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Lillian Cauldwell

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- Sacred Honor

Sacred Honor
         by Lillian Cauldwell
Page 1 of 5

It happens every Spring, this ritual with the ants. They invade houses in their quest for water. Leaking water pipes always seems to entice them and this year was no exception, except for the way it was handled. I had my handyman, Joseph Single to thank. He'd been a drifter and needed a place to stay. We'd agreed and several years back in exchange for a room over the garage, Joseph would help out around the house.

Joseph knew we needed some repairs done to our structural beams. The termites had eaten the beams to a cost of $3,000. Joseph told us that he had done some carpentry in his life and said he would be glad to help repair the damaged beams. First, he would drill holes into the beams and dust with termite powder before restoring them. His Da had trained him and he was now board certified. My wife and I were delighted. We knew Joseph, trusted him and realized

Caldwell-2-Joys of Spring

that our premises were safe in his capable hands. He was a sparse man who kept to himself and worked diligently at whatever he set his mind to.

On the first day of the job, Joseph surprised me. He came muttering into the house and talked about ants invading in search of water. I didn't particularly pay any attention to his muttering because Joseph was always muttering under his breath or talking to imaginary characters. You got used to these conversations because Joseph always spoke both parts himself.

That morning, I saw Joseph walk into the house and heard him speak to one of his imaginary ants. Apparently, this ant admitted that it was leading a vanguard line of workers whose job it was to find possible water sites. Joseph cupped his mouth as if he was protecting what he was saying to the ant.

"The Jennings' have some damaged wooden beams. This includes their main support beams. They were chewed by termites and they want me to replace them."

Of course, the entire conversation was one sided as far as I was concerned, but not to Joseph. He answered as if he was talking to an ant.

"Yeah. They want me to fix it pronto. If I don't do something now, the whole house will fall down. I don't want that to happen. Lose my job I will," as he inclined his head further down. I noticed that his eyes were focusing on the carpet as if inspecting something with great solemnity.

"I'll let you and your workers get their fill of water from the pipes before I finish my

Caldwell-3-Joys of Spring

beam work. That will give you enough time so your Queen can stock up. It's the best that I can do."

Joseph hurriedly finished the conversation and straightened up. He turned furtively around as if looking for intruders. Fortunately, I had stepped behind the door so as not to give my presence away. Joseph saw nobody and left. Several minutes later, he came round to my study and asked me if he could buy some lumber to replace the damaged beams. I said yes and called up Woody Lumber to arrange payment for it. As I got off the phone, I noticed that Joseph had already left for the store. I went back to cleaning my office. During the year, it always got cluttered with papers, maps and books. And like the ants who were constantly drawn to water, I'm always trying to keep my office neater.

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Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 Lillian Cauldwell, All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author. The author has submitted the work in accordance with and in agreement with the following Submission Guidelines.

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