Saturday, September 7, 2013
Dear Jon - Chapter # 6
Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a herd of dairy goats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, two dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.
Enough about me, let`s get to the romance!
I`m rather ashamed of how long it took me to walk into my sister`s bungalow. The aroma of rose bushes blooming alongside the western side of the house nearly broke me. Stepping gently onto a small porch that held an old trunk filled with toys and a cracked pot with a petunia in it, I removed my goose-battered hat. A small baseball mitt and a muddy hardball rested on the worn floorboards beside the toy box.
I thought about a smoke, but instead used my trembling fingers to open the door. The sounds of Roy Rogers on the radio met me. Andrew was seated on the floor, his steel trucks tossed aside in favor of cap guns riding low on his hips in leather holsters. On the bruised table that held the white Firestone Air Chief radio were four metal cowboys and one steel horse.
Green eyes moved from the radio to me for a moment. I smiled. Andrew returned to his show, shutting me out. Fiddling with the brim of my hat, I gave the place a fast look. A living-room with a sofa, table, radio, and carpet which I now stood in. Off to the left was a small kitchen. Directly ahead of me was a bathroom. The walls were clean, although the paper was peeling and dingy. The furniture had a fine coating of dust. Leaving Andy to moon over Roy and Dale, I walked into the kitchen hoping to find a telephone. I was flat out of luck. Guess I wasn`t in Greenwich anymore, eh, Toto?
I stepped further into the kitchen. Again, as with the living-room, things were clean but shabby. I wondered how Betty had made ends meet. Had she been forced to live out here in this rundown hovel? Of course she had. Being a soiled woman in such a small town was nearly as taboo as being a faggot, or close to it. At least a pregnant girl wouldn`t be castrated, beaten to death, and then thrown in a diversion ditch. Something flopped in my stomach. The need to get the hell out of this cesspool of hatred made my lungs feel tight.
The sound of a small voice cheering on Roy and Trigger is the only thing that kept me from bolting that evening. Working to calm myself, I looked out a small window over the chipped porcelain sink. My car was parked under the willow, the driver side door still opened. Inside the car was that folder from Bartlett. And inside that folder was a letter from Betty. A missive from a fallen angel to a queer . . .
My father must have been retching in his sanctimonious grave.
“Go get `em, Roy,” I whispered, sight still on the folder flapping in a growing wind. Mesmerized, I ambled through a weak screen-door in the kitchen, the hinges squealing horridly. Rain was on the air. Glancing to the left I spotted the geese preening on the bank of a small creek. I dashed to the car, grabbed the folder and my lone suitcase, and then jogged back to the kitchen, dancing between the huge drops slapping the earth. No sooner was I inside when the downpour hit. The geese let out a honk of celebratory joy. Wind whipped in the open windows, bringing water with it. Getting the old windows down took only a moment. There were only four in the whole joint.
“Hungry?” I asked Andrew as I passed by from the closet that was masquerading as a bathroom. His head went up and down quietly as his lips moved with the Bromo Seltzer ad now playing. “Where do you and your mom sleep?” I asked. It seemed a pretty pertinent question since I had discovered that this little shack had a bathroom, living-room, and kitchen.
“We sleep on the sofa,” the lad replied, eyeing me like I was something Captain America ought to punch in the face.
“Sure we do,” I said under my breath.
Using the food excuse, I left the boy to enjoy the next show, Inner Sanctum, if the squeaking door and organ music were any clue. Thank God for the radio. I couldn`t imagine a better way to keep a kid entertained. There was a tiny table with two rickety chairs. I sat down carefully but it held me up. The folder called to me. Knowing I should be trying to come up with something edible, I instead grabbed the top paper in the folder, rose, and walked out to stand under a leaky overhang to have a Pall Mall.
Smoke hung around my head, clinging to the small dry spot as if it too were reluctant to get wet. Cupping the cigarette to keep it dry, I held up the already damp sheet of paper. Not a letter, something legal - crisp letterhead - official and quite intimidating. I skimmed over the paper as the rain beat down in a violent wave. Flicking my ash to the ground, I heard that the geese were down in the creek beating their wings on the surface of the water.
My cheeks now damp from the moisture in the air, I exhaled and read over what was a bill from the nearby hospital.
“Holy shit,” I whistled, spying the whopper of a total. Two-hundred and fifty-seven dollars! Was this the only one? Was there more of them waiting for someone to pay them? I`d have to dig in the folder to see if any life insurance was coming. It was doubtful if Betty and the kid were living in a one-room shack by a stinking creek in the boonies. The bill was months overdue and had been turned over to a lawyer. It looked like a trip into town tomorrow was in order.
“I`m still hungry,” I heard behind me. Looking over my shoulder, I saw a nose and lips pressed into a saggy screen. Flicking what was left of my Pall Mall into the wet grass, I turned to step inside.
“Yeah, me too,” I said, walking into the kitchen. I shoved the bill into the folder, and then ransacked the place. After fifteen minutes, I shut the last cupboard to find my nephew still staring at me. “I don`t know how to cook,” I confessed. Not that there was much in the pantry anyway. Rice, some canned soup, three slices of dry bread, and a line of ants working to haul off the rice kernel by kernel.
“I`m still hungry,” Andrew informed me. I pushed a hand through my hair, my eyes never leaving his.
“Let`s go,” I said, grabbing my hat from the table. Out to the car we ran, splashing through puddles in our best shoes. When we dove into the front seat, I swore I saw a ghost of a smile on the kids face. “Mister, we got soaked!” I said, cranking the old gal over. We`d find a roadside dive to eat in tonight. I`d worry about tomorrow when it rolled into town.
“Mister, we got soaked,” I heard Andy whispering as we backed out onto the road, windshield wipers beating a tune faster than Gene Krupa, and rainwater dripping through the hole in the roof onto the floor behind me.