An elderly woman, breathing heavily, stopped near her home gate. Mrs. Benson could not stand it, and from the bus stop, she almost ran to her home. Now she could hardly catch her breath. She looked around the house, glanced at the friendly glowing windows, at the smoke billowing from the chimney, and her heart raced with joy. Her forehead was full of sweat, wiping sweat with the back of her hand. She pushed the gate open with determination.
While Mrs. Benson hurriedly walked along the path, she, out of the corner of her eye, noticed the renewed bun and the new porch. Thoughts that her son Jasper had kept his word and put the house in good order, even though he had not written her letters, made Mrs. Benson feel even happier and warmer in her soul. Literally flying up to the porch, Mrs. Benson banged on the familiar door. She had already imagined how she would throw herself on the chest of her beloved son, whom she had missed so much over the years.
But when the door opened, the woman was astonished to see a completely unfamiliar, frowning man on the threshold. “Whom are you looking for?” he asked muffledly.
“Jasper, my son. Where is he? Is he alright?” mumbled the elderly woman confusedly.
The man gave the woman an unkind look, and she became quite uncomfortable. A grey cloak, stomped boots, and a plastic bag in her hands would have frightened anyone away. Mrs. Benson understood that, but what could she do? She had been imprisoned in summer, and now it was autumn, and she had to go to her home in prison clothes.
Meanwhile, the man replied that he had no idea who he was being asked about and was about to close the door. But then he stopped and asked if the woman was looking for Jasper Benson. Mrs. Benson quickly nodded, and the man looked at her more gently, even with sympathy. Nervously scratching the back of his head, he said that Jasper had sold the house to him a year ago.
“Where should I look for him now?” asked the older woman confusedly.
The man shrugged his shoulders, and the elderly woman lowered her head and wandered to the gate. She walked and thought that she had nowhere else to go except to her neighbor, but she would probably start saying nasty things about Jasper, remind her that she warned her. However, the mother’s heart felt that her son had some kind of trouble because he was so trusting.
Two years ago, he confided in a friend, and he got him involved in some machinations and set him up. If Mrs. Benson had not taken the blame for her son, then he would have gone to jail for a long time. But as an elderly woman, she was only given five years and was released on parole after two years. Now she was sitting alone at a bus stop, not knowing where to find her son. The woman’s eyes filled with tears.
A big black car pulled up beside her, and the same scowling man, the new owner of her house, got out. “Here, take this. I found it in the house papers,” he handed Mrs. Benson a piece of paper with the address on it. “I can drop you off if you like.”
“No, no, I’ll do it myself,” protested Mrs. Benson, grabbing happily at the piece of paper from the man’s hands.
After half an hour on the regular bus and an hour of wandering around the city, she finally found the kneaded door on the third floor of a dilapidated high-rise building. With an ache in her heart, the woman pressed the bell several times and was already preparing to hear the terrible news about her son. She tried her best not to cry, but tears still streamed down her cheeks. But when the woman saw in the doorway, though slightly bruised from the hangover, but still alive, Jasper, she burst into tears of happiness and rushed to embrace her son.
But Jasper hardly pleased with his mother’s impulse, and he stepped aside, went to the staircase, shut the door behind him, and glumly asked her how she had found him. The old woman did not expect such a cool welcome, but meanwhile, her son began pushing her to leave, explaining as he went that he could not call her into the apartment because he lived with another woman and she would never tolerate a criminal at home.
Adding that he did not have a penny of money, he hinted that his mother would have to somehow make her own living. Mrs. Benson only mentioned the money for the house, but Jasper quickly disappeared into the apartment, clanking the door loudly. The woman shuddered; it was like a shot pierced her heart with that sound. The tears dried, and Mrs. Benson slowly stepped outside. She thought about how right her neighbor was; now she would have to endure her friend’s lectures. But there was no other way out because she had nowhere else to go.
Mrs. Benson returned to her neighborhood and approached the neighbor’s house, only she was not destined to see her neighbor. It turned out that she had been buried for six months, and strangers lived in her house now. Left all alone in the dark and in the pouring rain, Mrs. Benson went again to the bus stop to shelter from the weather and to think about how to continue living.
But halfway there, she was stopped by the car’s headlights, and the same black car as the afternoon pulled up in front of her again, the new owner of her house. Seeing the woman’s condition, he offered her to get into the car. Mrs. Benson first tried to refuse, but suddenly she could not stand it and burst into tears. She did not dare accept the invitation, but the man jumped out of the car and almost forced her into it.
The elderly woman calmed down in the car and told the man her sad story, concealing only the fact that she had found her son. She was ashamed of the way her own son had treated her. The man introduced himself as Travis and offered the woman to stay at his house, at least until her son would be found. So, Mrs. Benson found herself back in her home, or rather in Travis’s home. The man was at work all day; he had his own sawmill, and Mrs. Benson began to take care of the household, cooking dinner or doing the laundry. It was not difficult for her, and women’s hands in the house were clearly not enough for a long time ago.
Recently, Travis, as it turned out, went through a painful divorce and had not hurried to get a new family. So, Mrs. Benson began to take care of him like a son, and Travis, who grew up in an orphanage and had never known a mother’s love, was also unspeakably happy to such a sudden happiness that fell on him. And he cut off all talk of Mrs. Benson leaving, and Mrs. Benson spoke less and less often about it and became more and more attracted to Travis. Of course, he could not replace her native son, but he turned out to be a very kind man, and over time he became the family to the woman.
Toward winter, seeing how busy Travis had become at the sawmill, Mrs. Benson thought of carrying his lunches to work. That day she brought him home-cooked food as usual, and she sent a strange man out of the office in a business-like manner and put the lunch on the work table. Travis, seeing this, laughed and hugged the elderly woman. “Well, you’re like a general. Why did you kick the foreman out?”
“I want to hire him. And what if he won’t take the job now?” Travis said, laughing.
“The foreman, it’s written all over the face that he’s a thief. Believe my intuition. In prison, I learned how to judge people,” replied the woman with a frown.
But Travis did not take Mrs. Benson’s words seriously, which he soon came to regret. A month later, Travis’s sawmill incurred heavy losses, and all because the new foreman sold the timber to others and then disappeared with another cargo. Travis walked gloomily for a week, and then admitting the right of the elderly woman, began to invite her to participate in the interview for new employees. So, Mrs. Benson sat in Travis’s office as a secretary; he was talking to candidates, and she observed and wrote her conclusions on a piece of paper, and then passed them on to Travis. Soon, he even had a whole stack piled up.
“Slacker, alcoholic, cheetah, scandalized,” but Mrs. Benson could easily spot a good worker, even if he didn’t look presentable.
Only once, Mrs. Benson faulted, and her hands shook convulsively. Travis looked closely at the applicant and with amazement recognized him as the man who had once sold him a village house. Jasper, standing, staring at the woman sitting next to the owner of the business, was clearly nervous. His wife had forced him to get a job, and it was paying well at the sawmill. He had already thought his mother was long dead and had no way of expecting to see her here.
Travis’s face petrified, and out of habit, he held out his hand for a piece of paper with Mrs. Benson’s verdict. The woman quickly scribbled a few words on it and hurried out of the office. Jasper smirked and thought that now he was sure to have a job; his mother was obviously not the last person here and put in a good word for him.
Travis ran a glance over the sheet and gloomily looked at the candidate. “The man is trash,” he read loudly and pounded his fist on the table. “Get out! Mother is never wrong.”