In the interest of promoting some great, romantic summer reading, I invited my dear friend from Across the Pond, Tony Healey to show off his wares. This one's been out for a bit, but that doesn't mean it's seen its best. Tutti Frutti is a great coming of age/love story written from a unique point of view. Its relatively short length makes it a perfect beach read, and I defy anyone to put it down before you've finished reading it.
So put your feet up with a glass of sweet tea by your side and enjoy the first two chapters of Tutti Frutti.
“Marty, what’re you going to do with yourself?” my Mother asked me.
I thought about it for a second. “I don’t know. Sit in the sun. See my friends. I haven’t really thought about it.”
My Mother tutted, shook her head. “That’s your problem. You don’t think about anything,” she said.
“Mum, don’t start on about this again...” I said.
“No,” she snapped. “I mean it. You better pull your socks up. You can’t afford to waste another summer. You’re going to Uni in September.”
“Yeah I know, Mum. I hadn’t forgotten,” I said with a roll of my eyes.
She slapped my arm. “Don’t get cheeky. Now why don’t you try and find yourself a little job? Earn some money. Give yourself something to go away with. You’ve got nothing saved and we can’t afford to give you any.”
I couldn’t disagree with her. My parents were paying the Uni fees, and my train fare to Pemberton. But that was as far as it went.
My Dad called a friend of his in Pemberton town. He owned a butcher’s and could give me work at the weekends. It wasn’t something I looked forward to doing, but I didn’t voice that to Dad. I was just glad to have a job at all. My parents couldn’t afford to keep me while I got educated.
“Well, I’ll see if I can find something,” I offered.
She nodded, satisfied. There was a brief silence, then she stopped what she was doing and turned back around. She was so predictable.
“Maybe look for a couple of odd jobs. You know, cutting grass, painting fences...”
I laughed, held her by the shoulders and kissed her on the forehead. “Mum. Stop. I’ll find something to do,” I said. “I’m sure of it.”
A day or so later I knocked some doors and got a few odd jobs lined up. Mr Henrickson wanted his front and back lawn mowed twice that summer. Mrs Derry on Tavistock Road needed her shopping picked up for her twice a week. I agreed to do it for small change. A few people took me up on offers to wash their cars, sweep their drives, stuff like that. Nothing big, just little bits and pieces. I thought that whatever I made, I’d put away until the end of summer.
Dad’s friend Ernie Richards called around the house one day. I answered the door. He was a big burly man, going grey at the temples.
“Hi Mr. Richards,” I said. “Dad’s not in.”
He shook his head. “No, no, I wasn’t here to see your Dad. I was calling for you.”
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Yeah. I got talking to your Dad the other day, and he said you’re doing a few odd jobs here and there. Well, I might have something for you if you want it,” Mr. Richards said.
“Sure. That’d be great,” I said. “I’m taking anything I can get, really. What did you have in mind?”
Mr. Richards dug in his pocket, produced a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He didn’t offer me one. “Well, I’ve got this shed needs clearing out. I’ve been filling it with junk for years. The fence needs a good lick of paint. Might need a few repairs at the back where the bushes have grown and pushed a few of the boards out. Can you do that?”
I nodded. “Yeah, sure.”
“Good. It’s just a lot of crap I’ve not had time for. No offense. It’s odd job stuff. I’ll be away for a couple of weeks on business. It’d be good if you could take care of these while I’m away,” Mr. Richards said. He drew on his cigarette, blew a drift of dull smoke out the side of his mouth.
“Yeah, well...” I started to say.
“Obviously I’ll pay,” Mr. Richards cut in. He pulled out several bills and handed them to me. “That’s a down payment for your services. I’ll leave money with Cella so she can settle up with you when you’re done.”
I took the money, pocketed it. “Thanks.”
He asked me to meet him at the house the next day. He was due to leave that weekend and wanted to show me the things that needed looking at.
I told Mum and she seemed pleased enough.
“Might give Mrs. Richards a bit of company while you’re there,” she said. “The eldest is in the navy, and I think they have another kid in college somewhere. Ernie travels about all the time... she must get lonely in that house by herself. I don't think she gets up to much...”
P.S. I occasionally hear/read whining about spelling and grammatical errors with this one. But y'all have to keep in mind the author's British and this is written in the Queen's English.