Harwood was glad summer was drawing to a close. If he had to withstand one day of this heat and humidity he thought he could just drop on the floor and die. He wasn’t able to do anything creative for months, he would go to his beautiful sunlit studio start working and within what seemed like minutes he would be all covered in dripping sweat and had to escape inside the house refreshing himself with countless cold orange juices he had stocked up in his fridge.
There were other things to occupy him as well, it turned out that summers in Twinbrook were buzzing with social activity and now that he had blended into the society he got to be invited to a lot, if not most of the events. Julianne Knack organized dinner parties at that large basement kitchen of hers Harwood had once ventured into. She was quite a cook and enjoyable company. The two of them had become friends, there was some occasional flirting, mostly from her side but Harwood was still pretty much determined not to get involved with Pattina’s daughter. Still it didn’t stop him from spending time with her.
And then there was his a job. It was a temporary thing, he knew it from the start, still it didn’t stop him from feeling bad once summer was over and his was let go. He got the unexpected job offer at a party of all places. The party was at the Bayless house, thrown by his friend and Dilly’s old boss from the papers, Gwayne. It was after sundown on a particularly hot day so everyone was pretty lax with clothes, Harwood included. He was shirtless sipping a cold beer and listening to the crickets sing in the drying, overgrown grass that spread all the way from the Bayless family home to the cold waters of the bay when Gwayne approached him.
She told him about the predicament she was facing at the paper, apparently there was some epidemic going around town and all the kids were sick, leaving no one to do daily deliveries of the paper.
“…and with this heat, no one can bother to go down to the store and buy the papers, it is killing us!” She complained sorrowfully. Harwood nodded solemnly. “Say, you have a bike…” Gwayne suddenly said. “Maybe you can step in, just for a while, until the situation clears up a bit?” When Harwood agreed Gwayne’s whole face lit up. “That is great! You are the best!”
And so every morning Harwood would get up at dawn, hop on his purple bike and drive all around the sleeping city of Twinbrook delivering the paper to everyone’s front door. It soon became the favourite part of his day. For one it wasn’t as hot in those early mornings and it was also so peaceful to be the only one riding the streets at that time, just him and the nature around him, it was a perfect time for meditation and inner peace.
He only wished Dilly hadn’t been so adamant at her efforts not to run into him whenever they had found themselves together in the building. He was sure he had gotten over her but he missed Billy, it was hard not watching him grow and he needed her to at least talk to him about their son, assure him he was well and happy.
And then one day shortly after Harwood was fired from the paper Dilly called. He answered immediately his first thought being that there was something wrong with Billy. His concern deepened even more when he heard Dilly’s voice. Dilly usually sounded cold and composed whenever one would have a chance to talk to her. Not today however. Today she seemed lost and very tired. It made Harwood’s gut clench in a nasty way.
“I need to ask a favour.” She said.
“Anything.” Harwood said relaxing a bit. If there was anything wrong with Billy she would have probably lead with that.
“I need you take Billy for a while. Well… Indefinitely actually. I can bring him tomorrow, with all his clothes and toys and stuff.” And even though Harwood felt the pain behind those words his heart started beating faster and he couldn’t help a smile rising to his face. His son would come here, his Billy will be with him…
“Of course! Bring him over!” He said and then fighting to contain his excitement he asked. “Why though? Is something wrong?” Dilly took a deep breath on the other line and Harwood thought she might have been close to tears.
“It is my mother. Harwood She is sick… I need to help her and it will take all of my time I think… I just can’t look after her and Billy…” Her voice broke at the end and the rest of the conversation Harwood spent trying to comfort her. It was a terrible thing watching your parents sick. Harwood was never close to his own mum and dad, he got away from them first chance he got yet still he felt the emptiness and uncontainable sorrow at both of their passing.
“There is someone special coming to stay with us today!” Harwood said to Rookie as he excitedly picked him up the next morning. His little dog barked and wiggled his tail happily probably reacting to the happiness in Harwood’s own voice. The circumstances of his reunion with his son were sure grim but Harwood still couldn’t help himself. “I am sure you will like him, and he’ll like you too. He is my son you know, my flesh and blood. My little Billy!”
He and Dilly had coffee in the kitchen and she told him about her mother’s dementia. He let her talk and talk, get it all off her shoulders and when she was done he hugged her tight letting her cry softly into his shoulder. There was nothing he could do to make it better, and even though they weren’t together any more it still broke his heart to watch her like that.
Luckily Billy was unaware of all this happening around him, seated on the floor watching a cooking show on TV with Rookie regarding him cautiously from a short distance. It saddened Harwood a bit to think that the poor boy would probably not even remember his grandmother at all and according to Dilly Milly Pidgin had played a great role in his life so far. But such was life he supposed. It was his job now to make sure Billy grows up happy and well. A thought at the same time happy and a bit frightening.
Dilly had gone to the bathroom to tidy up and Harwood supposed to brace herself to yet another hard moment, saying goodbye to her son. He stayed seated at the kitchen table watching as Rookie finally got the courage to approach the strange little human. He sniffed Billy and the toddler lifted his tiny arms obviously fascinated with the little animal as well.
“He’ll be fine.” Dilly said. As much to Harwood as to herself he supposed. He looked up at her and her face was cold and expressionless but Harwood could see past it, see to her broken heart. It was hard to watch but he knew it had to be. For a while Dilly just looked at Billy saying nothing until she lifted her head and her eyes met Harwood’s.
“He’ll be fine.” He confirmed. She nodded and then went up to Billy. She kissed him softly in the head and he touched her unruly hair with his small hands. She smiled at him and Harwood turned around just watching over the still water of the bay letting Dilly have her moment with their son.