Saturday, October 18, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 108

Billy stood back and looked at Alberto. 

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

"Well, little man...my 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)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 105

"Mr. Billy is waiting for you, Miss Arlissa. I'll have your clothes packed up in just a minute and bring them in to you."

"Do I look okay? The dress is a little shorter than I usually wear."

"Oh, I reckon you'll do jist fine, Miss. You look like it was made for you. Run on down now."

As she walked down the winding stairway, she actually took the time to look around and take in her surroundings. Looking up, she saw the glistening of the crystal glass in the chandelier. 

'Just wait til I tell Granny all about this', she thought. 'She'll never believe it! Wonder what it would be like to live like this?
Well, that'll never happen, for sure.'

She was smiling to herself when she reached the bottom step and saw Billy waiting for her.

"Who are you?" he asked her. "What did you do with Arlissa Hinton? Wow!"

"What? What are you talkin' about?"

"Oh! It's you, isn't it? I didn't recognize you until I heard your voice!"

"Ah! You're teasin', ain't ya?"

"Yeah...I'm teasing, all right. You clean up right good! I like your hair down like that, kinda floatin' around you, instead of up in a pony tail like you wear it most of the time."

Just then, Lettie came down with the little suitcase, and handed it to Billy.

"You all best be gettin' on, if you're a gonna make it before they close down the wake. Please give my regards to the family, will you? They are fine folks. I been knowin' them all my life."

Arlissa turned to her and asked, "Did you know my family, too? Did you know my mother?"

"Why, yes. Miss Eleanor was a beautiful young lady. You kinda got some of her looks about you. Not that hair; that looks more like...well, her hair sure wasn't red. I think maybe she was somewhere around my age. But..listen, you all need to be gettin' outta here. You be careful, now!"

"Goodbye, Miss Lettie! Thank you for all your help. I'll return these when I can."

"Don't you be worryin' about that. Miss Carly got more clothes than she can ever wear in a lifetime. Bye now...get..get..."

They walked out the front door and down the steps to Billy's car. She turned and looked again at the beautiful house, then shook her head. A person could dream, she reckoned, but that is all it was, just like finding her father...it would never happen. 

(To be continued) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 104

 Within a short time, Billy Newman had arrived at his parents' home with Arlissa. It was in a part of town that she had not spent any time visiting. The homes in the area were all beautiful and very obviously well-cared for. A maid hurried into the hallway when she and Billy entered.

"Mr. Billy, Miss Carly said for me to take Miss Hinton to her room and let her choose which one she wanted to wear this evening, and then pack the rest of them into a small case for her to take with her."

"Okay, Lettie. I'll be waiting out here in the family room."

Arlissa looked around. She had only seen rooms like these in magazines at the drug store. 

Lettie took some lingerie from a drawer, and handed it to the young woman.

"Miss Carly said you was to have this here underwear as well."

Tears came to Arlissa's eyes. 

"Everyone has been so kind to me...I don't understand."

"Well, Miss Hinton, I reckon they know how kind you've been to everyone and you've done fell on hard times. A bit of kindness never hurts to share with others, does it?"

Arlissa smiled at Lettie, through the tears. 

"No, I reckon it don't. Thank you all so very much. These are all jist so pretty... I guess, though, I'll take this one to wear this evening. Could you please put the dress I'm wearing into a paper sack so I can wash and return it to the Sheriff's wife?"

"Of course, Miss Hinton."

"And, please, Lettie, call me Arlissa. All my friends do."

"Okay, Miss Arlissa, There is a bathroom through that door on your right. If you want to take a quick shower and change, I'll just leave for a little bit and come back when you've changed. Then you and Mr. Billy can be on your way and spend some time at the funeral home before the wake is done."

She left the room and Arlissa picked up one of the dresses and a change of underwear.

Hurrying to the bathroom, she barely took time to look at the beautiful ornate fixtures, although her subconscious mind registered them. She quickly showered and dried off.

She could hardly believe where she was...from the cave earlier in the day to this gorgeous home was an incredible journey. And now...putting on clothes like she had only seen in those glossy fashion magazines. 

Turning to look at her reflection in the mirror, she couldn't believe what she saw. Who was that she saw? 

"Couldn't be me," she said aloud. 

Then she looked at the mess her hair was in, and laughing, said, "Oh, yeah, it's me, all right."

Looking at the vanity in the bedroom, she saw a comb and hoping that no one would mind her using it, quickly removed the rubber band holding her hair in a pony tail, and raked the comb through her hair. 

The rubber band had kept her wild red hair in check, but just as she removed it, it snapped and broke.

"Oh, well, I reckon maybe I'll jist leave it loose and hope for the best."

She didn't realize how very striking she looked with her hair loose around her shoulders and hanging down her back.

Bringing the dirty clothing back to the bedroom with her, she placed it in a neat stack on the bed and quickly turned to leave the room.

Lettie was just entering, and upon seeing Arlissa, she stopped in her tracks and smiled to herself. 'Hmm. Just wait till others get an eyeful of that young lady. She's gonna turn a lot of heads tonight, that's for sure!'

(To be continued) 

 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 103

Heading for the pay phone in the lobby, Arlissa decided to call Sheriff Bradshaw and see if he would send the young deputy over to pick her up and take her to the funeral home. She really didn't want to miss the wake for her friend, if at all possible.

She looked down at her dress. It looked the worse for wear; perhaps she could borrow one of Marie's for the weekend. She looked at the lobby clock. It was seven-thirty. Too late! Now, what was she to do. She couldn't go anywhere looking like this.

Arlissa reflected over the last nine hours since she had been kidnapped. It seemed to be so much longer. Her life had changed a lot in the last week or so. Now she seemed to be at a crossroads, not really knowing which turn to take. 

All at once, she realized she had no money to even use the pay phone. Now what?

She sat down and putting her head in her hands, she prayed.

"Dear Lord, What do You want me to do? Can I go to the wake like this? Will I embarrass my Granny by goin' out in public like this? I thank ya, God for helpin' me out today and keepin' me safe through it all, and for sendin' them to rescue me. Help me know, now, please!"

Sitting up, she rested her head, with closed eyes, against the wall behind the metal chair holding her. 

About ten minutes later, the deputy came into the hospital and looked around; spotting her, he walked over to her, then knelt down, speaking gently.

"Arlissa...are you okay?"

"Oh, Billy!! I was jist thinkin' about callin' you, and here you are." 

She stood up, smiling at him.

"Yes, I'm fine, but I need a dress to wear to the wake for Rosie O'Hanlon. Do you know where I can get one to borrow, by any chance?"

"Well, my sister, Frannie, might have one. She was planning to go sometime this evening. Let me call her."

Within minutes, he turned to Arlissa. 

"Yep, she said to come on by. She'll lay some out on her bed for you to try on. She heard about yours being cut up and all, so she wants to lend you three or four of hers. She's seen you working in the drug store and knows you're about her size."

"Oh, my, how wonderful! Thank you!"

"She's happy to do it. She really likes the way you treat customers in there. She'll be at the wake tonight, too."

(To be continued)

 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 102

"Granny, I don't quite know how to ask this one, so I'll jist come right out with it. When is my birthday?"

The old woman looked at her as though Arlissa was sporting two heads. 

She drew a question mark on the slate.

"Why am I asking? Cause I want to know! What year was I born?"

"You know."

"It wasn't 1943, was it?"

"I forget."

"You never forget nothin', Granny!"

The old lady pointed to her head and then her almost useless right arm.

Ah, she was using the stroke as an excuse, it seemed. Arlissa reasoned that she was really skirting the answer.

"I'm goin' to find out some way, Granny. If not from you, then somebody else that knows. What is the mystery? Why won't you tell me? Am I flawed, somehow? Is there shame attached to the answer?"

The old lady just shook her head and shrugged her shoulders, then wrote once again on the slate.

"Leave it layin'. Better for you."

"You know! Why ain't you tellin' me? I'm gonna find out, anyway!"

"Can't!"

"Can't or won't! It don't matter, and it won't keep me from findin' out! Nurse! Come get this offa me!"

After the nurse had removed the IV from Arlissa's arm, the girl turned to the old lady. 

"I'm sorry, Granny. I've got to go right now. I need to be alone for awhile. I love you, Granny. I'll see you later."

She kissed the woman in the bed, and turned to leave.

Granny made a noise with her mouth and the girl turned back to see what she wanted. 

Granny held out her arms and Arlissa leaned into them, hugged her and promised to be back soon. 

Granny was weeping, wishing she had not made that promise to Eleanor. Now she was torn between two people she loved, the daughter and granddaughter. What could she do?

(To be continued)