Helping Hands, Part 3

“Is Mister Aidan coming today?” Like most of the children at the Living Gospel Fellowship, Hannah addressed and referred to adults with a combination of formality and familiarity, Mister or Miss (rarely Misses, and never Miz) followed by the first name. Ven found this odd but charming, and had no idea what to make of no longer being referred to as Mister Ven.

Hannah giggled as Ven stood and lifted her off the street. “He’s — ” the young man searched for a safe alibi — “he couldn’t make it today.”

“How is Aidan?” Bonnie-B stepped out from the parking lot, the wind gently blowing her shoulder-length brown hair. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen him.”

Ven glanced up to where Quentin had been standing, but the Richardson’s father had begun walking towards the stairway. “Aidan’s been busy lately.” He looked down, saw Bonnie-B’s patient face. He shook his head. “Yeah, I saw him last night. He’s got — a lot on his mind. But he’s OK.”

Hannah quickly hugged Ven’s neck, and he cried out in hyperbolic distress, as Nicholas tugged on his sleeve. “Father told me I need to lift some heavy boxes today.”

After patting Hannah on the back and then lowering her to the sidewalk, Ven got down to one knee again, his head level with Nicholas. “Gotta lot of sh — ” Ven coughed — “sorry, stuff up in my apartment. Need all the help I can get today!” Ven slapped Nicholas in the chest. “Think you’re up for it?” Nicholas curled his arms sideways, his face serious, and Ven laughed his approval as he stood.

Quentin strode toward them, his towering figure making his wife seem like a schoolgirl. “We’d best get started.” He shot a half-grin towards Ven, then — “There are some who believe this blessed weather won’t last.”

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