THE OTHER BROTHER
It was weeks before Naomi was to go to the high school in the small town when her new friend asked her whether she knew anybody else from around here. Naomi hadn’t known it at the time but she was much younger than her friend and so she wouldn’t be joining her in high school.
"Well there’s just these two guys who live out by where Uncle Charles place is.", Naomi said kicking a stone as they walked down the dusty dirt road side by side.
"Oh you must be talking about the Stromer boys.", she said closing her eyes and smiling as she nodded it as though answering herself. Naomi looked to her in alarm. "What? You look like you thought they were as reclusive as the days are long. Of course I know Neal we graduated together…His younger brother Al should be graduating this year I think?" She hopped onto the high rising grassy ditch since the road at this part had seemed to become more sunk down in. Naomi followed suite behind her.
"You never told me that before.", Naomi said sort of hurt.
"Well you never asked or mentioned you had met them already.", she told her shrugging then looking back she smiled an apology. "How’d you manage that?" Naomi looked to the ground not sure if she was ready to share that deep secret locked in her heart somewhere. She had guarded it like a treasure that memory very selfishly. "You don’t have to tell me.", her friend said laughing as she picked up a stick and swished it as she walked.
"Why are you doing that?"
"To scare off any kind of snakes. You thought wolves were scary? Ha!", she said shuddering. "Trust me if I see one of those disgusting things I will more than likely leave you and take off for Charles’ farm at a full tilt."
"You know Job-"
"Why do you keep calling me that?", she groaned heavily with disapproval as she turned to look at her frowning.
"You never told me your name! How do you expect me to-", Naomi started to yell when a noise coming from behind them made her stop mid rant. Turning she seen she was right. It was Neal in his truck. "Neal! Neal!"
He stopped laughing as Naomi ran up to the driver’s window and tapped on it excitedly.
"Well hello to you too, Naomi! Out for a walk?", he asked grinning rolling down the window, as though there was anything else to do out in the middle of nowhere on the dirt road. He looked up his smile disappearing, she turned to see Job kneeling and examining something on the grass she looked back to him. "I see you’ve met Job.", he said in a strange way which made Naomi worry.
"Yeah…Is there something wrong with-", she started to ask when Job’s laugh next to her made her freeze in alarm.
"Well hello stranger.", Job said grinning to Neal who seemed to relax as she spoke to him warmly. "How’s the Stromer homestead?"
"O-Okay. And you?", he asked running a hand through his hair which was pulled back into a haphazard of a pony tail ,it had gotten so much long since she had seen him last.
"I’m okay. I was just telling Naomi here how we went to school together."
"And?", Neal asked leaning back eyeing her as though there was something more to her statement that posed a threat of some kind.
"That Alaric was going to be in his senior year. Is he really?", Naomi asked him smiling shyly. "I-I thought he was a bit older."
"Al has always looked older than other kids his age…It’s a trait us Stromer boys share I guess. You’re going to high school soon right?"
"In a few weeks.", Naomi said smiling.
"That’s what I figured…Al’s been kind of moody so I figured that was the case. But once he hears you’re coming…I’m sure he’ll perk up.", he reached for the keys and turned his truck off. "I’m real sorry that neither of us have been up…We’ve had family business to take care of."
"Still running the flower shop?", Job asked as she leaned casually against the truck.
"Yeah…but I was referring to Tobiah coming back home."
A strange silence seemed to fill the air as Job looked to the ground in a worried manner and Neal looking to her as though he were sorry for mentioning the name. "I don’t think he’ll start anything with you though Job…We were all just stupid kids at the time."
"Maybe.", she mumbled quietly as she rubbed her arm. "How’s Holly doing?"
"She’s ecstatic he’s back home. You know how Mom is…Though it’s kind of funny I managed to find you here.", he said smiling softly. Job lifted her head and looked at him eyebrow raised. "I was just telling Alaric the other day about the time you nearly drowned the two of us in Tokahoe."
"How’d that come up?", she said her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
"He suggested we take Naomi out on the river to canoe around.", he shrugged while Naomi’s heart seemed to race. Alaric was thinking of her still, she was sure she was nothing more than a forgotten event. "Why didn’t you ever come back to the house after high school? Was it because of him?"
Job nodded as she covered her face as she began sobbing. Naomi watched stunned at this sudden outburst of emotion. Neal opened the door to his truck and hugged her to him.
"I-I didn’t mean to shut you out too!", she sobbed into his shirt. "I knew Tobiah had left but I was so scared! I was stupid." She looked up at Neal her eyes still brimming with tears that had managed to keep trapped in her green eyes. "I’m not scared though anymore…", she whispered to him. "I know it’s not anyone’s fault."
"I won’t let him hurt you.", Neal told her as he wiped away her tears with his thumb. "This time it’ll be different because I’m here." He turned to Naomi looking like she had just caught him and Job doing something they shouldn’t. But Naomi was just confused, VERY confused.
"Is Tobiah…Is he a brother of yours? And did Job date him?", she asked softly.
"Yes…Tobiah is my eldest brother. As to him and Job dating- well I don’t know if I would call it that.", he said as he unwrapped his arms from around Job. "Would you Helen?", he asked Job with a smile.
"Helen?! That’s your name?!!", Naomi asked her surprised. She nodded her face flushed.
"I hate it…", she admitted. "I’d even prefer being called Job to it. After the nickname the kids managed to come up with…Hell. Can you imagine a child being called that?" Naomi had to admit it sounded harsh and kind of mean.
"I assume the two of you are headed back to Charles’ place? I’ll take you there if you don’t mind me dropping off some things first.’, Neal said as he already herded them towards the truck. Naomi wasn’t sure whether to have Job sit next to Neal or not. Somehow the two of them seemed like lovers who were both either blind as to how the other looked at them or tried very hard to ignore those kinds of feelings. Job however gestured for her to slide next to Neal so that answered that question. But who was Tobiah really? And why did Job look so scared all of a sudden as they started down the road?
"Neal you’re so mean to poor Naomi!", Job scolded as he turned into a long drive. Immediately Naomi knew why Job had said that. This was the Stromer Homestead, green houses and a small picturesque house. A woman was outside hanging clothes on the line and turned smiling as Neal and the two of them got out of the truck.
"Neal I wish you would have told me you were bringing’ home some girls!", the woman scolded him as she made her way over. She was a bigger woman but Naomi wouldn’t call her fat per say. She tapped him on the cheek as he passed paper bags in his arm and entering the house leaving Naomi and Job all alone with mama. "Why is that you Helen Job?! I haven’t seen you in years! Come over here and let Holly look at ya’!" Naomi noted how looking at Job consisted of a quick look over and a death squeeze of a hug. So this was Alaric and Neal’s mother? Alaric didn’t look much like her at all she thought.
"M-Mrs. Stromer!", job managed to wheeze after the woman released her she rubbed a side with her arm. "This is my friend Naomi Winters. I guess she’s met Neal and Alaric already." The woman’s smile softened as she nodded to her.
" Oh yes, Neal told me you were the one who let our dog out of that nasty trap a while back. I had to kind of prod the answer out of those two. Sneaking out of the house with a bouquet of flowers made me kind of wonder what they were up to ya’ know?" Naomi couldn’t help laughing thinking of how comical it would have been to see the two of them try to sneak away to her like that. " But I’m glad really. You’re such a sweet little thing. Holly can tell that about you already." Naomi could feel her cheeks redden, she liked Mama Stromer already.
" Is Tobiah home?", Job asked suddenly as she shifted about almost as if she were restless.
" Not to worry love I’m sure he won’t-"
But a loud snapping noise cut her off as the front screen door seemed to blow out Neal laying on the ground as though he had been in front of it when the explosion occurred.
"Dammit Neal now look what you’ve gone and made me do." Naomi couldn’t help but stare as a man stepped onto the porch frowning. He was tall like his brothers but that was where the similarities ended. The brothers while muscular didn’t look like a body builder like this one did. His hair was short and gray and his eyes seemed to be the same shade as they looked at her and then froze on Job a frightening grin spread on his face. "Well, well, well. Look what Neal brought home from town." There was nowhere for Job to go as he approached her body was already pressed against the dusty blue truck. Naomi would have moved had not Mama Stromer suddenly stood in front of her almost as though she were shielding her. From what?, Naomi thought shaking. He placed a hand casually on Job’s arm..
"Tobiah don’t." Job couldn’t even look him in the face and shuddered from his touch. Naomi watched Neal getting to his feet shakily holding one of his shoulders and making his way slowly towards them. Tobiah removed his hand but not before it slid down her arm brushing her hip as he pocketed it.
"No one’s heard from you in over three or four years from what I hear. Not even Neal." She looked at him now icily catching the hint or attack form the word. " I thought maybe you had-", he paused his eyes scanning over her again almost hungrily. "Got out of Dodge."
" No but you sure did and with your tail between your legs too.", she told him as she smiled coldly. " Somewhere in Nowhere. I won’t let you do that again Tobiah. Not to me or anyone….Like Neal said, we were all just stupid kids. And I don’t play that game anymore.."
Neal was standing close to Tobiah, so close that for a second Naomi was sure he was going to deck him one across the face but instead he went to Job and wrapped an arm around her side. It was as if the two brother’s were fighting with just their intense stares until Job led Neal to the truck. How did she do that?, Naomi wondered as Neal grabbed her and led her back into the truck once again she was in the middle. How could she match the threats of Tobiah like that? And what was she talking about? She gripped the seat as best as she could as Neal slammed the truck into reverse and tore out of the driveway. As they did she seen Alaric come out onto the porch his cast off, and his stern gaze at Tobiah. If Tobiah hadn’t of been there she would have been able to talk to him. She placed her palm against the window placing it over his chest as they drove away. Such strange connections all of it had. Sh felt as though she weren’t meant to be a part of all of this too. But for now that would have to wait.
· Fri Nov 13, 2009 @ 08:24pm · 0 Comments