Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 137

The team of women moved throughout the house, working steadily. They came to Granny's room, which didn't seem to suffer as much damage as the rest of the house. Hetty noticed the drawers had been removed from the dresser, so she got busy picking up the clothing scattered over the floor. 

Con had apparently not cut her clothing up as he did Arlissa's. Hetty had one of the other ladies hanging up the few dresses the old lady had that were lying all over as she picked them up.  Then as she went on to the contents of the drawers, she noticed the rosewood box and picked it up. 

Curiously, she inspected it. She remembered her Aunt had owned one very much like it. Her dad had brought it back from some of his travels and her Aunt Lula had expressed an interest in having it. 

Hetty sat down on the edge of the bed, holding the box and remembering....

"Now, Hetty! You know you are not to play with my new rosewood box! I have told you, time and again!"

"But Auntie Loolie! I just want to look in it and hold it awhile," she had pled. "I promise, I won't hurt it any."

The memory was so very clear...she had dropped the box and had dented the corner of it. Her punishment was a trip to the woodshed. She could still feel the belt welts on her buttocks that her father had inflicted on her tender seven-year old skin.

Tears ran down her face and she quickly wiped them away and hid them, along with the memories. 

Now she gazed down at the box - she really wanted to look inside - but didn't know if she should. What kind of secrets could it hold? What juicy item would be at her disposal to share with others? 

Her conscience had never kept her from delving out nuggets  of titillating facts to use. 

Hmmm. Just as she was lifting the lid, Harvey's wife came in and asked if Hetty wanted to help in the kitchen. They were getting ready to tackle the icebox. 

Laying the box to one side, she got up and headed with Betty into the kitchen to clean in there. She looked back longingly at the box, and promised herself that it would not go unopened. 

(To be continued)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 136

Carla Sanderson knew she could never, should never, make such important decisions about someone's  home without at least consulting them, so she decided to go visit the hospital and talk to at least Arlissa first.

So she went to the hospital and inquired about Mrs. Hinton and her granddaughter. She was sent to the sunroom where she found Arlissa sitting, watching the drizzling raindrops and feeling as though the weight of the world was resting on her shoulders.

"Hey, there, little girl! You look as though you just lost your last friend," Carla gushed, then realized how that sounded since Arlissa's best friend was just buried that day. "Oh, my! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to say..."

"That's okay, Mz. Sanderson. I understand. I was feeling kinda blue, settin' here, lookin' out at that Fall rain drippin' down the winders. What are you doin' here? Visitin' somebody?"

"No, actually, I came looking for you. I got something I want to talk to you about. You know how, every so often, Miss Hetty takes it into her head to be helping somebody?"

"Ye-e-e-s? And?"

"Well, she decided to make cleaning up your all's farmhouse a thing for our lady's group to take care of, so...they're all out there working on it and it's my job to pick out the paint to repaint the walls. But I didn't want to do it without talking to you first."

"Ah...I see. We're her next project, then?" Arlissa sat back in her chair and felt her mood darken a little bit more. She and Granny had never been the object of anybody's project or charity. She didn't know how Granny was going to react. Granny took great pride in being self-sufficient. 

"Please, I know it's hard to have people doing for you, but their hearts are in the right place. You know, if somebody wants to do for you, it gives them a blessing. We like to do for others because it makes us feel good inside. You know? When you don't let others do for you, you're robbing them of that feeling. Believe it or not, you can get a blessing just by being one."

"Well...when you put it that does make sense. I jist hope I can convince Granny of it. I'll jist use the same words you used with me, I reckon."

"I was wondering, could you maybe come with me to Harvey's Hardware and pick out the colors you would like to see in the house and what rooms to put the colors in? Then, you're gonna have to do a mighty good acting job when you come out and see the house. Would you do that for me, please?"

"We won't be gone long, will we?" Arlissa was anxious about leaving the hospital for a long period of time with Granny so sick. 

"Oh, no! I promised I'd be back in a couple of hours, so we don't have long. We'll have to swear Harvey to keep mum about you being there."

The two stopped off at the nurses' station and left word that Arlissa would be back very soon; that she was going to the Hardware store, if they needed to reach her.

(To be continued)


Monday, November 24, 2014

jArlissa - Her Story - Day 135

Meanwhile, Hetty and company (her women friends) had gone to the Hinton farm to see what they could do about the mess out there. 

Upon arrival, they looked under the rock near the back door, (where people almost always hid a key) but found none. 

"Hmmm. Now where else would they have put it?" 

"Well, Hetty, why don't you just try the door and see if it will open?" 

The big woman laughed as she tried the door. Sure enough, it was barely hanging on the hinges. 

"We gotta get some men out here to fix this door!" This from a scrawny little woman who looked like she would maybe weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet. 

"Aw, shoot! My Harvey can fix that in no time. I'll call him right now. He can check whilst he's here to see if anything else
needs repairing." The hardware man's wife had spoken up and revealed this. "We can furnish the materials, too, from the store."

"Oh, my Law! Look at this mess on the walls!" spoke up the town lawyer's wife. "Have you ever seen such words in print? That Con Douglas should be ashamed of himself! I hope the court throws the book at him! Kidnapping that poor little girl!"

"Well, ladies, let's quit gawking and roll up our sleeves and get to work on this place." Hetty commanded the six who had accompanied her. 

Betty Crowe, the half owner of the town's hardware store, was on the phone giving commands to her husband's clerk. "I don't care if he is busy! This is important, too! Now you tell him...never mind, put him on the phone right now! Tell him to remember who writes the checks!...the very idea!" She patted her foot on the floor as she waited.

"Hello, Harvey? Yes, dear, we really do need you! We aren't gonna do all this work, just to see it messed up again by somebody happening by while nobody's here! We need you to come fix the door." She listened awhile and then went on.

"Okay...but if he doesn't do a good job,  you're gonna have to redo it! All right, all right! I'll see you this evening, then."

She hung up the phone and told them that he was sending out a carpenter that did odd jobs for his customers sometimes.

The ladies all got busy then, picking up the pieces of clothing, checking the pieces of furniture that had been knocked apart by Douglas and setting some aside they thought could be repaired. 

"Paint! We need some paint and brushes to repaint these walls. Call your husband back and tell him he needs to send some supplies for that. A coat or two of fresh paint will certainly brighten up this place." Hetty was certainly in command. "Carla, you have a good sense of decoration, what colors do you think we should put on the walls?"

Carla Sanderson looked at Hetty doubtfully. "Well, I don't know as I should be deciding something so important to the people who live here."

"Nonsense! I'm sure, being in the need of our charity and all, that they'll be grateful for whatever we can do for them! Now, come on, what colors?"

Reluctantly, Carla looked at the walls and the colors that were on them at the time. 

"Hmmm. It's going to take several coats of whatever we use, with all the writing that's on the walls." 

She began to suggest colors and shades of the colors and began to write them down. Then she came to a decision.

"Betty, why don't you hold off on calling the store and let me just go in and look at what colors Harvey has, then I can decide what we should get? Would that be okay? I'll bring the materials back with me. It will only take a short time, I promise." 

"Well, okay. Is that okay with you, Hetty?"

(To be continued)


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 134

As Helen Tunstall took the jacket off of Benny, she was remembering seeing the gravestone of Eleanor Hinton as she passed by. Next to it, there was a smaller grave, for an infant girl. The date on both markers was the same year, 1941. Then, where did...?

He had always told her the mother died in childbirth, but she never had believed him. She had always suspected the baby was Eleanor's. But if Eleanor's baby was buried beside her, then where had their baby come from?

And, had Arlissa come from? Had Mrs. Hinton had more than one daughter who had given birth to a child out of wedlock? Or was Arlissa actually Mrs. Hinton's daughter? Maybe belonging to Zeb's grandfather?

"Have I been wrong all these years about our Rosie?" she said aloud.

"What, what about Rosie?" Jake asked as he came in from parking the truck.

"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking out loud. I was remembering the funeral. It was a lovely service, wasn't it?"

"I'm hungwy, Gwamma," stated Benny.

"Sure, would you like a glass of milk and a cookie? We have lots of cookies right now."

"Yes, Gwamma, I'd wike dat! Can I go out to pway?

"No, not today, dear. Didn't Miss Hawkes let you go outside for awhile?"

"Yes, but she not hab no kitt'ns, wike you does."

"Let's do some coloring on your coloring book instead, okay?"


They went into his room and sat at the little table in the corner and she took out his crayons and coloring book. 

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Arlissa had left for awhile and Granny sat slightly elevated in her hospital bed, reminiscing...

The woman had come for her in the middle of the night, with news that Eleanor had just given birth to a baby girl, and most likely would not make it another day...

(To be continued)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 133

Traveling along the country road, Jake Tunstall noticed the strange car following the truck he was driving, going to get little Benny. 

"Hmmm. Helen, take a quick look back and see if you can tell who is driving that car back behind us. Don't let him see you looking. Take out your compact and act like you're checking your make-up or your hair or something, like you women are always doing."

"Do you suppose it's that Donelli fellow?" 

"Yeah, that's my guess. We're coming up close on Henderson's curve and if it's him, I can pull off and he'll never know where we went."

Taking out her compact, she did as he asked, and verified his thoughts.

"Okay, I'm speeding up; no doubt, he'll do the same, but I'll pull off into that road around the blind curve and he won't see us. He don't know these roads like we do."

Within a couple of minutes, they were hidden in the side road and Donelli went on, passing them up, ignorant of the fact that he had been deceived. He never saw them again, since there were many side roads in the area and they had taken a different one to get to the baby-sitter's place.

Not to be outdone, Donelli decided to go once again to the woman he had been trying to do a deal with for information about the O'Hanlons. She was trying to get more money from him than he was willing to pay. After all, she had contacted him several days earlier, when she had heard about his connection to them. Seems like, even here in the sticks, his family was becoming well-known. 

He didn't like to be on the wrong end of the bargaining table, so to speak. It was usually him or the Family that had the information desired. Well, he had ways of getting what he wanted, and he was not above using them when necessary. The woman had threatened to take the stuff she knew to the girl for free, if he didn't pay.

What did the old woman know? How did it concern the girl? 
Why was she willing to share what she knew? Who was she, anyway? How did she get the information she said she had?

(To be continued)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 132

Arlissa sat once again, by Granny's side, watching her breathe in and out, praying that she would continue to do so. 

Leaning  back against the chair, she began to reminisce. When she and her Granny had first gone to visit the O'Hanlon family at the occasion of Rosie's grandma's funeral, and she had first met Rosie, she felt as though she was seeing someone she had always known. The striking up of a friendship was an immediate thing. 

After that, they were almost inseparable. They would meet at the tree when they got a chance and talk about what they hoped to do with their lives. 

What a coincidence, too, that their birthdays were two years and one day apart. Now it dawned upon her, with the discovery of a new birth date, that it was only one day.

The funniest thing was that when one of them would begin a sentence, the other knew exactly what they were going to say, and sometimes finish it for them. The two girls often laughed about that. 

Rosie wanted to go to a big city and become an actress or a model. 

"I'll be the only model with my kind of hair; and I'll bet I get lots of jobs because of it. I'll be famous! Then I'll send for you and we can paint the town redder than our hair. Ha ha ha! Maybe I can even get jobs for you to model, too. We could model as  twins, couldn't we? The only red-haired twins in the business."

"Oh, Rosie, you're crazy! I don't want to go to no big town and be a model! I jist want to find out who my daddy was and spend some time with him if I can find him. I want to find a good husband and get married someday."

"I just wanta get away from here. My mom won't let me do anything that is fun! Everything that I like doing...well, except for talking to you, and she even tries to keep me from doing that sometimes...she won't let me do. It's like she hates me and can't stand to be around me!"

Arlissa sat deep in thought, remembering...

All at once she heard a sound coming from her Granny.

"ah ah."

Sitting up, she saw her Granny was licking her lips. They looked very dry where the old lady had been breathing through her open mouth.

"Water! You want some water..." 

Arlissa picked up the glass of water with a straw in it, and holding the straw in her Granny's mouth, let the old woman drink a few sips. 

"Granny! Are you feeling better?"

The old woman nodded and gave a grateful glance at the young woman, with a half-smile. 

"Would you like something to eat? Are you hungry?"

Just then the nurse came bustling in to check on her patient.

"Well, Mrs. Hinton, how are we feeling now? Do you feel like sitting up a little so you can breathe better, and maybe have a little something to eat? It is lunchtime, and the aide is going to be bringing a tray for the two of you."

After taking the vital signs, she busied herself straightening the already straight covers and then took the clip board at the end of the bed and recorded the vitals. 

As she left the bed, she patted the old lady on the feet affectionately, and smiled at Arlissa. 

"Don't let her tire herself out, now, young lady."

"No, Ma'am, I won't."

Arlissa had already decided not to trouble her Granny any more with questions about her past. There were other sources she could consult. 

(To be continued)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 131

Meanwhile, Alberto Donelli looked around at the people gathered at the gravesite, seemingly agitated. 

Sheriff Bradshaw wondered what kind of bee was in Donelli's bonnet (so to speak). Then realized the man was curious about Arlissa's absence. He was searching for the young woman who was at the side of her Granny. Why? What was his obvious interest in Arlissa?

No matter right now, because he wasn't going to see the girl here. 

They watched as the pastor spoke a few words and then Marie, Rosie's younger sister, stepped forward and began sing in a clear beautiful voice, the song so often played at funerals, "Amazing Grace". 

There was soon a wiping of eyes as she came to a close and the last haunting note sounded in the hollow. Flowers were dropped one at a time on the casket, and it was lowered into the ground.

Soon the people got into their cars and began wending their way back home through the hills and hollows. 

Mrs.Tunstall wiped her eyes and turned her eyes on her husband. 

"Well, that's that...Little did I dream when I got her that it would end like this. I believed that I could make everything good between us. I tried, God knows I tried!"

"You mean, when she was born...right?"

"Um..yes. What did you think I meant?"

"Well, that's just a strange way to speak of a child being born."

"Why are you constantly picking apart everything I say lately?"

"Honey, please! I know this has to be a difficult time for you. Why don't we get back on to the baby-sitter's and pick up little Benny? He'll be anxious to see us again."

"Okay! Just don't say anything else. I can't take it right now."

He started up the truck and they drove away in a heavy silence; she looked out the truck window, noting the leaves hanging in golden silence, fluttering softly in the breeze.

Except for the funeral director and grave diggers, they were the last to leave. 

Pulled to the side of the road, parked under the trees, sat Donelli in a rented car, watching and then as the Tunstalls passed him, he pulled out to follow a distance behind them. He was determined they would lead him to his son eventually.

(To be continued)