Frannie was only too happy to leave the stinky van and the company of those hippies when they finally sputtered to a stop at the store in town.
“See ya later, little dude!” the driver called as she hopped down.
Frannie sighed, rolling her eyes, and simply waved her goodbye. There was just no getting through to this guy. He was as bad as a second grader.
She smoothed her hair down and squared her shoulders as she turned to face the entrance to–she looked up at the sign–Jack’s Grocery-N-More. Well, it would have to do. She picked up her pace and hit the automatic door nearly running. The man leaving through the exit door paused to make sure she was okay.
“That was a pretty good hit there, little lady. You feelin’ alright?” he asked, leaning down in concern.
She stood up and brushed off her backside. “Yes sir, I’m quite all right, thank you. I just expected the door to open for me. I guess that was a mistake.”
The man laughed aloud. “Yes ma’am, you’re sure right about that. It’s probably been six years or more since Jack’s door worked right. Since you didn’t know that, and I don’t recall seeing you around anywhere, you must be new in town. Where’s your mom and dad, honey?”
“I’m in the market for a set,” Frannie answered him honestly.
He was baffled. A kid this small, this honest, lost and alone? The town was too small for any kind of social services office; his mind quickly discarded the idea of calling the county. This girl could go places in life if she managed to not get caught up in the system.
“Do you have any money, or somewhere to stay tonight?” he asked.
“Nope. I’ll work something out.” Again with the honesty.
He screwed his face up in thought. He wasn’t sure if a girl her age would be comfortable coming home with a strange man all by herself, especially when he was all by himself, but he had to make the offer. He just wouldn’t have felt right about himself without doing so. “Would you–I mean, do you think–well, little girl, I can offer you a safe bed to sleep in tonight, is what I’m tryin’ to say.” He noticed her swallow as she eyed the grocery sacks in his hand.
“And a hot dinner, too,” he quickly added.
That was more than enough for Frannie. She jumped on it. “Thank you very much, sir. I won’t be much trouble for you. Can I help you carry one of those bags?”
He laughed and handed her the smallest. “That’s my truck, the red one right in front.”