Thursday, October 17, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 40 by Dellani Oakes

Luke has to make another visit to Doc Starbuck's. They talk about how Doc and his wife met.

"As if that made it acceptable," Dollie teased.
"Exactly!" Ethel chimed in. "But he was dashing and handsome. And I was a sucker for a man in uniform. I finally allowed him to persuade me to go out. He took me to the park and pushed me on a swing. It was a very romantic swinging," she replied, blushing.
"Never let it be said that I can't show a girl a good time." Her husband took her hand, kissing it. He stood in silence a moment, eyes admiring his wife. Abruptly, he turned to Dollie. "Miss Belloit, he's not to use that hand anymore than absolutely necessary. I've written him an excuse for work. I believe he has plenty of time off for sick days he hasn't used."
"Yes, Doctor."
"And that note gets filed with you, is that correct?"
"Yes, sir. Send it down to me in the morning. I'll put it through. He's got at least seven days, if not longer. I'd have to check."
"Great. Give him the rest of the week."
"He's got a few days bereavement as well as sick days."
"Excellent, not until after I see him on Monday. You got me, young man?" He shook his finger playfully under Luke's nose. "I'd best see you've taken care of it this week. No lifting, carrying or hitting. No milking. No using the pump with that hand. No driving either unless absolutely necessary. Dollie can drive you."
"Yes, sir. Believe me, I want this to stay sound as much as you. I don't like Ma's fever tea one lick!"
Doctor and Mrs. Starbuck chuckled at that. They said their goodbyes and left together. They'd decided not to head up to the Henry house for the night. Much of the family were staying over and the beds would be needed. Luke and Will didn't much feel like sleeping with the cows, so they would get up early to drive up and do the chores.
Dollie and Patty found sheets and blankets for the men. They bid a brief, heartfelt goodnight and all went to bathe. It had been a long, exhausting day. The men were filthy and tired beyond belief.
In the large, echoing bathroom, the men showered and dressed in clean clothing Will and Patty had picked up at their house before coming back down to the girls' dorm. Once they were in bed, the men lay side by side in the airy dorm room, the fan placed do it gave maximum coverage. The night was muggy and still.
"Feels like storm weather," Will mused as he gazed out the window. "Lookie there, clouds gathering. What'd I tell ya?"
"You've always had an uncanny knack for the weather, Will. You reckon it'll blow over?"
His brother shook his head. "It's a bad un. We need to check that all the windows upstairs and down are closed. We can leave ours, they're protected by the bushes and eaves, but upstairs, it'll blow right in."
"Let's tell the girls what we're doing or they'll panic hearing us move around."
"Good idea."
They reported to the women and headed to opposite ends of the big, stone building to check that everything was secure. On the second floor, they separated, going opposite directions down the hallways. Each room stood open, mattresses rolled up and waiting for the girls to return in the fall. All the windows were closed and latched. They met again at the main staircase and went to the third floor. Same as the second, all secure. On the fourth floor, Will found a window open and the screen damaged.
"Looks like it was torn from the outside," he said when he caught up with his brother. "Not bad, but I reckon it'll need fixing 'fore the girls come back."
"We do an inspection during the summer, fix it all up. I'll let Patrick know."
They were heading downstairs when lightning flashed, thunder roared and the lights went out. Both women screamed. The men gasped, stumbling on the stairs. Will grabbed Luke as he lost his balance, nearly toppling head over heels down the staircase. A flickering of light and the women came with flashlights. Laughing at themselves for their fear, they found the men in the dark and saw them down to the main floor. A quick check of the rooms on that floor and they went to the apartment.
"It may just be the storm," Dollie said. "But this gives me the creeps. I don't want to be alone."
"You're not alone, you've got me," Patty teased.
"You know what I mean. Together, we're only slightly less scared. With the men, we aren't afraid at all. I don't like being scared."
"Dollie never did like storms," Patty told the men. "We used to build a fort from the sofa cushions and the quilts off our beds. Mama used to fuss so!"
"You didn't like them much either," Dollie snipped. She smarted from her sister's tone and her confession of Dollie's secret. "But she's right. I hate thunderstorms."
Luke patted the couch next to him. "Scooch on over, babydoll. I'll keep you safe."
"But who'll keep her safe from you?" Patty teased.
"Reckon that's your job, Patricia," Lucius replied with a sly wink. "That's if you can keep my big brother at bay long enough."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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