Fiction Drama Coming of Age


    Willow looked at the young reporter sitting there across the table in her room at London's famous Savoy Hotel. He was here to interview her for the London Times since she was a now internationally renowned Author.

  The reporter watched as the woman across from him with the prettiest blue eyes that he had ever seen seemed to look off into the distance right past him. Then nodding her head, she took a breath then said:

  My name, as you know, is Willow McNeil, but it wasn't always. Up until I was seventeen, I went by the name of Willow Dean. At the time the following story took place, I had just turned seventeen,. I lived in a small village in the Highlands of Scotland called Falkirk. That year, I helped my Mother Alexandria or Lexi to her friends, run the small Pub and Hotel that her Father had left to her. My Mother and I were all alone as I had never known my Father. Ma always told me that he was a young Soldier who had died a hero in some forgotten war overseas before I was born. At least, that is what I had always been told. What follows is an account of how my name came to change.

   It was just after lunch, on a rare warm summer day. I was just walking into the bar from the storeroom when I heard them come in.

Two of them laughing and slapping each other on the back. Going on about how they had told off some old geezer and going on about what they should have done to him if they weren't in such a hurry for a beer.

  I looked up and recognized them. They called themselves Spike and Sprocket. They were two wannabe bikers, both in their early twenties, dirty and greasy. They were just layabouts, really. They watched too much American telly. Whatever they were, I knew them to be mean and nasty. In truth, I was more than a little afraid of them. They just took what they wanted, never bothering to pay. I was afraid that if I put up too much of a fuss, they would hurt me. So far, neither of them had tried anything sexual with me, but from the way they both looked at me, I knew that was just a question of time. 

   Grandpa had kept this kind out of the bar when he was still alive, but now there was just Ma and me. Calling the police was hopeless. A year or so ago, the powers that be decided that our little village was too quiet to justify a full-time Policeman.

  Spike reached over the bar, drew up a pint, slid it to Sprocket, and then drew another for himself. He looked over at me and said, "On the tab Willow!" I shook my head and replied, "You don't have any tab here, Spike." Spike just grinned and said, "Well, I guess we will just steal them then. Who the hell around here is gonna stop us? Then with a look that chilled me, he said, "You best keep quiet, or I might just decide to take you as well as your beer." He elbowed Sprocket in the side, and they both laughed.

  The door opened again, and a man dressed all in black walked in. He was about my Ma's age or a little older, medium height, and fit for his age. He had graying dark brown hair, and when I looked closely at his face, I saw that he had icy blue eyes. Something about this nagged at me for a moment, but I couldn't place why his eye color struck me so. He stood there in the doorway for a long moment, just taking the room in.

  Spike noticed me looking at the Man, and he turned to look also. Spike elbowed Sprocket, who said, "Well, look here, Sprocket, It's the old geezer from the stalled car." Sprocket grinned and said, "Yeah, Spike, it sure is."

  The Man smiled an eerie smile as Spike took a few steps toward him and said, "You are in the wrong place, old Man. This Pub is reserved for club members only today. Ain't that right, Sprocket?" Sprocket taking some bravery from Spike stepped forward and said, "That's right, mow piss off before you fall down and hurt yourself!"

The Man didn't move an inch. He continued to smile and then, in an unmistakable American accent, said, "Now boys, I don't want any trouble. I've had a long day, and I just want something to drink, then I'll be on my way."

  Spike laughed and went back to the bar and, reaching behind it, pulled out a bottle of stout, then opened it and threw it at the Man. Spike's eyes widened in surprise when the man reached into the air and caught the flying bottle, then took a long drink from it. He then went into his pocket, pulled out a roll of money, and then turned to me and said, "What do I owe you, Miss?"

  Before I could speak, Spike said, "There's no charge, man, everything's free when we're here, ain't that right, Willow?"

I looked at the Man and said, "Mister, whoever you are, you had just better leave before you get hurt."

  He finished the bottle off then walked up to the bar and said, "Well, if that's the way you want it, Miss, but before I go, I always believe in cleaning up after myself and not leaving a load of trash lying around for others to have to deal with."

  I gave the man a puzzled look, not quite understanding what he was on about when Spike moved over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder and said, "Leave or be carried out. You have been warned!"

  I had never seen anyone move so quickly and effortlessly. The Man flipped the bottle over until he held it by its neck and then brought it down on Spike's arm. In the same motion, he swung the bottle across Spike's face. I heard a snap as Spikes's nose broke.

  Spike reached up with his good arm and held his now bleeding nose. His other arm now hung limply at his side. Sprocket moved toward the Man, and he seemed to just calmly stand there as Sprocket approached. When Sprocket was at just the right place, the man dropped into a crouch, and his right foot shot out in a straight kick to Sprocket's crotch. Sprocket went down to the floor, holding his crotch with both hands. He lay there clutching at himself and making noises like he was trying to throw up.

 The Man went over and picked up Spike by the collar and started to drag him toward the front door leaving a Trail of Spikes blood drops all the way. As he passed Sprocket, he growled, "Stay right there, youngster. I'll be right back!" Once he had Spike outside, he came back in and repeated the performance with Sprocket, who by this time was moaning in pain.

  After what seemed like an hour but was, in fact, no more than a couple of minutes, the Man came back in and walked up to where I was standing behind the bar. He reached into his shirt pocket and drew out a twenty-pound note and placed it on the bar, then said, "This is from those two that just left. They said for you to keep the change. We had a talk, and it seems that this place is bad for their health.

  I moved to the bar and picked up the twenty and then looked at the Man and said,  Thanks Mister, Those two have been coming around for a while now acting the hard men and pushing everyone around, really dangerous they are."

  He just nodded and headed for the door. Before he reached it, he turned around and said, "Just so you know, those two aren't really dangerous men. At best, they are just a danger to themselves." I laughed and replied, "Now, just how would you be knowing that?" He winked at me and then, with a serious expression, said, "Because Willow, I really am dangerous." With that, he walked out.

  About two weeks went by, and I came into the bar one evening to find the Man again standing at the bar. I went up to him and said, "Welcome back." He looked at me with those blue eyes of his and said, "Well, if it isn't Willow, Thanks, I'm glad to be back. I've decided to take a couple of days off and look the village over. I smiled at him and said, "Great! Dinner will be ready in just a few minutes, Ma's finishing it now. Why don't you come on back with me, and I'll get the table set, and we can visit."

  I led the Man through the Hallway and into the small dining room. Looking over my shoulder, I said, "Come on into the kitchen for a minute. I want you to meet my mother."

   Ma was standing there at the counter with her back to me, holding a glass. I said, "Ma, I have someone I want you to meet. This is the Yank I told you about the other day." Ma turned around, and then her eyes went wide, and she dropped the glass, and it shattered on the floor. Ma continued to look at the Man with wide eyes, and her face went white. She reached out and held on to the counter as if to support herself.

  I looked at her in shock and finally said, "Ma, what's wrong? You look like you have seen a ghost!" From behind me, I heard the Man softly say, "Willow, I believe she has."

  I heard Ma say, "Mac, is it really you?" The Man replied, Yes, Lexi, it is." The color started to come back into Ma's face as she said, "Mac, I surely thought that you were dead, at least that's what all the news reports said at the time."

  The Man lowered his head and, in a soft voice, said, "I'm sorry to shock you like that. I never knew that they hadn't corrected that story here in Scotland. Yes, everyone thought I was dead, and I nearly was several times. If I had known, I would have phoned first or written before just walking in on you. Seeing me come back from the dead must have been quite a shock."

  I looked first at the Man, then at Ma, and asked, "Ma, what the hell is going on here? I've never seen you act this way!" Before Ma could answer the Man spoke up, 'Willow, I'm afraid I wasn't quite honest with you. You see your Mother, and I were friends in the old days. She rescued me from a snowstorm one winter many years ago." Ma spoke up then and said, "And then Mac rescued me as well."

  I looked at them even more confused than before when Ma, having regained her composure, said, "Why don't you two go on through to the dining room, and I'll bring dinner in just a moment. It's almost ready."

  A few minutes later, we were all seated.  I sat there not paying much attention to the food but rather studying the Man who sat across from me. To my dismay, he seemed to be studying me as well. Finally, I said, "Ma, I've never seen you lose your cool like that before. Just what's going on here?" Before Ma could say anything, the man spoke up and said, "Willow, sometimes there are things that happen you would rather not remember, much less talk about.

   Ma spoke up and said, "Mac's right. Some things happened back then that I would rather not have to relive, and the incident involving Mac is one of them. The man looked up at Ma and whispered, “Is she?” Ma nodded and replied “Yes.” She then looked at me and went on, “Not everything that happened back then was bad. Willow, I think it's time I told you…."

  The Man cut Ma off in mid-sentence and said, "Lexi, before you go into that subject, I think that you and I need to talk in private, please?"

 Ma started to answer, but before she could, I looked at Ma and shouted, "You don't have to treat me like a child, I want to know what the hell is going on here, and I damn well want to know now!" Ma shrank back from the table as if I had struck her. The Man stood up abruptly and, looking at me, said in a stern voice." Young lady, you will watch how you speak to your Mother! You want to be treated like an adult. Act like one!"

  I stood up and angrily replied, "Just who the hell are you to come here and talk to me that way? Then through my anger, it suddenly clicked in my mind, and I knew just why his eye color intrigued me so much. His eyes were just like mine. Still angry, I started to say he had no right to talk to me that way you aren't…." But before I could get the words out, suddenly I knew, and tears filled my eyes, and all I could say was, "Oh my God!" and then I ran up the stairs to my room, threw myself on my bed, and started to sob. Ma came in later and started to talk. It didn't take her long to confirm what I had already guessed, the Man with eyes just like mine, was my Father.

 I guess it was about an hour or so after that when I had gained enough composure that I went down to find him standing at the bar.

  I went up to him and said, "I think we have some things to talk about, don't you?" He looked at me, nodded his head, and replied, "Yes, I guess we do." I took a step back and said, "Let's take a walk, shall we? I uh, really don't know what I'm supposed to call you." He smiled and said, "How about we start with Mac and see how it goes from there. Would that be alright?" I nodded and said, "Well Mac, shall we go?"

  We left the Pub and walked along the road until we reached the River Thurso's small bridge. I sat on one of the low stone walls and said, "This is going to take some getting used to." He smiled and said, "Well, how do you think I feel? Until I stopped in for a drink the other day, I never knew you existed!"

  I looked at him and asked, "How did you know? You had only met me for a few minutes and you were pretty well distracted by Spike and Sprocket? How did you know that I was your Daughter?"

  He laughed and said, "I didn't, at least not then. You look so much like your Mother looked back then that I was just struck with that and couldn't think about much else. It wasn't until later when I was driving on to Thurso, that I realized that you had blue eyes. That combined with your age got me to thinking, and I just had to come back here and find out."

  He looked at me and said, "Willow, what last name do you use anyway?" I looked at him and smiled and shook my head and said, "Well, from now on, I suppose it will be McNeil."

  He then said something that I now realize that I took entirely the wrong way. He was, after all, new at being a Father as I was to having a Dad. He asked if there was anything I needed from him. He said, "I'm not rich by any means, but I do have some money. I will happily try to help you get anything you want, within reason that is."

  I slid off the wall and stood there looking at him and said, "Are you trying to buy my affection?" He shook his head and started to say something, but I turned and started for the Pub. Feeling spiteful and hurt, I shouted over my shoulder, and I want a red sports car if it will make you feel any better for not being there for most of my life. I ran back to my room and stayed there until he left the next day.

 The day after he had left, I was at the bar when a man in a suit walked in with a clipboard and asked if I knew a Willow McNeil? I thought for a moment before realizing that he was looking for me. I said, "Well, I suppose that would be me." He smiled and pushed the clipboard at me and said, "I need you to sign here to confirm the delivery of the red Mini Cooper that I was instructed to bring to you, paid in full by a Mister Bill McNeil.

  I signed the papers and ran outside to find parked there at the curb the prettiest car that I had ever seen. I looked inside, and there on the dash was a note that said, look in the glove box. I opened the glove box to find a small box there. I opened the box to find a note and a white pearl-handled switchblade knife. I opened the note, and it said, “I hope this one is ok, you said red, didn't you? You already know what to do with the car. I'll be back soon to teach you how to use the other, Mac.”

  I stood there, tears in my eyes. I knew that not only did I now have a car of my own but a Father as well.

The End.

February 02, 2021 18:57

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