18 MONTHS LATER
One year later, the orchestra held their Spring Concert. The events of the previous year had been mostly forgotten. The audience streamed in and found seats. There seemed to be an atmosphere of anticipation in the area.
Janelle sat down and surveyed the audience. After such a long delay, she was thrilled that most of the seats were taken. She was especially happy that Gloria and Dale Young sat in the third row. Both of them were smiling and looked, if not happy, at least content. Dick, clean and sober and smiling, took his place in the orchestra pit. She had been told that he and his parents had come to a reconciliation. He had finished his probation and had been clean for more than a year. He looked better too. Last year at times, Dick appeared nervous and agitated. Hair was sometimes a muss. Sometimes the syllables and vowels didn’t fit into the right spaces. Now Dick looked good and spoke coherent words.
The new conductor was Allison Hart, the first female chosen for the position in the orchestra’s history, and one of the few women conductors active in the nation. She was a small woman, only five-foot four, but she brought a fire and intelligence to her work. For some reason, she reminded Janelle of a football coach – of Harvey Timble to exact. He had been the football coach at the Green Glades High School for twenty-two years before he retired. Under him, two of the teams fought their way to the state championship. They lost one year but the next year the Green Glades team won the state championship. In tenure as coach, he only had three losing seasons.
Trimble encouraged each player to do his best and most of his players greatly improved their abilities. He had the capacity to bring out the best from his players, to make mediocre players in good ones, to make good ones become even better ones. Trimble was about to get the most out of his team.
Allison was able to get the most out of her musicians too. They became better players for her. On the whole, Janelle thought the current orchestra was the best in years and the credit should be given to Allison. She was very pleased the board had chosen Allison for the position.
Janelle also realized she had a new burst of energy and happiness about the orchestra. Last year she had gone about the motions but hadn’t felt any enthusiasm for the job. Now she was enthusiastic about playing and anxious about the first concert. The old was gone. The new had come.
With the exception of Charlie Thompson, who had been found guilty of Nick Young’s murder, most of the former orchesetra members had returned. She thought all of them looked but most older but did seem wiser. Their egos seemed to have been diminished. They were not just individuals playing music but a united band, dedicated to their task.
Abby Rhodes had married and was a totally different woman. Her possessive tendencies and anger quelled by have a loving, secure relationship. Gunnar Olsen had matured too. He had abandoned his practical jokes at the expense of others and had become a thoughtful mentor to the new, younger additions to the orchestra. Janelle thought the members had matured through what might have been called a trial by fire. Or at least by suspicion. All of them seemed to have grown by going through that fire.
The only lingering regret was by June Bennett. She had returned to her studies at Julliard but did want to stay close to her mother, now recovered. But although she bore no responsibility for the crime, she remained troubled that she was the reason that Charlie Thompson killed Nick. She wasn’t sure if she could even be comfortable in Green Gable.
“I want to be close to my mom so I’m still thinking of coming back, if you all will have me,” she said. “But I can’t deny there are bad memories here too. I will make a decision after graduation.” It had helped her when Nick’s parents spoke to her sometimes after Thompson was sent to the state prison. They assured her that nothing had been her fault and they certainly didn’t think badly of her and requested she stay in the town. She thought perhaps when she graduated Julliard, the bad memories might have faded, and she could come back to the town with a smile.
Dick’s past, thank goodness had truly been put behind him. He had returned to the orchestra with seemingly more talent and ability and more zest and dedication.
“I took a cue from Miles Davis. He kicked his addiction by staying locked up in a room at his parent’s house 12 days. I did it in ten.” He still enjoyed playing in the area jazz clubs but kept away from drugs.
On the anniversary of Nick’s death. Janelle visited his grave. As she stood by it, Dick came by and placed a floral bouquet at the tombstone. On the headstone the words ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ were sandblasted into the marble.
“The title could apply to almost anyone,” Janelle said. “How many men or women could say they wouldn’t want to turn back time? We would all do so many things differently if we could. But time can’t be rolled back. It only flows one way.”
Dick nodded. “It’s a song about regret and how words can be used as weapons. It’s Cher, which probably has Nick turning over in his grave, but I couldn’t think of a better epitaph,”
Five days later, Janelle stood at the 18th green at the local country club as three players teed off, one of them being Jerico Larkin. The club was host to the Winterford Tourney, that was held annually for local golfers. One of the trio was Jerico Larkin. His score was 69. He needed a birdie to fulfill his dream and to possibly win the tournament. One of the golfers with him, Lee Atwell, also had a 69 coming into the final green.
Larkin had made a good shot. His ball soared off the tee, turned slightly left and bounced in the fairway about two hundred and twenty yards from the tee. Atwater also hit a good shot. The ball split the fairway and landed about two hundred yards from the green.
They walked down the fairway as the small crowd clapped. Several other Green Glade residents, in addition to Janelle, also cheered for Larkin.
Being away, Atwater hit first. He was a good driver and was an excellent putter, but irons were the weak point in his golf game. Professionals can spin the ball, meaning when it lands on a green, the ball will spin back and not rolled over onto the fringe or roll over the green all together. Atwater focused on the pen. It was placed on the back left corner of the green. But he also knew the green was slanted. If the ball hit the wrong spot, it would roll over the green and possible back onto the fairway.
He stood over the ball, and steadied himself. He swung and the ball lifted from the grass. Larkin thought immediately the ball would come up short. The slanted green had intimidated Atwater. He didn’t want to go over the green. If he had, it was very difficult to get a par. When he pitched back from the fairway, it would be almost impossible to stop the ball near the cup.
The ball floated down but hit the fairway about ten feet from the green, and more than 50 feet from the cup. Atwater groaned with disgust. He now faced a difficult par. Getting his next shot close to the cup was not going to be easy.
Larkin grabbed a seven iron and stared at the green and the spectators circling it. He wondered if he should pitch the ball. If he pitched the ball would roll or hop on the ground instead of going through the air. But Larkin rejected the notion. A ball, if hit too hard, would hit the incline of the green and roll up. He’d have to make a ordinary iron shot.
He took his stance, stared at the green one last time, and went into his swing. The iron didn’t hit the golf ball as much as it caressed it, lifting it slowly from the ground. Like an arrow gliding toward a bull-eye, the ball flew straight toward the cup. It softly bounced on the green about ten feet in front of the cup, then rolled forward, stopped only about two feet from the flag.
The crowd applauded as the two men walked to the green. Atwater glanced at his ball and knew he had a difficult pitch. If he could get a par he would tie Larkin for the lead. He assumed Larkin would make the short putt.
Atwater grabbed his pitching wedge and went into his stance. The green was treacherous. He took a deep breathe and swung the club. Perhaps the fact he hit short on his previous shot influenced him. As soon as the club knocked the ball, Larkin thought it was going to be long. It sailed into the air but landed just by the flag and kept rolling. It hit the incline on the green and rolled downhill and onto the fairway. Atwater dropped his head. He knew he would never make a par from there.
Larkin waited until his opponent putted out with a bogey. Then he calmly approached his ball and putted it into the cup for a birdie and a 69.
He swung his arm in celebration and showed a big smile.
“I broke par!” he yelled. “I finally broke par! Son of a shucks.”
“Son of a shucks indeed,” Janelle said.
Three days later all the orchestra members attended the ceremony that would name the new city building as the Nick Young Center for the Arts. Classes on painting, music, English, poetry, and sculpture. More than a hundred people attended the ceremony, which was more than Janelle thought would show up. Dick Young attended but he declined to be a speaker due to the rocky relationship he had with his brother. But Gloria Young was asked to speak and accepted.
When at the podium, Janelle though although the woman had been through a lot, she looked at peace. Even her husband had a serenity about him. Gloria Young effusively thank the city for naming the center after her son.
“I want to thank all of you for coming. A year ago there was only blackness and fog around me. To be honest, I never thought I would see a good day again. One of my sons was dead the other was in jail and charged with his brother’s murder. At that time, I thought despair and sadness would accompany me for the rest of my life, even to the grave.
Now although there is a continuing sadness that Nick died so young, the despair and sadness had dissipated. Dick, now free of drugs, has become a son again. He is married and I’m expecting my first grandchild in four months.”
The audience applauded.
“In the story of the prodigal son in the Bible, the father rejoices when he son comes home and calls for a celebration. “My son was lost but now he is found,” he tells friends. So the whole neighborhood celebrates.
“I know how the father felt. My son was lost, and we thought he was lost forever. But he was found, or maybe he found himself. Now with a grandchild on the way, I can truly say the darkest night can change into a golden sunrise and a golden day. In the midst of darkness, there is hope. And this building, with Nick’s name on it, is a testament to hope and love.
“I, and I’m sure you, have heard the saying that nothing lasts forever. That’s true only of material things. Like buildings. Even empires fall and dynasties crumble.
“What lasts forever are divine things such as hope and love. ‘Love never fails,’ the apostle John said in his epistle. ‘Love not only never fails, it – unlike buildings and other things man makes – also lasts forever. Even evil will cease’. Evil will cease but love will last forever. This building is a tribute to that love. My husband and I thank you for this honor. We will always carry in it our hearts.”