Saturday, October 19, 2013
Dear Jon - Chapter # 12
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!
There are times that a swing is just what is needed. And not a tire swing but a lovely porch swing with room for two. Unfortunately, my new digs lacked a swing of any kind. Cooper and I had to make do with using the tailgate of his truck as an outdoor seat to watch the fireflies come alive. Dinner had been a rousing success, but it`s hard to screw up macaroni with canned tomatoes dumped over them. The fresh salad was a nice touch though. I was watching my nephew careening around the dark yard, the full moon the only light required, with a canning jar in his hand attempting to catch lightning bugs.
“The funeral is tomorrow.” I exhaled. The smoke rose in front of the moon. Ross sipped his coffee, his hip warm against mine.
“Will you need another pallbearer?”
I turned my head to look at his moonlit profile. “You didn`t even know her.”
“She`s your sister. That`s all I need to know.”
I couldn`t look at him any longer, so I concentrated on the glowing end of my Pall Mall. Andrew raced over, showed us his catch, and then took off in pursuit of more glowing insects. A gentle night wind tickled the weeping willows long branches. One brushed my arm.
“You`re assuming a great deal about me, Ross,” I said while flicking an ash to the ground.
“So then fill in the blanks for me,” he said into his mug. Lifting the Pall Mall to my lips I drew in a breath, held it, and then let the smoke eke out of my nostrils. When I sat silently smoking for several minutes, Ross blew out a breath riddled with exasperation. He slid from the tailgate, handed me his empty mug and waited. I stared at him openly. He was even more attractive with the moonlight catching all the strands of silver in his ebony hair. “I`m going home,” he announced. I sat there with a smoke and an empty coffee cup. “You`ll have to move so I can close the tailgate.”
I slid to my loafers. The man slammed the gate of his Ford shut and climbed behind the wheel. I walked to the driver`s side window, suddenly terrified of him leaving me alone to deal with Andrew and the horrors that lurked in the dark.
“We parted on bad terms. I said things . . .”
Ross reached out to cup my cheek. “We all say and do things that we regret, Jon.”
“I wanted to send him to an orphanage when I first saw him.”
That one set the man back. I could tell by the long stretch of cricket song.
“Do you still feel that way?”
“No, I think . . . I think we need each other.”
“I think so as well,” he said then patted my whiskery face. Andrew ran up to stand at my side. Ross yanked his hand back inside the truck. My hand went automatically to the boy`s shoulder. “Thank you for dinner, Jon. And thank you, Andrew, for allowing me to color in your Bugs Bunny coloring book.”
“S`okay,” the boy said his nose pushed against his canning jar of fireflies. “You stay in the lines good.” Ross chuckled warmly.
“I try. Be strong tomorrow, both of you.”
I nodded, wishing I could say more or reach for the man. Instead, I stood there under the willow, fingers resting on my nephew`s thin shoulder, and watched Ross back up and drive off.
That night was no better than the ones that preceded it.
“Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good . . .”
Andrew`s grip on my fingers was cutting off the circulation. I clung to him just as tightly. Our suits were wrinkled, our body’s sore, our hearts heavy. The day was a going to be a glorious one with robin egg blue skies and lazy clouds. Cardinals sang in the trees that dotted the cemetery. No amount of sun would lift our spirits though.
I wished the preacher would stop talking and just let us lower the casket into the ground. The sniffles of the mourners made my teeth grate. If the women from the church auxiliary only knew how badly I wanted to turn on them and berate them for looking down on Betty . . .
I pushed the anger down. It wasn`t the fault of the women pretending they were grieved over a slattern like my sister. It wasn`t the pastor`s fault that he would condemn my soul to hell for my sexual preferences if he but knew them. It was the world`s fault for being so steeped in hatred for those who differed from the majority. These poor sheep only bleated what they had been taught to bleat.
I lifted my eyes from Andrew`s slicked-down hair. Standing off to the side were two Negro men - hats off and shovels in hand - waiting to cover the coffin.
Andrew leaned against my left leg. I squeezed his tiny fingers. My eyes roamed the graveyard. Mr. Martin nodded at me solemnly when my sight moved over him. I nearly left my spot beside the coffin when I saw Ross crossing the grassy knoll that led to the single plot beside my father. He was all in black, as was befitting. He removed his Fedora as he stood beside the colored workers. They stepped back. Ross and I stared at each other as long as we dared. I found it incredibly hard to swallow.
“The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken.” The pastor`s voice carried over the stones on the warming wind.
“Amen,” I said while wondering if the Lord would keep the bones of men like Ross and me. Perhaps we would need to be more righteous. Or maybe just more crushed in spirit?