Friday, November 29, 2013

Hope You Had a Lovely Thanksgiving

I'm taking a few days break. Been recovering from a bug. I'll be back on Monday. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday. Spent time with one of my daughters and their children and grandchildren.  Missed those who were celebrating elsewhere. I'll be Skyping with one today that wasn't here. We also celebrated grandson,  Matt's birthday, and my daughter, Carol's birthday. You all have a lovely weekend. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Zebulon - Day 192 - Historical Fiction

She took the boy gently from my arms with obvious puzzlement on her face. 

"How..." she began.

"How come I am carrying your son? That is a good question. More to the point is how you both had no idea he was no longer in your home? But for now, he needs dry clothing."

Turning to his father, I continued. 

"Perhaps God led me to where I saw the boy; I don't know. I was at the park to watch the sunrise and enjoy the beauty of the morning. I looked out toward the lake and saw your son out on the ice, and the ice had begun to crack. I told him to remain where he was, and then threw out a length of rope, he grabbed it and I pulled him to shore. The ice finally gave way near the shore, and he got wet. He told me you all were fighting and he got frightened and ran away. Tell me, sir, is this the kind of life you want for your family?"

He gave me a shame-faced look. 

"I know, I know...I just can't seem to help myself."

"That's my point, sir. I know it is difficult to control behavior, but there is someone who can help you."

He looked at me without understanding what I was telling him.

"Who? Who can help me? You? What can you do?"

"Me? I'm not talking about me. I'm speaking of God, and how He can help you control your temper. Have you done any reading in the little Testament I left with you yesterday?"

"Well, yeah, but it didn't really mean anything to me. I finally just put it down and had a drink, then went to bed. This morning, my wife burned the toast and we started arguing. That must be when Allen left the house. It was all her fault. If she hadn't burnt the toast..."

He turned to glare at his wife, who by now had changed the boy into dry clothing, and wrapped him in a blanket to further warm his body. 

I could see that I was not getting anywhere with the man. 

"Do you realize you came very close to losing something more valuable than a piece of toast this morning? Your son almost died this morning. It was only by the grace of God that he did not! He is afraid of you. You must get your temper under control, before it destroys all that you hold dear. I'm believe the only way you can do that is to turn your life over to God."

"How do I do that? I just don't understand."

I sat down with him to explain the plan of Salvation to him, and how he needed to place his belief in the saving power of Jesus. I shared the Roman Road plan with him. I explained how it was all in the matter of truly believing Christ could save his soul and giving his life to Him. I urged him again to read the story of Jesus. We sat there for nearly an hour, talking and all the time, I was praying for him

I told him again that I was living next door in the boarding house and that I would be back soon to talk with him and to answer any questions he had. 

Also reminding him what could have happened to his son, I said goodbye to the boy and his mother. I left and headed for the book store. 

 (To be continued)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Zebulon - Day 191 - Historical Fiction

As I searched frantically, my eyes spied a couple of rope swings and I realized I could use them. Telling the little boy again to be brave and not to move, I ran over to them 

Taking out the pocket knife I always carried and quickly cut them down with shaky hands. Tying them together using square knots, and making a big knot on one end, I ran back over to the edge of the lake, lying down and reaching as far as I could, I began to swing the rope in his direction. 

Urging him to grab hold when it finally reached him (it took me several tries), I prayed for us both. 

The kid looked slightly familiar to me. Where had I seen him before?

He finally took hold of the knot on the end of the rope and I began to slowly pull him across the cracking ice. I could see the crack spreading and feared even yet for the boy's life. 

Just as he reached within three feet of the lake's edge, the ice finally gave way. I grabbed him just as he hit the water. I wasn't fast enough to keep him from landing in the water, but he didn't go under over his head. I knew, however, he was cold even from being out on the ice for so long. I had to get him to a warm place. 

Looking up into my face with those big blue eyes of his, the boy whispered, "Thanks, mister. My Mom and Dad are gonna kill me, though." 

Then, I swear, that boy fainted. 

I ran, holding him close to me, all the way back toward the rooming house, and the boy's home. I had just remembered where I knew him from. This was the neighbor's kid! 

Within seconds, the boy had roused in my arms. I prayed all the way to the boy's home. I asked him why he was out there. He told me he was afraid. His folks had been fighting and he ran out of the house to get away from it.

I told him that I was sure everything would likely be okay. Holding him close to me, I ran as quickly as I could up his walkway and banged on their door. 

The door was flung open by his father, who, when he saw the small burden in my arms, looked perplexedly at the bundle in my arms. 

"What are you doing with my son?" he demanded.

"Let me in! We need to get him to his mother so he can be changed into some warm clothes, then I need to talk to you."

I was not mincing my words, and spoke with authority, brooking no argument. 

He backed up into the room, and yelled for his wife. She came in holding a cloth against her face, where apparently he had hit her. When she saw me holding her son, she threw the cloth aside and ran to get him. 

(To be continued)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Zebulon - Day 190 - Historical Fiction

The time was still too early to head for the book store, and the frost on the window panes told me that it was quite cold outside, but I wanted to walk to the town park and do some thinking. Putting on my overcoat and cap, I headed out the front door into the bright early morning and inhaled the crisp air. I considered myself to be quite blessed. 

The sun was slowly creeping over the edge of the shorter trees and I determined I would watch its rising in the morning. There were only a few streaks remaining of this morning's sunrise.  

I recognized the fellow I had seen the previous evening, walking his dog again. He acknowledged me with a small handwave and kept moving; the dog just about pulling him along. It made me chuckle, wondering who was walking who. 

A boy passed me on his bicycle, his newspaper bag empty. He had most likely been out at least an hour delivering his papers. He waved to me in a friendly fashion as he went past me in the opposite direction. 

Within about twenty minutes I found myself entering the little park, with its small lake. The water in the lake seemed to be covered with  a layer of ice. I wondered how thick it was, but had no intention of testing it. There was bench near the water, but in the sunshine. It looked as though it had been moved out from under the trees.

Finding a folded newspaper on the bench, I decided to use it to protect my coat from the residue on the bench, and sat on it. This place of solitude made a perfect place to think and to pray. 

Bowing my head, I leaned back on the bench and communed with my Lord, asking for his direction in the days ahead. After about twenty minutes, loud cries reached my consciousness. 

Looking up, I realized the yelling was coming from the direction of the water. It sounded like someone was in trouble! 

Shading my eyes from the bright sunlight, I looked in that direction. A kid was out on the ice and it was cracking around him. He realized his problem and had begun to holler for help. He looked to be about twenty feet from the edge. I yelled and told him to be very still and not move any at all. 

Looking around, I searched for anything I could find that would be of help in rescuing the little boy. 

(To be continued) 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Zebulon - Day 189 - Historical Fiction

Breakfast was soon over, and as we arose from the table, I stepped around the end to where the lady sat to address her. 

"Pardon me, I didn't get your name," I said quietly, but pleasantly, to her. 

"I don't believe I gave it either, young man!" she snapped back. 

With that she walked off with a slight limp in her gait. 

Whoa! That was an unexpected response, to say the very least.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Zeb, I should have warned you about Miss Carter. She doesn't really mix with others very well. Her bark is much worse than her bite. She keeps others at a distance with that attitude. That is all I can say right now without gossiping about her. 

I determined to get to know her better during my stay here. Perhaps I could help her in some way. She intrigued me because I recognized her as a hurting and battered soul. I had known soldiers with that same pain coming from somewhere in their inner being. 

Katy could give me some insights, I was sure. With her clear childish perception, not much escaped her.

The day stretched before me. What to do with it until supper at Glenny's home? Perhaps a trip to a book store would be in order to buy another Testament to give to the neighbor in exchange for mine. It would give me another opportunity to visit with him sooner than later. He might have some questions to ask me. 

In the meantime, I helped clear the table, rather just get up and leave all that mess of dishes. 

"You don't have to do that, Zeb! The children and I can make short work of it."

"My Ma would tan my hide if I just ate and run, ma'am. We always helped set and clear the table at home. It's no problem for me, and you sure do set a good table! That's one good breakfast we had this morning! Do you fix that kind of breakfast every morning?"

"I usually make oatmeal and buttered toast for weekday breakfast. The kids have school to get to early, and tenants quite often have jobs to get to as well. Then, of course, I have a house and rooms to change linens and clean."

"Ah, I see! Can you tell me where I could find a local used bookstore? I have a bit of browsing I'd like to do."

"There is one over on Union near the drug store on the corner of Jefferson Street. You know where that is?"

"You mean Lander's Drug Store? Yeah, I used to stop in there and look at all the candy they had that I couldn't buy. Old Mrs. Landers would take pity on me and give me a lemon drop. She had a soft spot in her heart for us kids. She knew my Da never gave us any money for anything. I guess all the neighborhood knew about our situation." My face burned even then with the mere mention of the memory.

"Yes, that's the one. Mrs. Landers is still there, by the way. I'll bet she would be happy to see you." 

(To be continued)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Zebulon - Day 188 - Historical Fiction

Sleep came easily that night, but I missed my Testament to read. Instead, I went over some of my favorite scriptures that I had memorized during the years, and drifted off to sleep as I was remembering them. 

Awakened by a knock on my door, I had to familiarize myself with where I was. When I heard Katy's voice, I smiled. 

"Mr. Zeb, it's time for breakfast; do you want to eat?"

I knew then where I was, and answered in the affirmative. Rolling out of bed, I stretched my arms and touched my toes a few times, then quickly dressed for the day in khaki pants and shirt, picked up my Yankee's cap, and headed for the washroom. Within a few minutes, I was headed down the stairway to the lower floor. 

As I stepped into the dining room, I saw a couple of new faces. It was a middle aged woman, and an elderly gentleman. The woman looked up at me, then back down at her plate, not saying anything. The elderly gentleman gazed at me curiously, and said, "Hello, Sonny! I guess you're new here, eh?"

He arose from his seat and reached out his hand. "My name is Perkins - Sam Perkins - what's your handle?"

Shaking his hand, I replied, "Zebulon O'Hanlon, nice to meet you sir. You don't sound like you're from around here, if you don't mind my saying so."

"Yep, yore right at that! I'm from out Texas way, out here to look for someone that's gone missing."

Lifting my eyebrows in interest, I pulled out the empty chair next to him. I removed my cap and placed it on my knee, to be polite. The middle aged lady was seated across the table from me and I smiled across at her. She simply continued to look down at her plate. The Walsh family, except for Henrietta, were all seated as well. Henrietta stood ready to place the food on the table. 

"Ma'am," I spoke up, "do you mind if I say Grace?" 

"Of course not. I was just getting ready to say it myself, but I'll be glad for you to do so."

After I prayed, Mrs. Walsh began carrying in the food and her oldest daughter, Clara, got up to help her. Pretty soon, eggs, biscuits, bacon, jelly and butter were all on the table. We had coffee cups near our plates and Mrs. Walsh poured coffee for us. It was a wonderful meal. 

Sam kept me in stitches with his stories of his life back in Texas. I wondered how many of them were actually true and how many were from his imagination. My curiosity, though, kept me thinking about the mysterious lady across from me. What was her story, anyway? 

I glanced across the table in her direction and noted that she had a rather sour-looking disposition. I wondered why she was living at a boarding house and not in a home of her own. Her hair was a mousy brown, sprinkled with gray, styled like a grandmother's hair, and her clothing looked almost like it was from twenty years earlier. Wonder what she did with her days? Did she work somewhere?

(To be continued)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Zebulon - Day 187 - Historical Fiction

The door closed quietly behind Glenny, and I stood there a moment with my hand on my cheek. I certainly hadn't expected the kiss, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. It made me wonder if there might be a future with her. I looked forward to supper with her and her family on the morrow, wondering just what it would be like. 

The night was cool, so I walked quite briskly back to the rooming house, encountering a fellow walking his dog. He nodded at me in a friendly manner and I smiled in return. What a wonderful little town this was! Maybe I could settle down here with Glenny? Ah, I realized I was just imagining what might could be, and not being realistic. I hardly even knew her any more. I wondered if she was a believer. We had not spoken of that, but surely there would be some indication the next evening at supper.

Arriving at the boarding house, I quietly entered the house and closed the door without making any noise. I took off my shoes so I could walk quietly up the stairs. As I stepped on one of them, I noticed it creaked and smiled. One would have a difficult time going upstairs if they weren't aware of the squeak it made. 

Mrs. Walsh came through the hallway from the kitchen and looked up the stairwell. 

"Ah, Mr. O'Halloran! I see you're home! Did you have a good evening?" 

I smiled, thinking one would never get away with sneaking around in this house, not that I would ever want to; she certainly could keep tabs on her children that way, though.

"Yes, thank you! It was a pleasant one. I'll see you in the morning! Good night!" 

Deciding to take a hot soaking bath in the claw-foot bath tub, I grabbed my bath towel, and bathrobe, along with the washcloth, and headed for the communal bathroom. My body was tired from the travel the night before and that morning on the train, and it might relax me to do so. 

I filled the tub with very warm water and climbed in. Ahhhh. It was wonderful. I lay back against the porcelain, thinking about what had happened since I had left the service. I still worried about Rosie. Where was she? Why had she run off with some fella? Did I know him? What about Sgt. Finley? I felt an urgency to find him, but for the time being, I felt he would want me to help the fella next door. 

Nearly drifting to sleep, I was startled from my reverie by a knock on the bathroom door. 

"Mr. O'Hanlon! Are you okay?" 

I realized then I had been in there for an hour and the water had grown quite cold. 

"Yes, I'm fine. I'll be out in a few minutes. I nearly went to sleep in the tub." I chuckled, embarrassed. 

By the time I left the bathroom, she had moved on, for which I was glad. 

(To be continued) 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Zebulon - Day 186 = Historical Fiction

"Yes, I went over there immediately and the lady, Mrs. Walsh, rented me a room. I asked for a month because I have some other matters that interest me here, besides just looking the town over. I met a young family today that I would like to help. They seem to be in a crisis right now. He is a veteran like me, only he has more problems than I do. Tell me more about your family. It seems like you had a little brother, and an older sister. How are they doing?"

"My older sister got married and left home, and my little brother is kinda getting into trouble quite a bit. He is locking horns with my Dad and Mom. He seems to like the rock music that is so popular now, and it irritates my folks. He has started staying out late, and we don't know what he is into anymore. His clothes are outrageous, and he seems to be tearing the family apart even more than Dad's banged up hand. I don't know what we are going to do. He is sixteen and out of control." 

By now she was weeping silently, brushing away the tears with her table napkin. I reached over and took her hand in my own, patting her, trying to comfort her. 

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to put a damper on our evening. Excuse me, please!" She jumped up and left the table hurriedly, heading, I supposed, for the Ladies Room.

"Now you've done it!" I told myself. "You sure know how to throw a monkey wrench into what was supposed to be a perfect evening!"

Miserably, I sat waiting for her return. Ten minutes later, she returned smiling, as though nothing had happened. I could see that she wanted to behave as though she had just taken a regular break, so I did.

"I'll bet you would like to know where we went so suddenly eleven years ago," I quipped. "It was supposed to be an adventure for me and my sister, but turned into a permanent move for the family." 

I went on to explain what had precipitated our move, and she seemed to find the whole tale fascinating.

"I can't believe you were such an adventurer, Zeb! You certainly didn't appear that way in school. You seemed to keep to yourself, mostly, and tried to stay out of trouble. I felt so bad for you when your father was murdered. The other kids pointing at you and making fun made me angry for you. Then all at once, they stopped." 

I simply smiled at her. I would not speak of that right now; she would think I was boasting. Maybe later. 

We had talked for what seemed like hours until she looked at her watch, and said, "I need to get home. I am a working girl, you know, and we open the bank for a few hours tomorrow. It has been wonderful spending some time with you and catching up on each other."

"When can I see you again? I'm not going to be in town very long, and I'd like to renew our friendship."

"You remember where I live, don't you? Over on Cedar Lane? Just a few streets over from where you used to live; from where you live now. Come over for supper tomorrow evening. Please?"

"Why don't I just walk you home right now? I can't have you out wandering around by yourself this late at night."

"All right," she smiled. We walked kind of close to each other on our way to her house. It was quite cold, and so I put her arm through mine. It was a wonderful night, though, as far as I was concerned.

When we got to her house, she got out her key and put it into the lock, then turned and kissed me on the cheek. 

"See you tomorrow," she whispered. 

Well, I guess that settled the question of whether to kiss her goodnight or not. 

(To be continued)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Zebulon - Day 185 - Historical Fiction

I reflected on the day's happenings as I hurried on my way to meet Glenny. We both arrived at the same time from different directions. 

Lifting my arm in greeting, I hailed her. 

"Do you know of a nicer place than this to dine?" I inquired. "I'm in the mood for a quiet evening, eating something a little above the fare they serve in this place."

"Sure, over on Park Street, there is a Chauncy's that is pretty good, and not too expensive."

I remembered Park Street, because I had bicycled along that street to occasionally look into the store windows on the next street over. It wasn't very far from where we had eaten lunch, but in a better neighborhood.

"Tell me about yourself," I urged Glenny. "You say you work in a bank? Which one? What do you do?"

"Well, I work at First National on the corner of Market and Finch. I'm a teller there, and hoping to get promoted soon to the loan department."

"Ah, you're ambitious! That's good! Have you worked there very long?"

"No, about a year, after I finished junior college. My Mom needed me to get a job and help out at home, since my Dad got injured on the job in the steel mills"

"Oh? I'm sorry to hear that. Is he doing better?"

"Some, but he'll never be able to work there again, and he can't do much around the house to help. He got his hand caught in some machinery, and I think he has just given up."

I didn't know what to reply to her last comment, and thankfully we had arrived at Chauncy's Restaurant.

Opening the door for her, I caught a faint scent of her hair as she passed in front of me. It smelled like gardenias, and I knew that was going to become my favorite aroma. Even now, years later, when i close my eyes, I can remember it.

We were soon seated, and I looked at Glenny, wanting to reach out and take her hand, but somehow reluctant to seem forward, I simply smiled at her. The hostess handed us each a menu, and asked for a drink order. 

I lifted my eyebrows at my dinner partner; she ordered iced tea, and I ordered coffee. Then we each buried our faces in the menus.

Finally, I asked what looked good to her. 

"It all looks delicious! I haven't been here in forever, but I seem to remember they serve wonderful seafood. Perhaps some fresh snapper or salmon steak would be good."

"That sounds like just what the doctor ordered, so when she comes back, you order first, and I'll follow your suit. It has been forever since I've had fresh seafood. It'll be a treat, for sure."

"Zeb, how long are you going to stay in town? Have you decided? Did you go by the boarding house I told you about?"

(To be continued)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Zebulon - Day 184 - Historical Fiction

The little boy continued to hold back slightly until his father insisted he come in. Finally, he edged into the room. I realized he was afraid of his father. I looked at Claude, who was beginning to look perturbed by his son's behavior. 

"You haven't been back very long?" I inquired. 

"No, only a few weeks. How did you know?" 

Well, it didn't take a genius to see that the little boy hadn't taken to him yet, and that perhaps the fights with his wife were contributing factors to the boy's behavior.

"Could I tell you a little story, my friend?" I asked him.

"I guess so." 

"My Da, er, my father was in the Second World War, and he was injured badly, but more than that he was what they called "Shell shocked" back then and came home not the same man he was when he went in. He had bad experiences that left him damaged, so to speak. His nerves were shot, and he had begun drinking in the years he served. His father had been a drinker, as well, so he was familiar with the stuff. I learned all this after coming home from this war. My Ma and I had a long talk about it a few weeks ago.

The result of his nerves being all shot and jangled, he began treating us, his family, badly. It was no excuse, and he was carrying on a "family tradition", since he had been treated the same way. Every weekend, he would go to Dooley's Bar and spend most of his paycheck on booze, then come home and we would suffer the brunt of his anger. My Ma lost several unborn babies because of it. If he had only gotten some kind of help, it would all have turned out differently, and we could have been a loving family."

Claude turned several shades of red, and I knew I was getting to him with my story. I was telling it in such a manner that the little boy could not understand it, but Claude could. 

"I know what you are going through, my friend. Let me ask you a question, please?"

He looked at me expectantly, yet fearfully. I know he thought I was going to ask him if he beat his wife.

"Do you know Jesus?"

He looked at me as though I had two heads. What kind of question was that? 

"Why are you asking me about religious crap? I don't hold with any of that stuff. Are you one of those Jesus freaks?"

"If you mean, do I believe in Jesus and His power to heal, then I guess you could call me one of them," I replied with a smile. 
"Don't you want to feel better inside? Don't you want peace in your heart? Don't you want to be happy and content inside yourself? Don't you want your little boy to run to you, unafraid? Don't you want your wife to cuddle up to you, and look at you with admiration? Jesus can do all that for you, plus much more."

I could see I was getting to him, and he was squirming in his chair.

"I'm going to loan something to you. Please read it, beginning in the Gospel of St. John. I have had it for eleven years, it has taken me through my service in Vietnam, and is my dearest personal item. It is my New Testament, given to me by a wonderful friend who introduced me to Jesus. You are going to find a lot of answers in it. Would you do that for me? I know I'm a perfect stranger to you, but I care about you."

He took the little book from my hand reluctantly, but nevertheless, he took it. I patted him on the shoulder. 

"I have to go now, but I'll be back. Please, instead of doing other things, just read it. Its words have great power to help you." 

He shook my hand and I left him sitting there at the kitchen table. He opened the Book. 

(To be continued)  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zebulon - Day 183 - Historical Fiction

On an impulse, I went up to the front door and rang the doorbell. Immediately, the shouting ceased, and the lady I had met earlier in the day, came to the door, looking disheveled and she was wiping her eyes. I immediately noticed that her left elbow was at an odd angle as well.

Lifting my cap from my head, I nodded to her. 

"We met earlier," I explained, "and I was wondering if I could perhaps look through your home and see if it had changed much in the time since I lived here. If it is not inconvenient, that is."

"Yes, I remember meeting you. Er, uh.. I don't know. Things are a mess right now..." She began making excuses, and I knew she didn't want me in her house when she was in the middle of a fight with her husband, but I wanted to meet him and perhaps help him see what he was doing to her. This was the only tactful way that I could think of to do so.

"Oh, that's okay," I smiled. "I've seen messy houses before. I won't stay long," I promised.

She stepped back and called out to her husband, "Claude, come out and meet a young man who used to live in this house. What is your name, did you tell me before?"

"Zebulon O'Hanlon, ma'am. People call me Zeb, though."

Claude came through the door from the bedroom nearest the kitchen, and I took in his looks instantly. He had an evident attitude of belligerence, as though daring me to say anything the least combative. I recognized that look...I had seen it many times before, on the face of my own father. I would have to step carefully.

"Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?"

I could see he was spoiling for a fight, and determined to strike out at anything in his path. 

Sticking out my hand, I introduced myself and said I was just recently out of the U.S. Army, and visiting in town. I had happened to pass by the house, and was interested in seeing if it had changed any since I had lived there eleven years ago, and to meet the people who lived it it. 

He seemed to calm down a bit when he heard I had been in the Army. 

"Where did you serve, Mr. O'Hanlon?"

"In Vietnam," I replied. "How about you? Were you in the service, as well? How are you getting along?"

"Yes, I was there, and I've been treated like dirt ever since I came home. People turn away from me when they hear I was over there. I didn't go by choice, but I served my country."

"I understand, sir. Tell me, do you have bad dreams sometimes? Many people returning do. I know I do."

"Yes, say, would you like a beer? Or maybe a cup of coffee? You say you used to live in this house?"

"Yeah, a cup of coffee would be good. Thanks."

"Make some coffee for us," he told his wife. 

I noticed she was holding her left elbow, but it seemed to be somewhat better than it did when I first came into the house. Apparently, he had not broken it, but no doubt it would have been soon if I had not interfered. 

We sat at the kitchen table and pretty soon we were swapping war stories. I looked around at the kitchen and noticed how very neat it was. Then, as I glanced around, I noticed a little blonde head peeking around the corner of the doorway. I touched Claude on the hand so that he would be aware the little boy was listening. He stopped talking and waved to the little boy to come in. 

(To be continued)  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Zebulon - Day 182 - Historical Fiction

Sitting up on the side of the bed, I put my shoes back on, and walked over to the bureau. The clock gently chimed the hour. It was four and I needed to wash my face before going out. Picking up my comb from the bureau top, I left the room and headed down the hallway in search of a bathroom. Apparently, I was to share it with the other tenants in the house; so far I had not met any of them. I wondered if I were the only one here. At the end of the hall, the door stood open and I could see a wash basin through the doorway. Ah! Success!

I walked in and shutting the door behind me, I inspected the rather spacious room. The tub was claw-footed, and deep, offering a luxurious bath, and I was sorely tempted, but restrained myself. That would come later. Right now, I needed to just use the facilities and wash my face, comb my unruly red hair, and get ready to go meet Glenny in front of that small restaurant. 

The mirror over the basin covered a medicine cabinet, and being the curious person that I am, I opened the door to the cabinet. Inside it lay a Gillette safety razor, accompanied by a can of lather, and a bottle of Aqua Velva aftershave. That told me that at least one other man was a tenant here. 'He must be at work right now,' I deduced.

There was also a small jar of Mum deodorant. Ah, ha! A lady dwelling in the house as well. Maybe it was a couple... Well, I was certainly interested in finding out who else lived here. I might inquire of the lady who rented my room to me. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't even know her name. I had to assume it wasn't Grogan. 

After I completed my ablutions in the bathroom, I went back to my room, collecting my overcoat and hat, I locked the door and went downstairs in search of the landlady. I finally located her in the kitchen, where she was preparing food for her and her family's supper. Three children were seated around the kitchen table with open books, and applying pencils to papers, apparently busy on homework. When I entered, they all looked up, then went back to their work. Apparently, they were used to strangers entering their kitchen; it was an everyday part of their lives. 

"Howdy, ma'am, I thought I ask a few questions of you, if you don't mind. First, I don't think I caught your name, when I came here today." 

She nervously wiped her hands on her apron, and apologetically replied, "I'm Henrietta Walsh, and these are my other three children: Henry, who's twelve; Clara, who's nine; and Paul, who's seven. Say hello to Mr. O'Halloran, children." 

"Hello. Why is your hair so red?" asked the 7-year old. 

"Paulie, you're not supposed to ask questions like that," said Clara.

Henry spoke up and said, "Were you in the war?" Apparently he noticed the scar on my neck. He thought I had gotten it in the war.

"Yes, I just got out a few months ago, and I used to live next door, in that house with the picket fence around it. In fact, I was close to your age when we moved away. I'm very pleased to meet you all. I hope we'll be friends." I shook each of their hands, and nodding to Mrs. Walsh, I took my leave of them. "I'll see you all later. Goodby for now." 

Well, they were certainly an interesting group of people, and I liked them tremendously. As I walked through the hall to the front door, I wondered what little Katy had gotten up to. Why wasn't she in the kitchen with the others? I peeked into the living room and there she was, over at the big picture window, playing with a doll. Looking up at me, she waved. I waved back and left the house. She watched me through the window, and I waved at her once again. 

I realized as I left that I had forgotten to ask about other tenants in the house. Oh, well, I would no doubt meet them later on. I didn't plan to be out very late that night and probably would meet them at breakfast in the morning. I reflected then that Mrs. Walsh was most certainly one busy woman. Perhaps I could be of help around the place while I was there. It looked like there were some loose boards on the front porch that could be nailed down. 

Going down the walkway, I began whistling, and realized how very content and happy I felt. Then I heard shouting coming from the house I was passing. It was the fellow who now lived in our old house. What should I do? 

(To be continued) 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Zebulon - Day 181 - Historical Fiction

Opening the door to the room using the key given me, I was surprised to see a rocking chair in one corner, and it was moving slowly, as though blown by a gentle wind. Then I looked at the window and saw it was partly open, apparently to let air in and keep the room from getting musty.

Walking around the room, I looked at each item of furniture, trying to remember if I had ever seen it downstairs. I remembered the clock that was sitting on the bureau in the room. It had graced the mantel downstairs in the living room. I did remember the rocking chair; I had even once sat in it, eating a cookie from a little plate. 

There on the wall was a very old picture of a young woman. Looking at it closely, I could see the resemblance to old Mrs. Grogan. She was in a party dress and sitting in a swing underneath an oak tree. She was quite beautiful and it made me think about her life and wonder how she got to be all alone at the end. 

Walking over to the bed, I set my small case on it, and removed the toiletries, and placed them on the bureau top, along side the clock. I unpacked the rest of the contents which consisted of a couple of changes of clothing. I hadn't intended to stay in one place very long. I might have to buy a few clothes. Most of my civilian clothes didn't fit very well any more, because I had filled out so much while in service. 

Removing my shoes, I stretched out on the bed and before I knew it, I had drifted off to sleep. The nightmares returned, and I must have been shouting in my sleep, because I soon became aware of a little hand on my shoulder shaking me. 

"Mister, mister! Are you okay? You're crying! Is your stomach hurting? Mine hurts me sometimes..." 

Slowly I realized that little Katy had come into my room. She must have heard me shouting in my sleep. Looking around, I saw where I was and said, "Oh, no. I'm not hurting. I'm sorry I disturbed you. I have bad dreams sometimes."

"Would you like to tell me about them? I have bad dreams sometimes, too. I tell them to Mommy and then they all go away."

"No, no. Not these dreams. I'll be okay. Thank you very much, though. I need to get up anyway. I have someone to see this evening, and I don't want to be late."

By this time, Katy's mother was in the doorway. "Katy, I've told you not to bother the tenants. What are you doing in here? I'm sorry, Mr. O'Hanlon, she won't bother you again."

"He has bad dreams, too, Mommy! He was crying in his sleep and I waked him up."

"That's okay, ma'am. I appreciate her help. I'll lock my door from now on so she won't get into trouble."

(To be continued) 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Zebulon - Day 180 - Historical Fiction

Well, ma'am, I lived next door to this house, over there in that one for eleven years, and I used to run errands for Mrs. Grogan, who lived here, and shoveled the snow off her sidewalk. I haven't lived here since 1956, when we moved away. I spoke with the pastor of that little Methodist Church a few blocks down, this morning. Oh, and I spoke with Glenda Ann Shelton this morning. She's an old school friend of mine and recommended you to me."

"Hmmm. Well, we'll give it a try. That'll be fifty dollars up front. I can't give credit. You'll get a clean towel and washcloth twice a week, breakfast every day at 6:30 -7:00. Other meals, you get on your own. No late nights, no parties. You'll have a room key, but you'll need to be in by midnight, or make other arrangements for the night. Those are the house rules. Understand?"

"Yes, ma'am! You won't have to worry about me." I smiled at her.  It pleased me to see her smile back at me.

"My mother inherited this place from my grandma, and my mother is not well herself, so she set up the rules and I am managing it for her. My children help me, and Katy is the youngest. The others are in school right now."

Looking down at her hand, I saw the simple gold band on her finger. She noticed my glance and answered the question I had not asked of her.

"He's in the Marines, serving in Vietnam right now." Her eyes misted up, but she smiled and went on. "Wouldn't you like to see the room?"

"Oh, yes, I would, thanks."  I picked up the small bag I was carrying and accompanied her to the stairway. 

As I climbed the stairs, I realized I had never been anywhere past the living room in this house. It was a wonderful old house, and I knew I was going to have an interesting time over the next few weeks. Little did I realize how it would turn out. 

(To be continued) 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Zebulon - Day 179 - Historical Fiction

Finishing up my meal, I flagged down the waitress as she was sashaying past me to another customer, and told her I was ready for my bill. 

She stopped to look at me, and asked, "You new in town? Don't remember seeing you around here." Her smile was big, and her eyes were inviting. I had seen girls like her before on the Army base, and wanted nothing to do with her. 

I simply smiled back and said, "I'm not from around here. Reckon I won't be staying long enough for any entanglements to speak of." I certainly wasn't planning any with her, that was for sure. 

She gently laid the bill down on the table and said, "The cashier will take care of this for you. Come again, Cutie Pie." She left with a wink and a smile, apparently not having given up.

Whew! I reckoned I would meet Glenny outside and take her somewhere else for supper. I wouldn't want to subject her to that kind of tomfoolery; I knew that waitress wasn't the kind to let my date interfere with her overtures. 

I paid my bill and left, glad to shake the dust of that place from my feet. Heading on down the street, I saw where Billy's Barber shop used to be. Now it was a beauty shop and nail salon. I guess old Billy was gone, too. 

Pretty soon, I was back in my old neighborhood once again, and headed for old lady Grogan's house. Yeah, sure enough, there on the front lawn was a sign proclaiming it to be Nellie's Boarding House. Funny thing, I didn't remember having ever met Mrs. Grogan's daughter, or even hearing about her. Well, I was going to meet her now.

The lawn was well-kept, and that boded well for what the house would be like on the inside, I figured. Same old doorbell, I noticed. New mailbox on the side of the porch wall, though. A few flower boxes on the edge of the porch gave evidence of having been used in the summer time. 

It seemed it took awhile for someone to answer the door. When the door opened, it was a little girl. She was wearing a large apron wrapped around her and carrying a dusting rag.

"Yes? Are you a salesman? We don't need anything, if you are," were her first words to me. "I'm Katy, and I work here."

"You do? Well, Katy, I'm Zebulon, Zeb for short, and I'm looking for a room to rent for awhile. Is your mother here?"

Just about that time, a lady came hurrying to the door and told the little girl, "Katy, I've told you a hundred times not to answer the door! Don't you have a job to do?" 

Turning to me, she smiled and said, "Yes? I think I heard you say you wanted to rent a room? She knows she's not supposed to answer the door." 

"Yes, ma'am, I just need it for a short time; perhaps a month."

"Do you have references? I can't rent to just anyone. I have to be careful."

(To be continued) 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Zebulon - Day 178 - Historical Fiction

Going back to my table, I sat down, musing over the chance meeting. Glenny was slim and petite, and her smile was the same as back in grade school: open and guileless. That right upper tooth was still chipped where she had been hit with that basketball when we were in gym that day. The imperfection just kind of made the smile perfect. 

I sat there daydreaming until the waitress cleared her throat and asked if I knew what I wanted. I realized that up until that morning, I really hadn't known what I was looking for. 

Smiling up at her, I asked, "What's on special for today?"

"Well, buddy, our blue plate special, you wouldn't want, but you might try the burgers and fries, they're really good," she smiled back, winking at me. 

"Okay, give me the burger and fries, add mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard." 

"Hmmm. Are you sure you want the onion?"

I blushed and said, "Yes, please." 

"Okay, your funeral," she retorted. "You want a coke with it, of course." 

"Yes, please." 

"Coming right up." 

Within seconds, she returned with the coke and a straw, and winked at me again. "Ya sure about the onion?" she wisecracked.

Was she flirting with me? I wasn't sure, but I thought so. I just smiled back and nodded my head. 

I ate my burger and fries when they came in silence, looking out of the window as I ate, but not necessarily seeing anyone or anything passing by.  My mind was filled with memories from the past. 

(To be continued) 



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Zebulon - Day 177 - Historical Fiction

Having saved up some money from my military service, plus my money I had received upon leaving the army, I had quite a few dollars on me, and deliberated buying a car. Then I decided to take a Greyhound to the town whose address I had in my pocket instead. The majority of the money I carried in an inside pocket of my suit coat, to keep it safe from thieving fingers. There had been several instances while I was in the military where soldiers had been robbed of their money. It had happened to me only once, but was enough to put me ever on my guard. 

I knew that buying a car in the south should cost less money, since the standard of living in the state I was headed for was  probably lower than that of the northern state I was in the process of leaving. 

Heading for the Greyhound station, I spied a little restaurant, and realized how hungry I was, so I stopped in for a bite to eat. It was near noon, so I decided dinner would taste pretty good. 
The restaurant was called "Aunt Martha's" or some such name; I forget exactly. Walking in, I looked around and saw they were feeding only about six people. A waitress shouted to me to take any seat I liked. Hmmm. It seemed to be a very casual, friendly place. 

I chose one near a window, so I could look out at the passers-by as I ate. Then I saw her. Was that Glenda Ann Shelton? From fifth grade? No! It couldn't be. I pecked on the window glass and she lifted her eyes to me. She stopped in her tracks and our eyes met. It was! It was Glenny and she smiled at me. I hadn't thought of her in years, and now there she was, she of the golden hair and blue eyes. She headed for the door of the restaurant and I arose from my chair to meet her at the door.

Too bashful still to do anything else, I escorted her back to the table and smiled like the empty-headed fool that I was.

"What are you doing in town, Zeb? Have you been here long? Where did you all go? One day you were in school and then after Christmas vacation, you didn't come back. Where have you been?"

"Hey, Glenny. I didn't think you all would even miss me. It is a long story, but I reckon I can tell you, if you have a while. It's good to see you again." My eyes were drinking her in. Now, I didn't know if I would head south so soon as I had intended or not. " Where are you headed right now?"

"Oh, I'm on my way back to work after my lunch break. I have a job at the Savings and Loan, and I only have a few minutes of it left. Where are you staying? Can we meet for supper?" 

"Well, to tell the truth, I wasn't planning on staying in town, but was heading to the Greyhound station to go south to find a friend of mine. Do you know of an inexpensive place I could get a room for a week or so?"

"Yes, you know the house that old Mrs. Grogan used to live in next to your home? Her daughter inherited it when she died and turned it into a boarding house. You might get a room there." 

She got up to leave, and said, "We could meet here at around 6 p.m. for supper if you like."

"Sure, sure, that sounds good." I got up as she did and escorted her to the door, opening it for her. She waved good-bye and left me standing there, open-mouthed and waving like a fool at her departing back. 

(To be continued) 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Zebulon - Day 176 - Historical Fiction

Standing on the street, back a few feet from it, I took it all in. Somehow, it looked smaller, seedier than when I had last seen it. Of course, it was eleven years ago, and I was a man now, not an eleven year old boy. It seemed the paint was wearing off the sign over the doorway, and also the paint on the door itself was chipping off. 

Pulling open the door, I entered, looking around as I did. My eyes watered a bit, getting used to the dimmer light inside the pub. Glancing over at the bar, I saw old Dooley standing there, polishing the glasses and pouring a pint for one of the early customers. There were only a few in there at that time of the morning. 

I walked over to the bar and put my foot on the rail, as though I were going to order a drink, leaning my arms on the bar, and looked Dooley in the eyes. His face was somewhat florid, apparently from drinking his own stuff for too many years. Or, maybe he drank some that was better quality than his own; only he knew for sure. 

Dooley looked at me and his face blanched. 

"Who are you, boyo? What do you want? Would you like to order a drink?" 

I was enjoying this. "Who do you think I am, Dooley? Oh, yeah, I know you from long ago. You are the one who sold my old man drinks every time he had some money in his pocket."

You see, I had filled out physically working on the farm, and moreso, after going into the service, so I was what the ladies would have called "a hunk".

"You, you're an O'Hanlon, aren't you? You're Seamus' kid that used to run errands for Rafferty all those years ago. I kind a' wondered what had happened to you." 

His attitude changed then and he said, "My, goodness, it's great to see you, boy! You're lookin' mighty fit! How about a drink on the house?"

He was practically falling all over himself to ingratiate himself to me. 

"No, thanks, Dooley. I do want to know if you have any answers about what happened to my Da, after he got into that fight here in the bar. Like, how did he wind up dead so soon after? Who was he fighting with? Did they gang up on him? Did it happen here?"

"Well, ya see, it happened like this, best I can remember. Your pa got ta arguin' with this other fella that was a regular, too, over whether he actually went to that game er not. Each of them swearin' the other was wrong, and then your pa, who was a real hot head, ya know, pulled out his knife and so did the other guy. They were going at it tooth n' nail, till finally your pa got him in the gut, both of em wore out. Then your pa took off runnin' and that's the last I saw of him, alive that is."

"You mean you saw him after he was killed? Where did that happen?"

"You mean the police didn't tell you where he was found?"

"No, just that he had been beaten to death."

"Ah, I see. Well, it seemed that he was beaten to death because he owed money to Rafferty, what used to hang around here. Rafferty had him killed, and apparently used the fight to make it look like it was because of the fight. I didn't know about it until about five years ago, when Rafferty was dying. I reckon he was trying to clear his conscience before he kicked off."

"Where was he found, then?"

"Over by the river, in some old cardboard boxes that are used by the homeless. Seemed he was hiding out over there."

Well, at last I had my answers, not that they made me feel any better, but it did kind of close that chapter of my life. I bade him good bye and then left, anxious to get on my way to the address I was carrying in my pocket. 

(To be continued)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Zebulon - Day 175 - Historical Fiction

The pastor settled into the ancient chair behind his desk. I gazed at the nameplate sitting on his desk. "James Butler."

"Preacher Butler, Let me introduce myself," I said, "and tell you why I'm here. My name is Zebulon O'Halloran, and I met a young woman this morning who lives in the house my family lived in eleven years ago. Her husband just returned from military service in Vietnam. He is having nightmares about his experiences over there. I am sometimes troubled by them as well, but my faith helps me. He drinks to try to forget, he can't find employment, and she winds up being beaten by him. My question is, can you help him?"

He looked at me and I could see he was wondering at my involvement in the matter. 

"You want to know why I'm sticking my nose in? Let's just say I understand the situation. I happened to stop at the house this morning."

I related the conversation to him, and what I had observed. 

"Can you help him? I can't in good conscience continue on in my journey until I know you and your church will reach out to that family."

He smiled at me and said, "Of course we will. We have a group of veterans that meet every Tuesday evening, and I will visit the family this very day. Where do they live?"

I gave him the address, and stood up to leave. 

"Thank you so very much, Preacher Butler," I said, shaking his hand once again. 

"You're welcome, son. I wish we had more people with your attitude and caring nature. God bless you!"

Exiting the church, I headed for another area I knew well. I decided to head to the business district and see what had changed, if anything.

Soon Dooley's Pub came into view. 

(To be continued) 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Zebulon - Day 174 - HIstorical Fiction

I found myself heading towards a building that stood on the corner about six blocks from my old home. I wondered if I could find anyone there. The bricks looked weathered from the northern winds and snow storms that beat against them in the winter time. I looked to the top of the building at the spire rising into the blue sky. Perhaps there was help here for the young woman I had spoken to. 

Walking up the steps onto the porch, I walked toward the door. Reaching up to the handle on the door, I gently pulled. It opened and I walked in quietly. The sanctuary was cool and dimly lit, so I slipped into a pew and sat down, remembering the smell and the feel of the church from long ago when I was just a kid. 

Hearing a noise, I looked around and saw a man headed for me. He was wearing work clothes, and carrying a ladder. 

"Can I help you?" 

"I hope so. Can you tell me if the pastor is in today?"

He laughed and said, "You're talking to him. I'm just changing a few light bulbs. Hang on a minute and we'll head back to my office. Could you hold the ladder for me, while I change this bulb?"

"Sure," I replied. "I'll be glad to."

As he climbed the ladder, he looked down and asked, "Do you live around here? I haven't seen you before. We're such a small church, I'm sure that I would remember you."

"No, sir. I used to live here a long time ago, and we came to this church sometimes."

"Well, I've only been here about five years, so as you can see, I do some of the janitorial work."

After changing the bulb, he folded the ladder and we walked back to the area where he stored it, then on back into his small office.

"Now, what can I do for you, young man?" 

(To be continued)