Dear Readers and Followers (Do I have any?)~ It’s been awhile since I have posted any “serious” writing. Yet, I rewrite and rewrite… In between frustrating moments, times when I can’t find the right words, I step away from the story and focus on my mindless, joyful pursuits – painting and distressing furniture or spending precious time in the company of those I hold dear.
Here is the beginning to a chapter I have just completed. Thank you to my scribblers; you know who you are.
Roy steered his car onto the driveway. He’d hardly shut off the engine when he noticed a hand waving and fluttering beside the rosebush. A smiling face peeked out from behind a cluster of blooms. He recognized the lady as their next- door neighbor. What the hell was her name? He opened the car door and stepped into the summer’s sunlight.
“Just smelling the roses. Mind if I snip a few?”
Roy found her demeanor slightly bold. “Go ahead,” he said. She pulled a pair of scissors from her apron pocket and began to cut the choicest blooms.
“How’s Jacquie?” she asked in between snips.
“Fine. Thanks.” Roy slammed the car door and turned the key in the lock. “She had a girl.” Perhaps he appeared abrupt. He looked directly at the neighbour and smiled. The least he could do was appear gracious. This woman knew their family business.
“Oh I knew it. I called it.” She joined her hands together as if in prayer. From behind blooms benevolent eyes met his gaze. “I’m just so excited, so happy for you all.”
Roy felt himself pulled under by this woman’s tidal wave of joy. What the hell is her name?
“Such a surprise,” she said as she fingered her strand of pearls. The other hand held the freshly cut bouquet. “Your father in law was out back hammering on a fence post when Jacquie hollered at him, ‘Go get Dorothy.’ That’s what he said, like it was an everyday mention.”
Roy thought, Dorothy. That’s her name.
“I heard this knocking on the front door and thought to myself, who’s come to visit?”
She lowered her voice, looked in both directions, and checked to see who was within earshot. Seeing no one else, she spoke. “There was Jock, hammer in hand, standing on my doorstep. Hair uncombed, worn overalls, dentures out.”
Dorothy lowered her voice and continued, “He’d be such a handsome man if he…”
She paused and raised both hands above her head as if under arrest.
“Not my business,” she said and continued, “He casually mentioned Jacqueline had sent for me.” She laughed at this offhand remark.
“I was half-joking when I said, ‘She’s not having the baby is she’?”
Dorothy sniffed a rose. “The look on his face told me more than enough.”
Roy nodded. He had already heard a version of this story. When Jacquie woke from her drug induced birth, she had filled him in along with a “Where the hell were you?”
“Well thanks for helping out this morning,” he said.
Dorothy wasn’t quite finished.
“I flew across the lawn and up the front stairs of your place.” She raised a hand to her forehead, feigned exhaustion. “You know that I’m a retired nurse?”
Before Roy could answer she spoke.
“ I saw Jacqueline leaning into the wall, her fists pressed against the gyprock. I knew this wasn’t routine.” She shook her head.
“ I told Jock: ‘That baby’s coming early; she needs to get to the hospital.’ “And then I prayed.” She pulled a petal from a rose and dropped it to the lawn.
Roy watched the petal fall. He wondered if now was the time to say, “I must leave” and politely exit the conversation.
There was more.
“In the rush to find his car keys, Jock forgot his false teeth, left them on a fencepost out back.” She chuckled and shook her head. “Somehow she made it to the hospital on time. Praise the Lord.”
Roy nodded out of polite respect for this saintly woman.
Dorothy narrowed her eyes. “Honestly. That father in law of yours is a grumpy old man.”
Roy grinned. Grumpy was an understatement. Heaven knew. Jock’s surly disposition had probably preceded his future arrival at the Almighty Gates. Dorothy’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
“What’s the child’s name?”
“Annie,” he replied.
“Annie. A lovely Celtic name.”
“Thank you, Dorothy. I should be heading inside, check on…” Roy lowered his voice and winked, “the grumpy old man.” He nodded toward the front door.
“Oh my.” One hand patted her up do. “I almost forgot. I baked a tuna casserole. I’ll bring it right over.”
“No rush,” Roy said. He raised the grease stained paper bag. The smell of fried fish hadn’t fazed her. Dorothy had one more good deed to carry out before sunset. Her full skirt swished and her teased hair appeared as if lifted higher. The closer she got to the cooling casserole, the higher her place in heaven.