Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chapter 83

“Well I guess you did get a few things done despite the day being what it has been.” 

I looked at Sawyer and decided to take his surprise as a compliment when it could have been something else.  That’s me being oversensitive and not ‘cause he means to.  Time has proven to me that men, and apparently Hartford men in particular, like to chew on their feet.  And I’ll keep believing that until I have reason not to so I merely nodded and said, “Yep.” 

He still caught my tone of voice however.  “Uh …” 

I shook my head to get over myself.  “Forget it Sawyer, I’m just tired and this stuff with your family …” 

“Our family.” 

I looked at him. “Ok.  This stuff with … with our family.  It feels rotten … rotten and wrong.  I’m just not sure what to … how to … I guess what I mean is I’m not sure how to react, what to say, wondering if I should say anything at all.  I never expected to have a family and now … now look at all of this going on.  And I’m sorry.  I know you’ve had a rough day.” 

Sawyer looked at me and said, “You don’t have anything to be sorry for.  And I sure hope you don’t feel like you have to apologize for some of them dipshits.” 


“Look Babe, yes they are my … our … family, but the fact is I had to learn the hard way that family or not, sometimes people can be dip … alright, alright … sometimes people can act ignorant with little to no reason to back their choices up.” 

Feeling helpless to explain it perfectly I decided I still needed to explain it someway.  “Sawyer after everything Gramps and the aunts and uncles have been saying since all of us got married, the way some of them are acting isn’t just ignorant … it’s dangerous.  I mean … we have a bargain and our stipulations and I would have thought they would have had those things too; and so we’ve got some baggage between us but that didn’t stop us from following through on our bargain.  Breaking bargains … breaking promises … that is just all kinds of stupid on top of the danger.  And not just a little dangerous either.  And we … we need to figure out whether they are being dangerous on purpose or dangerous out of being stupid. Look at Jamison, he just barely ran his mouth to a few of his friends to make him look like more than he is and now he’s in the hospital … or at least on a stretcher in the ER.” 

Sawyer shrugged, almost like he didn’t care about his cousin’s fate.  “Try a chair in the hallway.  He’s that thing … triaged … because they’ve got so many real emergencies like people on machines than need electric to keep running and keep them alive.  The radio said they are asking for donations of fuel to keep the generators at the hospital, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities running.  And if you read between the lines you get the feeling if they don’t get donations and volunteers they’ll just go and take what they need and draft whoever they have to.” 

I shivered.  “And that just makes it worse.  If we have what all we do and we’re scared, how are other people that don’t have much of anything going to feel?  And how is how they are feeling going to cause them to act?” 

“Babe …” 

Getting wound up I let my mouth run.  “Seriously Sawyer.  And is Jamison going to really expect to just stroll right back in with the Hartfords?  And will the family just let him?  What he did … what almost happened …”  I couldn’t tell him how I was really feeling because then there might be more to it than being scared.  I was afraid I was going to lose someone else before I knew what having a family really meant.  I was afraid of Sawyer getting hurt, of losing him, because of the job that Gramps wanted him to take on or just because of some of his cousins’ stupidity. 

I could tell he was seeking to find some words that would soothe me and answer me at the same time and oh how I wanted to be soothed so when he spoke I listened. “Let’s just say that ol’ Jamison has finally dug himself a hole he isn’t going to get out of unless someone drops a long ladder down to him and if what I’m hearing stays true, ain’t no ladders long enough in the family that they’re willing to part with.”  I opened my mouth to ask another question but he kept going.  “As for the others that were acting like a butt end they are getting their reality check.  How much of a check depends on how much effort and thought they’ve been putting into it all along.  Some of the ones that would snicker and roll their eyes behind people’s backs are having to do some serious reevaluating.” 

“That makes no sense.  If they didn’t believe anything was going to happen then why did they play along and get married and all of it?” 

“Honey, you’re guess is as good as mine at this point, and to be honest I ain’t in the mood to play twenty question about their mental capacity ‘cause I know it’ll only give me indigestion.  And before you start worrying it to death some more, think on this; I am not going to just give up all of our hard work to people – family or not – all because they played grasshoppers to our ants.  Gramps and the others can do what they want but I will not go down that path.  I sign up for a job … not a suicide mission.  I’ll do my best to help those that are willing to work … willing and who actually do the work … and I’ll look after those that can’t work for some reason that is beyond their fault like the old folks and babies and stuff, but everyone else is going to have to root hog or die.  Too few appreciate things unless they do the work themselves; look how some of them were about that furniture.  That’s one of the reasons why Gramps made sure that all the cousins participated in helping to build their own places … he wanted them to appreciate what they were getting.  And that’s why Uncle James was beginning to get so bent out of shape at the ones that kept waiting for other people to help to finish up their places.” 

“I guess.” 

“No guessing to it.  And if you want more proof, Uncle Mark today told some of them that the cash tap is officially turned off.  He is co-executor or whatever you call it for the trust.  He said between bank restrictions and government restrictions there is no more where the rest came from.  According to him most of it has already been used up, to the point of hardly any left, and what little is left is for taking care of Gramps, Uncle Ned, and Uncle Forrester for just in case.”  Sawyer shook his head in disgust.  “You shoulda seen the looks on some faces.  I knew some of ‘em were knuckleheads but this about takes the cake.” 

“They were really angry?” 

“Nope.  Babe they were scared.  Like something had finally sunk in.  Oh a few of ‘em tried to bow up but Uncle Mark put ‘em straight without even looking at Gramps or any of the uncles.  Surprised more than a few.” 

“Set ‘em straight how?” I asked suspiciously having suffered more than once the rough sandpaper that Uncle Mark called his tongue. 

Sawyer started scribbling numbers then striking through them while he answered me.  “Apparently it was decided real early on that barring anything unforeseen the same amount of money was to be spent on each of us cousins.  It is to be our inheritance from Gramps and his brothers and we were all to understand there wouldn’t be more because if there was any, it would go to the aunts and uncles.  Well after that decision had been agreed on by all the Senior Hartford clan members Uncle Mark got involved and said that if some worked more and gave back that it should count for them rather than against them.  He has like these books for each couple and you should see ‘em … he’s been keeping track.” 

Rolling my eyes I said, “I’m not sure I wanna know what he’s been keeping track of. 

Sawyer chuckled tiredly.  “He’s actually been fair and objective though I’m sure you are going to have a hard time believing it.  Heck I had a hard time believing it.”  When he saw the look on my face he tried explaining with more detail.  “Let me give you a for instance.  When Benedict converted that old tractor to run biodiesel a piece of our funds got moved to repay him for parts and labor, but then when we used the tractor almost exclusively for running the big log splitter for everyone some of that piece he moved over came back.  Same thing with what has come out of our orchard.” 

“That is more complicated than it needs to be isn’t it?” 

“Yeah … and no.  It actually helped everyone complaining to see what he calls accountability.  It also means that even though it appears that they might spend more cash on some than others – Jeannie’s hospital bills for one though her parents have stepped up and gotten them lots of things for the baby – the reality is that Benedict pretty much was banking family credit by doing all the work he has without asking for anything in return.” 

Sighing I said, “Let me guess, they had a lot to say about us.” 

“Naw, they actually tried to have more to say about Tommy and Linda.” 


“Settle down Tiger.  Uncle Forrester threw his cane through the window when he overheard it and would have followed it with a lamp and alarm clock if Linda hadn’t torn up the stairs and distracted him.  Hardly anyone could understand him but everyone pretty much got the picture and backed off.  As for the rest of it, no one dares say anything about us as our place has been used for the wood cutting and all the canning days.  Uncle Mark said to keep it under our hat about how we’d repaid … er …” 

“My doctor bills from where I went into the ER?” 

“Yeah that.  And don’t make that face.  I promised you that I’d repay Gramps and we have so leave it alone.  Besides, the uncles all agreed that the trick you and Burt pulled getting all them green coffee beans pretty much means you could ask for the moon and they’d try and get it for you.” 

“Ooooooh … stop it.” 

Sawyer grinned and pulled me into his arms.  “I know I’ve been a little shy on appreciating you lately …” 


Sawyer just laughed but that used up some of the last of his energy.  “Seriously Babe, leave it in the Uncles’ hands.  They got it worked out between ‘em and all us cousins can do right now is fall in line.  Now tell me again, and this time slow down so I can write it down.” 

So I started listing off what I’d managed to make while I was canning for Aunt Pearl and the rest of the family.  My main accomplishments were chili[1], sloppy joe filling[2], pork n’ beans[3], navy bean soup[4], clam chowder base[5], cream of celery soup[6], golden mushroom soup[7].  I got smaller batches of black bean soup[8] and garbanzo bean soup[9]. 

“Sawyer I wish I could have done more but there just wasn’t time between the interruptions.” 

“Uncle Ned give you fits?” 

“Not hardly.  All he asked for was a couple of naproxins.  I felt so bad I didn’t get a chance to feed him better.” 

“Dang it, I almost forgot.  You got a package from that doctor.” 

“What doctor?  You mean Doctor Carruthers?  What was in it?” 

“I don’t open your mail.” 

All I could do was roll my eyes since he expected me to open any mail that came to the house regardless of whether my name was on it or not.  He got up and brought me a couple of decent sized boxes and I realized there was no post mark.  “Where did these come from?”

“Courier delivered them to Gramps’ house.” 

“Ok, this is weird.  I wonder what is in it.” 

“Try opening it and finding out,” he said with a laugh. 

I opened it and had to sit down.  “Sawyer?” 

“I see ‘em.  What’s that note say?” 

I read Dr. Carruther’s scrawl and was even more flabbergasted. 

Dear Kay-Lee,  My practice is closing our Uptown offices and several in our practice are opting for retirement.  I will be moving full time to our hospital office space and have included a forwarding address should you need to reach me.  Downsizing is now a requirement including a great deal of paperwork that I’ve been hanging onto.  I have had all of your records digitized but it is unknown how long until those become available in our new system.  Because of your unique circumstances I have copied what I can and am forwarding to you to keep in a safe place with the rest of your legal records.  I have also enclosed some other material that I feel may be of use to you in the near term.  Yours, Dr. C 

“Oh … my …  I don’t believe her!” 

After Sawyer got over his surprise he snickered, “Well I’ll be honest and say I’m glad you didn’t open that with company around.” 

“Very funny.  Ha.  Ha.  Oh my gosh she is just soooo nosy.  I mean I know this is just her way of … well … I don’t know what to call it but it is her way of taking care of her patients.  But dignity dangity.” 

“I was wondering what we were going to do when I got low.” 

“Sawyer, don’t you dare laugh.” 

“I’m not.”  At my look he grinned.  “Ok, I’m not laughing much.  That is some crazy doc you’ve got.  But I like her.” 

“Unfortunately so do I.  She’s just too much some times.  And what are we supposed to do with a giant case of condoms.”  Not exactly in the mood for Sawyer’s leer I shook my head and dug into the rest of the first box.  “Geez, there has to be hundreds of those single serve naproxen packs.” 

“Good.  They’re out everywhere I’ve looked.  All they have is the name brand stuff and in small bottles.” 

“They didn’t have any generic?” 

“Not this side of town though Beth’s brother sent her out a box of stuff from his dental practice and there were a couple of bottles in there.  His practice is being forced to shut down because Medicare and Medicaid are threatening to fine them because they wouldn’t see some special populations pro bono.  He and his partners got tired of having to close down their offices to disinfect everything when them people would come in with things like scabies, lice, and other nasty stuff like that.” 

I’d seen a lot of that in foster care and didn’t feel like rehashing it and making Sawyer feel bad.  “Well there’s other stuff in here too but what is in here … it’s like a message or something.” 

“Are those needles?” 

Slowly I nodded and answered, “Yes.  I want to lock these away.” 

The look on my face must have clued him in that something was up because he asked, “Hon?” 

“Lock them up Sawyer.  Put them down in the basement back in that corner.  Now.” 

“Kay-Lee …” 

“Now Sawyer.”  I calmed down and made myself said, “Please.”



  1. Kathy thank you for all of your story's

  2. Loving this story! Thanks Kathy!

  3. Thank you so much, I needed a break, we went and cut wood today.