Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 82

Sorry about the delay.  My dad took a spill and when my mom try to catch him she went down too.  Nothing broken but they were both sore and I spent last night and most of today dealing with the aftermath. 

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“Are you sure Kay-Lee?” 

I looked at my two sisters-of-the-heart and told them, “Will you two go home already?  I’ve got this.” 

“But …” 

“But nothing.  Benedict needs to get home and get in his own bed and Tommy is running on fumes too.  It is either go now or you’ll be here overnight.” 

“Ok, but we owe you … big time.” 

“So fine, you owe me … now get.” 

Tommy had brought Linda earlier to help as Aunt Pearl had sent a bunch of dried beans and frozen meat and asked if I could can up soups to save what they were worried was going to ruin the longer the power stayed off.  Apparently word was going around that the power company had put the rural areas on the bottom of the list to get electric back; they were furiously working to try and get the town back online but even that would take time as the outage was regional rather than just local.  Even when the rural areas got their power back up and running what they called “brown outs” were to be expected as they rationed what the co-op could produce.   

Linda looked at me all owl-eyed, definitely too emotionally wired up for her own good.  I told her, “Don’t even think about it Linda.  Get back to Gramps and company.  Hopefully the mess over there will have died down a bit and the aunts will need some help getting the uncles to knock off and get some rest.  You know good and well after using a whip and chair all day poor Aunt Pearl is going to needs a respite.” 

Linda finally cracked a smile and gave me a giggle.  “I wish you could come with me, you’d probably handle ‘em just right.” 

“Who me?” I asked as innocent as a lamb making both Linda and Jeannie both giggle quietly. 

Sawyer stuck his head in and in mock gruffness said, “Alright you three.  Enough with your diabolical planning.  Give us poor men a fighting chance.” 

It was quick work after that to get them gone.  Sawyer and I looked at each other and all the hilarity melted away.  We walked into each other’s arms and I just held him and him me.  Then I looked up and gently touched his busted lip.  “I’m sorry Sawyer.” 

Sighing like he was as old as Gramps he said, “I’m not surprised but it still hurts.  Hurts more ‘cause of how it is hurting Gramps and some of the others but … but they were warned lots of times.” 

“Fear.” 

“Huh?” 

I pulled him over to the kitchen table and put a mug of warm cider into his hands.  I knew he wanted coffee more but he needed the warm and sweet to combat the emotions of the day; coffee would have just made him even more jittery.  “Fear.  You know how it is.  Someone gets scared and they fly apart and act less smart than they are capable of being.” 

Sawyer snorted then grimaced at joggling his nose so much.  “Just go ahead and say it Kay-Lee.  A few of the cousins and their wives just had a big ol’ fat case of the stupids.” 

Unafraid to agree at this point I nodded.  “Ok, they had the stupids.  On the other hand it looks like their folks got ‘em to pull their heads out of their backsides.” 

“For now.” 

“That might be all they need to find some … uh … find their equilibrium.” 

Sawyer pulled the kitchen chair, sat down, then laid his head on his arm.  I heard a muffled, “God Almighty, I hope so.  Another day like today we do not need.” 

“Is Cutter ok?  What about Davis and Uncle Mark?” 

“Cutter is pretty toasted right now and wanted to call Jamison out but he calmed down for Beth when she started getting sick from nerves.  Davis and Uncle Mark are a little roughed up but Cindy stepped it up, I didn’t know the girl had it in her.  She’s tired but … from the sound of things even Uncle Mark was impressed.” 

Still trying to put two and two together I said, “I know you are probably sick to death of it but I’ve only gotten the story by stringing together things the family has been saying as they came by and I’m not sure I have it all or what I do have is in the right order.  Could you … do you feel up to …?” 

Sawyer sat up and stretched and said, “I could say a lot of things but what it boils down to is when Jamison’s wife left him to go to her family in Tennessee he started inviting some of his old high school buddies over.  You think Jamison is a jack … er … pain in the butt, you ain’t seen nuthin’ ‘til you met some of them.  Not that I want you to.  Anyway one thing led to another, and while most of them are stupid, they ain’t dumb … they figured there was likely something to Jamison’s bragging.  Well when the power went down the cops got busy and they got brave and decided it was survival of the fittest or some dumbass thing like that.  They beat the crap out of Jamison when they found bragging was about all he had left.  He gave away some things on the family to get them to let up … but he’s hurt and that’s a fact.  The Turd Brigade just left him in the yard even though shock and hypothermia coulda killed him.  He’s lucky he was fond when he was, he still might lose two fingers between them being broken and then the frostbite.  It didn’t take long for the … er … them to hit Uncle Mark’s place first – likely ‘cause Jamison told them only Cindy would be home or so one of ‘em said – but Cutter was there helping Davis to finish weatherizing those two new mud rooms they added to the front and back entry ways.  Davis sent Cindy down to the basement when they realized there was no talking that crowd out of what they aimed to do.  Instead of the basement, Cindy went upstairs and used a hand held radio to contact her father who brought their clan over and they caught Jamison’s buddies betwixt and between but some damage had already been done.  She still had to blow both barrels of birdshot from the upstairs window when she saw some of them pull knives and guns of their own.” 

Almost afraid to ask I said, “No one wants to talk about Uncle Forrester.  Please …?” 

“Aw Kay-Lee honey … you ain’t crying are you?  I shoulda made sure someone sent word over here.”  He patted my hand as I sat down in one of the other chairs.  “He’ll be alright.  Uncle Ned and Gramps are taking turns sitting with him.  Aunt Suzanne says it wasn’t a stroke or a heart attack … but his heart is hurting.  He got stressed and his blood pressure starting shootin’ all over the place but it’s better now.  Mostly … well he’s known for a while that Bud and Jamison ain’t been pulling their weight.  Bud being out from under foot has helped but this thing with Jamison, well it just has him tied up in knots.  He ain’t had much luck between two bad marriages and kids … and grandkids … that took roads he didn’t want ‘em to.  Won’t be easy, and the family may have to suffer with Jamison a while longer though he’s wanting to head to Tennessee to get back with his wife and kids, but Uncle Forrester will pull through.” 

I wanted to believe it real bad so I did what I’d seen the aunts do and said a prayer and tried to not worry it to death.  “Is there anything any of ‘em need?” 

Sawyer got serious in a heartbeat.  “What some of ‘em need we don’t have … and I mean that whether we have it or not.” 

Confused at the way he phrased it I asked, “Huh?” 

“Sweetheart I’m laying down the law ‘cause it would kill me to ever see you in the same trouble as Cindy found herself.  From here on out we don’t talk about nothing we have … I mean nothing.  And what I’m saying next sticks in my craw a bit but … when I say nothing I also mean no one.  Not even Linda, Jeannie, and the aunts.  Not even Gramps or any of the uncles.” 

I swallowed and whispered, “Sawyer?” 

“I know.  But …”  He ran his hand’s through his hair and I could tell how tired and troubled he was.  “Look, it isn’t how I prefer things being but what happened to Jamison could happen to any of us if we aren’t careful.  With the right reason any man will break … and some of ‘em would break faster than others.” 

“I thought we were all supposed to be working together.” 

“And we are.  I’m just …”  More seriously he said, “I remember a phrase you used … an abundance of caution.” 

“Yeah, the doctors act that way so they don’t have to take back too much of what they say.” 

“Exactly.  What we don’t say we don’t have to worry about trying to take back and unsay.  I get the feeling that maybe only Gramps and Uncle Forrester really have a good idea of what we have but even they don’t know everything we have.  Delly and Burt know a lot too … but not all.  It isn’t that I don’t trust them, but I ain’t painting a target on our backs and that’s all there is to it.  Gramps wouldn’t mean to give us away but then again I can’t say for sure that he won’t expect us to help those that didn’t make more of an effort earlier.  Delly and Burt … well if it gets to be about their kids.  Just to be on the safe side … well … do you understand what I’m trying to say?” 

Carefully I nodded.  “Ok.  But …” 

“Just … just hold that thought.” 

“You don’t know what I’m going to say.” 

“I know it is likely some of what I’ve been thinking but I don’t want to say who we’d help and who we won’t.  Not right now.” 

I blinked in surprise because that was exactly what I was thinking to say.  “Ok, so you do know.  And I guess you’re right.” 

He gave me a kiss on my temple and then asked, “The swelling in my nose must be going down ‘cause I’m starting to notice something.  What smells so good?” 

“Chicken soup.  You want a cup?  I saved some back.” 

“Oh yeah.  That sounds goooood.” 

While I got a bowl for him as well as a couple pieces of cornbread he asked me if there’d been any trouble here.  I answered, “Not trouble trouble but …” 

“But?” 

Slowly I tried to explain knowing that when I did it wouldn’t sound anywhere near as bad as the trouble he’d dealt with today.  At the same time it added a layer that he had to know about.  “Linda is getting fritzy and Jeannie is just … geez Sawyer she is really bad off.  She got gray a couple of times when she’d start to try and help.  I finally asked Linda to take her back to the front room and keep her company.  Then I had to figure on something to keep them occupied so I gave them the aunts’ inventories to organize.  They did pretty good after that, at least until people kept coming by to see if they’d picked up everything they were due as far as the last canning day went, to check on whether anyone was running the log splitters, to see if we’d heard any news they hadn’t.  A couple of them that were a little too persistent and wanted to check the basement for themselves got a little nasty when I reminded them they hadn’t made it to the last canning day and would need to check with Aunt Pearl to see if she had anything for them on her end of things.” 

“Uh oh.  And the women were just out running around?” 

“Yeah.” 

“That was stupid … and wasteful of fuel.” 

“Yeah.” 

“Didja tell ‘em that?” 

“Nope.  Jeannie did though.  A couple of them wanted to start a cat fight and I told them to take it up with Gramps because I was working for the aunts, and them only indirectly.”  After biting my lip I asked, “What do you know about Barbara?” 

“Huely’s wife?  Lately she’s got the disposition of a carton of soured milk but then again so has Huely.  She give you trouble?” 

“More like something she said.” 

“Which was?” Sawyer asked trying to bow up. 

“It wasn’t about me so don’t start that again.  But … ok, this is going to make me sound like a tattle tale but after what happened today …” 

“Just spit it out Hon.” 

I shook my head.  “When I told her to take it up with Gramps she said … she said … that maybe Gramps didn’t have as much to say about things as he thinks.” 

Sawyer was half way out of his sit and said, “Holy … And damn it is too late for me to …” 

“It flew over Linda’s head but Jeannie caught it too and she’s going to tell Benedict and his dad.” 

Sawyer sat back down on a sigh.  “Ok, so that’s what Benedict was trying to tell me over Tommy’s head.” 

“Why over Tommy’s head?” 

“’Cause Huely is about the only one of the cousins that Tommy just outright does not have much to do with.” 

“Um … kinda noticed but when I asked Linda about it over the summer she just shrugged.  Is there a story there or is it just personality stuff.” 

“Both.  Huely had a step brother that was mean as a snake before he went to go live with his dad out in Idaho when we were in middle school.  Sam was … well he was like Tommy but not like Tommy.  Sam had issues from a childhood accident like Tommy only … his personality … he was just mean and liked being mean too.  Kinda wallowed in it.  He made Huely’s life a misery but the adults didn’t really get it and most of ‘em probably still don’t because Sam … well he got away with a lot for a long time though last I heard he finally tried to push the wrong farmer’s daughter and she put him in the hospital and from there he’s been in rehab trying to learn to walk again.”  Sawyer just shook his head and I took it to mean that Sam was someone he was disgusted with.  He finally continued, “Tommy understood more than any of us and caught Sam beating on Huely one day and just plain out and out whipped the tar out of him.  Huely … well I guess he got embarrassed because everyone thought Huely was the one that beat on Sam until Tommy found out about it and told the truth and told why he did it.  That embarrassed Huely twice over.  First for being beat on by someone ‘simple’ and then having to have someone else that was ‘simple’ rescue him from it.  They never could seem to find no middle ground between ‘em after that.  Tommy never expected a thank you or anything but he didn’t appreciate the crap Huely handed him either all through high school either.  But that’s old news.  Huely still shows his backside on occasion but he has … to quote Aunt Nel … been growing out of it and turning human.  At least until recently.  Maybe … no, never mind, ain’t gonna turn it into my headache.  Not my circus, not my monkeys.  But they’ll bear watching.” 

Sawyer started inhaling the soup like usual but then set it down and asked, “Where’d everything go that you got canned up?  And did you keep any for us?” 

“I did other stuff for us.” 

Slightly irritated Sawyer growled, “You mean …?” 

“Don’t start.  You’re too tired and I’m too cranky.  We’ll wind up in a fight and I don’t wanna do that.  Besides I kept out some of the beans and used some of the meat to make other things for us.  We have enough of what the aunts wanted me to work on.” 

“You sure?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Are you positive?” 

“Sawyer …” 

He sighed.  “Sorry, just wasn’t too happy to find out the long way around what the aunts had stuck you with.  I have a feeling Uncle Ned was going to have a thing or three to say about it too and the way he talks he don’t give no one a chance to say otherwise.” 

I gave him a what-for look and said, “I do not want trouble with the aunts.  I was going to heat up the stove anyway and the bean soup was not a lot of extra work.” 

“Tell me another one,” he snorted, again forgetting his nose and wincing.  “But I’ll let it go this time.  I just don’t want people to start thinking that because I agreed to take on the position of family caretaker that they can assume that you’re just gonna get run roughshod over too.” 

I kissed his cheek and noticed he needed a shave … and a shower.  “It wasn’t really like that.  I suspect some of it was just an excuse to get Linda away from what was going on.  She … she can’t get through to her parents and she’s worried about them.  All the stories of the troubles in town was eating her up.  Tommy’s mother and her drama wasn’t helping either.” 

Sawyer finally nodded in understanding.  “Oh.”  He pulled over my inventory folder and asked, “You got things added in yet?” 

“No, I was waiting on the last jar to seal before I counted things up.” 

“Want some help?” 

“Only if you’re finished eating.” 

“I could eat some more but I better not.  But I wouldn’t mind another mug of this cider.”  I took his dirty bowl to the sink and brought back the cider and a mug for me as well.  From there we started working on our own lists.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for more of this great story.

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  2. Thank you Kathy! Hope everything is all right with your parents.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Kathy thank you for more of this fantastic story I'ts always a good day when you post another chapter. Gods Blessing on you and your family.
    Wayne

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  5. Kathy thank you for more of this fantastic story I'ts always a good day when you post another chapter. Gods Blessing on you and your family.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete