Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chapter 12

When the door closed I sat up. "Finally. Come here and lay down."


"You're turn."

"My turn what?"

"Don't give me a hard time Sloan. I minded you when you said to lay down and be still so you could fix my ouch. Now you mind me."

Sloan just stared at me with a look that said he wasn't sure what was going on but that he'd humor me until he figured it out. "Oh really. That's the way it's going to be is it?"

"Yes it is, now get undressed and lay down ... on your stomach."

"Uh ... Teaghan."

"Right now."

Sloan treated it like a joke but I was meaning serious business. I hadn't been able to think of much else all afternoon and it wasn't because of all the silly marriage rules Sloan was making up. It seemed like he came up with a new one almost every day. No, I was determined that - rules or not - because he had been nice to me I was going to do something nice for him.

He tried to turn on his side to ask me something but I pushed him over. "Umph ... Teaghan, this has gone far enough. What are you up to?"

"You'll see. Now be still."

"Teaghan .... whew, little warm there." I had just poured the stuff on his back.

"It is supposed to be warm so that it won't just sit on top of your skin but will soak into it. I never see you take care of these and Dad's would get dry and cracked if he didn't. Mom used to remind him but then I had to do the reminding only he ignored me unless a place got so dry it cracked and bled. Gosh it was easy to see where my brothers got their hard headedness from." I was relieved to find the memory didn't make me want to cry so I started smoothing the scar lotion on his back.

"Teaghan ..."

"Hush, it isn't going to make you smell like a girl. It's olive oil, beeswax, and frankincense. A manly smell. And you need to be still 'cause I'm going to do this until your bones feel like they have gone on vacation."

He was just barely cooperating but he was starting to snicker. "Until when?"

"It's the way you make me feel when you put that headache stuff on me. Like after awhile my bones decide to go on vacation. It's nice. It makes me forget what gave me the headache in the first place. So now I'm going to do the same for you only you don't get headaches ... but you've got scars like Dad had so I figured this is almost as good. Now stop wiggling, it can't tickle that much."

"Wanna bet?" he asked when I hit a particularly sensitive spot trying to get to the scars that ran onto his side.

About thirty minutes later there was a snore and I tell you despite everything, thinking of that snore still gives me a lot of satisfaction. I know it shouldn't but it does.


I set the tray on the chair and then went around to Sloan's side of the bed and gently shook his shoulder. One eye popped open then he jerked awake. "What the hell time is it?!"

"My goodness you woke up in a foul mood."

"Dammit Teaghan, I've got to get going. The truck needs to be loaded and ..."

"No market today."

"Dan should have woken me by ... Wait. What did you say?"

"No market today ... it's raining. Started about three this morning and has been going off and on ever since. I got up to make sure all the windows were closed and I saw the men were scrambling because there was some wind and lightning in it at the time. Josiah ran up on the porch and I think I just about scared his hair white when I told him through the screen to have the men bunk in the Burley barn so they and their gear could stay reasonably dry. I came back to bed until the boys snuck in here about quarter to five. Did you know they don't like storms? Anyway I took them to the kitchen and fixed them butterscotch milk and an early breakfast and they're in the front room reading some old comic books I dug out of the back of Jeremiah's closet ... and I got a favor to ask about that in a minute ... anywho Dan fell out of bed - literally 'cause apparently he's about like you when it comes to getting a little extra sleep - in other words freaks out when it is later than he expected - when it was a little after six and he's eating now and I thought I'd bring you a tray in here. So ... er ... uh guess from the look on your face I'm in overdrive again."

"Yeah you are but what I'd like to know is why the hell you didn't get me up earlier."

"Because of marriage rule number I don't know which since we aren't writing them down."

"Teaghan ..."

"Seriously. This is a real rule ... not those silly things you keep making up. I watched my parents and know it for a fact and how you were acting yesterday reminded me of it."

"Teaghan ..."

"Hush. The rule goes like this. When the husband is acting hard headed and is in danger of working himself so hard he is going to get sick it is the duty of the wife to put her foot down and arrange things so that the husband gets knocked out of his socks and minds her until he is in a better frame of mind and doesn't need reminding of the fact that he is only one person and there are only so many hours in a day. So there. We'll figure out which rule number it can be but it's definitely going in that book you keep saying you're going to write. Now crawl back up in that bed so you can eat breakfast and have some coffee and get human ... or else."

"Or else what?" he asked with a growl but it didn't reach his eyes. His eyes were saying that he was kind of enjoying me telling him off.

"To be perfectly honest I don't know yet but I'll figure something out if you don't."

That finally did it ... he smiled like he hadn't for a couple of days. "I'll eat but I'm not doing it in bed."

"But ..."

"I'll sit in the chair and that's my final offer."

"Oh fine, be that way. Make me have to come up with an 'or else'."

"You better be glad I don't give you or else for having such a sassy mouth. Where'd that come from anyway? You normally act like a mouse squeak would have you running."

"From my broom it would. I don't like mice ... especially not in the house. You aren't bringing them in with your boxes are you?"

"No," he said with a smile. "I'm checking them beforehand just to be sure. What about you? Finding anything interesting while you are nosing around in them?"

That brought me up short. "You know if it was easy to hurt my feelings you would have just done it."

I put his breakfast on in his lap after he sat down and was going to walk out. "Where are you going?" he asked.

"I'm going to go do some stuff ... and it does't have a thing to do with your boxes. I'm not touching them any more."

"Now don't be that way, I was just joking."

I looked at him good and then shook my head. "No you weren't. And now neither am I. I wasn't being nosey I was trying to help. This is your ... this is your home now. I just wanted you to feel like it. And ... and it's time I started putting ... putting Dad's and the boys' things away. After they sit for a bit I'll be able to go through them and give away what needs giving away. Mom's and Hannah's stuff is in the attic ... it's time for all of that to be gone through too. Plus you need room for your stuff. So ..."

"Hey now ..."

"Hay is for horses. When you're finished I'll come get the tray while you shave and shower."

I left the room with as much dignity as I could muster towards a man that had pulled a piece of wire out of my rump and then tended to the wound several days running to make sure it healed without infection. That sort of thing doesn't leave a lot of room for dignity but I took what I could get. All the good feelings I'd had since the night before had evaporated. The boys were still at it and being quiet so I didn't even let them know I'd checked on them. Dan was still reading papers at the dining room table so I didn't go in there either. Instead I got an empty box from the pile that was stacking up in the hall and went into the office and started taking Dad and my grandfather's stuff off the shelves and off the walls.

I didn't think, I just worked. Every time the box filled up I would take it down to the basement and then through to what I had always thought of as my playroom. Mom and Hannah couldn't stand it because it was dark and they said it made them feel claustrophobic. It was dark all right but it had never bothered me. The ceiling is a little low but I don't have to duck. And its a little narrow but I'd grown up with it being that way so it never seemed like it was supposed to be any other way. It was part of the original cellar and has these really dark beams to hold the stone slab ceiling up ... the beams were so old they were almost stone themselves. Shelves that held really old junk lined one wall, most of it not worth keeping though a couple of the shelves held my "treasures" from childhood.

I'd clear a shelf of old junk, then after filling it with stuff I was taking down from around the house I'd empty the next one. I was putting a pile of broken baskets on the back porch to be carted off to the burn pile when Sloan found me and asked quietly if I'd come to the office because Dan and he couldn't account for something. I followed and the cash box was sitting on the desk and Dan looked like he was getting a headache trying to get it to balance against the book that had been inside it and I knew immediately what the problem was.

"You're trying to balance the bank book against the cash ... they aren't the same thing."

Both men looked at me. "The cash box ... it's the general cash fund. The book is for the bank accounts Dad kept."

"There's a lien on the farm?" Dan asked.


Sloan picked up the book and eyed the column of numbers. "Teaghan there was quite a bit of money here then it was zeroed out by several withdrawals."


Sloan looked like he was about to get frustrated but I didn't care. Dan said, "Teaghan give me a minute of your time and explain it to me. Make it simple because that big breakfast you fixed and this rain has me wanting to curl up and go to sleep just like Shotgun over there."

I gave him a look that told him I just figured out Sloan wasn't the only salesman on the premises but he just grinned back unrepentant. I shook my head and sat down and pulled the book towards me then pointed at the first column. "This bank is over in Kiln Ridge. Last summer Jason got pushed out of the truck during a mobbing when they were going to market and got stomped pretty good. The closest clinic was in Kiln Ridge. The doctor was pretty nice and let Dad pay on account since we couldn't pay it all in cash up front at the time without taking money from other places. He put several bushels of wheat as a down payment and then deposited market cash there that he'd then transfer to the doctor's account. This next column is for the same bank but different account ... that was to pay off the tractor tires. The next column is for a bank over in Haines. That ... that was for all the funerals. Even though everyone was buried in the family plot caskets and headstones still cost. And the one next to that was for the lawyer it took to straighten all of the inheritance out when it went to probate. Dad took the money we didn't need to get started with this spring and paid off everyone. The release of liens and stuff like that should be in the file cabinet."

"I saw them, I just didn't tie everything together."

I nodded and stood up. "Wait ... you still need to explain the cash here." I flipped the lid back further and pointed to the words written there. "Bank of Sealy"

"Dad said banks were fine in their place but that he didn't trust no man, beast, or lending institution to do what was expected 100% of the time so ... he kept the bank of Sealy here at home as a safeguard. It normally stays under a loose floor board up in my parents' bedroom but after I signed the proxy papers I brought it down and put it in the desk."

Dan looked like he wasn't understanding and I wasn't sure how to explain it any simpler than that. Finally I looked at Sloan and asked, "Well what else was I supposed to do with it? I signed the papers and it said all liens, assets, and such and so's. Well that's what that cash box is."

Sloan just kept staring at me so I turned back to Dan who just shook his head. "OK, how about these dividers ... peanuts, goats, cheese ... are they some kind of code?"

At the time I thought they were being silly but I've grown to understand that they've led such a different life from what I had that they really didn't think the same way as I did. "It isn't code," I explained. "It means literally peanuts, goats, cheese, and then that big stack in the back is the general operating fund."

Dan said, "Gonna have to do a little better than that Teacup 'cause I'm still not getting it."

Dan had started calling me Teacup for no good reason except to rile me up. He was just about as bad a tease as Sloan and that was saying something although it was different ... kinda reminded me of my uncles when they would come to visit.

"Peanuts. That section was the boys' money ... I mean my brothers. They plant ... ed ... I mean planted Tennessee Red every April and harvested in October. They'd take a truck of apples to the market and also sell boiled and roasted peanuts on the side. Made pretty good money at it because everyone likes peanuts. This rain will do the field good, they were starting to look a little dry and I don't know how to operate the big irrigator."

Dan scribbled something on his pad of paper. "Cheese?"

"Just like it sounds. That was Mom's money for I don't know ... just Mom stuff. I kept the cheese-making up but the money from it started being put in general funds. And before you ask goats mean goats too. Hannah and I had that section. It was ... I guess Dad's way of teaching us how to run a business plus making us responsible for coming up with our own spending money. Only ..."

"Only what?" Sloan asked like he was suddenly interested in the answer.

"Only nothing I suppose. I need to get back to work."

Dan stopped me with one more question. "Teaghan, why did you put all of this cash here in the desk?"

"I already told you. Weren't you listening? You two may not think I have much sense but I've got enough to read something before I sign it. I read the proxy papers and I read the papers from the county where they took the farm away. It said everything got transferred over ... not just some stuff but everything ... the contents of the house and every outbuilding ... every animal ... every crop ... and all the proceeds there of. I don't think they could have made it any clearer. I'm not dense you know. If I wanted to keep living on the farm those papers told me exactly what it meant. Geez, you act like I'm dense."

Getting fed up again I finally left the room and walked back down the basement stairs to bring up another load of junk. I'd reached the shelf with my oldest toys and was trying to decide whether to leave them out or box them up when a hand reached around me and picked up an old wiggle-waggle my grandfather had made before it became too dangerous for him to work in his wood shop.

"A treasure?" Sloan asked.

I sighed. "I'm boxing things up as fast as I can. It will be out of your way in just a bit. I'm just using this space down here to separate things out until I can figure out what to do with them."

"Why do you have to do anything with them?"

"Because they don't belong here anymore. Now move please, there isn't enough room to turn around with you and me both in here."

"I hadn't even noticed this room before."

"A piece of plywood normally stays over the door way. Mom and Hannah hated it in here ... they said it reminded them of a mausoleum."

"It is a bit tight."

I shrugged.

"Teaghan ... you don't have to ..."

"Please don't Sloan. I don't need to be babied. Like I told you upstairs I read the papers. I know what they say."

"This is still your home."

"No. This is where I live. And I'm grateful so don't get me wrong but I don't really have a home like I did before ... I'll never inherit the farm. Or I did but there is no way I could have kept it and I'd be stupid to daydream otherwise. Please don't play me for a fool and don't pretend because you think that is what I need or something like that. It is as bad as lying to me would be. Reality is what it is. I should have gotten around to this before I've just been busy. The rainy day is just giving me time I didn't have before. Just like it should be giving you time to do something else too so go do whatever it is you and Dan need to do."



  1. Kathy what a fantastic story I read it all yesterday, but the (post comment) on my computer at home wold not work for some reason. Thanks for this and the rest of your story's, looking forward to reading the rest of this and the others.

  2. Hooked me with another, and since I am not feeling well today I read this one lol.