Tiller’s story

Page 57… in a fiction series

As they drove together to a classified college football stadium, Tiller told Miranda this story.

“We were moving a well-to-do family out of Birmingham, up north to Wequetonsing… you know, right across the Bay from the office. After we worked in the heat all day, we finally carried out the last piece– a baby grand piano down a long flight of stairs. And the truck was parked halfway down the block.”

Tiller looked like he had travelled back 40 years and was reliving that day in his head. He explained how he wiped the sweat off his face with his dirty undershirt, then walked into town to buy a Coke and some chips. The sign at the bank said 101-degrees. Miranda was enjoying his candor. Tiller was a real person after all.

“When we got it all loaded, I folded up a stack of moving blankets and crawled into the back of the truck to sleep. Me and Raymond would deliver the furniture to the biggest cottage you’ve ever seen on Little Traverse Bay the next morning.”

Tiller passed an SUV with a team logo on the bumper, a bunch of collegiate types squeezed inside.  Miranda wondered it they were getting close. 

“I tried to get comfortable so I could sleep, but the blankets were musty and damp with my own sweat.  While I was lying there, Miranda, there was one thing I knew:  I didn’t want to work that hard again in my whole life.  I saw all that good furniture, and paintings, and that damned heavy piano, and I saw my future:  If I worked harder than anyone else, I would be successful, too.”

At age 16, Emerson James Tiller had no idea how right he was.

“We finished the job the next day, made it back to Detroit. I headed straight for the bowling alley where I used to set pins every night. The money was steady. I was the man of the house, you know…  helpin’ my mom take care of me and my sisters. Between that and stocking shelves at the grocery store, we managed to make ends meet.”

He took another sip of water, checked the rear view mirror to make a lane change. “You’re not asleep over there, are you Miranda?” She could hear the smile in his voice.

“On weekends, the lanes were crowded and I could always count on something a little extra above the 30 cents a lane they paid me.” All these years later, Tiller loved to tell the story about the gamblers who came in late one night and wanted to stay past closing, bowling, laughing, and betting on who would win the next game.

“When the stakes got high, the owner left me with the keys and those crazy men stayed and bowled all night long! Not only did I earn my regular pay, but an extra $20-bucks from those men. Maybe even a couple’a beers, I really couldn’t say. The point is Miranda, my priorities were already in place. Set goals, work hard, and make money.”

“That must have been very hard,” she sighed.  Miranda looked at his hands, swollen and gnarled against the steering wheel, thought about those bowling balls crashing against them.  She always assumed it was arthritis.

“Hard? Are you kidding me? You know what– you’ve got it made out there on that boat of yours, livin’ the “Life of Riley!” She had no idea what he was talking about, but knowing Tiller, he was probably right.

 To be continued…

*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.

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16 Responses to Tiller’s story

  1. .endtransmission. says:

    I can relate to Tiller’s summer as a furniture mover. I spent a summer as a golf caddy. I was a scrawny, skinny weakling that summer. Carrying loaded golf bags for cheap skates who thought a buck was a good tip. I was tired, sunburnt and just generally beat down. I learned alot about what I didn’t want to do with my life that summer. I also learned the importance of being a good tipper. And I still hate golf.

    • Linda says:

      Hello e.t.

      While I can’t picture you as a scrawny, skinny weakling, I can imagine that dragging those bags around had to suck. So what did you decide to do with the rest of your life? ; )

  2. Jan says:

    That kind of work ethic is sadly missing in many young people today. I can relate–I started working when I was 12 to buy my clothes and school supplies, as well as my lunches. Keep going–Tiller is a very interesting person.!

  3. Linda, This Tiller is shaping up to be a very interesting character and one I suspect will be a terrific influence on Miranda. And I love how you tell the story of him telling his story, with the comment about the college kids in the SUV thrown in. It makes the story more realistic and believable. :) Peace, Linda

    • Linda says:

      Thanks, Linda…

      You’re a writer so you know how much fun it is to experiment with new ways of expressing things. I actually wrote the Tiller pages right after I saw him over Thanksgiving. It’s true, some characters are influental in a way they’ll never ever understand. : )

  4. Ann says:

    Hi Linda

    I’m reading in catch-up mode again :-)

    I’m hopeful that Tiller will be a positive father figure influence. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed…


    • Linda says:

      Yes, Tiller was an officer and a gentleman the whole way through. He was kind beyond what a boss needed to be. To this day, I’m influenced by the things he taught me. A happy part of the story. ; )

  5. Larry Who says:

    “…Miranda looked at his hands, swollen and gnarled against the steering wheel, thought about those bowling balls crashing against them. She always assumed it was arthritis…”

    Usually assumptions are wrong. So now, I’m interested in his gnarled hands.

    Okay, I’m ready. Let’s turn the page.

    • Linda says:

      Tiller did far more manual work and back breaking jobs than I could mention here. His hands were an ever present reminder of how far he’d come. Beautiful in a way…

  6. Debbie says:

    The way you worked in some of Tiller’s background is genius! His comment about Miranda having it made reminded me of something my cousin told me. Her daughter and her are going through wedding plans. She’s sure they are going to forget something. Her daughter told her it was a First World problem, how bad could it be? :) God bless you and your amazing story telling skills! love and prayers!

    • Linda says:

      That “First World” lingo must be making its way around. Last night a FB friend said my constant whining that I keep losing my special computer glasses is a First World problem. It certainly makes the point.

      Thanks for your kind words, Debbie. I’m having the time of my life… my family, my laptop, and me, all snuggled close together on one small couch. God has a way of working things out. ; )

  7. Tara says:

    What a peaceful, happy part. Does he continue to be this nice man? I am out of “fast forward” pages and eagerly waiting to read more. I have really enjoyed this story. Keep up the great writing!

    • Linda says:

      Thanks, Tara. Yes, Tiller was and still is a pivital character in my life. I have such gratitude and affection for him and all he did for me. Some bad consequences were about to come my way had he not given a girl off the street a chance. Me!

  8. Tod says:

    Very interesting reading about all these phases of Miranda’s life. Things st seem to keep happening. Makes me wonder how different it is looking back on it versus living through it. Keep it coming, Linda. And thanks for the ride.

    Btw, are you getting any of my messages? I sent a couple recently.

    Take care!

    • Linda says:

      Hi Tod… funny that you should mention the separation that should exist between new life and old life issues. It’s a complex journey, so much more than I thought it would be. Thanks for writing. Hope all is well with you.

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