Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chapter 57


“I told you how Burt called me with his hair on fire.” 

I nodded.  “Yeah.  Mason messed up somehow and reading between the lines of your text it has put Burt in a bad spot.” 

“It sure did.  A couple of those fancy resorts near Young Harris were counting on him to haul off some materials where they are renovating some of their fancy units.  Burt already has a buyer for most of the stuff but the problem was transportation.  He got a trucker buddy of his to pick it up from the resort but his insurance only lets him drive in-state.  The buyer is right on the other side of the state line and wants it delivered to their front door.  The trucker is going to drop the trailer at a truck yard and I’m going to pick it up and haul it the rest of the way.  Couple of days of easy work but the pay is dang good for the time I’ll put in.  God I am so glad I kept my CDL up and Burt is letting me use his rig which he keeps insurance on.” 

“You can drive those big trucks?” 

“Yeah.  I used to drive the tractor trailers and the dump trucks the family keep for taking grain and stuff to the wholesaler and weigh stations.  Anyway all I have to do with the last load is haul it back to Burt’s warehouse.  And that’s my second job.” 

Confused I asked, “Hauling the last load is a separate job?” 

“Nope.  But Burt’s warehouse is.  It’s in a mess.  I saw what it looked like last year and he said it’s only gotten worse though he is damn happy to have gotten rid of them bottles and jars and stuff.  I got some for you out in the truck but that can wait til morning.  I didn’t bring them in ‘cause I thought there’d be a big mess in here.” 

“You know I wouldn’t make you trip over a mess.” 

“I know you wouldn’t … though Linda tattled on you.” 

“What for?” 

“For picking up what you shouldn’t be picking up.” 

Nonchalantly I told him, “Oh.  Well she worries too much.  I carried stuff like that at school.  I’m a lot stronger than I look.” 

“Don’t I know it but with your leg hurting you shouldn’t do it.  OK?” 

Carefully I asked, “Is this you laying down the law?” 

“I don’t want to have to Kay-Lee.  I’m asking you nice; if you need something heavy like that again get someone else to lift and tote it.  People get paid to do that kind of thing at the stores.” 

Mulishly I told him, “You don’t get paid to do it here.” 

“Sure I do.  I get paid in good cooking … and other things,” he said trying to waggle his eyebrows. 

I could feel my face heating up.  “Oh stop.” 

He laughed and said, “We got a deal?” 

“I guess.  Just tell me about the job.” 

“Uh huh,” he said giving me a look that said he was going to hold me to that agreement.  “Anyway, if I help Burt get his warehouse cleaned up and organized he’ll pay me some in cash and some in goods that he’s got stacked hip deep and going out of date.  Thing is I gotta move the trailer starting tomorrow and then this coming weekend is when he wants to work on the warehouse.”

“Why this coming weekend?” 

“It’s the only weekend the kids don’t have some kind of sports game to be in and he wants them to help since they’ve started asking about earning money.  And Burt is going to ride Rissa pretty hard to make sure she is earning money and not just fooling around and expect to get paid anyway.  He didn’t say so but I think he is worried she’s too much like Mason in that area.  Anyway the kids start back up at something the weekend after that and then once school starts Burt won’t have a weekend free until Thanksgiving and maybe not even after that.  And that isn’t even taking into account things might go sour by then.  Seems Burt is starting to listen to Gramps and with a baby on the way Delly and Burt are starting to get antsy.  They ain’t whole hog on the idea but you can see it floating around in their eyes sometimes.  Delly cornered me yesterday and pretty much gave me the third degree, asking how much I believed what Gramps and the Uncles were saying.” 

“What did you tell her?” 

He answered, “That I believed them.  That I didn’t know what the time line was going to be but with things the way they are it can’t be too much longer.  And that with my life being the mess it was all I’m looking at is trying to play catch up and make sure that we ain’t in a hole come the first of the year, if we even have that long.  That I think she needs to start helping out with the gardening and harvest or at least do something along those lines at her place before she gets too big to move. And if nothing else it wouldn’t be a bad way to spend some time with the family, get to know the new wives, and build up a stake that helps offset the rising food and fuel costs.” 

“Wow.  What did she say to that?” 

“Not much.  Oh she said I didn’t sound like the same knucklehead I used to be but coming from Delly that’s high praise.” 

I didn’t say anything to that.  Like I said, sometimes you have to know when to keep your mouth shut.  So long as Delly doesn’t hurt Sawyer’s feelings again I’m not gonna say a word. 

What I did ask was, “Is Gramps going to still expect you to keep up the same work schedule he has set for you?  I hope he doesn’t ‘cause I don’t see how you can.” 

“Naw.  The way I understand it Uncle James thinks this is as good a time as any to put a broom to the butts of some of the others.  I’ll catch come back-blow from that from some that think favorites are being played but oh well, life’s tough.  Thing is this Saturday the family is going to go to the flea market.  Do you want to go?” 

My first response was, “Not without you.” 

“Welllll …” 

Slowly I asked, “You want me to go?” 

“Yeah.  Yeah I do.  If you feel up to it.” 

“Does it have something to do with the whole Gramps feeling itchy thing?” 

Sawyer choked on a sip of tea he’d just taken then started laughing.  “Well yeah but uh maybe we better keep Gramps’ itchiness out of it.” 

“Sawyer!” 

“I know but … it was funny.” 

Shaking my head I told him, “No it wasn’t  ... and isn’t.  What do you want me to do?” 

“I want you to go to the flea market and have a good time.” 

“While you work?!” 

He got up and came to sit on my side of the table.  “Kay-Lee, I know the flea market is probably not your favorite thing …” 

“It doesn’t matter either way, I’ve only been the one time Sawyer.  And it was fun, but I knew you were around.  Now I know you’ll be working and I don’t want to play while you work.” 

“You won’t be playing.  More than likely Aunt Pearl will run you ragged.  I still want you to try and have a good time though.” 

I thought about it.  “I’ll go.  You want me to put a good face on things and keep Gramps and the others from thinking things they shouldn’t.  Not because they’re busybodies – though that’s what they are – but because you love them and don’t want them to worry.” 

“Well, I guess you do understand.” 

Trying to not snap because it seems people seem to say that too much for my peace of mind I told him, “Just because I’ve never had a family of my own Sawyer doesn’t mean I don’t understand pretty much how they are supposed to work.  I watched the families I lived with, the good ones and the bad ones.  It was like watching people trying to drive each other crazy on purpose with the best of intentions.  And I know your family isn’t bad but some of them are definitely crazy.  But that’s ok too.”  I sighed and admitted, “I just don’t like doing something like going to the flea market and having fun while you’re having to work” 

“It makes me happy to have the work Kay-Lee.  And it’ll be brownie points with Delly which will make the rest of the family happy.  They really never liked the two of us not speaking much.  You saw how they were at 4th of July.  Then if you do what you gotta to make the family see we’re ok we’ll get even more accomplished.” 

“Sooooo I am kind of working for you, right?” 

“If you gotta look at it like that, I guess.  I’d rather you look at it like … well like you are working for us.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer to walk around the flea market with you but this way we accomplish more.  Help Aunt Pearl and the others out, get some things knocked off our list if you can, get Gramps off my back, and I’ll bring home pay and maybe some other odds and ends we need from clearing out Burt’s warehouse.” 

I asked Sawyer, “Who would I be riding with?” 

“Uh, that’s a good question.  Let me find out who has room.  Anyone you don’t want to ride with?” 

“It doesn’t matter.” 

“You sure?” he asked.  I nodded in the affirmative and he said, “Ok, I’ll find out and let you know.  Now back to today.” 

I sighed, “Sawyer …” 

The look on his face was like he was doing something he didn’t want to but felt it had to and was wondering if we were going to have a fight.  “Don’t Sawyer me.  Linda said you were pretty upset before you went to the library and then you were ok for a while but then you got not ok again as soon as you had to start shopping.  I want to know if Linda was just sticking her nose in it and making assumptions or if that really happened.” 

I sighed.  “And this is why I don’t talk to anyone, it always gets blown out of proportion like I’m some kind of drama queen.  My body is crippled not my mind and …” 

“Whooooooaaaaaaa.  I never said …” 

“I didn’t say you … oh just drop it Sawyer.  I’m … I … Look, you know it’s that time of the month.  Even Linda could tell.  I’m not normally like this; at least I don’t think I am.  But sometimes things just get a bit much for anybody.  It would be so easy for me to mess us up and I’m trying to be so careful but every time I turn around I feel like I’m falling a little further behind when I shouldn’t be.  This is what I went to school for.  I was tops in my class and normally I catch up fast when I have to learn something new but ... but this is so much new and it is so important and … and ....  I swear Sawyer there’s just days I don’t feel good enough.” 

“Good enough for what?” Sawyer asked honestly trying to understand. 

“For just about everything.  You.  Your family.  This place.  I’m … I’m not sure I can keep up.  You already have to do your job and then come home at night after working all day and help me do my job too.  God it makes me just want to scream.” 

I stood up and the chair went flying in one direction and I lost my balance and went sliding and falling in the other.  “Kay-Lee?!” 

“Just … just leave me alone.  I’m falling apart.  Look at this mess.” 

Sawyer wouldn’t leave and just sat on the floor with me until I was finished pitching a snit.  “Feel better?” he asked. 

“No.  I feel stupid.  And ashamed.  You must think I’m …” 

“Tired.  Wore out.  Sore.  Overwhelmed.  Angry.  The only thing that would upset me is if you also regret getting married … to me I mean.” 

Startled I looked at him and the tears I’d been trying to hold back started to fall.  “You are a crazy Greek godlet looking guy Sawyer Hartford.  I don’t know how on earth we wound up in the place we’re in but the last thing I regret is being with you.  Just about everything else in the world can go away but not you.  I’m just so afraid that one day real soon I won’t be able to keep up … one way or the other I’ll mess up or you’ll discover I’m a lot more trouble than you thought I’d be or something.” 

“Yep, you definitely belong in the Hartford family.  You’re as crazy as we are.”  I looked at him and he pulled me close even though we were sitting on the floor.  “I’m tired too Kay-Lee.  I’ve got days that I don’t know which end is up.  And sometimes about the only thing I can do is hang on to believing that you’ll keep to those stipulations we made with each other.” 

“Sawyer, I’m … I’m crippled.  You can’t tell me that some of this hasn’t … been unexpected.  You probably still get looks from people or they say things like ‘bless your heart it must be challenging’ and …” 

“Uh … You heard Mrs. Penny I guess.” 

“Of course I did.  So did everyone else in Walgreens.  That woman’s volume is stuck on loud even when she thinks she’s whispering.  But she isn’t the only one that has said something like that to you.  Admit it or not I know it is the truth.  Igor Baffa.  That’s …” 

“Don’t.  Just don’t Kay-Lee.  All right.  Sure.  Some things caught me off guard.  I … I play too rough sometimes and forget.  Not as much as I used to though.” 

“But that’s what I’m saying Sawyer.  You shouldn’t stop having fun just because I can’t do certain things.  I hate it.” 

“You’re making more of that than you need to.  Sure I’ve had to learn to do a few things differently … or at least change the way I do them … but sometimes those changes are for the good … and interesting … and … definitely not boring that’s for sure.” 

“What are you talking … Sawyer!” I squawked when I realized he was talking about bedroom stuff. 

Sawyer tried not to but he grinned, then leered, and then started laughing because he got a good look at my face.  “Honestly Kay-Lee.  I don’t consider it the end of the world because we have to try different things so that we can both have fun at the same time and so that you don’t hurt.  So what if we have to …” 

“Sawyer!” 

That set Sawyer grinning again and he pulled me tighter against him and said, “Fine.  Be that way.  But I was talking about me helping you here around the house.  You’re the one with a dirty mind.” 

“Oh … oh … you … you ….grrrrrrr!” 

Still grinning he said, “Here, turn around and let me rub your leg.”
 
“You don’t need to do that.” 

“I know I don’t but I want to,” he said turning me so that he could massage my calf and foot.  “Now be still and don’t wiggle or you’ll make me think about things I can’t have right now.”  He started and immediately I felt some relief from the knots in my muscles.  More seriously than he had been he said, “You are wound tighter than a sprung clock.  Some of the aunts get the same way for one reason or another.  I know Mom used to and Delly still does.  Being a farmer’s wife is hard, Aunt Pearl says it is at least as hard as being a farmer, that’s why so many of them used to die young.  And right now Gramps is reminding all of us men that we need to show some appreciation for what we’re getting or come winter we are going to be sleeping in a cold bed and eating our own cooking.” 

Feeling contrite and contrary at the same time I shook my head and told him, “Oh Sawyer, I’d never back out of our agreement.  We promised to stick with our stipulations.  Please don’t think I’d ever run off on you.  I don’t mind the hard work.  I just don’t feel like I’m able to hold up my end the way I should.  I didn’t realize it was going to be this hard to keep up.” 

“Well I guess that makes two of us.  I was feeling pretty rotten about you not being able to have any extry like the other wives are getting to do a little personal shopping here and there.  These jobs from Burt will help with that.” 

“I am NOT going to spend …” 

“Hush.  I know how you feel about it and I’m glad I don’t have to deal with you pouting and stuff like that when you don’t get those things.  Doesn’t mean I’m any happier though that I can’t give them to you any way.” 

“I don’t need it.” 

“Maybe not.  And pretty much guaranteed even with these jobs all I’m doing is putting off the inevitable of having nothing in my wallet but moths and crickets.  I just wish …” 

“We’ve still got the fuel money for the truck and there isn’t another auto insurance payment until after the first of the year.  Needing more propane is a long way off.  We might wind up eating just tomato soup for a while but even that’s a long way off.  It isn’t about stuff Sawyer.  I can’t explain it.  I just feel like you have to work that much harder because I can’t work hard enough.  It’s not … not … equitable.  That’s what I mean, it’s just not equitable.” 

“Ok then I tell you what we’ll do.  Let’s go sit on the love seat in the living room.  You get one cushion and I’ll get the other.  We’ll pop a bowl of popcorn and I’ll eat a piece then you eat a piece.  We’ll make sure our pieces are the same size and have the same number of salt granules on them.  And we’ll watch five minutes of your show and then trade off and watch five minutes of my show and we’ll go back and forth like that.” 

Exasperated at his foolishness I snapped, “Sawyer.” 

“I know.  Sounds silly don’t it?  Just as silly as you worrying yourself sick about things not being equitable.  The plain fact is sometimes I work harder and sometimes you work harder and sometimes we get lucky and we get to work together.” 

I turned around and crawled up into his lap.  “When you say things like that I feel so stupid and lucky at the same time.” 

“Stupid I wasn’t aiming for, lucky I like to hear.” 

“Well lucky is what I feel all the time, just lately I feel stupid too.” 

“Well don’t.” 

“Easy to say.  You’re smart.” 

Sawyer snorted.  “You gotta be one of the few people on the planet that thinks so.  I can tell most of them are worrying that I’m going to go off the deep end when things get tough like I did before.” 

“If you did go off the deep end before it wasn’t just because things got tough, it was because you felt like everyone was turning on you.” 

“Well, that too and I ain’t going to go over ancient history but the point is people think it.” 

“And if they worry about you with all the proving you are doing with working with Tommy and the rest of them then they got to be coming unglued over me.” 

“Well, some are and some are actually … er …” 

“Er what?  Did I do something wrong?” 

“Only thing you’re doing is showing some of the wives up real bad.  Now wait, don’t get in a pucker because I know you don’t mean to and aren’t even thinking along those lines.  I’m just saying some of them are being drama queens about the whole thing.” 

“Uh … is it Linda or Jeannie?  Or … Beth or Sharon?” 

“No. Are any of them giving you problems?” 

“No.  I was just wondering because they’re the only ones that I care … uh … I … didn’t mean it like …” 

Sawyer laughed.  “Hah!  Caught you.  That’s about how I feel about some of the cousins.” 

“Sawyer I didn’t mean that I didn’t care at all, just that those were the only ones that would really bother me seriously if they thought something bad of me.” 

“Like I said, about how like I feel about some of them.  And it doesn’t matter who in particular because Aunt Pearl went off on some of us today that if anyone thinks that she is going to work her fingers until they bleed while anyone else takes the easy road and them expect to get the same as the ones that work hard then they better stop assuming because they were sounding like a bunch of asses.” 

“Oh … my … gosh.  She didn’t!” 

“Did too.  That was when Gramps pulled us aside and told us we better start showing some appreciation or else.  Uncle Junior just sort of scratched his head and sighed and said he reckoned he better get and get going on some of that appreciation before his pillow turned into a headstone.” 

“Sawyer!” 

He laughed.  “I’m telling nothing but the truth.  You may feel like you are being grouchy and upset but compared to the aunts you are a wee little lamb.  Now come here so I can give you some appreciation.” 

“Oh honestly!” 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the great additions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely chapter. No extra pictures though is this a test to see if we notice or as I assume just one of those chapters where the words create the picture?

    Thanks as always for your time and energy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Kathy I just got caught up great chapters for a great story I am really enjoying reading it. I pray all is well with you and yours.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Kathy. I really do enjoy this story and the looking forward to where it might lead. Hope all is well with you and your's.

    ReplyDelete