Saturday, August 30, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 73

At long last, the awkward supper was finally over and all the younger womenfolk began clearing the dishes off the table, while the men repaired to the living room. 

Benny had wound down and after he said his "Goodnights", Helen took him to his bedroom and put him to bed.

While she was out of the room, the girls began putting the food away. It wasn't very long before Helen returned to the kitchen, where the girls had carried all the dishes and stacked them into the sink, getting ready to wash them.

"Ms. Helen, why don't you let me do the dishes and you go set and visit with everybody. I didn't get to help fix supper, and it's the least I could do. I used to help you all the time, when Rosie was here."

"Well, I tell you what, Arlissa. I'm going to take you up on part of that. I'll let you wash and I'll dry. We can talk while we work. You other girls go on in yonder and rest while we get this all redded up. You all did help a lot to get it all ready." She smiled at Marie and Angela Rae.

As soon as they left, Helen turned to Arlissa and asked, "Why this curiosity about your birth at this time in your life?"

"Well, I've always wanted to know and I found out something today that kinda threw me for a loop."

"Oh? And what was that?"

Just then, Hank Tunstall came into the kitchen and said, "The Sheriff is here, Helen. We really need to get  started with this meeting and not waste his time."

Helen's countenance showed her irritation with the interruption, but there was nothing she could do about it, so she removed her apron and hung it over the back of the chair. 

Arlissa dried her hands and followed suit. She was dreading this meeting, but, after much prayer, had already made her decision.

"Hello, Sheriff," she smiled at him. Then a thought occurred to her. He would know something of her family's history and would be a good person to ask.

(To be continued)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 72

"Why, yes, she was. At least that's what Granny calls her. You know, she died the next day after I was born. I know it's common knowledge that she wasn't married. I don't know who my daddy was. Granny won't tell me."

At that admission from Arlissa, Helen Tunstall's expression became stony, and she looked at the girl with true repugnance.

It was evident to Hank that they were in a situation, and he tried to change the subject by asking would anyone like some more of those wonderful biscuits that Marie had made. 

Zeb picked up on the implication and replied, "I sure would. Little sis, you have become a really great cook! Mom, you surely have taught her well!"

"Excuse me, please! I need to go into the kitchen and refill the ice tea pitcher. Arlissa, would you help me please?"

Arlissa started to rise from the table, but Hank got up quickly and said, "Aw, Helen, she's a guest! I'll go help you, honey! Arlissa, you just stay where you are!" 

He smiled to soften the rebuke, and the two went into the kitchen. 

All was quiet for a few minutes, everyone trying to think of something to say. Arlissa knew the atmosphere had changed but hadn't the slightest idea why. She didn't know that this very subject had been discussed in this family.

Those seated at the table looked at one another, thinking who knew what, until Angela turned to Les, who was home from college for the funeral.

"Lester, Zeb tells me you are planning on becoming a lawyer. How did you decide you wanted to do that?"

"Well, I know there are a lot of people who need help that can't afford it; I want to help people that way. Zeb is a policeman and helps people that way. Marie is becoming a nurse."

"That is absolutely wonderful. Your mother must be so very proud of all of you."

At this time, Benny decided to call for his 'Gwan'ma'.

"Gwan'ma! Me want mash tatas, gwavy!" He banged on the table.

Helen Tunstall came hurrying back into the dining area, with obviously red eyes, and sat down next to the boy. 

"Benny! Hush! You mustn't shout like that. You needed to ask anyone here to give you some. Marie is sitting on the other side of you and could have given you some. Now, quiet down." 

Hank returned to the table, with a smile and the iced tea pitcher. 

Arlissa realized her question had not been answered and opened her mouth to ask it again, when Hank looked at her and shook his head.

She blanched, all at once realizing she had committed a gaffe. What did they know about her past that she didn't?

(To be continued)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 71

Supper was a strange affair, although the people attending were pleasant enough, there was an undercurrent of tension that could not be denied. 

Little Benny seemed oblivious to it, however, and chattered on about the cows and chickens, and the dog, Buster.

"Buster pwayed with me and wolled awound wif me! Miss Wissa, can we go see the twee?"

"We'll go one of these days, Benny, but we'll have to wait awhile, okay?"

"What's this business about a tree, Arlissa?" Helen Tunstall wanted to know. 

"Oh, it's just a tree that Rosie and I used to meet at and we sat under it and talked. That's all. I'm sure she just wanted Benny to see it. Part of the memories we had together."

"Hmm. I see. Perhaps you could tell me where it is and I'll show it to him."

Arlissa nodded in a noncommital manner. 

"Say, Zeb, why don't you tell us, do you and Angela have any plans for staying with us for awhile?" 

This came from his stepfather, trying to relieve the tension floating through the air.

"No, Hank. Just long enough for the services for Rosie, and then a day or so later to help settle her affairs. We both have jobs to get back to."

"What do you do, Angela?" This from Arlissa.

"I'm a medical technician at a local hospital," she replied. 

"That must really be interesting."

"Yes, I see all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. There is never a dull moment," she smiled.

Zeb reached over and hugged his bride. 

"I know she is the light of my life! I don't know how I'd go on without her." 

Arlissa looked at the two of them with open envy. Would she ever find someone who loved her like that? Right now she didn't have much hope. 

She wondered if Hank Tunstall could help her with her search for her beginning. 

"Hank, did you know my mom, Eleanor Mae Hinton? You've lived around here your whole life, haven't you?"

Helen Tunstall turned pale at the mention of Arlissa's mother's given name. 

"Did you say your mother's first name was Eleanor? Was she called Ellie?"

(To be continued)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 70

Arlissa turned to Zeb and hugged him. 

"I'm so sorry about Rosie, Zeb. I'm going to miss having her as such a good friend. I wish I had known what was in her mind and perhaps I could have stopped her."

Zeb wrapped his arms around the girl and patted her shoulder. 

"Thank you, 'Lissa. I'm sorry you had to go through all that. I know how much you loved her."

The Sheriff, observing the two of them, with the sunlight filtering into their hair showed just how much alike the color in each was. 

He was taken aback by the striking similarity even of their facial features.

Just then the front door opened and more people emerged from the house. It was the rest of the family and another person that Arlissa and the Sheriff had not yet met. Hank Tunstall was carrying little Benny, who was very quiet until he saw Arlissa. 

"'Lissa! Lissa!" Then Hank shushed him.

"What's going on out here?" Helen O'Hanlon Tunstall inquired.
 "What was all that horn honking while ago?"

Just then Zeb and Arlissa turned toward those who had just come outside. 

"Mom, it was 'Lissa here honking her horn for help. You remember Con Douglas?" 

At her nod of acknowledgement, he told her about the confrontation that had just taken place, then asked the stranger, a beautiful young woman to come over and meet Arlissa.

"Angela, come on over and meet one of our friends and neighbor, Arlissa Hinton. Arlissa, this is my bride, Angela Rae."

Zeb's smile was about a thousand watts in brightness, if it could be measured in such a manner. 

"I'm so very pleased to meet you, Arlissa. May I call you that?"

"Of course. I'm so very glad to make yore acquaintance as well, Angela."

"Please, call me Angie. All my friends do. I understand you and Rosie were friends?"

"Yes, for several years we were really close. Then... well, we kinda lost touch."

"Well, listen, you all! Supper is on the table and going to be cold if we don't get inside to eat it. We were just getting the table set when we heard the horn honking. Sheriff, why don't you come in and have a bite with us?" 

This last came from Hank Tunstall, fearing there might be some kind of trouble when they got to talking about little Benny after supper.

"Well, I tell you what, my wife has got supper on the table right about now, and she's gonna be that upset if I don't make it. But I'd be glad to come back and visit awhile later on this evening, if that's okay." 

The Sheriff had apparently got his drift.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 69

"Whoa!" shouted Zeb. 

Arlissa pulled up to an abrupt stop and jumped from her car.

"Help! He's after me!" She ran up to Zeb and pointed to the other car that had just pulled into the yard and was in the process of turning around.

However, he didn't make it, because the Sheriff pulled in behind him, preventing his escape.

The two drivers had not seen the Sheriff, who was parked along the road in a side road, waiting for speeders. He had seen the two speeding by, and was soon in pursuit. 

Sheriff Pinkston parked his vehicle, got out, and hitching up his weapon belt, walked over to Con's car.

"Out, young man! Would you care to explain to me why you were speeding along after this young woman?"

Con shook his head in a negative manner.

Arlissa ran over and said, "I can tell you exactly why he was chasin' me, Sheriff! He was tryin' to grab me and force me to go out with him on a date. I already told him I wasn't interested in going nowhere with him, but he wasn't hearin' me!"

Zeb walked over and looked at Con. 

"Still trying to be the bully, I see! You always did want to be the boss of everyone, even in school. I remember you trying to push us younger kids around all the time. Now is the time to stop unless you want to wind up in jail like your older brothers did." 

Con looked up at Zeb and sneered. 

"I see you're still playin' like yore better'n anybody else, too, O'Hanlon! At least, my sister didn't kill herself, like yore's did. I'll get you one a' these days, too, Miss High 'n Mighty!"

"You want me to arrest Douglas, Miss Hinton? You want to bring charges against him?"

"No, Sheriff, I don't want no trouble. I jist want him to leave me be."

"Okay, Douglas, I'm going to move my car and you can leave, but you better stay away from this young woman."

"I oughta be bringin' charges against her. She caused me to get fired by that doctor! He went to my boss and he fired me! My mama's dependin' on me to take care of her and now, the only job I got is the one at the fillin' station. It's all her fault!"

"But..but..I didn't do anything!" Arlissa replied.

 "You just leave the young woman alone, Douglas. I'll be watching you!"

The Sheriff got into his car with that warning and moved it.

Con backed up his car, turning it around and left in a spray of gravel. 

Zeb realized that Con Douglas would not forget the whole incident. He was sure Arlissa had not seen the last of the determined young man.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 68

"I reckon we ain't goin'!" shouted Arlissa and hit him with the door as he opened it, knocking him down. 

Then she gunned the motor and went around his car. He only thought he had her blocked in. 

He lay in the road for a couple of minutes. The suddenness of her reaction had taken him by such surprise, he just couldn't believe it! 

Jumping into his car, he was in such a hurry that he backed up and hit a tree in his haste, putting another dent into the back of the vehicle. It was already dented quite a bit, so another one didn't matter to him.

Quickly pulling out onto the road, his car skidded, trying to get a solid hold, then he straightened it, getting control of the car and was soon in hot pursuit of the other car.

Laughing to himself, he said, "You jist think you can get away from me. I'll get you yet, Miss High 'n Mighty! Think yore too good fer me! I'll jist show you!"

Arlissa was speeding for her life... and she knew it. Con Douglas was becoming bolder and she realized she wasn't going to be able to avoid him forever. 

"I reckon I'm goin' to have to talk to the Sheriff and see what I can do to stop Con from botherin' me."

She headed for the O'Hanlon farm and safety.

Just as she turned onto the road leading to the O'Hanlons, Con had almost caught up to her once again. 

She began honking her horn, persistently, frantically, driving as fast as she could go. 

It so happened that Zebulon O'Hanlon was out in the yard, talking to his stepfather. They were walking around and looking at improvements that Hank Tunstall had made since Zeb had last been there.

Upon hearing the honking of the car, they ran toward the road.

When they saw the cars speeding toward them, they jumped out of the way.

(To be continued)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 67

As she drove along, Arlissa considered what she was going to do next. She knew she needed to get to the Tunstall/O'Hanlon residence soon. It wouldn't be long til suppertime, and she didn't want to be late for the meeting with them.

"I hope I won't have any trouble with Mrs. Tunstall when I get there. It's not like I wanted custody of Rosie's little boy; I didn't even know she was gonna do somethin' like she did. I woulda stopped her if'n I had. Oh, Rosie, why'd you go and do such a Tomfool thing as that? Killin' yoreself and signin' that little sweet boy over to me! Am I supposed to honor that piece a' paper? Does the law say I have to?"

Arlissa was still conflicted over the whole idea - now with Granny so sick - how could she possibly take over the care of a little boy? She still missed her friend; it was going to take a long time to get over the loss of Rosie, her throaty laugh, her sparkling eyes, and the only real girl friend she had ever had. 

The two girls used to theorize about how come they looked so much alike, and been born in different states. They had never really come up with an answer, though. Arlissa most likely would never know, she figured.

"My Ma never lived to tell me who my Pa was, and Granny sure ain't never told me, if'n she even knows. I reckon maybe it's one a them things I won't never know. But I sure can't help wonderin' about it, though."

Arlissa finally noticed the car behind her and peered closely into the rear view mirror.

"Now, what's that rascal doin' follerin' me? I'll jist pull over and see what it is he's after, anyhow!"

She drove her car over to the side of the road and left it in idle, waiting for the car behind to pass her. It did, and the driver parked his car sideways in the road to block her.

"Con Douglas! What in tarnation do you think you're a doin'? Why've you been followin' me? What's the idea of parkin' sidewise in the road?"

"Get out'n that car, Lissa! You'n me's goin' on a date right now!" 

(To be continued)