Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 71 -85

Supper was a strange affair, although the people attending were pleasant enough, there was an undercurrent of tension that could not be denied. 

Little Benny seemed oblivious to it, however, and chattered on about the cows and chickens, and the dog, Buster.

"Buster pwayed with me and wolled awound wif me! Miss Wissa, can we go see the twee?"

"We'll go one of these days, Benny, but we'll have to wait awhile, okay?"

"What's this business about a tree, Arlissa?" Helen Tunstall wanted to know. 

"Oh, it's just a tree that Rosie and I used to meet at and we sat under it and talked. That's all. I'm sure she just wanted Benny to see it. Part of the memories we had together."

"Hmm. I see. Perhaps you could tell me where it is and I'll show it to him."

Arlissa nodded in a noncommital manner. 

"Say, Zeb, why don't you tell us, do you and Angela have any plans for staying with us for awhile?" 

This came from his stepfather, trying to relieve the tension floating through the air.

"No, Hank. Just long enough for the services for Rosie, and then a day or so later to help settle her affairs. We both have jobs to get back to."

"What do you do, Angela?" This from Arlissa.

"I'm a medical technician at a local hospital," she replied. 

"That must really be interesting."

"Yes, I see all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. There is never a dull moment," she smiled.

Zeb reached over and hugged his bride. 

"I know she is the light of my life! I don't know how I'd go on without her." 

Arlissa looked at the two of them with open envy. Would she ever find someone who loved her like that? Right now she didn't have much hope. 

She wondered if Hank Tunstall could help her with her search for her beginning. 

"Hank, did you know my mom, Eleanor Mae Hinton? You've lived around here your whole life, haven't you?"

Helen Tunstall turned pale at the mention of Arlissa's mother's given name. 

"Did you say your mother's first name was Eleanor? Was she called Ellie?"

"Why, yes, she was. At least that's what Granny calls her. You know, she died the next day after I was born. I know it's common knowledge that she wasn't married. I don't know who my daddy was. Granny won't tell me."

At that admission from Arlissa, Helen Tunstall's expression became stony, and she looked at the girl with true repugnance.

It was evident to Hank that they were in a situation, and he tried to change the subject by asking would anyone like some more of those wonderful biscuits that Marie had made. 

Zeb picked up on the implication and replied, "I sure would. Little sis, you have become a really great cook! Mom, you surely have taught her well!"

"Excuse me, please! I need to go into the kitchen and refill the ice tea pitcher. Arlissa, would you help me please?"

Arlissa started to rise from the table, but Hank got up quickly and said, "Aw, Helen, she's a guest! I'll go help you, honey! Arlissa, you just stay where you are!" 

He smiled to soften the rebuke, and the two went into the kitchen. 

All was quiet for a few minutes, everyone trying to think of something to say. Arlissa knew the atmosphere had changed but hadn't the slightest idea why. She didn't know that this very subject had been discussed in this family.

Those seated at the table looked at one another, thinking who knew what, until Angela turned to Les, who was home from college for the funeral.

"Lester, Zeb tells me you are planning on becoming a lawyer. How did you decide you wanted to do that?"

"Well, I know there are a lot of people who need help that can't afford it; I want to help people that way. Zeb is a policeman and helps people that way. Marie is becoming a nurse."

"That is absolutely wonderful. Your mother must be so very proud of all of you."

At this time, Benny decided to call for his 'Gwan'ma'.

"Gwan'ma! Me want mash tatas, gwavy!" He banged on the table.

Helen Tunstall came hurrying back into the dining area, with obviously red eyes, and sat down next to the boy. 

"Benny! Hush! You mustn't shout like that. You needed to ask anyone here to give you some. Marie is sitting on the other side of you and could have given you some. Now, quiet down." 

Hank returned to the table, with a smile and the iced tea pitcher. 

Arlissa realized her question had not been answered and opened her mouth to ask it again, when Hank looked at her and shook his head.

She blanched, all at once realizing she had committed a gaffe. What did they know about her past that she didn't?

At long last, the awkward supper was finally over and all the younger womenfolk began clearing the dishes off the table, while the men repaired to the living room. 

Benny had wound down and after he said his "Goodnights", Helen took him to his bedroom and put him to bed.

While she was out of the room, the girls began putting the food away. It wasn't very long before Helen returned to the kitchen, where the girls had carried all the dishes and stacked them into the sink, getting ready to wash them.

"Ms. Helen, why don't you let me do the dishes and you go set and visit with everybody. I didn't get to help fix supper, and it's the least I could do. I used to help you all the time, when Rosie was here."

"Well, I tell you what, Arlissa. I'm going to take you up on part of that. I'll let you wash and I'll dry. We can talk while we work. You other girls go on in yonder and rest while we get this all redded up. You all did help a lot to get it all ready." She smiled at Marie and Angela Rae.

As soon as they left, Helen turned to Arlissa and asked, "Why this curiosity about your birth at this time in your life?"

"Well, I've always wanted to know and I found out something today that kinda threw me for a loop."

"Oh? And what was that?"

Just then, Hank Tunstall came into the kitchen and said, "The Sheriff is here, Helen. We really need to get  started with this meeting and not waste his time."

Helen's countenance showed her irritation with the interruption, but there was nothing she could do about it, so she removed her apron and hung it over the back of the chair. 

Arlissa dried her hands and followed suit. She was dreading this meeting, but, after much prayer, had already made her decision.

"Hello, Sheriff," she smiled at him. Then a thought occurred to her. He would know something of her family's history and would be a good person to ask.

However, she realized now would not be the best time to ask. So she sat down on the living room sofa next to Marie, who smiled sweetly at her, making room for her to sit comfortably.

The Sheriff took a chair over in the corner, so as to be out of the way, but still privy to all that would be going on. Putting his hat on his knee, he suggested they begin.

Hank looked around at all of them as they settled in. 

Looking at his stepson, Zeb, he suggested that Zeb begin the meeting with a prayer. 

Zeb nodded his compliance and began.

"Lord, we know that You have a plan for each of our lives. Please give us wisdom and guide us in the decisions that are made here tonight. We know this little boy has not had an easy life so far; he has seen his mama beaten, and heard her cries; please help us to know how to care for him. Help us to decide who will be raising him to manhood. We thank you for your guidance and we give you all the praise and the Glory. Amen."

"Thank you, son. Now, who wants to go first?"

Everyone looked around, waiting for the discussion to actually begin.

"Maybe I should begin," Helen stated.

"About ten days ago, Rosie showed up at our front door with a single suitcase and a big purse, and a little boy. She claimed the boy was her son, Benito, whom she called Benny. They looked like something the cat dragged in, but I was so happy to see her!

She had changed, though. Oh, she was still defiant and rebellious, but she was as jumpy as the cat. She continuously looked out the window, as though expecting someone else to come driving up. I discovered later that it was the man who was Benny's father. It seems she had taken Benny without his father's knowledge. Then, a few days later, she went to our neighbor's, the Hintons, and that is the last time we saw her alive."

Then, Arlissa picked up the story.

"Well, when she came over to the house, I had a good time playin' with Benny, showin' him the animals, milkin' the cow, feedin' the chickens. She almost seemed like her old self, but I did notice she was always a' watchin', and when the Trooper, Bobby Joe Odom, came up on his motorcycle, I thought she was goin' to have a heart attack or somethin'."

At this, Arlissa looked over at Zeb and smiled to let him know she knew they were friends. He smiled back and gestured for her to continue.

"He grabbed her arm kinda friendly like and she like to a' had a hissy fit. 'Don't you never touch me again!' she told him. I had noticed the purple and black places on her arms and she later told me that Roberto had beat on her, and even little Benny knew he had beat her. I reckon it coulda been a every day happenin'.

I also found out that Roberto had gotten her hooked on drugs. I felt so sorry for her, but they weren't nothin' I could do for her."

At these last words, Arlissa began to weep silent tears.

Wiping her eyes, Arlissa continued.

"Well, we had supper and Benny fell asleep at the table. I put him down in my bedroom on the davonette. We talked some more, then Rosie got restless and went out onto the front porch and was gone awhile. She came back in and laid down on my couch in the living room when I went in to go to bed."

She paused in her relating of the story, and looked around at her audience, gathering her courage to finish the telling. They all seemed to be bent forward, waiting.

"Well, the next thing I know, I'm wakin' up to the sound of Benny tryin' to wake up his mama. Of course, you know she was gone by then. The next step was to call the doctor and the sheriff. I reckon you all know it from there. She left a paper for me, which I didn't know she was goin' to. We didn't talk about Benny at all that I can remember. I know she really loved him, though, and didn't want his Daddy around him or her."

"I know you all are wonderin' what I'm a aimin' to do about the paper she left and takin' care of Benny. I have made a decision about it. I was thinkin' that if I followed Rosie's wishes, I'd..."

"No! You'll never have my grandson! He's my first, who knows, maybe my only, grandson! She did this to spite me! She was always her daddy's little girl! You have no right to Benny!"

Helen Tunstall jumped up and was almost on the girl before Zeb could get to her.

"Ma! Ma! You can't do that. Arlissa is a guest in our home. Please sit down. Let her finish what she was going to say, please."

Reluctantly, and still glaring at the young woman, Helen went back to her seat.

"Now, 'Lissa, why don't you please continue." Zeb suggested.

"Well, I was thinkin' that maybe with Granny so sick and all, I shouldn't take on the care of a little boy, too, even though Rosie wanted me to. But, I believe she wanted him away from here."

"Why do you say that, 'Lissa?" Lester wanted to know. Quiet little Marie just nodded her head in agreement.

"I believe she figured that if he stayed in this house, his daddy would track him here and try to get him away from here. Accordin' to what Rosie told me, he is part of a group that has a lot of contacts and eventually, he's gonna find little Benny."

The Sheriff spoke up then, and opined that she was probably right in her thinking. 

"Also, since Rosie most likely didn't have a legal paper where the father signed his parental rights over to Rosie, he could come at any time and get the boy," the Sheriff continued.

"What are we going to do, then? Such a monster shouldn't get his hands on our little grandson, Hank! I'd almost give him over to Arlissa before I'd let him have the little sweetheart!" Helen wailed. 

One could see that they were now really considering what was best for the child at the center of the problem they faced. 

"But how would we know she wouldn't take him off somewhere and we'd never see him again? No! I won't allow it! We'll keep him and protect him from harm. Hank, you've got a shotgun that we could keep him safe with!"

"Now, Helen, I'd do my best, but what kind of a life would we have, knowing we'd have to be on our guard all the time? He'd be learning fear, more than he knows already, if we were to do that. We'd be afraid to let him out of our sight!"

The occupants of the room looked around at each other. What were they going to do to protect this little boy?

Zeb turned to Angela and whispered in her ear. A smile was her returned comment, along with a nod. 

"We have a suggestion, folks. We'd like to take Benny back with us when we leave. He seems to have taken to us, and we could protect him. How do you feel about that, Ma?"

"Are you sure? When would I ever get to see him? Oh, I don't know... I already love him so much. Wouldn't it be strange for him, being in another place, so soon after coming here?"

They could all see how much Helen hated to see him go, but as they talked more about the feasibility of the solution, they knew it would be best.

"Okay, I guess so. You all need to spend as much time with him as you can, Zeb and Angela, so he can get used to being with you. I don't want him to feel strange around you."

Helen knew it was going to be difficult for all of them. Benny was a little boy who had easily captured their hearts, with his sunny disposition and charm. 

They had the funeral and burial of Rosie to contend with as well. The next few days were going to be full of activity. 

"Zeb, one more favor. Will you speak at Rosie's funeral?"

"Yes, Ma. I'll do that. She and I were close growing up and I think I understood her pretty well."

"When did you decide to have visitation, Mrs. Tunstall?" The Sheriff inquired. 

"Tomorrow from seven to nine p.m. at the Funeral Home, and the funeral is on the following day at ten a.m. with the burial at eleven a.m. at the old cemetery."

"May I ask why you are taking her all the way out there, when there is one closer to town?"

"Grandpa O'Hanlon and his family already have a family plot out there. There is plenty of space out there and we have never bought any spaces in the new cemetery. I remember how is very peaceful it was out there, when we buried him."

At this news, Arlissa perked up. Now she would be able to get more information about her past, perhaps. 

Soon they were getting ready to leave, and the Sheriff spoke to Arlissa. 

"How about I follow you home, Arlissa, just to make sure that Douglas fella is watching for you?"

"Oh, thanks, Sheriff! I had completely forgot about him. I'll be ready to go in just a minute or two."

She walked over to Helen Tunstall to say goodbye.

"Miss Helen, I really am sorry about Rosie. I loved her, too, you know. I had no idea she was goin' to do any of the things she did. She was a good friend to me, and I miss her. Thank you for the good supper and I hope we can be friends. Goodbye for now." 

Arlissa hugged Helen Tunstall and took her leave, with the Sheriff following closely behind her after saying his goodbyes. Hat in hand, he walked out the door to Arlissa's car.

"I'll be right behind you, Miss Hinton; in fact, I'll see you to your front door."

"Thank you, Sheriff. I appreciate it."

It was a quiet trip back to her home and she was tempted to wave the Sheriff on when they arrived, but she didn't.

When they pulled into the yard, he got out of his car and walked over to hers, carrying his big flashlight, since there was no moon that night, and there were no outside lights by which to see anything.

"Sheriff, really, I think I'm safe now."

"Now, Miss Arlissa, I'll just walk you to the door. It's as black as pitch out here; you could stumble and fall. Nobody'd know you were even hurt. Just humor me, okay?"

"All right, Sheriff; since you insist. Thank ye."

She slipped her arm into his and they walked companionably to her front stoop. 

Looking at the top of the stoop, as he shone the light on it, she stood amazed.

"Blinky! What are you doin' up here? Why are you sleepin' on my front stoop? You silly cat! You know you belong in the barn!"

Leaning down to pick her up, Arlissa almost dropped the cat.

"Sheriff! Looky here! She's dead! Why does she have a red ribbon around her neck? She ain't never wore a ribbon on her neck!" 

The Sheriff examined the cat lying in Arlissa's hands.

"It looks like your Blinky has a broken neck, Miss Arlissa!"

"Who would do such a thing?" She cradled the cat in her arms, crying softly.

"Con Douglas! That's who!" She realized with a fury. "He is a lowdown polecat! He used to get in trouble all the time for shootin' at squirrels and dogs and birds - anything that moved."

"Yes, I remember," replied the Sheriff. "He was reported several times for being on people's properties shooting animals. Listen, I'm going to go in with you and check to make sure he hasn't been inside your house. He could be waiting in there for you to come home. You stay right behind me."

Arlissa went in behind him, still holding Blinky in her arms.

All at once, the Sheriff turned to Arlissa.

"You stay behind me, you hear?" He whispered to her. "He may still be here. Don't you lock your doors?"

"Of course, I do! I locked them just before I left today!"

The Sheriff flashed the light around in the living room and could see the destruction the intruder had left behind.

Arlissa flipped on the light near the front door and let out a strangled cry.

"Don't touch anything!" Sheriff Bradshaw warned. "I'm going to check for fingerprints later on." 

Arlissa walked over to the rocking chair in the corner; apparently the only furniture that hadn't been damaged in some way. Her grandpa had made the chair with his own hands over twenty years ago for her granny. She realized she was still holding Blinky, and lay her down on the floor. 

"How is my Granny goin' to take this? How can I get it cleaned up before she comes home?"

Looking around the room, she saw the broken picture frames and glass the intruder had strewn about on the floor. It had crunched beneath her feet as she walked to the rocker. 

By now the Sheriff had moved into the bedrooms and saw bed clothing torn into shreds. The intruder (or intruders) had also invaded Arlissa's dresser and cut all her clothing into shreds and strewn it about. Urine had been put on the clothing as well. 

He progressed into the kitchen and saw the refrigerator standing open with food stuffs scattered as well,  juice poured all over the stove and table. 

Walking back into the living room, he shook his head and said, "You can't stay here, Miss Arlissa! The person who did this is too dangerous to let you be without protection. You're coming home with me, at least for tonight. My wife will be glad to have some company. You remember I told you she is bedridden. I have someone that comes in during the day, so you needn't be worried I would be having you take care of her."

"But, my animals! I can't go off and leave them! The cows and the pigs and the chickens can't be left without somebody takin' care of them!"

"Maybe we'd best be going out there to check on the animals," he suggested.

She picked up Blinky to carry him outside. 

Taking the flashlight in hand, Sheriff Bradshaw led the way out to the barn. They walked quietly, with Arlissa to the side and behind the sheriff, stepping carefully.

The barn door stood wide open, and they saw devastation there also. Blood was everywhere. Minnie and the other two cows lay with their throats cut. 

"Oh, no! Not Minnie, too! How could anyone be so cruel? How could he, Sheriff?" Arlissa looked up at Sheriff Bradshaw in horror, as she knelt beside her pet cow, still holding Blinky. She had forgotten she was holding him. Gently she placed him beside Minnie.

The Sheriff knelt down and felt the cow.

"He's not been gone for long; she still feels kinda warm."

When they checked the henhouse, the chickens were okay, but probably only because the perpetrator had not had time to kill them, too. 

"Come along, Miss Arlissa! I'll get some fellas out here tomorrow to clean all this up for you and dispose of the bodies. I'm so sorry you're having to go through this right now. I know now for sure  that it's not safe for you to be out here alone. I hate to think what could have happened if you had decided to come back here while he was still doing all this."

"You think it was Con Douglas, then?"

"The evidence is not clear yet, but circumstantially, I'd say it's a good chance it was him. He was mighty mad at you this afternoon. He strikes me as a dangerous man, with the family background he's got. I've had some dealings with them over the years; and the dealings weren't pleasant, to say the least."

"Are you goin' to arrest him?"

"Well, I don't have a very large staff to gather evidence, I may have to bring in the State Troopers on this one. I'll get fingerprints and see if they can match them up with any they've got on file. I'm going to bring in Con and question him this evening. But first, I'm going to take you to my house for safety."

"Wait a minute, Sheriff! My pigs...I gotta check on them. The pig lot is down this a' way."

They hurried down the hill away from the barn lot and saw the pigs were okay. Apparently the fella had forgotten about the pigs.

On the way to the Sheriff's car, Arlissa thought about her Granny. How was she ever going to tell Granny?  And her car, how was she going to get her car to go to see Granny?

Sheriff Bradshaw gently assisted the young woman into the cab of his truck. The drive to his home was a brief one.

"Miss Arlissa, I hardly know what to say about all this, except how sorry I am that it has all has happened. I know you don't deserve it. I'm going to do my best to bring him, or them, if it was more than one that did it, in for questioning and put him or them in jail."

"What about my car, Sheriff? How can I go see my Granny tomorrow?"

"I'll see you get it in time to drive it tomorrow. Don't worry. I am concerned for your safety, so I'm going to have one of my deputies follow you there and then follow you back to my house when you are ready to leave the hospital."

"How long am I gonna be stayin'  with you and Mizz Bradshaw, Sheriff?

"As long as it takes to get this guy. Maggie Lou is going to love having you around."

"Will your deputy go with me to feed my chickens and pigs? I can't let them go hungry."

"I'll see that he takes you and helps you. Don't you worry! In fact, I may have him just drive you to the hospital after taking you out to the farm to feed them. Here we are at my home. Come on in and I'll have my day help, Sarah, to get you one of Maggie's nightgowns to wear tonight and maybe one of her dresses to wear tomorrow."

"Sheriff, you're bein' awful good to me. I don't understand why, but I really appreciate it. I don't know what I would have done if I'd gone back home and seen all that by myself. I still don't know how Granny's goin' to take it. I don't even know if I can tell her or how I can ease into it."

She kept chattering as they walked to the house from the truck. Her nerves were stretched to a breaking point; the talking was a way to deal with everything that had taken place over the last hour.

They entered the house and Arlissa looked around, dazed now from all that had taken place. She was walking as though in a fog, trying to mentally take in everything that had taken place.

Gone were any questions about her parentage; it was no longer of immediate importance to her, although it would resurface at a later time. Right now, she had to deal with the events of the past hour or so.

Sarah came bustling out of the kitchen. 

"Sheriff, I just took Maggie Lou some juice. Would you like something before I leave for the night?"

Then she saw Arlissa sitting on the edge of the sofa, looking as though she was going to faint.

"Land's sake, Woody! What you doin' with this young lady, bringin' her in here this time of evenin'? What's wrong with you, Arlissa? You look like you've seen a ghost, 'er somethin'!"

"She needs a place to stay for the evening, Sarah, and has no place else to go right now, and I thought maybe Maggie Lou could use some company while I take care of some business. That's all I can say for right now, okay?"

"Sure, Woody. Whatever you say. Hmphh!"

"Now, can you get her one of Maggie's nightgowns, so's she'll have something to sleep in tonight? And one of Maggie's dresses, so she'll have something to wear tomorrow to see her Granny."

Sarah looked at Arlissa, and her curiosity was burning a hole in her brain, near abouts, but she held her tongue and went to do the Sheriff's bidding. 

Woody Bradshaw put his finger to his lips to caution Arlissa about saying anything of what had happened to her home. She nodded silently.

He had a purpose in his actions; he didn't want Con Douglas being warned that he was coming to pick him up for questioning that evening. 

"Arlissa, do you mind if I let Sarah go ahead on home and you stay here with Maggie? She'll take Maggie to the bathroom and do all that before she goes home."

"No, Sheriff, I don't mind at all. I'll be happy to set with her. It'll give me somethin' to do, instead a' settin' here thinkin' about what all is a goin' on in my life right now."

Ordinarily, he would have gone ahead and picked up a suspect, without coming home ahead of time to ask Sarah to stay. Since Arlissa was going to be here, she could give Maggie the company she needed.

"Can I go in and speak with her right now?" Arlissa wanted to know. 

"Sure, come on in."

"Maggie, honey, I brought somebody to see you; she's gonna stay with you while I take care of some Sheriffin' business."

The old lady sitting in the bed looked at Arlissa and gave her a tender smile.

"Savannah? Is that you? Savannah O'Hanlon?"

Arlissa looked at Maggie Bradshaw in confusion, then at the Sheriff. 

"She gets things mixed up these days. She had already started getting confused before the cancer. The cancer has taken its toll on her, besides. Don't pay any attention to what she says. Doc Henry says she ain't long for this world, so I just try to see that she's comfortable," the Sheriff whispered to Arlissa.

"Honey, this is Eleanor Hinton's daughter from over the way. She wanted to come and visit with you for awhile. Okay, Baby?"

She looked up with soft brown eyes at her husband of forty years. 

"Where's my Woody? Is he out workin' somewheres?"

He looked down at his wife, smiling. 

"Yes, he'll be back afterwhile. This little gal wants to see you."

"Oh. Hello," she spoke softly, yet confusedly. "Do I know you? Would you read to me?"

"Of course, I'll read to you. What would you like me to read?"

The Sheriff handed Arlissa the old Bible on the table beside the bed. 

"There's a marker in it here in Psalms. She likes to hear them. You can read to her until Sarah comes in to tuck her in for the night, then a little longer till she drifts off to sleep. Sarah will show you where you can sleep and she'll lay out the nightgown and dress for you on the bed where you'll be sleeping."

He leaned down and kissed Maggie Lou's brow. She had already closed her eyes. He smoothed her hair gently away from her face and left.

Sarah came in after Arlissa had been reading to the old lady for about twenty minutes. She found the girl had drifted off to sleep as well in the easy chair near the bed. Just reading the Psalms had quieted her soul, too. 

Sarah gently wakened Arlissa. Woody had told Sarah all about what had happened to Arlissa and her heart went out to the girl. He knew he could trust Sarah to keep her own counsel on the matter.

Arlissa was almost walking in her sleep to the back bedroom where she was to spend the night. 

After making use of the facilities, she changed into the nightgown and went to bed. 

Sarah decided to stay the night to keep people from getting the wrong idea about Arlissa spending the night, so she slept on the couch in Arlissa's bedroom. People would find out about the girl staying there; she knew it for sure. 

There were few secrets in this little town. 

Upon waking the next morning, Arlissa stretched and yawned, then sitting up in bed, remembered she was not at home. She looked out the window to see the sun streaming through the trees outside. 

"Oh, my goodness! I'm late gettin' up. They'll think I'm a regular sleepyhead, a sleepin' in like this!"

Every bone in her body seemed to be aching; she felt a depression she had never before experienced. What was she going to do? How would she ever tell Granny what had taken place? 

"Well," she told herself, "I'm jist goin' to have to leave it up to God to help me tell Granny. Surely, He'll give me the words I need to say to her."

She got up and used the bathroom, taking a quick shower and got dressed in the dress belonging to Maggie Lou Bradshaw. 

Looking at herself in the mirror, she thought it looked okay on her, a little old-fashioned maybe, but it fit her good. The sheriff's wife was a short, slender person as well as Arlissa. 

"Hmm. Wonder what Sheriff Bradshaw found out last night when he went to pick up Con Douglas?" 

Arlissa followed the aroma of bacon coming from the kitchen and went in to see Sarah bustling about making breakfast.

"Well, good morning, Miss Sleepy Girl!" Sarah greeted her with a smile. "I'm so glad you got you some good sleep! I heard you snoring a little last night!"

"You did? How? Could you hear me all the way to your house?" 

"No, you silly! I slept on the couch in your room. I didn't want to leave you here to have to get up and maybe get something for Maggie! I quite often stay here when the Sheriff is out on an all night job. To be quite honest, I didn't want no talk a goin' on about you being here with the Sheriff and all! You know how people are always happy to gossip about such things!"

Just as Arlissa sat down at the table, the Sheriff came into the kitchen and sat down as well. 

"Good morning, Miss Arlissa! Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, Sheriff, I did. I hate to be botherin' you with questions already this mornin', but did you arrest Con Douglas last night?"

"Well, I would have taken him in if I could have found him. He's still on the loose somewhere. My men and I are going to start looking for him again this morning, right after breakfast. We went to his Ma's house, where he lives and she said he wasn't there; she even let us look everywhere in the house and out-buildings. He wasn't anywhere to be found. We'll get him, though." 

After they had breakfast, one of the deputies came by to take Arlissa to the hospital to see her grandmother. 

"Now, when you're ready to come back home, you call my office or the house here, and we'll see you get back here. You can't go back to that farm till we got him in custody. You hear?" the Sheriff instructed her.

"Yes, sir. I sure ain't wantin' to get hurt by that Con Douglas!"

When the deputy came to the door, Arlissa went out with him to his car, and she realized she knew him. 

"Billy Newman! I didn't know you was a deputy! How long have you been doin' that?"

He blushed and told her he had been deputy for a little more than a year. She knew him from high school, but not very well. He was one of the town kids and didn't mix in with the others too well. His family had money. His daddy was a county judge and was highly respected. 

Billy had even gone away to college and everything. He was an educated young man and she didn't think the job of deputy would take him very far, and doubted it paid anywhere like he was used to having for spending. What she didn't know was that he and his daddy had come to a parting of the ways over his laying around doing nothing after college.

She didn't know what else to say and since Billy was not much of a conversationalist either, the inside of the car was silent, except for the sound of the engine as it turned.

About twenty-five minutes later, he parked the car and walked her to the hospital doors. 

"Sheriff said to be sure I got you inside safe and sound."

"Okay, Billy. Thanks. See you this afternoon." She smiled at him; he nodded, gave a half-smile in return and left.

Arlissa noticed the nurses stopped talking at the desk when they saw her coming. One bustled over to her as she got ready to enter Granny's room.

"Oh! You poor thing! What are you going to do?"

"Has Granny took a turn for the worse?" Arlissa wanted to know. "Why didn't you call me?"

To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Here we go....

Grammy said...

Fat's in the fire, or headed that way. :)