: A Phone Call

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

The ringing of his cell phone woke Asa Pemewan in the bed he was using at his parents’ house. Tossing sheet and blanket aside, he groggily reached over to it, fumbled to answer, and hoarsely said “Hello?” into it. “Who’s calling?”

A voice sounding like it belonged to a middle-aged woman replied “I’m sorry to call so early, but I’m trying to reach Asa Pemewan. My name’s Olivia Smitherson, and I run Smitherson Chandlery.”

Asa sat up. “Yes, ma’am. I’m Asa.”

“Hi, Asa. Again, I’m sorry to wake you, but I wanted to return your call and to get hold of you before you tried to come in to work.” A choked sob reached Asa’s ears. “Papa didn’t let any of us know what he was going to have you do for him, and the office is in a shambles, anyway, because of the Tuesday Storm.”

“I understand, Ms. Smitherson. Thanks for letting me know. And please accept my condolences.”

“Thank you.” The line went dead, leaving Asa sitting in the dark. The air conditioner whirred to life, and Asa looked at his phone. I can get another hour of sleep, or I can go ahead and get up and try for other jobs. Maybe something in San Antonio’s hiring.

With that thought, Asa realized he would not be getting back to sleep anytime soon. So he staggered towards the kitchen to turn on the morning’s coffee, and while it began to brew, he used the one bathroom in the house ahead of his father’s waking. That done, he took a look at want-ads in and around the Alamo City. Education jobs on Craigslist spoke of the need for daycare teachers to work with the very young, as well as tutors for various agencies to offer supplemental instruction at all grade levels; Asa clicked on one of the latter, finding that it promised high pay and flexible hours. Clicking through, however, demanded a lengthy application process.

Seeing it, Asa shrugged before he went to get his coffee. Cup in hand, he sat back down and put himself to filling out the application. Questions about his programs of study, his grades, his teaching experience, and his test scores leapt at him from the screen. Hell, I haven’t taken the ACT or SAT since high school, and that was twenty years ago. Even the GRE’s a way back for me; I don’t know if I’d be any good helping with it, he thought. Still, I can do lit–all of it, really. And I can teach writing, so that should help. He typed furiously, clicked repeatedly, and, at length, the application was completed.

Form behind him, his father, dressed for work, asked “What was all that?”

“Job application. Tutoring, so irregular as all hell–if it works. It’s summer, now, so tutoring won’t be in much demand. But I’ve got to keep looking, right?”

His father nodded and moved to get his own coffee. “Y’ do. And somethin’ll come up. Y’re bright and a hard worker with y’r head and y’r words. Somethin’s coming.”

Asa took a pull from his cup. “I hope you’re right.”

“Y’ ain’t been here long, either, Asa. Tuesday Storm screwed things around, sure, but y’d need to be patient even without it.”

“If I’d only started looking when I came back, I’d believe you. But I was putting stuff out middle of last year, and I haven’t heard back on hardly anything that wasn’t a ‘no,’ here or otherwise. Hell, even my friend could only get me a ‘maybe.'”

“Y’ve still got to keep going.”

“Who’s talking about not? I’m just frustrated with the thing, is all. And so I’m looking for whatever I can slap together to get some money in in the meantime.” He took another pull from his mug. “Not that it’s helping at the moment. But I’m trying.”

Asa’s father drank from his own mug. “I know y’ are, son. I know y’are. And I know looking for work and not finding it sucks. And even when y’ do find work, and y’ work y’r ass off, and the bills don’t get paid the way they need to, that sucks, too. But y’re at least in a decent spot. Y’ve got food and a place to sleep, and that’s better than it could be.”

Asa nodded. “I know, Dad. I know. And I appreciate that you and Mom’re letting me stay here; I know you don’t have to.”

“Y’re our son. We weren’t going to turn y’ away.”

“But some folks would’ve. You didn’t, and I appreciate it. And I know I’ve been kind of a pain in the ass.”

“We’re used to that from y’.”

Asa shook his head. “I’m being serious. I really do appreciate you putting up with me–and continuing to do so. Because it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to move back out anytime soon.” He smiled. “You and Mom’ll have to keep your clothes on around the house a little longer.”

Asa’s father smiled back. “Y’ stay in y’r room like y’ used to, and we’ll do like we did then, too.”

Asa pantomimed vomiting, and his father chuckled. “How’d y’ think we got y’ and y’r sister?” He finished his cup of coffee. “But I’ve got to head in soon, so I’ll leave y’ to it. Should be a nice day out; see if y’ can get some of it on y’, okay? Staying in all the time’s not good for y’, and y’ need every bit of help y’ can get.”

“I will, Dad. But I’m going to see about putting in some more applications first.”

“Sounds good, son. Sounds good.”

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