Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 116

Sarah welcomed her young charge into the house and asked about the evening.

"Well, I did meet the man who was living with Rosie in the big city, wherever that was. I could see how she would have been taken in by him - a really smooth guy. He almost made me think she could have been lying about him, except I heard little Benny talking about how he had knocked her around. Oh, yeah, he's a mean one, all right. He's what Granny would have called oily-tongued, kissing my hand! UGH! I think I'll go wash them right now!"

"How about something to eat? I know you must not have had any thing to eat lately. I made some really good apple pie this afternoon! How about some of that? Come on into the kitchen! I need to go check on Mz. Bradshaw, then I'll be back in here."

"I think maybe I'll go put on my nightgown and the housecoat you loaned me, then I'll come back into the kitchen."

Within a few minutes, the two women were back, sitting down to a glass of milk and apple pie. 

"Now, little lady, why don't you tell me about 'Oil-can Harry'..."

"Ha! That's a pretty good name for him, all right! Well, I found out his last name is Donelli. He has dark hair and piercin' eyes. He even looks dangerous! He is the kind who could charm somebody like us women that live out in the country, especially if we was lookin' for a Prince Charmin'. IF he comes around here, don't you get took in by him!"

"Don't worry, Missy! I doubt he even knows you are here. How would he? Why would he care, anyway?"

"Why? Well, he thinks Rosie and I are akin to one another, that's why! He jist kept on a sayin' how we must a been sisters and all. Everybody knows we ain't no kin, don't they?"

"Well, Missy...far as I know, you're not. Now let's get this pie eaten so's I can rinse these dishes. Be sure and drink all that milk. It'll help you sleep, you know." 

Sarah had deftly switched the subject from dangerous ground to a safer one. She was remembering, especially, Mz. Bradshaw's innocent question about Savannah O'Hanlon .

Arlissa dutifully finished the glass of milk and kissed Sarah on the cheek. 

"Thank you for takin' such good care a me, Sarah! Goodnight!   
She yawned and headed for the bedroom, leaving Sarah shaking her head. 

"Poor girl! Wonder what she's gonna say when she finally gets the answers to her questions? Well, I don't have the right to give them to her. That's up to the old woman, and apparently, she's not giving 'em!" 

She tsked, tsked, and went into the living room to wait for the Sheriff.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 115

As Billy entered his home, he was reflecting on how he had left Arlissa. 

When Sarah opened the door to the two of them, he leaned down and kissed Arlissa briefly on the cheek. Reaching up to touch her cheek, she had asked him why.

All he could reply was about how tiny she was and how she needed protecting. Sarah had looked him in the eye and asked who was going to protect the girl from him. He had simply blushed, handed the suitcase to Sarah and told Arlissa he would be back in the morning to pick her up for the funeral.

He hadn't seen the smile on Sarah's face as he left. She hadn't been able to keep from a gentle teasing of the young man. She knew Sarah was perfectly safe from him, well, relatively so anyway. 

Billy hollered when he got inside for his sister, Carly. Lettie came down the hallway and told him that she had not come home yet.

"But I saw her leaving about ten minutes before I did. She must have gone out with one of her good-for-nothing boy friends! I swear, Father must do something about her, Lettie! She won't listen to me!"

"Now, Billy, you know how he dotes on her. Might as well be talking to that wall over there than expect him to hobble her down."

Lettie stood back, looking at the young man who had changed his tune since beginning to work in law enforcement. It seemed to have helped his attitudes and had certainly developed his work ethic into something he could be proud of.

"Will you want some coffee and cake? I just baked a nice coconut cake just the way you like them this afternoon."

"Sure, I could go for some of that. Thanks, Lettie!"

"Come on out to the kitchen, then, and I'll cut you a slice. I just made a fresh pot of coffee a few minutes ago. I thought you might bring Arlissa back with you for a bit."

"No, no, she needed to get back to the Sheriff's and get some rest tonight. She's been through a lot in the last week or so."

"Hmmm. You kinda like her, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, she's nice. I knew her in school, you know. She didn't run with my crowd, but I saw her around. Always thought she was kinda pretty, but she didn't really seem to fit in all that much."

He sat in the kitchen chair and thought a few minutes, wondering whether to mention Donelli or not.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 114

As the three left the funeral home, they were observed closely by their foe, who was standing in the shadows, then followed in his car the young woman who was with the deputy. He needed to know where she was staying. 

Following the car holding Arlissa, Donelli made a note of the address and location of the house, not realizing it belonged to the local Sheriff. He watched from the shadows as Billy opened the car door for Alyssa and then retrieved the small suitcase from the back seat, carrying it to the front door of the house. 

He noticed that they rang the doorbell and waited for the occupant of the house to answer the door. Seeing an older woman greet them, he realized she might be a pushover to charm, then again...maybe not. Well, never mind, he could only try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, after all. 

As the young man left, he decided to follow him as well. He needed to know all the players in this situation if he was to be successful in his quest. 

"I certainly have no trust in that young man standing in the receiving line. He looks like trouble to me. I need to stay clear of him."

Following Billy to his home, he was impressed by the richness of the neighborhood and smiled to himself. 

"I will have to get to know that young man's family. Wonder if he is related to the young woman he had words with this evening... she looked quite wealthy, come to think of it. Class always tells. He certainly knows her well enough in order to speak so harshly to her. The familiarity of family it seemed."

Donelli apparently was a student of human nature, since he was so apt at reading those at the funeral home that evening. Little did Arlissa realize the new chaos that was entering her life that very evening. 

(To be continued) 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story = Day 113

A few minutes later, the Sheriff was speaking with the O'Hanlon/Tunstall family. He had just watched Donelli take his leave of the gathering and head out the door. 

Pulling Zeb to one side, he began a conference with him. 

"Zeb, what can you tell me about that Donelli? Do you have any notion of where he hails from?"

"Well, he has a Northern accent, which I recognize from living there till I was twelve. I believe he's from the northeast somewhere, maybe Pittsburgh or New York. As you may know, we lived near Pittsburgh during my younger years, since my dad worked in the steel mills there. Then he lost his job there and we had to move to a town near New York City, called Hallenford,* to finally find work at a plant when I was about four. I think that is where Rosie headed when she left several years ago. She had friends that were leading her astray when we left; doing petty thefts like shop-lifting. I think maybe she went back up there and picked up old friendships. Life wasn't exciting enough for her down here in what she called 'the sticks', even with a good friend like she found in Arlissa."

"How did he find his way down here, though? You reckon Rosie had said enough about her past life that he could find where she came from?"

"Don't know. She could be shut-mouthed when she wanted to. Maybe it took her awhile to find out what kind of fella he was and had spilled enough about her past for him to find her. You can see what an oily tongue he has! Enough to turn any girl's head who is looking for adventure and romance."

"Is there any way we can check up on his family?"

"Well, Sheriff, I have a few contacts in Hallenford; I can check with them and see if they have any scuttlebutt on the Donellis."

"Good, good! We have to do everything we can to protect our own. He seems to have taken quite a shine to our little Arlissa; she does favor Rosie a lot. Maybe he thinks to replace Rosie with Arlissa. We've got to keep her safe; she's been through too much these past weeks. My housekeeper, Sarah, seems to have taken her under her watchcare."

"Yeah," Zeb smiled. "She does seem to bring out the protective feelings in people, doesn't she? She certainly hasn't had an easy row to hoe. I'm going to stick around for a few more days to help get matters settled here, before Angela and I head back to my job in Tennessee. She has a job to get back to, as well. I want to take her to visit Granny Hinton tomorrow. She's always been a good neighbor to our family."

"Right; well, keep in touch, Zeb, and stop in to see me at my office as soon as you know something."

So saying, the Sheriff touched his brow in a two finger salute and turned to go stand near the doorway, as though taking up a station, watching the room and the interactions going on.

He saw Bobby Joe, Billy and Arlissa go up once more to the family and then take their leave to take the girl to his home and hand her into Sarah's care. He had to smile as the two jockeyed for the pleasure of taking her there. She stopped mid-stride and spoke to them; she left finally with Billy.

(To be continued)

Footnote: Hallenford is a fictional name, you won't find it on a map. 

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 ain't a 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, simply smiling in return.

"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. Sarah 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)