Promise of Yesterday

Promise of Yesterday by S. Dionne Moore Read Free Book Online

Book: Promise of Yesterday by S. Dionne Moore Read Free Book Online
Authors: S. Dionne Moore
himself that he’d not seen any of the furry vermin during the day.
    Another scratch, followed by a muffled curse.
    His mind flew. His small room was closest to the back door of Mr. Shillito’s hotel. He drove back the covers and made short work of pulling his trousers on and snapping suspenders into place over his nightshirt. He opened the door of his room and peeked through the crack. He didn’t need to see anyone to know the back door of the hotel gaped. A cold draft of air shot through the hallway and blew around his bare ankles.
    A dark shadow leaned against the wall. Weak light indicated the outline of a slender man.
    Chester caught the scent of alcohol. He moved slowly, unsure if the man posed a threat or simply couldn’t function as a result of his inebriation. He would need to get the man to his room. At least this drunk was too soused to tear up things.
    Chester took two steps in the man’s direction before the shadow sunk down the wall and landed in a heap. Snuffles indicated the first stirrings of slumber that would, Chester had no doubt, lead to an all-out snore session. He poked the heap with his bare foot. Nothing. He reached down and grabbed the man’s arm, startled to realize the form was that of a black boy. His mind flew over the possibilities. He stooped to wedge his shoulder beneath the boy’s armpit and guide him to his feet.
    The stranger must have woken long enough to understand what was being asked of him, as his movements became independent. Chester limped with the semiconscious man to his door, shoved it open with his toe, and barely got the boy through it before he lost his grip. He tried to catch his breath and hoped all the while that the noise he’d made didn’t waken the only patron present on that floor this evening. Thank goodness they were in the room at the end of the hallway.
    Chester took the time to light the two candles at either end of his room. He pulled the candleholder closer to the boy’s face. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen. Chester knelt beside the young man and slapped him lightly on the cheeks. He didn’t get a response and really hadn’t expected one. He rose and grabbed his shirt, balling it up to make a pillow for his visitor’s head. Sleep would be the best thing for now.
    Chester sat on the edge of his bed and stared at the too-thin form and the pants frayed around the hem. He blew out the candles, more bothered than he wanted to be by the still form of a drunken youth whose weakness for drink had him wandering around alone.

eight
    “You’re looking tired.” Marylu swept Chester from head to foot the next morning as they worked in the same room, Chester bent over a drawer that tended to stick. “You must have stayed up working on your alphabet.”
    He nodded, eyes brightening, and held up a finger. He turned the drawer upside down and used his index finger as a pencil to write the letter A, followed by the rest of the alphabet.
    Marylu watched his progress with satisfaction. When he got stuck on Q, she spoke the consonant and wrote it on the drawer bottom. Chester tried to imitate her. When he lifted his face, she shook her head. “Remember, the stick goes this way at the end. The other way makes the letter a G.”
    He tried again, more diligent in his determination than any other person she had ever tried to teach. When he kept writing the stick in the wrong direction, she shifted to stand behind him. She placed her hand over his, her index finger pressing against his to show the direction of the tail of the Q.
    His face was inches from hers. A sudden wave of heat gripped her and made her yank her hand away and stand straight. He seemed not to notice her quick retreat. Again he made the circle of the letter and began the line, pausing at the bottom in uncertainty.
    Pulling air into her lungs, she leaned forward, doing her best to maintain more distance between them. “Now over to the right and up.”
    He nodded and finished the letter. He

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