Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chapter LXVI

      “Dovie?  Dovie?” The soft voice was one I knew but I was so tired.  Then I felt hands on me and I salt bolt upright and sending the person in front of me backwards over the coffee table.

      I was still trying to figure out what was going on when a rude snort that still managed to sound a little humorous came from the body on the floor.  “Apparently not only should I not make you mad, I should never try and wake you from a sound sleep either.”

      “Oh Lord!  Jude!” I ran around the table and helped him to stand up.  “I am so sorry.  I suppose I should have warned you I can be a little … uh … touchy about waking up.”

      “So I see.” 

      “Jude how did …?” Then the smell hit me.  “Jude?”

      The humor faded from his face.  “I … I didn’t drink any of it Dovie.  One of the guys threw their bottle at me.  It broke on the tree I was standing beside and got my coat.”


      He just stared at me.  “OK?  Just like that?”

      “I trust you.”

      He slumped.  “Dovie I swear … I didn’t.  You can ask Clewis.  I’ll go get him.”

      “Jude.  Stop.  I said I believe you.  I trust you.”  I was pulled into a nearly smothering embrace that he didn’t seem to want to loosen.  I was forced to kinda push him off and say, “I believe you Jude but you still stink.  Can you leave the jacket outside?  Whew.”

      “I’ll burn the blasted thing so long as you keep believing me,” he rasped.

      “Not necessary and very wasteful.  But you’ll be wearing Jack’s jacket and not that awful thing until I can get it washed and dried.  I’ve been asking you to switch jackets for a couple of weeks now.”

      “You keep handing me jackets that look too nice Dovie.  People will talk.”

      A little cranky from being woken from a sound sleep by a scare I snapped, “Well I’m tired of worrying about what people will think.”

      He slid out of the offending jacket and tossed it on the floor and drew me into his arms.  “I know you are but it’s a fact of life we have to live with … at least fur now.  Oh, and you were right about that liquid heat waking them ol’ boys up all the way.”

      The sudden change in conversation topic had me slewing around trying to catch up.  “Oh.  Well … uh … I told you it would.”

      “Yes you did.”  Then he swooped down on me and kissed me so deeply it was like he was trying to steal my breath away on purpose.

      When he finally let me up for air I squeaked, “What in great gobbledy-gook was that for?”

      “So that you would know for absolute surety that I hadn’t been drinking.  No way I could hide the taste from you this way.”

      He made me want to pinch him.  “Dang it Jude, I told you I believed you.  Did you have to wind us both up like that?”  More quietly I said, “Or … or maybe you aren’t wound up.”

      He tilted my chin up and with a painfully tired grin he said, “Oh, I’m wound up in my head all right but I know my body wouldn’t cooperate so it was pretty safe to do.  Though I swear I might would give it a go if the circumstances were different.  Plus the kids are upstairs.”

      “Yeah well … apparently they know or guessed or something.  Paulie …”

      Carefully Jude asked, “Is … is he upset?”

      “No,” I told him in a peeve.  “He just wanted to know whether we were serious or just fooling around.  My ten year old brother is checking up on me to make sure I’m behaving as I ought to.  Plus, apparently, to give his approval since it would be ok if we … uh …”  I stuttered to a stop.

      “There’s a lot I could read into that ‘uh’ but considering Paulie … that ‘uh’ was for something we haven’t talked about yet.”

      I took a deep breath and told him, “No we haven’t.  And I’m not going to let my little brother push you into something that you don’t want and …”

      “Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Before you go one step further we’re gonna get things straight right here and now in case there has been any confusion.  I’m playing for keeps Dovie Doherty.  Keeps as in if I get to keep you no one else gets to have you … ever.  Understand?  I don’t plan on sharing.”

      Not quite sure if I should be upset or not by his tone I said, “You better not be insulting me Jude Killarney.”

      “Er … well … I guess that didn’t come out quite like I meant it to but generally speaking I just mean that if we get through this first part and we both work out our … uh … personal concerns … then I just mean that I’d like to … uh … make things permanent.  But no pressure.”

      I roll my eyes.  “No pressure he says.”

      Right as he was getting concerned I jumped on him taking him down to the sofa and gave him back his doggone deep kiss and then right when we were both most likely turning blue I broke off the kiss and got up and started to walk towards my bedroom.

      Jude was trying to sit up and with what little bit of breath I’d left him he asked, “What in the Sam Hill was that for?”

      “Oh … just letting you know that I’m equal to any pressure that you can bring on.  I’m not some weak and helpless little thing you know.”

      He snickered then snorted then flopped back down and put a pillow over his face for a moment.  I was interested in what his comeback would be so I hung around until he could keep a straight face long enough to give me one.  Finally he said, “Oh girl, you better be soooo glad I am not the man I used to be or I’d be chasing you around this house making you pay for that little salvo with both of us having fun while I do it.  As it is you best be glad that I’m so tired out fun is out of the question.  I got to get up and go to work you know.”

      I gave him a small smile and leaned on my doorframe.  “You are already fun Jude … it’s hard for me to imagine what more fun would be.  But maybe that is a good thing right now.  It keeps you safe for a while.”  I sighed more seriously while he snorted and snickered some more where he was three-quarters silly from being so exhausted.  “I’ll make you coffee for breakfast.  And I’ll fix you a thermos of roasted acorn coffee cut with some chicory to take in your thermos.  If anyone asks, give them a cup … they’ll either like it or turn inside out at the bitterness but either way they’ll think all us country mice are poor and don’t have a thing they could possibly want.”


      Breakfast was a miserable affair with both of us so strung out from lack of sleep that I nearly burned his ham and biscuits.  Something popped into my head and I asked, “By the way who is Dallas?”

      He groaned.  “Not gonna just forget that are you?”

      “Nope.  Must be some reason why you never brought it up that you were having trouble at work.”

      He sighed.  “I wouldn’t call it trouble exactly … at least not mine.  He was an old drinking buddy.  Dallas is the kind of person you want drunk because he’s a better drunk than he is a sober person.  Drunk he is semi-likeable and a real ladies man.  Sober he is moccasin mean and fights dirty.  He was there on the pleasure of the Commander.  He’d just gotten out of a work camp and his old lady had finally had enough and run off to her folks who live in Elkton, KY if I remember right.  Anyway Dallas was real sober which meant he was real mean.  He’d gotten caught making shine inside the town limits and not paying the taxes on it.  No bar will have him or serve him because private shine takes money out of their pockets and they’ve banded together to make it real rough on the shine runners … and their customers.  You wanna drink, you gotta do it at the bars; that sort of thing.”

      “That’s not telling me why you got so mad at him.  And don’t tell me you weren’t mad cause I know you … you are a lot stronger than you look and you know you can hurt someone real easy.  You don’t fight unless there is good reason and you don’t fight like that unless you get mad.”

      He snorted.  “You think too much of me.  And for your information I wasn’t mad … ok, maybe I was but it wasn’t mad like you are talking about.  There’s a guy working with me named Don-Ray … he’s simple.  He reminds me a little bit of Reynolds only Don-Ray is nearly Uncle Roe’s age.  Biggest difference is Reynolds can be smart if he is in the mood to focus; Don-Ray is simple and will always be simple.  He ain’t retarded but he ain’t all the way right either.  Had a guy that knows him well said he nearly drowned when he young guy and that is why he’s simple … brain damage or something like that.  All I know for sure is that Don-Ray is terrified of water.  About the most he can handle without going ape-crazy is a bucket of water and he totes it like he’s handling hot coals.  Even drinks through a sippy cup like a little kid ‘cause he is scared of choking.  Well remember that rain we had last week?”

      “Yeah.  It was a gully washer.”

      “Yeah it was.  All we have for protection to work under is a canopy.  Put two and two together and you can guess what kind of shape Don-Ray was in.  Well Dallas was in a real nasty mood and had told Don-Ray to knock it off more than once but Don-Ray, he can’t stop ‘cause he can’t help himself.  Dallas starts getting his own kind of crazy and starts knocking people around.  Dallas pushes this one guy hard who bumps into Don-Ray who then falls out into the rain.  You would have thought he was out in falling acid.  He’s starts screaming and going flat out bonkers and runs back under the tarp, straight into Dallas who falls out from under the tarp and into a big puddle of mud.  Dallas gets up and grabs a screwdriver and is gonna stick Don-Ray.  Everybody there can see it, even Don-Ray who can only stand there crying ‘cause he is still dripping wet and is too scared to run away out into the rain.  A couple of us start trying to talk Dallas down ‘cause besides the fact most of us feel sorry for Don-Ray, if Dallas starts something and causes trouble we’ll all catch it.  Then he starts in on me and that’s fine because I can ignore him but he comes at me with the screwdriver, takes one swipe at me and … well, I like Don-Ray and all but getting stuck ain’t what I had planned so I put Dallas down hard and told one of the guys to go get the Security detail.  Only they’re there already and saw the whole thing so all they do is drag Dallas off – he’s doing hard time over in Nashville from what we hear – and tell the rest of us to stop fu … er … fooling around and to get back to work.  The end.”

      I was silent for a moment and then said, “I think you’ve left some things out because those three guys made Dallas sound like … like a big guy or maybe real nasty or something else.  But I won’t ask for more because I’m not sure if I want to know all of it.”  Doing my own change of subject I asked him if he wanted to know what was in his lunch.


      “Ok … Rabbit Pot Pie.  Instead of potatoes though I used sunchokes and instead of carrots I used roasted turnips.  I also threw in a handful of leather britches – you know, dried green beans – to give it some color.  And instead of regular pie crust I made a cornmeal pie crust.  So …”

      “So …. I’ll tell the guys if they say anything to get their wives to go to church and ask you on Sunday.  How’s that?”

      I laughed.  Jude didn’t starve when he was fending for himself but he wasn’t doing much more than scraping by either.  The kids came downstairs in time to tell Jude good bye and while they were stuffing their faces I followed him to the porch.  “Jude, please wear Jack’s jacket.”

      “Can’t.  Told you that already.  Not gonna fight about this.”

      “You know what some of them will think and I hate that they will.”

      He checked through the window to see if the kids were occupied then gave me a kiss.  “All I care about is that you and them kids don’t think I’m drinking.  Clewis knows what happened but we’ve agreed not to say anything to anyone else so don’t you do it either.”

      “Oh Jude …”

      A sing song voice from around the side of the house said, “Oh Jude …”

      Jude and I jumped apart but Clewis just laughed.  “Brought Grits.  Figured Dad would be able to smell you a mile off and no sense starting anything up and then having to explain things.”

      I looked at Clewis and asked, “Who are you and what have you done with my cousin?”

      He laughed but it was more self-deprecating than his normally nasty chuckle.  “Let’s just say I’m getting an interesting education and leave it at that.”  He cleared his throat and asked, “Dovie, you got any more ideas on helping Crystal.  She’s down sick again … and … and it seems …”

      “Worse or better?”

      “Better in that she ain’t tired.  Worse because she says her side is sore.”

      “Uh … this ain’t what I’m trained for Clewis, you’d be better off asking Rochelle to speak to her … but …”


      “Does she still have her ovaries?  It … it might be …”  I shrugged.  “You remember that girl Butch went out with for a long time during highschool before she broke up with him before she moved away to college?”

      “Of course I do.  He mooned over her like an idiot right up until he met River out in Dakota.  Laura Banning.”

      “Remember every once in a while she’d have to go to the doctor?  She’d get cysts on her ovary.  I don’t know what they did for her though but Rochelle will.”

      Clewis nodded.  “Got any other ideas?”

      “Ideas?  Yeah.  But until Rochelle says what it is most likely to be my ideas aren’t worth very much.”

      Clewis grimaced.  “At least you’re honest. I just want to do something for her.  I hate seeing her in pain.”

      Concerned I asked, “Is the pain real bad?”

      “She says not.  She said she used to be much, much worse before they … you know … took most of her female parts out.”

      Scared and frustrated at making a mistake I told him, “Geez Clewis.  Now I know how Rochelle must feel.  I … I can’t do anything until I know something.  I don’t have any way of … of diagnosing.  Mom … she never … look, she just ran out of time to teach me stuff like that.”

      “Don’t wet your pants Dovie,” Clewis said in his typically sympathetic way.  “I was just asking.”  Then he turned to Jude and said, “You better get before Dad sticks his head out to see you off.  Go by the old trail so no one will catch you and get nosey.”

      After Jude rode off, taking Clewis’ suggestion that he try a different path, I just looked at him.

      “What?” he asked trying to be innocent.

      “What’s your game?”

      “Ain’t no game.  Can’t a guy help his brother out?”

      “And that’s another thing.  You never considered Jude your brother.”

      “Soooo maybe I’m changing my mind.”

      “You’d have to grow a brain first.”

      He snorted.  “All sweetness as usual.”  I didn’t saying anything.  “Look Dovie, let’s just say things are different than they used to be … or maybe I’m just seeing ‘em different.  Can’t we leave it at that?”

      I sighed.  “I guess.  I just don’t want to see Jude get hurt.”

      “About that … you two just make sure that Dad don’t catch wind of this until you work him around to your way of thinking.  And if you ain’t doing nothing but fooling around … don’t let anyone else find out about it either.”

      Concerned I gasped, “We aren’t … fooling … or anything else for that matter.”

      “Sure you ain’t.”  When he saw the look on my face he took two steps back even though he was already several feet from the porch.  “Ok, ok … drop them laser beams you got for eyes.  So you aren’t climbing in the sack with each other.  Shoulda figured that.  When Jude decided to get sober he pretty much reformed himself into as much fun as a sack of dead fish.  Either way, you just better watch yourself.  Dad isn’t the only one that might have something to say about it.”

      “Who else?”

      “It depends on how hard Dad takes it.”  I didn’t mention that Jude thought Uncle Roe might have been guiding him to it in the first place.  “It also depends on what y’all do with it.  Dad will want everything legal before you two start … having your fun.  And that’s all I’m gonna say on the subject because I am not an advice columnist and refuse to be turned into y’alls Dear Clewis.”

      With that he walked back down to towards the gully and I was left with worry on top of worry and wondering just where this all would wind up in the end.




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2 med. sized rabbits
1 med. sized onion (chopped)
3 med. sized potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1 sm. can green peas or green beans
4 med. sized carrots
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Place the rabbit in a stew pan, salt it and barely cover with water. Cook until tender. Wash potatoes and carrots thoroughly. Cook until done. When meat is tender, let cool, and remove meat from bones. Melt butter in skillet. Add meat, chopped onions and potatoes with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. When well seasoned and mixed, place contents in a stew pot.
Measure the stock where the rabbit was boiled, and into each cupful stir 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour. Cut the carrots into 1 inch pieces and add them with the beans or peas and the Worcestershire sauce, and continue adding flour and water until the contents are covered. Make a thick pastry (like pie crust) to cover the contents. Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees and bake until the crust is golden brown. Serve with tossed salad and dessert. Feeds 4 or 5 persons.


Cornmeal Pie Crust

1 cup flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (cold)
1/4 cup water (ice cold)

Whisk flour, cornmeal, and salt.  Cut in butter.  Toss mixture with a fork and add water one drop at a time. Make a ball, cover in wax paper and plastic wrap, and chill it 2-24 hours. Roll it out and use it.


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