Monday, September 30, 2013

Zebulon - Day 149 - Historical Fiction

"Okay, children, as soon as you finish with the dishes, I need you all to come sit down at the kitchen table again. We are going to have a family conference."

I jumped when I heard Ma speaking behind me, but was glad we were going to talk as a family. When I turned around to face her, she simply smiled at me. I didn't understand at that time, what the smile was all about. I soon found out, though. 

We hurried with the dishes and Marie and Les helped us put them away. Grandda went into the bedroom to check on Grandma, then went into the living room to give us some privacy. 

Soon we were seated around the table and we had lots of questions, but Ma quickly put her index finger on her lips and we quieted down. 

"Children, I know the past few months have been very hard for you. They have been for me, too. But, I believe they are going to get better. I have already discussed this briefly with your grandfather, and he agrees with my decision. 

The bank has been very lenient with me in trying to keep my mortgage on the home from foreclosure, but without the money your Da was making, I just couldn't make the payments, so the house is gone."

We sat there for a minute or so in shocked silence, trying to take in what it all meant. We had lost our home! All our friends were now in the past. Now what?

Rosie was the first to react, and it was kind of like Mt. Vesuvius in Italy. A slow burn, then an eruption of emotion. 

"What do you mean? Gone? Why? Couldn't you borrow some money to keep it? All my friends! Janet, Laura, Alice! I'll never see them again? My life is over! Wait, what about Mr. Hopkins, couldn't you marry him and we could stay there?"

"Now, just sit down, Rose! Your life is not over! Far from it. Mr. Hopkins is out of the picture. After you and Zeb left, I discovered his true colors. He was not what I thought him to be. In his own way, he was as harsh as your father had been. I did not need another such in my life. William was also deceptive. He had claimed to hire someone to look for Marie and Les, and had not done so. I found that out quite by accident."

"What will we do then, Ma? Where can we go?" This came from Les. 

"Yeah, Ma, where?" we all chorused.

"We're already there," she replied. "I've spoken to your grandfather, and he has welcomed us into his home. You all need a man in your lives, and you might wait forever for me to find a man worthier than he is to look up to. I could tell the moment I saw him that he is no longer the man he was."

We sat there in shock. We were happy to not have to have Mr. Hopkins as a father, but the rest of it was going to take a little adjustment. We weren't going back to the northeast. I was going to miss Sgt. Finley and talking to him. My world was kind of all topsy-turvy right then. 

(To be continued)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Zebulon - Day 148 - Historical Fiction

Grandda came in holding Les by the hand and telling him about growing up on this same farm. Wow! What a change in Grandda, just in this short amount of time. It warmed my heart to see the difference and the way he was growing as a believer.

Ma was bringing in Marie, still talking to her, and Marie was walking quietly by Ma's side. It seemed the family was finding it's way back together. These days it would be called a dysfunctional family, I suppose, but I know it was because Ma was a widow trying to deal with all the complexities of keeping us together. We had yet to hear all the news from back in our town. I was anxious to know the answers to so many questions.

Les, and Grandda headed in to wash their hands, and so did Ma and Marie. 

As soon as Ma came back with Marie, I asked a question that had been burning in my mind. 

"Ma, what about Mr. Hopkins? You haven't mentioned him since you came in. What is going on with him?"

"Please, son, I've barely had time to do think since I've been here. We'll discuss Mr. Hopkins later. You don't need to know everything at once. He is my business, after all. Right now, why don't we just think about eating this good lunch your sister has fixed for us." She said this, smiling at Rosie, encouragingly. 

I looked at the potatoes and saw they had been slightly scorched, and the green beans were undercooked, but the cornbread looked okay, until it was cut into later, and I saw it was doughy in the middle. Ma looked at me, daring me to say anything negative. I just nodded my head, dreading the eating of the stuff. I knew how hard it is to do things in the beginning, when you had to do them alone. 

When Grandda came in with Les, Les was saying, "Tell me some more about growing up, Grandda."

Rosie was all flushed looking in the face when everyone sat down. I could understand her flustered feelings. Ma looked around and all the rest of us with a dare in her eyes. We believed her warning, and so after Grandda had asked the blessing, we bravely endured the food without criticism. When the meal was over, we each thanked Rosie for making it for us. 

Ma got up from the table and told us to clear it, and told me to help with the dishes, while she and Grandda went in to check on Grandma, who had been sleeping. 

Well, Ma had certainly taken over with a firm hand, it seemed, and I, for one, was happy she had. 

As Rosie and I did the dishes, she washing, and I, drying, I began voicing my questions to her. 

"What do you think is happening with Mr. Hopkins, Rosie? She won't talk with me about him yet."

"I don't know, Zeb, but is it really any of our business? I don't like him, that's for sure, but it would be her that is marrying him."

"Yeah, but he'd be living with us. Don't that matter? I don't much care for him, either. I don't really trust him. There is just something about him that is false, I just don't know what, though. It just seems wrong." 

We were so busy talking that we didn't notice Ma coming up behind us. 

(To be continued)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Zebulon - Day 147 - Historical Fiction

Wiping the slush from my shoes onto the door mat, I opened the kitchen door and went slowly in, trying to decide how to approach Rosie. I knew she would most likely be in a very foul mood, what with Ma's recent "talk" with her, but I was wrong. 

Big tears were rolling down her face, and she reached up occasionally wiping them with the back of her hand. Although she was a head and a half taller than I, (apparently she had inherited the O'Halloran gene for height), I still put my hand up on her shoulder. 

Rosie jumped at my touch and then turned around. 

"Oh! It's you! Why don't you sneak up on a person, anyway?" She fairly dripped with great sarcasm. "Are you afraid to approach head on?"

Hmmm. Ma's talk with her didn't seem to have changed Rosie's disposition very much. 

"I guess we have you to thank for getting us stuck in this awful place; away from all my friends at home. There is no fun here, only work, work, work!"

"Rosie, have you forgotten we came here to find Les and Marie? Have you forgotten how happy they were to see us? I would do it again in a second, without even thinking about what might happen. Wouldn't you? Come on, now, Rosie Posey!"

At hearing the nickname I gave her when I was only four, she began to grin a bit. 

"Well, maybe..." she replied, grudgingly giving over to a fuller smile. "Oh, go on. You know I would. It's just that...that..."

"I know, Rosie, it is a stinkin' mess, but it's gonna get better. I just know it is. Look, Ma's here, so we're all together, and that's good, ain't it?"

"Well, yeah, but, what about Christmas? It's just days away, and we're stuck out here in the middle of nowhere. What about Christmas, and the presents? How are we ever going to get presents for each other? Marie and Les will be expecting Santa to bring them something. I haven't seen any stores sprouting up out here around the farm, have you? Ma doesn't drive, so we can't go in to town to shop. Now what?"

"You know what, Rosie? You always are lookin' on the dark side of stuff. Is lunch about ready? I'm starving!"

"Okay, you set the table. I've got the meal about ready, as soon as I dish it up." 

At least she wasn't bawling her eyes out anymore. I sure was curious as to what she and Ma talked about, but figured I wouldn't find out at that time. So I set the table and let my mind wander over the past couple of days. 

Pretty soon, everything was ready, and I went to the back door and stepped out onto the porch. I yelled, "Dinner's ready!" Say, that was fun, I thought. I couldn't do that back home. Out here you could holler all you wanted to, and nobody complained.

(To be continued)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Zebulon - Day 146 - Historical Fiction

As the three of us went outside, Les and Marie were excitedly talking about how we could all be home within a very short time, and what would we get for Christmas. 

"Zeb, what do you want?" Marie asked me, as I picked up the egg basket from the table on the back porch. "Do you think Santa Claus can find us, if we are still here in Kentucky?"

I smiled down at Marie, in her innocent  belief, and felt so very much older than she, knowing as I did, that Christmas wasn't any longer about Santa for me, but about the birth of Jesus. 

"I'm sure we'll have Christmas, Marie. Don't worry." I patted her on the back and gave her a hug. "I think maybe a fishing pole, so Grandda could take me and teach me to fish."

Les had been listening to our conversation, and suddenly spoke up, "Do you think we'll be here long enough to learn to fish? I thought we were all going home before Christmas!"

Uh-oh! Seems like Les had not been made aware of the plans, so I had to do some explaining. 

"Les, Marie, we are not all going back home yet. Rosie and I have agreed to stay and help Grandda take care of Grandma while she is sick. You two will be going back with Ma."

"No, no, Zebbie! You can't stay! I won't let you! I won't let you!" Marie began to scream and cry. Oh, no! When Marie started one of her crying fits, there was no consoling her until she wore herself out. 

Ma heard her screaming from inside, and came running out; Grandda heard her, too, and came hurrying out of the barn, whittling knife in one hand and whittling stick in the other.

"What in tarnation is goin' on out here? Who's getting killed? Is she hurt? What's wrong?"

"Marie! Stop that, at once! Do you hear me? Stop it!" Ma picked her up, taking her toward the barn. "Zebulon, you come with me," she shouted back to me, as she went inside the barn. I ran over obediently. Grandda wisely stayed outside with Les.

Marie was sobbing by now. Ma was holding her close to her chest, making soothing noises. Something had happened to Marie in her second year of life, I don't know what, but she couldn't take stressful situations. 

People thought she was spoiled and threw tantrums, but I knew that wasn't it. It was only when something happened to upset the balance of her life. Certainly being kidnapped and scared near to death by Grandma had upset the balance of Marie's life; and this crying fit was the natural outcome that I figured would eventually come.

Les and Marie looked to me as their protector, and goodness knows it was sometimes a difficult position for me, but I had been so for as long as they had been in my life. I took my job seriously.

"Zeb, what happened? Why the upset? I thought they were happy to see me."

"She just found out that I was planning on staying here and helping Grandda and Rosie take care of Grandma."

"Oh? And just when did you decide that, young man? I think it's very brave and wonderful of you to do so, but don't you think you should have discussed it with me before making such a huge decision? After all, you may think you're old to enough to decide such things? I think not! Besides, I've been giving all this some thought myself, and we'll talk about it later! Now you go inside, and help Rosie. She needs your help more than you may know." 

With that, she ran me out of the barn and sat on the old bench in there with Marie on her lap. 

Another conversation that I was not going to be privy to. Oh, well. Maybe later. 

(To be continued)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Zebulon - Day 145 - Historical Fiction

"The Sheriff simply saw me get off the train, and let's say he very kindly offered me a room in the town jail until I told him that I was not here to cause trouble and was expected. He told me about your grandmother. Father O'Halloran, I'm very sorry about Mother O'Halloran. I'll be in to visit with her later, but first I need to spend some time with my children."

He nodded at her and went into the bedroom. 

Looking down at me, she examined my face closely. Before even taking off her coat, she began guiding me across the room. Les and Marie were stuck to her side like little barnacles, of course. Rosie kind of hung back in Grandma's rocker, as though she were not a part of the group. 

"Zeb, come over here and sit by me on the sofa. I need to talk to you. First, I want to hug you again, and hold you. On second thought, the talk can wait. Let me look at you. You seem to have grown a mile and your face has taken on a different appearance. What has changed since I saw you last, besides the obvious, of course?" 

"Ma, I'm a Christian! I asked Jesus into my life the very first night we were here; when Rosie and I were locked in the cellar."

She stared at me as though I had two heads. "What? What are you talking about, locked in the cellar?" It was as though she had missed the first part of my statement and jumped to the second half.

"Ma! Listen to what I'm telling you!" 

Then it sank in and she began shouting, like I had never heard before. I was shocked and didn't know what to say. I didn't realize that it was her way of praising God for my Salvation. She was happy for me, then she began to hug me like I thought I was going to lose all my "stuffing", like a rag doll. 

Grandda came running out of the bedroom to see what was all the commotion, and when he came over, I told her, "Grandda is a new Christian, too, Ma. He became one last night."

She hugged him, too, and he hugged her right back. 

He said, "I reckon we don't get too old to change, do we?"

"No, we don't, Father Halloran, no, we don't."

We sat back down and Grandda said, "Your Grandma is asleep. I gave her some sleeping medicine with pain killers in it. She was in quite a state, Zeb. What did you say to her, anyway?"

"I just suggested she might want to think about what was going to happen when she passes on and goes to meet Jesus. I asked was she ready. I told her I thought she and Rosie should talk to one another about forgiveness."

"Oh, my, boy, you are walkin' where the angels fear to tread when you speak to Martha Jane like that. I guess you know that now." 

"Yes, sir, but I don't think we ought to give up, do you?"

Kneeling down near me, he put his arm around me and said, "Zeb, I'm proud to know you. You may be little, but you're quite a man in my book."

He got up and nodding to my ma, he went outside in the cold, probably to the barn to think.

Rosie sidled over and said, "Ma, I was just fixing us some dinner. I think I'll go back in there and finish."

Ma looked up at her and simply said "Okay, I'll come in and help you. We need to talk, too. Zeb, we can talk later."

She hugged Les and Marie two or three more times and said, "Okay, children, I'm not going away from you, so please, I need to go into the kitchen with Rosie. Zeb, would you take them out for a little while and check on the chickens. Have you all gathered the eggs for today? I know that has to be done every day. I grew up on a farm, too." 

We went outside, so I didn't get to hear what she and Rosie said. Maybe I could find out later. (To be continued)  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Zebulon - Day 144 - Historical Fiction

Running to the door, I flung it open. I just knew it had to be Ma standing there. Instead it was the Sheriff. Why? I thought surely Ma would be there by now. 

"Could I speak to your Grandpa, young man? It seems I have a problem that has developed in town and I need him to settle something." 

He could see the confusion on my face, and he said, "It ain't none a your business, kid, so go get your Grandpa!" 

I think, now as I'm relating this, of a comedian (who has since appeared on TV) that was always saying, "I get no respect," cause I sure wasn't getting any from him.

I went to the bedroom door and stuck my head inside. "The Sheriff is here and wants to speak to you."

"Please sit with your Grandma, would you, Zeb? I'll go see what the Sheriff is needing."

Well, my curiosity was full to overflowing, but I dutifully sat down in the chair next to the bed and looked at my Grandma. She did look pitiful lying there, and I could see her swollen stomach. Was she expecting a baby? I had never noticed how her stomach was sticking out before when she had on that dress with an apron. With her lying in bed on her back, it was very obvious. I didn't know that people with cirrhosis developed a swollen belly quite often.

"Do you need anything, Grandma?"

"Just a sip of water, please."

I picked up the glass on the bedside table and held her head up so she could drink some of it. We didn't have any straws, so a little of it dribbled down the side of her face. I picked up a wash cloth that lay on the table near the glass and wiped the dribble off. 

As she looked at me, her eyes seemed to be saying something, but she held her lips firmly shut. 

"Grandma, is there something you want to tell me?" 

She shook her head negatively and turned it away from me.

"Grandma, I'm sorry that Rosie did that to you. In her defense, I must say that she wanted you to know what it felt like for her when she was only five years old, scared and away from home with someone she barely knew taking care of her in the way you did. You punished her for doing something she couldn't help. I know it's not my place to ask your forgiveness for what she did to you, any more than it's my place to ask her forgiveness for what she did to you." 

I thought a few more minutes and then said, "Maybe if the two of you talked together, you might forgive each other."

"What do you think about when you are lying in here, Grandma? Do you ever think about meeting Jesus after you die?"

"Get out of here! Stop your preaching to me! You little brat!" She raised up in bed with so much anger in her eyes, I was afraid she was coming out after me.

I said, "Okay, Grandma. I just want to know I'm praying for you," and walked slowly to the door, closing it after me.

Going into the living room, I saw my Ma and ran over to her, throwing my arms around her; crying and laughing all at the same time. 

"Ma! Ma! When did you come in? I thought the Sheriff was here! Where did he go?"

Monday, September 23, 2013

Zebulon - Day 143 - Historical Fiction

When we arrived home, we came in singing one of the hymns from that morning; Grandda and I greeted Rosie with a smile and saw that she was peeling potatoes and smiling, too. Ah, she seemed to be still happy and very pleased with something.

Grandda inquired, "How is my Martha Jane?"

"Oh, she's doin' right as rain, I reckon," Rosie replied. "Haven't heard a peep from her all morning." 

Grandda and I went in to the bedroom, only to find the bed rumpled and damp, and Grandma was missing. 

"Rosie," Grandda shouted, "where is Martha? What has happened to her?" 

"Why, isn't she in bed? That's where she was some time ago when I went in to check on her!" Rosie came running in. I looked down at the carpet on the floor and saw what looked like marks all along the rug to the door. I was afraid to think what it could be. 

Had Grandma gotten out of bed and dragged herself to the bathroom? I ran in there and peeked through the doorway to see. No Grandma there.

We all began looking through the house, searching and calling her name. Finally, the only places to look were outside and in the cellar. Horrible thoughts filled my mind and I couldn't bear to even consider the possibilities. 

Thinking about how bitterly cold it was, I ran outside to see if she could possibly have gone out looking for Grandda, but could see no trace of her. That left the cellar. Surely, Rosie wouldn't have...

Running to the cellar door, I flung it open, and heard weeping coming from near the steps. Yes, she was there. I ran down.

"Grandda, she's down here in the cellar!" I shouted. "Grandma, how did you get down here?"

By now, she was moaning pitifully, "I'm so sorry, Martha Rose, I'm so sorry. I didn't know what it felt like, and now I do. Can I please come back up?"

Well, we had our answer and I must say, I was thoroughly ashamed of my sister, but not really greatly surprised. Rosie was a big one on getting even with wrongs she had been done. But this took the cake as far as I was concerned. I wondered what Ma would do when she got here. Regardless of that, we had to get Grandma back upstairs. 

Grandda came down and tenderly gathered her into his strong arms, and carried her like she was a feather. He looked sorrowfully at Rosie as he passed her in the kitchen and shook his head with regrets unspoken. He felt some responsibility as well, it seemed. 

Turning to Rosie, tears filling my eyes, I asked her, "Rosie, you had no right to do that. Didn't you know that God was already dealing with her? Why do you think she was drinking so much? Why do you think you have a right to be dealing out judgment to her? Wait till Ma hears about this. I think you are the one who should tell her, though. Yes. You should tell her yourself." 

Just then the doorbell rang. (To be continued)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Zebulon - Day 142 - Historical Fiction

Then after reading the scripture verses he had selected, he told us to be seated and then told us the story of this guy named Paul that was a young man, who was going all over the place, killing Christians, and how he met the risen Jesus on a road out in the middle of nowhere. How Jesus made him blind for three days, but then gave Paul a new kind of sight. Paul then learned what it meant to be a follower of Jesus, and soon was telling other people about what had happened to him. 

Paul learned about the difference between following the laws to the letter because he had to, and following Jesus, by believing in Jesus, accepting Him, and giving your whole life to Him. He also explained how a person has to confess their sins and that everyone is a sinner. He told us how no one is perfect, and if they say they have no sin in their life, they are lying to themselves.

When he finished his preaching, he invited anyone who wanted to, to come down front and give their life to Jesus. When the people began singing a hymn, I looked up at Grandda. He was weeping again, and he looked down at me, and began stumbling down the aisle to the front. I went with him and sat on the front pew while he talked to the preacher, waiting for my turn. After about five minutes, he told Grandda to have a seat near me on the front pew, and then looked at me. 

I went up to him and told him about my experience and that I was a new believer in Jesus and wanted to tell others about it. 

Turning to the congregation, he motioned us to stand before them and said, "We have two candidates for baptism, standing here and I think they each want to say something to you." 

I could see the looks of wonder on their faces as they looked at my Grandda, because I know they thought he was already a believer. He had his hat in his hands and was twisting it around and around, probably dreading what they were thinking, but knew he had a lot to say.

"Well, folks, I know you all thought I was already a Christian, but I recently discovered that I had been deceiving myself all these years. I thought that all a feller had to do was behave like one, and he would be one. You know, follow the law and all that meant. I found out different the other night when my chickens came home to roost. I realized that my behavior was not what God wanted of me. He wanted my heart give to him. I've been mean and ornery to everybody around me, and my wife's illness has helped show that to me. I drove my kids off from home one at a time. Last night, I gave it all to Jesus, all my pain and meanness, and asked Him to forgive me. He did. Now I want to be the kind of person He wants me to be. Thank ye." 

The whole time he was talking, tears were flowing down his face and my heart went out to him. He put his arm around me, and it was my turn to talk.

"I just wanted to say that I am a new believer in Jesus, and I want to thank Him for saving me." I was not much of a talker in front of a lot of people. 

The preacher spoke again and asked the people what their pleasure was about making us members on our statements of faith. Somebody said, "I move we accept them." Somebody else said, "I second that." 

"All in favor," said the preacher, "say aye". I heard enthusiastic agreement all over the church. After a man prayed, everybody began coming down to shake our hands. They were clapping Grandda on the back and giving us hugs. I had never been hugged so many times in my life. The preacher told us we would talk later about when to baptize us.

Then it was over and we went to the pew to get Les and Marie, who were standing there kind of confused looking. Grandda hugged them and we started for the back of the church, where two men were standing on either side of the door, holding the collection plates. Apparently, at this church, they took the collection as people had to pass by to go outside. Grandda took out his wallet and put some bills in the plate.

"I'm anxious to get home and see how your Grandma is, and to see if Martha Rose had any trouble taking care of her." 

I was anxious as well.  (To be continued) 


Friday, September 20, 2013

Zebulon - Day 141 - Historical Fiction

Sure enough, after a little while of walking down the country road, there it stood by the side of the road, a small white building with a steep atop. The bells were ringing once again, as the young man stood to one side of the door, pulling the bell rope. Say, that looked like fun. 

I held Les' hand in one of mine and Marie's in the other as we made our way in. Grandda was shaking some of the other people's hands. I recognized several of them from town and also those who had stopped by the house. They nodded at me and smiled. As I returned their smiles, I suddenly felt as though I was among friends and became very much at ease. 

We made our way to a pew about half way down the aisle that ran between the rows of rough-hewn pews. There were thin red cushions on them, which made them a little more comfortable for my bony back-sides. I continued looking around, and took in the card-board fans that were in the pew backs in front of the pews we sat on. I took one out, and saw the name of a funeral home on it, accompanied by a picture of a building. Returning it to the pew back, I looked over at the windows, which were just ordinary windows, not like ours back home. 

In one corner of the church sat a coal-burning stove, which gave out heat, apparently meant to heat the building and seemed to be doing a fairly good job, depending on where one sat in the room. There was a doorway on either side of the pulpit, which I supposed led somewhere; I had no idea where, but guessed I would find out. 

Behind the pulpit was a couple of rows of seats, where I guess a choir sometimes sat. Behind those seats, I could see a baptistry with a picture of someone's idea of what Jesus looked like that hung up above the baptistry. Maybe that is where Grandda and I would be baptised sometime. 

There was an upright piano that sat near the stage where the pulpit was, and soon a lady sat down at the piano. I had seen her somewhere before...yes, it was the Sherrif's wife. She began playing "Bringing in the Sheaves" and pretty soon we were standing and singing. It was wonderful to stand there and hear my Grandda's bass voice, booming out the words enthusiastically. He could really mean them now. 

Pretty soon, the preacher stood up and came to the pulpit from the front row of pews. He was a man of about fifty years, kind of round in shape, with a friendly face that invited you to be welcome by its very aura. I knew I was going to like him. He voiced a verbal welcome to everyone, then invited everyone to shake hands while the pianist played another song.

We found our pew inundated with people giving us a friendly handshake and welcoming smiles. After everyone returned to their seats, he led us in prayer and then we sang another hymn. The preacher, opening his Bible, said, "Please open your Bibles to Romans 3:20, and stand while I read God's Word,"

(To be continued) 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Zebulon - Day 140 - Historical Fiction

After we went to bed that night, I only heard Grandma once during the middle of the night. I had gotten up to use the bathroom, and I thought I heard her crying. I felt sorry for her, even though she had been cruel to us; I suspected she was just unhappy and was taking it out on others. I had thought a lot about Marie's story of Grandma drinking and crying during the wee hours of the morning, and wondered what if she would ever soften up. I heard Grandda's rumbling bass voice, but couldn't hear what he was saying to her. I hoped he was telling her about Jesus, though, and how He could help her feel better inside.

I used the bathroom and went back to bed, praying myself to sleep. Waking up the next morning, I crawled out of bed, and the house was toasty warm. Grandda must have already built the fire. I was drawn into the kitchen, tantalized by the aroma of breakfast like it used to smell at home. NO! It couldn't be! Ma? Was she here already? I was disappointed to see it was only Rosie. But she had cooked breakfast for us! That was certainly unexpected, but welcome. 

The biscuits looked almost perfect and the bacon just a little brown, but I knew it would still taste good! Soon Marie and Les were awake and up, too, because the smell had drawn them into the kitchen as well. We quickly got the dishes and set the table so we could eat. I wondered what had gotten into Rosie; had she had a change of heart? We would see, I guessed. Rosie was setting a plate of fried eggs on the table, just as Grandda came in. We could see the confusion, followed by pleasure on his face. 

"Well, now, Martha Rose, that looks good enough to eat! Thank you, girl, for making our breakfast! You sure enough surprised me." He cocked one eyebrow at her and looked at her oddly. "You remind me of my girl, Mary Jane, when she wanted something," he said, wryly with a smile. "Are you wantin' something, girl?"

I glanced at him and then my siblings. Grandda was beginning to talk about his other children! This was something new. 

"Tell us about her, Grandda!" Les spoke up. 

"After while, maybe, not now. We can't let Martha Rose's good cookin' go to waste and get cold, now can we?"

He bowed his said and said a heartfelt grace that I knew was genuine, and I smiled inside my heart. 

Then we all tucked in to our breakfast. It was one of the best I had in a long time, because I had real hopes for a good outcome of our visit to Kentucky. 

We were just finishing up when I heard the ringing of church bells. I couldn't believe it! Out here in the middle of what I thought was nowhere...

"Grandda! How close is the church to here?" I wanted to know.  
"Why, it's just down the road about a half-mile. We generally walk it in about fifteen minutes 'er so. It begins in about half an hour, if you are of a mind to go. I'd kind a' like to go and tell 'em about really meetin' Jesus, but I can't go off and leave Martha Jane."

"I'll stay with her, Grandda," spoke up Rosie. I couldn't believe my ears! Was this the same Rosie that went to bed here in this house last night? What was going on here? Hmm. This bore some investigation, but later. 

"Really? Well, if she gets to hurtin', jist give her a tablespoon of that medicine on the dresser, and some water. She don't seem to be hungry. You might try to get her to eat some biscuit and jelly, if she will. She likes her coffee black, too. Thank you, Martha Rose! God bless you!"

We were soon in our heavy coats and hats, with boots on for the snow, and out the door toward the little church, and Rosie was waving us good-bye. I couldn't help wondering about her motivation, though, all during the way there. 

(To be continued) 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zebulon - Day 139 - Historical Fiction

This time it was the postman's wife. He had stopped at home to pick her up so she could bring some kind of dish for our supper. He had heard while delivering mail to some of the neighbors near us, so he went back home and told her. She had taken a dish she was fixing for their supper and brought it by. They didn't ask any questions, just delivered the food, and left. 

I got to thinking then, about Sgt. Finley. Hadn't he gotten my message? What had happened to it? Did the other policeman really write it down and put it on his desk, or was he only pretending he would? Maybe he did and it got misplaced or overlooked? I guessed I might probably never know, but it did make me wonder, now that I had time to think about it. Or was Mr. Hopkins just making up that the Sgt. had come looking and asking questions? I guess that was something I'd ask my Ma when she came for Les and Marie tomorrow. Was Mr. Hopkins really a nice guy, or was he a pretender, too?

Tomorrow was Sunday, I guessed, since we hadn't been to church yet. I had lost count of the days. Christmas was coming closer. In just five days, it would be Christmas, and we would miss it. I didn't know what it would be like here on the farm, but my hopes were not very high for a good one. We had no way to get to town to do any shopping; not that Rosie and I had any money to shop with. We wouldn't be with Ma and our little brother and sister. How would we celebrate? Who would fix our special dinner that day? 

All those thoughts were running through both mine and Rosie's minds, I was sure. Of course, Les and Marie were excited about being back home with Ma, until they really started considering the fact we would still be on the farm. Now what? I couldn't help wondering what the next few weeks would hold for all of us. What would really happen when Ma got here, too?

(To be continued) 

Zebulon - Day 138 - Historical Fiction

We would see. Only time would tell. 

Arlissa left and once again we were enveloped by silence. 

Within the hour, our Ma was on the phone, talking to our Grandda. He was attempting to explain how the little ones came to be there, but finally admitted that Grandma had mistakenly taken them.

"You mean she kidnapped them!" I could hear my Ma shouting at him.

"Well, yes, and I'm sorry. Our situation has changed over the last 24 hours. You already know that Zeb and Martha Rose came a few days ago on their own. My Martha has taken sick to her bed and you need to come and get the two little ones. Zeb and Rose have agreed to stay awhile and help me with Martha. She is dying." With these last words, his eyes watered up again.

"I'll be there tomorrow, and if that old harridan has harmed them, she's going to pay for it."

."She's already doing that, I'm afraid, Ellen. She already is," he replied sadly.

"Okay, kids, your Ma is going to be here tomorrow and take you home," he told them, smiling.

"Yay!" They hugged each other, jumping up and down. To say they were excited, would be exaggerating. 

"Shhh!" I cautioned them, "we're not supposed to disturb Grandma."

Then there was another knock on the front door. Another neighbor, apparently."

It seemed that the news was being spread about.

(To be continued.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Zebulon - Day 137 - Historical Fiction

When I opened the door, a lady stood there with the Sherrif, holding what looked like a pie of some kind. Apparently, she was his wife. 

"I brought you'ns a pie for eatin' on. It's one of my Granny Smith apple ones." She commented. "I'm right sorry to hear Mz. o'Hallorin is a ailin' and all. Hope she is back on her feet soon. Has she been down long?"

I noticed the curiosity of all the friends who had come to help and realized that might one of the reasons they had all rushed over to "help out." I wondered what they would think if they knew the truth. 

The Sherrif and his wife left after a few minutes and we were alone once more with our thoughts. Then we heard Grandma calling, "Shane, come help me. I need to get up."

He hurried away from us. It was going to be a long few weeks for all of us. 

It was a quiet meal that evening. Grandpa had given Grandma some pain medicine, and she was resting quietly, the sleep that only drugs could bring to her right now.

We cleared away the supper dishes, with Rosie washing, and me drying, and Les putting them away.

"Zebbie, is Grandma going to die?," asked Marie.

"I believe so," I replied soberly.

"She's not going to heaven, is she?," she wanted to know.

"I don't know, Marie. We can never know about another person. Only that person knows for sure in their own heart. At least, that is what Sgour preacher said."

I was sure going to talk to Grandma as soon as I got a chance.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Zebulon - Day 136 - Historical Fiction

We would see. Only time would tell. 

Arlissa left and once again we were enveloped by silence. 

Within the hour, our Ma was on the phone, talking to our Grandda. He was attempting to explain how the little ones came to be there, but finally admitted that Grandma had mistakenly taken them.

"You mean she kidnapped them!" I could hear my Ma shouting at him.

"Well, yes, and I'm sorry. Our situation has changed over the last 24 hours. You already know that Zeb and Martha Rose came a few days ago on their own. My Martha has taken sick to her bed and you need to come and get the two little ones. Zeb and Rose have agreed to stay awhile and help me with Martha. She is dying." With these last words, his eyes watered up again.

"I'll be there tomorrow, and if that old harridan has harmed them, she's going to pay for it."

."She's already doing that, I'm afraid, Ellen. She already is," he replied sadly.

"Okay, kids, your Ma is going to be here tomorrow and take you home," he told them, smiling.

"Yay!" They hugged each other, jumping up and down. To say they were excited, would be exaggerating. 

"Shhh!" I cautioned them, "we're not supposed to disturb Grandma."

Then there was another knock on the front door. Another neighbor, apparently."

It seemed that the news was being spread about.

(To be continued.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zebulon - Day 135 - Historical Fiction

He replied, "Okay, Zeb, I'll call her right now. She has been out of her mind with worry. She even had that Sgt. you are friends with looking for you. I don't understand how you could do such a thing as running off like that, young man, without telling anyone! You should be whipped!"

"Already have been, sir!" I said smartly. 

"Well, good!" was his reply." Now, I'm going to go over to your house right now and tell Ellen you all are safe. I'll leave my new assistant in charge. I can't wait to tell her. Goodby, Zeb. Stay out of trouble, now!"

"Yes, sir," I replied into a dead receiver, for he had already hung up.

Turning to the others, I said, "He's going to go tell Ma right now."

Just then, there was a knock on the front door, and when Grandda's went to open it, there stood a young girl in a heavy coat, holding a pot of something hot, because it had towels under it.

"Mr. O'Halloran, Grandma sent this pot of soup beans over. We heard yore wife was ailin', and we're mighty sorry. Hope she gets better, real soon."

"Thank you, Arlissa, we appreciate it."

"Yore welcome." She looked at the four of us and gave a little smile and a wave in Rose's direction. 

Glancing at Rosie, I saw her solemnly returning the half-wave.

I figured she was missing her friends, and maybe this girl would turn out to be a good friend to Rosie.

(To be continued)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Zebulon - Day 134 - Historical Fiction

Grandda looked at little 6 year- old Marie, sobbing in my arms, and saw the woebegone look on Les' face. I could see  the emotions playing across Grandda's countenance. Was he going to let them go home? It was time to make my plea to his mercy.

"Grandda, would you please let the three of them go home and I will stay here with you and help you care for her. I know I'm small but I can do a lot more than you might think you can. Please?" I made an impassioned plea to him, and could see he was considering it. "Could we at least call her and let her know we are here and safe?"

I was really pushing it and knew it, but I had to try.

"How about we call her and let her know you are here, and 

let her come and get the two little ones, leaving you and Martha Rose here to help me out with your Grandma?" The old man was bargaining with me!

I could see the mutinous look on Rosie's face; I didn't think she would go for that, until she saw how hopefully Marie was  looking at her, waiting for confirmation.

Reluctantly, she agreed, and the deal was struck. We decided to call the grocery store where Ma ad been working,  but when Mr. Hopkins answered the phone, he said Ma was out sick. She had suffered a nervous breakdown when her two oldest children had disappeared. 

Then he said, "Zeb, is this you? Where are you? What happened to you? Did you run away? Do you have any idea what your mother has been through?"

"It's a long story, sir. I really need to talk to Ma. If you could just let her know we are at Grandpa O'Halloran's farm, all four of us, and could she come and get Les and Marie?"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Zebulon - Day 133 - Historical Fiction

I sat there in the floor and silently thanked God for His mercy to my Grandda, also to me. Then I got up and went into the bedroom to talk to my siblings. It was Grandda's choice to tell them what he had chosen to do, but I wanted to tell them that things were going to be changing for us, I hoped. 

It had just dawned upon me that perhaps, with Grandda's change of attitude, he might let my siblings return home, but I was going to offer to stay awhile, because as much as I wanted to go, I felt like I could be of help to him. We would see. It would take some time to find out. 

He stayed in their bedroom for a couple of hours, and then he came out. I don't know what went on in there, but when he came back into the living room, we went out to see how things were going with Grandma. 

The first thing he did was apologize to Les, Marie and Rosie for his and Grandma's treatment of them. They stood there, dumbfounded, looking at one another. Could this be the same man that had treated them so callously before? 

"Can you forgive me, children? You don't have to, but it would mean a lot to me, if you would. I am so sorry for the way we treated you when Martha brought you here, Les and Marie. Then for the way we treated you, Martha Rose, so many years ago and then when you came here a few days ago. Please, would you? I've already apologized to Zeb, here. You see, I've just prayed to be forgiven by God and become a true believer in Him. God forgave me, will you?"

Marie and Les slowly nodded in affirmation; but Rosie looked doubtful. She would take some time to forgive him. 

"What did Grandma say when you told her?" I asked.

He looked at me sorrowfully, and shook his head. Apparently, she didn't share his feelings. It would take some time, I thought, to convince her of her need. 

I was going to wait awhile to bring up my suggestion; perhaps he would think of it, on his own. 

Marie began to cry softly. I turned to her and asked her what was wrong. 

"I miss my Mommy," she said, throwing herself into my arms. 

"We miss her, too, Marie," I replied. "Maybe we can go home soon."

(To be continued) 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Zebulon - Day 132 - Historical Fiction

After about fifteen minutes, my Grandda's sobbing had slowed and he was taking out his handkerchief to blow his nose. I sat down at his feet, and asked, "Would you like to tell me about it, Grandda? I am a very good listener and it would just be between the two of us, because I am good at being a friend, too."

His bright blue eyes looked sharply at me, as if seeing me for the first time. 

His eyes watered again, and he whispered, "You look just like my Seamus right now, when he used to ask me... ask me...never mind what he said. It's not important. If you promise this goes no farther, I will tell you, but I'm trusting you, boy, and if you tell, it will go bad for you." 

"I promise, Grandda. I am a Christian and I keep my word." 

"When I heard your Grandma had been drinking every night, I knew I was responsible for bringing it into the house. I used to drink really bad and beat my children if they even looked at me cross-eyed; sometimes they didn't have to do anything at all. Martha was not like she is now, she spent her time working hard, but trying to protect them from me. Then when they each ran off and she had no one, she turned meaner than me. I quit drinking and started going to church. Pretty soon, I had convinced myself and others that I was a pretty good fellow, and called myself a Christian. Only Martha knew the difference. She began pretending, too. Now, we're both members of the local church and had convinced ourselves that we were okay."

"But Grandda, wouldn't you like to really be a Christian? You can, you know. Ask Jesus to come into your heart, believe in Him, Confess your sins and accept his forgiveness. Please do it for yourself."

"I'm too old, boy, He don't want nobody like me."

"But He loves you, Grandda! He died for you, you, Grandda. He'll save you, if you only ask and believe and say yes. You've already been confessing your sins to me, now, tell him!"

By this time, I was on my knees at his feet, pleading with him, tears rolling down my face, as well. 

He bent over once again, with the tears falling, and began to plead with Jesus for forgiveness and to confess his past sins, and although it sickened me to hear all the words coming from his mouth, it made me happy to know he was really talking to Jesus. A few minutes later, a look of pure joy came over his face and I knew he had believed and accepted God's forgiveness. 

I jumped up and hollered and clapped him on the back! Then I hugged him and he hugged me back. 

Then Grandda did something that made me realize his experience had been real. He asked for my forgiveness. I nodded and said, "Of course, Grandda!" 

He immediately ran into the bedroom and shut the door.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Zebulon - Day 131 - Historical Fiction

It was the beginning of a long afternoon for all of us. We were trying to be quiet, for several reasons. We knew that we needed to discuss some matters between the four of us. We were wondering what the days ahead would be like with Grandma lying in bed, not able to care for us, like cooking meals, and how we would manage. 

Around three in the afternoon, the doorbell rang. We all looked at one another. Grandda hollered at us to answer the door, so Rosie went over and opened it. There stood a lady holding what looked like a dish of food. What was this, who was this?

She said, "You must be the grandchildren we've been hearing about, I'm your neighbor, Ms. Parkins, over across the way. Can I come in for just a minute and just visit a spell? I heered from the Doc that Ms. O'Hanlon was under the weather and might need somebody to fix up some vittles for you all. So here is a little something for your supper."

"Uh, sure, Ma'am. Come on inside. It is cold out there."

She bustled in and said, "This here is hot, so I'll just set it in here on the table. Can I step in and visit with Martha for just a minute?" 

Grandda stepped out of the bedroom and through the hallway into the living room. 

"Howdy, Ms. Parkins. Have a seat, please. It was mighty nice of you to come calling. Martha is asleep, so she is not up to a visit right now. Maybe another time."

"Well, I hope she'll be better soon. Well, I guess I better be gettin' on my way." She glanced around the room, taking in everything; then I saw her briefly lift her eyebrows as she glanced at the end table. 

Uh-oh. The Johnny Walker bottle and glass were still sitting out on the end table. We had forgotten to put them away. Hopefully, Grandda would not spot them. 

Mz. Parkins got up and walking over to Grandda, she said, "Now, Shane, you know you can call me, night or day, and I'll come over and help in any way I can." She put her hand on his arm, gently patting it.

"Thank you, Mz. Parkins; we appreciate it, and thank you for the food. It will help. Good bye now." He guided her to the door and gratefully closed it as soon as she was out. "Whew! That is one nosy neighbor."

Looking around the room, as if to fumigate it, he saw the liquor bottle and the glass.

"Where did that bottle come from?" he thundered, his face turning a bright red.

"We found it in the little end table, Grandda... That is what we were trying to tell you while ago... We forgot to put it back inside where Grandma kept it." It all rolled out in what seemed like one sentence.

Then his face turned from red to ashen white. 

"What do you mean, 'where Grandma kept it'?

Then I related what Marie had told me. 

Grandda sat down in the rocking chair, his hands over his face and bending over, his elbows on his knees, wept as I have never seen a man do in my whole life, before or since. 

We all looked on, not knowing what to do, or to say. I looked at the others and mouthed the words, "Go play or something," so they all left me and Grandda alone.

I patted his shoulder, hesitantly...this big man, crying as if his heart would  break...what could I...a little eleven-year-old, do to help him? I remembered something I had read in my testament about being kind to those who are not kind to you. I began to pray for my Grandda to believe in Jesus for real.

(To be continued)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Zebulon - Day 130 - Historical Fiction

"Marie, where was she sitting when you saw her that night?"

"She was in the living room, in that rocking chair in the corner, with only the light on the end table turned on. She looked like she was crying, though. Then she heard the board make a noise where I was walking through the hallway. See, I got up to use the bathroom so I wouldn't wet the bed again. She put down the glass she was holding, and told me to come over to her."

" 'What are you doing up?' she asked me. And I told her that I needed to pee. Then I asked her what she was drinking, and she said 'Medicine' and that it would be our little secret, but if I told, she would throw me in the cellar again. So, I thought maybe Grandda doesn't know it. But it sure did smell bad, so I thought it must be medicine. There was a big square bottle of it on the end table next to the lamp. It only had a little left in it."

When she said 'big square bottle', revelation came at once to my mind. It was an alcoholic drink called "Johnny Walker Scotch".  I had seen it in the pub where I did the numbers running several months earlier. My grandma was sitting there at night drinking scotch! But why? And why was she crying? I couldn't believe she had a tear in her for anyone. More questions I needed answers for...

By now the food was getting warm on the stove and we set the table together, the four of us, while we waited to see what was going to take place when the doctor got here. Pretty soon, I went to the bedroom door and told Grandda the meal was ready to eat and asked did he want some.

"No, boy... I'll stay here with Martha till the doc comes. She's hurting something fierce."

"Oh, Shane, go eat somethin', I ain't gonna die right this minute. In fact, I might jist get up myself. It's pure foolishness to lay around in bed in the middle of the day. I'll awhile longer. You go eat.. I'll be okay after while."

Grandda cast a worried look at her, then not wanting to aggravate her by hanging around her bed, he got up from the cane-bottomed chair beside her bed and came into the kitchen with me.

"What do you think is wrong with her, Grandda?" I asked.

"I don't know, boy! I don't know. Maybe Doc can tell us when he gets through looking at her. She's never took to her bed before, even when she had our kids. She was never in bed with them more than a day. She's a strong-willed woman. Now let's pray and eat." 

Bowing his head and saying the perfunctory prayer, he said, "Amen", then began eating. 

I continued to bow my head and asked God to help my Grandma feel better. Then I began to take out portions of food onto my plate. Grandda just lay down his fork and looked at me, in wonder. I said nothing in response to his amazement, but continued on. 

If I couldn't convince him of his need for Jesus, I could at least set the example for him.

My siblings also looked at me like I had two heads; praying for the "dragon grandma" to feel better? What was wrong with me, they wondered. 

After we finished our dinner (In the south, mid-day meals are called dinner), we cleared off the table and soon heard a knock on the door. It was the Doc, no doubt. Back then, you know, doctors made house calls, especially in little southern towns. 

Grandda went to let him in and said, "Thanks for coming, Doc. She's in here in the bedroom."

They went in and shut the door. I decided we needed to look for that bottle, so we began a very quiet search of the living room, looking in every nook and cranny. It was hidden in the little end table near her rocking chair. It was a hexagonal shaped table with a door in one of the sides. I pulled it out and held it up to the light of the window. Yep! Just like I thought. Our dear Grandma was a drinker of Scotch alcohol. It had a glass sitting next to the bottle. Marie picked it up and smelled it, then nodded her head. That was the smell.

Pretty soon the door to the bedroom opened and they came out. Grandda had a strange look on his face. I couldn't quite decipher it. I heard him whisper, "Cirrhosis of the liver??? How?" Then he asked the Doc a question. "Is she gonna get better, Doc?"

The doctor just patted him on the back and said, "I'm sorry, Shane, it's too late. She might have a few weeks left. You just need to keep her as comfortable as you can. I'm leaving some pain medication for her. It's strange, the way she has this condition; it's usually related to people who drink alcohol to an excess, but I know you all are not drinkers." He lifted his eyebrows as he looked at Grandda. 

Grandda shook his head, "No" and my siblings and I looked at one another. Either he didn't know or was pretending not to know. I couldn't be sure of which it was. 

The Doctor handed him a prescription and a box of medicine and left. 

"Grandda," I said, "We need to tell you something." 

"Not now, boy, not now." He went back into the bedroom.

(To be continued)