Soft Place to Fall

Bill and Dana lived across from us for years, their kids Betsy and Greg in and out of the house all the time.  We visited in the yard but never socialized beyond that.  We were very fond of the children. Betsy was my daughter’s age, Greg about three years younger.  Greg tagged along with Betsey , or hung around with Bud and me on own his own for meals and whatever else that was going on.

We both had a soft spot for the children since their parents were uninvolved at best and unkind at the worst.  I know now I should have reported them. Though both parents drank heavily, Dana was a card-carrying, mean alcoholic and Bill, a defeated alcoholic.  Dana, who worked as a psyche nurse, didn’t seem to like any of her family.  Bill seemed fond of the children but couldn’t protect them.  One afternoon, Greg came bursting in our back door.  “Help.  Dad’s gonna whip me!”  He hid in a bathroom.

His dad pounded on the back door and tried to push in past Bud with a belt doubled up in his fist, none too steady on his feet.  Had he thought ahead, he’d have realized that was a bad idea.  Bud had four inches of reach and forty pounds on him, but Bud stayed calm.

“I’m coming in for Greg.  Dana said I gotta whip him.  Him and the Bailey kid got in the beer.  His mama told him what was gonna happen if he got in the beer.”  Bill looked shamefaced, his heart not in his errand.

“Now hold on.  I can’t let you go in my house and beat a kid.  There are better ways to handle this.” Bud told him.  “Go back home and sober up.  Looks like y’all have both had plenty of beer.”

“Alright, I won’t come bustin’ in over you, but I’m gonna beat his ass when he gets home.” Bill offered.

“I’d think real hard about that.”  Bud told him.  “If you do that, you’ll have to deal with me.  Go on home.  Your boy can stay here till you’re sober and we’ll talk about it.”  Bill left, seeming somewhat relieved at not having to deal with anything he’d stirred up.

Bud called Greg out.  “Boy, you know you’re not old enough to drink.  I wouldn’t let you drink either.  You can stay here till I talk to your Dad and it’s safe to go home.”

The next day Bill came over and talked to the three of of, Greg, Bud, and me.  “Dana said  he can come home, but he’s going to Pine Hill.  (Adolescent Psychiatric Facility)  Get your stuff, boy.”

Bud asked Greg.  “Is that what you want to do?”

“No sir.  Can I stay here a few more days?” Greg asked.

“That’s between you and your dad.  What do you think, Bill?”

“I gotta talk to Dana.  She’s still pretty worked up.”  Bill answered.

Greg stayed, not causing a minute of trouble.  We weren’t foolish enough to think the problem was solved.  We just wanted him safe.  Four days later, Dana came to see Greg.  “Do you want to come home.  We miss you. You’ve been punished enough.”

“Am I still in trouble?  Dad ain’t gonna whip me is he?  I don’t  want to go to the hospital.” Greg looked worried.

“No. I promise.  Dad ain’t going to whip you and we aren’t to put you in the hospital.  Just stay out of the beer.” She told him.

He went home to an apparently peaceful house, for the moment.

Over the next couple of years the family dynamics changed, not by choice.  Dana got cancer and didn’t live long.   She was heavily medicated and continued to drink, so her involvement was less each day.  When she got too sick to work, they had to find a cheaper place to live. The children grew up and we lost touch, except for a time or two.  The last I heard, Greg was doing well enough to move out on his own.  Betsey was in and out of a couple of relationships, but eventually settled down, married,  and had a couple of kids.  The last I heard, she was going to nursing school.

I hope for the best for this family.






Puppy Love

My dog is cheating on me.  He begs to go out then only stands in the drive and looks longingly at the neighbor’s house.  I do believe, if I allowed it, he’d  howl a serenade under the lady’s window.  A few times, she’s stopped to visit and pet him.  You’d think think she’d invited him into her life.  Puffing out his chest,  he peed impressively, then kicked up a huge cloud of dust. to show what a mighty fellow he is.  In all honesty, his bladder capacity is astounding since he’s a mastiff, but I don’t think it makes her want him more., nor does his habit of making a beeline to sniff her nether portions.

Worse yet, if he gets more than twenty feet ahead of me, he goes stone deaf.  Buzzy, my other dog, suffers the same malady.  Though we have a two-acre yard with plenty of poop room, they are both desperate to leave surprises for the neighbors.  Early on, I made sure they knew the perimeter of our yard.  Since then, they’ve both try not to go inside its boundaries.  If they got their heart’s desire, we’d be surrounded by a poop fence on all four sides ten feet just outside our property lines.  Buzzy’s deposits are offensive enough, but Croc’s leavings are mountainous.and would soon obscure the view if left to lie.  We’d be run out of the neighborhood if they got their wish.

Hard Time Marrying Part 18

Apology  Got my stories out of sequence.  To catch up, please go back and read 17 a just posted.  Then move on to 17 b before you read this.  img_1597Anna flung the door open thinking Joe was coming in with milk and eggs.  A tall, thin woman in homespun holding a basket laughed at her surprise.  “I’m Emma, Rufus’s wife.  I was so proud to hear Joe had a new wife I didn’t wait for no invite.  When Rufus said he was coming over to see if Joe I clumb right up in the wagon.  I brung you some eggs, butter, and molasses for a welcome.  It’s gonna be good to have a woman close by to neighbor with. You got any coffee left?”

Though Anya would have hoped to avoid company, she warmed to Emma’s warmth and pulled out a chair from the table for her.  “Set yourself down.  I think the coffee’s still hot.”  She poured them both a cup and put a couple of biscuits on a plate to go with the butter and molasses.

Emma spread butter on a biscuit, ate it thoughtfully, and smiled.  “You make a mighty fine biscuit.  You gonna be a good wife to Joe.  They ain’t nothin’ like good cookin’ to keep a man happy.  I’m glad of it.  I always been partial to Joe.  He’s been alone too long.”

Sally toddled up to Anya’s knee, demanding her attention.  Anya gave her a sip of milk from a cup while she gathered her thoughts, not wanting to betray herself.  “Biscuits do please a man.  I’m proud you like mine.”

“Your baby looks just like you with that white hair and blue eyes.  Maybe Joe will lucky and the one comin’ will look like him.

Hard Time Marrying Part 17 b

buzzardThe spring rains didn’t let up for days, washing out any chance of getting to the Meadow Creek Revival.  The small creek near the house swelled till there was no question of fording.  Anya was devastated to know she’d be stuck a while longer, but Joe was relieved at the reprieve, having no idea how he’d manage.  For the next few weeks, they settled into a routine.  Joe tore a strip of the flannel and fashioned a sling so Anya could manage the baby as she worked.  She her strength and hearing improved every day, and she was putting on a little weight, something she’d never done.  As well as cooking and cleaning, she worked alongside Joe putting in a garden.  She felt better knowing Joe and the little ones would have something to eat after she was far way.  As they planted beans, squash, corn, cabbages, and spring onions, the boy tagged along, packing dirt over the seed as they planted.  With the baby on her back, she had to stop and rest often, but it was pleasant, hopeful work, the type she enjoyed.  She thought a few times of the fine crop they’d harvest till she remembered with a jolt, she wouldn’t be there.  One day, Joe stood and watched her for a while on his way back from the barn with another load of manure, thinking she and the children on his place was the finest sight he’d ever seen.  He strode back to the patch, telling her, “These young’uns has got to have a name.  We cain’t just keeping callin’ em The Boy and The Baby.  Even my barn cats has got a name.”  Anya kept right on with her planting, not bothering to answer. “Let’s call the boy Joe and the baby, Sally.”

As she was coming back from turning the chickens out to scratch one morning, she came around the barn to find Joe in conversation with a man on a horse.  She tried to duck out of sight, but the man waved and called out, “Howdy, Ma’am.”

“Anya, this is Rufus Menlo, our nearest neighbor.” Joe introduced her.

“Proud to meet you, ma’am.  The preacher told me Joe done got hitched to a widow-woman, but I didn’t expect to see such a purty one.  My woman is gonna be wantin’ to git over and meet you soon as she can.  She ain’t had a woman to talk to in a while and now there’s one on the next section.”  Anya didn’t bother to correct him.  “We don’t usually git much news around here, and now there’s a marrying and a killing, all in a few days.”  He continued without hesitation.  “My boy Melvin was out lookin’ for strays and saw buzzards circling and come over a rise to find a sorry sight.  The buzzards had already worked the man over, but Melvin could see his head bashed in.  He was a peddler and somebody must’a robbed him and stole his horse.  They was a woman’s things in his peddler’s cart. Melvin went for the sheriff, and he’s on the lookout for whoever might’of done ‘em in. Some drifters told the sheriff they’d seen him with a fancy woman a few days before.    He’s thinking some lowlife might’of knocked that peddler in the head and took off with the woman, or else the woman did the feller in, but it don’t really seem like something a woman could do, does it?  The sheriff’s on the lookout for any folk that don’t fit around here.”

At hearing his news, Anya retched and wiped her mouth on her skirt.    “I’m sorry ma’am.  I never thought of you being delicate.  Let me git on my way.  I’ll send my woman over to see you.”  Rufus kneed his horse and went on his way.

“Here, sit down.  Let me get you some water.”  Joe steadied her to a chair at the table and poured her a glass of water.  “Drink this.  It ought to steady you a bit.”


Checking Bonnie and Clyde Out of the Chicken Library

imageI guess Spring is really here.  Aunt Betty called.  She just checked out eight hens and one rooster from the chicken library where she lives up in Kansas.  The rooster hangs out with his favorite hen, so Aunt Betty named them Bonnie and Clyde.  I guess it’s not really a chicken library, but that’s how it works for Aunt Betty.  She has a deal worked out with one of her neighbors to get chickens in the nice weather, returning them for the winter.  She has the pleasure of chickens and eggs without the misery of over-wintering them.  What a great neighbor!