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The Price of Trust

Chapter 1

One more mile. Please, Lord, take me just one more mile, Carly prayed, trying to coax the wheezing junker to the next town. Without realizing it, she was rocking back and forth to encourage the old car to keep up the speed. Going slower and slower, she was afraid she was going to stall out on the exit ramp. She didn’t stop praying until she reached the dingy service station that was next to the ramp, stalling as she pulled into a parking space.

Thank you so much, Lord. She prayed with a sigh of relief. Now will you please take me to where you want me to go? I don’t know anyone, and I have to be careful with the little money I’ve got left. Please let me know what you want me to do, she prayed under her breath as she got out of the wreck that belonged to her.

A man in dirty overalls came out, wiping his hands on an old grease rag.

“Excuse me, is there anything I can do for you?” he asked, looking her up and down warily.

She was used to stares. Especially in little towns like this one. Newcomers were rare, and most places she’d been, they didn’t trust new people right away but looked at them with suspicion. She gave him her best smile and decided to be as friendly as possible.

“Well, I’m not so sure what you can do to fix that old junk, but maybe you could possibly point me to the nearest place to find something to eat, and then I’ll decide what to do with it. Will it be okay where it’s at for now?”

“Yeah, for now. But you’ll have to take care of it later. There's a diner across the street,” the mechanic said, turning around and walking back into the garage.

Nice fellow. Not talkative, but not rude. That was a change from the last place she’d been. She’d been to so many she was a little tired of new places. She wished and prayed that maybe she could stay here longer than the last place. She wanted to belong somewhere. Stop running. Just stay and be happy. But it didn’t seem likely to happen any time soon.

“Thanks,” she called after him. She turned, and crossed the street to the diner. Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the door and walked in. Everyone turned to stare at her. She smiled bravely and seated herself at the counter.

“May I help ya?” a waitress asked with a drawl.

“I’d like a bowl of soup and water please. And could you tell me if there’s a junkyard around here? I’ve got a donation for them,” she said, smiling.

The waitress proved to be more talkative than the mechanic.

“Well, we’ve got two junkyards, but they’re run by the same family, so you won’t get much from them. They’re pretty stingy when it comes to paying for junk cars. Or anything for that matter. You new in town?” the waitress asked while pouring her water. It always made her nervous when people asked questions. They always wanted to know more than she could or would tell them.

“Yeah, I just arrived. Do you know of anyone that’s looking for some help?” she asked, trying to curb the waitress’s curiosity.

“Hey there, Sandy! Could I have another cup of coffee over here, or are you going to jaw away the day and let your customers die of thirst?” a man in a booth called out good-naturedly, waving his coffee cup in the air.

“Aw, come on George! I’ll get to ya! When have I ever let ya down?” Sandy answered. George guffawed in return. “I’m not too sure about any jobs around here. Are you lookin’ for anything special?” Sandy called to her while pouring George’s coffee. Carly turned red. She wasn’t used to small town people who weren’t too worried about keeping things private. “George, ya know anyone that’s lookin’ for some help?” Sandy asked loud enough for everyone to hear.

George smirked. “Well, depends on what she’s looking for. I hear them junkyard people are looking for someone to work in their ‘office.’”

“I wouldn’t send her to those people! They're mean! They just ain’t right. In fact…” Sandy trailed off as the door swung open and the diner bell tinkled. A bulky man walked in. Carly looked at him as he came in and sat two stools down from her. He was really big with black hair, a belly that hung over his waistband, scruff on his chin, and a mean hard look in his eyes.

“Sandy!” the new man barked needlessly. A silence had fallen over the diner as soon as he walked in. Carly noticed that a few customers were leaving, quickly paying their bills and leaving their tips strewn on their tables. God had blessed Carly with an uncanny ability to figure out people, and most of the time, she could tell if they were to be trusted, if they were honest, or if she should stay away from them. Sometimes she made a mistake, but it wasn’t very often. She didn’t trust or like this man sitting by her at all, so she quickly ate her soup, hoping that he would continue to ignore her.

“Yes, Bob. May I help ya?” Sandy asked very quietly and not as friendly as she had been with the other customers. Carly could tell that many people were afraid of this man. She wondered who he was and where he figured in this little town.

“Give me my usual.” And that was it. No please. No thank you. Nothing. Just rudeness. Without looking at her, he asked, “Is that your piece of junk sitting at my garage?”

Carly assumed, correctly, that he was talking to her.

“Yes, sir. I was just going to get in touch with the junkyard, and I’ll have it taken off your property,” Carly stammered, turning red.

“Well then you’ll be talking to me, seeing as I’m the owner of the junkyard.” He sneered meanly. “What do ya want?” he asked as Sandy brought his food, and he began to eat noisily.

Lord, please help me, she prayed silently, disgusted with this man and his manners. “Well, how much will you give me for it?”

“I’ll give ya fifty bucks for it,” he said, dribbling food out of the corners of his mouth.

Repulsed, Carly replied, “That’s fine. I just have to get my stuff out of it.”

He looked at her for the first time. “If you mean the radio or anything that is part of the car, you better leave it,” he warned, his eyes hard.

“No, I just meant my clothes and stuff like that,” Carly stuttered, astounded at his rudeness.

“You’re new in town, aren’t ya? I would have recognized that hair anywhere,” he said, laughing at Carly’s red hair. Carly had always been a little oversensitive about her hair. The kids in her schools had always made fun of it, and this man making fun of her didn’t endear him to her either. She held her head higher and looked at him defiantly.

“I’ll go empty my car right now,” Carly answered, leaving her money on the counter for Sandy to pick up. He laughed at her as she walked out the door.

Dear Lord, I know that you love that man in there, and I think it’s a good thing you do. I can’t imagine anyone else doing it! she prayed indignantly. I need your help again, Lord. I need a job, and a place to sleep. Somewhere Ian won’t find me. Will you please lead me where you want me to go?

After both her parents had died, God was the only one she had to take care of her. And she had to admit, that he always did a good job of it. He always answered her and showed her the way. She had no reason to think that this time would be any different.

As she was getting her old, ratty bags out of the car, she heard a cough behind her. She turned to find George from the diner standing a bit aimlessly on the curb by her car.

“Sandy said you were looking for work around here. I think you might try the hardware store. They’re getting on in age and could use some help. And, uh, watch out for Bob back there. He’s really not a nice guy. You stay away from him and his two sons. You hear?” He walked away before Carly had time to say anything.

“Thanks,” she called after him. She closed the door to her car sadly. It felt like a chapter of her life was closing. She knew it was only a car, and it was silly to feel sad about a car dying, but it was the last thing that was really hers, except for her two suitcases with all her clothes and toiletries.

Lord, you’ve never let me down before, so please give me the courage to go on. This is where you have placed me, and I ask you to please give me strength and the nerve I’m gonna need, she prayed as she saw Bob walking toward her, grinning.

“Maybe I’ve offered you too much for that junk. I think I’ll change my mind. Naw. I suppose it’s worth fifty bucks for scrap.” He laughed raucously as he threw a fifty-dollar bill at her. She stooped to pick it up off the ground and started to walk away.

“You should meet my boys. One of ’em is bound to like ya! Let us know if you get lonely!” Once more, rude, loud laughter erupted behind her. She kept walking, acting as if she hadn’t heard him.

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