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Resignation, Part 34

Tom parked his car in spot behind the Seed and Feed.  It was a bit out-of-the-way, but it would also give him good access to leave when he needed to.  He slipped behind it and turned left toward downtown.  He saw others headed in the same direction and wondered if maybe he should have parked further out.  Too late now, though.  He was going to get there just in the nick of time.

He approached the southern end of Main Street.  This was his favorite spot to watch from every year.  It wasn’t in the redeveloped part of  downtown.  It was still a bit rundown.  He was sure that it would be renewed like the rest of the street, but for now it was just like it had been most of his life, like it was when he was a little boy.

Despite this being in the older section, there were lights everywhere.  Decorations were hung everywhere.  It really was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Tom could hear that the parade was starting.  The cheers were starting toward North Main Street.  Sirens from the firetrucks were echoing off of the buildings, making the sounds even more intense.  Tom smiled at how he had dreamed of being a firemen many Christmases ago when he had first heard how exciting the sirens were to him.  Somehow, along the way his dream of being a fireman did not happen.  Instead, he had followed the path his uncle had taken and become and accountant.

Tom  looked around and didn’t see anyone he knew.  He decided to move up the street toward more of the action.  It was a bit lonely watching the parade by himself.  He wished that Allison had been able to stay.  They had watched so many of  these parades together when they were young.  Being here by himself reminded him just how lonely he was these days.  Allison was all he had now, and he only got to see her a couple of times each year.  They had already exchanged presents when she was in a few weeks before.  She was going on a cruise with some friends for Christmas.  Tom planned to sleep in and watch movies.

Tom got ready to cross over an intersection when he saw Teresa.  She had a camera around her neck and was snapping pictures as the firetrucks passed.  She was by herself, but seemed happy as she snapped picture after picture.  She was smiling and there was joy in her watching the parade that Tom hadn’t seen in anyone in a long time.

“Teresa?”  Tom walked toward her as he came back toward the sidewalk.  Teresa turned toward him and smiled.

“Hey Tom!!! How are you?”  Teresa turned back to the street and kept taking pictures.  The firetrucks had passed.  City and county officials were going by in convertibles, waving at their constituents, bundled up in their heavy coats, a few with cups of coffee in their hands.

“I’m great.  How are you?  You sure are taking a lot of pictures.”  Tom saddled into a spot beside Teresa and looked in the direction her camera was pointing.

“Oh, I usually come with my niece, but she’s sick tonight, so she’s watching it on TV.  I told her I would take pictures so we could look at them together later and compare what we saw.”

“Wow, I didn’t know you had a niece.  How old is she?”  Tom continued to watch the parade.  The Shriners were going by in their crazy little cars, driving around in their intricate patterns, putting on a show, each one wearing a fez.  Tom wondered what it would be like to be a part of something where you actually got to wear a fez.

“She’s twelve going on sixteen.  She belongs to my older sister Barbara.  They live out on Highway 32.  She usually comes to VBS in the summer.”

“Oh, ok.  I’ve seen her with you a few times at church.”

“Yes.  The only time she goes to church is when she spends the night with me.  My sister is a single mom, and works two jobs to get by.  She is usually working on Sundays.  Sometimes I will drive out and get her to spend the day with  me.  We have a good time together.”

Tom thought about that for a minute.  He had never really talked enough with Teresa to know about her family life.  He realized that he really didn’t know many people at church, including the folks that were on the search team.  Maybe he needed to spend some time getting to know the people in the church.

Tom continued to watch the parade in silence for a while.  The floats began to go by.  Every civic organization and church, it seemed, had a float.  When their church’s float went by, Tom and Teresa waved at the kids they knew riding along.  To their surprise, Bill Johnson was driving his truck to pull the float.  He waved at them.  Beside him in the truck was Fred McGinley.  Tom thought it was a shame that it took Bill getting a tumor to become close to so many of them.  Yet, everyone seemed to be loving him despite what he had done over the last few years.

“Here he comes, Tom, here he comes.”  Teresa speaking to him snapped Tom back to the parade.  Sure enough, Santa Clause was coming.  Children everywhere along the street were buzzing with excitement, even the grown ones.  Candy was flying everywhere and Tom caught some.  He handed a piece to Teresa as she finished taking a few pictures as Santa sped away.  The crowd starting moving out.  Teresa turned toward Tom.

“Thanks for standing here with me, Tom.  I hated the thought of watching by myself.”

“No problem.  I thought the same thing.  I used to watch this with my sister.  I won’t be seeing her for Christmas, so this brought back a lot of memories.”

“Well, I’d better get home.  I’m going to fix up a slide show to watch with my niece.”  Teresa started moving north, the opposite direction Tom would be going toward his car.

“Teresa, would you like to get a cup of coffee before you go home?”  Tom didn’t know where that came from.  He definitely didn’t expect to say that and hadn’t given any thought to it before he said it.

Teresa looked up at him.  Tom wasn’t sure what the look on her face meant.  She looked as though she might run away.  Tom was wishing that he hadn’t asked her.  He thought that maybe he should wheel around and run to his car.  Teresa finally answered him.

“Sure, Tom, I would like that.”

Tom was surprised.  He almost stammered answering back.

“Alright, let’s go.”

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