When I was younger, about 16 or so, I entered my favourite corner store to get my favourite flavour of slush. "One large Lime slush please?" I said to the guy working behind the counter.
Many places allow their customers to simply pick their own size of cups and flavour. This one, however, had too many issues with theft so they moved their machines behind the counter.
"Great choice, that's my favourite flavour too!"
I looked up a little surprised. Usually, the clerks behind the desk didn't say anything, they just simply got what you asked for, took your money, and you went on your way.
He came back and handed me my slush and smiled. "Now you made me want a Lime slush!" He commented.
"Well...you do have the machine behind you. You are kinda in a prime place to get one."
He laughs. "I think I just might. Have a good day!"
I walked out of the store enjoying my slush and didn't think much more about what transpired in the store.
A few days later, I went back. This time, with my mom's car to fill up her tank. I finished filling up and headed inside. The same guy was working again so I looked at his name tag to address him by name. "Don't they ever send you home Todd? You were here the last time I came in!" I said jokingly.
"They do sometimes! Between shifts usually, not during them." He said laughing. "Nice shirt, going retro today?"
I personally feel that if anyone has any taste whatsoever they will enjoy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even well into their eighties!
I nodded my head in agreement and paid for the gas. We said good-bye and I left.
Instead of leaving that day's encounter alone, I thought about it for the rest of the day. I decided that Todd could be someone fun to hang out with and tried to organize time to shoot some hoops with him or something. Though, I am certain he's a little older than me, I don't think he would mind.
The next couple times I went to the store, Todd is not working. I went in, paid for what I needed, and nothing is said between me and the clerks. Finally, a couple weeks later, I see Todd again but he seems different. "Hey, haven't seen you for a bit, did you go on vacation or something?" I asked smiling.
He just looks at me blankly. "Or something," He replied. "What can I get you today?"
I looked at him confused.
I've never seen him in a mood like this. Then again, I haven't known him for very long.
"Nothing today, I was kind of wondering if you were interested in shooting some hoops some time when you don't work or something?"
He showed a little smile. "I haven't done that in a little while. Yeah, that sounds cool! I only work till 3:00 today, if you wanted to go later? The park just close to here has basket ball hoops." Todd suggested.
"Sounds good. I will see you there!"
I bought a slush and headed home for a couple hours. At 2:50, I left the house with the basketball and began the walk to the park. It's about a fifteen minute walk from my house so I shouldn't be there too long before Todd comes along. I reached the court, bounced the ball around, and took a few shots. About ten minutes after I have been there, I see a car pull up and Todd gets out. He began walking towards me. "Sorry I am so late, had a little trouble balancing my till." Todd explained.
"No problem!" I assured him. "Gave me some time to practice."
"Now you have an unfair advantage!"
I tossed him the ball, he began to bounce it a bit, and took a shot. The ball hits the rim and goes straight into the basket first shot. "Judging from that shot, you will be fine!" I remarked.
"Lucky shot!" He laughs. "It occurred to me on the way over here that I don't know your name. I know you can read though, since you read my name tag."
I laughed to myself and walked over to him to shake his hand. "I'm Brent, nice to officially meet you!"
That day, we made small chit chat and played different basket ball games like 21, around the world, and horse.
After that day, Todd would usually ask me if I wanted to do something after he was done work. I always said yes.
Truth be told, Todd was like an older brother I never had. Sometimes, he would even help me with my homework. He was really good at math and I really sucked at it, so he volunteered to tutor me.
Around Thanksgiving, though, I noticed Todd was getting more distant and disappeared again for a couple weeks. We had exchanged phone numbers, but he was never answering my calls or texts. When I finally saw him again, he was in the same mood as the last time he went missing for a while. I asked him about it, but he just shrugged it off and I didn't push the matter. A few days later, I got a text from him to see if I wanted to hang out and I said yes. He picked me up, we went to go see a movie and everything was fine again.
When December rolled around, Todd was beginning to act funny again. I asked him about it and he would always just shrug it off to "having a bad day". By the fifth time he said this, I had enough of the lame excuse. "Seriously dude? You don't think I know something is up?"
"It's nothing Brent, I just ...don't like the holidays is all."
"What's not to like about the Holidays? There is all the food, gifts, and family! It's a great time of year!"
"That's why I don't like the Holidays! It reminds me that I don't have a family to enjoy them with!"
I fell silent.
"You wanna know where I was those weeks I went missing and never returned your calls or texts? I went looking for my mother. As far as I can remember, I have been alone. I moved from foster home to foster home searching for a family to call my own."
I was still silent, but listened intently. He paused and looked like he was going to break down. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. I just..."
"It's fine, I needed to tell someone anyways. I know you are young, but I feel like I can talk to you. You're like a brother I never had." Todd interrupts. "Sorry, that sounded really cheesy and lame."
"Not at all, I am honoured!" I reassured him. "So how come you went missing?"
"I thought I might have had a lead of where my mom could be. All I know, is that she had me very young and she left me on the front steps of a house, hoping they would take care of me. I found an old picture when I was younger and kept it with me. Apparently she left it with me so the owners and I would know what she looked like if I wanted to go looking for her. The couple ended up dying in a car crash and I was forced to go into the foster system because they had no nearby relatives. The only thing I kept, all this time, is my mother's picture with my name and a note on it, in hopes I would find her one day. I moved here a year ago on a lead that she might be here, but I haven't found her yet."
I thought about his story for a minute. "Well ...we always have plenty of food and room at my house. I am sure you would be more than welcome to join me and my family for Christmas."
"You think so? You would do that for me?" Todd asked shocked.
I nodded my head. "Of course! What are friends and basically brothers for?"
"Thank you, I would like that very much."
After he dropped me off, I asked mom and explained the scenario to her about Todd. She agreed that he could join us for Christmas and I let him know right away.
When Christmas day rolled around, Todd text me from the car. He was outside the house and nervous. I told him I would meet him at the door and introduce him to everyone. The door bell rang and I went and answered the door. "I brought your mom some wine. I hope it's okay." Todd commented.
"She will love it!" I confirmed.
I took Todd to the kitchen to introduce him to my mom. When he got to the entrance he froze in his tracks and dropped the bottle. My mom turned, froze in her tracks, and stared at Todd. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a picture, turned it around, and showed my mom.
All writing (c) Mike Deregowski - no reproduction in whole or in part unless written permission is received from the author.