Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Poplar Mountain Part 54 by Dellani Oakes

After talking to McCleary, the brothers fear for the safety of their women.

Lucius and Willem were nearly beside themselves with worry by the time they got to the school. They breathed a huge sigh of relief when they got to the school office and the girls were fine. They were just closing up for lunch. Surprised, but pleased, they invited the men to their apartment for a meal. Over sandwiches and soup, Willem and Lucius told the girls about their conversation with Mr. McCleary.
"Any idea what he meant about where your father went to think?" Dollie asked.
"No idea," Willem replied. "We need to run up and see Mama and ask."
"You do that," Lucius said. "I'm gonna stay down with Dollie and Patty."
"We're fine," Dollie said, smiling. "You don't need to worry about us."
"But I do," Lucius replied solemnly. "Someone tried to take you from me last night. I won't stand still and wait for them to hurt either of you."
"Do you really think we're in danger?" Patty asked, her hand flying to her throat.
"I don't know, Miss Patty. Don't especially want to find out that I'm right and have someone get hurt."
"I'll head up there. Ma may want us to dinner. I'll come down and get ya if she does."
"I'll be up to help with chores," Lucius said. "So don't worry about coming back down. We can come up in Dollie's car."
"All righty. We can talk about out plans when you arrive." He gave Patty a kiss and left the three of them together.
The afternoon was quiet. Dollie and Patty worked quickly, typing letters and writing checks. When five o'clock rolled around, Patty put the balance sheets and checkbook in the safe while Dollie covered her typewriter.
Lucius drove Dollie's car up to his mother's house. Willem met them at the front porch.
"I talked with Uncle Wilt. He went and fetched some of the menfolk to keep an eye on things. I talked to Ma about Daddy's thinkin' spot. At first, she didn't want to tell me. Finally, she decided it was silly not to, and told me."
"Why so secretive?"
"Cause Daddy had him a shine still up there. Don't want the government men to find out."
"Did you tell her why you wanted to know?" Patty asked.
"I had to tell her something, or she wouldn't have given me the location. She didn't seem too surprised to hear McCleary's name. She wasn't real shocked when I mentioned coal neither. Reckon she knows more than she'll say."
"Why not tell you?"
"Too many folks around. Even family can't be trusted with all the information. Besides, if she believes that's what got Daddy kilt, she ain't gonna tell her boys, now is she?"
Lucius shook his head. "Girls, I want y'all to stay up here with Mama while me and Will go meet with Mr. McCleary."
Dollie and Patty tried to protest, but he and Will were firm.
"Can't have you with me, worrying sick if you're safe. We got men watching here. They're armed and they can shoot the wings off a gnat." Will said.
"But you and Luke!" Patty said.
"We can take care of ourselves," Will replied. "You're not to worry none. Now, we're gonna go have us some dinner with Mama and the kids. Then we're gonna make the excuse we got to check the upper fields. Got some ewes ready to lamb. Reckon we got to anyway, so we'll have a look before we meet up with McCleary."
Despite what the girls said, there was no arguing with the men. They finally agreed, grudgingly, to stay at the house.
"But you tell us exactly where it is," Patty said. "So if we have to come looking, we know where to start."
"I'll do ya one better," Lucius replied. "I'll draw ya a map." He dug a piece of paper out of a drawer in his room. He grabbed a stub of a pencil and smoothed the paper on the kitchen table. A few quick strokes and he had a basic layout of the Henry land. "This here's us," he marked an X on a rectangle representing the house. "Bout half a mile up," he drew a dotted line. "In a little hidden holler. Got a shack up there and water nearby, which is good for a thinking spot." He winked.
Dollie folded up the paper and put it down the front of her shirt. Lucius' eyes followed her movements hungrily. He took her hand, bringing it to his lips.
"Damn, Miss Dollie, I sure wish I was that paper."
She smiled, kissing his forehead. "One day, you will be. You come back safe, you hear? Don't go off and get yourself killed before—"
© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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