Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter 30


" You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns." – Mark Twain


“So you see Bella, I didn’t meant to leave like you think … or be away long at all.  Do you forgive me?”

To be brutally honest at that moment I would have forgiven a death row inmate if it would mean I would stop hurting.  I hurt all over, inside and out.  “Lee I think I’m gonna be sick.” 

“Let me get you some tea …” 

“No … no more.  I just want it to stop.  I’m …” 

“Shhh … I’m gonna get Mom.” 

In no time at all cool cloths were on my head and one was across my eyes.  “I don’t see a reason for the fever.  More than likely it is a delayed reaction.  You keep an eye on her, keep her quiet, and I’ll keep Poppa Jerry at bay.  The one thing she doesn’t need right now is pushing.” 

“He can’t have her,” Lee snapped. 

“You’re as bad as a scratched CD.  Poppa Jerry is just trying to deal with his guilt by making sure she’s given you the right to have her.” 

“That don’t make no sense.” 

“Neither does the way you’re acting.  You’re like a bear with a sore head or …” 

“Don’t even bring bears into this.  I find that bear that did this and I’ll …” 

Lee’s mother had something to say about the way he was acting too.  “Lee Ward, that’s enough.  June Ellen needs to go on her rounds and Elizabella needs to rest.  I allow you to sit in here with her – your color ain’t much better than hers – but you settle down.  And I better not catch that dog up on the comforter … or bird droppings on the sheets neither.  I swear its no wonder Elizabella’s head hurts … the whole lot of you don’t act you’ve got enough sense between you to fill a thimble.  And I want …” 

I must have drifted off while Mrs. Thompson was giving her lecture on what she wanted and what she didn’t because I came to to hear two men talking.   

“I just don’t understand Dad.  I just don’t.” 

“Hmph.  Maybe one of these days you boys will remember that you got to speak fully with a woman and not make assumptions ‘cause as soon as you leave a gap, their emotions are gonna fill it with something … and usually something wrongheaded.  Son, God made man the driver and gave him a map … what happens though when a driver ain’t paying attention or takes his hands off the wheel?” 

A deep sigh then, “OK, so I didn’t say all the details but still … why would she think I was tired of her or that I thought I’d made a mistake?” 

“Womens is curious and strange creatures  Used to think I had ‘em figured out then about that time I learned I only thought I did and that they were unfigureable.  Now all I know is that there’s a select few that are worthy of the title wife and when you find the right one for you there’s no living without ‘em.  But Lord, a vacation now and again don’t hurt.” 

I heard the creak of the door telling me someone had left, then I felt the compresses being changed.  “Lee, are you real?” 

He answered, “You sound dry as the Sahara used to be.  Here, take a sip of this.  It’s rose hip tea with some honey in it.” 

“Ok, but are you real?” 

Lee kissed my cheek.  “I’m real Bella.  June Ellen says you need to rest so you rest.  I’ll watch you.” 

“Why do you want to watch me for?” 

“’Cause I’m starved for you.  Nothing has been right for months.  Every which way I turned things went bad.” 

A thought floated by that I could hold on to.  “You said you got shot.” 

“Yeah, a couple of days after I finally managed to run into my meathead nephews who had also got picked up and forced into a federal wrecking crew.  My gawd, I hope to never see what’s left of Philadelphia or its like ever again.” 

“Why … how … Lee what were you doing so far from home?  I kinda remember you … you trying to explain that you got picked up the same day you left … while you were looking for a place to camp?  Things are kinda blurry.  Still why would they cart you all the way up there?” 

“No emotional attachments or so they said.  They didn’t have too good a handle on things … you can’t just steal people away like that and expect good results, especially the likes of some of those people.  There was a riot.” 

“Which is when you got shot.” 

“Yeah, Sam did too but I got hit in the leg which slowed us down getting home.  We were both in pretty bad shape, didn’t even realize how much time had passed.  Then no sooner do we get here than we all got locked down.” 

“That’s where the dysentery comes in.” 

“So they say though some were claiming it was cholera ‘cause of all that medication they were shoving at people that were showing symptoms and how they quarantined the area.  Those of us that got it don’t really care what it was called, it was just bad whatever it was.  It’s about that time – right before I come down with the fever – that I found your note with the ring in it.  I was so mad.  And then everything kept conspiring to get in my way.  I thought you’d be thinking I was dead or something … I never thought you’d think I was run off from you.  Why Bella?  Can you at least tell me that?” 

I was trying to remember how it came about but one thing stood out.  “You turned from me.  You looked sad all the time.  I’d try and talk and you’d snap you didn’t want to talk.  Then … then you looked so relieved and seemed so happy when I told you I wouldn’t stand in your way  It just seemed like there was nothing else I could think.” 

Lee clunked his head on the back of the rocker and I was about to tell him to stop that when he said, “I’m an idiot.”  He then leaned over and was patting my hand when he stopped short.  “Dang it.  June Ellen said I wasn’t to bother you and you’re shaken like a leaf.” 

“But you’re OK now?” 

Confused he asked, “Huh?” 

“You got shot, then you got sick.  You’re ok now?” 

Light dawning he said, “I’m OK now I have you.  I’m more interested in if you were ok.  Bella?” 

I couldn’t answer him as my fever had gone back up and everything else headed south.

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