Larry and his wayward friends left, pleased and excited with the way the night had turned out leaving Jack, Janie and I at the kitchen table, where we talked long into the night. Photos from the old tin were spread out in front of us. The faces on them were now familiar to me. Everything made sense now, well sort of.
“My mom and dad were killed in a car accident when I was twelve years old. I was home alone when the police knocked on the door. They took me with them and arranged for me to go into foster care.”
“Why? Did you have no more family?” I asked.
“No, I didn’t even have a birth certificate.”
“Where was your home?” Jack asked.
“Colorado Springs, it turns out my parents weren’t my birth parents, but took me in when I was a baby. There was no legal documentation. No way of knowing where I’d come from.”
“How do you know they weren’t your parents?”
“A neighbor told the police when they were trying to track down family. She’s known my mom a long time, knew she couldn’t have kids.”
Jack shook his head, “You were so close, less than an hour away from me for all of these years. How did you end up on here? How did you get involved with the scumbags on Colfax?”
“I ran away when I was fifteen. My foster parents were awful, I was nothing more than an unpaid child minder to their spoilt kids. The man tried to abuse me several times, he’d hit me and threaten me. It was a nightmare. His wife didn’t believe me, she hated me for telling her.”
“How did you come by the photos, the ones you’ve just showed to us?” I asked.
Janie’s eyes filled with tears. “I found them in my mom’s room when the cops took me back there to collect my belongings, I’d never seen them before so I snatched them, hoping they’d help me find my real parents.”
“You know the girl in the photos is my daughter Janie, don’t you!”
“Yes, thats why I’m here, I recognized you when I saw you walking down the road one day. You were younger in the photos, but I knew it was you. I figured out you were my grandad. I was happy, but scared to talk to you because I’m a no good drifter!”
Jack covered his face with his hands, rubbed his bleary eyes and then spoke in a weak trembling voice, “Don’t ever say that about yourself. I can see you mother in you. I knew the first moment I laid eyes on you. I don’t care about your past, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been. I want to make your future better, I want to make up for everything you’ve missed. Your mother died giving birth to you. I let her down, I miss her and I can never fix that, but you are going to have the life she never got chance to live!”
I could see it was time for me to leave.
“I’m going to let you two talk and figure out your future, I’ll see myself out.”
Jack looked up at me. “Thank you for everything!”
“Hey, don’t thank me, thank Alice Hobson, she’s my grandma and the one who pushed me to help. I suspect your wife and daughter conspired with her to draw Janie to the barn, and close to you. Its got to be more than coincidence”
I felt my gran smile inside my head, she liked it when I talked about her.
“You’re different that for sure,” Jack responded, “but in a good way I guess.”
I looked back towards the kitchen before I opened the front door. Jack and his new-found grand child sat opposite each other, holding hands across the table. Behind Jack, and probably only visible to me, stood his wife, she smiled across at her daughter Janie, who stood behind her namesake. They were there for a few seconds and then they were no more.
The kitchen was filled with the smell of fresh bread.