Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Excerpt from The Latin Lady

by Dawn LaFon

Dexter hated his new house and absolutely knew he would hate his new school. As his father drove the car into the driveway, he did have to admit that the front porch with the Corinthian columns was really impressive even though the columns hadn’t been painted in about twenty years.

“As soon as the weather gets warm, we’re going to put a swing on this porch. It’ll be fun to sit out here, won’t it son?” Dexter grunted which was his main form of communication these days. His father looked sad and turned to open the car door saying, “Dexter, I’m sorry. I know that it’s hard for you to move right now but things will be so much . . .”

Dexter looked up at his father’s astonished face and couldn’t believe his eyes either. Running up to their car was the largest black dog and the tiniest old lady who was barely taller than the dog.

“I’m Gladys Louise Tucker, your neighbor across the street. Welcome to Crescent Road!”

“Thank you, Miss Tucker. I’m Harry Rye and this is my son, Dexter. We are very, very happy to be here.

“Dexter, did you say that your name is Dexter, young man?” Oh Lord, not only did he have to move but he had to move in across the street from a crazy old woman who was going to make him talk to her.

“Yes ma’am.” Why was it a rule that you always had to be polite to old people?

“Well, you could not have a finer name! It’s Latin! Did you know that? You and my dog Rex have something in common because he has a Latin name too. Rex means “king” and he’s sure treated like one. Aren’t you, boy?”

The dog never took his adoring eyes off of Gladys Louise.

“Oh, we told him that Dexter is Latin for right or right-handed,” began his Dad as he petted Rex and the dog wagged his tail.

“Oh yes, but it means so much more than that! It also means skillful, handy, and lucky and when the Romans shook their right hands, it was a pledge of faith that they would honor their word and do what they said. I’ve never met anyone named Dexter before and now I have someone living right across the street with such a wonderful name. “

“Thank you, Miss Tucker.”

“Call me Gladys Louise. Everyone does.”

His Dad was edging toward the front door. Hopefully he realized that this woman was crazy too. “Well, Gladys Louise, we’re very pleased to be on Crescent Street.”

“That’s Latin, too! “Crescent” comes from cresco, crescere that means “to spring up, grow and prosper. “

“Well good, because we plan to grow and prosper here,” said his Dad.

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