Thursday, July 11, 2019

Poplar Mountain by Dellani Oakes Part 12


Lucius invited Dollie to the movies. He's had a long, filthy day at work. When he gets home, his mother is frantic with worry about something.

"Did you find him yit?"
"Find who, Ma?"
"Your pa. Sam was s'posed to talk to you."
"Ain't seen Sam all day. I been out fencing. What's wrong?" He led his mother to the porch steps and persuaded her to sit.
"He run off in the night and ain't been back. It's not like Earl. He'll drink hisself into a stagger, but when he's home, he's home. He don't run off and not come home. Not never, in all this time!"
"He'll turn up. He was mad as a hornet last night. What got him so peeved?"
"He was riled about Will finishing up his house. Now he'll marry that city girl and be lost for good."
"He's not lost, Ma. He's still around. Don't he still come up and see us when Pa's not home?"
"It won't be the same. She'll keep him away."
"No, she won't. I promise. And I won't stay away neither...."
"You? What have you to do with this?"
Lucius explained as calmly as he could about his interest in Dollie. Instead of being happy for him, his mother drew back her arm, slapping him hard. His ears rang and he saw stars. He knew his mother was yelling at him, but he couldn't make out words at first.
"—as bad as your brother! You'll drag off Sam next, then who'll take care of us when your pa's gone? He'll drink himself to death and where will I be then? Had your heads turned by a couple chippies!"
"They ain't chippies, Ma. You love Dollie and Patty and they love you. They won't keep us away, they want to be here as much as we do. I plan to court Dollie and ask her to marry me. I love her and I won't let you, Pa or the entire state of Kentucky stand between us. And, just so you know, I still plan to work this place. I promised, didn't I? I'll build us a little house up the holler and Dollie'll bring the babies down to visit every chance she gets."
"Ain't got babies yet, boy." She smacked his chest, but she smiled a little.
"We'll have us a passel."
"Best check what Dollie thinks of that. That poor girl ain't go no idee what's what between men and women. You'd think her mama would've explained."
"Patty says their mama's real straight laced. Her daddy's a preacher. She didn't tell the girls nuthin'. What Patty knew, she found out from her auntie on her daddy's side."
"Then she'd best explain to her sister what's what. If she don't, I will."
"Ma! You can't tell the woman I love about—that."
"And why not! You think I'm squeamish cause it's my son she'll bed? I finished Patty's education, let me tell you. What she knew was precious little." She made a disgusted sound, waving it away. "A girl needs to know what goes on in the marriage bed afore she gets in it. You wanna tell her?"
"Oh, no, ma'am!"
His mother laughed. "Go get cleaned up. You stink. I put water on to heat. Sally and Jenny fotched the tub. You have a wash in the bath house."
"Thanks, Ma." He knew that was a lot of work on the part of his mother and sisters. Despite her annoyance with him, she'd done something kind.
After a hot bath, Lucius felt and smelled a lot cleaner. He wished for indoor plumbing like Will had, but knew his parents would never agree. One thing he planned to have in the house he built for Dollie, was an indoor bathroom so she could bathe in comfort.
He shaved his cheeks carefully and trimmed his beard. Most men he knew had a full, bushy beard. He preferred a neater look. Having seen portraits of men from the middle ages, he'd found a goatee. Liking the style, he'd worked hard to maintain his. He also had a mustache that met the beard, ringing his full lips in soft hair. Most of his friends thought it was silly to spend that much time on something that came in naturally, but to him, it was important. The women seemed to approve and several had commented on how attractive it was.
Satisfied he looked his best, he went down to pick up Dollie. She wasn't quite ready, so he sat and talked with Patty. She told him that she and Will had finally set a date.
"I got a call out to Mama today. Mama said the soonest they can get here is first weekend in August. So, I guess in about two months, Will and me are getting married!"
"Got some planning to do. Any way I can help, you let me know."
"I sure will. Helping Will finish up the house would be the best thing you can do just now."
"I can do that," he agreed with a grin. "I'm right happy for ya." He squeezed her hand. "You'll make him a fine wife."
"I sure hope to try. I'm so happy!"
Dollie came out a moment later. She was dressed in a crisp blue lawn dress scattered with tiny white flowers. Her dark curls were held back in a sleek bun that must have taken hours to get right. Her lipstick was more a purpley red than a true red. It complimented her dark eyes and fair skin.
Lucius could hardly breathe. He stood up, smoothing his shirt front. Feeling much the country bumpkin, he stepped forward, taking her hand in his.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes Dellani 


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