Lawrence stood outside of the orphanage and nervously wrung his hands. He didn’t have to kill Tarren, not yet anyway. He just needed to talk to him, figure out if he was responsible for taking the prototype. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and took a deep breath. He reached out and knocked on the door. He glanced around at the yard full of children running around and yelling, and almost lost his nerve.
He was about turn and walk away when Eugene opened the door. “Can I help you?”
Lawrence smiled nervously at Eugene, cleared his throat, and said with a voice crack, “Yes!” He cleared his throat once more and continued in a lower tone, “Yes, I was wondering if Tarren Sanderson lives here?”
Eugene shook his head and sighed. “What did he do this time?”
Lawrence’s eyes opened wide. “Oh, nothing I’m sure!” Lawrence paused and thought for a moment before continuing, “Actually, I was wondering if you knew if he had anything to do with the events that transpired at the Pedestal the other night.”
Eugene’s face turned to surprise. “What? Of course not! I know that he doesn’t get along with the Enforcers very well, but he couldn’t have possibly done something like that! I heard that the attack was staged by the rebellion, and he wouldn’t have anything to do with them. They’re the reason that he was an orphan after all.”
Lawrence nodded his head. “Of course, but do you know where he was the night of the attack?”
Eugene looked at Lawrence suspiciously. “I do as a matter of fact, he was out looking for a job. May I ask who you are?”
Lawrence’s face turned to panic, but he managed a nervous smile. “My name is Lawrence, and I work for Daley Devices Incorporated, and the Enforcers have asked us to help out in their investigation. Is Tarren at home at the moment?”
Eugene frowned. “No, I’m afraid he’s at work, and I’m not sure when he’ll return.”
“Would it be alright if I wait here for him?”
Eugene pursed his lips and tilted his head to the side. “Yes, I think that should be okay, as long as you agree to help me take care of the children while you wait.”
Lawrence’s eyes opened wide, and he turned to look at all the children once more. “I don’t really have any experience taking care of kids, so I’m not sure how much help I’ll be, but I will do what I can.” He leaned closer to Eugene and whispered. “They won’t bite me, will they?”
Eugene smiled and shook his head. “No, of course not! Well, just keep your hands away from their mouths and you should be fine.”
Tarren walked down the road to a farm a short distance outside of Hope’s Landing, with his head hung low. He couldn’t understand how Eugene could be comfortable with the orphanage surviving by taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune. Tarren didn’t want to take anything from the people of Hope’s Landing.
Maybe he wouldn’t have to take anything from Allen and Martha Garrets. Maybe they’d have the money that they owed Frederick, and everything would be just fine. Of course they’d have the money. Who knew how far someone like Frederick would go to get his money back? It would be very irresponsible for them to have borrowed the money if they couldn’t pay it back.
Tarren turned and walked up the driveway that was bordered by corn fields on either side. Barking dogs rushed up to Tarren, and he eyed them uneasily until two laughing children called for the dogs. The dogs eagerly ran back to the children, and Tarren breathed a sigh of relief. He continued on to the house and knocked on the door.
The door opened to reveal a woman in a yellow dress with floral patterns mostly covered by an apron, which the woman was wiping off her hands with. She smiled at Tarren. “It’s not often that we get visitors out on our farm. What can I do for you, sir?”
Tarren managed to return a weak grin. She wouldn’t be so happy and welcoming once she knew why he was here. “My name is Tarren and I was hoping to talk with Allen. Is he in at the moment?”
The woman shook her head. “I’m afraid you came at a bad time. Allen and our oldest took off in the fuel tanker and the combine this morning, heading for the back of the farm. I don’t expect they’ll be back until they’re done with the harvest next week. Is there anything I can help you with?”
Tarren sighed. It was going to be much more difficult doing this to a woman. “I’m actually here on behalf of Frederick. I believe that you and your husband took out a loan from Mr. Frederick a couple of months ago?”
The woman started crying. “I told Allen that taking out a loan from him was a bad idea! He insisted that the crops would be ready in time to pay him back! If only the combine hadn’t broken down! Can’t Mr. Frederick give us a little longer to repay? We’ll have what we owe him next week once the harvest is in.”
Tarren’s face drooped with sympathy, and he shook his head. “I’m afraid that I either need the money today or I’m going to have to take something as collateral.”
The woman dropped to her knees and started crying. “We don’t have anything of value! We live from harvest to harvest! Please, can’t you have some mercy on us and give us some more time?”
Tarren turned his head away and sighed. He shrugged and turned away. “It’s just too bad that no one was home today when I stopped by. Unfortunately I’m not going to be back out this way until sometime next week.”
The woman looked up at Tarren and wiped the tears from her eyes. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“I’m saying that I’m taking a risk for you, so you had better have the money next week.” Tarren started to walk back down the driveway.
The woman laughed and called after Tarren, “Thank you so much! Won’t you stay and have a slice of pie? I just pulled it out of the oven before you got here.”
Tarren smiled. “I think I have enough time for a piece of pie.”
Tarren stood in front of a desk facing Frederick. “No one was home when I stopped in. I waited around for a while, but the place was deserted. I can stop out there next week and see if I have any more luck then.”
Frederick leaned back into his desk chair and drummed his fingers on his desk, the rings on his fingers clicking whenever they hit. He had a red handkerchief sticking out of the chest pocket of the black suit he was wearing and he had a fedora hanging on the corner of his desk. “Yes, that’s quite unfortunate. I appreciate the effort that you put in today, Tarren. I don’t have anything else for you at the moment. I’ll send a message to Eugene the next time I have need for you.”
Tarren smiled, “Thank you, Frederick. Enjoy the rest of your day.” Tarren turned and walked out of his office.
Frederick waited for a few seconds and then turned to one of the men lounging around the room. “Charles, go and check to see if Tarren has left.”
Charles walked out of the room and checked the entry way. He returned after a couple of minutes. “He’s gone, boss.”
Frederick nodded his head. “Good. Brad, I want you to head out to the Garrets farm and get my payment.”
Brad stood up and walked over to Frederick’s desk. “Sure thing, boss. But I thought Tarren said they weren’t around?”
Frederick grunted. “Tarren is a good kid, and I think he’s going to have a tough time with this type of work. The Garrets were home and Tarren decided to give them some more time.”
Brad frowned. “How do you know that?”
“He had some cherry sauce on the corner of his mouth, and Martha Garrets is famous for her cherry pie. This will be a lesson for him: trying to protect the people that deal with me will only get them hurt worse. Collect what they owe, with interest.”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Wednesday when I will publish part two, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read.