Chapter XVI: Little Dragon

“I am going to be a dad Rookie!” Harwood told his dog who barked loudly in response wiggling his tiny little tail. Harwood knew his little pup felt his positive energy and was as happy as he was. A father… That was a role he didn’t think he would get to perform in this life but it had happened. His girlfriend Dilly was pregnant. It wasn’t something they expected or planned but the most wonderful things in life often weren’t.

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Harwood was of course worried a little, there were logistical problems, he and Dilly weren’t living together, and neither of them was ready for that to change, Dilly claimed she couldn’t leave her elderly mother and Harwood loved his Twinbrook house, his studio, the view of the bay, everything it offered. But they both kind of swept it under the rug and decided not to speak about it until the baby was born.

Harwood had other concerns as well, one being his age of course. He thought he had made peace with growing old and marching steadily and confidently towards death, the dark mistress that awaited everyone at the end of their journey. But now that he was going to have a child he wanted to be there for him or her for as long as possible. So Harwood took his bike and cycled even more. He wanted to be strong, he wanted to be healthy, he wanted to be ready for this baby as much as he could.

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The months flew by faster than ever Harwood found. He tried hard to balance his time between Dilly and Juan. He wanted to devote time to his best friend simply because he wasn’t sure how much free time for socialization he would have when the baby comes.

Juan appreciated it, or so it seemed, he even let Harwood help with some of his inventions. Of course Harwood was bound by secrecy, the only way Juan would let him anywhere near his workbench was if he promised never to tell a soul what they were working on. Harwood din’t think any one would care, not even Dilly asked where he was while she was at work but he made the promise anyway.

Juan’s little dog Cinammon, Rookie’s mother just had a new littler of puppies and his dog’s brother’s and sister’s would often gather and watch Harwood work. All in all it was a very good time in Harwood’s life.

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He was on his way to Juan’s when he heard his phone ring. Seeing it was Dilly he answered on the first ring. “It is confirmed. Our little dragon is a boy.” Dilly said and Harwood smiled. Dilly had taken on to calling their baby little dragon because of the severe heartburn she had been suffering during her pregnancy.

“Wow. I guess we should start thinking names.” He replied. A boy. He was going to have a boy, a son. He was so happy and in a daze he hadn’t realized where he was standing until he had finished the call. A chill went down his spine when he saw he was right in the middle  of the ruins of the old house. He took a few long strides in a hurry to get to Juan’s door. He hated that stupid place, the place where his first wife had died… He couldn’t understand how Juan could live so close to it, especially considering his wife had died there as well…

Harwood sighed knocking hard on Juan’s door, feeling sweat drip of him. “Harwood.” Juan said opening the door. He smiled warmly oblivious to his best friend’s distress . “Come, come.” He said moving away so Harwood could step inside the remodeled barn Juan had been living in since the house he had shared with his wife had burned down, taking her and her sister down with it.

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The sudden discomfort, mixed with happiness from the phone call he had just received were hard to push away and for a moment Harwood was so lost he almost didn’t notice a teenage girl sitting at Juan’s dining table. She had a notebook in hand and was just flipping the page when she lifted her gaze to Harwood equally surprised. “Hello.” She said.

“This is Chase.” Juan interjected narrowing his bushy eyebrows. “She is one of them Bayless.” He said referring to a family Harwood knew  and had befriended. They lived down in the swamp and weren’t that well loved by the rich upper class of Twinbrook. “She is writing some paper about me. Just don’t mind her.” Juan said dismissing her again with a wave of her hand. “Tell me what’s new down at the bay.”

“Well.” Harwood said unable to hide the large grin spreading all over his face. “I am having a son!”

“Wow. Congratulations.” Juan said. “Lacy will be so glad to hear that.” He added and Harwood’s smile fell. He though he would get used to all the weird stuff Juan said and did but hearing the joy in his voice as he spoke about the wife who had died decades ago just made him sad.

“Well I am going to get us a bottle of wine, I think I have one stored back somewhere…” Juan mumbled and went to his fridge. Harwood looked at Chase still seated at the table.

“Do you have something for Chase?”

“Who?” Juan asked a confused look passing over his face as he turned to Harwood. “Ah yes, what do you want girl?” He asked the teenager.

“Just water Mr. Darer.” Juan nodded.

“I don’t  have any of that fancy bottled stuff.” He murmured.

“Just regular water would be fine.” The girl said.

Once Juan had brought all of them drinks they sat all together at Juan’s rickety, old wooden dinning table, well Harwood and Chase set and Juan remained standing because they had only two chairs. Together they raised their glasses to Harwood’s unborn son. And Harwood couldn’t help but smile all the time there, or on his way home. He couldn’t wait to meet the little boy that he knew would change his life but he didn’t mind it. There was just enough love left in him to give his little dragon.

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