Friday, October 24, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 112

Addressing Arlissa, Donelli spoke politely, smoothly. 

"Ah, Signorina O'Hanlon, I believe!" Taking her right hand in his, he bowed and lifted it to his lips.

"No! You are wrong about that, Mister. I am not an O'Hanlon at all. I don't know where you got your information, but you sure missed the mark on that one. Who are you and why have you come to Rosie's wake?"

Donelli appeared to be non-plussed by her remarks; but instead simply smiled. 

"Oh, the little red-headed kitten has claws, does she not? Well, with that red hair and those blue eyes of yours, you cannot deny your heritage, Signorina! You are an O'Hanlon! Pehaps born and not claimed? I notice you are not standing in the line with the family."

Arlissa's face flamed red and it was easy to see the fury in her eyes. However, he simply turned away from her and to the family standing there with looks of amazement on their faces at his audacity in making a scene. 

Then, speaking to Rose's mother, he said, "Signora, I am so sorry for your loss. I suppose I should be standing with you, since our Rosa was a big part of both our lives. When she left with our little Benito, she told me she was going to visit her family here. Now I hear he is not with you at all. Perhaps she took him somewhere else and failed to tell me...?"

"I don't know what she did before she arrived here, Mister Donelli. Quite honestly, I never knew what she was going to do. Since she was with you, as you say, you would know as well as I what temperament she had. As far as I know, you have no right to be with us, so please just move on." 

She smiled sweetly up at the man standing before her, who she knew was lying in his teeth. If only he had known her better, he would realize she could put a good face on almost anything. A good part of her was inherited by her daughter, Rosie.

He acknowledged her dismissal, but stood a part way away from them, choosing to stand as though a part of the family.

Arlissa's two escorts and Arlissa shook hands with the mourners and moved on. 

"I need to speak with the Sheriff," Arlissa told them, so they walked with her over to Bradshaw.

"Miss Hinton, er, Arlissa, you will still need to come in and fill out those papers and sign them, but it can wait till tomorrow morning. In the meantime, you need to have Billy bring you back to my home. Lettie has said you need to be under her watch-care until you have your place ready to move back into. No arguments, please. I can't cross her, you know." 

He smiled encouragingly at her.

"Tell me about that Donelli feller, now."

"He's going to be causing a peck of trouble, Sheriff," spoke up Bobby Joe. "I've seen his kind before, back when Zee and I were taking our police academy training. I think he's in some kind of racket back in the city; wherever it is he comes from."

(To be continued)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

jArlissa - Her Story - Day 111

"Yes, we told him that Benny wasn't there. It was only because Angela and Marie had taken him into town to get some clothing. Rosie didn't bring very many clothes for him with her when they came. I could honestly say he wasn't there, and that I didn't know where he was. I'm not sure he believed me, and I know he'll be back. He doesn't look like one to give up easily."

"Has anyone told you about the beatings he gave Rosie?" Arlissa asked him.

"I have heard something about them and I believe Benny has mentioned it to Mom. Poor little fella. He's seen a lot of cruelty for someone so young. A kid should never be subjected to seeing that kind of thing, ever! It makes my blood boil to even think about it!"

Zeb formed a fist with his right hand; then loosened it, flexing his fingers. 

Angela placed a hand on his right arm, causing him to stop scowling and smile at her. She whispered quietly to him.

"Darling, you can't let on how you feel; because then you will be observed and that awful man will know that we know. We have to behave as though we don't know anything, so as not to put him on his guard."

"Yes, I know you're right, honey, it just angers me so much to realize what Benny and Rosie went through at his hands. I know, too, that I can't let my feelings make me forget that he needs to know how very far he has strayed in his life from what God intended us each to be. His soul is as black as the coal in our coal scuttle in the basement of our house."

"Just as ours was before we found Him." She smiled up at him.

He patted her hand in the crook of his arm.

"It's good to see you again, 'Lissa," Angela told her. "I see you have two escorts with you this evening; and you look so lovely on their arms."

"Thank you, Angie. The dress is borrowed, but I feel like it's made for me. I've never had anything so pretty!" She smiled up at Billy and Bobby pasted a smile on his face; still bitten by the jealousy bug.

Zeb stood there observing the three of them; it didn't take him long to see the lay of the land; a wry smile soon crept upon his lips.

"Well, 'Lissa, aren't you fortunate to have two escorts for the evening!"

"Yes, Zeb, I am. They have joined forces to keep me safe, I reckon. I feel like a princess tonight."  She smiled up at each of the men on either side of her. 

"Uh - oh. Here comes trouble!" Mrs. Tunstall spoke up. She had been observing the by-play between the young people talking. 

Sure enough, Alberto Donelli was strolling their way.

(To be continued)


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 110

Alberto Donelli stood in a doorway, observing the progress of the three young people, smiling.

"So that's how it is! Seems the young woman has her protectors close by, but I will have my chance. I, Alberto, will make it possible. Her last name has to be O'Hanlon; she is quite evidently a sister to them. Perhaps she has my son; he doesn't seem to be with the rest of the family."

He was determined to have little Benito and take him away. One day the boy would inherit his business, but he had to be trained in the proper way. That meant an early start. 

"Maybe I need to go back to the place where they live while they are here. Perhaps someone there is taking care of the boy." 

As he watched them, the three made their way to the bier. Arlissa felt weak in the knees; she had always had trouble dealing with death. She knew that it was as sure as life is, but that didn't make it any easier to accept the loss of loved ones.

Thinking back to her Gramps' funeral, she was only seven when it took place. She remembered how very much her Granny mourned his passing. There was also the emptiness felt by her missing him. He would pick her up and carry her on his shoulders when they crossed the creek, so she wouldn't get wet. 

He taught her to fish down in that creek, and how to catch frogs, so many things. She had been a regular tom-boy with no one else to play with. Gramps had done his best to take the place of a father she  had never known. But when he died, it made a hole in her heart that had never been filled. 

Arlissa wondered once again about her father. Why hadn't he stuck around for her mother and for her? She realized anew that perhaps she would never have the answers she had been searching for her whole life.

At last, here the trio was at the casket. 

Arlissa looked down at the smooth, peaceful features of her friend. 

"Rosie, oh, I wish I could have convinced you of the love of my Savior, Jesus! I do promise that Benny's father will never get his hands on him!" These words were whispered quietly to the remains that lay so still.

She stood and walked on to the family standing there, patiently shaking hands of the visitors and graciously accepting comments of condolences expressed.

As she reached Zeb, she asked him if Benny's father had been out to their home.

(To be continued)


Monday, October 20, 2014

Arlissa -Her Story -Day 109

When Billy saw Arlissa, he realized she was talking to the new Kentucky State Trooper- that Odum fellow. Odum was standing there with his hand on her shoulder. What was she doing talking, all friendly-like to him?

Billy decided right then and there he didn't like the interloper - he realized he was jealous, which surprised him. He didn't consider himself to be that way, yet, here he was, angry at someone he barely knew.

Billy saw Odum look up and smile at his approach.

"Hey, Buddy! How ya doin'?" 

He reached out his hand to shake Billy's, who took the hand offered him.

"Okay, I reckon. How about you?"

"Yep! Arlissa here was just telling me about how you've been picking her up from the hospital and how nice you are. I know she and her Granny appreciate it!" 

"Well, she's one of ours, you know! We went to the same school and all." 

"Oh, of course!" 

Arlissa turned to Billy and said, "Bobby Joe, here, and Zeb found me at the cave and brought me back to the hospital."

She looked up at Bobby and smiled appreciatively, then turning to Billy, she smiled at him.

"And Billy, here, he's been so kind to me; I jist feel so blessed havin' such good friends lookin' out for me!"

With that smile of hers directed at him, Billy just couldn't feel any animosity towards Odum. 

Then he realized that with all her troubles at that time, she didn't need two fellows acting like little banty roosters, strutting around, trying to be cock of the walk.

"Listen, you all, have you seen that tall stranger hanging around out in the other room? He's a foreigner - from Italy, he says. He was looking for Arlissa, here, and came back this way. Sheriff says he looks like he's up to no good. Name's Alberto something. Looking for his little boy, Benito."

"Oh, no! He's the one that Rosie was runnin' away from; didn't want him to get his hands on Benny. Now he's here?"

"Yeah, thinks you're Rosie's sister."

"Hey, we're going to stay right by your side all evening," Bobby said, putting his arm around her shoulder. "He won't get close enough to harm you. Come on, Billy, you get on the other side. We'll be just like the Secret Service and guard you like the president."

Billy wasn't quite sure how he felt about being ordered about by the Trooper, but he knew what Bobby was doing to be the right thing.

"I want to go up and talk to the family now, you all."

The three of them headed into the main reception area toward the casket holding Rosie's remains.

(To be continued)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 108

Billy stood back and looked at Alberto. 

"Hmmm...You're not from around don't even sound like you know our language. Where are you from, anyway?"

"Well, little family is from Italy several years ago. I grew up there and came over to this wonderful country as a young man. That is all I need to say."

So saying, he turned back to the Sheriff. 

"I am looking for my son, Signore Sheriff. He is just a little one, only three and his name is Benito. I would very much appreciate your help in finding him, so I can take him back home with me."

"Afraid I can't help you there, Mr. Donelli. I don't know where he is, I reckon."

"Do not worry. I will find him, with or without your assistance. I am quite good with finding what I look for."

With another smile in Billy's direction, he walked away.

"He's trouble, Sheriff, worse than Douglas ever was. We gotta keep a close eye on him."

"You're right, Billy. Kinda keep track of where he's going while he's around town."

"Sure thing, Sheriff. It'll be a pleasure. We need to warn the O'Hanlon/ Tunstall family."

"I'll do that right now; you keep watch about Donelli. Oh, look, he's headed in the direction I just saw Arlissa go a few minutes back."

"Yeah, he was awful interested in her. I'll just kinda head back that way."

"Keep outta sight as much as you can. We don't want him to know we're so interested in him."

"Right..." Billy turned and went sauntering through the funeral home to the hallway.

(To be continued)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 107

Upon hearing Carly's words of explanation, a feeling of shame like she had never felt washed over Arlissa. Never before those careless remarks had she ever felt less than anyone else. She had always had what she needed to get by in life.

Tears of worthlessness began to form in the corners of her eyes and she excused herself.

"Um...I seem to have something in my eye. Excuse me for a minute, please." 

As she hurried away toward the rest room, Billy turned to Carly. 

"Why can't you ever learn to keep your mouth shut? Did you have to say that?"

"What? What did I say? I was just telling her she was welcome to keep them."

"You just trampled on her pride, Carly! Shame on you! You owe her an apology! No, maybe you'd do better not to add anything to what you've already said to her. You'd probably just make it even worse!" 

He turned his back on his sister and walked over to the Sheriff, who was standing now and talking to the stranger that Arlissa had noticed when she first came in.

The stranger was shaking Sheriff Bradshaw's hand and introducing himself to the lawman. 

"Signore Sheriff, I was a friend of Rosa's and was quite dismayed to hear of her passing. The young woman who just left the room, with the red hair, she is the sister of Rosa, perhaps?"

"Why do you want to know, Mister Donelli?"

"I simply wished to offer her my compassione. She is a bella signorina, er, lovely lady, is she not? Surely, she is in la famiglia, ah, family, of Rosa? Rosa was a dear friend of mine. I could do no less than come and get acquaint with them, eh?"

"Were you Rosie's boyfriend, perhaps?"

"Si, Signore Sheriff...perhaps she told you of me?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"Hmmm. I am most interested in anything concerning my bella Rosa. Perhaps you can tell me how she came to be morte, er, dead?"

At these last words, Billy spoke up. 

"I think maybe she killed herself rather than go back to the fella who was beating the hooey out of her. That would be you, wouldn't it?"

Donelli turned to Billy with a look of surprise. He was at least a head taller than the deputy and he noticed how much he could look down on Billy.

The look of superciliousness on Donelli's face made Billy want to mop up the floor with him. 

(To be continued)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 106

As Billy drove, he kept sneaking looks at Arlissa...he could hardly stop. Who would have guessed that she would be so beautiful just with a different style of dress and her hair loose around her shoulders?

Meanwhile, she was gazing out the windows at all the scenery, wondering how she was going to get through the next few hours and days to come. There was the funeral tomorrow, and facing Rosie's mom again. She knew somehow, that Helen Tunstall had something against her mother, but had no idea what it was. As far as she knew they hadn't even known each other.

She knew that her mom was gone by the time Helen and her children had come from up North several years ago. What was the connection, anyway?

Within minutes, Billy Newman was pulling into a parking place at the funeral home. He hurried around to the passenger door to open it for his passenger.

"Here we go, watch your step."

He tucked her hand into the crook of his arm, just as though she were his date, and the two of them entered the funeral home. She was glad he had done so, because she was really nervous. Somehow, he had sensed her feelings, she knew.

Sure enough, heads turned when they entered, and conversation ceased. Arlissa felt as though she was walking through a dream at that moment, with silence on every side, with herself as the center of attention.

Then, all at once, people took up the threads of speech, and matters in the room returned to normal, with covert looks aimed toward the two of them.

Carly Newman headed their way, as Billy and Arlissa stood in line, waiting to reach the casket holding the last remains of her friend.

Hank and Helen stood at the head of the casket, with Zeb, Angela, Marie, and Lester to their right. Friends, neighbors, and the curious were in line, waiting to see how Rosie appeared.

Arlissa noticed Doc standing, looking around, occasionally chatting with a few people,  while Miss Hetty was going from one person to another and smiling. She was seemingly just howdying with them, but anyone who really knew her was aware that she was gathering and storing all kinds of fodder for conversations at a later date. 

There in another place was Sheriff Bradshaw talking with one of the city councilmen. They were deep into conversation. 

Just as Arlissa caught sight of a tall, dark stranger. Wondering who he was, she saw Carly and turned to greet her, forgetting all about him.

Carly came up to Arlissa, smiling. 

"I declare, Arlissa, you look almost better in that dress than I ever did! Why, you're absolutely stunning tonight! Isn't she, Billy?"

"Oh, Carly! I can't thank you enough for loanin' me these purty clothes. I ain't, er, haven't never had clothes these nice before. I'll take good care of 'em and return them when I've got some of my own."

"Ah, pshaw! Arlissa, honey, you just keep them! I was planning to get rid of them anyhow!"

(To be continued)