Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chapter LVII


      “That’s … that’s a lot to take in Jude.  I … I suppose I could pull it off but I’m not sure.  And what if they trick the kids into answering stuff?  The kids won’t mean to let the cat out of the bag and if they do they’ll feel so bad it will give them a complex.”

      He nodded, “The kids might be the weak link sure enough but we can train ‘em.  I figure they can either go stupid or start crying ‘cause they’re scared.”

      I shook my head.  “The kids aren’t stupid Jude and I sure don’t want them scared.”

      “Not real scared Dovie … think girl, you know I wouldn’t do that to them.  Play scared.  I don’t want to teach ‘em to lie but this is war; maybe not on the battlefield but in our homes.  You and I have both worked too hard to lose it to some ding dang idiots in town.  I’m gonna talk to Dad about it tonight after everyone has gone to bed and we can have some privacy in case there is some objection to it by him or if he has other ideas.  Whatever we chose to do we are going to have to do on the sly but quickly.  I’ve heard Carlsburg is going to be looking around to get a feel for who has what and where.  He takes over the first of the New Year but he’ll be around before that preparing for the transition.  That only gives us a week over a month to get it done if we’re gonna do it.   I’m getting real uneasy about it all, especially with the reports of gun boats in the Gulf of Mexico and submarines off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.  It wouldn’t take much to push us over into a really bad situation and the folks in charge use it as an excuse to really lock things down hard and heavy.”

      “Worse than being forced to give up what we worked so hard for?”

      He nodded.  “Worse as in they may confiscate the guns of private owners.”

      I just looked at him.  “You’re serious.”

      “As a heart attack Granny.  They’ve already done it in the large cities and in many of the smaller ones as well.”

      “You know, I haven’t been around on this world all that long but even I know that wouldn’t do nothing but take the guns away from the law abiding people and leave them in the hands of criminals who would never be dumb enough to turn their guns in to the cops.”

      Jude snickered.  “Sure ‘nuff.  But that’s another thing.  I’ve got all my reloading equipment, all my guns … you think you can make a work space for them too?”

      I scratched the back of my neck.  “Jude I’ll do what I can but …”  I stopped and looked around using the fading light that was just barely leaking into the basement windows.  “I’m not sure I can get all this hidden.  Dad expanded the tunnel but it still isn’t what you would call a huge space.  We’ve got those sacks of grain to think about too.  And there’s stuff you can’t store next to each other or they’ll spoil … like the potatoes and the apples.  And what about what is in the smokehouse?”

      “I admit it won’t be easy and that’s a fact.  They got it worse down at the main house.  And can you imagine people like Mr. and Mrs. Schnell or some of the Mennonite families trying to hide all of their animals?”  He hesitated and then added, “What is going to make it worse is that I can’t get out of this contract Dovie.  I have to keep working.  It’s more important than ever that the taxes get paid on time and come from obvious sources.  I’ll do what I can when I get home but most of the stuff up here is going to be up to you … you and the kids.”

      I sighed.  “I’ll do what I have to.”

      He reached out and touched my shoulder and said, “I know you will.”

      I looked at his hand that quickly dropped when he saw him looking at it and I said, “OK, what’s up?  Is Uncle Roe giving you a hard time about making sure I get my daily quota of affection or something?”

      “Er … uh …”

      “I’ll take that as a yes,” I told him.  “I love Uncle Roe but honestly, sometimes he is just over the top.  I’m not a little kid Jude and it isn’t your job to baby sit me or anything else.  You look … I don’t know … like you are sucking on rotten lemons or something.”

      He squawked, “I do not.”

      I laughed and made to get up until he blocked me.  I flopped back down and told him, “You do too Jude, you really do.  You just better be glad I’m not the kind that gets a complex over things like that.”

      “Things like what?  And what do you mean a complex?!”

      I laughed again then in a singsong voice I said, “Oh the poor little girl needs some attention but what do I do about it without giving her the wrong idea or turning my stomach inside out?”                        I

was still chuckling but stopped when I noticed he wasn’t.  “Hey, I … I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

      He shook his head.  “My feelings aren’t hurt Granny.  Just trying to figure you out.  Most girls like attention.”

      “And I’m sure I would like it too if I wasn’t for sure that Uncle Roe was riding your case and making you.”

      He forgot to breathe for a few seconds then strangled out, “How … how did you …?”

      I sighed and leaned back where he couldn’t see my face.  The simple fact is I hadn’t known, not for sure, not until that moment.  He’d made me suspicious that something was bothering him when he let slip a few things and started acting so awkward when he never had before.  “Don’t worry about it Jude.  Just because I’m not a normal girl doesn’t mean I’m not a girl and that I can’t sense things.  It might have taken a while for me to figure it out but you have to admit, some of those ladies at church today were about as subtle as a piano falling from the sky.”  He made a funny gagging noise like he was trying to clear his throat and talk at the same time.  “We are family but we aren’t blood kin.  Uncle Roe is very interested in making sure that this part of the land stays in the family.  You are way more interested in farming than either Butch or Clewis though I think Uncle Roe is still going to leave the option open for them until they well and truly get settled into something.  The kids love you to bits and pieces.  It wouldn’t be against the law and I don’t think anyone would even think it’s gross.  You want me to go on?”

      “Well ain’t you just calm as hell,” he snorted angrily.

      “Don’t curse, it’s rude,” I told him bumping his knee with my shoulder.  “Like I said, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings and I’m sorry if I did.”  I shrugged.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it but I couldn’t hide from what was as obvious to me as a broom in the face.  “Jude, stop letting them manipulate you ‘cause you figure you did so much wrong in the past.  You don’t need to be a sacrificial lamb to make up for it.”

      He was silent a moment and then said quietly.  “Whoooo boy, I’ve made a hash of this.  Dad is going to have my hide.”

      “No he isn’t because neither one of us is going to say anything about it.  Uncle Roe likes the idea of his ideas … but he isn’t likely to try and force this one to come to fruition because it would then interfere with his other idea that keeps him comfortable which is that I am some little innocent girl that needs looking after.  So long as he doesn’t think you are fooling with my feelings he’ll let things ride.  Tolerate his hinting around, give him the idea that you think I’m a little young for that sort of thing but that you wouldn’t let anyone else come near me, and he’ll be happy.”

      “How long have you been thinking on this?” Jude asked suspiciously.

      I snorted.  “About five minutes.  And if you hadn’t been such a guy and worried that I was going to pass out in fear or disgust or something equally as stupid I wouldn’t have had to guess and you could have talked to me and us worked this out sooner so you wouldn’t have an ulcer over it.”

      “Five minutes?”

      “Five minutes,” I confirmed.  I tilted my head back and looked at him upside down.  “If we have this worked out how come you still look like you are sucking lemons?”

      “Because we don’t have this worked out Dovie Doherty.  Don’t tell me what I think or how I feel.  And don’t tell me that I look like I’m sucking lemons, ‘cause I don’t.  And you are too young for your information.  You haven’t experienced much of life at all.”

      “Oh Lord, you’ve been listening to Crystal.”

      “I have not … I mean I have but that’s not why I think what I do.  And just what makes you think you know enough about men that you got this all figured out without barely having to give it much of your time?”

      I snorted.  “I’ll list them off shall I?  Dad, Jack, Jay, Paulie, all the boy kids I ever took care of, Butch, Clewis, and all the rest, being around guys in general, etc. etc., yada yada yada.  Maybe it is more complicated than what they make out in the sitcoms that used to be on TV but all you have to do is read the Bible and it tells you how to deal with the male of the species.”

      “What?!”

      “Oh stop squawking.  It boils down to just one thing.  All you all really want is respect.  Guys just gotta have it … it’s like stamped into your DNA or something.  Just about everything you all do is about getting respect or keeping respect whether it is the right kind of respect or not.  There’s not much more to it.”

      Outraged he said, “Oh there’s not is there Granny?”

      “Well … you like to be fed and watered and scratched in all the right places on occasion but yeah … pretty much it is all about respect.”

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