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©2016 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Finding home



Miranda tried to watch the movie, but she could feel Jimmy’s eyes on her. How strange. She thought he’d hate to look at her now. She had looked better, much better in fact.  Just as she turned to tell him to stop staring at her he spoke.

“You’re so beautiful, Miranda,” he said quietly. "As beautiful as ever."

As this was exactly the opposite she had expected she gaped nonplussed. “Jimmy, are you insane? I have a black eye, a cut lip, a swollen nose and bruises everywhere,” she said half incredulous, half exasperated.

“I can see passed all that. I only see the real you... before he did this to you,” he said unconsciously clenching his fist. How he’d love to meet her husband down some dark alley and show him what a proper whooping felt like. “I’m still worried Cletus will come back, Miranda.  What if he sneaks in while you’re sleeping? You won’t have time to call me... or anybody, for help.”

She managed a small smile. “I’ll be fine, Jimmy. I’ll be sleeping with my favorite guys tonight,” she said flippantly. At the shocked look on his face she giggled. “Smith and Wesson.”

“Oh,” he said obviously relieved. “But if he catches you asleep you won’t have time to reach for it. He could kill you this time.”

“And what will you have me do? Hide from that creep forever? Leave my family and friends, my hometown? He already took my dignity. I won’t let him take anything else from me,” she said fiercely, fighting the urge to cry. “I’m staying put. He dare show his face here and I’ll make sure it’s the last time he has a face to show. I’ll blow it off!”

Jimmy cringed. “Please, don’t say stuff like that, Miranda. I’m a cop,” he said wearily.

She giggled again. “I’ll deny I ever said such a thing and you’ll have to back me up or see me thrown in jail,” she said brightly, turning back to the TV.

“You know I would never allow that to happen,” he said.

She smiled at him and patted his arm. “You’re such a pal.”

His heart skipped a beat at the tiny touch and that smile gave him the strongest desire to kiss her. But he couldn’t possibly do that. First, she was still married and might, despite all her protestations, go back to the bastard. Second, she just said they were pals and pals don’t go around kissing. Third, anywhere his lips would land would likely hurt her. He’d sooner die than cause her more pain.

It was as if he was back in high school. It hardly mattered he was virtually unrecognizable from then. He grew more than a foot, had muscles and could take care of himself. Plus he wasn’t so bad to look at anymore, at least according to all the ladies who ask him repeatedly to dances, dinner parties for two and the movies. 

So why did he feel like the geeky, awkward fifteen year old kid he had been then whenever Miranda was around? He knew perfectly well why. He had loved her since then, from afar, yes, but loved her just the same. Longing for the girl he could never have did that to a guy and being in or out of high school had nothing to do with it. But he wasn’t about to give up on protecting her. He could at least do that for her.

He looked critically around her home. He saw nothing to make him think she could possibly want to stay in this hovel. It was a rundown shack at best out in the woods far from anything. She didn’t belong here. It was plain for him to see. Why couldn’t she?

“Miranda, you don’t really like this place, do you?”he burst forth.

“Like it?” she said bemused.

“I mean, wouldn’t you like to live in a nice place closer to town, closer to friends and  where you could find work?  The woods is nice but.... I just don’t like the idea of you all alone out here. Maybe I could have Townsend and Daltry come stand watch for you.”

She stared at him. “The guys from The Who?” she asked bewildered.

He grinned. “Townsend and Daltry are my two German Shepherds, guard dogs. They're very good at their job. They’d rip off anyone’s face who tries to get in here. With them on guard duty I’d feel you were safe. One in front, one out back. What do you say, Miranda?” he asked.

Emotion welled up in her chest. “I say you are the sweetest man alive to care so much about a stupid girl like me. I’d like to meet your mother to tell her what a great job she did raising you.”

“She’d love to meet you, my dad, too. They don’t live too close but we can take a ride next weekend and...”

“Jimmy, I was kinda kidding. I very much doubt your parents would like me. I’m quite beneath you and they’ll know it,” she said.

“Of course they’ll like you! They’ll love you as much as I do,” he said before he could stop himself.

She remained perfectly still savoring for a moment that little slip. She knew better than to say anything in return before she truly knew what her feelings were.



 “Well, maybe I can meet them after I don’t look like I went two rounds with Mike Tyson. I wouldn’t want to scare them,” she said as casually as she could. “Come to think of it, won’t I scare The Who dogs with this face?”

“They don’t scare that easy. You can feel safe in your own home with them around. You want me to get them for you?” he asked hopefully.

She looked around  as if seeing the house for the first time and realized it never really had been her home. It certainly never felt like it. When she and Cletus married they were only going to stay for a while in this hideous dump. A while stretched into almost three years with no plan to change things. But things were definitely changed now. She had never really thought about it, but she didn’t have to stay here at all. Not in this place which only held the worst of memories for her. She never considered leaving but now she truly couldn’t think of anything she’d like better.

She suddenly felt lighter than air. A smile spread across her face, but it quickly vanished again.

“Miranda? What is it?” Jimmy asked.

She slowly turned to him and tried to smile, but she couldn’t manage it. “I’d love to leave this place. I’ve always hated it here,” she said quietly.

“But?” he said frowning.

Her lip trembled as she stared down at her hands. “I’ve got no money, Jimmy.”

“I’ll get you a job.”

“I have no skills. All I learned in high school was cheerleading. You gonna get me an audition with the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleading squad? Even you can’t do that,” she said.

“You were artistic back in school. You’re smart and personable, quick to learn. You’ll have no trouble getting a job. Anything will do for a start until you find something you really like,” he said confidently.

“Jimmy, you think way too highly of me. And so what if I get a job? No one will just let me take an apartment before I have enough for a deposit and I don’t even have a car to get to work. Cletus smashed his and took mine. I’m stranded in the sticks unless you got a horse I can borrow,” she said.

“Then move in with me,” he said. “No, listen, it’s not like you think. I have a three bedroom house and my last roommate just moved out when he got married. You can have his room and you can do whatever you like with it. I’m right in town so you could walk to any place there for a job. It’s like five minutes. In good weather I walk into town or I can drop you off before going to work.”


She stared at him fighting the urge to cry again. “Jimmy, are you going for the title of supreme nice guy of the universe?” she asked.

“No, I just want to know you’re safe. When I’m not home Townsend and Daltry will be right there protecting you. No way Cletus can ever hurt you there and you can start your life over. You can be happy again.  I’ll make sure of it. Please, Miranda?”

She gazed into his honest, hazel eyes feeling her heart swelling within her chest. She couldn’t comprehend why Jimmy, who she had treated contemptuously back in school, was being so nice to her. She didn’t deserve it. She may never deserve such devotion, but she wanted to. She wanted to be the person Jimmy saw her as. If she didn’t know better she’d say she was falling in love. But it was way too soon for such nonsense. She was just in a state of emotional upheaval. That could cause all sorts of crazy thoughts and even nuttier feelings.  But still she had to consider Jimmy’s offer of a real home. It was too good to toss it carelessly aside.

“Have you ever lived with a girl before?” she asked.

“Does my mom count?”he asked.

She giggled and shook her head. “Mamas are supposed to like you even if you leave the toilet seat up.”

“My mama taught me well. I never leave it up,” he said proudly.

She laughed. “You know, I believe it coming from you.”

“I can cook too. Nothing fancy but I won’t let you starve. If you don’t like it you can always slip it to Townsend. He’ll eat anything,” he said conspiratorially.

She laughed again. The happiness she felt so briefly came back full force. “Last chance for you to back out of this, Jimmy, cuz I’m really considering taking you up on the offer.”

He grinned like a fool. “Ain’t gonna happen.”

“Then I guess you got a new roommate, but I will pay you back, Jimmy, and I won’t be a nuisance. I’ll keep house for you and I can cook. I can at least do that,” she said.

“You’re going to regret saying that. I’m a slob,” he said standing up and pulling her to her feet.

“What? You’re leaving so soon?”she said, surprised.


“No, I was going to help you pack a few things. We’ll take what I can fit in my truck now and we’ll get the rest tomorrow,”he said. “Unless you want to see my house first to make sure you’ll like it.”

She shook her head. She knew she’d like it even if it were an underground borrow. Cletus, after all, wouldn’t be there, but more importantly,  strong and handsome Officer Jimmy would be sleeping in the room next door worrying about her, willing to protect her with his life and eager for her happiness. She finally found home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

*Gun Power And Lead*



 It took four cops to get him off her this time.

“Lady, you gonna file charges yet or are we gonna see you dead next time?” Officer Franklin snarled, his menacing scowl reminiscent of her husband’s.

Still dazed and hurting all over, she barely knew what was happening. She raised a shaky hand to her scalp. Blood, thick and pasted onto her pale blonde tresses came away on her fingers. Had they not shown up she might be heading to the morgue. Good thing she had sense enough to know it was coming this time. She called the police preemptively saying there was an intruder before he made it in the house and started smacking her around. They took their damn sweet time. Just another “disturbance” at the Jonas’. Domestic violence gets no respect nor do those who live with it.

Much to her own surprise, she said in a tremulous, almost inaudible voice, “Yes, I am. This has to stop.”

“Stop?” Cletis shouted, incredulous. He strained against the two men holding him back, hands cuffed behind him. “Oh, this will stop soon as I get back, you bitch! You can count on it.”

“Ma’am, you should let us take you to the hospital. You don’t look so good. You might need stitches,” a kindly officer  who’d never been there before, said as the others took Cletis out still screaming obscenities and threats.

She shook her head and instantly wished she hadn’t. She nearly fainted. He grabbed her before she fell and helped her to a seat on the couch. He knelt beside her still holding her hand. “Please, Miranda, let me help you. This shouldn’t happen to such a nice girl,” he whispered.

She stared at him, but he was slightly blurred. He looked vaguely familiar. “Jimmy Harold? From high school?” she asked.

He smiled. “Yeah, you finally noticed me.”

Yes, she remembered perfectly now. Jimmy Harold had been a geeky kid, scrawny and bookish. He always went out of his way to say hello to her and help her with any school work she was having trouble with.  Unless she needed him she would turn her nose up at him. She barely acknowledged his existence.   

She had been a very popular girl, a cheerleader in love with Cletis the quarterback. But look at them now. Jimmy was now a respected police officer tall, handsome and muscular and she? Well, rag doll came to mind when she looked at herself in the mirror lately, floppy limbed, stringy haired, often bruised and swollen face, weak and broken in body and spirit.

“How the might doth fall,” she retorted.

“Miranda, I can...”

“Harold! You coming or what?” growled Officer Franklin at the door.

“I think we should take her to see a doctor,” he said, swiftly standing up and releasing her hand.

“What for? She’ll be in worse shape after her darling gets out on bail and comes back to finish her off. Now let’s go! She’s hardly the only one in town getting beat up,” he snarled.

Jimmy looked down at her then grabbed a card out of his pocket and stuffed it into her hand. “Call if there’s further trouble, Ma’am,” he said sounding carefully detached. Reluctantly he left, quietly closing the front door behind him.

She heard the gravel fly as the two police cars took off down the road. What could she do but lean back and cry?  She did weep for a good while. Despair often followed an episode of Cletis verses Miranda leaving her lethargic and resigned to her fate, but this time she remembered Jimmy at school. That somehow bolstered her. How nice and kind he had been to her then and even now. She looked at his card and only then noticed handwriting on the back.

Call me whenever you need someone to talk to. I’ll listen and I’ll help if you let me, it read followed by his personal cell number.

“Still sweet on me, I guess,” she murmured to herself. “No, Jimmy, no one can help me.” 

She knew it was true. She had to do it herself or stay like this. It was only a matter of time until Cletis really did put her in her grave prematurely. Suddenly she wasn’t too willing to allow that to happen. Cletis had slapped her and shaken her like a rag doll once too often. A steely determination suffused her being. She had a plan.

She went to the kitchen and grabbed a beer for fortification. She would need it. She downed it slopping a bit down her shirt but no matter. She went outside and hopped into the old jeep and tore on out of there. She had only a few hours at most until he made bail. His barroom buddies were always willing to help him out. Well, she had no buddies. She had only herself now. She didn’t need anyone though. She would do this all alone. She got herself into this mess and she would get herself out.

She pulled into her parent’s driveway and snuck into the house. Not that it really was sneaking in. Nobody ever locked their doors in this tiny bo-dunk town. They were gone to church so no one would see her disheveled appearance nor question her about her mission. She knew where her father kept it. It was always in clear view perhaps to intimidate anyone who dared question his right to it. The shot gun was up high and she, tiny thing that she was, had to get up on tiptoe to reach it leaning on the mantle for the extra inch she needed.

She handled it with expertise once she got it down. Her daddy had shown her a few hundred times how to shot with accuracy and she was good.

“My own little Annie Oakley!” her father had proclaimed proudly. She knew he had been disappointed in her for this current situation. She would do him proud again.

She checked for ammo with no doubt of actually needing it. Her father always kept the shotgun loaded for the unexpected critter bent on doing harm. Well, she needed it more than he did right now. She quickly scrawled a note on an old receipt for barbed wire from the hardware store she found lying on the kitchen counter.

 It read: Need this to get rid of a vermin that’s been bothering me. Get it back to you soon. Love your little Annie Oakley.

She grinned then grimaced and tenderly touched her face. Damn but it hurt and she could feel a tooth was loose. Oh, yeah, he would pay. His fist may be big but her gun’s bigger. He’ll find that out soon enough when she pulls the trigger.

Back home she sat by the front door smoking one of his cigarettes. She hated smoking and grew more ornery just from doing it. She wanted to be ornery. For far too long she had been a weak willed, sweet young thing blaming herself for Cletis’ problems. Well, she wasn’t the one pouring Jack Daniels down his throat nor was she the one that kicked him off the job. He did that on his own. He blamed her, slapped her face and shook her like a rag doll. Don’t that sound like a real man? Perhaps now she would earn that blame.

Another beer in and the six-pack was done. She could feel him coming like a black thunder cloud rumbling in the distance. Soon, real soon. Sure enough she heard a clunking pick up--Carl’s no doubt--flying down towards her. She thought she’d be afraid but that had long since passed. A blazing heat permeated her soul. Perhaps she was getting ready to go to hell. No, that wasn’t it. She was already in hell and she was determined to crawl on out of there and leave him there. Last time Cletis would ever hurt her or anyone.

“He wants a fight, well, now he’s got one,” she said as she cocked the gun and brought it to eye level.

The door banged open and there he stood filling up the door frame with his broad shoulders and looking angrier than a food deprived grizzly. Then he saw the gun and blanched.

“Say goodbye to your jewels, Honey. You won’t be seeing them again, not in one piece anyway,” she casually said.

BAM!


She calmly got up and walked towards him. He lay clutching his groin a scarlet stain appearing between his fingers as if by magic. He stared up at her terrified groaning.

“What the hell!” he moaned, thrashing around in obvious agony.

“Does that hurt?” she asked innocently.

“Hell yeah, you crazy bitch!”he shouted, looking from her face to the gun and back.

“You ain’t seen me crazy yet,”she snapped. She did, indeed, look a bit maniacal. Her pale blue eyes were slightly dazed and there was a nervous tick on the side of her face.

“What you gonna do?” he squeaked, rather like a cornered mouse.

 “Don’t gotta look so scared. It’s just little old me, Honey. I’m half your size, remember? And you know what little girls are made of, don’t you? Just a tiny bit of gunpowder and lead.”

She kicked him in the ribs just for good measure and laughed as he yelped. She then sat back down on her rocking chair staring at him as he struggled to get up. “I suggest you sit still or I might get an itch in my trigger finger. Now, listen up. You are gonna get back to your buddy Carl’s truck and go. I don’t care where, just go and never come back. If you do, it’ll be more than your pecker gets blown off next time. Do you understand me, Cletis? Or haven’t you sobered up yet?”

“I’m dying and you expect me to drive?”he whined.

“You’re not dying. That would  put you out of your misery and I kinda like the idea of you not being able to function like a man, if you know what I mean. Being as you ain’t no sort of man to speak of.  You actually think you’re a big man beating up on a little girl? Got news for you, you are nothing more than a wimp and a bully. I’m just sorry I never saw it back in school. The way you always beat up on kids smaller than you. Always smaller than you. You made sure you were friendly with the big ones, didn’t you?” she said.

“Call an ambulance, Miranda! You know I didn’t mean it,” he pleaded.

“Yeah, I’ll do that soon as you take back every slap and punch you ever gave me. Take the rest of you and get out of here unless you want me to finish you off. I could always dump you in that old well we got covered up out back and no one would ever know. Be easy to drag you out there and just... you know what? Maybe I should. You look like you’re in a lot of pain there. What do you say? One in the forehead, for all the good times?”

“You... you are crazy!” he shouted pushing himself away from her using his legs and leaving a wide, wet, crimson trail. He finally managed to get outside and pull himself into the truck blood pouring everywhere.


She waved from the front porch, smiled and shouted as he tore out, “Come back if you want another taste of what little girls are made of. Remember, gunpowder and lead! ”

She waited until the dust cloud vanished with his taillights. She stumbled inside and fell back on the couch, trembling all over. No, the fear hadn’t returned. Just an immense sense of relief. It was over, she just knew it. He would never return. Somebody had finally stood up to him and when all of town heard how it came about, he would be a laughing stock. To have his member blown off by a tiny little girl, a girl? No, he was outta here permanently.

She smiled then started to laugh, even though it hurt her. The laughter slowly ebbed and tears fill her eyes. She was free and she knew exactly who to thank for it.

She dialed the number on Jimmy’s card and just as she had hoped got his voice mail. “Um, Jimmy, this is Miranda. I just wanted to thank you. Cletis, as you probably know, got out on bail and I had a...uh...a little talk with him. He’s leaving town so you can tell your Sargent there won’t be any more trouble here. Thank you, Jimmy. I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said and slowly hung up. 

She took in a deep breath and slowly let it out again. Time to start afresh.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bitter pill to swallow part 2

She has issues

Ginny watched her brother calmly eat his apple and frowned.

“You don’t seem at all surprised,” she said.

“Why should I be?” Paul replied.

“Well…did you hear what I said? Greta told Pop that we can’t wait for him to die so we can have all his money.” 

“My hearing is excellent,” he said, taking a last bite and tossing the apple core into the compost bucket under the sink. He then washed his hands, picked up his guitar and sat back down. 

He started strumming and then said, “Told you she has issues. She talks about you behind your back all the time.”

Ginny gasped. “She does? You never told me that!”

“You never asked.”

Ginny’s mouth fell open. “What…what …that’s not the kinda thing anyone asks!” she shrieked. “Oh, by the way, does such and such talk about me behind my back?”

“It would make things easier,” Paul said, matter-of-fact, as he played a familiar Beatles tune in an unfamiliar way.

Ginny listened for a bit and liked it very much, but then she shook her head impatiently. “Well? What does she say about me?”

“Hmm, the best one was that you have no opinion of your own. You just agree with whatever Ned says. she thinks you're little more than milquetoast,” he said derisively.

“She really said that?” Ginny said.

“Oh, sure, but I wouldn’t allow it.”

“What do you mean?”

“I told her she had it all wrong. Anyone who has a brain and sees you and Ned interact for more than a minute can see you’re totally in tune with each other. I told her it’s not that you don’t have an opinion but that you and Ned have the same opinion."

"I'm surprised you do," she said, looking at her brother in awe.

"For Pete’s sake, you barely have to talk and you know what the other is thinking. You finish each other’s sentences. Just a look and…” He suddenly started laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh, Greta...she just hates that I contradict her and I do it all the time. I may be the only one who does. She’s such a bully."

"Uh, what does that have to do with..."

"Well, you should have seen the look on Greta’s face when I told her all that. Like she was eating lemons dipped in turpentine. It was hilarious!”

Ginny, however, didn’t find anything to laugh about. All this time she thought she had a confidant in Greta or at the very least a friend. What a fool she had been!

“I never said that, what she told Pop. You know how Ned is. Practical and logical. He was telling them…Stan mostly but Greta was there too…”

“Sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong, as usual,” Paul muttered, irritated.

“I guess. Ned told them that he explained to Pop that the IRS would snatch half of his money upon his death. Pop blew a gasket when he heard how much the IRS would steal from him.  He said, ‘A death tax on top of all the other ways they taxed that money already? Los Ladrones!’ He yelled for a half hour and called them a few other choice words. Totally livid.”

“I can imagine,” Paul said. "The IRS is completely out of control."

“He explained to Pop… this was the last time we were there, last Christmas… he told him some ways he could use to keep as much of it as possible, like he should start dividing his money and giving it away as gifts. I mean, he knows he’s got to give it away to someone anyway, so he may as well give some now so he won’t get penalized with the inheritance tax.”

“I like calling it what it really is, the death tax, just like he said.”

“Ned told Pop he should give you some now, since you could use it to buy a new car and maybe get a nice little house. I hope you don’t mind he told him that,” she said a bit anxiously.

Paul shrugged. “I don’t care, but I don’t want his money and he won’t give it anyway.  Not without loads of strings attached and I don’t like strings.”

Ginny sighed. Her brother and father never really did get along. “Anyway, Pop either didn’t understand what Ned was explaining or is procrastinating.”

“It’s a family trait.”

 “Not understanding money matters or procrastinating?” she asked, a bit of a smile finally showing up.

He laughed. “Both I’d say!”

“So, you believe me that I never said I want Pop dead so I could have all his money?”

“Of course I do! You’re no money grubber. What? You think I’m gonna believe anything coming out of Greta’s jealousy?”

“Jealousy? Why would you say she’s jealous?”

“Come on! Just look at you. You lead a charmed life,” he said.

Ginny blinked stupidly. “I do?”

He laughed at her. “Okay, maybe not charmed. I mean you did almost die a couple of times and…”

“What?” she said, totally thrown.

“When you got your appendix taken out. I overheard Mom talking to… what was that lady’s name? Remember Aunt Sohpie’s friend, that really smart old lady? I think she was Cuban.”

“Dolores?”

“Yeah, that’s her! She had been translating what the doctor said for Mom. She said you almost died. Weird, huh? In this day and age, almost dying from an appendix is unheard of. Of course, you were only twelve at the time.”

“I had no idea,” Ginny said, her eyes wide in shock.

“But you knew you could’ve died giving birth.”

“Oh, that wasn’t even close. It was just a routine c-section.”

“No c-section is routine and it probably caused the autism. And Lonny was way premature and he almost did die. They were tough babies for you. Ned was scared to death he would lose you, too. I was there, so I know.”

She rolled her eyes.  “You’re exaggerating!”

“No, I'm not. You had that fire in the house, too, and lost most of your stuff.”

“This is your idea of a charmed life?”

“No,” he said, laughing. “It’s that no matter what bad things come your way, you still manage to be happy and fine with it. You have a great attitude. You and Ned stay together, you even grow closer through stuff that usually, at least nowadays, breaks families up. And you never fight.”

“Of course we do!”

“Not nearly as much as normal people,” he said.

“So, now we’re abnormal?” she shouted.

“Definitely Abby Normal.  I love that movie. I should go look for it,” he said.

Ginny rolled her eyes.  Leave it to her nutty brother to go off on a tangent. “So, you’re saying Greta is jealous because Ned and I are still together? But she’s still with Stan. That can’t be it.”

“But she fights constantly with him. She fights with everybody, but that’s another story. She knows you and Ned are deliriously still lovey-dovey after all these years and she can’t stand it. You should be as miserable as she is. She doesn’t have the same outlook as you, either, or the same inner peace and she knows it. I told you, she has issues.”

“And what are these issues?”

“Heck if I know. I just know she’s one of those miserables—you know, the French revolution types. She’s never happy. So she tries to spread misery to all around her. I guess that’s supposed to make her feel better, but don’t ask me how.”

“That’s exactly what Mom told me,” Ginny said.

“That’s why I tell her nothing or very little. She’ll only twist it around and use it to slander you. Think I’d ever tell her my roommate is female? Hell no! She’ll just turn it into something sleazy. Who needs that?”

Ginny stared at her brother in awe. “You’ve opened my eyes, Paulie. Thanks. Have any advice? What I should do about Pop?”

Paul shrugged. “Let him stew in it for now. He’ll get over it in time and then it’ll be as if it never happened.”

Ginny made a face. “You really think that’ll work?”

He grinned. “Let’s put it this way, Pop has issues of his own and only he can deal with them. Nothing we can do about that. He’ll have to get over it and if he doesn’t, well, Pop still can’t take it with him. I’m hoping he leaves all his money to the church. We all know they never have enough golden challises. Did I tell you….”

Ginny smiled as she half listened to Paul’s favorite rant, religious hypocrisy. Perhaps he was right. Things would just blow over with nary a word spoken about it. It usually happened in this issue-filled family. 

As for Greta, God would have to deal with her. It simply wasn’t Ginny’s place nor desire to deal with her devious aunt. 

Perhaps—and this gave Ginny a chuckle—God could have Beelzebub handle Greta.  They were kindred spirits of sorts and only the likes of him should be able to do something with her…unless, of course, Beelzebub has issues too!






Saturday, October 8, 2011

Meant to be


“Good night, Melina, my love. Sleep tight,” Kelly whispered. She and Ray went down the hall and into the living room in silence.

“I’m afraid to ask what you think of my little brat,” Kelly said.

“Melina is not a brat,” he said. “ She’s precious, an angel, a little darling. But then I suspected she would be with you for a mother. She’s so much like you it’s scary.”

“I’m not sure that’s a compliment, but I’ll take it as such. Thank you, Ray,”  Kelly said.  Taking his hand she led him to the sofa.

“For?” he asked, sitting down beside her.

“First, for scaring away the monsters far better than I could have done. That’s very important, especially to Melina,” she replied. “And second, for giving her a little taste of what it would be like to have a daddy. She’s never known that.”

His smiled. He hadn’t realized how much he missed being a daddy, but he couldn’t exactly tell her that. She’d think he was auditioning for the part. “You said her father died when she was just two. She doesn’t remember him, then,” he said quietly.

“She couldn’t possibly. Henry left for the war when she was three months old. I should have known he wasn’t meant for civilian life.”  She sighed heavily. “Love makes you irrationally hopeful, doesn’t it?”

He couldn’t agree more with that statement. Here he was, after only being widowed a bit over two years, dating a woman 16 years his junior and wishing to have her and her darling little girl as permanent fixtures in his life. What was he thinking? How could he think of replacing a daring and brave army lieutenant, a war hero? He must be insane.

“So, Melina never really knew her dad.”

“I’ve told her stories but no, not really.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t married in all this time. You’re so... wonderful,” he said.

She smiled. “Thank you, Ray. I suppose I could have found someone if I had been looking, but I was too concerned with Melina. Her seizures only just started getting better since this new medication. It’s only because it has been more than six months without an episode that I even thought about taking some time for me, like a class, your class. It was the first time I could breathe with ease. Felt good for a change,” she said with obvious relief.

“Well, I’m certainly glad you did. You’re a joy to be around,” he said. He cleared his throat and pretending calm he asked,  “How long did you know Henry before you married?”

“Oh, years and years, since high school. When we met we were each dating other people, we all were friends until my boyfriend took a liking to his girlfriend and we were left out in the cold,” she said laughing.

“That wasn’t very nice,” Ray said frowning.

“No, but it was for the best,” she replied matter-of-factly. “It happens.”

“So, then you and Henry got together?”

“No, he went to the army right out of high school. He loved it. It was what he was born for. Wish I had figured that out then,” she said thoughtfully.

“What do you mean?”

“He asked me to marry him early on but I wouldn’t.”

“Why not?” Ray asked bewildered.

“He planned on making the military his career.  I didn’t want to be an army wife. I didn’t want our kids never to know if their father would be coming back from a war or even a training mission. That’s no life. So, when he finally got out, we decided to marry.”

“How long was that?”

“Eleven years.”

“You waited all that time to get married?” Ray said incredulously.

“Yes, I refused to until he was out of the military for good,” Kelly said wistfully.

“But then... how did he die?”

“Nine-eleven happened when I was pregnant. Henry wanted to go back, I could tell. He pretended he was fine, but he was so restless and cranky.  I couldn’t take it. He was so miserable being home and doing nothing of value while his buddies were out killing terrorists and protecting us from further harm.”

“Nothing of value? He had already done several years  protecting all of us,” Ray said fiercely. “Plus now he was a father and a husband.  There’s value in that, too.”

“He didn’t see it that way. He felt he was letting everyone down. So, I let him go. He swore he’d come back, but we never saw him again. He was blown to bits,” she replied stoically.


Ray cringed. “Oh, Kelly, I’m so sorry,” he whispered. And he thought he had it bad, seeing his wife slowly die of cancer.

“It’s fine, Ray. He went the way he wanted, protecting us from evil,” she said soothingly, giving his hand a squeeze. “You know that stupid saying. If you let it go and it comes back, it was meant to be. Me and Henry, we just weren’t meant to be.”

“Don’t say that. Together you made Melina. She was meant to be, wasn’t she?” Ray said softly.

She giggled. “There you go again, Professor. Teaching me something very important. Melina’s right. It was a good thing for me when I found you.”

No, he thought,  it was a good thing for him. Too bad he was too chicken to tell her this. “How sad for you, Kelly. You and Henry only were together for such a short time.”

“Not much sadder than you, Ray. For you it was far worse, I think. You were together for so long,” she replied.

“And yet it wasn’t long enough,” he said before he could stop himself. “Guess we’re in the same boat, then, both losing our spouses.”

She grinned impishly. “People have become friends with less in common.”

They stared at each other both knowing they were becoming far more than friends.

“Do you think they’re looking down at us right now?”she asked wistfully.

He thought about that a moment. “I don’t know. What do you think Henry would say?”

She smiled. “He’d say, about time you got a life,” she said in a gruff voice. Then she giggled. “How about your wife?”

He looked into space for a minute and grinned. “You know, I never really thought about it, but I kind of think she’d say the same thing.”  They both laughed.

“Well, then maybe they’ve become friends too, wherever they are,” Kelly said brightly. She then took Ray’s hand and squeezed it. “It’s like back in high school.”

“How do you mean?” he asked baffled.

“We’ve switched partners. Maybe this was meant to be, too,” she said.

 He smiled. He certainly hoped so.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bitter pill to swallow

This was odd. Her mother calling in the middle of the day? Something was up. Ginny knew it couldn’t be she was ill. Her father would have called if that were the case. Although, he had been rather distant lately.

The usual smile Ginny wore when talking to her mother slipped away as she listened. “And he believes that? He actually believes I would say that?”

“You know your father. He’s stubborn and he always thinks the worse in people,” her mother replied sadly.

“But he obviously believes his sister over me! Well, you can tell him…”

“Ginny, I’ve tried to reason with him, but he’s bullheaded as usual.”

“I never said …”

“I know you didn’t. I don’t blame you. I blame Gretta. She’s a bitter, foul-tempered woman who delights in twisting things around. She could never be happy throughout her life though she had everything she could want. She loves to spread misery wherever she goes. I just wanted you to know.”

Ginny held back angry tears. “And I can’t even talk to him. He never says more than hello to me anymore, and I doubt he’d do even that, if given the choice.”

“You realize your visit here would be…cumbersome at best and downright uncomfortable at worst,” her mother said, in a defeated tone. “It’s not that I don’t want you, Ned and the kids here, but I don’t want you to feel…”

“It’s okay, Mom,” Ginny said, her voice cracking. “I gotta go.”

“Okay, bye.”

“Bye,” Ginny mumbled before hanging up. Only then did she allow the tears to fall, her thoughts centered on Gretta, the bitch! 

She heard footsteps and quickly wiped her face. She hated being caught crying.
“Hey, I need…” Ned said before he glanced at her face. “What’s wrong?”

As calmly as she could she explained the situation, but by the end of her speech it became more of a rant with language rarely used by her.

“Really?” Ned said blankly. “She actually told them that?”

Ginny nodded. “And if you think I’m ever speaking to that bitch, think again!”

“No, don’t blame you. What are you gonna do?”

 She shrugged and did the only thing she could think of, cook dinner and think.

How to deal with betrayal? She had never needed to know before. Ginny’s first thought was to phone her aunt and tell her precisely what she thought of her, but common sense prevailed, common sense and good breeding. Her mother would never do such a thing, so neither would Ginny. Unlike most women, Ginny prided herself that she had become her wonderfully sensible mother. 

Suffer in silence, that was the family way. That didn’t sit well, though. Shouldn’t the betraying, lying troublemaker have some sort of punishment dealt her? In a just world, yes, but who ever said it was a just world?

“Well, perhaps I’ll be cut out of Pop’s non-existent will,” Ginny muttered to herself as she tossed onions into the browned beef and stirred. “Gretta can have it all to herself. It’s not like I want it and then maybe she’ll be content.”

Ginny scoffed. She knew nothing could do that. But why not? Gretta had so much to be grateful for, a faithful husband, great kids, a lovely home and personal beauty. What more could she want?

What enigmatic thoughts must fill Gretta’s head? To what purpose does she spread her venom? This wasn’t, after all, the first time, but na├»ve as Ginny always was, she never saw it. She always liked Gretta, which made the betrayal all the more baffling. To what end did Gretta behave this way?

In every life some weltschmerz must fall. There was a difference between how Ginny would deal with it verses her ugly-minded aunt. Ginny wouldn’t allow this episode to make her bitter. Gretta could keep that all to herself.