This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Dreams Don't Grow on Trees
"George, that was very generous of you to donate to the Reed Community Center," Rita said when the family arrived home after the Thanksgiving gathering.
"It sure was," Darrell agreed. "It will go a long way toward keeping the lights on."
"I felt it was something I needed to do," George said. "I hope you don't mind that I'm thinking of moving here."
"Of course not," Rita quickly replied. "Why would we mind?"
"Well, Adam is the only kin in my dysfunctional family that I care to be around," George explained. "But I don't want you to think I'm going to interfere in how you raise him. He's a well-adjusted, happy kid, and that's good enough what's best for him is to be where he is."
"We appreciate that. When do you plan to retire?" Darrell asked.
"I could retire now, but I'm thinking maybe in April," George said. "I'd like to look around for a house tomorrow."
"Do you want a house in town or in the country?" Rita asked.
"I kind of like the idea of a house and an acre or two," George said. "I'd like to have a garden, and maybe even get a horse."
"Adam would love that," Haden spoke up.
"If you like, I can call a realtor friend, and she can show you some property tomorrow," Rita offered.
"That would be great," George said.
"Uncle George, do you want to go riding tomorrow?" Adam asked, when he came in the house after feeding his pets.
"I'd love to, but I'm going to look at some real estate," George explained.
"Are you really moving here?" Adam asked.
"I plan to, is that okay?" George asked.
"Oh yeah," Adam happily agreed.
"Anything in particular you're looking for?" Amy asked. "I mean, how large of a house are you looking for?"
"Well, I don't need a huge house," George said. "I'd be happy with a two or three bedroom house. And I want it to be move-in ready."
"Maybe I should call Mary now and see if she's available to show properties tomorrow," Rita said, before she left the room.
"I bet Jeff could find a horse for you," Adam suggested.
"I think I need to find a house first," George said. "But I'll keep that in mind."
"Mary has a few questions," Rita said, as she handed the phone to George.
After a few questions, it was decided that Mary would meet with George at 9:30 the next morning.
"Where is everybody?" Adam asked the next morning when he came down for breakfast ... Haden was cooking breakfast, while George was enjoying a cup of coffee.
"Well, Dad's at work, and Mom and Amy went shopping with the other ladies," Haden said. "Breakfast is ready."
"Would you guys like to go and help me find a home?" George asked as the breakfast dishes were cleared.
"Yeah, I would," Adam quickly agreed.
"Sure, I have no plans," Haden also agreed.
"Haden, would you mind driving?" George asked as they prepared to leave. "You know this town better than I do."
"I don't mind, but I'd feel more comfortable driving mine," Haden said, when George offered his car keys. "Besides, aren't you driving a rental car?"
"That's right," George said. "Maybe we should take yours."
"I'm George Woodson, and we're here to see Mary," George said when they arrived at the real estate office.
"I'll let her know you're here," the receptionist said. "Would you care for something to drink? And there're donuts."
"Thank you, but we just had breakfast," George said. "What about you two?"
"I'm good," Haden said.
"Me too," Adam said.
"Hello, Mr. Woodson," Mary said as she extended her hand to George. "Are these handsome guys your sons?"
"They're Rita's and Darrell's sons," George explained. "Adam's my biological great nephew."
"Oh, I've heard all about you two," Mary said. "I've known Rita for years. I'm the agent who sold her house."
"She said you're one of the best," George said.
"Are you guys ready to look at some properties?" Mary asked.
"We're ready," George said.
"May I ask how many are in your family?" Mary asked, as she pulled out of the parking lot.
"It's just me," George said. "I'm divorced."
"That happens," Mary said. "I've been divorced for almost five years. Fortunately, my kids are adults."
"Uncle George, I didn't know you're divorced," Adam said.
"I am," George acknowledged.
"This first property is a little more house than you're looking for, but it's a good buy," Mary explained. "It's a four bedroom three and a half bath, and it's on forty acres."
"Forty acres is more than I need," George said.
"It's a long way out here," Haden said, after riding for a while.
"It's a little less than 15 miles," Mary said.
"I don't think I'd be interested in one this far out," George explained.
"We're almost there," Mary said. "Why don't you look, then decide."
"I suppose we could at least drive by," George agreed.
"Does this creek flood?" Haden asked when they crossed a low water bridge.
"It does when it's a heavy rain," Mary said.
"We may as well skip this one," George said. "It's too far out, and I wouldn't want to worry about a flood."
"I'm sorry," Mary apologized. "I don't know what I was thinking. Let's look at the next one. It's three bed rooms, two baths, and it's on five acres."
"That sounds more like what I'm looking for," George said. "Is there a barn?"
"No barn, but there's a nice garden spot and a chicken house," Mary explained.
"Dad has pole barns that aren't very expensive," Haden said.
"Hey, this is the way we go to the Community Center," Adam said, when Mary turned onto the road to the Reed Center.
"Yes, there is a new center next to the house," Mary said.
"I was there yesterday for a family dinner," George said. "I love the area, but I didn't see any houses for sale."
"It just came on the market Wednesday, and we haven't had time to put up a sign," Mary said.
"I like it," George said, when Mary pulled into the drive.
"You're the first client I've shown this house to," Mary said. "The owners are moving to a retirement center. I only saw it briefly."
"I'd like to make an offer," George said, after touring the house and grounds.
"That's wonderful," Mary said. "I didn't ask, but have you applied for financing?"
"No, I'm paying cash," George said. "I'd like to put in the contract that the sale is dependent on an inspection.
"That's reasonable," Mary said. "Let's go back to the office and get the paper work started."
"Well, I guess I'm almost a home owner," George said, as he and the boys left the real estate office. "How about I buy your lunch to celebrate?"
"That sounds good," Haden admitted. "Caroline's Tea Room is nearby, and they have great soup and sandwiches."
"Haden, that was very good," George said after enjoying his lunch. "Thank you for suggesting we eat here. I'll have to remember this place."
"Hey, Dad, Uncle George bought a house," Adam announced upon arriving home.
"That's great," Darrell said as he prepared potatoes for baking. "Where is this house?"
"It's right next to the Community Center," George said.
"I could ride Dusty there to visit," Adam said.
"I don't want you riding near the highway," Darrell warned.
"But Dad, I could ride through Uncle Ray's pasture to get there," Adam reasoned.
"We'll talk about it," Darrell said.
"Dad, George is going to need a barn," Haden said. "I told him you had some that weren't expensive."
"Sure, they're kits and go up fast," Darrell said. "We put one up for Perry, and another one for Scott the same day."
"Yeah, family and friends got together and put them up," Haden said. "We could do the same for you."
"That wouldn't be necessary," George said. "Darrell, I'll just pay you for the barn and installation."
"We could do it as a family," Darrell said.
"I know, but I'd rather just pay you to do it," George said.
"I'll go by the store tomorrow and get some brochures for you to see," Darrell said. "Oh, on second thought, I think I have some in my SUV."
"I'll go get them," Adam offered.
"Thank you, Adam," Darrell said. "They should be in a folder in the back."
"Here they are," Adam returned to say.
"Dad, I'll finish the potatoes, and you can show George what you have," Haden offered.
"Thank you, Son," Darrell said. "George, this small one here would be about right for one horse."
"I don't know," George said. "I'd like for it to be large enough to store a riding lawn mower, a tiller, and other stuff."
"Okay, this larger one isn't all that much more," Darrell admitted, as he pointed out a different model.
"As soon as I close on the house, I'll let you start on the barn," George said.
"How did you choose April for your retirement?" Darrell asked.
"I figured it would give me time to plant a garden," George said.
"We start ours in late February or early March for the cool weather plants," Haden said. "Remember we're in the South."
"I may have to rethink this retirement, then," George admitted.
"How long will it take before you close on the property?" Darrell asked.
"Mary said the inspector will go out there Monday, and since it's a cash sale, we can close in about two weeks after that," George said. "Of course, that depends on if the inspection goes well."
"Won't you have to have an attorney to review the abstract?" Darrell asked.
"Mary has arranged to have Steve's office do that," George said. "She said it would only take a few days for that to be done. I'm really looking forward to moving here."
"Have you considered retiring now?" Haden asked.
"I've enjoyed being here so much that it's tempting," George admitted.
"If you don't need the money, you may want to consider it," Darrell said.
"Yeah, Uncle George, move now," Adam pleaded.
"Oh hell, I'd may as well," George said with a laugh.
"Alright ... Uncle George," Adam said as he high-fived his uncle.
"I'll have to buy furniture before I can actually move in," George said.
"You're welcome to stay here until you get your furniture," Darrell offered.
"Oh, I can just throw an air mattress on the floor and sleep there," George said.
"Nonsense," Darrell said. "Besides, you can't stay there until after the closing. It would only be a few days anyway."
"What will you do with your mobile home, Uncle George?" Adam asked.
"I can easily sell it," George said. "In fact, I've already had offers for more than I paid."
"Dad, what are we having for dinner besides baked potatoes?" Haden asked.
"Steaks," Darrell said. "When Amy and Rita get home, I'll put them on the grill. I'm not sure if Perry and Lacey will be here or not."
"I'll make a salad," Haden offered. "Grandma sent pies that were left from the gathering."
"I wish she had sent turkey and dressing too," Adam said.
"What was left was eaten when everyone snacked later," Haden said.
"I agree with you, Adam," George said. "That was the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had."
"When is your flight back to North Dakota?" Darrell asked.
"My flight leaves Covington at 11:10 Sunday morning," George explained. "I'll give my two week notice and start the paper work for my retirement Monday."
"I hear the garage door opening," Darrell said. "Rita and Amy must be home. Haden, would you start the grill while I get the steaks ready?"
"I'll go help carry things in," Adam offered.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" George asked.
"Thanks, but we have it covered," Darrell said.
"I'm being spoiled," George said.
"Adam, I thought you were helping carry in packages," Darrell said, when Adam returned empty handed.
"I offered, but Mom said I was too nosey," Adam said.
"I think she may have a point," Darrell said with a laugh.
Adam was sad to say goodbye to his uncle, but happy that he would soon be a nearby resident. He was determined that George would have a horse, and asked Jeff to find one.
"Man, I really liked that persuasive speech you gave today," Aaron Guthrie, one of Haden's classmates, said after class.
"Thank you," Haden said.
"I always thought there was nothing wrong with prayer in school, but I can see that it's not such a good idea now," Aaron said. "I never thought about what would happen if the teacher had some weird religion. You really had a lot of great points."
"Thank you," Haden said. "What are you taking next semester?"
"I'm not coming back next semester."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Oh, I'd love to come back, but I need to find a job. My dad was killed in a hunting accident, and it's a financial struggle for my mom. I have a scholarship, so I could get by with a part-time job. But I live in Wilson and there are a few fulltime jobs, but nothing part-time. My little sister is too young to work."
"Wilson isn't far from Sparks, have you looked there?"
"I have, and I found a couple of fulltime jobs, but the part-time jobs weren't enough hours."
"If I hear of anything, I'll let you know."
"Dad, do you have any part-time openings at the store?" Haden asked that evening.
"We've had this discussion before," Darrell said. "You don't need to work until you graduate."
"No, it isn't for me," Haden explained. "A classmate said he'll have to drop out of college unless he finds something. His dad was killed in a hunting accident, and his mom is struggling to help him and pay bills."
"I don't have anything, but there should be plenty of jobs in Covington," Darrell said.
"The only problem is he lives in Wilson," Haden said.
"I'll call my dad and see if he has anything," Tony, who was having dinner with the family, said.
"Thanks, Tony," Haden said.
"It's a shame our young people have to worry about their classes and paying bills while in college," Rita said.
"Yeah, I'm glad that Haden and I have scholarships," Amy said.
"Aaron has a scholarship," Haden said. "His mom just can't afford to help with his other expenses."
"Dad said to have him go by the bank here in Sparks," Tony said after making the call. "He might be able to give him 30 hours a week, but he would have to split time between the banks in Wilson and Sparks."
"I'm sure Aaron would be willing to do that," Haden said. "I won't see him until Wednesday, and I don't have his phone number."
"I'll let Dad know," Tony said.
"Aaron, could you get by with a 30 hour a week job and still stay in school?" Haden asked when he saw Aaron.
"I sure could, I might even be able to get by with 20 hours," Aaron said. "But 30 would be great."
"My sister's boyfriend's dad owns the bank in Wilson, and another one in Sparks," Haden said. "He can give you about 30 hours a week, but you'd have to split your time between Sparks and Wilson."
"I wouldn't mind that at all."
"Go by the bank in Sparks and ask to see Paul Miller."
"I'll do that. Thanks, man."
"Do you think it's good that Adam's uncle is going to be so involved in his life?" A coworker asked Rita.
"Of course, why wouldn't I?" Rita asked.
"Well, from what you've said about his biological family, I'd question his character."
"Think about it, Adam is biologically related to that family and look at what a great kid he is. So no, I'm not worried about him having a relationship with his uncle."
All were pleased to welcome George into the family, when he returned to close on the purchase of his house. Jeff and his crew began installation of the new barn to Adam's delight. Adam had selected a beautiful Paint gelding for George to possibly purchase.
"He's beautiful," Adam said when he first saw the horse. "What's his name?"
"Dakota," Jeff said.
"That's a good name," Adam said. "I think Uncle George will like him."
"He isn't your run of the mill horse," Jeff said. "He's a registered Paint and cost George more. I have almost $2000 invested in him, plus my time spent breaking him."
"Oh well, we'll let Uncle George decide. How old is Dakota?"
The first Saturday following George's return, Adam had him at Jeff's looking at horses. Jeff had three horses for George to select from, including Dakota.
"Which one do you like, Uncle George," Adam asked.
"Tell me which one you like," George asked.
"I like Dakota," Adam quickly answered.
"And which one is Dakota?"
"He's the Paint," Jeff answered. "And he'd be the most expensive of the three, since he's registered."
"How much?" George asked.
$2500," Jeff said. "You could buy both of the other two for much less than he would cost."
"But I don't need two horses," George said with a smile. "I think Adam has already selected Dakota for me."
"Alright ... Uncle George!" Adam said.
"I assume you can deliver him," George said.
"I can deliver him this morning," Jeff said.
"I'm going to need to purchase some hay and feed," George said. "Do you know where I could purchase them?"
"My dad has some hay, and you can get the feed at a feed store," Jeff said. "You'll also need a water tank, since you don't have a pond. I could pick one up at the store for you, and you can go in and pay for it later."
"That would be good," George said.
"I'll bring it all when I deliver Dakota," Jeff said.
"I guess I'll need a feeder too," George said.
"Oh, I built both a hay and grain feeder into the stall," Jeff said.
"Thanks, and now I'll need you to show me how to feed Dakota," George said.
"I'd be happy to do that," Jeff said.
"I can help," Adam offered.
"You only had permission to come here with me," George said. "You'll need to call your parents and get permission."
"Mom said I could," Adam said after making the call. "She said for you to come for dinner too."
"Do you have a saddle?" Jeff asked.
"I knew I was forgetting something," George said with a laugh.
"Do you need help selecting your tack?" Jeff asked.
"That's the saddle and stuff," Adam explained.
"That's good to know," George said, although he knew what it was. "Sure, Jeff, I'd appreciate the help."
"I can meet you at Ken's Tack in about an hour," Jeff said. "Adam knows where it is. I'll load Dakota, and pick up the hay and water tank first. There's a feed store next to Ken's, you can pick up a bag of feed there."
"We'll go on to the feed store and browse around the tack shop until you get there," George said.
"May I help you?" The salesman asked, as George and Adam browsed in the tack shop.
"We're meeting Jeff here," George said. "Adam, what's Jeff's last name?"
"Sellers," Adam said. "He's going to help Uncle George buy a saddle."
"Alright, I'll be here if you need me," the salesman said. "Jeff will be a good one to help you decide."
"Uncle George, you'll need this," Adam said as he handed George a grooming kit.
"What is it?" George asked.
"It's a grooming kit," Adam explained. "But Haden said not to use it too much in the winter, because it could remove too much of the winter coat."
"Well, that makes sense," George agreed. "Oh, there's Jeff now."
"I should've bought a saddle rack," George said, after unloading Dakota, the hay, tack, and other supplies.
"Oh, I can build you one with the scrap lumber I have," Jeff offered.
"I'll pay you for it," George offered.
"No, that won't be necessary," Jeff said. "As I said, it's scrap lumber."
"Thank you, Jeff," George said. "Come inside and I'll make lunch."
"Thank you, but I'm meeting my wife at her work for lunch," Jeff said.
"That was a good lunch," Adam said after finishing his sandwich and soup. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. You know what? I forgot to have Jeff show me how to feed Dakota."
"Uncle George, I can do that. I help feed all the time. We should've bought a large trash can to put the feed in to keep the mice out."
"I saw one in the chicken house. I bet the previous owners used it to keep their chicken feed in."
"We also need a coffee can."
"Adam, why do we need a coffee can?"
"We use it to measure the amount of feed."
"It so happens, I just emptied one when I filled the canister."
"In the summer, when there's plenty of grass, we don't feed ours grain unless we're riding," Adam said as he measured feed into the coffee can. "In the winter, we feed about this much, unless we ride them, then we feed a little more."
"How much hay do we give him?" George asked, as Adam began filling the hay feeder.
"I'd fill the feeder once a day. That should be plenty since you have good winter pasture. In the summer, when there's plenty of green grass he won't need hay."
"You know a lot about horses."
"Yeah, I guess I do. Uncle George, are you getting chickens, since you have a chicken house?"
"Probably not, since it's just me."
"We have a chicken house too, but we don't have chickens. Mom buys fresh eggs from someone at work."
"Maybe I could get the name of that person and buy eggs from them too."
"You can get it when you go to dinner at the house."
"And I think I need to get you home before we both get into trouble."
Adam had to tell all about Dakota as soon as he arrived home. "He's beautiful," he said. "Look at this picture on my phone."
"You're right, he's a good looking horse," Darrell agreed.
"Dad, could I ride Dusty over to Uncle George's sometime?" Adam asked.
"Haden or I'll ride over with you, at least the first time," Darrell said.
"Alright," Adam said. "When can I do it?"
"Your Christmas break is soon," Darrell said.
"George, we have a family Christmas gathering planned for the twenty-third," Rita said. "We all get together before Christmas, then each family does their own thing Christmas day. You're invited to spend Christmas day with us. We go to Christmas services at our church."
"Thank you, Rita," George said. "I'd like that. What should I take to the gathering?"
"We let Grace organize that," Rita said. "You can call her and find out."
"Mom, Uncle George wants the name of the person you buy eggs from," Adam said.
"You can let me know when you need eggs, and I'll get them for you," Rita said.
"I need a dozen now," George said.
"I have an extra dozen you can take, and I'll get another dozen from Lilly," Rita said.
The Christmas gathering was even more successful than the one held Thanksgiving. Grace had an extra turkey, and even more dressing, so there was plenty for everyone to take home. George had made candied sweet potatoes, and every morsel was consumed.
George arrived in time to join the Harrington family for a light breakfast before everyone went to church. Perry and his family had spent the night with Grant, Betty, and Justin, and would also join the Harringtons for the Christmas meal.
"I really enjoyed the Christmas services," George said after church.
"You're welcome to attend, if you don't have another church in mind," Rita said.
"I never was much of a church-goer," George said. "It seemed like the churches I attended were more about sin than anything else. I think I'd like St. John."
George was very generous in his Christmas giving. He gave the Harrington Family a new 60 inch smart TV for their den. Adam got a new laptop computer, Perry, Lacey, Amy, and Haden each got a $500 money card. He even surprised Justin with a new High Definition TV for his room, after learning he was using an old analog TV.
"What are you going to do with your old computer?" Justin asked.
"I don't know yet," Adam said. "Why do you ask?"
"I have that old desktop, but would love to have a laptop. If you don't want too much, I'd like to buy your old one."
"You can have it, if you want it. It was Haden's; I got it when he got a new one."
"I'll have to get Tony to transfer my files for me, then you can take it."
"Adam, don't give your old computer to Justin," George said, after the Fergusons had gone home.
"Why not?" A surprised Adam asked.
"I've seen that computer, and it's really old," George said. "I'd like to buy him a new one."
"Wow, Uncle George, that'd be great," Adam said.
"We'll go to Walmart tomorrow and get it," George said.
"I wanted to ride Dusty to your house, but I can do that the next day," Adam said.
"You have to ask Haden if he can ride with you," Darrell said.
"Why?" Adam asked.
"Remember, I said one of us would have to ride with you the first time," Darrell said.
"Haden?" Adam asked.
"I suppose I could, and why don't you ask Justin, Jon, and Jarred if they want to go too," Haden suggested. "I know Kyle will want to go."
"Yeah, that'd be fun," Adam agreed.
"Adam, I'll go early tomorrow morning and get Justin's laptop, and you can still ride over if you want," George suggested.
"Cool," Adam said. "I'll call everybody."
"Tell Kyle to come along, if he wants," Haden said.
"Uncle Ray said he'd ride with us too," Adam said, after making the calls. "He wants to check his winter pasture out anyway."
"I'll have lunch for everyone," George said. "I'll pick up some sandwiches at Caroline's Tea Room."
"Dad, are you sure you don't want to ride with us?" Adam asked.
"I'd like that, but since Coy resigned it's hard to get away," Darrell said.
"Honey, didn't you just name Betty as his replacement as assistant manager?" Rita asked. "If she isn't qualified to manage the store when you're away, why did you make her assistant manager?"
"You're right," Darrell agreed. "Betty is well qualified to run the store. I'll call her and let her know I won't be in tomorrow."
It was a cold December morning as the group prepared to ride to George's house. The sun provided little warmth, but the young boys didn't care. Any day to them was a good day to ride.
"How do we get the horses onto George's property?" Kyle asked when the riders arrived.
"We have to tie the horses to the fence and leave them on this side," Adam explained.
"George, we need a gate between your property and mine," Ray said, when they were greeted by George. "I know the boys will be riding over to visit you, and you'll be joining us for rides too."
"I'll be happy to buy one, but I have no way to get it here," George said.
"I can call and have someone at the store bring one out," Darrell said. "We could install it today while we're all here."
"Thanks, Darrell," George said. "I'd like to be able to ride Dakota over to your place."
"Dakota is a good looking horse," Ray said.
"He should be for what I paid for him," George said. "I'm not sorry I bought him, though."
"Uncle George, have you ridden him yet?" Adam asked.
"Yes, I rode him down the road a few miles," George said.
"Jeff said they weren't busy at the store, so he and one of the guys will be here soon with the gate and a couple of gate posts," Darrell said, as he placed his phone back in his pocket.
"While we're waiting, come on in out of the cold," George said. "I have coffee and hot chocolate, if anyone wants some."
"Alright!" Adam remarked.
"Justin, I have something for you," George said, after Justin finished his chocolate.
"Really?" Justin asked.
"A new laptop, why did you get a new laptop for me?" Justin asked in surprise. "Adam gave me his old one."
"That's it," George said. "It's a really old computer."
"Wow, thank you, Uncle George," Justin said. "Oh, is it okay if I call you uncle?"
"Of course it's okay," George said and gave Justin a hug.
"Justin, your computer is like the one I got for Christmas," Jon said. "You'll love it."
"Jeff's here with the gate," Adam said.
"Darrell, I went ahead and brought the hand held post hole auger," Jeff said. "We can have the gate installed in no time."
"Come inside and warm up with a cup of coffee," George said, after the gate was installed. "In fact we're about ready to have lunch."
"Umm, you do realize that my boss is here, don't you?" Jeff joked.
"I suppose we could let him and Gordon have some lunch," Darrell said with a chuckle.
"Uncle George, that was a good sandwich and soup," Jarred said as he finished his lunch.
"Thank you, but I didn't make them," George confessed. "Lunch came from Caroline's Tea Room."
"Well, we'd better get back to work before we get fired," Jeff joked. "Thanks for lunch, George."
"You're very welcome," George said. "And thank you for putting up the gate."
"Jon, we'd better go too," Ray said. "It's getting colder, and we need to get our chores done."
"Yeah, we should go too," Darrell said. "George, you're invited to dinner. Amy's making chicken and dumplings."
"I'll be there for that," George said.
"How am I going to get my computer home?" Justin asked.
"I'll bring it with me," George said.
"Dad, Steve called and will be over later to talk to you about the lawsuit Mom filed against you," Amy said, when the riders arrived home.
"I wonder what that's about," Darrell said. "It isn't supposed to go to court until March."